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

Members of Iraq’s ruling coalition threaten to withdraw support for Abadi’s reforms

Ahmed Rasheed reports for Reuters:

More than 60 members of Iraq's ruling coalition will seek to withdraw parliamentary support for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's reforms if he does not respond within 72 hours to their demands for wider consultation, parliamentarians said. Growing political tensions could undermine efforts to tackle an economic crisis and form a united front in the war against Islamic State militants, who pose the biggest security threat to Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Members of the State of Law coalition delivered a letter to Abadi on Tuesday urging him to consult more widely before ordering reforms. A meeting with the premier scheduled for Wednesday night was canceled after lawmakers decided to wait for a written response from Abadi, they told Reuters.

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Iran considered nuclear weapons during 1980s Iraq war, ex-leader says

Reuters reports:

Iran considered pursuing a nuclear deterrent when it began its nuclear program in the 1980s, during an eight-year war with Iraq, a former president has been quoted as saying. Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s comments come at a sensitive moment, as Iran implements an agreement reached with world powers in July that aims to prevent the Islamic republic from building nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, is investigating whether Iran’s nuclear program ever had a military application. It is due to issue a report by Dec. 15.

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Iraq’s troubled politics: Uneasy lies the head

The Economist reports :

At any time, Haider al-Abadi would have made an unusual Middle Eastern leader. But his appointment in August 2014 as prime minister and head of the armed forces just two months after Mosul, Iraq’s second city, had fallen to the fearsome new armies of Islamic State (IS) seemed especially perverse. He had held no previous military post, and in his youth had dodged the draft. As a British exile, he fixed lifts for the BBC. But while Iraqis seemed content to leave the battle against IS to others, particularly the Iranian-backed Shia militias, they looked to him to right Iraq’s woefully corrupt state, which is divvied up between sectarian and Kurdish political blocs.

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One step back, two steps forward

The Economist reports :

Syria gets the lion’s share of the world’s attention, but in Iraq, after months of stalemate, the battle against Islamic State (IS) is at last hotting up. On October 7th the Iraqi army, local police and some tribal fighters, supported by both coalition and Iraqi air strikes, launched a big push to encircle and eventually retake Ramadi, the capital city of mainly Sunni Anbar province west of Baghdad which fell to IS in May. As The Economist went to press, the effort to cut Ramadi off appeared nearly complete, with the 10,000-strong Iraqi force in control of the critical Albu Farraj bridge over the Euphrates and preparing to take on the 1,000 or so IS fighters still left inside the city.

On October 15th around 5,000 Iraqi soldiers and armed national police working alongside 10,000 Iranian-supported Shia militia fighters (known as Hashid al-Shabi or Popular Mobilisation Units), with some help from coalition air strikes, began an assault to recapture the Baiji oil refinery. After months of inconclusive fighting, victory was declared on October 24th. The refinery, once the country’s biggest, is damaged beyond repair. But since it sits halfway between Baghdad and IS-occupied Mosul in the north, holding it and the nearby town is strategically vital. Control of the road south will make it harder for IS to threaten Tikrit, retaken by the government in April, or to funnel reinforcements into Anbar.

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Torrential rain wreaks havoc in Iraq

AFP reports :

Torrential rain caused chaos across several parts of Iraq on Thursday, with the water causing thigh-high flooding on some Baghdad streets and damaging camps for the displaced. The storm that hit Baghdad on Wednesday evening was unusually violent and the first after a long, dry summer. The poor condition of infrastructure in Baghdad, the Arab world's second largest city with an estimated population of more than eight million, resulted in spectacular flooding.

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Delayed report on Britain’s role in Iraq war is expected in summer

Stephen Castle writes for the New York Times:

After more than six years of work and a succession of embarrassing delays, a report on Britain‘s role in the Iraq war is finally taking shape and is likely to be published in June or July, its lead author said on Thursday. Expected to run to two million words, the document should be complete by April 2016, but it will then need to be vetted by national security agencies, John Chilcot, a former senior civil servant who is leading the inquiry, said in a statement.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who has previously expressed frustration, said in a letter issued by his office on Thursday that he would make available additional resources if it would speed up publication, though he did not specify any figure.

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US special forces reportedly in covert combat for months against ISIS

Fox News reports:

U.S. special operations forces reportedly have carried out several covert combat missions against ISIS over the past year, contrary to the Pentagon's insistence that operations like last week's raid of an ISIS-held prison in northern Iraq was a "unique" circumstance.

Bloomberg View reported that a special operations task force staffs an operations center in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil to support such missions. The report, which cited U.S. and Kurdish officials, claimed that the task force has worked in recent months to identify and locate senior leaders of ISIS. Members of the group also participated in last week's raid, during which Army Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler was killed. Wheeler became the first American to die in combat since the launch of anti-ISIS operations last year.

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How ISIS spread in the Middle East

David Ignatius writes in The Atlantic:

“It is perfectly true, as the philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition: that it must be lived forwards.” This observation was made in 1843 by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard in a journal entry, but it might have been written about the contemporary Middle East.

We have been living the Islamic State forwards, surprised at every turn, but we can perhaps begin to understand it backwards. Although ISIS took most of the world by surprise when it swept into the Iraqi city of Mosul in June 2014, the group and its forebears had been proclaiming their goals for a decade. Like many consequential events, this one didn’t sneak up on policymakers; they simply didn’t see what was taking shape in front of them. ISIS told us exactly what it was going to do, and then did it. This was a secret conspiracy hiding in plain sight.

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12 years of hard lessons on Iraq

Chris Spatola writes for The Hill:

I spent a year in Iraq. As a captain in the Army and as a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I served my tour in Baghdad from August 2005 to August 2006. It was a complicated and difficult year, but the opportunity to serve my country in combat left an indelible imprint on my soul. While I am no longer an Army officer, I continue to follow and digest any news that I can about what is happening in that area of the world. I don't watch and read because I support or don't support our country’s presence there, necessarily. It's more personal than that. Selfishly, I just want to believe that the work we did meant something.

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Finley: Don’t fight another P.C. war in Syria, Iraq

Nolan Finley writes for The Detroit News:

After months of assurance from President Barack Obama that the United States would not commit combat troops to directly engage with Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq, the first American soldier was killed last week during a hostage rescue.

Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler became the first U.S. casualty in what has the potential to become yet another long and frustrating war in the Middle East. He and other commandos participated in a successful raid to free hostages held by the extremists in northern Iraq.

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