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

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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Secret US, UK prison abuses in 2003

Ian Cobain reports for the Guardian:

On the evening of 11 April 2003, a pair of RAF CH47 Chinook helicopters swept over Iraq's western desert towards a remote rendezvous point beside Route 10, the highway that begins life on the outskirts of Baghdad before running for mile after mile towards the border with Jordan.

As they approached their destination, the crews assumed they were on an operation that would be uneventful. Two days earlier Saddam Hussein's statue had been toppled after American tanks rolled into the Iraqi capital; three weeks later George Bush would stand in front of a banner saying "mission accomplished".

The helicopter crews had been told that a number of detainees were under armed guard at the side of the highway. They were to pick them up after dark and take them to a prison camp. What followed was far from routine: before the night was out, one man had died on board one of the helicopters, allegedly beaten to death by RAF personnel.

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Korea’s SK let into 4th bid round after KRG exit

Daniel Fineren reports for Reuters:

Iraq has allowed SK Innovation to bid in its fourth energy exploration block auction after the private South Korean company sold its stake in a Kurdish oilfield to Korea's already barred state oil company KNOC, Baghdad said on Thursday.

Companies that have signed deals with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which is locked in a feud with the central government, have been blocked by Baghdad from taking part in an auction now planned for late May.

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Mayor resigns in disputed Garmiyan area

Bryar Mohammed reports for AKnews:

The mayor of Kalar, the center of the disputed Garmiyan area, has resigned, without disclosing a reason.

Othman Mohyaddin confirmed his resignation to AKnews today, and added "I will reveal the reason for this later".

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India, Iraq to start direct flights

Press Trust of India reports:

India and Iraq would resume direct flights which were stopped during the first Gulf War two decades ago, official sources said on Thursday.

The aviation authorities of the two countries, which were in talks for over the past few months, have decided to launch these flights from the coming Sunday, the sources said.

Iraq government has designated its national carrier Iraqi Airways, which would every week operate two flights each to Delhi and Mumbai from Baghdad. India is yet to take a final decision on designating any carrier that would fly to Iraq, they said.

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Thousands of Sadrists celebrate US withdrawal

Salam Faraj reports for AFP:

Supporters of anti-US Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose militia fought pitched battles with American forces, on Thursday officially celebrated the departure of the "occupiers" from Iraq.

The last American soldiers except for a small number under US embassy authority departed Iraq in mid-December, after almost nine years in the country. But the official Sadrist celebration was held on Thursday after the end of Arbaeen, the 40-day period of mourning following the Ashura commemorations, which mark the death in battle of Imam Hussein, a formative event in Shiite Islam.

Tens of thousands of people turned out for the event, which was held in Sadr City in northern Baghdad, an area named for Moqtada's father, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr, who was killed along with two of Moqtada's brothers in 1999 by gunmen allegedly sent by dictator Saddam Hussein.

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MP’s kidnapped brother found dead

AFP reports:

Iraqi police on Thursday found the bound body of Akram al-Daini, brother of Sunni MP Nahida al-Daini, five days after he was kidnapped near Tikrit in central Iraq, a police officer said.

"Police found the body of Akram al-Daini bound with iron chains and with gunshot wounds on it, in the village of Al-Bujwari," north of Baghdad, the officer said, adding that the body of an unknown woman was found near that of Daini.

A security official said that Akram al-Daini was kidnapped with his bodyguard on the road between Samarra and Tikrit on Saturday night, and that the kidnappers demanded a ransom of $1 million but the family refused to pay.

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Iraqi executions violate int’l standards

Sameer N. Yacoub reports for the Associated Press:

Iraqi authorities executed at least 65 people in the first 40 days of 2012 for various offenses, including 14 on a single day, Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director of the New York-based advocacy group, said that Iraqi authorities appear to have given the "green light to execute at will."

The group said trials often violate international standards. Many defendants are unable to challenge the evidence against them, which may include coerced confession.

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Iraq clamps down on security contractors

Suadad al-Salhy reports for Reuters:

Iraq's government intends to impose tough restrictions on private security companies to rein in what amounts to a "giant army" threatening the country's stability, a senior security official said.

U.S. troops left Iraq in mid-December, but tens of thousands of private security guards remain, helping to protect mainly foreign workers and facilities in a country where daily violence is still a major threat.

Many Iraqis associate the private groups with atrocities carried out after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. In one of the worst cases, five employees of security firm Blackwater were charged over the deaths of 14 Iraqi civilians shot dead in Baghdad in 2007.

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