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

Iraq corruption row won’t derail Mosul offensive, says U.S. envoy

Reuters reports:

Iraq's offensive to dislodge Islamic State from its de facto capital Mosul is on track despite a spat between two senior politicians over alleged corruption in the military, the U.S. envoy to the coalition fighting the militant group said.

Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi and parliament speaker Salim al-Jabouri last week exchanged accusations of bribery over defense contracts, leading to judicial investigations and sparking concerns that the offensive could be delayed.

Asked about how the spat had affected the Mosul campaign, Brett McGurk told a news conference in Baghdad: "We've seen no impact in terms of the overall timeline."

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Iraqis Boil as Power-Grid Failings Exacerbate Heat Wave

Craig Nelson and Ghassan Adnan write for The Wall Street Journal:

Thanks to the worst recorded heat wave in Iraq’s history, now in its fourth week, Abu Mahdi may be this city’s happiest man.

From a hole-in-the-wall shop on Baghdad’s east side, Mr. Mahdi repairs air conditioners. His counsel is sought by the powerful and humble. His wallet is bulging. Some customers are so desperate, he says, “they come into my shop, get on their knees, kiss my hand and say, ‘Please come and help me.’ ”

People across the Middle East are suffering under this summer’s historic heat, which has seen temperatures climb above 120 degrees.

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Freedom on hold

The Economist reports:

From afar, Mount Sinjar rises out of Iraq’s caked-earth flats like a giant upturned tureen. Up close, its crevices offer glimpses of lush tobacco plantations, and the homes of Yazidis lurking within. So formidable are its rugged defences that it has defeated the many foes who for centuries have sought to stamp out the ancient peacock-worshipping sect. Even the most recent and cruel, Islamic State (IS), which massacred and enslaved Yazidi communities on the plains with abandon, gave up the effort once it reached its foothills.

The mountain’s plateau today is coated with tents, sheltering the fortunate thousands who fled for its passes before the jihadists swept through in August 2014 and hunted the others down. Reluctant to entrust their fate to outsiders, they have set up their own administrative council in a caravan, as well as an armed force, the Sinjar Resistance Units, numbering 1,000 men. The multi-faith settlements Saddam Hussein fashioned on the plains below in the 1970s seem a historical relic. Today, says the council chief, Khidr Salih, Iraq’s half million Yazidis need their own enclave and homeland; the region has now fallen to the Kurds.

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Coalition warned IS oil truckers before bombing them

AFP reports:

US-led coalition planes warned drivers of fuel trucks used by the Islamic State group in Syria they were about to be bombed, prompting several vehicles to flee, officials told AFP Wednesday.

Multiple warplanes destroyed 83 oil tankers Sunday near Albu Kamal, along Syria's border with Iraq, as part of an ongoing mission to wipe out the oil-smuggling infrastructure that helps fund IS.

At the start of the attack, pilots "fired multiple warning shots to encourage truck drivers to leave the area," the US military's anti-IS mission, Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a statement.

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Why So Many Foreign Fighters Flock to ISIS

Richard Florida writes for Defense One:

Major ISIS-inspired terror attacks this summer have sent shock waves throughout the world. Europe has been hit especially hard with recent attacks, stoking fears that the continent may be especially vulnerable to foreign-trained ISIS fighters.

A recent NBER study by the economists Efraim Benmelech of Northwestern University and Esteban Klor of Hebrew University takes a close at the geography of foreign ISIS fighters, as well as the factors at work in these countries that may be serving to radicalize attackers.

The leading country for foreign ISIS fighters according to Benmelech and Klor is Tunisia, with 6,000 of them, followed by Saudi Arabia with 2,500. Russia, Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon also rank high on the list. Three European nations, including France (1,700), Germany (760), and the U.K.(also 760) number among the top 10.

