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

Fears in Iraq that ‘Maliki will not go quietly’

Liz Sly reports for the Washington Post:

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will not readily surrender power and is unlikely to do so unless chief ally Iran insists that he go, Maliki’s foes and supporters are warning as pressure mounts on the embattled Iraqi leader to make concessions to rivals or step aside.

The pressure intensified Friday with an appeal by Iraq’s most revered Shi’ite cleric for the swift formation of a new government capable of uniting Iraqis against the threat posed by Sunni militants who have seized large chunks of Iraqi territory over the past 10 days.

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Answering a cleric’s call, Iraqi Shiites take up arms

C. J. Chivers writes for the New York Times:

The long lines of Shiite fighters began marching through the capital early Saturday morning. Some wore masks. One group had yellow and green suicide explosives, which they said were live, strapped to their chests.

As their numbers grew, they swelled into a seemingly unending procession of volunteers with rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, backed by mortar crews and gun and rocket trucks.

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Iraqi Shia groups rally in show of power

Al Jazeera reports:

Thousands of Shia Muslims are taking part in rallies across Iraq vowing to protect their religious sites in a show of power that had been called for by influential Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr.

The largest rally took place in the northern Baghdad suburb of Sadr City, where hundreds of men dressed in combat fatigues and carrying assault rifles marched in military formation.

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Uneasy alliance gives insurgents an edge in Iraq

Tim Arango reports for the New York Times:

Meeting with the American ambassador some years ago in Baghdad, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki detailed what he believed was the latest threat of a coup orchestrated by former officers of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party.

“Don’t waste your time on this coup by the Baathists,” the ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, chided him, dismissing his conspiracy theories as fantasy.

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Iraq tightens oilfield security in south

Ahmed Rasheed reports for Reuters Africa:

Iraq has tightened security and deployed extra troops around oil infrastructure and oilfields to help protect its vital energy industry from Sunni Muslim insurgents who have gained ground over the past week, a senior Iraqi security official said.

Brigadier Moussa Abdul-Hassan, chief of the South Oil Police, said additional troops have been deployed around oilfields, energy facilities, drilling locations and oil companies' headquarters.

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US to send troops to secure embassy in Baghdad

Al Jazeera reports:

US President Barack Obama has announced that up to 275 military personnel will be deployed to Iraq after fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seized control of the country's north.  The troops will provide support and security for US personnel and the country's embassy in the capital, Baghdad.

"This force is deploying for the purpose of protecting US citizens and property, if necessary, and is equipped for combat," Obama said in a letter to US legislators.  "This force will remain in Iraq until the security situation becomes such that it is no longer needed."

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ISIS militants in Iraq gain more ground with capture of Tal Afar

Nabih Bulos reports for the L.A. Times:

Fighters affiliated with an extremist Al Qaeda-inspired faction seized control of another town in the northwest of Iraq on Monday, beating back pro-government forces scrambling to stop the group's advance.

Tal Afar, an ethnically diverse town of Sunni Muslims and Turkmen, was overrun by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, after heavy clashes with Iraqi army units and Turkmen tribal fighters, according to Turkey’s semi-official Anatolia news agency. Pro-government activists in Tal Afar, however, asserted on social media that the fight was continuing, with heavy airstrikes against the militants’ positions.

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Iraq could unravel at the seams

Frida Ghitis writes for the Chicago Tribune:

Cue the partisan finger-pointing on Iraq: The left will say the unfolding disaster in Iraq is George W. Bush's fault. The right will blame President Barack Obama. Who's correct?

A storm of religious fanaticism, sectarian fury and terrorist brutality has blown into Iraq. As the ultraradicals from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, sometimes called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, sweep across the country encountering a retreating Iraqi army, the possible outcomes are perilous.

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Iraq forces fight militants as Maliki says army gains ground

Nayla Razzouk and Glen Carey write for Bloomberg news:

Iraq’s army fought Sunni Muslim extremists for control of a northern town as it sought to repel an offensive that has raised concerns of a spiraling sectarian conflict.

There were conflicting reports on the fate of the town of Tal Afar, where a combined force of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers declared victory against insurgents in 2005. Gunmen from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, an al-Qaeda offshoot, captured most of the town, said Jabar Yawar, a spokesman for Kurdish forces positioned nearby. The military said it was nearing victory there, according to state-sponsored Iraqiya TV.

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Sunnis and Kurds on sidelines of Iraqi leader’s military plans

Alissa J. Rubin and Rod Nordland report for the New York Times:

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has presented himself as the man who could bring Iraqis together, but with the collapse of his army before a Sunni militant assault, he has taken on only one role — that of commander in chief of Iraq.

He is spending much of his time on the military side of the presidential compound, while some of his close civilian aides have taken to wearing starched military fatigues. He spends the better part of his day running the war.

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