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

Iraq clamps down on internet

The Wall Street Journal reports :

The Iraqi government is blocking news and social-media websites in some areas and shut down the Internet entirely in others in a bid to keep extremist Sunnis from building public support through online channels.

The moves follow those of some governments in the Middle East. Facebook and Twitter helped amplify the grievances that led to the Arab Spring, which toppled three regimes, and served as critical organizing tools.

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Maliki rules out Iraq unity government

Al Jazeera reports:

The Iraqi prime minister has rejected US calls for the formation of a national unity government to tackle a rising Sunni offensive, calling the idea a "coup" against the constitution.

Nouri al-Maliki's statement on Wednesday came a day after the US secretary of state, John Kerry, left Iraq after pushing for a agreement between Kurdish, Sunni and Shia leaders.

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New edition to UNESCO world heritage list: Erbil Citadel

Rudaw reports :

The Erbil Citadel has won the battle to get on the coveted UNESCO World Heritage List, thanks to active support by Algeria, Lebanon and Turkey.

The listing was decided during the current session of the World Heritage Committee in the Qatari capital, Doha.  The committee is meeting to consider the inclusion of 36 cultural and natural wonders on the UN list. By agreeing to add the Citadel to the list, it bypassed an almost completely negative -- though not binding – assessment by its preparatory commission, ICOMOS.

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US forces arrive in Baghdad to advise Iraqi troops

The BBC reports:

The first US troops deployed to assist the Iraqi army in combating a growing Sunni militant insurgency have arrived and begun work, the Pentagon has said.

Nearly half the 300 special operations soldiers promised by US President Barack Obama are in Baghdad or on the front lines of the fight.

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Questions rebels use to tell Sunni from Shiite

Alissa J. Rubin writes for the New York Times:

Whether a person is a Shiite or a Sunni Muslim in Iraq can now be, quite literally, a matter of life and death.

As the militant group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, has seized vast territories in western and northern Iraq, there have been frequent accounts of fighters’ capturing groups of people and releasing the Sunnis while the Shiites are singled out for execution.

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Kerry implores Kurdish leader to join a government and not break away

Michael R. Gordon reports for the New York Times:

Secretary of State John Kerry urged the president of Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region on Tuesday not to seek his own state and instead help form a government in Baghdad.

“I am going to bring up the elephant in the room,” Mr. Kerry told the president, Masoud Barzani, who serves as the leader of the Iraqi Kurds, a minority who have long sought independence. “This moment requires statesmanship.”

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Iraq must form new government, Kerry warns in Baghdad

The Financial Times reports:

John Kerry called on Iraq’s leaders to immediately form a new government that includes all the country’s political and religious factions, as the US secretary of state scrambled to head off the break-up of the country by a surging rebel alliance.

This should happen “not next week, not next month, but now”, Mr Kerry said at the heavily fortified US embassy in Baghdad, where he held talks with Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s Shia prime minister, and other leaders. Iraq was facing an “existential crisis”, he warned.

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U.S., Iraq agree on legal protections for military advisers

Julian E. Barnes reports for the Wall Street Journal:

U.S. officials announced on Monday that they had secured legal protections from Iraq's government for 300 American special-operations forces being sent to Iraq to advise the Iraqi military.

Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, and Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, issued identical statements saying Iraq has committed to providing protections equivalent to the diplomatic immunity that the embassy staff currently holds.

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Kurdish leader cites ‘new reality’ in Iraq

Lara Jakes writes for AP:

The president of Iraq's ethnic Kurdish region declared Tuesday that "we are facing a new reality and a new Iraq" as the country considers new leadership for its Shiite-led government as an immediate step to curb a Sunni insurgent rampage.

The comments by Kurdish President Massoud Barzani came as he met with visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is pushing the central government in Baghdad to at least adopt new policies that would give more authority to Iraq's minority Sunnis and Kurds.

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In Iraq’s sectarian violence, a show of each side’s worst

Rod Nordland and Suadad Al-Salhy write for the New York Times:

Sectarian violence in Iraq on Monday showed both sides in the conflict at their brutal worst, as Iraqi police officers were reported to have killed scores of Sunni insurgent prisoners along a highway in the south, and militants in the north turned over the bodies of 15 Shiite civilians they had killed, including women and children, only to bomb the cemetery during their funerals, according to one account.

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