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

Iraq Cracks Down On Illegal Campaign Tactics

Hamzeh Hadad writes for 1001 Iraqi Thoughts:

Election campaigns for Iraq’s federal parliamentary election officially began in the second week of April and will see 88 different electoral lists vie for 329 seats in parliament. With so many different political parties and electoral entities competing with one another – and given that many of these parties do not have clear policy platforms to separate themselves – many of them resort to bribing voters in order to earn their votes.

Outside personality politics of party leaders, one tactic that has been used over the past decade in Iraq’s nascent democracy is illegally buying votes. This was first seen with little incentives such as handing out phone cards when mobile phones first entered the Iraqi market after 2003. This tactic slowly evolved to handing out larger household appliances and later on turned to land handouts and guaranteed public service employment. Because those corrupt parties and candidates focus on vulnerable, low income areas, thousands of Iraq’s poorest voters end up falling for these material gifts out of desperation or ignorance.

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Iraq: ISIS Suspects’ Homes Confiscated

Human Rights Watch reports:

Iraqi security officers are denying immediate relatives of suspected Islamic State (also known as ISIS) members security clearance to reclaim homes being occupied or to seek compensation, Human Rights Watch said today. Security forces have also destroyed or confiscated some property. Such acts, based only on family relationships to ISIS suspects rather than individual security determinations, are a form of collective punishment.

“These families deserve the same protections that Iraqi courts provide to all citizens,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Courts should be the guarantors against discrimination that will only further sectarian divisions in the country and delay needed reconciliation.”

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In Iraq’s oil-rich Basra, shanty towns flourish

AFP reports:

From his small home nestled alongside train tracks in the southern Iraqi province of Basra, Sultan Nayef looks out at plumes of smoke billowing across an expanse of oil fields.

Like thousands of others, the unemployed 25-year-old moved to oil-rich Basra in the hope of finding work in the energy industry, Iraq’s primary source of wealth.

Instead, he and many others like him live in cramped and chaotic shanty towns in a province already suffering from a lack of infrastructure.

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Australia confirms Australian detained in Iraq

Rod McGuirk reports for AP:

Australia’s government confirmed that an Australian had been detained in Iraq after a media report on Wednesday that an Islamic State group commander suspected of masterminding a plot to blow up an airline flight from Sydney and an Australian relative were captured.

Commander Tarek Khayat, a Lebanese citizen, and his relative Ahmed Merhi were detained in Iraq earlier this year, but their arrests have been shrouded in secrecy because of diplomatic sensitivities surrounding the cases, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported, citing anonymous Australian officials.

Defense Minister Marise Payne confirmed that an Australian had been detained, but would not comment on his identity.

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A 10-Minute Trial, a Death Sentence: Iraqi Justice for ISIS Suspects

Margaret Coker and Falih Hassan write for The New York Times:

The 42-year-old housewife had two minutes to defend herself against charges of supporting the Islamic State.

The whole trial lasted 10 minutes before the judge sentenced her to death by hanging.

Iraq’s judicial assembly line has relentlessly churned out terrorism convictions since the battlefield victories over the Islamic State last year led to the capture of thousands of fighters, functionaries and family members. Authorities accuse them of helping to prop up the group’s vicious three-year rule over nearly a third of the country.

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Mosul: Overcoming the trauma of IS rule, one haircut at a time

Pesha Magid writes for IRIN:

Hairdressers, barbers, cosmetologists, and manicurists have always served as confidantes for their customers. They are the keepers of untold secrets. But in post-war Mosul, a city freed from the grip of so-called Islamic State in January 2017 and still struggling to recover, the hair salon is more important than ever.

In the absence of much in the way of mental health services, the salon has transformed into an unofficial group therapy session, one of the few places where women can gather among themselves to process the collective trauma of three years of terror.

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Displaced Iraqis return to destruction and death ahead of elections

Mina Aldroubi writes for The National:

Displaced Iraqis making the journey home to the country’s war-weary western provinces face extreme insecurity and life-threatening conditions as authorities call for their return ahead of parliamentary elections next month.

Managing more than two million Iraqis who have been displaced in the war between Iraqi forces and ISIS is one of Baghdad’s most daunting tasks after it declared victory against the extremists in December.

Those who have made the return to their homes in the Sunni-dominated Anbar Province, ahead of next month's parliamentary elections, are struggling to rebuild their lives, Jaber Al Jaberi, an Iraqi lawmaker representing Anbar, told The National.

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The Condemned: Women and Children Isolated, Trapped and Exploited in Iraq

Amnesty International reports:

Iraqi women and children with perceived ties to the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) are being denied humanitarian aid and prevented from returning to their homes, with an alarming number of women subjected to sexual violence, Amnesty International said in a new report published today.

The Condemned: Women and Children Isolated, Trapped and Exploited in Iraq reveals widespread discrimination against women living in camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) by security forces, members of camp administrations and local authorities, who believe these women are affiliated to IS.

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Iraqi PM says elections will be fair despite ‘problems’

Mina Aldroubi writes for The National:

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi promised to ensure a fair general election next month after raising doubts about the country's electoral body.

“The Independent High Electoral Commission contains many problems,” Mr Al Abadi told reporters in Baghdad on Sunday.

He said “there is nothing independent" about the electoral commission and that the Iraqi parliament, which selects the panel, would be responsible for ensuring that the electoral process was unbiased.

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One killed in car bomb targeting Iraq election candidate

AFP reports:

A car bomb attack targeted an election candidate in Iraq's contested Kirkuk city on Sunday, killing one person and wounding 11, a security official said.

The blast in the multi-ethnic city, some 250 kilometres (155 miles) north of Baghdad, came as war-torn Iraq gears up for legislative elections on May 12.

"A civilian was killed and 11 people were injured, including three bodyguards, in the convoy of Ammar Hadaya Kahya, a candidate for the Turkmen Front in Kirkuk," the security source said on condition of anonymity.

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