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

U.S. troops to use bases in Turkey

Eric Schmitt and Kirk Semple write for the New York Times:

Turkey will allow American and coalition troops to use its bases, including a key installation within 100 miles of the Syrian border, for operations against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, Defense Department officials said Sunday. Obama administration officials have urged the Turkish government to play a more significant role in fighting the extremists who have seized large parts of Iraq and Syria and driven refugees into Turkey.

An American military team will arrive in Turkey this week to work out details of the training program and discuss what kind of missions can be flown from the Turkish bases, administration officials said. The basing and training agreement follows two days of talks in Ankara, the Turkish capital, between the authorities there and John R. Allen, the retired American general who is coordinating the coalition’s response to the Islamic State. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who has been traveling in South America, has said the United States has sought access to Turkish air bases, including one at Incirlik in southern Turkey.

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Appointment of Iraq’s new interior minister opens door to militia and Iranian influence

Loveday Morris writes for the Washington Post:

Iraq’s parliament voted Saturday to put an affiliate of an Iranian-backed paramilitary group in charge of a key security ministry, a move that could strike a serious blow to efforts to unite Sunnis and Shiites to wrest back their country from Islamist extremists. The new interior minister is Mohammed Ghabban, a little-known Shiite politician with the Badr Organization. But there is little doubt that Hadi al-Amiri, head of the party and its military wing, will wield the real power in the ministry.

The Badr militia ran notorious Shiite death squads during Iraq’s sectarian war, after infiltrating the Interior Ministry. A leaked 2009 State Department cable said sources had indicated that Amiri may have personally ordered attacks on up to 2,000 Sunnis. Amiri has denied such allegations.

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Could Iraq’s tribes provide the glue that keeps the country from falling apart?

Dominique Soguel writes for the Christian Science Monitor:

In recent weeks, the self-styled Islamic State has inched toward Baghdad, putting Iraq’s army and government under increasing pressure and challenging their ability to preserve any semblance of a cohesive Iraqi state. Backed by Western airpower, the Shiite-dominated security forces and the Kurdish peshmerga are fighting back against the Sunni jihadists.

But when it comes to reversing the dramatic IS victories in Sunni areas, some leaders of Iraq’s influential tribes say they could prove a vital counterforce, at least until a proposed Iraqi national guard becomes a reality. Sheikh Wasfi al-Asi, who heads a tribal council opposed to the IS, estimates that more than 20,000 tribesmen are now either in training or already fighting IS alongside Kurdish or government forces across Iraq.

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Iraq crisis: MPs complete anti-ISIS government

BBC reports :

Iraqi MPs have approved new defence and interior ministers, completing a unity government that is battling the spread of Islamic State militants. Mohammed Salem al-Ghabban, a Shia, was appointed interior minister, while Khaled al-Obeidi, a Sunni, was confirmed as defence minister. IS controls large parts of the country, and has been making gains despite US-led coalition air strikes.

On Friday, a curfew was imposed in the city of Ramadi amid fierce fighting. The vote by Iraqi MPs will be a big relief both inside and outside Iraq after weeks of wrangling, says BBC Arab affairs editor Sebastian Usher. A more inclusive cabinet is seen as an essential first step in countering IS fighters, particularly among Iraq's Sunni minority, our correspondent adds.

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Neighbor against neighbor

Alia Malek writes for Al Jazeera:

On this nameless street, colloquially known to residents only as Green Mosque Road, the high walls that line the sidewalks make each house a compound unto itself, with only roofs and treetops visible to the outside. But behind these walls, neighbors say they shared their lives — weddings, funerals, holidays and meals — and lived as one family. The Kurdish Mohsens and the Arab Mareis, whose houses are at opposite ends of their block, broke bread together for years, whether in their homes or on picnics in the cooler mountains above their town, some 60 miles south of Mosul. Mohammed Mohsen, 20, remembers that at their last outing in the spring, they laughed endlessly over a generous feast — though the Mareis’ cooking was never quite as good as his mother’s. But a few days after the town of Makhmour was liberated from the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an angry mob came to set fire to the empty Marei house. Mohsen stood aside and let it burn.

