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

Historic Iraqi homes, buildings fall to wrecking ball

Adnan Abu Zeed reports for Al Monitor:

Ali al-Khafaji inherited in 2014 an old house in the old city of Hillah, in Babil province, 120 kilometers (74 miles) south of Baghdad. The house dates back to the Ottoman era in Iraq (1532-1918); its official documents indicate that it was built in 1905. However, the building's history did not deter Khafaji from destroying the house in February 2015, along with its traditional wooden windows and decorated walls that were engraved with religious phrases by skilled craftsmen who are hard to find these days.

 

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XXX trumps IS as Iraqi lawmakers focus on eradicating Internet porn

Ali Mamouri writes for Al Monitor:

Abdul-Hadi al-Hakim, an Iraqi parliament member with the Citizen Coalition, announced July 28 that more than 150 parliament members' signatures had been collected to pass a bill calling on the authorities to block pornographic sites on the Internet. Hakim said that most of the National Iraqi Alliance parliamentarians have signed the draft law, while most representatives of the Sunni National Forces Union and the Kurdistan Alliance refrained from signing.

Hakim justified the bill by stating, “Most problems youths face today are caused by surfing porn sites.” He added that pornographic sites have led to a 200% increase in divorce rates and a 50% decrease in marriage and contributed to the rise of sexual crimes, including rape and sexual harassment.

However, Hakim’s statement is based on mere speculation and not on scientific studies. In the same statement, he also invoked numerous other social problems to justify the bill, including early marriage, high unemployment and poverty rates and violence against women. It is worth mentioning that in 2014, Iraq came in last on a list of statistics issued by Pornhub, the largest pornography website on the Internet, which ranked the average amount of time spent on the site by visitors according to country.

 

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Iraq’s most fearsome Shia militia leader speaks out

Niqash reports:

None of the Shia militias operating in Iraq is regarded with more suspicion by the United States, and more fear by its enemies, than Asaib Ahl al-Haq, the League of the Righteous. Over the last year or so, The Daily Beast has written frequently about this splinter group that was responsible for thousands of attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq after it started operations under the command of Qais al-Khazali in 2004.

Following the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, the League continued to assert itself in Iraq’s politics and on the street. Last year it was believed responsible for the slaughter of 29 women and two men in an attack on an alleged house of prostitution. But since the virtual collapse of Iraq’s U.S.-trained regular army in the face of offensives by the so-called Islamic State, Baghdad has put increasing reliance on Shia militias with close ties to Iran and the head of its external covert action and proxy force operations, Qasem Suleimani.

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Islamic State ground attacks kill 23 in Iraq Anbar province

Mark Banham reports for the International Business Times:

Iraq has been rocked by another round of suicide attacks and mortar shelling by Islamic State (Isis) militants, killing at least 23 soldiers and government-connected militia fighters. The attacks took place today (23 August) in the disputed Anbar province in the west of the capital Bagdad Iraqi military and police officials confirmed.

The authorities said that today's attack killed 17 soldiers and six Sunni militia fighters, and took place in the district of Jaramshah north of Anbar's capital Ramadi. Reports said that the chief of the army operations in Anbar Major General Qassim al-Dulaimi was slightly wounded in the attack, but was in no immediate danger.

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Iraq says 23 soldiers, Sunni fighters killed

AP reports:

At least 23 Iraqi soldiers and government-allied militiamen were killed Sunday in an attack by ISIS militants in the turbulent Anbar province west of Baghdad, Iraqi military and police officials said, in the second heavy death toll suffered by the Iraqi military and its allies in recent days in the vast Sunni region.

The officials said Sunday’s attack, which killed 17 soldiers and six Sunni militia fighters, took place in the rural district of Jaramshah, north of Anbar’s provincial capital, Ramadi.

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Kurdish PM calls on EU for military help and civic support

Zhelwan Z. Wali reports for Rudaw:

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said Sunday that a new delegation office of the European Union in the Kurdistan region was a “monumental step” toward closer cooperation with Erbil. In a speech at the opening ceremony, he also called on the EU to help on international recognition of a genocide against Kurdish Yazidis by the Islamic State group (ISIS), and greater military and civic help to the Kurds.

“The increase in the number of consulates and offices of foreign countries in the Kurdistan region is a positive reflection of the region’s politics toward the world,” Barzani said, in a ceremony attended by Kurdish and EU officials.

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European Union opens office in Erbil

Rudaw reports :

The European Union will open a delegation office in Erbil on Saturday, Kurdish and EU officials told Rudaw. The Department of Foreign Relations of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced that the EU delegation office in Erbil will be major benefit for the region's foreign policy and is being launched at an especially critical moment in Kurdish history.

Earlier this month, KRG Foreign Minister Falah Mustafa welcomed the decision of the EU to open its delegation office in Erbil. “The EU and its 28 member states play an important role in dealing with the political, economic and security challenges facing the world,” Mustafa said.

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US, Iran and Turkey all getting involved in Kurdish presidency problem

Honar Hama Rasheed writes for Niqash:

The current Iraqi Kurdish presidency officially ended yesterday. Massoud Barzani, who heads the Kurdish Democratic Party, or KDP, has held the post for a decade now. For eight of those years he was a legally elected representative and for the past two he has served after his term was extended by the Iraqi Kurdish Parliament. Iraqi Kurdistan is a semi-autonomous region in the north of Iraq and has its own borders, military and parliament and the Barzani family are in charge of many aspects of the region's system.

Despite this – or perhaps because of this - the issue of Barzani's ongoing presidency is an extremely sensitive one, not least because Iraqi Kurdistan purports to be a democracy. If Barzani stays in power, all those claims that Iraqi Kurdistan is actually his fiefdom or a sultanate will be hard to argue with. Politicians inside Iraqi Kurdistan are trying to resolve the issue. Other than Barzani's own KDP, one of the two most popular and powerful parties in the region, all other political actors want him to step down.

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Kurdish parties start a meeting in Sulaimaniyah to resolve the presidency of the region

Shafaq News reports:

The Five main parties held in Kurdistan Region on Sunday, in Sulaimaniyah city, a joint meeting to complete discussing a way to reach an agreement on the crisis of the presidency of Kurdistan Region. The meeting was held at the Grand Millennium Hotel in Sulaymaniyah with the participation of senior delegations representing Kurdistan Democratic Party , the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan , the Islamic Union , Change Movement and Kurdish Islamic Group to complete the discussions that are taking place to discuss the crisis of the presidency of Kurdistan region and ways to reach an agreement that satisfies all parties.

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Barzani hints about a referendum on the presidency of Kurdistan

Shafaq News reports:

The Head of Kurdistan Regional Government , Nechirvan Barzani hinted to hold a referendum to resolve the issue of the presidency of Kurdistan region.

The main Kurdish political parties have failed to reach an acceptable outcome on the presidency of the region, in which Kurdistan Democratic Party insists on the remain of Massoud Barzani for another two years, while the other parties insist on changing the government system to parliamentary and that was rejected by KDP.

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