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

Anger is simmering among Iraq’s Kurdish youth

Mariya Petkova writes for Al Jazeera:

It has been more than a month since Iraq's Kurdish region held its parliamentary election, and a new Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) is yet to be announced. Currently, intense negotiations are taking place between the two main political players in the region - the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) - dispelling speculations that their decades-old power-sharing agreement had come to an end after the severe political fallout from last year's independence referendum.

But as the two parties are busy evening out their differences and haggling over ministerial posts, there does not seem to be much enthusiasm about the new KDP-PUK government, especially among the youth.

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Iraq rail service back on track after war with Islamic State

John Davison writes for Reuters:

At Baghdad’s grand but half-empty railway station, a single train is sputtering to life. It is the newly revived daily service to Falluja, a dusty town to the west once infamous as a Sunni insurgent stronghold.

The driver and conductor assure that the tracks running through Anbar province are now clear of mines planted by Islamic State and of collapsed bridges the group blew up when it marauded through western and northern Iraq in 2014.

After a four-year hiatus, hundreds of rail passengers now travel the 30 miles (50 km) between Baghdad and Falluja in just over an hour. By car, the journey can take several.

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Blacksmith market roars back to life in old Mosul

AP reports:

The furnaces are hot and this workshop in old Mosul is roaring back to life.

The blacksmith and carpenters' market is a hive of activity after being abandoned during the Islamic State (ISIS) group occupation.

Blacksmiths and carpenters have complained about the lack of government support in rebuilding their shops.

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Shaken by Car Bomb, Mosul Fears Return of IS Nightmares

AFP reports:

A deadly car bomb in Iraq's Mosul, the first since the city was recaptured from jihadists, has left residents shaken and terrified that past nightmares are returning to haunt them.

The blast late Thursday hit the popular Abu Layla restaurant in Mosul, the northern city that for three years served as the Islamic State group's Iraq headquarters.

When residents awoke to the scene of destruction on Friday morning, they feared their bloody past with IS was not yet behind them.

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Northern Iraq May Be Free, but the South Is Seething

Ahmed Twaij writes for Foreign Policy:

Recent violent protests in the southern Iraqi city of Basra have brought to light years of suffering by Iraqis in what is known as the economic capital of Iraq due to its vast oil reserves and deep-sea port access connecting the country to the international market. Basra, a predominantly Shiite city, also has a significant minority population, including black Iraqis and Christians. It is Iraq’s second-largest city and has developed a reputation for fostering some of Iraq’s greatest artists. During the first Gulf War, the Iraqi military used Basra as a route for the Kuwait invasion; ironically, a decade later, U.S.-led forces used it as a path toward Baghdad during the 2003 invasion.

The current crisis in Basra is not a recent development. It stems from years of inattention from both the international community and the Iraqi government. Increased civil unrest in the region has been exacerbated by the government’s focus on defeating the Islamic State in northern Iraq and unequal distribution of resources, making the current situation both expected and preventable.

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Mosul residents left to rebuild destroyed homes

Sebastian Castelier and Azhar Al-Rubaie write for Al-Jazeera:

During the nine-month battle to retake Iraq's Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters, 54,000 houses were destroyed in and around the city.

Since July last year, when victory was declared in Mosul, the city has witnessed numerous reconstruction projects run by government organisations and NGOs.

The vast majority of these projects are taking place in the old city of Mosul, focussing mostly on cleaning the streets, helping rebuild schools and basic infrastructures, such as water supply and electricity network.

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Three dead in first car bomb in Mosul since Daesh ouster — officials

AFP reports:

A car bomb killed three people in Iraq’s Mosul on Thursday, medical and security officials said, the first such attack since extremists were ousted from the city last year.

The Daesh group, which once controlled a cross-border “caliphate” home to millions of people, lost control of Mosul and the rest of its urban strongholds in 2017 but it has continued to wage guerilla-style attacks across Iraq.

On Thursday, a car bomb went off around dinner time at a restaurant in the war-ravaged west of Iraq’s second city.

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‘There should be music instead of the sound of bombs’: How Mosul is using art to rebuild

Ruby Mellen and Mustafa Salim write for The Washington Post:

The night was clear, the air thick with humidity and filled with the sounds of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.” It was Oct. 27 in Mosul, Iraq, and a makeshift orchestra was putting on a show — one unlike anything the city had seen for decades, one local journalist said.

The orchestra — a mix of players including a range of Baghdad professionals as well as local amateurs — drew an audience of hundreds to a plot of land where the Islamic State once trained its next generation of soldiers. For spectators and participants, it marked an artistic rebirth in a city still trying to rebuild after the militant group’s harrowing three-year rule.

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IS left 200 mass graves in Iraq – UN

BBC reports:

More than 200 mass graves containing thousands of bodies have been found in areas of Iraq that were once controlled by the Islamic State (IS) group, a UN investigation has found.

The graves were found in the north and western governorates of Nineveh, Kirkuk, Salahuddin and Anbar.

They could contain as many as 12,000 victims, the UN report said.

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Money moves again in Iraq’s Mosul, but not via banks

AFP reports:

Since ISIS was ousted from Mosul last year, taxi driver Abu Aref has ferried more than just people into the Iraqi city: he regularly smuggles envelopes stuffed with cash.

This is how salaries are paid and bills settled in the northern metropolis, despite the banks reopening since Iraqi forces seized it back last year from the extremist group after three years.

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