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

A look into heart of jihadist ‘caliphate’ in Syria, Iraq

AFP reports:

"What do you want to be? A jihadist, or to execute a martyrdom operation?" In the "caliphate" recently proclaimed by jihadists in Syria and Iraq, even young children are indoctrinated, and Sharia law is backed by the gun, according to a gripping documentary offering one of the first glimpses of life in Raqqa, power base of the so-called Islamic State (IS).

Part 1 of a five-episode series, The Islamic State, filmed by Anglo-Palestinian journalist Medyan Dairieh was released Thursday by New York-based Vice News.
The tone is set early: "Sharia can only be established with weapons," an IS fighter explains to Dairieh, who spent three weeks embedded with the radical Sunni group. Dairieh, toting a video camera, gained "unprecedented access" to the organization, Vice News said.

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U.S. considering taking fight against Islamic State into Syria

Steve Holland reports for Reuters:

The United States is considering taking the fight against Islamic State militants into Syria after days of airstrikes against the group in Iraq and the beheading of an American journalist, the White House signaled on Friday.

President Barack Obama, soon to end a two-week working vacation on the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard, has not yet been presented with military options for attacking Islamic State targets beyond two important areas in Iraq, said White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes. But Rhodes made clear that going after Islamic State forces based in Syria is an option after the release of a video this week showing one of the group's fighters beheading American journalist James Foley and threatening to kill a second American, Steve Sotloff.

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Iraq suicide bomber kills at least 11 in Baghdad

Sinan Salaheddin reports for AP:

A suicide bomber hit an Interior Ministry building in central Baghdad on Saturday, killing at least 11 people, as an investigation was underway into a deadly attack on a Sunni mosque that has heightened sectarian tension amid a fragile political transition.

The suicide bomber drove an explosives-laden car into the gate of the intelligence headquarters in Karrada district in the early afternoon, killing six civilians and five security personnel, a police officer said. He said 24 other people were wounded. A medical official confirmed causality figures. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to brief the media.

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US officials and experts at odds on threat posed by ISIS

Mark Mazzetti and Helene Cooper write for the New York Times:

Earlier this year, President Obama likened the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria to a junior varsity basketball squad, a group that posed little of the threat once presented by Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. But on Thursday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called ISIS an “imminent threat to every interest we have,” adding, “This is beyond anything that we’ve seen.”

With the rapid advance of ISIS across northern Iraq, and the release this week of a video showing one of the group’s operatives beheading an American journalist, the language Obama administration officials are using to describe the danger the terrorist group poses to the United States has become steadily more pointed. But some American officials and terrorism experts said that the ominous words overstated the group’s ability to attack the United States and its interests abroad, and that ISIS could be undone by its own brutality and nihilism.

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Kurdish fighters aren’t terrorists

BloombergView writes:

In Iraq, the U.S. is fighting in a de facto alliance with one group on its list of terrorist organizations -- the Kurdistan Workers Party, also known as the PKK -- against another, Islamic State. This odd situation reveals an emerging truth about the Kurdish group: Its terrorist status is falling out of date. At this point it has to be recognized for the constructive role it can play in Iraq and the wider region.

On the front lines in northern Iraq, even before U.S. airstrikes began, the PKK proved itself to be the most effective fighting force against Islamic State (formerly Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). Some of its battle units came from Iraq's Qandil mountains, long a base for PKK attacks into Turkey. Still more came from the Democratic Union Party, the group's affiliate organization in Syria, where they have fought Islamic State to a standstill in Kurdish areas.

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Iraq, Syria, and the Islamic State: A war that crosses national boundaries

The Economist writes:

TEN days after America carried out its first air strike on August 8th against the Islamic State (IS) on Iraqi territory, government forces regained control of the biggest dam in the country, near Mosul, the country’s second city. A ferocious al-Qaeda-inspired jihadist group that controls swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq and wants to turn the entire region into a caliphate, IS looks as if it is at last on the defensive in northern Iraq.

Thanks to a series of American air raids, Kurdish and Iraqi forces scattered IS fighters who had hoisted their black flags on the walls of the great dam. The Iraqi government in Baghdad hailed the event. The Iraqi Kurds in their capital, Erbil, posted photographs of their Peshmerga forces lording it over the turquoise lake. Barack Obama cited the recovery of the dam as “important progress”.

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Iraq media divided in coverage of IS conflict

Mohammed A. Salih writes for Al Monitor:

About two dozen journalists and editors from various Iraqi media outlets gathered around a neatly arranged table and argued passionately about the “unfortunate” coverage of the conflict stirred by the Islamic State’s (IS) takeover of large parts of the country.

The consensus in the conference room at Erbil International Hotel was that the Iraqi media had failed in its task to provide unbiased and professional coverage of the brutal conflict that has rocked the country in the last couple of months. “The Iraqi media has not been successful in providing a healthy coverage [of the conflict],” said Dana Asaad, director of the Media Academy-Iraq, a nonprofit organization funded by the German Foreign Ministry that trains Iraqi media outlets. “The media failed to provide objective coverage and not only that but they even spread false news,” Asaad said.



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Scores dead in attack on Sunni mosque in Iraq

Al Jazeera reports:

At least 73 people have been killed after a Shia Muslim armed group opened fired inside an Iraqi Sunni mosque in the country's eastern Diyala province, medical sources have said. A security source said bodies had been arriving at the hospital in the city of Baquba in Diyala province on Friday. Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf, reporting from Erbil, said that according to local sources, the attack could have been in retaliation for a roadside bomb attack at a recruitment event organised by the same militia. Such sectarian violence could hurt efforts by Iraq's new prime minister, moderate Shia Haider al-Abadi, to form a government that can unite Iraqis against the Islamic State group, the Sunni rebel group that has seized large parts of the country.

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Islamic State militants pose ‘biggest threat’ to US

BBC reports :

Islamic State militants are the most dangerous threat America has faced in years, top US officials have warned. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said US strikes had weakened IS in Iraq, but the group could be expected to regroup. America's top general Martin Dempsey said IS fighters could not be defeated without attacking its base in Syria. The conflict has fuelled sectarian tensions in Iraq. In the latest attack, dozens of people have been killed in an attack on a Sunni mosque.

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The collapse of Maliki’s party

Ali Mamouri writes for Al Monitor:

Outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki never thought that his strong and cohesive parliamentary bloc, the State of Law Coalition, would weaken so easily and that his internal and external allies would leave him and follow another political path. The efforts that Maliki has been deploying for many years to remain in power for a third term faded within hours. He was shocked when his fellow partisan Haider al-Abadi was designated to form a government, without his prior knowledge, which ultimately forced him to accept the loss and renounce his position on Aug. 14.


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