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

Fighting for the ruins of Christian Iraq

Andrew Doran reports for CNN:

Safaa Elias Jajo, a Chaldean man in his 40s, stands in the wreckage of a home in Telskuf in Iraq's Nineveh province. The home served as ISIS headquarters in this area until a U.S.-led coalition airstrike leveled it last year. Above Jajo, a ceiling fan sags downward, melted and charred; at his feet is an expended ISIS rocket that was fired into the home after the terror group's retreat. A calendar, its edges seared by explosions, bears an iconic rendering of the Visitation -- the only sign that it was once a Christian home.

Telskuf is Jajo's home and, until 2014, was a town of 12,000 Christians. He was the last Christian to leave when ISIS advanced here last year and was the first to return when ISIS was driven back toward Mosul.

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The Kurdish consolidation

Michael Tanchum writes for Foreign Affairs:

Recently, Kurds on each side of the Turkey-Syria border have made significant advances in their quest for autonomy. In Turkey, those gains were won at the ballot box, while in Syria they were won on the battlefield. After garnering global sympathy and the support of U.S. airpower with their defense of Kobani against a formidable siege by the Islamic State (also called ISIS), Syria’s Kurds went on to capture the strategic town of Tel Abyad from ISIS on June 15. And as a result of Turkey’s elections a week earlier, the Kurdish-led People’s Democratic Party (HDP) has entered parliament, irrevocably altering Turkey’s political landscape. Indeed, seating the first Kurdish-oriented party in parliament constitutes a milestone for civil rights in Turkey. But in the context of events on both sides of the border, the true winner is Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a party and militant group that initiated the HDP’s creation and whose Syrian affiliate, the Democratic Union Party (PYD),is responsiblefor the recent victories against ISIS.

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Iraq: attacks inside, around Baghdad kill at least 7 people

Sinan Salaheddin reports for AP:

Officials say attacks inside and around Baghdad have killed at least seven people. A police officer says drive-by shooters killed a pro-government Sunni tribal sheikh along with his three guards in the town of Tarmiyah, 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Baghdad. Another officer said three civilians were killed and nine wounded in a bomb explosion at an outdoor marker in Baghdad's western Ghazaliyah neighborhood.

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Massive oil fields are Iraq’s biggest asset — and a huge liability — in the fight against the Islamic State

Landon Schroder reports for Vice News:

Tucked away in the southeast corner of Iraq, right on the border of Iran, is Basra Province. Under this dusty, humid, and scorched piece of earth sit some of the world's largest proven oil reserves. Estimates now suggest that Iraq is sitting on close to 144 billion barrels of oil, accounting for almost 90 percent of all revenue in the war-ravaged country. Most of this oil is being exported from "super fields" in Basra, which have been licensed to major international oil companies (IOCs) like Shell, BP, Lukoil, CNPC, and Exxon. Put into a more digestible financial perspective, just one of these fields alone — BP's Rumaila field — accounts for more than 50 percent of Iraq's total budget revenue, making it the single most valuable asset in the country.

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The war that haunts Iran’s negotiators

Robin Wright writes for The New Yorker:

The historic nuclear diplomacy taking place in Vienna’s elegant Coburg Palace has roots in a gritty war between Iran and Iraq that ended more than a quarter of a century ago. Iran suffered more than a hundred and fifty thousand dead between 1980 and 1988. In Tehran, it’s called the Sacred Defense. In the final stages, U.S. aid to Iraq contributed to Iran’s decision to pursue nuclear capability—the very program that six world powers are now negotiating to contain.

Back in the eighties, Western intelligence agencies questioned whether Iran’s eighteen-month-old revolution could survive for even a few weeks after Saddam Hussein’s surprise invasion. Tehran scrambled to mobilize remnants of the Shah’s army, the new Revolutionary Guards, and almost anyone, of any age, for a volunteer paramilitary. Tehran’s Holy Defense Museum has pictures of thirteen-year-old kids and eighty-year-old men who signed up. (Three per cent of the dead were fourteen or younger.)

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Daily, Iraq inches closer to hunger

Hadi Fathallah reports for The Daily Star:

Every day, Iraq inches closer to hunger. The United Nations estimates that approximately 4.4 million people across Iraq require food assistance. About 30 percent of Iraqis live below the national poverty line, and this number is much higher in the poorest districts. These communities are already struggling with limited resources and basic foodstuffs, a situation made worse by the growing number of internally displaced persons (IDPs). The country faces a stark and multifaceted food security challenge. In the short term, protracted conflict is generating localized food shortages. In the longer term, inflexible policies and government illiquidity are leading to decreased domestic food production and higher import dependency.In June 2014, with ISIS incursion into Salahuddin, Ninevah, Kirkuk and Anbar – the breadbasket governorates comprising Iraq’s cereal belt – the country lost the majority of its annual wheat and barley harvests from these areas, which combined contributed over one-third of Iraq’s cereal production.

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Mass grave containing remains of women and children unearthed in southern Iraq

Tom Porter reports for the International Business Times:

Iraqi forensic teams in Basra have found a mass grave containing 377 bodies believed to be mainly women and children killed by Saddam Hussein's forces during the failed Shia uprising of 1991. The mass grave was found in the east of Basra province, and is the second largest ever discovered in southern Iraq, Mehdi Tamimi, an Iraqi government human rights officer said in a statement.

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Beirut hospital offers hope for civilians injured in Iraq, Syria

Brooke Anderson reports for the Wall Street Journal:

Farah Qasim El-Saad, a mother of three who had her shoulder and jaw partially blown off in a street bombing in Baghdad a year ago, says she would be living a very different life today if not for this: After receiving initial trauma care at an emergency room in the Iraqi capital, she decided to go to Lebanon for follow-up treatment at the American University of Beirut Medical Center.

There, doctors took CT scans and created 3-D images of her skull to determine her bone and fat loss. They then grafted stem cells from her abdominal fat onto her face to replace fat that was destroyed as a result of the injury and to correct the contour she had lost. Ms. El-Saad was the first blast-wound patient at the hospital to undergo the procedure, which previously had been used only on cancer patients there.

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Iran’s nukes are Iraq’s moment of truth

Michael Rubin writes for Commentary :

Iranian influence in Iraq has grown greatly since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Shortly after I returned to Iraq in July 2003, I had driven with Iraqi friends down to see the marshes which Saddam Hussein had ordered drained in order to try to extinguish the Marsh Arabs’ thousands-year way of life. On our way back, we stopped at a roadside fruit and drink stand on the outskirts of Kut. Peeking out from behind a bunch of bananas was a portrait of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s revolutionary leader. A month later, I stopped unannounced at a tribal leader’s house in al-Amara. When I had scheduled a visit with him through local Coalition Provisional Authority officials a week before, he was obsequious to the Americans; when I came back unannounced, there in his reception room where he had served us tea a week before was a huge portrait of Khomeini.

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Anniversary of Islamic State caliphate declaration

BBC reports :

Today is the first anniversary of the declaration of a caliphate across Syria and Iraq by the militant group known as Islamic State. The declaration came after the group took control of Mosul, Iraq's second city, and appeared to threaten Baghdad. The Iraqi capital remains a dangerous and difficult place to live, though the nightly curfew has been lifted.

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