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

Stepping warily onto the battlefield

David Ignatius writes for the Washington Post:

For President Obama, this is gut-check time on Iraq. He is moving the nation back onto a pitiless battlefield, with a war plan that is long on good intentions and short on clarity about the ultimate mission. It’s a wrenching moment: A president who for several years seemed allergic to U.S. involvement in the Iraqi and Syrian wars is being drawn into this conflict by circumstances that even the skeptics agree require U.S. action. Obama kept his distance despite the deaths of 200,000 Syrians but apparently can’t do so any longer after the beheading of two Americans.

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Iraq: We can defeat ISIS

Mick Krever reports for CNN:

On the eve of U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech outlining the American strategy against ISIS, and after the formation of a new government that was like a “caesarean operation,” Iraq’s new deputy Prime Minister said that ISIS in Iraq could be defeated. “I think they are on the run, on the defensive. And with the increased international support coming … I think they would be defeated, at least here in Iraq. We have every confidence,” Hoshyar Zebari, who was long the Iraqi foreign minister, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

Zebari hailed the formation of a new government – a “big, big challenge” – but some are skeptical whether the leadership is renewed or simply reshuffled. “We all agree that this government has to be different from the previous government – in its leadership, in its faces, in its composition, and its representation.”

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Iraq call for immediate military intervention as Obama unveils plan

Ben Farmer, Peter Foster, and Richard Spencer report for the Telegraph:

Britain and America should launch attacks to defeat Islamic State militants as soon as possible, Iraq’s ambassador said, as Barack Obama prepared to outline his war plan to destroy the extremists. Baghdad’s ambassador to London said the damage inflicted on his country by rampaging fighters loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil) was growing daily and Iraq could not be rebuilt until they were defeated. Faik Nerweyi called for immediate action, saying he wanted to see a Western backed military campaign begin “yesterday” and warned there was little time to waste. “The danger is real, it is imminent and every day that passes, we are losing a terrible amount,” he told The Telegraph.

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Turkey is courted by U.S. to help fight ISIS

Helene Cooper writes for the New York Times :

The Obama administration on Monday began the work of trying to determine exactly what roles the members of its fledgling coalition of countries to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria will play, with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel huddled with the leaders of the one country the administration has called “absolutely indispensable” to the fight: Turkey.

But after hours of meetings here, there were no announcements of what the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan might do. In fact, Turkish officials meeting with Mr. Hagel eschewed the news conferences that usually accompany high-level visits from American officials. Rather, Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, warned on the state-run Anatolia news agency that weapons sent by Western countries to fight ISIS could end up in the hands of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., which Ankara considers a terrorist group.

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U.S. launches airstrikes around Iraq’s threatened Haditha dam

Al Jazeera reports:

The United States launched airstrikes around the Haditha Dam in west Iraq on Sunday, in a move aimed at preventing Islamic State insurgents from advancing on one of the country’s key power generators. The set of four strikes, conducted on Saturday and confirmed by the Pentagon, marked the first time that the U.S. has targeted extremist fighters in the area since the group mounted an offensive to capture the vital dam last month. "At the request of the government of Iraq, U.S. military forces attacked ISIL (an alternative acronym for Islamic State, or IS) terrorists near Haditha in Anbar province in support of Iraqi security forces and Sunni tribes protecting the Haditha dam," the U.S. Central Command confirmed in a statement.

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Qatar’s support of Islamists alienates allies near and far

David D. Kirkpatrick writes for the New York Times:

Standing at the front of a conference hall in Doha, the visiting sheikh told his audience of wealthy Qataris that to help the battered residents of Syria, they should not bother with donations to humanitarian programs or the Western-backed Free Syrian Army. “Give your money to the ones who will spend it on jihad, not aid,” implored the sheikh, Hajaj al-Ajmi, recently identified by the United States government as a fund-raiser for Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate.

Qatar is a tiny, petroleum-rich Persian Gulf monarchy where the United States has its largest military base in the Middle East. But for years it has tacitly consented to open fund-raising by Sheikh Ajmi and others like him. After his pitch, which he recorded in 2012 and which still circulates on the Internet, a sportscaster from the government-owned network, Al Jazeera, lauded him. “Sheikh Ajmi knows best” about helping Syrians, the sportscaster, Mohamed Sadoun El-Kawary, declared from the same stage.

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Why westerners are fighting for ISIS

Francesca Trianni writes for Time:

A growing number of Westerners are joining the Islamist militant group—but why? The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is gaining notoriety for its barbaric methods, after videos showing beheadings and mass killings surfaced online. Meanwhile, the group has been attracting an increasing number of foreign fighters coming from the West, analysts say. But why are so many foreigners joining ISIS’ fighting ranks? Among a range of explanations, one of them is that, compared to other jihadist groups like al-Qaeda, ISIS is extremely welcoming to foreigners, said Joshua Landis, a Syria specialist at the University of Oklahoma.


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In Amerli, an unusual alliance defeated Islamic radicals. Don’t count on that lasting

Greg Jaffe writes for the Washington Post:

For weeks, Iraqi Kurdish fighters had joined an unusual alliance to free this dusty highway town besieged by Islamic State fighters. Shiite militias, Iranian trainers and U.S. military pilots had all contributed, finally wresting the city from the Sunni extremists and saving the 15,000 residents from starvation or brutal slayings.

But on Friday, as the Kurdish pesh merga fighters approached the city to greet the residents they helped save, they were treated less like liberators and more like intruders. “Pesh merga forces are not allowed to enter this city!” yelled a Shiite militiaman with Kataib Hezbollah, an Iraqi group. He waved his rifle at them and the pesh merga retreated.

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Unsavoury allies: The war against jihadists

The Economist writes:

There was never any doubting the brutality of Islamic State (IS), the jihadist group that has swept across large parts of Syria and Iraq and declared an Islamic caliphate. Its war has been accompanied by a stream of gory video recordings of mass-executions and ethnic cleansing. As America has joined the fight against IS, deploying bombers and drones to help Iraqi allies push back the jihadists, the group has started to kill Western hostages it had hitherto held for ransom.

On September 2nd it released a gruesome video of the beheading of Steven Sotloff, an American journalist, supposedly in response to America’s “arrogant foreign policy”. It was the second such atrocity in a fortnight; last month another American journalist, James Foley, was killed in exactly the same way. IS threatens to behead a British captive next.

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ISIS in Iraq: Canada to send special ops forces as advisers

The CBC reports :

Canada's next contribution to the fight against ISIS in Iraq will be "several dozen" members of the Armed Forces, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced today — and CBC News has learned that includes special operations forces.

The contingent of special operations forces will work closely with U.S. forces but remain under full command of Canada's Chief of Defence Staff. The forces will come from the Special Operations Regiment. No specifics were available on what type of work they'd be doing, but Harper has said the Canadian Forces deployed to Iraq won't be involved in combat.

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