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

In Iraq’s Anbar, election offers chance to settle scores

Ali Choukeir writes for AFP:

In the vast desert province of Anbar where Islamic State group jihadists first emerged in Iraq, parliamentary elections next month are an opportunity for the predominantly Sunni residents to settle scores.

Many of the new candidates are eager to push out lawmakers they believe minimised the danger of -- or even sympathised with -- the Sunni extremists that stormed across the country in the summer of 2014.

"The political class that existed before IS is no longer suitable. They have lost their credibility with the residents of Anbar," said Rafea al-Fahdawi, who heads the candidate list in the province for the Victory Alliance led by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

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In southern Iraq, drought tightens its grip

AFP reports:

Abu Ali carefully crank-starts a generator to pump water from a well out into his parched field in southern Iraq.

There used to be no need for a well in his village but a creeping drought is now threatening agriculture and livelihoods in the area.

"Last year, the river started to dry up and today we only have wells to supply us with water," the 73-year-old farmer said.

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In power for 15 years, Iraq’s Shi’ites split ahead of crucial vote

Ahmed Aboulenein writes for Reuters:

United in their fight against Saddam Hussein’s oppression for decades, Iraq’s Shi’ites have become deeply fragmented and disillusioned with their leaders after 15 years in power.

In Iraq’s Shi’ite heartlands, many who once voted blindly along sectarian lines are now turning their ire against the Shi’ite-led governments they say have failed to repair crumbling infrastructure, provide jobs or end the violence.

The divisions within the community now risk splitting the Shi’ite vote in a May 12 election, which could complicate and delay the formation of a government, threaten gains against Islamic State and let Iran meddle further in Iraq’s politics.

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Iraqi women election candidates targeted for abuse gain UN support

BBC News reports:

The UN has condemned "defamation and violence" against women candidates in Iraq's elections, after one candidate resigned over an alleged sex tape.

Dr Intidhar Ahmed Jassim withdrew from the race after the video - which she says is a fake - was released online.

Other women candidates have also reportedly faced online harassment.

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In Iraq minefields, an old war leaves a menacing legacy

Mohammed Ati writes for Reuters:

The Iraqis who pick over their country’s old battlefields for military scrap metal and wiring have few other ways to make a living, but the task comes with enormous risks.

So numerous are the wounds inflicted by mines and ordnance in Jurf al-Milh that the southern Iraqi village is better known as al Bitran, which means “the amputees” in the local dialect.

Hundreds of villagers have lost limbs to mines and unexploded ordnance from the Iraq-Iran war of 1980-1988.

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Iraq election: Ex-sports stars seek to shake up politics

AFP reports:

In the sweltering heat of Mexico '86, Ahmed Radhi and Basil Gorgis pulled on the same jerseys to represent Iraq's football team in its sole World Cup Finals.

But now, a third of a century later, they're just two of several former stars taking part in a very different contest - as parliamentary candidates in the May 12 election.

While the World Cup adventure ended in dismal failure, with Iraq crashing out after losing all three of its group games, the ex-players' appeal could be a big draw for some Iraqi voters.

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Sunni and Shia struggle with Iraq’s reconciliation process

Erika Solomon writes for Financial Times:

Dirt barriers and charred no-man’s lands still divide the Sunni and Shia families in Yathrib even after a three-year reconciliation process meant to heal a community torn apart by the war with Isis. Officials plan to segregate roads and irrigation canals, even lobbying to split administration of the remote agriculture district in two.

Though the bitter struggle to drive Isis out of Iraqi territory is largely won, Yathrib’s story shows how daunting the process of reconciliation can be. Yathrib is not a large city, like Mosul or Ramadi, where vast urban districts were razed in months-long battles. It is not even one of the most demographically complex areas that must be reconciled. And still, millions of dollars were spent to win the peace here.

Dozens of Iraqi officials, mediators, UN affiliates, and even local militias shuttled for years between Yathrib’s divided tribes. But farmers like Qassim al-Saadi still waver between a peace they were told they must accept, and a nagging desire for revenge against neighbours they believe embraced Isis when the Sunni jihadi group stormed their land.

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New electronic system to speed up Iraqi election results: elections chief

Raya Jalabi and Ahmed Aboulenein report for Reuters:

A new electronic system will deliver the results of Iraq’s upcoming national election within hours of polls closing, the country’s chief electoral officer said, a marked improvement from previous years when it took weeks to announce the outcome.

“The results will be announced in hours, not days,” Riyadh al-Badran, the Chief Electoral Officer of the Independent High Electoral Commission, said in a Reuters interview at the commission’s headquarters in Baghdad.

“We will have results that accurately reflect the will of the voters,” Badran said, adding that the new system significantly limits the possibilities of voter fraud.

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Landmark mosque in Iraq’s Mosul to be rebuilt

AP reports:

The United Nations' cultural agency, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq have signed an agreement to finance the reconstruction of a landmark mosque in Mosul that was blown up last year by the Islamic State group.

UNESCO announced Monday that the UAE will provide $50.4 million to finance the project, focusing on the restoration of the Al-Nouri Mosque, built in the 12th century and once famous for its leaning minaret.

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Precision Fires Hindered By Urban Jungle

Amos Fox writes for Association of the United States Army:

In a March–April 2015 Military Review article, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster wrote about a handful of fallacies that plague thinking about modern war. Specifically, in “Continuity and Change: The Army Operating Concept and Clear Thinking About Future War,” McMaster suggested, “These fallacies are dangerous because they threaten to consign the U.S. military to repeat mistakes and develop joint forces ill-prepared for future threats to national security.”

The fallacies—the “vampire fallacy,” the “Zero Dark 30 fallacy,” the “Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom fallacy” and the “RSVP fallacy”—are a good starting point when thinking about modern warfare. However, the counter-Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria adds further legitimacy to McMasters’ vampire fallacy, which posits that technological innovation will deliver quick, easy and inexpensive victories while lifting fog and friction from the battlefield.

The counter-Islamic State campaign, underwritten by U.S. precision-strike capability, provided another opportunity for the proponents of precision strike to advance their position. Yet the hard slogs in Mosul, Iraq; Raqqa and Aleppo, both in Syria; and, to a lesser degree, Ramadi, Iraq, have further eroded the promises of precision warfare. As such, McMasters’ vampire fallacy lives on, but perhaps with an additional wrinkle—a precision paradox.

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