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

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 This odd situation reveals an emerging truth about the Kurdish group: Its terrorist status is falling out of date.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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Iraq army advances towards rebel-held Tikrit

Al Jazeera reports:

Iraqi forces have launched an operation to retake Tikrit, the hometown of toppled president Saddam Hussein, from Islamic State fighters.

Al Jazeera sources reported that the troops were advancing from the south and southwest and heavy clashes with the armed group were taking place 10km from the the city, the capital of Salaheddin province and about 200km north of Baghdad. According to the Reuters news agency, clashes were confined to the suburbs of the city as Iraqi forces halted their advance in the face of heavy fighting.

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Next leader may echo Maliki, But Iraqis hope for new results

Tim Arango and Michael R. Gordon report for the New York Times:

The last time the United States pushed Iraqis to choose a new prime minister who could unite the country to confront a sectarian civil war was in 2006, and the Iraqis chose Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. The result was another civil war. This time, with the country again on the edge of collapse, they have chosen Haider al-Abadi.

Both men come from the same Shiite Islamist movement whose members, after decades of clandestine opposition to Saddam Hussein and the Sunni elite that dominated his rule, were asked to govern Iraq in an inclusive way that accommodated the Sunnis they considered their former tormentors.

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US sanctions senior ISIS member as Iraq bombing campaign intensifies

Spencer Ackerman writes for the Guardian:

The US State Department banned a senior member of the Islamic State (Isis) on Monday as the United States sharply intensified its new bombing campaign in Iraq. The designation came as US fighter jets, bombers and drones on Monday launched 15 strikes against Isis positions around one of Iraq’s most important pieces of infrastructure, a third day of support for a difficult effort by Iraqi forces to retake the Mosul Dam that has doubled the lethal US strike total.

Now banned from any financial dealings in the United States or with people in the United States is the group’s spokesman, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, a Syrian whose given name is Taha Sobhi Falaha. Also banned was Said Arif, an Algerian member of the rival Nusra Front who escaped house arrest in France and was linked to a plot to bomb the Eiffel Tower.

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Britain says Iraq campaign will last ‘weeks and months’

Alan Cowell writes for the New York Times:

As Kurdish forces in Iraq, backed by United States airstrikes, fought for strategic gains against Sunni militants, Britain’s defense minister was quoted on Monday as telling air force personnel that the campaign against the insurgents would last “weeks and months” and was no longer simply a humanitarian affair.

But, in a clear attempt to allay worries that British troops might be drawn back into full-scale combat in Iraq, Prime Minister David Cameron used an appearance on television Monday morning to stress that there would be limits to Britain’s involvement.

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