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

Former Yazidi captives of IS reunite with families in Iraq

Philip Issa writes for AP:

A group of Yazidi women and children reunited with their families in Iraq Saturday after five years of captivity at the hands of the Islamic State group, hugging and kissing relatives in emotional scenes that underscored their yearslong ordeal and that of their devastated community.

Elated families met their loved ones at a rural truck stop on the road between Sinjar and Dohuk, tossing candy in the air like confetti, the women ululating with joy.

The 18 returning children, aged 10 to 15, appeared weary and at times uneasy with the attention of the media and officials. One teenage boy collapsed in his aunt’s arms and broke down in tears. Few parents were there to receive their children — many are still missing in territory held by the Islamic State, or have been confirmed killed. Other parents have already sought asylum in Western nations, in the hopes their children will be able to follow them.

Click here for the entire story

Draconian cybercrimes law threatens freedom of expression

Amnesty International reports:

A new cybercrimes law that would impose heavy prison sentences and hefty fines against peaceful critics who express themselves online would be a devastating setback for freedom of expression in Iraq, Amnesty International said today.

The organization has highlighted its serious concern over the draft “Law on Information Technology Crimes” in an open letter signed by nine other NGOs. The letter was submitted to the Iraqi authorities this morning and warns that the proposed law would “establish a climate of self-censorship in the country.”

Click here for the entire story

Two dead, 24 wounded in blast in central Mosul

Salih Elias reports for Reuters:

At least two people were killed and 24 wounded in a car bomb in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Thursday, police and medical sources said.

Police said a vehicle packed with explosives was parked near the perimeters of Mosul University, in the center of the city.

Click here for the entire story

With New Laws and Some Help, Iraq Turned Around Anti-Money-Laundering Problems

Samuel Rubenfeld writes for The Wall Street Journal:

Seven years ago, Iraq’s financial system was beset by problems.

An estimated $800 million in U.S. currency was illegally flowing out of Iraq every week, Iraqi auditors told American investigators at the time. And the central bank governor was dismissed after corruption had become institutionalized within the country’s government and political system.

Since then, however, the country’s efforts to combat illicit finance have improved, and international watchdogs have taken notice.

Click here for the entire story

Iraq doctors say vendettas threaten their lives as they save others

AFP reports:

In Iraq, medicine is a matter of life or death - not just for patients, but for doctors facing threats by vengeful relatives and emigrating en masse.

Shaymaa Al Kamali, a family physician in Baghdad, said her problems began when she barred a patient's father from staying in the hospital after visiting hours.

Furious and carrying arms, their relatives stormed her clinic in protest, and she had to flee through a service entrance.

Click here for the entire story

Pigeon racing in Iraq: Pricey birds, obsessive owners and, alas, stone-throwing bandits

Tamer El-Ghobashy and Mustafa Salim write for The Washington Post:

On a muddy berm on the edge of a wheat farm about 100 miles south of Baghdad, a dozen flatbed trucks carrying some $14 million in precious cargo slowly line up before dawn.

At first light, men with sticks and hammers begin banging on the cages stacked on the back of the trucks — rousing 14,000 pigeons into a frenetic and unruly chorus of deep coos and grunts. Moments later, at the blast of an air horn, the cages are opened in unison and the birds take flight, the force of 28,000 wings generating gusts of wind as the pigeons hurtle in a single direction: to Baghdad.

Six months of practice runs and strict conditioning culminate in a launch that lasts less than a minute. But the birds carry with them the hopes of men who have spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours training them.

Click here for the entire story

Iraq to try IS detainees, including 13 French nationals

Sylvie Corbet reports for AP:

All Islamic State group militants who committed crimes against Iraq will be put on trial, including 13 suspected French militants who have been transferred to Iraq from Syria, Iraq's president said Monday.

Iraqi President Barham Saleh said during a two-day visit to France that the French citizens were handed over from Syria, where troops with U.S.-led coalition forces detained them. The 13 will be prosecuted in accordance with Iraqi laws, he said.

"Anyone who is accused of committing crimes against Iraq, against Iraqi installations and against Iraqi personnel, we definitively are seeking them," Saleh said. "And seeking to try them, of course."

Click here for the entire story

As displacement runs to years, northern Iraq camps need an overhaul

Pesha Magid writes for IRIN:

Iraq officially declared victory against IS in December 2017, but 1.8 million people remain unwilling or unable to go home. Some, like the family members of those affiliated with IS, have been rejected by their communities. Others have found their homes destroyed, hometowns unsafe, and no way to make a living.

In much of the north of the country, many of those displaced remain in camps where tents are pitched directly on low-lying ground and only protected from the elements by plastic tarps.

The inadequacy of this protection was exposed during two weeks of torrential rain in late November and early December. At least 21 people were killed and 180 people were injured by flooding in Nineveh and Salah al-Din provinces. Some of the camps in Nineveh – including the seven known as Jeddah 1 to 6 and Qayyarah – were engulfed by water.

Click here for the entire story

For Kurdish Smugglers, Iran Sanctions Are Starting to Bite

Sergio Colombo and Andrea Prada Bianchi write for Foreign Policy:

Seen from the road, they look like dots on the snow-covered mountainside. Rows of men crossing the border from Iraq into Iran at almost 10,000 feet, carrying up to 150 pounds of goods on their shoulders. After a four-hour march, they entrust their loads—in exchange for about $10 to $25 per person—to a group of pickup truck drivers, ready to bring them to the nearby city of Marivan and, from there, to the rest of Iran.

These kolbars (literally “those who carry on their back”) are smugglers from Iranian Kurdistan who cross into Iraqi Kurdistan, collect goods, and bring them back to Iran, defying the harsh environmental conditions and border guards’ bullets. The growing difficulties they face in doing this work are an emblem of how tensions between Washington and Tehran have affected daily life in one of Iran’s poorest regions.

Click here for the entire story

Fears mount for abandoned children of Iraq’s Isis suspects

Chloe Cornish writes for Financial Times:

Ali Saeed was still asleep when men with guns barged into his tent in a displaced persons camp in northern Iraq this month.

Iraqi security forces had come for his mother, part of a sweeping campaign to detain and arrest suspected members or supporters of Isis, the Sunni extremist militant group that once ruled a swath of territory in Syria and Iraq but has since been beaten back by local and international forces.

The detention of thousands of suspected Isis members or supporters has left children such as Ali without guardians, worsening the traumatic ordeal children have suffered during the conflict, and raising concerns that neglect, ostracisation and opaque justice processes could leave them prey to radicalisation.

Click here for the entire story