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

Pushed to accept marriage, Iraq’s displaced child brides face bleak future

Sofia Barbarani writes for Thomson Reuters Foundation:

In the photo that Aziza produces on her mobile phone, her 14-year-old daughter Layla is wearing a pink satin dress and smiling meekly at the camera.

"This was her engagement party," said 35-year-old Aziza. "(Her fiance) was 22 years old. His family came to us at various times to ask for our daughter. The third time we accepted."

At first Aziza and the young man's parents struggled to convince the two to accept the arrangement but when they did, the wedding preparations were quick to get underway.

It was not the first time Layla had received a suitor. Her parents had turned down many offers of marriage back in Mosul, the family's home town before they fled a campaign by Islamic State to capture Iraq's second biggest city in 2014.

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Iraqi forces retake village from Islamic State in slow campaign

Reuters reports:

Iraqi forces retook a northern village from Islamic State on Monday, supported by artillery and air strikes from a U.S.-led coalition, as they try to close in on the city of Mosul.

In March, Iraq's military opened a new front against the militants in the Makhmour area, which it called the first phase of a wider campaign to liberate Mosul, around 60 km (40 miles) further north. But progress has been slow, and to date Iraqi forces have taken just five villages.

"In a swift operation, our units took the groups of the terrorist organisation Daesh by surprise and entered the village," read a statement from the Nineveh Operations Command, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

A source involved in the operation said the militants put up little resistance in the village of Kabrouk.

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Baghdad Attacks Kill at Least 15

Ghassan Adnan and Asa Fitch write for The Wall Street Journal:

Multiple attacks in Baghdad killed at least 15 people and wounded scores more on Sunday, a stark reminder of Iraq's continuing instability amid a political crisis that is heaping pressure on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

A suicide bombing outside a funeral in Abu Ghraib on the outskirts of the capital killed five people including two policemen, Iraqi officials said. Another 14 people were wounded. A further 10 people were killed and 35 were wounded by improvised explosive devices across the city, the officials said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks.

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Turkish warplanes attack Kurdish militant targets in Iraq: sources

Reuters reports:

Turkish warplanes hit targets belonging to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq on Sunday, military sources said, as three soldiers and 12 militants were reported killed in separate clashes over the weekend.

The F-16 and F-4 2020 aircraft destroyed bunkers, ammunition depots and gun installations in four northern Iraqi regions, including Qandil, where the PKK has camps, the sources said.

The air strikes were launched early on Sunday and the aircraft returned safely to their bases, according to the sources.

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Media Consumption in Iraq

Broadcasting Board of Governors and Gallup report:

Gallup releases the results of a series of surveys done in Iraq on residents' media consumption habits.

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US Struggles to Convince Iraqis It Doesn’t Support IS

Sinan Salaheddin and Susannah George write for AP:

For nearly two years, U.S. airstrikes, military advisers and weapons shipments have helped Iraqi forces roll back the Islamic State group. The U.S.-led coalition has carried out more than 5,000 airstrikes against IS targets in Iraq at a total cost of $7 billion since August 2014, including operations in Syria. On Tuesday a U.S. Navy SEAL was the third serviceman to die fighting IS in Iraq.

But many Iraqis still aren't convinced the Americans are on their side.

Government-allied Shiite militiamen on the front-lines post videos of U.S. supplies purportedly seized from IS militants or found in areas liberated from the extremist group. Newspapers and TV networks repeat conspiracy theories that the U.S. created the jihadi group to sow chaos in the region in order to seize its oil.

Despite spending more than $10 million on public outreach in Iraq last year, the U.S. government appears to have made little headway in dispelling such rumors. An unscientific survey by the State Department of Iraqi residents last year found that 40 percent believe that U.S. policy is working to "destabilize Iraq and control its natural resources," and a third believe America "supports terrorism in general and (IS) specifically."

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In Iraq, supporters of cleric Muqtada Sadr shock the leadership

Nabih Bulos writes for the Los Angeles Times:

Some things, once broken, can never be fixed. That thought has dominated conversations in Baghdad's capital in the week since supporters of a powerful Shiite Muslim cleric stormed the heavily fortified Green Zone.

Unlike previous demonstrations that have ebbed and flowed over the last year with little political effect, the thousands of protesters who ransacked parliament and accosted fleeing lawmakers shocked the country's perpetually bickering leaders and left many wondering whether the country's embattled prime minister will survive in office.

As supporters of the cleric, Muqtada Sadr, left the manicured lawns of an area that had been largely off-limits to them for 13 years, Sadr threatened to bring down the government and force new elections if the legislature fails to approve a Cabinet of technocrats — one not dictated by ethnic and sectarian quotas.

More than a week later, the reverberations could still be felt.

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Political impasse adds ‘new layer of complications’ to Iraq’s complex challenges – UN envoy

UN News Centre reports:

A profound political crisis has engulfed Iraq, adding “a new layer of complications to the already complex set of military, security, humanitarian, economic and human rights challenges,” the United Nations envoy for the country warned today, urging the Government, constitutional and political leaders, and civil society to work together to break the impasse and advance reforms.

“A business as usual approach simply will not be enough for the people,” Ján Kubiš, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, said in his periodic briefing to the Security Council. “They want genuine change that will improve their lives.”

Failure of Iraq’s Government and political class to agree on genuine reforms prompted demonstrators to request reform of the whole government and political process, abandoning of the ethnic and sectarian quota approach that is in the fundament of the Iraq political system since 2003, the envoy explained.

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For Iraqi Students, One Last Hurrah Before an Uncertain Future

Matt Bradley writes for The Wall Street Journal:

At a recent end-of-school party at Baghdad Technology University, a poster displayed smiling students’ photos next to the slogan: “We graduated in a time of austerity.”

Nearby, another student who wore a long black frock and a skull mask described himself as "the messenger of death."

"This has become a part of our life," said Hussein Alaa Hussain, a 23-year-old engineering student. "Even when people see me like this they don't get surprised. This is an indication that violence has become something normal in our life."

Iraq's war with Islamic State has raged for nearly two years and terrorism regularly punctuates life on the home front. But the country's tanking economy is foremost on the minds of university graduates.

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Iraqi Kurds Build Washington Lobbying Machine to Fund War Against ISIS

Eric Lipton writes for The New York Times:

The marble-floored atrium at the office of Dentons, a prominent law and lobbying firm, is a popular venue for the capital’s elite to gather for political fund-raisers and ritzy receptions for corporate clients.

But the featured guest one recent evening was not a member of Congress or a company executive. It was Qubad Talabani, the deputy prime minister of the regional government of Kurdistan, the financially struggling region in northern Iraq that is desperately looking for ways to pay for its war effort against the Islamic State after its economy was decimated by the global drop in oil prices and a surge of refugees.

“You cannot win a war bankrupt,” Mr. Talabani said in an interview. “If we are the boots on the ground against ISIS, we have to be supported to stand on our own feet.”

Washington is bloated with thousands of special pleaders, most of whom want to push or derail legislation or a regulation. But Mr. Talabani’s visit — which included meetings with officials from the White House, State Department, Pentagon and on Capitol Hill — came with a decidedly different agenda: seeking money to finance a foreign war.

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