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

Iraq must form new government, Kerry warns in Baghdad

The Financial Times reports:

John Kerry called on Iraq’s leaders to immediately form a new government that includes all the country’s political and religious factions, as the US secretary of state scrambled to head off the break-up of the country by a surging rebel alliance.

This should happen “not next week, not next month, but now”, Mr Kerry said at the heavily fortified US embassy in Baghdad, where he held talks with Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s Shia prime minister, and other leaders. Iraq was facing an “existential crisis”, he warned.

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U.S., Iraq agree on legal protections for military advisers

Julian E. Barnes reports for the Wall Street Journal:

U.S. officials announced on Monday that they had secured legal protections from Iraq's government for 300 American special-operations forces being sent to Iraq to advise the Iraqi military.

Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, and Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, issued identical statements saying Iraq has committed to providing protections equivalent to the diplomatic immunity that the embassy staff currently holds.

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Kurdish leader cites ‘new reality’ in Iraq

Lara Jakes writes for AP:

The president of Iraq's ethnic Kurdish region declared Tuesday that "we are facing a new reality and a new Iraq" as the country considers new leadership for its Shiite-led government as an immediate step to curb a Sunni insurgent rampage.

The comments by Kurdish President Massoud Barzani came as he met with visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is pushing the central government in Baghdad to at least adopt new policies that would give more authority to Iraq's minority Sunnis and Kurds.

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In Iraq’s sectarian violence, a show of each side’s worst

Rod Nordland and Suadad Al-Salhy write for the New York Times:

Sectarian violence in Iraq on Monday showed both sides in the conflict at their brutal worst, as Iraqi police officers were reported to have killed scores of Sunni insurgent prisoners along a highway in the south, and militants in the north turned over the bodies of 15 Shiite civilians they had killed, including women and children, only to bomb the cemetery during their funerals, according to one account.

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Kerry presses Maliki as Iraq loses control of Jordanian border

Lesley Wroughton and Ahmed Rasheed report for Reuters:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Iraq's prime minister in Baghdad on Monday to push for a more inclusive government, even as Baghdad's forces abandoned the border with Jordan, leaving the entire Western frontier outside government control.

Sunni tribes took the Turaibil border crossing, the only legal crossing point between Iraq and Jordan, after Iraqi security forces fled, Iraqi and Jordanian security sources said.

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Iraq’s military seen as unlikely to turn the tide

Alissa J. Rubin and Michael R. Gordon report for the New York Times:

As Iraqi Army forces try to rally on the outskirts of Baghdad after two weeks of retreat, it has become increasingly clear to Western officials that the army will continue to suffer losses in its fight with Sunni militants and will not soon retake the ground it has ceded.

Recent assessments by Western officials and military experts indicate that about a quarter of Iraq’s military forces are “combat ineffective,” its air force is minuscule, morale among troops is low and its leadership suffers from widespread corruption.

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Kerry in Baghdad to discuss Iraq crisis

Al Jazeera reports:

John Kerry has arrived in Baghdad to discuss the crisis in Iraq with top leaders, as Sunni fighters continued to make gains against government forces in the north of the country.  The US secretary of state is due to meet the Shia prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki on Monday, and Sunni and Kurdish leaders on his visit.

A state department spokesman said Kerry would "discuss US actions under way to assist Iraq as it confronts this threat and urge Iraqi leaders to move forward as quickly as possible with its government formation process to form a government that represents the interests of Iraqis".

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The Kurds in Iraq: A winning hand

The Economist writes:

They may not frame it quite so bluntly, but the dominant sentiment in the Kurds’ autonomous region of northern Iraq is a gleeful “We told you so”. The Kurds have long accused the central government in Baghdad of shoving them to the margin. More recently they have taken to criticising Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq’s prime minister, for excluding Iraq’s Sunni Arabs, too. Senior people in Erbil, the Kurds’ regional capital, say they contacted their counterparts in Baghdad on June 8th, two days before Mosul was conquered, to share concerns about the horrors of an ISIS takeover. To no effect. At crack of dawn on June 10th ministers in Baghdad called to beg for help, say the Kurds. By then it was too late.

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Four western Iraqi towns fall to advancing ISIS militants

Michael Martinez, Mohammed Tawfeeq, and Chelsea J. Carter report for CNN:

A strategic border crossing and three other towns in western Iraq fell Saturday to the control of ISIS militants, a senior Iraqi security official said.
In addition to their offensives in northern Iraq, the militants have strengthened their hand in the western province of Anbar, the country's largest geographically, and were controlling Al-Qaim, Rawa, Ana and Husaybah, said the senior official, who's based in Anbar.

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Why Iraq’s army crumbled

The Economist writes:

On the face of it, the stunning success of the ISIS offensive in the past ten days defies understanding. How could a band of fewer than 1,000 “terrorists” smash their way into Mosul, put around 30,000 Iraqi security forces to flight in less than 48 hours and take full control of a city with around 2m inhabitants? How could a force that initially numbered not much more than 10,000 storm across north and western Iraq, taking several more towns, including Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s home, and Tal Afar near the border with Syria, while controlling Falluja and most of Ramadi, both in easy striking distance of Baghdad?

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