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

Thousands of carp die in mysterious circumstances in Iraq

AFP reports:

Iraqi fish farmers south of Baghdad have been left reeling after finding thousands of dead carp mysteriously floating in their cages or washed up on the banks of the Euphrates.

Piles of the dead silvery fish, along with a few car tyres and plastic bags, could be seen on Friday (Nov 2) lying under a massive concrete bridge.

They covered the surface of deeper water nearby, providing rich pickings for birds circling above.

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Iraq’s new prime minister inherits a better country

The Economist reports:

Iraqis are desperate to reboot their creaking democracy. Nearly every government since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 has proven corrupt, incompetent or dysfunctional. Their new prime minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, hardly seems like a change. The 76-year-old former finance and oil minister belongs to the old elite, whose fathers were ministers when Iraq was a pro-British monarchy, and who owe their restoration to America.

Mr Abdul-Mahdi’s confirmation, five months after a marred election in May, was inauspicious. Parliament’s speaker cut off his reading of the government’s 122-page programme after 45 minutes. MPs rejected eight of his 22 cabinet nominees. The two largest Shia parties are quarrelling over posts. One of the few things Iraq’s politicians agree on is that plum jobs should continue to be handed out by sect.

But Mr Abdul-Mahdi has advantages that other prime ministers did not. Despite the kerfuffle over his cabinet, he has the backing of all the big parties. He also enjoys support from Shia clerics and, remarkably, both America and Iran. He wants to use their backing to end corruption, repair Iraq's electricity and water grids, and get militias out of the cities.

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Baghdad faces renewed protests in southern Iraq

Mina Aldroubi writes for The National:

Iraq's government is facing renewed pressure from the southern city of Basra to provide adequate public services, with nearly 120,000 people admitted to hospital with water poisoning.

The oil hub has seen growing public anger over poor infrastructure, contaminated water and lack of jobs in a region that generates the majority of the country's oil wealth.

"The renewed calls for protests are more about economic worries than political grievances, we are concerned about the new government's inability to provide public services such as water, electricity and employment opportunities," Mohammed Al Tai, a former member of parliament for Basra, told The National on Thursday.

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Iraqi Refugees in Syria Refuse to Return Home

Sirwan Kajjo and Zana Omar write for Voice of America:

Despite their cities and towns being freed from Islamic State (IS) militants, many Iraqi refugees who have settled in Syria say that do not wish to return to their homes.

Iraqi refugees interviewed by VOA at al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria voiced doubts about a possible return to their home country in the near future.

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Artists emerge from ruins of Mosul to reclaim Iraqi city’s cultural life

Raya Jalabi writes for Reuters:

The first thing musician Fadhel al-Badri did when Mosul was liberated from Islamic State last year was breathe a sigh of relief.

The militants who seized the city in 2014 had targeted artists like himself so when neighbours said they were hunting for him, he left home, called his wife to say he was likely to die and took to sleeping in a different place each night.

On Saturday, Badri and other musicians and activists attended the first orchestral concert in the northern Iraqi city since the militants were defeated more than a year ago by Iraqi and Kurdish forces and a coalition led by the United States.

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Iraq looks to snuff out ISIL remnants in remote Anbar province

Osama Bin Javaid writes for Al Jazeera:

The vast Anbar desert stretches across almost a third of Iraq, 138,000 square-kilometres of no man's land to the country's west.

Here, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS) sleeper cells use the remote area's mountain ranges, valleys and caves to plan and launch their attacks from.

The Iraqi military and US-led coalition are hesitant to give exact numbers but estimate that a few hundred fighters clustered in groups as small as two are all that remains of the group.

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Ancient Assyrian sculpture up for sale at Christie’s – but should it ever have left Iraq?

Rob Crilly and Mina Aldroubi write for The National:

A 3000-year-old Iraqi artefact goes on sale at Christie’s auction house in New York this week, where it is expected to fetch more than $10m for its American owners. However, the Iraqi government has demanded a halt to the sale of the two-metre frieze taken from an ancient Assyrian palace.

The case is the latest controversy to hit the American antiquities market. Dealers, auctioneers and museums have all had items confiscated.

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Why do Kurds continue to flee Iraq’s Kurdish region?

Mariya Petkova writes for Al Jazeera:

Zakho is a relatively prosperous town, with many families working in trade and transportation linked to the nearby Ibrahim Khalil border crossing between Turkey and the Kurdish region, the main gateway for the billions-worth of Turkish goods that Iraq imports. Like most Kurdish cities, it remained relatively safe and stable during the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) and the subsequent war effort to dismantle it.

For the decade and a half since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the Kurdish region prospered, its residents enjoying a much higher standard of living than the rest of the country. Yet over the past four years, large numbers of Iraqi Kurds have attempted the dangerous journey to Europe.

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U.S. Citizen, Detained Without Charge by Trump Administration for a Year, Is Finally Free

Jonathan Hafetz writes for the ACLU:

An American illegally detained in Iraq by the U.S. military for more than a year has finally won his freedom.

On Sunday, after a long court battle, the Trump administration let our client go. Under a settlement agreement, he was released in a third country, where he will once again be a free man. Parts of the agreement are confidential, and he is officially remaining unidentified for his safety and privacy.

From the moment the American was imprisoned, his own government tried to deny him his constitutional rights. It kept his detention secret, denied his requests for a lawyer, and attempted to forcibly transfer him to a dangerous war zone.

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Yazidi mothers of children by IS face heartbreaking choices

Hamza Hendawi, Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Salar Salim write for AP:

The 26-year-old Yazidi mother faces a heartbreaking choice.

Her family is preparing to emigrate from Iraq to Australia and start a new life after the suffering the Islamic State group wreaked on their small religious minority. She is desperate to go with them, but there is also someone she can't bear to leave behind: Her 2-year-old daughter, Maria, fathered by the IS fighter who enslaved her.

She knows her family will never allow her to bring Maria. They don't even know the girl exists. The only relative who knows is an uncle who took the girl from her mother and put her in an orphanage in Baghdad after they were freed from captivity last year.

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