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

In Iraq, lost wonder of the world crumbles, bomb explodes

Manuela Hoelterhoff reports for Bloomberg:

Ozymandias, king of kings, meet Sennacherib, king of the world.

About 700 years before the birth of Christ, the restless Assyrian listed his deeds on palace walls and artifacts.


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Iraqis go to polls amid conflict, security fears

Loveday Morris reports for The Washington Post:

The trickle of voters made its way through the deserted streets, the city quiet except for the intermittent boom of mortar fire, a reminder that this is a country at war once more.

About 12 million Iraqis voted Wednesday in the first elections since the withdrawal of U.S. troops, a crucial test for democracy in Iraq amid fears that the western Sunni province of Anbar is slipping from the Shiite government’s grip as the army struggles to put down an insurgency.

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Maliki hails high election turnout, says balloting was ‘slap in face of terrorism’

Qassim Abdul-Zahra of The Associated Press reports:

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Thursday that a high turnout in parliament elections the previous day was a "slap in the face of terrorism" as government forces battle al-Qaida-inspired militants west of the capital, Baghdad.

Addressing a news conference in Baghdad, al-Maliki also invited his critics, including onetime Shiite allies, to put the bickering and rivalry of Wednesday's election behind them and join him in a majority government.

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Iraqis turn out to vote in high numbers under tight security

Matt Bradley and Ali A. Nabhan report for The Wall Street Journal:

Millions of Iraqi voters braved the threat of violence to cast ballots in the country's first parliamentary elections since U.S. troops withdrew at the end of 2011.

The vote on Wednesday was held under extraordinary security that kept violence subdued compared with previous Iraqi elections, said Zaid Al Ali, a constitutional expert and author of the recently published book "The Struggle for Iraq's Future."

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Baghdad votes amid smiles, not bombs

Imran Khan writes for Al Jazeera:

Throughout the day on Wednesday Baghdad residents came to cast their ballots. There was nervousness among some at first. This election campaign has been bloody and some people I spoke to were scared that their polling stations would be attacked. Then, as news filtered through that the morning passed without incident, the mood changed in Baghdad. People began to arrive at the polling stations and smiles replaced frowns.

Senior citizens struggled to walk in the heat, children chomped on sweets and licked ice creams with a skip in their steps. Baghdad's youth used the day as an excuse to dress up. Young women wore brightly coloured headscarves and young men wore seemingly physics-defying, tight clothes that are all the rage here.

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UN Security Council welcomes timely, peaceful parliamentary elections in Iraq

The United Nations News Centre reports:

The United Nations Security Council today welcomed the timely holding of parliamentary elections in Iraq, and, looking forward to the certification of the results by national electoral officials, called on the country’s leaders “to engage, as quickly as possible, to form a Government that represents the will and sovereignty of the Iraqi people.”

In a statement to the press read out by Ambassador U. Joy Ogwu of Nigeria, Council President for the month of April, the members of the 15-nation body welcomed today’s elections, and commended the people “for demonstrating their commitment to a peaceful, inclusive and democratic political process.”

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Iraqis vote as violence grips a divided country

Ned Parker, Ahmed Rasheed and Isra' al-Rubei'i report for Reuters:

Iraq held a democratic vote to choose a leader with no foreign troops present for the first time ever on Wednesday, as Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki sought to hold power for a third term in a country again consumed by sectarian bloodshed.

Since the last American soldiers pulled out in 2011 eight years after toppling dictator Saddam Hussein, Iraq has descended back into extreme violence, with hundreds of civilians killed each month by al Qaeda-inspired Sunni insurgents, and Shi'ite militia once more taking fearsome revenge.



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Violence in Anbar displacing thousands

Doctors Without Borders reports:

Violence in Iraq’s Anbar Province has forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes, many of whom are suffering from severe wounds or burns and psychological distress and are now living in dire conditions and facing a lack of access to necessary medical care, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said today.

At least 380,000 people have fled their homes in Anbar. In the last month, more than 18,000 have sought refuge in Tikrit, the capital of neighboring Salah al-Din Province, where MSF is assisting them.

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Iraq election hailed as ‘nation building step’ amid intensive security

Martin Chulov reports in the Guardian:

Iraqis have nervously cast ballots in a national election seen as a referendum on security issues that could have widespread ramifactions for the unity of the region.

Wednesday's ballot was conducted under an intensive security dragnet, and it passed largely without incident, despite weeks of rising violence as the poll approached.

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Fearful and fragmented, Iraqis go to the polls

Jane Arraf reports for The Christian Science Monitor:

Iraqis go to the polls today in the first national elections since the withdrawal of US troops against the backdrop of a country increasingly at war with itself.

After five national and provincial elections in 10 years, the novelty of casting a ballot and dipping a finger in purple ink has worn thin. But with the fracturing of traditional political alliances, resurgent sectarian tension, and all-out war against anti-government fighters on Baghdad’s doorstep, the election is seen as a crucial test of whether Iraq will hold together.

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