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

U.S. strategy against Islamic State: Iraq first, but not Iraq only, Dempsey says

Anna Mulrine writes for the Christian Science Monitor:

America’s top military officer is pushing back against criticism of President Obama for not having a clear strategy against the Islamic State (IS). Broadly, the stated US goal has been to “degrade and ultimately destroy” IS, the militant group that now controls large swaths of Iraq and Syria. “We have a strategy,” Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday. “But here’s what I can tell you about that strategy: It’s going to change. It’s going to change often.” For now, he said, “The military strategy is Iraq first – but not Iraq only.”

General Dempsey, who made his remarks at the Defense One summit, an annual gathering of senior military and national-security figures in Washington, spoke both about the training of Iraqi national fighters and about the lack of adequate forces in Syria. Indeed, there are not enough troops on the ground in Syria to fight IS, Dempsey said. The additional needed troops will not come from the US military, but rather from the pool of “moderate” fighters that US military forces have committed to training.

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Iraq’s anti-ISIS strategy ‘bearing fruit': U.N.

Al Arabiya reports :

The new Iraqi government’s strategy of enlisting Kurds and local tribes in the fight against Islamists is yielding results, the U.N. envoy for Iraq told the Security Council on Tuesday. Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has made it a priority to pay salaries, arm and train fighters from local tribes and communities and provide legal guarantees for volunteers, envoy Nickolay Mladenov said. “This strategy is bearing fruit,” Mladenov told the 15-member council. “Communities are beginning to push back.”

The massacre by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group of 322 members of the Albu Nimr tribe spurred cooperation with the government in its campaign to defeat the militants, he said. Mladenov called on all militia groups who are not aligned with the Islamist militants to enter talks with Baghdad on resolving differences and joining the government’s anti-Islamist campaign.

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AP exclusive: from IS militant to Iraq informant

AP reports :

The former Islamic State group commander walked into the visitors’ room of his Baghdad prison, without the usual yellow jumpsuit and shackles his fellow inmates wear. In slippers and a track suit, he greeted guards with a big smile, kissing them on the cheeks. The scene testifies to the strange path of Abu Shakr, a 36-year-old who joined al-Qaida out of anger over treatment of Iraq’s Sunnis and rose in the group as it transformed into the extremist juggernaut now called the Islamic State. Finally, he became an informant against the group after his capture.

Arrested in late 2013, he was presented a choice by Iraqi security officials: Help them against the extremists and in return he would get jailhouse perks. Now with relatively free rein inside the confines of a maximum security prison complex, Abu Shakr can play with his five children, enjoy supervised visits and buddy up with the guards. Security officials say he has given them guidance on the extremists’ tactics and helped them find, capture and interrogate suspected militants. In Salahuddin province, a key front line north of Baghdad, he helped the military win back key areas this week, including the town of Beiji, where troops secured Iraq’s largest oil refinery.

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Iraq says Islamic State stole 1 million tonnes of grain, took it to Syria

Reuters reports:

Iraq believes Islamic State militants have stolen more than one million tonnes of grain from the country's north and taken it to two cities they control in neighboring Syria, the agriculture minister has said. Falah Hassan al-Zeidan said in a statement posted on the Agriculture Ministry's website on Sunday that the government "had information about the smuggling by Islamic State gangs of more than one million tonnes of wheat and barley from Nineveh Province to the Syrian cities of Raqqa and Deir al-Zor." Reuters was unable to verify the information. When Islamic State pushed from Syria into northern Iraq in June, they swiftly took over government grain silos in Nineveh and Salahadeen provinces, where about a third of Iraq's wheat crop and nearly 40 percent of the barley crop is typically grown.

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Why the 2007 surge in Iraq actually failed

Alex Kingsbury writes for the Boston Globe:

The goals of the Iraq surge were spelled out explicitly by the White House in Jan. 2007: Stop the raging sectarian bloodletting and reconcile Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds in the government. “A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations,” then-President George W. Bush said. In light of all that has happened since that announcement, it is jaw-dropping to still hear the surge described as a success. Yet the myth of its success is as alive as it is dangerous. It’s a myth that prevents us from grappling with the realities of the last effort in Iraq, even as we embark on another. To believe in the myth of the surge is to absolve Iraqis of their responsibility to resolve their differences. It gives the US government an unrealistic sense of its own capabilities. And it ignores the roots of the conflict now stretching from Damascus to Baghdad.

