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

In Iraq, minority children haunted by ghosts of IS captivity

Maya Gebeily writes for AFP:

Brainwashed and broken, the Islamic State group's youngest victims are struggling to recover from years of jihadist captivity as they return to their own traumatised minority communities in Iraq.

Dozens of Yazidi and Turkmen children were rescued in recent months as IS's "caliphate", notorious for its use of child soldiers and "sex slaves", collapsed in Syria.

Many have been reunited with their families, but their mental recovery has been slowed by prolonged displacement, a lack of resources, and a milieu accustomed to fearing, not forgiving, IS members.

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Thousands Detained, Including Children, in Degrading Conditions

Human Rights Watch reports:

Nineveh’s extremely overcrowded detention facilities are holding thousands of prisoners in Iraq, most on terrorism charges, for extended periods in conditions so degrading that they amount to ill-treatment. The authorities should ensure that prisoners are not held in inhuman conditions and that there is a clear legal basis for detentions, Human Rights Watch said today.
“The Iraqi government urgently needs to rebuild and rehabilitate its detention facilities,” said Lama Fakih, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Iraq has a duty to ensure that detainees are housed decently, in line with international standards.”

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They escaped ISIS. Then they got sucked into Baghdad’s sex trafficking underworld

Arwa Damon, Ghazi Balkiz, Brice Laine, and Aqeel Najm write for CNN:

Nadia's handshake is strong, but her voice trembles as she says hello. Leaning against a window, she describes in painful detail the twisted journey that saw her evade the grip of terrorists only to fall victim to Baghdad's sex trafficking underworld.

Stories like Nadia's have become all too familiar in the wake of ISIS' defeat in Iraq. The decline of the militant group has given rise to another evil: human trafficking networks that thrive on the spoils of war, the displaced and the desperate.

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IOM Iraq: West Mosul – Perceptions on return and reintegration among stayees, IDPs and returnees, June 2019

IOM reports:

Although 18 months have passed since the Iraqi government officially declared victory over the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the city of Mosul – and particularly west Mosul, which was the group’s final stronghold in Iraq – is still facing significant challenges that hinder the return and reintegration of internally displaced persons (IDPs), many of whom are now living in or at-risk of protracted displacement.

Entire neighborhoods have not yet been rebuilt, basic services are insufficient in some areas, and poor sanitation is contributing to serious public health problems and the spread of diseases. Furthermore, reports of harassment and violence against civilians by state as well as non-state actors are undermining efforts to build trust in state institutions and authorities. Revenge killings and other acts of retaliation against residents of Mosul and IDPs who are suspected of joining or collaborating with IS have continued since the battle, threatening to trigger new cycles of inter-communal violence. This report, based on interviews and focus groups with a total of 110 Iraqi men and women in west Mosul and the IDP camps Hasan Sham, Haj Ali and Qayyara, provides a rapid assessment of current barriers to return and the challenges and risks that IDPs face if and when they decide to return to west Mosul. We focus in particular on social dynamics between three key populations: (1) “stayers”, west Moslawis who remained in Mosul for the duration of ISIL's three-year rule, (2) “IDPs,” west Moslawis who left the city at a relatively early stage in ISIL rule and are still displaced in IDP camps, and (3) “returnees”, those who were previously displaced from west Mosul and have since returned to the city. Although the voluntary return of IDPs has been identified as “a critical factor in sustaining a peace process and in revitalizing economic activity” as well as an indicator of successful post-conflict recovery and reintegration efforts, it is important to recognize and respond to the risk that premature or involuntary return to areas that are unsafe or inhospitable (whether as a result of hostile social dynamics, crime and violence, or inadequate infrastructure and services) may trigger new grievances and conflicts.

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Iraq says it deserves more global support in rebuilding

Qassim Abdul-Zahra writes for AP:

Iraq’s sacrifices fighting the Islamic State group have earned the country greater support in its reconstruction efforts from the international community, Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said Saturday.

