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

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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Iraqi prime minister’s task not an easy one

Mushreq Abbas writes for Al Monitor:

The tasks entrusted to Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi are primarily constituent tasks that entail a range of highly complicated responsibilities to be assumed amid great obstacles and impediments.

The new Iraqi prime minister will be dealing with a country that is rapidly rolling toward the abyss, since there is no longer a real guarantor capable of saving the unity of Iraq because of the depth of the differences plaguing the parties and spreading in social environments, which makes them more open to the idea of division. Moreover, extremist armed organizations control a great part of the country, and they continuously seek to expand, acquire human and economic expertise, while ensuring their long-term survival. These are all factors that complicate the task of the next prime minister, who has the greatest executive powers in the country.

 

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The myth and reality of sectarianism in Iraq

Musa al-Gharbi writes for Al Jazeera:

On Aug. 14, embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stepped down and accepted the candidacy of his successor, Haider al-Abadi, who was nominated last week by the Iraqi president in an effort to end months of political stalemate in Baghdad. Maliki’s ouster has been a key demand of the Sunni opposition and United States. His resignation was welcomed, remarkably, by both Saudi Arabia and Iran. In fact, the end of Maliki’s reign was heightened by a coup from within his Shia alliance that had been brewing for some time. However, his removal alone — more symbolic than substantial — will not resolve the deeper political crisis that threatens Iraq’s unity and long-term viability.

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Obama says Iraqi dam has been retaken from militants

Mark Lander and Azam Ahmed report for the New York Times:

President Obama said Monday that Iraqi special forces and Kurdish fighters, backed by American war planes, had retaken a strategically critical dam near Mosul, the latest in what he described as a string of positive steps in halting the march of Islamic extremists across the country.

“This operation demonstrates that Iraqi and Kurdish forces are capable of working together to take the fight” to the extremists, Mr. Obama said in remarks at the White House. “If that dam was breached, it could have proven catastrophic.”

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Islamic fighters kill scores of Yazidi men in Iraq

Sameer N. Yacoub and Diaa Hadid report for AP:

Islamic extremists shot scores of Yazidi men to death in Iraq, lining them up in small groups and opening fire with assault rifles before abducting their wives and children, according to an eyewitness, government officials and people who live in the area. A Yazidi lawmaker on Saturday cited the mass killing in Kocho as evidence that his people are still at risk after a week of U.S. and Iraqi airstrikes on the militants. Meanwhile, warplanes targeted insurgents around a large dam that was captured by the Islamic State extremist group earlier this month, nearby residents said.

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In Iraq, captured Yazidi women fear the Islamic State will force them to wed

Liz Sly reports for the Washington Post:

Hundreds of Yazidi women who were captured by Islamic extremists during their sweep through the town of Sinjar are being incarcerated at scattered locations across northern Iraq in what increasingly looks like a deliberate attempt to co-opt them into service as the wives of fighters.

As the militants with the al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State surged into the area from surrounding Arab villages two weeks ago, snaring those who had not managed to flee, they showed a marked interest in detaining women, notably the youngest and prettiest, according to witnesses, relatives and in some instances the women themselves.

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Iraqi Kurdish leader appeals to Germany for weapons

Reuters Berlin reports:

The leader of Iraq’s Kurds appealed to Germany for weapons to help Kurdish fighters battling militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and said foreign powers must find a way to cut off the group’s funding.

The European Union on Friday gave a green light to EU governments to supply arms and ammunition to the Kurds if it has the consent of the government in Baghdad. Germany has shied away from direct involvement in military conflicts for much of the post-war era and a survey conducted for Bild am Sonntag newspaper indicated that almost three quarters of Germans were against shipping weapons to the Kurds.

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