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A train ride through time: from Iraq’s checkered past into an uncertain future

Saad al-Tammimi is in his fourth decade working for Iraq’s railroads, a career that has taken him all around his country, and around the Middle East. Nowadays, though, he can go only from Baghdad to Basra, across the relatively calm Shiite-dominated south of this war-torn country. “If we have a problem and have to stop, it’s safe,” he said on a recent evening as he drove his regular route. “Even the Sunnis feel comfortable going to Basra.”

With so much violence, neglect and political dysfunction here, it has been years since passenger trains leaving Baghdad went anywhere other than Basra. In recent years, however, grand ambitions to link the country by railroad had begun taking shape. Freight trains shuttled goods around Iraq, and a few years ago there were test runs of a new train service between Mosul and Turkey. But as the militants of the Islamic State have advanced around the country, those efforts have halted.

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Brent near four-year low as Iraq follows Saudi price cuts

Moming Zhou writes for Bloomberg news:

Brent crude dropped to the lowest level in almost four years after Iraq followed Saudi Arabia and Iran in cutting prices. West Texas Intermediate’s discount to Brent narrowed. Iraq, OPEC’s second-biggest producer, will sell its Basrah Light crude to Asia at the biggest discount since January 2009, the country’s State Oil Marketing Co., known as SOMO, said yesterday. Iran last week said it will sell oil to Asia in November at the biggest discount in almost six years, matching cuts by Saudi Arabia. “OPEC is not ready to act and that’s making people continue to sell,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Winchester, Massachusetts. “Until we see some comments out of OPEC suggesting they are going to stabilize the price, I think the market will probably keep falling.”

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Leaders of Iraq’s Anbar province call for U.S. ground forces to stop IS

Laura Smith-Spark, Ben Wedeman, and Greg Botelho write for CNN:

ISIS fighters stood Saturday on the verge of taking not just a key Syrian town along the Turkish border, but also an entire province on Baghdad's doorstep -- spurring leaders of that province to urgently plead for U.S. ground troops to halt the Islamist extremist group's rapid, relentless assault. The situation in Anbar, just to the west of Baghdad, is "very bad," said Sabah Al-Karhout, the president of Anbar Provincial Council. ISIS, the self-proclaimed "Islamic State" which also is referred to as ISIL, controls about 80% of the province. Reports Saturday suggest they have encircled Haditha, the last large town in Anbar province not yet in the militants' hands.

Should all of Anbar fall, the Sunni extremists would rule from the perimeter of Iraq's capital to Raqqa in Syria (at least), according to the provincial council's deputy head, Falleh al-Issawi. ISIS threatens area near Baghdad Gen. Wesley Clark: ISIS fight is Iraq redux Iraqi refugees flee from ISIS
To stave off Anbar's collapse, provincial leaders have asked Iraq's central government to intervene immediately and for U.S. ground forces to be deployed there, said al-Issawi.

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Iraq pulls troops from ISIS-held Heet

AFP reports :

Iraqi government troops stationed on the edge of Heet in beleaguered Anbar province have withdrawn to another base, leaving the city under full jihadist control, security sources said on Monday. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters had assaulted and eventually seized the center of the western city on the Euphrates river, but a sizeable contingent of government forces remained holed up in a nearby base.

“Iraqi forces evacuated Heet training camp last night (Sunday) on the orders of the military command,” a senior police official in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, told AFP. “Our military leaders argued that instead of leaving those forces exposed to attacks by ISIS, they would be best used to shore up the defense of Asad air base,” he said.

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Kurds hold of Islamic State in Kobani; fighters strike in Iraq

Ayla Jean Yackley and Saif Sameer report for Reuters:

Kurdish defenders held off Islamic State militants in Syria's border town of Kobani on Sunday, but the fighters struck with deadly bombings in Iraq, killing dozens of Kurds in the north and assassinating a provincial police commander in the west.

The top U.S. military officer suggested that Washington, which has ruled out joining ground combat in either Iraq or Syria, could nevertheless increase its role "advising and assisting" Iraqi troops on the ground in the future. U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said in a television interview that Turkey agreed to let bases be used by coalition forces for activities inside Iraq and Syria and to train moderate Syrian rebels in the fight against Islamic State.

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