Iraq Oil Report's Daily Brief compiles the most important news and analysis about Iraq from around the web.

How ISIS works

THe New York Times reports :

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has a detailed structure that encompasses many functions and jurisdictions, according to ISIS documents seized by Iraqi forces and seen by American officials and Hashim Alhashimi, an Iraqi researcher. Many of its leaders are former officers from Saddam Hussein’s long-disbanded army who augmented their military training with terrorist techniques during years of fighting American troops.

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Iraq’s artists defy extremists with bows, brushes and a low profile

Alice Fordham reports for NPR:

It's a hot night in Baghdad, and the national theater is packed with people who are here to see the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra. They're fanning themselves with programs that show conductor Karim Wasfi, a striking man with thick eyebrows and a pointed beard, playing the cello. Tonight, he'll be conducting for the first time in more than a year. Iraq has been in the headlines lately, with extremists taking over parts of the country, American airstrikes, the militias and the politics. But the country was once a sophisticated center for learning and the arts. Backstage at the national theater, Wasfi reflects on the musicians and artists trying to keep that tradition alive.

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Iraqi neighbourhood holds out against jihadists

W.G. Dunlop reports for AFP:

Caught between jihadists and the Tigris River, residents of one neighbourhood in a Sunni town in Iraq have taken up arms alongside security forces and held out for months. If the fighters, police and soldiers defending the Jubur area in Dhuluiyah north of Baghdad repel the Islamic State (IS) -- a Sunni jihadist group -- it would be a powerful symbol of resistance for the forces battling against it. And it could help gain support for the anti-jihadist fight among Iraqi Sunni Arabs who feel they have been marginalised by the Shiite-led government and targeted by its security forces. Their backing is key to regaining ground from IS and allied groups that overran much of the Sunni Arab heartland in June. Jubur, named for the tribe that resides there, is an idyllic area of colourful houses, soaring palm trees and the reed-lined Tigris, but the peace is broken by periodic bursts of machinegun and rifle fire and explosions.

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High hopes, few good options for Iraq’s new leader

Jamie Tarabay reports for Al Jazeera:

Haider al-Abadi is not the first Iraqi prime minister on whom Washington has pinned its hopes for a new era of reconciliation among Sunnis and Shias to stem rising violence and turmoil. A similar wave of U.S. optimism followed the election of Nouri al-Maliki to the job in 2006, as Iraq careened towards all-out civil war. The outgoing prime minister at the time, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, was accused of either aiding or failing to restrain Shia militia engaged in ethnic cleansing of Sunni neighborhoods after the bombing of a critical Shia religious shrine. Maliki was hailed as the no-nonsense pragmatist who would stop the carnage.

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Turkey welcomes the return of diplomats and families held hostage in Iraq

Sebnem Arsu and Ceylan Yeginsu write for the New York Times:

Forty-nine Turkish hostages who had been held for months in Iraq by Islamic State militants were returned to Turkey on Saturday after what Turkey said was a covert operation led by its intelligence agency. The hostages, including diplomats and their families, had been seized in June from the Turkish consulate in the Iraqi city of Mosul. “The Turkish intelligence agency has followed the situation very sensitively and patiently since the beginning and, as a result, conducted a successful rescue operation,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement Saturday.

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Iraq conference opens in Paris as France urges ‘global’ fight oh jihadists

Reuters reports:

French President Francois Hollande called on Monday for united international action to tackle the threat from Islamic State militants as he opened a conference on Iraq bringing together members of a U.S.-led coalition. The United States this week unveiled an outline plan to fight the Islamist militants simultaneously in Iraq and Syria. It believes it can forge a solid alliance despite hesitancy among some partners and questions over the legality of action, notably in Syria where the militant group has a power base. "What is the threat?" the French leader said as he opened the one-day meeting of officials from some 30 states in Paris.

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Iraq parliament rejects interior, defense nominees

AP reports:

Iraqi lawmakers rejected Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's nominees Tuesday to lead the defense and interior ministries, leaving the crucial Cabinet posts unfilled as an emerging U.S.-led coalition intensifies its air campaign against Islamic State extremists who have seized a third of the country.

Control over the two powerful security portfolios has long been a source of tension among Iraq's feuding political factions, and the failure to agree on the candidates marked the latest in a series of delays in forming a unified government that can confront the Islamic State extremist group. The parliament session was held as the U.S. carried out an airstrike near Baghdad for the first time since launching an aerial campaign in early August, and French warplanes flying from the United Arab Emirates began reconnaissance missions over Iraq.

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US general: ground troops possible in Iraq

Al Jazeera reports:

American combat troops may be needed to battle Islamic State (ISIL) forces in the Middle East if President Barack Obama's current strategy fails, the nation's top military officer said on Tuesday as Congress began debating the US plan to expand airstrikes and train Syrian rebels. "To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the president," Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel, who was in attendance, told lawmakers that the U.S. plans to carry out airstrikes against ISIL fighters in Syria and will target the group’s resources.

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Iraqi Kurds unhappy partners in Abadi’s government

Mohammed A. Salih writes for Al Monitor:

Iraqi Kurds appear to have decided to participate in Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s government as a result of strong international pressure and amid the serious challenges they face from the Islamic State (IS). Nearly a month of negotiations between Kurdish delegations and Abadi produced no concrete agreement between the two sides. After a backlash in the ranks of the Shiite-dominated Iraqi National Alliance against former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Abadi managed to secure the support of the majority of the parliament members in the alliance on Aug. 11 and was assigned on the same day by President Fouad Massoum, a Kurd, to form a cabinet within a month.

Given the tumultuous state of affairs in the country, the Kurds expected the new Shiite prime minister to adopt a more lenient attitude toward them after eight years of often tense relations with former premier Maliki. But that did not happen. Abadi sent signals that he did not care much about Kurdish participation, as he had secured the support of Sunni Arab politicians, who were voted into the Iraqi parliament in April and before IS took over most of the Sunni parts of the country.


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Anti-ISIL coalition drags feet as US struggles to secure Sunni partners

Michael Pizzi writes for Al Jazeera:

Diplomats from the United States, European Union, and the Arab League said Monday they were committed to taking military action against the Islamic State (ISIL) insurgency in Iraq, but their silence on what to do about ISIL in the group’s home base of Syria suggested the U.S.-led “united front” was still hitting snags.

Compounding that dilemma is the absence of firm commitments from crucial Sunni allies in the region about who will take an active role in military strikes, something President Barack Obama had said would underpin any U.S. military action against the extremist-led insurgency. At a meeting in Paris on Monday, delegates from over 30 countries said in a vaguely worded communiqué they were “committed to supporting the new Iraqi government in its fight against [ISIL] by any means necessary, including appropriate military assistance.”

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