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

Iraq’s future: It’s the oil, stupid

Michael Knights writes for Al Jazeera:

This week, Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abbadi is scheduled to visit Erbil, his first visit to the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq as premier. The lead-up to the visit has been long and torturous, including months of speculation and tactical manoeuvring over the potential form of a revenue-sharing deal between Baghdad and the Kurds.

Though less dramatic than the day-to-day fighting against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the outcome of these negotiations could do more to cement the unity of Iraq - or hasten its break-up - than events taking place on the battlefield. For almost a year now, the Kurds have lived without their customary budget transfers from Baghdad. In previous years, the Kurds received 17 percent of net revenues from Baghdad - around a billion dollars a month - to cover $750m of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) salaries and pay for ministry programmes.

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The escalation of the war in Iraq is grounded in fantasy

William Hartung writes for the Huffington Post:

As President Obama noted in an interview on Sunday on Face the Nation, the next phase of the U.S. war in Iraq has begun. The administration announced last Friday that it would double the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, to 3,100; request an additional $5.6 billion for the war; and put U.S. trainers closer to the front lines. Add to this the recently announced deal to sell Iraq $600 million worth of tank ammunition, and it's clear that the escalation of the president's "limited" war is well under way.

Of the many fallacies underlying the current U.S. military intervention in Iraq, the greatest may be the idea that the United States has a reliable partner in the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. In his Face the Nation interview, President Obama tied the latest escalation of the war to his trust in the new Iraqi government: "Phase one was getting an Iraqi government that was inclusive and credible -- and we now have done that."

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The Kurds can’t afford to leave Iraq

LUAY AL KHATEEB and AHMED MEHDI write for the New York Times:

For the two families that govern the Kurdistan Region of Iraq — the Barzanis and Talabanis — the Islamic State’s rampage across Iraq this past summer represented an unprecedented opportunity. Taking advantage of the Iraqi army’s complete collapse, the Kurds captured the oil-rich area around Kirkuk on June 11. Soon after taking Kirkuk, President Masoud Barzani called for a referendum on independence. And he has — since 2008 — advocated circumventing Baghdad and selling Kurdish oil directly on the international market with Turkey’s help. All of this struck the rest of Iraq as opportunism.

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UK drone carries out first strike in Iraq

The BBC reports:

The UK carried out its first drone attack on Islamic State militants in Iraq over the weekend, the Ministry of Defence has said. An RAF Reaper drone was involved in coalition missions near Baiji, the site of Iraq's largest oil refinery. The MoD said the drone "successfully attacked" militants who were laying improvised explosive devices. Britain is one of about 40 nations involved in the fight against IS, which controls parts of Iraq and Syria. The UK launched its first air strikes against IS targets in Iraq on 30 September - four days after Parliament approved military action. It has also sent military trainers to help local forces in their efforts to halt the advance of IS.

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In Iraq, relief after news of Blackwater convictions

Kirk Semple writes for the New York Times:

Adel Ali Mehdi was tending his refreshments kiosk on Baghdad’s Nisour Square on Thursday when one of his regular customers stopped by with some important news: After seven years, Blackwater security contractors who had opened fire on the square had been convicted. Seventeen Iraqis were killed in that fusillade, and the customer, Hassan Jaber Salman, was among more than 20 wounded. Mr. Mehdi, from his kiosk, had seen the whole thing unfold. Both men became witnesses for American prosecutors, and the trial ended on Wednesday with convictions of four of the former guards. “Alhamdulillah,” Mr. Mehdi, 53, said to Mr. Salman. “Praise be to God.”

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Do Iraq and Syria no longer exist?

Thomas E. Ricks writes for Foreign Policy:

"Creating a soldier from an 18-year-old civilian is easy in most Western nations. We make them physically tough, give them the military skill sets necessary to prosecute the mission, and amplify what my British colleagues call the moral component. This final part of the soldierization phase is essentially a trust in national institutions and a belief in the chain of command from squad leader to the commander-in-chief. For a Westerner, the moral component is built over the new soldier's lifetime and is strengthened in uniform.

For countries without a strong democratic tradition, establishing the moral component is a real challenge and particularly so for me and my team as we rebuilt the Iraqi Army in 2003. Fifteen hundred years of the paternalism of Islam and over three decades of Saddam's despotism are hard to overcome.

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Iraq gets a White House as Kurdish tycoon builds a replica

Donna Abu-Nasr writes for Bloomberg:

Shihab N. Shihab reckons he’s going one better than U.S. President Barack Obama. After admiring the White House in Washington for its “beauty and simplicity,” the Kurdish businessman is building a $20 million replica in the Iraqi city of Erbil replete with layers of Italian 21-carat gold leaf covering banisters and ceilings and Greek marble columns that grace the entrance. “I get to keep my bedroom for the rest of my life while Obama has to vacate it when his term ends,” Shihab, 58, said with a chuckle during a tour of the premises last week.

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Iraq PM seeks more Jordan help to battle ISIS

AFP reports :

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi called for greater cooperation with Jordan in the battle against the Islamic State jihadist group, as he held talks Sunday in Amman, state media reported. Jordan, which borders Iraq’s Anbar province, much of which has been overrun by ISIS, is one of several countries taking part in U.S.-led air strikes against the extremist group that began in Iraq but has since been expanded to Syria.

Abadi met separately with King Abdullah II and Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur. He briefed Nsur on what he called “security and terrorist challenges facing Iraq, particularly ones from Daesh which is destroying Iraqi civilisation,” Jordan’s state news agency Petra said.

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In their own words: Sunnis on their treatment in Maliki’s Iraq

Priyanka Boghani reports for Frontline:

Much of the world was shocked when militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took over Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, in June. One of the many factors that allowed the group of Sunni extremists to take the city so quickly was a Sunni population disillusioned with Iraq’s central government and unable or unwilling to fight against the militants.

Politicians who served under former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shia-led government, and were targeted for arrest by his security forces, were not surprised. Here, they describe the many grievances of Iraq’s Sunni population while Maliki was in power, which they say led to the resurrection of the Sunni insurgency — once again providing a safe haven for extremists.

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Iraq suicide bombing kills dozens of Shi’ite militiamen in Jurf al-Sakhar

Michael Georgy reports for Reuters:

A suicide bomber killed at least 27 Shi'ite militiamen outside the Iraqi town of Jurf al-Sakhar on Monday after security forces pushed Islamic State militants out of the area over the weekend, army and police sources said. The attacker, driving a Humvee vehicle packed with explosives and likely stolen from defeated government troops, also wounded 60 Shi'ite Muslim militiamen, who had helped government forces retake the town just south of the capital.

Iraqis are bracing for more sectarian attacks on Shi'ites, who are preparing for the religious festival of Ashura, an event that defines Shi'ism and its rift with Sunni Islam. At mosques and shrines across Iraq, millions of Shi'ites are expected to commemorate the slaying of Prophet Mohammad's grandson Hussein at the battle of Kerbala in AD 680.

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