Abdul-Mahdi made his comments Saturday morning during a meeting with a visiting U.N. Security Council delegation, the first such visit to Iraq.

The Security Council delegation included, among others, Permanent Representative of Kuwait to the United Nations and President of the Security Council for the month of June Mansour Al-Otaibi and the U.S. envoy at the United Nations, Jonathan Cohen.

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Iraq’s drought unveils 3,400-year-old palace of mysterious empire

Lewis Sanders IV reports for Deutsche Welle:

A team of German and Kurdish archaeologists have discovered a 3,400-year-old palace that belonged to the mysterious Mittani Empire, the University of Tübingen announced on Thursday.

The discovery was only made possible by a drought that significantly reduced water levels in the Mosul Dam reservoir.

"The find is one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the region in recent decades and illustrates the success of the Kurdish-German cooperation," said Hasan Ahmed Qasim, a Kurdish archaeologist of the Duhok Directorate of Antiquites who worked on the site.

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Amputation Apparently Caused by Torture

Human Rights Watch reports:

The amputation of a detainee’s arm in early 2019 following apparent torture in a Baghdad police station highlights mounting concerns around ill-treatment in Iraq’s prisons, Human Rights Watch said today.

The man’s brother said that a complaint by the victim during his trial has been ignored and that a complaint by his wife to the agency that supervises judicial conduct had received no response. The brother said he had requested an investigation, which led to the transfer of a police officer but no disciplinary action. Judicial authorities should investigate and determine who was responsible, punish abusive officers, and compensate the victim.

“A detainee who loses his arm because of torture in custody is one more sign that something is very wrong in Iraqi detention facilities,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The government should take detainees’ rights seriously and start to protect them by investigating abuses.”

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Stuck in the Middle With Iran

Alex Vatanka writes for Foreign Affairs:

In late May, Saudi Arabia hosted three separate summit meetings in Mecca, in the hope of securing the region’s unequivocal condemnation of Iranian activities in the Middle East. But whether at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Arab League, or the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Saudis, to their disappointment, found that not everyone shared their frame of mind about Iran.

One dissent particularly stood out. At the Arab League meeting, Iraqi President Barham Salih implored the region’s leaders to help sustain Iran’s stability. Should the United States and its allies go to war with Iran, he maintained, the conflict would have dangerous ramifications for Iraq and the entire Middle East.

Salih’s statement was a reminder not just to the Saudis but also to the United States that Baghdad is uniquely vulnerable when it comes to Iranian pressure. And make no mistake: Iran has big plans for Iraq. Although relations between the neighbors have had their ups and downs, Tehran has invested deeply in Iraq, both politically and economically, and these investments will only multiply in the short term. After all, U.S. sanctions on Iran have made Iraq an essential link in Iran’s potential chain of commerce. How such plans play out will put the Iranians, the Iraqis, and the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump to the test.

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Iraq appoints ministers but govt still incomplete

AFP reports:

The Iraqi parliament approved three new ministers on Monday, but the post of education minister remains unfilled eight months after Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi was appointed.

The legislature gave its backing to Abdel Mahdi's picks to head the defence, interior and justice ministries.

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In Baghdad walls come down, ushering freedom in

Judit Neurink writes for Deutsche Welle:

Baghdad has been undergoing major changes since the "Islamic State" group was removed from Iraq, and safety returned to the city of eight million. Most of the T-walls erected over the past decade to keep both public and private buildings safe have now been pulled down to reveal parks and green zones. In a major development, the Green Zone housing the parliament, ministries and embassies, which was formerly secured behind fences, walls and checkpoints, was recently opened up to all traffic.

As part of this changing environment, Baghdad has seen the opening of its first women's café, where women can meet without males to accompany them and without wearing the scarf and long abaya that have become so common on the streets. These are, of course, the first things young women remove on entering La Femme café.

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