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

Why fight for the Iraqis if they are not going to fight for themselves?

Eugene Robinson writes in the Washington Post:

If Iraqis won’t fight for their nation’s survival, why on earth should we?

This is the question posed by the fall of Ramadi, which revealed the emptiness at the core of U.S. policy. President Obama’s critics are missing the point: Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how many troops he sends back to Iraq or whether their footwear happens to touch the ground. The simple truth is that if Iraqis will not join together to fight for a united and peaceful country, there will be continuing conflict and chaos that potentially threaten American interests.

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Iraq PM heads to Russia seeking more arms

AFP reports :

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi flew to Russia on Wednesday seeking closer military cooperation as he faces tough challenges in the fight against the Islamic State jihadist group. Abadi, who is due to meet President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, heads a large delegation that includes several ministers and a number of civil and military advisers.

The focus will be “the development of relations between the two countries, mainly expanding the military and security cooperation, and support for Iraqi forces in the face of terrorism,” Abadi’s office said. His one-day official visit comes after IS seized Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar, in the worst setback for the Iraqi government since the jihadists first swept across Sunni regions in June last year.

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Inside the daily lives of Iraq’s Kurds

Jenna Krajeski writes for Smithsonian Magazine:

During the first days of spring, Kurds celebrate Newroz, their traditional New Year. In Erbil, the capital of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, festivals draw crowds into the streets. Women wear beaded head scarves and long, sequined dresses, gold like the sun on the Kurdish flag. Men, some with guns tucked ceremoniously into wide gray belts, join hands and dance in loose circles. The pulse of Kurdish pop music mixes with chants of “Long Live Kurdistan.” At such times the flag-bedecked city seems close to what it dreams of becoming: the capital of a nation-state for the Kurdish people


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Lindsey Graham calls for 10,000 U.S. troops in Iraq

Theodore Schleifer reports for CNN:

Sen. Lindsey Graham said Monday that the Iraq War was not a mistake, even though he was less certain whether he agreed with the ground invasion authorized by President George W. Bush in 2003. Graham was the latest presidential hopeful to tangle with the thorny hypothetical posed to many in the burgeoning Republican field over the past week: Would they have ordered the invasion of Iraq knowing that the nation did not have weapons of mass destruction? "If I knew then what I know now, a land invasion may not have been the right answer," Graham told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room," detailing the record of abuse and rogue behavior by Saddam Hussein. "He had a lot to do with destabilizing the region."

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Losing in Iraq again

The Wall Street Journal writes :

No matter how much the Pentagon and White House downplay it, the fall of Ramadi to Islamic State on Sunday shows that President Obama’s strategy is failing. The question now is whether Mr. Obama has the political courage to change or watch Iraq descend into more chaos and perhaps a Sunni-Shiite civil war.

For now U.S. officials prefer the sunny days school of military analysis. “Regrettable but not uncommon in warfare,” says Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Secretary of State John Kerry added that “I am absolutely confident in the days ahead that [Ramadi’s fall] will be reversed.” This recalls the generals who said in 2006 that Iraq was making progress even as hundreds turned up in the morgues each night.

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Fall of Ramadi reflects failure of Iraq’s strategy against ISIS, analysts say

Hugh Naylor reports for the Washington Post:

As Islamic State militants repeatedly attacked ­Ramadi this year, police solicited cash from local families and businessmen to buy weapons, one officer recalled. The Iraqi government didn’t pay the police for months, he said. “We begged and begged for more support from the government, but nothing,” said Col. Eissa al-Alwani, a senior police officer in the city.

The fall of Ramadi amounts to more than the loss of a major city in Iraq’s largest province, analysts say. It could undermine Sunni support for Iraq’s broader effort to drive back the Islamic State, vastly complicating the war effort.

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U.S. to send rockets to Iraq for ISIS fight

Eric Schmitt writes for the New York Times:

The United States is rushing 1,000 antitank rockets to the Iraqi military to help combat the massive suicide vehicle bombs that Islamic State militants used in capturing the provincial capital of Ramadi, a first step as the Obama administration weighs a range of difficult options to help its beleaguered ally.

The deployment of the weapons, expected to arrive in early June after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq asked for them during a visit to Washington last month, comes as the defeated Iraqi security forces regroup outside the city. A senior State Department official said Wednesday that Iraqis were “licking their wounds a bit” as they worked with American advisers to begin planning a counterattack.

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Shiite forces in Iraq mobilize to retake Ramadi from Islamic State

Nour Malas and Matt Bradley write for the Wall Street Journal:

Thousands of Shiite militiamen converged on the capital of Iraq’s Sunni heartland Monday in a desperate attempt to wrest control from Islamic State, a move that threatens to inflame sectarian tensions that have divided the Baghdad government and allowed militants to conquer some of the nation’s largest cities.

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Is Iran creating its own state within Iraq?

Hamdi Malik and Maysam Behravesh write for the Guardian:

Iraq and its security occupy a central part in the debate about a possible nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers. The Gulf Arab states fear that Tehran, boosted by the relaxation of economic sanctions, will try to expand and consolidate its “hegemonic” grip over the Middle East.

According to this argument, Iranian hegemony will above all affect Iraq, where Tehran seeks to install a government in thrall to it, hindering the formation of a viable democratic system in its western neighbour. The domestic and foreign exponents of this view point to the growing power of Tehran-backed Shia groups fighting the so-called Islamic State (Isis) as proof of attempts to plant an Iranian “deep state” in Iraq, allegedly similar to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

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Who lost Iraq?

Thomas E. Ricks writes for Foreign Policy :

Iraq’s Shiites were an oppressed people. Now they are not. So why am I not happy for them, rejoicing in their rise?

I was thinking about this over the weekend. I think it is because I believe they were given a good chance to control Iraq, yet failed to grasp the opportunity. The surge did not win the war, but it did achieve a truce. Had Shiite leaders used that truce to reach out to Sunnis and try to chart a generous course forward, they might have emerged in triumph. Obviously, easier said than done. And I know that Shiite elements might have reacted murderously to anyone attempting this sort of outreach. But this sort of difficult reconciliation has been achieved in other countries in the past.T

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