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

Cubs of the Caliphate: rehabilitating Islamic State’s child fighters

Raya Jalabi writes for Reuters:

While children who have been through war typically draw devastating pictures of the violence they have suffered, few show themselves as the perpetrators.

Hundreds of children are estimated to have been used as fighters by Islamic State, including boys who joined with their families or were given up by them and the offspring of foreign fighters groomed from birth to perpetuate its ideology.

Experts have warned that indoctrinated children, who began escaping the clutches of Islamic State as its territory fractured last year, could pose an ongoing threat to security, both regionally and in the West, if they are not rehabilitated.

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Money Welcome But No Panacea for Iraq’s Yezidi Victims

Belkis Wille writes for Human Rights Watch:

On Tuesday this week, two days before international Women’s Day and almost four years after ISIS attacks led to the deaths and captivity of thousands of Yezidis in Sinjar, northern Iraq, Iraq’s government has reportedly ordered IQD 2 million (US$1,700) be paid to every Yezidi released from ISIS captivity.

This is a positive step for the Yezidi community. But the money will only go so far, and Yezidi women and girls still need more support to re-build their lives. The pay-out also does not address the hundreds of thousands of other victims of ISIS. A 2009 law allows for victims of “terrorism and military errors” to get compensation, but those who process the claims told me they have tens of thousands of cases piling up without enough staff, inspectors or finances available to meet demand.

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Iraq’s Prime Minister on the Unfinished Business Left By 15 Years of War

Vivienne Walt writes for Time:

In the years since the U.S. invaded in March 2003, Iraq has seen two occupations — one by U.S. forces following the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime, and another by Islamic State militants after American forces withdrew. Now, after fifteen years of instability and war, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is trying to forge a lasting peace.

That could be almost as tough as fighting the jihadists. Rampant corruption, high unemployment, deep divisions between Shi’ites, Sunnis and Kurds are just three problems the country needs to overcome, in order to piece together a lasting democracy.

To see how al-Abadi plans to do that, TIME sat down with him in his office, inside Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, in the palace where Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq until the U.S. invasion in March, 2003. During the discussion, Abadi spoke about the “epidemic” of corruption in his country, what it will take to keep ISIS from regrouping, as well as regional issues such as the war in Syria and the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

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Iraqi court sentences al Qaeda leader’s sister to death

AP reports:

A Baghdad court has convicted the sister of the former leader of al Qaeda in Iraq who was killed in 2010 and sentenced her to death on terrorism charges, a spokesman said Thursday. The spokesman of Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council, Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar, said in a statement that Abu Omar al-Baghdadi's sister was found guilty of "offering logistic support and help to (the militants) in carrying out criminal acts."

The woman, whose name was not released, was also found guilty of "distributing money" among the militants in Mosul. He didn't give more details on the charges or what years she cooperated with al Qaeda in Iraq.

Bayrkdar said the woman's husband was earlier also sentenced to death as a member of the al Qaeda leadership.

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ICRC says has more ‘cooperative’ access to detained Islamic State families

Raya Jalabi reports for Reuters:

The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Wednesday it had “increasingly cooperative” access to families of suspected Islamic State militants whose safety in detention has been a focus of concern for foreign aid agencies.

More than 1,000 wives and children have been held in Iraq since the defeat of Islamic State militants in August 2017, and some of the women have gone on trial for joining Islamic State.

Foreign aid agencies said last year they were “gravely concerned” about the fate of the families.

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Iraq force that helped beat IS turns to reconstruction

Sarah Benhaida writes for AFP:

Three months ago, Ibrahim Ali was using his digger to smash down defensive embankments built by Islamic State group jihadists in northern Iraq.

But after years of digging for victory, he and his comrades have now turned their skills to civilian use: gouging out irrigation channels for farmers in the southern province of Basra.

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Iraq and Saudi Arabia Come Together Just for Kicks

Margaret Coker writes for The New York Times:

Fresh sod had been carefully mowed in the new stadium. Special trains carried thousands of fans on the 10-hour journey from Baghdad. Intelligence agents had even coached the team’s official cheerleader to make the visiting team feel welcome.

But when the Iraqi national soccer team played its first home game against Saudi Arabia in almost 40 years, diplomatic niceties vanished as soon as the Iraqi team took the field.

“We hope the Saudis will feel comfortable in our town,” said Diah Taliq, a car mechanic who took off early from work to attend the match. “But that’s where our sympathy stops. On the field, we hope to crush them.”

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New Wave of Families Flees Post-Islamic State Iraq

Heather Murdock writes for Voice of America:

“They kicked us out of our home and stole our furniture and valuables,” said Rugya Saleem, a mother of six, plucking at the carpet of the tent in a desert refugee camp.

She said her husband was forced to join Islamic State militants, and then was later killed by victims of the group. “They said our things belonged to IS. But they didn’t. It was all we had.”

Going home again, she added, is not an option. Like many other people across northern Iraq, she fled her home recently, months after Iraq’s battle with IS militants was declared victorious. And while people are returning to their homes in droves, in many camps, the population is growing.

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In Mosul, hundreds fear arrest for sharing names with extremists

AFP reports:

Since extremists were pushed out of Mosul, Mohammed has not left his home. Although he never joined the Daesh group, he shares a name with one of its fighters and fears arrest.

Sami Al Faisal, who runs a human rights group, said he had recorded “about 2,500 people suffering from similar names” in Mosul and its surrounding province.

Personal ID cards in Iraq, like most Arab countries, carry a person’s first name, father’s name and grandfather’s name. But to determine a person’s surname and tribe, it’s often necessary to look into the area’s personal status records.

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Militants’ Bodies Still Rot in Old Mosul Amid Rebuilding Efforts

Heather Murdock writes for Voice of America:

Crushed under rubble and burned out cars, dozens, or perhaps hundreds, of corpses of Islamic State militants still lie where they fell in the battle for Mosul’s Old City that ended last July.

In the final throws of the fight, Iraqi authorities dug tirelessly, searching for the bodies of civilians. Over the course of the months-long war, thousands of the dead were recovered. About 70 people were pulled from the wreckage alive.

Authorities, however, made a point of ignoring the corpses of IS militants. They said those bodies should be thrown out with the trash.

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