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

Iraq’s Kurdistan region delays elections

Reuters reports:

Elections for Iraq’s Kurdistan region’s presidency and parliament set for Nov. 1 will be delayed because political parties failed to present candidates, the head of the electoral commission Hendrean Mohammed told Reuters on Monday.

Parties have been unable to focus on the elections because of turmoil that followed a referendum on Sept. 25 on Kurdish independence, a Kurdish MP said on condition of anonymity. Authorities in Baghdad as well as neighbors Iran and Turkey opposed the referendum that saw a clear independence majority.

The Kurdish electoral commission’s Mohammed, speaking by phone from the KRG capital Erbil, in northern Iraq, said it is up to the Kurdistan region’s parliament to fix a new date for the elections. The deadline to present candidates expired last week and was extended until Monday.

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Iraq dismisses U.S. call for Iranian-backed militias to ‘go home’

Reuters reports:

The Iraqi government has dismissed a call from U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for Iranian-backed paramilitary units that helped Baghdad defeat Islamic State to end operations in Iraq.

Speaking after a meeting on Sunday with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, Tillerson said it was time for the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation forces and their Iranian advisers to “go home”.

But Abadi showed unwillingness to meet Tillerson’s demand.

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Tillerson tells Iranian militias in Iraq to ‘go home’

Carol Morello writes for The Washington Post:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday urged Iranian-backed militias in Iraq to “go home,” and warned European companies doing business with the Revolutionary Guard in Iran that they could face “great risk” from sanctions.

Shiite militias mostly composed of Iraqi citizens but backed by Iran were instrumental in helping the Iraqi army drive the Islamic State from Mosul and other strongholds in Iraq. There have been reports of Iranian advisers among them. Tillerson said they have no business being on the battlefield now that the Islamic State has been routed.

“Certainly, Iranian militias that are in Iraq, now that the fight against Daesh and ISIS is coming to a close, those militias need to go home,” Tillerson said at a news conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, using two common acronyms for the Islamic State. “Any foreign fighters in Iraq need to go home, and allow the Iraqi people to rebuild their lives with the help of their neighbors.”

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A sense of claustrophobia pervades Iraq’s Fallujah

Sofia Barbarani writes for Al Jazeera:

Ibrahim recalls the anguished face of the patient who walked into his pharmacy, seeking anticoagulants to treat a blood clot that had formed in his brain.

"[He] begged me for the medicine, but I didn't have it because the checkpoint was closed," said Ibrahim, who spoke to Al Jazeera under a pseudonym for fear of repercussions. "It was so hard. I saw him crying as he left."

Access into and out of the Iraqi city of Fallujah through al-Suqoor checkpoint has been a major source of delays and frustration for local residents.

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The Kurds: Seeking Their Yorktown

Jonathan Dworkin writes for Small Wars Journal:

In September I had the opportunity to interview Robert Ford and Charles Lister, both senior fellows at the Middle East Institute (MEI), on issues pertaining to Kurdish self-determination.  This was before the Iraqi Army move on Kirkuk and the subsequent chaos that has engulfed the Kurdish region.  The interviews were done via e-mail, as I am based in Hawaii.

I originally intended to build this conversation into a larger piece on the topic of Kurdish independence.  However given the rapid changes on the ground, Small Wars Journal is publishing the interviews as a stand-alone discussion about America’s broader priorities in Syria and Iraq.

These men are of interest precisely because neither’s work is principally concerned with the Kurds.  Robert Ford is the former United States Ambassador to Syria, and he’s most well-known for his efforts to organize the early Syrian opposition to Bashar Assad.  Charles Lister is a scholar at the MEI, and he has an extensive knowledge of Syrian opposition politics.

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Iraq’s lost generation: ‘I have forgotten what happiness is’

Sally Williams writes for The Guardian:

When Mosul was finally liberated on 9 July, Zanab Ismail was 50 miles away, watching events on TV. Her family had left their home in Iraq’s second largest city on the morning of 26 August 2014, after shouts from the street warned them that ISIS had entered the area. Rumours had preceded the invasion of what Isis fighters were doing to families with connections to Iraqi forces – beheadings, executions – as well as their treatment of women and girls, the rapes and forced marriages. Zanab was 17 at the time. Her father Mohammed, a property developer and teacher, wanted to get his family out of Mosul as fast as possible, particularly his son, Amir, 26, who worked for the police force.

They arrived at Baharka, a camp for people fleeing Isis, near Erbil, with almost nothing. They imagined they would stay for a few months, then go home. Three years later, they were still there: Zanab, her parents, five brothers and sisters, living among row upon row of small grey tents, spread across the bleak plains of northern Iraq.

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Kurds Protesting in Iraq Turn Their Anger Against U.S.

Isabel Coles and Ali Nabhan write for The Wall Street Journal:

Several hundred Kurdish demonstrators protested outside the U.S. consulate here on Friday, accusing one of their closest allies of standing by as Iraqi forces dislodged them from a contested territory in the north of the country.

Protestors outside the consulate in Erbil, the capital of the semiautonomous Kurdish region, carried banners reading: "American people, how can you allow this Iranian aggression?"

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ISIS After the Caliphate

Scott Atran, Hoshang Waziri, and Richard Davis write for The New York Review of Books:

Following the expulsion of the Islamic State, or ISIS, from Mosul in Iraq, and with the imminent fall of the group’s de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria, reports have suggested that ISIS fighters are defecting or surrendering en masse. But such bullish appraisals of the collapse of ISIS’s fighting spirit may be over-optimistic.

Most people who have fled from ISIS-controlled areas have done so because they were terrified of the invading Shia militias and Shia-dominated Iraqi government forces. Last month, when Iraqi forces liberated the area around the city of Hawija, north of Tikrit, it wasn’t only ISIS fighters who ran. Those from families who had a member in ISIS, even if dead, did also. Many internally displaced Sunni Arabs we interviewed told us that they left their homes and risked passing through Iraqi army and Shia militia lines to reach the Kurdish Peshmerga because “they are also Sunni” and “don’t want to kill us.”

Although there is some evidence of local ISIS forces in Iraq abandoning the fight, ISIS’s foreign volunteers are much more likely to fight to the death or melt away in the hope of fighting another day. A center run by the Kurdish intelligence service in Dibis, north of Hawija, to screen those fleeing ISIS territory had detected only one foreign fighter, an Egyptian, in recent weeks. The head of the center, Captain Ali Muhammad Syan, said that as many as eight thousand people were screened since the start of operations to retake Hawija in September. Nearly all of them, he said, had links to ISIS, mostly through family connections, but many were not actual combatants.

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This Is What Victory Over ISIS Looks Like

Megan Specia writes for The New York Times:

The declarations of victory played out across Iraq and Syria: The long campaigns to retake city after city from Islamic State militants had come to an end.

But the hard-won battles left vast destruction in their wake, and the celebrations from atop the rubble of once-grand buildings are ringing hollow for hundreds of thousands of displaced residents.

Iraqis and Syrians return to cities that are ghosts of their former glory, lacking the infrastructure for normal life to begin again. Now they must grapple with how to rebuild.

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Iraqi court issues arrest warrant for Kurdish vice president

Balint Szlanko and Philip Issa report for AP:

A Baghdad court issued an arrest warrant for the vice president of Iraq's autonomous northern Kurdish region on Thursday for saying that Iraqi forces had "occupied" the disputed province of Kirkuk this week.

However, the warrant against Kosrat Rasul is unlikely to be executed as the central government in Baghdad has no enforceable authority in the Kurdish-administered north.

The court accused Rasul of "insulting" Iraq's armed forces, which is forbidden by Iraqi law.

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