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

Iraqi ministers fall like dominoes as Maliki’s bloc targets Abadi

Ali Mamouri writes for Al-Monitor:

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is facing stiff opposition from within his parliamentary bloc, the State of Law Coalition led by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. So far, this group has achieved the sacking of two ministers, each of whom importantly contributed to the current hardships of Iraq.

Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi was dismissed on Aug. 25, and confidence was withdrawn from Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari on Sept. 21. Talk is now growing louder in the parliament corridors that Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari will be questioned in parliament and eventually dismissed. More dismissals may follow.

On the other side, Abadi is trying to tighten his political alliance to enhance his position against Maliki and avoid being dismissed by the parliament. Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) spokesman Safeen Dizayi announced on Sept. 27 that President Massoud Barzani had accepted Abadi's invitation to visit Baghdad to discuss the post-Islamic State future of Iraq and the disputes between Baghdad and Erbil. The first visit in five years of frosty relations between the KRG and the government in Baghdad kicked off today, Sept. 29, and after meeting with Abadi, Barzani reported that all the disputed issues between Erbil and Baghdad have been "resolved."

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As Mosul offensive approaches, UNHCR planning intensifies

Matthew Saltmarsh writes for UNHCR:

The anticipated Iraqi military offensive to retake Mosul threatens to produce one of the largest-man made displacement crises of recent times, UNHCR’s representative in Iraq has warned.

As the clock ticks, the UN Refugee Agency is working intensively with partners to ensure that the humanitarian community is ready for the expected human outflow, Bruno Geddo told reporters at a briefing in Geneva on Thursday.

Humanitarian agencies predict that more than one million people could be displaced by the offensive by Iraqi Government forces to retake the country’s second city. They expect at least 700,000 will need urgent assistance in the form of shelter, food, water or medical support.

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Iraq PM tells Kurds not to use Mosul battle to expand territory

Reuters reports:

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi asked Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani not to exploit the war on Islamic State to expand the Kurds' territory, according to a government statement published after their meeting on Thursday in Baghdad.

The meeting discussed the preparation for the battle to dislodge Islamic State from Mosul, the largest city under the ultra-hardline Sunni group's control, in northern Iraq.

Kurdish Peshmerga forces are expected to take part in the assault on the city that Abadi wants to retake this year, with the backing of a U.S.-led coalition.

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UN food relief agency reaches town in northern Iraq for first time in two years

WFP reports:

For the first time in more than two years, the United Nations food relief agency has distributed urgently-needed food for people in and around the northern Iraqi town of Shirqat, which was under siege and cut off from humanitarian access from 2014 until earlier this month.

“Families in Shirqat are in a desperate need of humanitarian support after being cut off from the outside world for more than two years,” said Sally Haydock, Country Director in Iraq for the UN World Food Programme (WFP), in a news release.

WFP distributed a one-month supply of food for families in the Khadhraniya area of Shirqat through its local partner, Muslim Aid.

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Iraq alone can’t end Islamic State

Haider al-Abadi writes in USA Today:

As we approach the final phase of our military campaign to liberate the city of Mosul from the evil of the Islamic State, the challenge of ending extremism is becoming ever more important. It is the duty of all of us, in Iraq and the international community, to make sure that ISIL and its siblings do not return.

As I write, our brave fighters are liberating the land and the people from the terror of ISIL. Ten years ago, we would have asked you to help us with troops on the ground. Today our soldiers, volunteers and Peshmerga are making advances against ISIL, thanks to air strikes by a U.S. led international coalition, along with international advisers and trainers. This support is crucial to continue our fight on the ground.

Every day, we gain more ground from ISIL and, with each victory, its members grow more desperate. They target our civilians in our markets, soccer fields and streets. In doing so, they are uniting all Iraqis against them and strengthening our determination to rid our country of them.

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Officials: US to Send More Troops to Iraq to Help With Mosul

AP reports:

President Barack Obama is preparing to send more troops to Iraq to help reclaim the city of Mosul from the Islamic State group, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

The troops will train and advise Iraqi forces as planning for the Mosul operation ramps up, officials said. Though the precise number of troops was not immediately disclosed, one official said roughly 600 addition troops would be sent.

It wasn't clear whether the troops would include special operations forces, some of which are already serving in Iraq.

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Islamic State loses control of last oil wells in Iraq: oil ministry

Reuters reports:

Islamic State militants no longer control any oil wells in Iraq after being ousted by government forces last week from an area near Kirkuk, the oil ministry said on Wednesday.

The ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim group were driven out of Shirqat on Thursday by U.S-backed Iraqi forces. Last month it lost the Qayyara oilfield, south of Mosul, to government forces thrusting northwards in an offensive to retake the largest city under IS control.

Deprived of oil income, IS will have to find other financing means such as increasing taxation and fines in areas still under its control, said Muthana Jbara, a provincial security official.

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Chemical weapon wasn’t used near U.S. troops in Iraq

Jim Michaels writes for USA Today:

A rocket fired last week at an Iraqi base where American troops are present did not contain a chemical agent despite earlier suspicions, the U.S. military reported Tuesday.

Extensive laboratory tests concluded that the munition did not contain mustard agent, Air Force Col. John Dorrian, a U.S. military spokesman, said.

No one was killed or injured in the Sept. 20 attack. The shell landed several hundred yards from the nearest U.S. troops.

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Iraq: IS bombings in Baghdad kill at least 17 civilians

Sinan Salaheddin reports for AP:

Separate suicide bombings ripped through busy commercial areas in Shiite-dominated neighborhoods of the Iraqi capital on Tuesday, killing at least 17 civilians, officials said.

The deadliest attack took place in the eastern New Baghdad neighborhood, where a bomber approached a gathering of construction workers and set off his explosives-laden vest, killing 11 civilians, a police officer said. At least 28 civilians were wounded and the explosion damaged nearby shops and cars, he said.

Hours later, another suicide bomber blew himself up in an outdoor market in the southwestern neighborhood of Bayaa, killing six shoppers and wounding 21 others, another police officer said.

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It’s not funded just by oil and looting. How the Islamic State uses agriculture.

Eckart Woertz and Hadi Jaafar write for The Washington Post:

The Islamic State has repeatedly made headlines for commandeering and profiting from the region’s oil. Less attention has been paid to its use of another resource vital to the functioning of any would-be state: agriculture. The Islamic State does not publish agricultural statistics. So how can we measure its agricultural production and potential revenue streams? How has the international campaign against the Islamic State impacted that vital economic sector?

In a recent article, we use an innovative method of interpreting satellite imagery to gauge agricultural production in Islamic State-controlled territory. We derive remotely sensed vegetation indices and correlate them with production in pre-conflict years based on government statistics. To isolate the impact of conflict from drought effects, we statistically control for rainfall. The results are striking: The Islamic State may be using and profiting from agriculture far more than previously estimated.

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