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

Minorities in north Iraq look to post-extremist future

AFP reports:

A Christmas tree stands on a roundabout in Bartalla in northern Iraq, its base adorned by posters of Shabak martyrs killed in the fight against Daesh.

Now that victory has been declared against the extremists, Iraq’s ethnic and religious minorities are taking the future into their own hands.

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ISIS hasn’t yet morphed into an insurgency in Iraq, US commander says

Jamie McIntyre writes for The Washington Examiner:

U.S. military commanders have warned that once the Islamic State is defeated in Iraq and Syria, the terrorist group is likely to morph into an insurgency. But a senior U.S. commander in Baghdad said that has not happened yet in Iraq.

Pockets of ISIS fighters remain in Iraq, but Brig. Gen. James Glynn, the No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq, says those remaining fighters have been cornered and unable to coordinate attacks.

“There are still remnants of ISIS who reside in a cellular structure who seek to bring instability to local areas, in particular population centers," Glynn told reporters at a Pentagon teleconference from Baghdad. He added that they are isolated by Iraqi Security Forces.

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‘We will get him’: the long hunt for Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Martin Chulov writes for The Guardian:

Day and night for the past three years, an unprecedented number of the world’s spies have zeroed in on a patch of Iraq and Syria to hunt for one man. Their target, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State terrorist group, has eluded them all. But only just.

The most wanted man on the planet has been traced to a specific place at least three times in the past 18 months alone. And despite the protection of a devoted network, there have been other sightings of the reclusive leader, reported by Isis members shortly afterwards and confirmed later by intelligence officers. Being a fugitive in the digital age, or in a losing cause, clearly has its shortfalls.

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Abadi’s electoral alliance collapses after just one day

Mina Aldroubi writes for The National:

The Iraqi prime minister’s electoral alliance collapsed on Monday just a day after its formation, with some members accusing other groups of sectarianism and corruption.

On Sunday, Mr Al Abadi announced the formation of a "cross-sectarian" coalition called Nasr Al Iraq — "The Victory Alliance” — to face off in the elections against the so-called "State of Law" bloc of vice-president Nouri Al Maliki, Mr Al Abadi's predecessor, key rival and fellow Dawa party member.

But by Monday, several Al Fatih members had announced their withdrawal from the coalition, including Al Badr Organisation.

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Suicide attack in Baghdad kills at least 38

Kareem Shaheen reports for The Guardian:

Two suicide bombers have blown themselves up in a busy market in central Baghdad, in back-to-back explosions that killed at least 38 people, Iraqi health and police officials said.

The bombings were the most serious attacks in the capital since the prime minister, Haidar al-Abadi, declared victory over Islamic State a little over a month ago, capping a three-year campaign to reclaim territory from the terror group in Iraq.

It raises questions about the government’s readiness to deal with the security challenges posed by the group’s retreat to its insurgent roots, ahead of elections expected in May.

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Iraqi PM Abadi to seek re-election, in alliance with Iran-backed group

Ahmed Rasheed writes for Reuters:

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Sunday announced he would stand for re-election on May 12 at the head of a cross-sectarian bloc, and received the support of a powerful Shi‘ite group close to Iran.

Abadi, a Shi‘ite Muslim who led Iraq in the three-year war against the jihadist group Islamic State, said the “Victory Alliance” that he was assembling to contest the parliamentary election would include candidates from other communities.

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Iraqi Yazidis celebrate restoration of temple destroyed by IS

AFP reports:

Northern Iraq's Yazidi community that suffered so terribly under Islamic State group persecution celebrated on Friday as it inaugurated a restored temple to the sound of traditional drums and flutes.

Overlooked by conical domes of polished stone, hundreds of men in dishdasha robes and women veiled in white gathered at the site which was blown up by the rampaging jihadists in 2014.

The temple at Bashiqa was one of 68 Yazidi temples destroyed by IS, officials said -- and one of the last of 23 in the region to be restored.

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A new life sprouts up around Mosul after scars of IS rule

AFP reports:

Even before the Islamic State group took over her home city of Mosul, Iraqi 31-year-old Nesrine never imagined she would have a job working late into the evening at a fashion boutique.

But now, in districts of Iraq's second city not left totally devastated by the ferocious fighting to oust the jihadists, life is buzzing again -- with more vibrancy than ever.

"We have experienced depression, hunger, ruin and oppression. It is a miracle that we are still alive," Nesrine told AFP.

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Iraqi militias form of one of the biggest political coalitions for elections

Mina Aldroubi writes for The National:

Iraq’s paramilitary militias announced the establishment of one of the biggest political blocs to run in the country’s upcoming general elections as the registration of electoral coalitions closed on Thursday.

“The establishment of Al Fatih coalition comprises of Al Badr Organisation, Asaib Ahl Al Haq, Harakat Hizbollah Al Nujaba and others,” said Hadi Al Ameri, leader of Al Badr Organisation.

The militias are part of the Hashed Al Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilisation Units or Popular Mobilisation Forces, which was formed in 2014 after after Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, Iraq's top Shiite cleric, urged citizens to take up arms against ISIL militants who had swept aside government forces and seized control of much of northern Iraq. Its component militias are mostly trained and supported by Iran and remain deeply divisive, with some accused of abuses against civilians.

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Yazidi Children Rescued From IS Getting Psychological Help

Rikar Hussein and Kawa Omar write for Voice of America:

Dozens of Yazidi children who have been rescued from the Islamic State terror group in Iraq and Syria are now receiving counseling to cope with and recover from the trauma they experienced during their years in captivity.

At Qadiya refugee camp near the Iraqi Kurdistan Region's northern city of Duhok, more than 100 Yazidi boys and girls aged between 4 and 13, who were kidnapped by IS in August 2014, are getting assistance to recover from the psychological harm they sustained under IS control.

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