The state of emergency, which applies to all of Iraq except the Kurdish north, is based on the National Safety Law passed in July after the formal end of the US-led occupation.

The powers the law gives the government are explained below.

How can a state of emergency be declared?

The prime minister, with support from the president and vice-presidents, can declare a state of emergency anywhere in Iraq if Iraqi lives are threatened by a persistent campaign of violence aimed at hindering the political process.

The prime minister must give reasons for declaring a state of emergency, define the areas it covers and its duration.

The state of emergency cannot extend beyond 60 days or the end of elimination of the threat, whichever comes first, but can be extended every 30 days by written declaration.

What powers does it give the prime minister?

It enables Allawi to: 

Restrict the freedom of movement, assembly and use of weapons by Iraqis or foreigners suspected of crimes. Suspects can be detained and searched. Their homes and workplaces are also subject to searches.

Impose a curfew for a short and defined period in areas facing serious security threats such as explosions, unrest and large-scale armed attacks.

Cordon off and search an area if its inhabitants are suspected of possessing medium or heavy arms or explosives or harbouring outlaws.

Freeze the assets of those accused of conspiracy, fighting foreign forces, armed unrest, killings and bombings, and anyone who cooperates with them, commissions or incites their actions or offers them places to stay or gather.

Intercept, monitor and seize mail, packages, telegrams and wired and wireless communications if there is evidence they could uncover or prevent crimes.

Restrict transport by land, air and sea in specific areas
and for defined periods.

Limit the activities, monitor, suspend or disband any clubs, associations, unions, companies and offices, connected to crimes. This requires a court order.

Take security and military measures in areas where a state of emergency is declared.

Seek the help of US-led troops in Iraq during large-scale operations. In the northern Kurdish region, these measures must be implemented in coordination with the Kurdish government.

What if someone flouts the measures?

They can be jailed for up to three years or fined up to
one million dinars ($700).

What happens to suspects?

They must appear before a judge within 24 hours of arrest.

They are referred to the Central Criminal Court of Iraq.

The prime minister, with the support of the president and vice-presidents, can pardon a suspect for reasons of national interest, security or stability.

What are the restrictions on the prime minister?

The prime minister cannot abrogate, in whole or part, the Transitional Administrative Law (interim constitution).

The prime minister cannot use the law to delay elections due in the new year.

The prime minister's decisions are subject to review by the Court of Cassation. The Supreme Federal Court has the right
to abrogate them.