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

Guilty by association: Families of suspected Islamic State members pay a steep price

Alexandra Zavis writes for LA Times:

Aliya Mohammed begged her son not to get mixed up with Islamic State. Now she is paying the price for his decision to defy her.

Today, months after the fighting ended, she is trapped in a camp for the displaced in the town of Hamam Alil — one of thousands of people, the majority of them women and children, who fled their homes during the war and now cannot return because relatives are said to have a connection to Islamic State.

Many are afraid to leave the camps. But even if they want to do so, they often find it impossible to get the necessary paperwork. The craving for revenge against Islamic State runs deep — as does the fear that the militants could make a comeback.

Click here for the entire story

Iraq’s Real Weapons Of Mass Destruction Were ‘Political Operations’

Samuel Helfont writes for War on the Rocks:

Influence operations are by their nature clandestine. In other words, if they are done well, we do not even know they occurred. As such, in most cases it is difficult to obtain reliable information on how exactly they were planned or carried out. Fortunately, most cases are not all cases. In fact, we have troves of sources on one very important and still fairly recent case: Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. The now-opened archives of the Iraqi Ba‘th Party have already provided stunning insights into how Saddam ruled his country. They also shed significant light on Ba'thist operations outside of Iraq.

Iraqi Ba‘thists were engaged in what they called “political” operations. Their goal was to influence the internal politics of other states to help Iraq achieve its strategic goals. They carried out espionage, planted stories in the foreign press, established overt and covert relations with various parties, and attempted to silence anyone who disrupted their preferred political narrative. In short, their activities match what others in the West have termed political warfare or influence operations. And they were quite good at it. As Angelo Codevilla, the statesman-turned-Boston University professor, has noted, “In our time, the past master in the techniques of political warfare may well have been Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. Between 1991 and 2003 politics was Saddam’s ‘weapon of mass destruction’.” Iraq’s internal documents not only demonstrate the details of its fairly successful influence operations in the 1990s, they also highlight the ­limitations of such operations. Most importantly, the Iraqi case suggests that such operations cannot be used in a vacuum. Like other aspects of national power, if they are not employed in accordance with broader geopolitical realities, they will likely fall flat.

Click here for the entire story

Iraq: Families of Alleged ISIS Members Denied IDs

Human Rights Watch reports:

Iraqi security officers are routinely denying relatives of suspected Islamic State (also known as ISIS) members the security clearance needed to obtain identity cards and other documents, Human Rights Watch said today. Denying government benefits because of perceived family relationships instead of individual security determinations is a form of collective punishment prohibited under international human rights law.

Iraqis lacking full civil documentation can readily be deprived of their basic rights. They cannot freely move around for fear of arrest, nor can they get a job or apply for welfare benefits. Children denied birth certificates may be considered stateless and may not be allowed to enroll in school. Women unable to obtain death certificates for their spouses are unable to inherit property or remarry.

“Iraq’s security forces are marginalizing thousands of families of ISIS suspects by depriving them of the basic documents they need to rebuild their lives,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Unless this collective punishment stops, the authorities will be further destabilizing the situation in Mosul and other former ISIS-held cities.”

Click here for the entire story

Iraq court sentences 16 Turkish women to death for joining IS

Ahmed Rasheed writes for Reuters:

An Iraqi court has sentenced 16 Turkish women to death by hanging for joining Islamic State, a judiciary spokesman said on Sunday.

Iraq is conducting the trials of hundreds of foreign women who have been detained, with hundreds of their children, since August by Iraqi forces as Islamic State strongholds crumbled.

The central criminal court issued the sentences “after it was proven they belong to the Daesh terrorist group and after they confessed to marrying Daesh elements or providing members of the group with logistical aid or helping them carry out terrorist attacks,” said Judge Abdul-Sattar al-Birqdar, referring to the militant group using an Arabic acronym.

Click here for the entire story

Raised by ISIS, Returned to Chechnya: ‘These Children Saw Terrible Things’

Andrew E. Kramer writes for The New York Times:

Every day, Belant Zulgayeva gets a knot in her throat watching her grandchildren play their violent games, what she calls their “little war.” They talk very little, but they run around, hide and, occasionally, slam one another to the ground with a disturbing ferocity.

Ms. Zulgayeva is on the front line of a different kind of struggle: an effort by the Russian government to bring home and care for Russian children like her three grandchildren, who were raised by Islamist militants in the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

As the American-led coalition and Syrian government forces captured cities that had been held by the Islamic State, they found among the ruins a grim human wreckage of the organization’s once successful recruitment drive: hundreds and perhaps thousands of children born to or brought with the men and women who had flocked to Syria in support of the Islamic State.

Click here for the entire story

Islamic State has been stashing millions of dollars in Iraq and abroad

The Economist reports:

Gone are the days when the black flag fluttered over a third of Iraq and almost half of Syria. Crushed on the battlefield, Islamic State has lost roughly 98% of its self-proclaimed “caliphate”. Some 70,000 of its fighters (who numbered perhaps 100,000 at their peak) are thought to have been killed. But thousands have escaped. Some have remained in Iraq and Syria; others have slipped into Turkey or hooked up with IS affiliates in Egypt, Libya and South-East Asia. Around 10,000 of the group’s foreign fighters are thought to have left the Middle East.

Those intent on continuing to wage jihad will still have the means. IS has quietly stashed millions of dollars across the region. It has invested in businesses in Iraq, bought gold in Turkey and continued to transfer money to its affiliates. “You wouldn’t believe the amount of money that has gone out of IS’ territory,” says a former weapons-dealer involved in transferring the jihadists’ cash. An Iraqi legislator estimates that IS smuggled $400m out of Iraq and Syria during its retreat.