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ISIS Is Switching Tactics in Iraq. Baghdad Needs to Get Its Act Together

Renad Mansour writes for Defense One:

Over the past few months, the Islamic State has shifted tactics in Iraq, reverting to targeting civilian locations in the capital and other major cities. Iraq’s government, which has seen success in retaking territory, must now adjust as well.

On July 3, ISIS claimed responsibility for the suicide car bombing that killed over 300 Iraqis in Baghdad’s popular Karada district. This was the deadliest bombing since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. The last time a bomb in the city killed even half as many people was seven years ago.

The surge in attacks comes as the Islamic State is on the decline. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi continues to celebrate the victories and liberation of Iraqi cities from IS fighters, most recently, a few weeks ago in Fallujah. The quick success of that operation has led many Iraqis to believe that Mosul, IS’s most coveted prize, can be taken by the end of this year – much sooner than officials and commentators in Baghdad once anticipated.

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Iraqi Troops Not Ready for Mosul, Nor What Comes Next, Says Top US Commander

Kevin Baron writes for Defense One:

What’s different about the end of this Iraq war from the end of the last one? Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, who commands U.S. troops there now and also fought to liberate Ramadi six years ago, says he will leave the country this month confident that Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga troops have proven they can fight and defeat the Islamic State, or ISIS.

What comes after the fight, however, is up to Iraqi politics and even this veteran of Iraq would not venture to guess how well that will turn out.

“I’m not going to speak to the political stuff because I’m not wearing a tie,” MacFarland said Wednesday in Baghdad, giving likely his last battle assessment via video link to reporters at the Pentagon. “That’s not my place to talk about. But what I’ll say is, on the military side, the Iraqi security forces and the Peshmerga have proven that they can fight and defeat the enemy with really a fairly light touch from us. We’re only doing ‘advise and assist’ at a remove — and in specific locations. In the vast majority of the battlespace, they’re on their own, for the most part.”

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Sunni Militias Join Iraqi Forces Poised to Take Back Mosul

AP reports:

Among the Iraqi forces preparing for the key battle to retake the Islamic State-held city of Mosul are Sunni tribal militias, drawn from the local villages and motivated by the desire to claw back home ground lost to the militants over two years ago.

One of them is Sheikh Nazhan Sakhar, with 700 men under his command.

Sakhar says his militiamen are critical to the fight for Iraq's second-largest city because, unlike most of those serving in of Iraq's military, they are local to the Mosul area.

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Twelve premature babies killed in Baghdad hospital fire

Maher Nazeh reports for Reuters:

Twelve prematurely born babies were killed in a fire that broke out in the early hours of Wednesday on a maternity ward in a Baghdad hospital and was probably caused by an electrical fault, Iraqi authorities said.

Eleven or twelve other babies and 29 women were rescued from the Yarmuk hospital's maternity ward and transferred to other hospitals, Hani al-Okabi, an MP who previously managed a health directorate in Baghdad, told journalists after visiting the hospital and talking to the management.

Firefighters and hospital staff took about three hours to put out the blaze that engulfed the ward, according to one medic. Yarmuk is a main hospital on the western side of the capital, with emergency care facilities among others.

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Christians Say Defeating IS Won’t Make Iraq Safe for Them

AP reports:

As operations to retake the militant-held city of Mosul ramp up, Iraqi Christians displaced from the area by the Islamic State group say that even if the militants are defeated militarily, the country will not be safe for minorities.

Qaraqosh, the biggest Christian town on the Nineveh plains in Iraq's north, fell to IS more than two years ago and remains under militant control. Most of its displaced inhabitants are living in camps in Iraq's Kurdish region. Hundreds of others fled to neighboring countries, Europe, the United States and further afield.

On the edge of Irbil's historically Christian neighborhood of Ankawa, 1,200 identical white trailers arranged in neat rows shelter some 5,000 people. A handful of families here say they will return home the day their town is liberated. But many say they would rather leave for abroad. Despite the string of military defeats suffered by IS, they say the militants' incursion into Iraq has thrown the future of the country's minority groups into further uncertainty.

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