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

Saudi Arabia boosts security on heavily fortified Iraqi frontier

Reuters reports:

The group now calling itself the Islamic State rampaged across the border between Syria and Iraq a month ago and has since declared a caliphate across a swathe of the Middle East from Aleppo to the outskirts of Baghdad.

But if its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has proclaimed himself ruler of all the world's Muslims, has his eyes on extending his caliphate south, he will face a far more formidable frontier at the border with Saudi Arabia.

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Reporter’s notebook: the soul of Kurdistan, preserved

Jeffery Young writes for Voice of America:

Irbil, Kurdistan, northern Iraq today is a gleaming city growing daily toward the sky. But the soul of this city, and of Kurdistan, is held in a special place high above today’s frenetic development and streets filled with new luxury cars.

More than 4,000 years ago, maybe longer, people in what is now Kurdistan, looked up at a steep hill and decided that it would be the perfect place to build a citadel, and within it, establish a settlement.

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Kurdistan’s female fighters take on ISIS

BBC reports :

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have moved into parts of northern Iraq abandoned by the army in the face of an advance by jihadist-led rebels. The BBC's Shaimaa Khalil met members of an elite female unit as they prepared to go to the frontline.

Morning assembly is in full swing at a military facility on the outskirts of Sulaimaniya, a city in the autonomous Kurdistan Region. The troops look serious and focused despite the scorching heat of the Iraqi summer. Standing straight in their fatigues with Kalashnikovs on their shoulders, this looks no different than any other training camp.

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Iraqi parliament breaks deadlock to elect speaker

Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Sinan Salaheddin report for the Associated Press:

Iraqi lawmakers broke two weeks of deadlock Tuesday and elected a moderate Sunni as speaker of parliament, taking the first step toward forming a new government that is widely seen as crucial to confronting militants who have overrun much of the country.

Still, it was not clear whether lawmakers had reached a larger deal that would also include an agreement on the most contentious decision - the choice for prime minister. The incumbent, Nouri al-Maliki, has ruled the country since 2006, but is under intense pressure to step aside. So far, he has insisted on staying for a third term.

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Iraq makes strange bedfellows

Brian Michael Jenkins writes for U.S. News and World Report:

Politics makes strange bedfellows, especially in the shifting sands of the Middle East. This has never been more true than it is right now in Iraq, where the United States faces a complex strategic challenge that is blurring the lines between friend and foe. In seeking to quell the unrest, the United States must balance its own interests with those of a diverse cast of players that includes Iraq, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, an unpredictable and violent jihadist front and others.

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Barzani in Ankara for key talks on oil exports, revenues

Rudaw reports :

Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani was in Ankara Monday for important talks on oil exports and revenues, officials said.  Safeen Dizayee, spokesman of the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), told Rudaw that the visit could mean Kurdish civil servants finally getting paid at the end of this month, after going without salaries since Baghdad froze budget payments early this year.

“We requested that Turkey import more Kurdish oil,” Dizayee said. He revealed that current exports were 120,000 barrels per day (bpd), and that “we will try to raise the rate to 400,000 bpd by the end of the year.”

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Get ready for Kurdish independence

Zalmay Khalilzad writes in the New York Times:

In the coming weeks, Iraq’s leaders must make existential decisions. If they cannot form a unity government led by a new prime minister and motivate Sunni moderates and tribes to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Iraq is likely to disintegrate.

If the central government fails to grant satisfactory concessions to Sunnis and Kurds, the Kurds will push for sovereignty and independence. The Kurds are serious, and the international community must adapt to this emerging reality. While all Iraqi leaders bear responsibility for resolving the current crisis, the greatest share lies with the country’s Shiite politicians, who dominate the central government. Shiite parties must select a candidate for prime minister who can share power, decentralize the government and depoliticize the security forces.

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34 killed in raid on alleged brothel in Baghdad

CNN reports:

An attack on apartments that neighbors say were used as a brothel in Baghdad killed at least 28 women and six men Saturday, security officials told CNN.
An AFP correspondent on the scene reported that the attackers left a message on a door: "This is the fate of any prostitution."

Unidentified militants wearing military uniforms and street clothes stormed several apartments in the Zayona residential complexes in eastern Baghdad, officials said. They fired their weapons in the streets before breaking down doors to enter the buildings, security officials and residents told CNN. Once inside, they killed the men and women, the officials said.

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Iraq parliament defers vote on new government

Al Jazeera reports:

Iraq's deadlocked parliament has ended its second session without making any progress towards forming a new unity government that can confront armed rebels who have seized control of a huge part of the country.

Deputies had gathered in parliament on Sunday for talks intended to agree on a prime minister, president and speaker of parliament, three months after Iraq's parliamentary election. But the meeting only lasted for 30 minutes before it was adjourned.

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Expansion of ‘secret’ facility in Iraq suggests closer U.S.-Kurd ties

Mitchell Prothero reports for Mcclatchy:

A supposedly secret but locally well-known CIA station on the outskirts of Irbil’s airport is undergoing rapid expansion as the United States considers whether to engage in a war against Islamist militants who’ve seized control of half of Iraq in the past month.

Western contractors hired to expand the facility and a local intelligence official confirmed the construction project, which is visible from the main highway linking Irbil to Mosul, the city whose fall June 9 triggered the Islamic State’s sweep through northern and central Iraq. Residents around the airport say they can hear daily what they suspect are American drones taking off and landing at the facility.


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