Click here for the entire story

Expeditionary Advising: Enabling Iraqi Operations from the Gates of Baghdad through Eastern Mosul

Ryan Wylie, Aaron Childers and Brett Sylvia write for Small Wars Journal:

In May of 2016, Task Force (TF) Strike, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), assumed the responsibility of advising and assisting the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in their fight to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).  At the time, the ISF were at a critical point of transition.  In the preceding 18 months, the ISF and Kurdish forces stopped the advance of ISIS and established a stable defensive line extending from Baghdad and Erbil, stretching north along the Tigris River past Bayji, and extending west along the Euphrates River past Ramadi and out to Al Assad Airbase.  To prepare and conduct operations to ultimately oust ISIS from Mosul, the ISF required capable advisors spread across their 14 Division formations.  As the only Brigade Combat Team (BCT) in Iraq, this task fell to TF Strike. As a result, TF Strike developed an approach to expeditionary advising focused on maintaining a persistent presence forward with Iraqi partners, leveraging precision capabilities, and building a robust advisor network.  Understanding the critical elements of this transformation can help inform current policy discussions on the future role of U.S. ground forces in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere, and is particularly relevant to future advising concepts, specifically the nascent U.S. Army Security Force Assistance Brigades.

Just prior to TF Strike’s arrival, the ISF, led by the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Services (CTS), conducted limited offensive operations to retake the key population centers of Bayji and Ramadi. The liberation of Fallujah was on-going and would be complete in the ensuing two months.  Although ISIS retained control of key Lines of Communication (LOC) into Mosul and the surrounding areas, to include the outlying cites of Hawija and Shargot, the ISF had regained the initiative and, along with the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command (CJFLCC), were setting conditions for the Mosul Offensive.  In April of 2016, the ISF began Operation Valley Wolf, the first major offensive operation in Northern Iraq, intended to set conditions for the eventual liberation of Mosul by reclaiming key terrain along the Tigris River and establishing an operating base at Quyarrah-West Airbase (Q-West).

Despite recent success in the Euphrates River Valley, there was little confidence Iraqi forces were up to the task of retaking Mosul. Aside from the CTS, the ISF force reconstituted after the invasion of ISIS remained largely untested in their ability to project combat power away from Baghdad and conduct sustained offensive operations. In the ongoing fight in Fallujah, the ISF demonstrated a limited ability to get multiple ISF components, specifically the CTS, Iraqi Army, and Federal Police, into the fight simultaneously and de-conflict their actions. Despite this improvement, synchronization of these different branches of the Iraqi security forces remained elusive. Ultimately, the Fallujah attack became a race to the town center between competing ISF forces. Additionally, there was a reluctance to dedicate forces towards Mosul as the ISF remained a Baghdad-based force with 60% of the Iraqi combat power and 100% of the logistics focused around the capital due to security concerns. In fact, throughout the summer of 2016, the Iraqi Prime Minister periodically recalled elements of the ISF to secure the city from Sadrist protestors and ISIS terrorist attacks.

Click here for the entire story

Yazidi survivor won’t return to Iraq for fear of new ‘genocide’

Nina Larson writes for AFP:

Farida Abbas Khalaf, one of thousands of Yazidi women abducted, raped and brutalised by Islamic State group fighters, says the jihadists' departure has not made it safe to return to Iraq.

"Everything is still the same. The same people who joined (IS) are still in those neighbourhoods. How can we return and trust them again?" Khalaf said in an interview with AFP this week.

"Who will guarantee that genocide will not happen again, by perpetrators using another name?" she asked, speaking through a translator.

Click here for the entire story

Iraq urges FIFA to lift ban on hosting internationals

AFP reports:

Iraq hopes that hosting Gulf football friendlies, renovating its stadiums and outlawing weapons at matches will have persuaded FIFA to lift a ban on home competitive internationals, its sports minister said.

The country has not played full internationals on home turf for almost three decades, ever since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait that sparked an international embargo.

The ban was briefly lifted in 2012, but a power outage during an Iraq-Jordan match in the Iraqi Kurdish capital Erbil led world's football's governing body promptly to reinstate it.

Click here for the entire story

How Will Iraq Contain Iran’s Proxies?

Ranj Alaaldin writes for The Atlantic:

In June 2014, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, one of the leading Shiite clergyman in the world, called on all able-bodied Iraqis to defend their country against the Islamic State. Iraq’s U.S.-trained armed forces had collapsed, fleeing the advance of isis as it seized Mosul and much of northern Iraq. Sistani’s fatwa mobilized a 100,000-strong fighting force known as the Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), whose mostly Shiite fighters were instrumental in the fight against isis. The PMF is comprised of multiple Shiite militias who were established after 2014 as volunteer groups that took up arms in response to Sistani’s fatwa, filling the void left by the collapse of the Iraqi army. The majority of these groups are aligned with the Iraqi state and take their orders from the Iraqi government.

But residing within the PMF are Iran-aligned groups who have become the Forces’ most-powerful militias. While technically they have been under Baghdad’s command since 2016, in reality, they answer to their sponsors in Tehran. These groups have long exploited conflict and disorder in Iraq since the toppling of the Baath regime, while also expanding Iran’s influence in the country. They have been accused of sectarian atrocities that helped lay the groundwork for groups like isis and played a critical role in the bloody 2006 war between Arab Sunnis and Shiites. They have violently resisted attempts by the Iraqi state and the United States to disarm them. Since the emergence of isis and Sistani’s fatwa, these groups have exploited the security vacuum and the weakening of Iraq’s conventional forces to further consolidate their hold. Now, they seem poised to translate their wartime popularity into political gains in the coming elections in May, when they will contest the elections as the al-Fateh (or “Conquest”) bloc.

Click here for the entire story

Page 21 of 679« First...10...1920212223...304050...Last »