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

Maliki lashes out at Sunni province seeking autonomy

Laith Hammoudi reports for McClatchy:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki Saturday lashed out at politicians seeking regional status for the mostly Sunni Salahuddin province, charging that they were seeking a "safe house for Baathists," the banned party of the late dictator Saddam Hussein.

Al-Maliki spoke two days after the provincial council in Tikrit, Hussein's birthplace, voted 20-0, with eight members not present, to declare Salahuddin a region of Iraq. The province, north of Baghdad, would be only the second designated region in Iraq, after Kurdistan, but other Sunni provinces may follow suit.

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Iraq violence kills five

AFP Reports:

Attacks across Iraq killed five people, including two brothers shot at a family jewellery store, security officials said on Saturday.

In the deadliest incident, gunmen broke into a jewellery store in the town of Al-Hafriyah, around 50 kilometres (30 miles) southeast of the capital, and killed two teenage brothers who were opening it before their father's arrival.

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In Salahuddin, a confused federalism bid

Reidar Visser of Iraq and Gulf Analysis writes:

The most spectacular fallout from the recent de-Baathification escalation is the declaration by the Salahaddin governorate council today that in protest against arrests and sackings they have “established Salahhadin as an administrative and economic region within a unified Iraq”.

The move, while clearly reflecting a growing pro-federal trend in some Sunni circles, is confused, illegal and unconstitutional.

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Death toll in twin Baghdad bombings up to 32

The Associated Press reports:

The death toll from a twin bombing in a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad rose on Friday to 32 — the worst violence to hit Iraq since President Barack Obama last week said all American forces would leave the country by the end of this year.

The two blasts, which took place Thursday evening at a music store, wounded 71 other people, police and health officials said. First one bomb went off and then, minutes later, another bomb exploded, targeting rescue workers and onlookers who had arrived after the first blast.

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Thousands of Iraqis protest Baathist arrest campaign

Fadhel al-Badrani reports for Reuters:

Thousands of Iraqis blocked a highway in western Anbar province Friday to protest against a campaign to arrest former military officers and members of Saddam Hussein's banned Baath Party.

In neighboring Salahuddin province, demonstrators took to the streets to support a symbolic move by the provincial council to declare the area autonomous, partly in protest of the Baathist round-up that has angered minority Sunnis across Iraq.

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Ex-Pentagon Matchmaker opens Pritzker-backed firm for Iraq deals

Jason Kelly reports for Bloomberg Businessweek:

Paul Brinkley, the former U.S. Defense Department official who sought to attract companies to Iraq and Afghanistan, started an investment and advisory firm with backing from billionaire Thomas Pritzker.

Nawah LLC will initially seek to invest in Iraqi companies while advising clients looking to do business in the country and throughout North Africa and Central Asia, Brinkley said in an interview. Brinkley, who left the Pentagon in July, is chief executive officer, with Pritzker serving as chairman.

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Billions in Iraqi reconstruction money finally accounted for

Paul Richter reports for the Los Angeles Times:

A federal audit has finally accounted for nearly $6.6 billion in Iraqi reconstruction money that seemed to have disappeared after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, ending a mystery that highlighted the chaos of the early days of the U.S. occupation.

The Pentagon flew the Iraqi cash under its control to Baghdad in planeloads of shrink-wrapped bundles of $100 bills in 2003 and 2004. But its failure to keep complete records showing where the money went fueled concern that some or all of it had been stolen.

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Militants Aided by Iran Fired at G.I.’s in Iraq, Officials Say

Michael S. Schmidt reports for the New York Times:

Militants trained and financed by Iran’s Quds Force attacked United States forces in Iraq on Wednesday, American officials said, continuing a role they have played in recent years in a proxy war between the United States and Iran.

The militants fired rockets at American forces at Contingency Operating Station Garry Owen in the southern province of Maysan, which borders Iran. The military said three soldiers were wounded in the assault at the station, which has been hit by rockets repeatedly this year as militants have increased attacks. The military provided few other details of the attack.

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Twin explosions in Baghdad kill 17 people

Two explosions in a Shiite neighborhood of eastern Baghdad killed 17 people and wounded around 50 others Thursday night, Iraqi officials said, according to a report by Sameer N. Yacoub for the Associated Press.

The blasts in the Sadr City neighborhood, coming a day after attacks across the capital killed 25 people, served as a reminder of the lengths to which Sunni militants are trying to go in order to re-ignite sectarian tensions as American forces prepare to go home.

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U.S. military says legal immunity in Iraq ‘requirement’

Legal immunity is a must for any American troops serving in Iraq as part of a training mission past year-end, the US military's spokesman in the country said on Thursday, Prashant Rao reports for AFP.

Major General Jeffrey Buchanan's remarks come amid an apparent impasse between Baghdad and Washington over the issue, with Iraqi political leaders saying this month that while they backed a US training mission post-2011, there was "no need" for such protection.

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