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Near the frontlines in Iraq, an homage to the White House

Leila Fadel reports for NPR:

There are a lot of American knockoffs in the Kurdish parts of northern Iraq: Burger Queen is Burger King's twin, and instead of Papa John's, people get their pizza at PJ's. The latest knockoff comes courtesy of Kurdish businessman Shihab Shihab after he decided he'd like to live in the White House. So he's building one for himself, his wife and his child — a mere 50 miles or so from a raging war against the Sunni extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State, or ISIS. The sounds of drills, shovels and hammers fill the air in Irbil's Dream City, a district filled with ostentatious villas for the rich. Construction workers are toiling away on the replica of the U.S. president's Washington, D.C., home.

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ISIS kills family refusing to marry off daughter in Iraq

Al Arabiya reports :

Five members of an Iraqi family who refused to marry off their daughter to a fighter in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have been executed by the militant group in a “horrific crime,” Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry said over the weekend. In a statement posted on its website Sunday, the ministry said ISIS militants executed the five family members – mother, father and three children – and then kidnapped the 14-year-old girl, taking her to an undisclosed location. The family, according to the statement, had refused to marry off the girl to the “criminal Jamal Saddam, known as Abu Abdallah.”

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Obama administration losses collective mind: sending troops to Iraq?

Doug Bandow writes for Forbes:

In 2009 President Barack Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize before doing much of anything. Since then he has initiated two wars, first in Libya and now in Iraq and Syria, and escalated another, in Afghanistan. Alas, he has demonstrated that it is bad to start wars unnecessarily, but even worse to wage wars foolishly. The administration appears to have lost its collective mind. The president has added ground forces to the battle in Iraq and the military has suggested introducing thousands more. His officials reportedly have decided to focus on overthrowing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the name of fighting the Islamic State.

It is hard to know which of these ideas is worse. The U.S. has been back at war in the Middle East for more than two months. The results have not been pretty. The administration claims to have created a vast coalition of 60 nations, roughly 30 percent of the world’s countries. Alas, as in the past the celebrated gaggle assembled by Washington turned out to be mostly a PR stunt. The U.S. accounts for about 770 of the roughly 900 strikes on Iraq and Syria. The Arab states have done little in the air and nothing afoot. Only Iran, which Washington fears almost as much as ISIL, has put boots on the ground.

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Massacre in Iraq isn’t enough to unite the country against Islamic State

Reuters reports:

Islamic State's systematic massacre of hundreds of Iraq's Albu Nimr tribe should have been an unmistakable wake up call for a country that may not be able to stabilize without long-term support from Sunni tribesmen. But nearly a month after members of the tribe were hunted down in groups and executed, the Baghdad government appears to be doing little to assimilate Sunnis in any much-needed move towards unity. The Albu Nimr were one of the Sunni tribes that helped the U.S. Marines defeat al Qaeda in Iraq's vast Western Anbar province during the 2006-2007 "surge" offensive, a strategy Washington hopes Iraq can now repeat against Islamic State.

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Iraq Christians guard village taken from IS group

BRAM JANSSEN reports for AP:

The flag of an Iraqi Christian minority party is hoisted high over the village of Bakufa in northern Iraq, less than a month after Islamic State militants were pushed out and the extremists' black banner was taken down. The predominantly Christian Assyrian hamlet of 95 houses that once had about 500 people, located some 390 kilometers (243 miles) north of Baghdad, was overrun by the Islamic State group during its shocking blitz this summer, along with 22 other villages nearby. In a counter-offensive, the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters swept in from the north, battling the Islamic State group house-to-house. The fighting forced the villagers to flee to Kurdish towns and cities elsewhere in northern Iraq. Once Bakufa was retaken, the Kurdish fighters helped set up the village militia, made up of about 70 volunteers and known as Dwekh Nawsha, or "self-sacrifice" in Assyrian.

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