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

Iraq president says constitution should not be bypassed

AFP reports :

Iraqi President Fuad Masum said Wednesday Iraq's constitution should be amended rather than bypassed, in an apparent criticism of the premier's plan to abolish the constitutionally mandated vice presidency.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ordered Iraq's three vice presidential positions to be scrapped and their funding reallocated as part of a reform drive aimed at curbing rampant corruption and government waste in response to weeks of protests. Masum called on his website for "protecting the constitution... and not bypassing it and not stopping working with it."

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Kurds take 10 villages from Islamic State in north Iraq

Reuters reports:

Kurdish forces backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes drove Islamic State militants out of 10 villages in Iraq's Kirkuk province on Wednesday in an offensive to secure their territory to the north, Kurdish military sources said.

The assault began at dawn in the Daquq area, around 175 kilometers (110 miles) north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad. By evening, Kurdish forces had taken an area of around 250 square kilometers, the sources said.

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The long fight over an Iraq oil town whose importance is now debatable

Thomas Gibbons-Neff reports for the Washington Post:

After more than a year of near-constant fighting, there is still no sign that the battle for the Iraqi town of Baiji and its massive oil refinery is coming to a conclusion anytime soon, despite remarks by Iraq’s prime minister on the importance of the town in the fight against the Islamic State.

“The Baiji battle is a challenge to the heart of Daesh and the fundamental existence of Daesh,” said Iraq prime minister Haider al-Abadi, using an Arabic name for the Islamic State on Monday, according to Reuters. “Victory in this battle is critical to ending Daesh’s presence in Iraq.”

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More than a year on, who is to blame for the fall of Mosul?

Mohammed A. Salih writes for Al Monitor:

A report released mid-August by the Iraqi parliament on the 2014 fall of Mosul, the country's second-largest city, to the Islamic State (IS) is being viewed as a litmus test for the new direction Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi wants to take the country through a set of bold but decisive political, economic and administrative reforms. Iraqi lawmakers ratified the report Aug. 17 without reading it on the floor and referred it to the judiciary for action. That the investigative committee put former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at the top of a list of more than 30 senior state officials responsible for Mosul's fall is likely to deepen tensions in the Iraqi political landscape, as Maliki is currently locked in a power struggle with Abad

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Why Iraqis and Lebanese have reached breaking point

Antoun Issa reports for The National:

Anti-corruption protests in Lebanon and Iraq have once again brought to the fore the underlying socio-economic woes that sparked the Arab Spring in 2011. When Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi doused himself with petrol on December 17, 2010, it symbolised the exasperation felt across the Arab world with self-serving elites that had long neglected the public interest.

The uprisings in 2011, which spread from Tunisia to Egypt and Libya, were far different from the largely sectarian conflicts raging across the region today. The main points of contention then were social justice, dignity and lack of opportunity. However, the current wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya have served as distractions from the social and economic concerns that caused much of the region’s instability in the first place.

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How a currency crisis in Iraq risks fight against Islamic State

Jack Fairweather and Rinat Gaynullin report for Bloomberg :

Any currency crisis usually comes with dire consequences for a country, and the threat of one in Iraq shows how the impact can go beyond the economy and markets.

A foreign-exchange crunch because of a drop in oil prices could force a devaluation of the dinar and risk making the fight against Islamic State militants even tougher. The nation, currently OPEC’s biggest producer after Saudi Arabia, is dependent on oil revenue to fund its operations on the battlefield and quell growing unrest over the economy.

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Police break open ISIS terror cell in Kirkuk

Rudaw reports :

Three members of an alleged ISIS terror cell were arrested Tuesday in Kirkuk, a local police official told Rudaw.  “The group was led by a terrorist named Jamil Talib Mahmood who managed to infiltrate Kirkuk from the ISIS-controlled areas in Kirkuk province,” said Brigadier Sarhad Qadir, chief of Kirkuk province suburban police.

Qadir said the members of the group had been involved with the Ansar al-Sunna terror organization prior to joining the Islamic State, or ISIS. Ansar al-Sunna was a Sunni insurgent group that fought against US troops and their local allies after the 2003 Iraq War.

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Baghdad seeks KRG help to nab corrupt officials

Rudaw reports :

The government of Iraq will work with the Kurdish officials at the international airports in Erbil and Sulaimani in a bid to prevent citizens charged with corruption or wanted by the law from leaving the county.

“The Iraqi Commission of Integrity has planned to create coordination through the board of Erbil-Baghdad relations to prevent corrupt Iraqi leaders who are wanted by the court and with arrest warrants from traveling abroad,” Hassan Yasiri, head of the Iraqi Commission of Integrity, said on Monday in a statement. The commission has sent a list of wanted Iraqi officials to representatives of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Baghdad, according to the statement.

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Iraqis protest corruption, lack of services while politicians blame everyone but themselves

Ali Mamouri writes for Al Monitor:

The July 16 killing of Muntazar al-Hilfi by police in al-Madina, north of Basra, during a protest for improved services was redolent of the death of Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi on Jan. 4, 2011, which sparked the Arab Spring revolutions. Hilfi’s killing led to a series of massive protests throughout the central and southern cities that have continued until the time of this writing. Protesters are standing against rampant corruption in the country and the deterioration of services.

The religious authority in Najaf showed complete and full support to the protesters and called for promptly meeting their demands. The spokesmen for the religious authority in Najaf, Sheikh Ahmed al-Safi and Sheikh Abdul Mahdi Karbalai, who are the Friday preachers in Karbala, voiced their support. On Aug. 7, Safi said in his Friday sermon, “The people who have tolerated tough times, stood in the face of schemes and participated in elections to choose the political powers ruling them expect — and they are right to do so — those politicians to work hard to provide them with a good life. They also expect the political class to fight corruption and achieve social justice, in addition to overcoming sectarian and partisan considerations in order to reform the state’s institutions.”

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Iraq parliament chief puts pressure on electricity minister

AFP reports :

Iraq’s parliament speaker threatened the electricity minister Tuesday with a vote of no confidence if he does not appear within four days to be quizzed over a persistent power crisis. For weeks, demonstrators have protested against corruption and poor services, especially abysmal power provision, making Minister Qassem al-Fahdawi a prime target for popular anger.

Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri “warns the electricity minister that he will be held accountable in absentia and that confidence will be withdrawn from him if he does not attend by Saturday at the latest,” a statement from his office said.

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