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

In ‘city of shanasheel’, Iraqi heritage crumbles from budgetary neglect

Karim Jameel writes for AFP:

As a child, Adnan Khalaf used to marvel at the Iraqi city of Basra's "shanasheel", finely crafted bay windows complete with intricate wooden latticework and ornate stained glass.

Today, the Iraqi retiree can only watch as the hallmarks of his hometown -- "the city of shanasheel" -- crumble out of neglect.

Authorities in Basra, the capital of Iraq's richest oil province, are struggling to provide the bare minimum of services to its inhabitants, as nepotism and corruption divert lucrative revenues from the black gold.

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Results Of A Nationwide Public Opinion Poll On Iraq’s Upcoming Parliamentary Election

1001 Iraqi Thoughts reports:

1001 Iraqi Thoughts commissioned a public opinion survey in Iraq to explore voter trends ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for 12th May 2018. The nationwide poll was conducted between 17-21 March featuring 1,066 telephone interviews across all 18 provinces through randomly selected mobile numbers. Interviews were weighted against population distributions and gender on the provincial level.

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Islamic State Regrouping in Iraqi, Kurdish Disputed Territories

Rikar Hussein writes for Voice of America:

Taking advantage of the rivalry between the central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government, Islamic State is regrouping and increasing deadly attacks in disputed territories across northern Iraq, Kurdish and Iraqi officials warned.

The Iraqi government declared a final victory over IS last December after Iraqi forces drove its last remnants from the country.

IS militants have since reverted to guerrilla warfare tactics, particularly in Kirkuk, northern Saladin and eastern Diyala, where both the Iraqi central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government claim control.

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Iraq in Brief

Christopher M. Blanchard writes for the Congressional Research Service:

Iraq’s government declared military victory against the terrorist insurgents of the Islamic State group (IS, aka ISIS/ISIL) in December 2017, but counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations against the group are ongoing. Iraqis are shifting their attention toward recovery and the country’s political future. Security conditions have improved but remain fluid, and daunting resettlement, reconstruction, and reform needs occupy citizens and decision makers. National legislative elections are scheduled for May 12, 2018, and campaigning reflects issues stemming from the 2014-2017 conflict with the Islamic State as well a range of preexisting internal disputes and governance challenges. Ethnic, religious, regional, and tribal identities remain politically relevant, as do partisanship, personal rivalries, economic disparities, and natural resource imbalances. Iraq’s neighbors and other outsiders continue to pursue their interests in the country, at times cooperatively and at times in competition.

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Rising from the rubble: ‘If we don’t rebuild Mosul, maybe Isis will come back’

Cathy Otten writes for The Guardian:

Even if we work every day for the next six months, we still won’t finish this job – we don’t have enough support or equipment,” says Muhammed Shaban, an officer of the Civil Defence Force in west Mosul, in the exhausted tone of someone who is unable to separate his life from his work.

Shaban and his colleagues were recovering as many as 30 bodies a day in August last year, one month after the fighting ceased. More bodies still lie under the rubble along the banks of the Tigris river, where the last bloody battles were fought. “We are working with our hands and it is so hard,” says Shaban. He is still waiting to be paid.

Thoughts of rebuilding Mosul are far from the minds of the men tasked with recovering the dead. The true number of the lives lost in the battle against Isis here – when, in the final months of the campaign, families trapped by Iraqi forces had no escape from airstrikes and snipers – is not known, but the Associated Press reported nearly 10,000 civilian deaths; the UN found the figure to be 2,521 at a minimum. The old city, once Mosul’s economic centre and beating heart, became a burial chamber.

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Iraq: ISIL says it killed 10 policemen

AP reports:

ISIL has claimed responsibility for abducting and killing 10 policemen in north Iraq.

Pictures posted online by the extremist group showed eight men in civilian clothing on their knees in an open area with militants pointing rifles at their backs. Another picture showed two men flanked by militants brandishing knives.

Two police officers said on Sunday that only nine troops from the federal police were kidnapped on Tuesday by militants disguised in government-sanctioned paramilitary forces uniforms.

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Families of ISIL terrorism victims in Iraq still need closure

Florian Neuhof writes for The National:

When ISIL took control of Mosul in June 2014, it was intent on consolidating a stunning victory over Iraq's security forces by rooting out resistance with its trademark brutality.

Crammed on to flatbed lorries and buses, thousands of men with their hands tied behind their backs were driven out of the city and to their deaths by Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi's killers.

According to Human Rights Watch the ditch could hold up to 4,000 bodies, making it the site of the biggest mass murder committed by ISIL, dwarfing the infamous massacre at Camp Speicher near Tikrit, where up to 1,700 bodies were found.

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Kurdish rebels withdraw from Iraq’s Sinjar

Susannah George and Suzan Fraser report for AP:

A Kurdish rebel group will withdraw from the town of Sinjar in northern Iraq on Friday, it said in a statement, following threats of attack from Turkey’s president who has launched a series of airstrikes against suspected Kurdish rebel camps over the past week.

The Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, said it moved into Sinjar to protect the Yezidi people “from genocide” at the hands of the Islamic State group and are now withdrawing “having reached that aim,” according to the statement.

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How Reconciliation in Iraq Could Stop Collective Punishment

Belkis Wille writes for Human Rights Watch:

Policymakers in Iraq, and in countries supporting its government, are debating what kind of reconciliation efforts are needed post-ISIS. Meanwhile, without fanfare, the town of al-Shura in northern Iraq, forty kilometers south of Mosul, is quietly carrying out its own reconciliation and reintegration efforts.

In early February I found myself in the home of Sheikh Jamhour of the Juburi tribe, one of the largest in Iraq, as he described how his town is engaging in reconciliation between families who suffered the atrocities of ISIS and families of ISIS members. Elsewhere in Iraq, families with relatives suspected of being ISIS members are being rounded up at gunpoint and forced into de facto prison camps and kept there in a form of collective punishment, a practice prohibited under international law.

In contrast, he said that al-Shura has welcomed back women and children with relatives who joined ISIS, and Juburi elders there are assisting in the reintegration of ISIS-members children into local schools.

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After Months of Acrimony, Baghdad Strikes Deal With Kurds

Margaret Coker writes for The New York Times:

Markets are bustling with shoppers seeking new holiday outfits. Airport flight boards feature packed schedules. And political tempers, which were erupting a few months ago, are tamped back within the bounds of diplomatic niceties.

These scenes illustrate a remarkable turnaround in relations between Iraq’s central government in Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government in Erbil since last fall, when Iraqi troops were battling Kurdish fighters after a controversial Kurdish referendum for independence. After the vote, Iraqi forces reasserted federal control over key oil installations and banned international flights to Kurdish airports, depriving the Kurds of two of their most potent symbols of autonomy.

Ahead of the Kurdish new year festival on Wednesday, Iraqi politicians announced an agreement capping months of back-room negotiations aimed at alleviating the political fallout and the Kurds’ economic hardships and ultimately at bringing Iraq’s Kurdish region back into the fold.

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