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

Five new camps to embrace anticipated flow of refugees from Mosul

Rudaw reports:

There will be at least five new camps in the outskirts of Duhok city as the province prepares for a second wave of refugees which are predicted to flee Mosul ahead of the looming operation to drive out ISIS militants.

The new camps will be built outside the city center and closer to Mosul province in areas that are beyond the administration of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) but patrolled by its Peshmarga units.

“The plan is to make sure the refugees receive the help and accommodation they desperately will need but also to reduce the total number of refugees in the city itself which is now nearly equal to the number of original inhabitants in Duhok,” said Rudaw correspondent Sleman Alikhan.

Over 600,000 refugees have taken shelter since 2013 in Duhok city with has a population of about 800,000. Most of the refugees come from ISIS-held territories in central Iraq but many are also from neighboring Syria and Turkey who sought refuge in Kurdistan after clashes broke out.

Click here for the entire story

British Think Tank: Islamic State Continues to Lose Territory in Iraq, Syria

Ken Bredemeier writes for Voice of America:

Islamic State jihadists are continuing to lose control of territory they had captured in Iraq and Syria, the British think tank IHS said Sunday.

IHS said Islamic State lost 12 percent of the territory it held in the first half of 2016 on top of the 14 percent it lost last year. In all, IHS said that as of last week Islamic State controls about 68,300 square kilometers of land in the two countries.

IHS analysts said Islamic State has lost the territory in Syria as it has come under increasing pressure from Syrian forces backed by Russian airstrikes and an Arab-Kurdish alliance backed by a U.S.-led coalition. In Iraq, government forces supported by a U.S. aerial bombardment have ended Islamic State control of several key cities, including Ramadi and Fallujah, even as Islamic State still controls the second largest Iraqi city, Mosul.

The IHS assessment did not break down the Islamic State losses in the two countries in 2015 and in the last six months. But it appears to be somewhat the same as a U.S. military conclusion in May, that Islamic State has lost 45 percent of the territory it once held in Iraq and 16 to 20 percent in Syria.

Click here for the entire story

Is Iraq’s Kirkuk on verge of becoming independent region?

Omar Sattar writes for Al-Monitor:

The status of Kirkuk province, which is disputed by Arabs, Turkmens and Kurds, returned to the forefront after the Iraqi presidency announced a proposal June 18 to make Kirkuk an independent region. The plan has been met with mixed reactions.

The proposal stipulates the establishment of Kirkuk as an independent region, Iraqi Kurdistan, within its current administrative borders and power distributed among its main nationalist components. A Kurd would hold executive power, and the president would be a Turkmen and the speaker of parliament an Arab.

The conflict in the oil-rich Kirkuk province would appear to be one of identity more than power or influence. Turkmens view it as a Turkmen area and want it to remain so. On June 18, Iraqi presidency spokesman Khaled Shwani said that Turkmen members of Kirkuk’s provincial council support the proposal for the regionalization of Kirkuk. A majority of the council must approve the measure for it to take effect. Specifics of the proposal must await its approval by parliament.

Click here for the entire story

At least 35 killed in attack on Shi’ite mausoleum north of Baghdad

Reuters reports:

Islamic State claimed a triple suicide attack on Thursday evening near a Shi'ite mausoleum north of Baghdad, which killed at least 35 people and wounded 60 others, according to Iraqi security sources.

The attack on the Mausoleum of Sayid Mohammed bin Ali al-Hadi reignited fears of an escalation of the sectarian strife between Iraq's Shi'ites and Sunnis.

The Shi'ite form a majority in Iraq but Sunnis are predominant in northern and western provinces, including Salahuddin where the mausoleum is located.

Prominent Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his militia, the Peace Brigade, to deploy around the mausoleum, near Balad, about 93 kilometers (58 miles) north of Baghdad.

Sadr's militia is also deployed in Samarra, a nearby city that houses the shrine of Imam Ali al-Hadi, the father of Sayid Mohammed whose mausoleum was attacked on Thursday.

Click here for the entire story

Will Shiite power struggle turn into armed conflict in Iraq?

Mustafa Saadoun writes for Al-Monitor:

Most Shiite political parties in Iraq have their own armed groups, enjoying influence on the Iraqi street and engaging in the war against the Islamic State. Yet these groups all have different religious authorities and funding sources, and their stances towards domestic and foreign issues also differ.

Concern is widespread in Iraq over potential fighting among armed Shiite groups, and the potential for the political crisis within the Shiite alliance to exacerbate. Such conflicts could lead to a major crisis with great human and material losses that could further aggravate the deteriorating situation.

Recently, a dispute over the management of religious shrines flared up. On June 25, Al-Khaleej quoted Muhammad al-Rubeii, a leader of the Muqtada al-Sadr Peace Brigades, as saying that the Badr Organization, led by Hadi al-Ameri, is implementing foreign agendas (a reference to Iran) to exert military and administrative control over the city of Samarra, home to the shrine of Al-Askari.

The dispute over the management of the shrine between the Shiite and Sunni endowments continues. Because Samarra is a Sunni-majority city, the dispute is worsening the recent row among Shiite groups and the city at large over the shrine’s management.

Click here for the entire story

Not Pretty. A Reporter Remembers Basra in 2003.

