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

Baghdad at 10 million: fragile dreams of normality as megacity status beckons

Peter Beaumont writes for The Guardian:

After an exhausting journey through Baghdad’s vast and grimy suburbs, the pastel-coloured blocks of Besmaya Dream City rise up above the rushes just beyond one of the modern gates marking the edge of the city.

The orderliness of these dozens of towers – some lived in, some unfinished – is a shock in the otherwise chaotic jumble of low-rise cityscape. The residential complex is being built by a South Korean company, Hanwha, and there are ambitious plans to build homes for up to 600,000 residents once its delayed construction is complete.

Dream City – aimed at the beleaguered middle class – offers one potential vision of the future as the population of Iraq’s capital nears 10 million and the city prepares to join the ranks of the world’s megacities. Baghdad is in flux.

Click here for the entire story

Mosul’s governor accuses politicians of exaggerating situation in the city

Mina Aldroubi writes for The National:

Mosul's self-appointed governor says the situation in the northern Iraqi city is “not as bad as it looks” despite extremely damaged infrastructure and poor public services after a three-year occupation at the hands of ISIS militants.

Nofal Al Agub accused a parliamentary committee set up to assess Nineveh province’s security and challenges for “over-exaggerating” the situation in the war-torn province.

Click here for the entire story

Iraqi scientist says he helped ISIS make chemical weapons

Joby Warrick writes for The Washington Post:

In the weeks after his city fell to the Islamic State, Iraqi scientist Suleiman al-Afari sat in his deserted government office and waited for the day when the terrorists would show up.

The black-clad militants who had seized Mosul in 2014 were making their way through each of its bureaucracies, rounding up workers and managers who had not yet fled the city and pressing them into service. When his turn came, Afari, then a 49-year-old geologist with Iraq’s Ministry of Industry and Minerals, hoped his new bosses would simply let him keep his job. To his surprise, they offered him a new one: Help us make chemical weapons, the Islamic State’s emissaries said.

Afari knew little about the subject, but he accepted the assignment. And so began his 15-month stint supervising the manufacture of lethal toxins for the world’s deadliest terrorist group.

Click here for the entire story

Described as Defeated, Islamic State Punches Back With Guerrilla Tactics

Rukmini Callimachi writes for The New York Times:

For three years, terrorists controlled a huge stretch of territory in Iraq and Syria. They ran their own state, collecting tens of millions of dollars in taxes and using the proceeds to fix potholes, issue birth certificates, finance attacks and recruit followers from around the world.

All but 1 percent of that territory is now gone, which has prompted the White House to describe the Islamic State as “wiped out,” “absolutely obliterated” and “in its final throes.” But to suggest that ISIS was defeated, as President Trump did when he announced plans to pull out American troops from Syria, is to ignore the lessons of recent history.

The group has been declared vanquished before, only to prove politicians wrong and to rise stronger than before.

Click here for the entire story

Iraq says goodbye to its beloved archaeologist al-Gailani

Philip Issa reports for AP:

Iraq on Monday mourned the loss of Lamia al-Gailani, a beloved archaeologist who helped rebuild the Baghdad museum after it was looted following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein.

Al-Gailani, who died in Amman, Jordan, on Friday at the age of 80, was one of Iraq’s first women to excavate the country’s archaeological heritage.

Click here for the entire story

Plight of Iraqi man refocuses spotlight on country’s slow reconstruction

Mina Aldroubi writes for The National:

The tears of an ordinary man from Mosul have put public frustration with the government’s lacklustre progress in rebuilding the war-torn city back in the spotlight.

Large swathes of Iraq's north were reduced to rubble during the three-year occupation of ISIS and the Iraqi forces' ensuing battles to wrestle them back. But with the end of the war declared in December 2017, attention shifted to the country's spiralling unemployment and decaying infrastructure.

“Mosul is suffering, Mosul is exhausted,” Ahmed Ibrahim Mohammed told members of parliament on Saturday.

Click here for the entire story

No politics please for Baghdad bikers aiming to unite Iraq

Hamuda Hassan writes for Reuters:

Roaring along Baghdad’s highways, the “Iraq Bikers” are doing more than showing off their love of outsized motorcycles and black leather: they want their shared enthusiasm to help heal Iraq’s deep sectarian rifts.

Weaving in and out of traffic, only the lucky few ride Harley Davidsons - a rare and expensive brand in Iraq - while others make do with bikes pimped-up to look something like the “Easy Rider” dream machines.

“Our goal is to build a brotherhood,” said Bilal al-Bayati, 42, a government employee who founded the club in 2012 with the aim of improving the image of biker gangs and to promote unity after years of sectarian conflict.

Click here for the entire story

Iraqi prime minister visits Basra, months after unrest

Qassim Abdul-Zahra writes for AP:

Iraq’s new prime minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, made his first visit to Basra on Sunday, promising better water and electricity services after riots swept through the impoverished city last summer.

Demonstrators set fire to nearly every government building in the summer unrest and torched most political party offices and the Iranian consulate as well. At least a dozen protesters were killed in the security response.

Basra generates most of Iraq’s oil revenues, but its services are in decay. The city’s canals are clogged with garbage and its drinking water is unsafe.

Click here for the entire story

US-Led Coalition: Militia Didn’t Stop Iraq Survey

Rikar Hussein writes for Voice of America:

The U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State (IS) Friday denied it was blocked by Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) from conducting a military inspection in Iraq's Anbar province near the Syrian border.

In an email to VOA, the U.S.-led international coalition's Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) said the operation in western Anbar earlier this week was coordinated with the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and the purpose of it was to survey Iraqi border security posts with Syria as a part of the ongoing effort to defeat IS.

"This survey was planned, coordinated and conducted with the ISF, and occurred without incident," CJTF-OIR told VOA.

Click here for the entire story

The U.S. Army in the Iraq War – Volume 1: Invasion – Insurgency – Civil War, 2003-2006

Strategic Studies Institute writes:

The Iraq War has been the costliest U.S. conflict since the Vietnam War. To date, few official studies have been conducted to review what happened, why it happened, and what lessons should be drawn. The U.S. Army in the Iraq War is the Army’s initial operational level analysis of this conflict, written in narrative format, with assessments and lessons embedded throughout the work. This study reviews the conflict from a Landpower perspective and includes the contributions of coalition allies, the U.S. Marine Corps, and special operations forces. Presented principally from the point of view of the commanders in Baghdad, the narrative examines the interaction of the operational and strategic levels, as well as the creation of theater level strategy and its implementation at the tactical level. Volume 1 begins in the truce tent at Safwan Airfield in southern Iraq at the end of Operation DESERT STORM and briefly examines actions by U.S. and Iraqi forces during the interwar years. The narrative continues by examining the road to war, the initially successful invasion, and the rise of Iraqi insurgent groups before exploring the country’s slide toward civil war. This volume concludes with a review of the decision by the George W. Bush administration to “surge” additional forces to Iraq, placing the conduct of the “surge” and its aftermath in the second volume.

This study was constructed over a span of 4 years and relied on nearly 30,000 pages of handpicked declassified documents, hundreds of hours of original interviews, and thousands of hours of previously unavailable interviews. Original interviews conducted by the team included President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretaries of Defense Leon Panetta and Robert Gates, Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and every theater commander for the war, among many others. With its release, this publication, The U.S. Army in the Iraq War, represents the U.S. Government’s longest and most detailed study of the Iraq conflict thus far.

Click here for the entire story