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

Kuwait Energy open to more Iraq investment

Reuters reports:

The head of Kuwait Energy says she’s encouraged by recent gains in Iraq against the militant Islamic State group and would welcome more investment there. Sara Akbar, Kuwait Energy’s CEO, told Reuters during an oil conference in Norway that “I think we've been through the worst and things will stabilize.”

Several oil companies in Iraq's Kurdistan region withdrew staff earlier this month after Islamic State fighters approached Irbil, the region's capital, threatening its vast oil infrastructure. Kurdish forces, assisted by U.S. airstrikes, have pushed back Islamic State fighters in recent weeks – but some firms have not returned to the country.

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The meaning of ‘win’ this time in Iraq

Robin Wright reports for Gulf News:

Let’s be honest. The United States has crossed the threshold on Iraq. Americans are in it to salvage the country — again — using their military might.
But the mission has also, very quickly, grown much bigger in less than two weeks. US warplanes are no longer simply helping create escape routes for the Yazidis or protecting American personnel in Arbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. The US is now directly taking on the world’s most militant extremist group, bombing its positions at the Mosul dam and beyond. And it’s probably only the beginning.

President Barack Obama implied as much last week. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), is “a savage group that seems willing to slaughter people for no rhyme or reason other than they have not kowtowed,” he told reporters. The United States has a national security interest in making sure “that a group like that is contained, because ultimately they can pose a threat to us.”

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U.S. relies on Persian Gulf bases for airstrikes in Iraq

Craig Whitlock reports for the Washington Post:

The U.S. military is relying on bases in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere in the Middle East to carry out airstrikes in Iraq, but is masking the locations and other details about the units and aircraft involved to avoid embarrassing partners in the region.

The Persian Gulf monarchies have long hosted U.S. forces to bolster their own security. But most have shied away from acknowledging the American presence and are even more reluctant now with U.S. warplanes bombing Iraq. The arrangement is especially delicate given long-standing accusations from Washington that wealthy donors in the Gulf underwrite terrorist groups, including Islamic militants being targeted by the Pentagon.

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IS withdrawl strategy calls for the creation of local defense forces

Mushreq Abbas writes for Al Monitor:

During the weeks that followed the incursion of the Islamic State (IS) into Mosul and its expansion toward other Iraqi cities, which resulted in the withdrawal of Iraqi security and military forces as well as the Kurdish peshmerga, talks about “tactical withdrawal” prevailed. Every party, namely the Iraqi forces, the Kurdish peshmerga and IS, claimed to have tactically withdrawn from Anah in western Iraq.

Iraqi and peshmerga forces did not exert real effort in the fight to win back the territories they lost up until the US intervention on Aug. 8. Similarly, IS militants did not fiercely fight to control the cities and villages they entered. Cities fell under IS rule within a few hours with no real resistance on the part of the military forces. Over the last few weeks, media outlets received official army statements about the deaths of hundreds and maybe thousands of IS militants, countered by other statements issued by IS about the deaths of thousands of army and peshmerga troops.



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Dempsey: Regional plan key to militants’ defeat in Iraq

Jim Michaels writes for USA Today:

U.S. airstrikes on Islamic militants in Iraq have blunted their momentum, but defeating them will require a broad regional approach that draws support from Iraq's neighbors and includes political and diplomatic efforts, the top U.S. military officer said.

The long-term strategy for defeating the militants includes having the United States and its allies reach out to Iraq's neighbors, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday. "This is not just about us," Dempsey said. Such a coalition could "squeeze ISIS from multiple directions in order to initially disrupt it and eventually defeat it," he said.

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Car bombing kills at least 11 people in Baghdad

AP reports:

A car bomb exploded on Tuesday in a busy Shiite area in eastern Baghdad, killing at least 11 people, officials said, the latest in a series of attacks to shake the Iraqi capital as the Shiite-led government struggles to dislodge Sunni militants from areas in the country's west and north.

The explosives-laden car went off during the morning rush hour in the main commercial area of the New Baghdad district. It was parked close to outdoor pet and vegetable markets and a traffic police office, a police officer said. The attack also wounded 31, he added. A medical official confirmed the casualty figures. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

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A look into heart of jihadist ‘caliphate’ in Syria, Iraq

AFP reports:

"What do you want to be? A jihadist, or to execute a martyrdom operation?" In the "caliphate" recently proclaimed by jihadists in Syria and Iraq, even young children are indoctrinated, and Sharia law is backed by the gun, according to a gripping documentary offering one of the first glimpses of life in Raqqa, power base of the so-called Islamic State (IS).

Part 1 of a five-episode series, The Islamic State, filmed by Anglo-Palestinian journalist Medyan Dairieh was released Thursday by New York-based Vice News.
The tone is set early: "Sharia can only be established with weapons," an IS fighter explains to Dairieh, who spent three weeks embedded with the radical Sunni group. Dairieh, toting a video camera, gained "unprecedented access" to the organization, Vice News said.

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U.S. considering taking fight against Islamic State into Syria

Steve Holland reports for Reuters:

The United States is considering taking the fight against Islamic State militants into Syria after days of airstrikes against the group in Iraq and the beheading of an American journalist, the White House signaled on Friday.

President Barack Obama, soon to end a two-week working vacation on the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard, has not yet been presented with military options for attacking Islamic State targets beyond two important areas in Iraq, said White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes. But Rhodes made clear that going after Islamic State forces based in Syria is an option after the release of a video this week showing one of the group's fighters beheading American journalist James Foley and threatening to kill a second American, Steve Sotloff.

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Iraq suicide bomber kills at least 11 in Baghdad

Sinan Salaheddin reports for AP:

A suicide bomber hit an Interior Ministry building in central Baghdad on Saturday, killing at least 11 people, as an investigation was underway into a deadly attack on a Sunni mosque that has heightened sectarian tension amid a fragile political transition.

The suicide bomber drove an explosives-laden car into the gate of the intelligence headquarters in Karrada district in the early afternoon, killing six civilians and five security personnel, a police officer said. He said 24 other people were wounded. A medical official confirmed causality figures. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to brief the media.

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US officials and experts at odds on threat posed by ISIS

Mark Mazzetti and Helene Cooper write for the New York Times:

Earlier this year, President Obama likened the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria to a junior varsity basketball squad, a group that posed little of the threat once presented by Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. But on Thursday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called ISIS an “imminent threat to every interest we have,” adding, “This is beyond anything that we’ve seen.”

With the rapid advance of ISIS across northern Iraq, and the release this week of a video showing one of the group’s operatives beheading an American journalist, the language Obama administration officials are using to describe the danger the terrorist group poses to the United States has become steadily more pointed. But some American officials and terrorism experts said that the ominous words overstated the group’s ability to attack the United States and its interests abroad, and that ISIS could be undone by its own brutality and nihilism.

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