Stephen Farrell writes for The New York Times:

It seemed, whenever I drove south from Baghdad to Basra after 2003, that I was now covering a different war, in a different country. A hotter, grimier, poorer country with different risks and different rules.

Four months after the American and British-led invasion, the reality of the British military presence in the city was starkly summed up for me by Lt. Col. Jorge Mendonça, of The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment. “There are 1.5 million people in Basra and I can push 430 bayonets onto the street at maximum effort,” he said in July 2003. “These figures do not look too pretty.”

Not pretty. By the end of 2003 more than 50 British soldiers were to die and the number would rise to around 180 before the end of the British military mission in 2009. More than half of those were killed by ambushes, roadside bombs and gunfire along the garbage-strewn highways and desert roads through villages. The death toll was — in hard numbers — a fraction of the 4,000-plus American troops killed farther north in Baghdad, Falluja and Mosul and other areas during the same period. But the British contingent was a much smaller one, and the voices back home in Britain protesting against the war were strengthened with every body flown home.

Click here for the entire story

Christians in Iraqi Kurdistan complain about land seizure

Omar al-Jaffal writes for Al-Monitor:

Christian citizens in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq issued complaints in court June 15 that Kurdish residents are attacking and seizing their villages in the provinces of Dahuk and Erbil. They also accused the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of neglecting the crisis and failing to take serious action to resolve an issue that has been going on for some time.

On April 13, the KRG had prohibited residents from eight Christian villages in the Nahla area in Dahuk province from accessing the KRG's headquarters to protest and demand that an end be put to the encroachment upon their land on the part of Kurdish individuals and populations. However, some of them managed to make it to the sit-in location and stage a protest as they held a banner that reflected the deep sorrow plaguing Christians in the region. “Our [Christian] people’s lands are encroached upon across the Kurdistan Region,” the banner read.

On April 22, a Human Rights Watch report highlighted the hardships facing Christian citizens in the Kurdistan Region amid restrictions by the Kurdish authorities preventing them from peacefully claiming their right to restore these territories.

Click here for the entire story

As Britain Takes Stock of Iraq War, Iraqis Grimly Assess Its Aftermath

Falih Hassan and Tim Arango write for The New York Times:

As Britain on Wednesday looked back on its decision to go to war in Iraq 13 years ago, Thamir al-Shemmary went to the funeral of his brother and two nephews, killed over the weekend in Baghdad’s deadliest terrorist attack since that war began.

Mr. Shemmary had a question for Tony Blair, the former British prime minister whose decision to join the invasion came under critique in the Chilcot Report, the exhaustive war inquiry released in London on Wednesday.

“Who will compensate me for the loss of my brother and his children?” he said. “Trust me, I am bleeding from the inside.”

With Britain consumed with re-litigating the familiar history of the Iraq war — the false intelligence assessments, the failure to plan for after the invasion — Iraq is consumed with the consequences of that history.

Click here for the entire story

ISIS Tightens Grip On Scores Of Female Sex Slaves

AP reports:

The advertisement on the Telegram app is as chilling as it is incongruous: A girl for sale is "Virgin. Beautiful. 12 years old... Her price has reached $12,500 and she will be sold soon."

The posting in Arabic appeared on an encrypted conversation along with ads for kittens, weapons and tactical gear. It was shared with The Associated Press by an activist with the minority Yazidi community, whose women and children are being held as sex slaves by the extremists.

While the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is losing territory in its self-styled caliphate, it is tightening its grip on the estimated 3,000 women and girls held as sex slaves.

In a fusion of ancient barbaric practices and modern technology, ISIS sells the women like chattel on smart phone apps and shares databases that contain their photographs and the names of their "owners" to prevent their escape through ISIS checkpoints. The fighters are assassinating smugglers who rescue the captives, just as funds to buy the women out of slavery are drying up.

The thousands of Yazidi women and children were taken prisoner in August 2014, when ISIS fighters overran their villages in northern Iraq with the aim to eliminate the Kurdish-speaking minority because of its ancient faith. Since then, Arab and Kurdish smugglers managed to free an average of 134 people a month. But by May, an ISIS crackdown reduced those numbers to just 39 in the last six weeks, according to figures provided by the Kurdistan regional government.

Click here for the entire story

Iraq: The World Capital of Terrorism

Uri Friedman writes for The Atlantic:

Early Sunday, on one of the final days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a suicide attacker blew up his explosives-packed car in a humming shopping district in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad; as of Tuesday, Iraq’s Health Ministry put the death toll at 250. It appears to have been, according to The Washington Post, “the Islamic State’s deadliest-ever bomb attack on civilians.” And yet, in the context of the recent string of less deadly terrorist attacks in Turkey, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia—and particularly compared with the mass slaughter in Paris in 2015—the “international outpouring of grief [over the violence in Baghdad] was more muted,” the Post observes.

Terrorism does not terrorize equally. It is not processed equitably. The identities of the perpetrators and victims, the scale and apparent significance of the massacre, the setting and novelty of the violence—all these variables shape how grief is expressed, and who expresses it, after an attack. As a result, outpourings of grief don’t always align with death tolls. In the case of Iraq, years of grinding conflict in the country may have numbed many people to Sunday’s carnage.

Click here for the entire story

Page 30 of 522« First...1020...2829303132...405060...Last »