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

Who will liberate Mosul?

Mushreq Abbas writes for Al Monitor:

Atheel al-Nujaifi, the governor of Ninevah province, does not seem concerned by the criticism and calls to dismiss him after Mosul fell to the Islamic State (IS) earlier this year. Instead, Nujaifi appears intent on imposing himself as an essential player in the liberation of the city. He is currently visiting Washington to promote his vision of what needs to be done. Mosul's liberation, however, cannot be left only to Nujaifi’s efforts. It will require representation from all the city's ethnic, religious and sectarian communities.


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Saving Iraq and destroying ISIL are not the same thing

Jonathan Lord writes for War on the Rocks:

It has been reported that President Obama is revisiting his policy toward Syria. Perhaps he is now pausing to assess, before incautiously and unadvisedly wading into a conflict with no clear or imaginable resolution. But before he leads America into the next season of a regional conflict he wants a better plan, and he has turned to his national security advisors to provide him with one.

Thus far, the results have not inspired much confidence. As reported by CNN and according to senior officials, the President’s national security team’s meetings were “driven to a large degree [to determine] how our Syria strategy fits into our ISIS strategy.” One senior official was quoted: “The President has asked us to look again at how this fits together. The long-running Syria problem is now compounded by the reality that to genuinely defeat ISIL, we need not only a defeat in Iraq but a defeat in Syria.” The quote conveys the misguided nature of the entire exercise. Now that terrorist organizations have declared allegiance to ISIL in Sinai, Libya and Pakistan, will we now need to formulate a plan to “genuinely defeat” the group’s ideological adherents in these places as well?

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Islamic State: The business of the Caliph

Zeit Online reports:

A man and a woman are sitting at a coffee table in northern Germany and would, if they were able to, send a significant sum of money to the terrorist group Islamic State (IS). Not to support the terrorists, but to save lives. But they don't have any money.

Ismail, 58, and Seefi, 50, both Yazidis, want to buy the freedom of family members who were kidnapped by IS and taken to Iraq. It’s not a matter of one or two relatives, but 20, ranging from a young child to a woman in her mid-40s. Ismail and Seefi last had contact with the hostages one month ago.

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Band battles Islamic State of Mt. Sinjar in Iraq

Johnathan Krohn writes for USA Today:

Kawa scrambles down the hill at a rapid clip in his ragged, knock-off Adidas Center Court III sneakers. His green kaffiyeh, tied around his head like a bandana, flaps behind him in the wind as he runs through the rocky, desert terrain at the foot of Mount Sinjar. He shrinks into a dot as he runs, hurtling into the distance past the sand dunes, his AK-47 rattling against his back, until he disappears into a cave.

Inside Kawa's cave sits a hodgepodge of men from a variety of backgrounds. Kawa is an Iranian Kurd and member of the armed wing of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) battling the Islamic State to regain territory lost in August, when the militants seized the surrounding area and brutalized the population.

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Iraq’s leader requests more aid in fight against IS

Michael R. Gordon reports for the New York Times:

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq appealed for help on Wednesday in training his military and reconstructing towns and cities that Iraq hopes to wrest from the Islamic State’s control.

Mr. Abadi outlined the requests after having arrived here for a meeting of nearly 60 nations on ways to counter the militants from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. American officials said that the cost of the reconstruction had yet to be determined. But it is most likely to be substantial if Iraqi forces succeed in retaking Mosul, Falluja and other populated areas in street fighting that could be prolonged and bloody.

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In and out of time in Iraq

Tom Ricks writes in the New Yorker:

I fell out of time in the summer of 2004. I fell back in about seven years later, on September 11, 2011. The first fall was slow, more of a slide than a drop. It began as I moved around Baghdad, in the summer of 2003, with a growing sense of unease. On Memorial Day, while reporting for the Washington Post, I went on a 1st Infantry Division patrol in western Baghdad with another Post reporter, Anthony Shadid. I talked to members of the patrol, while Anthony talked to the Iraqis in the neighborhood. “Everybody likes us,” Spec. Stephen Harris, then twenty-one years old, told me. Anthony heard a different story. “We refuse the occupation,” Mohammed Abdullah, a thirty-four-year-old Iraqi, told him. “They’re walking over my heart. I feel like they’re crushing my heart.” (Anthony, who had been shot in Israel, in 2002, and was kidnapped in Libya, in 2011, died while covering the rebellion in Syria in 2012.)

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France conducts ‘major’ raids on ISIS in Iraq

AFP reports :

France said Friday its fighter jets were conducting a “major” raid in Iraq as part of the U.S.-led coalition offensive against the Islamic State group, days after members said the strikes were having effect. “At the moment, a major raid is taking place,” Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told BFMTV, refusing to detail the targets or the number of jets involved.

He said French planes based in the United Arab Emirates and more recently in Jordan had carried out “120 to 130 missions” since the start of the coalition offensive. These include intelligence gathering missions. Compared to the United States, France has carried out only a handful of strikes on the militants.

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Shiite militias win bloody battles in Iraq, show no mercy

Matt Bradley reports for the Wall Street Journal:

In a makeshift barracks about 40 miles south of Baghdad, Ahmed al-Zamili flipped through pictures on his mobile phone: an Islamic State fighter’s corpse hanging from a crude noose, a dead man on the ground clutching an AK-47 and a kneeling, blindfolded man uttering a confession.

Mr. Zamili says the men were captured when his militia of more than 650 Shiite fighters, known as Al Qara’a Regiment, drove Islamic State out of Jurf al-Sakher in late October. After briefly interrogating the enemy soldiers, Mr. Zamili ordered their executions, he says.

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AP interview: US troops have immunity in Iraq

Vivian Salama reports for AP:

Washington has an agreement with Baghdad on privileges and immunities for the growing number of troops based in Iraq who are helping in the fight against the Islamic State group, the new U.S. ambassador said Thursday. In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Stuart Jones said Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has given assurances that U.S. troops will receive immunity from prosecution. Under Iraq's former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, that issue was a major sticking point, ultimately leading to the decision to withdraw all remaining U.S. troops in late 2011.

"That was a different situation and those troops would have had a different role," Jones said. "We have the assurances that we need from the government of Iraq on privileges and immunities," he said. "It's in the basis of our formal written communications between our governments and also based on the strategic framework agreement that is the legal basis of our partnership."

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U.S. walks fine, awkward line when addressing Iranian airstrikes in Iraq

Dan Lamothe reports for the Washington Post:

Iranian fighter jets are now said to be bombing the Islamic State militant group in Iraq. It’s an escalation in Tehran’s presence there — and a development that has forced U.S. officials to walk a fine line while addressing it. The latest example came Wednesday, when Secretary of State John F. Kerry was asked if he was aware of any Iranian airstrikes in Iraq, and whether he thought they were helpful in the fight against the militants. He declined to confirm whether any occurred and said Tehran and Washington are not coordinating military actions, a standing talking point for U.S. officials in recent days. But the secretary went a step further, saying Iranian airstrikes wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

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