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

New political balance for Iraq Parliament

Reidar Visser writes on Iraq and Gulf Analysis:

Subsequent to the resumption of meaningful parliamentary business in November 2010 – 8 months after the parliamentary elections in March that year – the Iraqi national assembly has seen a string of replacements of candidates for a variety of reasons, as well as cases of very public defections from some of the biggest entities in parliament.

With a showdown about the annual budget right around the corner, it makes sense to take stock of the new political balance.

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15 killed in Baghdad bombing

Tim Arango reports for the New York Times:

A suicide car bomber struck at the gates of Baghdad’s police academy on Sunday afternoon as recruits were leaving the compound, ending weeks of relative calm here after a particularly violent January.

The attack killed 15 people and wounded 21, according to an official at the Interior Ministry, and several of the dead were police recruits, a common target for insurgents. Differing accountings of casualties often emerge after attacks, and The Associated Press reported a higher death toll — 20 killed and 28 wounded.

The police academy, on the northeastern edge of the capital, is next to the fortified home for many American advisers and support staff members who oversee the State Department’s training program for the Iraqi police. No Americans were wounded, officials said.

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Two killed and five wounded in Ramadi

Anwar Msarbat reports for AKnews:

One person was killed and two others were left wounded after an armed group attacked a policeman's house in al-Bubali Island, to the east of Ramadi, today.

The son of the targeted police major, who has yet to be named, was killed and two other members of his family were wounded. 1st Lt. Jumaa al-Dalimi said the gunmen used rifles and hand grenades.

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U.N. call to aid Iraq’s Iranian refugees

Martin Kobler, the U.N. secretary general's special envoy to Iraq, writes in the New York Times:

After decades of dictatorship followed by invasion and conflict, Iraqis began this year with a chance to build a peaceful future. If not managed carefully, however, a lingering issue from the past could stain this moment of opportunity with tragedy.

I am referring to the situation of Camp Ashraf, where a tense standoff has persisted between the government of Iraq and an Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), which for the last 25 years has occupied a self-enclosed camp only a few hours drive from Baghdad.

...

There should be no confusion about the stance of the United Nations. We support only a peaceful, humanitarian solution for Camp Ashraf. We have been working hard to facilitate such an outcome — one that both respects Iraq’s sovereignty and provides the people of Camp Ashraf with a safe and voluntary path to a more hopeful life outside of Iraq.

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Iraqis aid rebels in Syria

Tim Arango reports for the New York Times:

Not so long ago, Syrians worked to send weapons and fighters into Iraq to help Sunnis fighting a sectarian conflict; suddenly, it is the other way around.

A belated celebration of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday on the outskirts of this western Iraqi city on Saturday quickly took on the trappings of a rally for Syria’s rebels. Young boys waved the old green, black and white flag Syria adopted in the 1930s after declaring independence from the French. Others collected money to send aid and weapons to the fighters opposing President Bashar al-Assad’s government across the border.

“I wish I could go there with my gun and fight,” said Sheik Hamid al-Hais, a tribal leader interviewed at his compound in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province.

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Bombs in Baghdad, Mosul kill 3

Sinan Salaheddin reports for the Associated Press:

Two separate attacks against Iraqi security forces killed three people and wounded 18 others on Tuesday, officials said.

A bomb in a parked car exploded around noon near an Iraqi army checkpoint in the northern city of Mosul, killing a soldier and a bystander, a police officer said. Twelve other passers-by were wounded in the attack.

Sunni-dominated Mosul, located 225 miles (360 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, was a major haven for al-Qaida in Iraq and other insurgent groups several years ago even as militant activity declined elsewhere.

Two hours earlier, a police patrol hit a roadside bomb in Baghdad's eastern neighborhood of Mashtal, killing a bystander and wounding six others, another police officer said.

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Total CEO signals interest in Kurdistan

Caroline Jacobs and Muriel Boselli report for Reuters:

French oil major Total SA has become the latest big oil company to shift the focus of its Iraq ambitions toward the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, and away from the much larger but economically challenging contracts offered by Baghdad.

Total's chief executive said on Friday he was considering possible investments in Kurdistan, something which previously prompted the central Iraq government to bar companies from investing in the south of the country, and added he did not plan to chase contracts in Baghdad's next licensing round.

"From what we are hearing the conditions of the fourth bidding round in Iraq do not appear very attractive," Christophe de Margerie told a press conference. "The interest in Kurdistan is that there are plenty of gas and oil reserves there and contractual conditions are better."

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Anbar civilian killed by roadside bomb

Anwar Msarbat reports for AKnews:

One civilian was killed and three more were injured today after a roadside explosive struck the car carrying them, a police officer said.

Speaking to AKnews, 1st Lt. Ali Haidar said that an improvised explosive device hit the private car in Qura Zuba district, southeast of Falluja, today afternoon.

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Kurdistan to form tourism police

Fryad Mohammed reports for AKnews:

For better protecting the tourist resorts and attraction in the Iraqi Kurdistan region, the government is preparing to from the first unit of tourism police.

Spokesperson for General Tourism Board of Kurdistan Nader Rosti told AKnews that the Interior Ministry has officially agreed to the demand to form the unit and now the demand is subject to the final approval of the Council of Ministers.

Over 1,500 policemen will be hired this year to protect the sites. The force will be under the command of the Tourism Board and Interior Ministry.

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Salahuddin official survives rocket attack

Othman Shalsh reports for AKnews:

A member of the Salahaddin Provincial Council, Hussein al-Shatab, survived an attack on his house in Mo'tasam district, south of Tikrit.

Shatab told AKnews that he and his family were not home when the two C5K rockets fell on his home yesterday evening.

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