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

Treasury Designates Key Nodes of ISIS’s Financial Network Stretching Across the Middle East, Europe, and East Africa

US Department of the Treasury writes:

Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated seven individuals and one entity pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.  Specifically, OFAC designated key financial facilitators and conduits for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) operating in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.  Six individuals, located in Iraq, Turkey, and Belgium, and the entity, an Iraq, Turkey, and Syria-based money services business (MSB), are part of the Rawi Network, a key ISIS financial facilitation group based out of Iraq, which was the target of a joint Treasury-Department of Defense (DOD) action in October 2018.

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After IS war, Iraq seeks to reclaim status in Arab world

Zeina Karam and Qassim Abdul-Zahra write for AP:

After decades of conflict, Iraq is seeking to reclaim a leadership role and status in the Arab world with a centrist policy and a determination among the country's top leaders to maintain good relations with both Iran and the United States.

A flurry of recent diplomatic activity and high-profile visits to the Iraqi capital, including this month's re-opening of a Saudi Consulate in Baghdad — for the first time in nearly 30 years — points to a new era of openness as the nation sheds its war image and re-engages with the world.

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Clashes in Mosul as Iran-backed militias battle security forces

Mina Aldroubi reports for The National:

Clashes erupted between the Iraqi federal police and Iran-backed militias in Mosul on Sunday.

A gun battle began when Iraqi police stopped the militias entering western Mosul. Two police officers were injured.

The militias, also known as Hashed Al Shaabi, were formed in 2014 to assist Iraqi forces defeat ISIS but are accused of exploiting their position and human rights breaches.

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Iraq: heavy rainfall increases fear of Mosul dam collapse

Mina Aldroubi writes for The National:

Iraqi authorities warned on Thursday of the likelihood of a catastrophic collapse of the country’s largest hydro-electric dam due to torrential rainfall.

The dam, near the northern city of Mosul, was built in the 1980s on a soft gypsum layer on the Tigris river. It is is in desperate need of repairs to avoid disasters, experts told The National.

“The dam cannot hold any more water, so an amount must be released leading to an increase in the water levels of the Tigris River, or the dam will collapse,” a statement by the dam’s administration said.

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Crystal meth and crowded jails: problems mount in Iraqi oil city

Ahmed Aboulenein writes for Reuters:

The southern Iraqi city of Basra is struggling to cope with a growing drug problem that has overcrowded prisons and strained police resources, only months after violent protests over poor municipal services.

Basra’s prison system is clogged up and creaking. On a recent day in one police station, Reuters reporters saw about 150 men, their heads shaved, squatting in two small, cramped holding cells.

Arrests of drug users and dealers have shot up in the past year, further stretching prison services and police in a sign that the problems with municipal resources that prompted protests in Basra last summer have not gone away.

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Iraqi Christians call for safe zones as they struggle to find solace

Mina Aldroubi writes for The National:

Iraq's Christians are calling for an internationally protected safe zone to let them rebuild their lives after the brutal rule of ISIS that threatened to end their 2,000-year history.

Although the Iraqi government declared victory against the terror group in 2017, Christians are continually targeted and caught in the middle of sectarian conflict, said Zina Kiryakos, president of the Iraqi Christian Foundation.

“We want an internationally protected safe zone to give the genocide victims the ability to rebuild and recover in Nineveh Plains with peace and security,” Ms Kiryakos told The National.

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Surviving ISIS: Young Yazidi conscripts begin long path to healing

Dominique Soguel writes for The Christian Science Monitor:

Confronted with a nephew who curls up into a ball and cries non-stop, Jihad does what many parents would do: loads him in the car, sits him on his lap, and allows him to “drive” down the roads of a dusty camp in northern Iraq in the pursuit of a fleeting moment of joy.

The internally displaced persons (IDP) camp became home to Jihad and his relatives after Islamic State militants attacked the Yazidi religious minority in the Sinjar mountain range in August 2014 – in what the embattled community remembers as its 74th genocide.

ISIS’s so-called caliphate may have come to an end, but the terror these jihadists inflicted on the Yazidi community is forever seared into the minds of boys like 10-year-old Dilber and his older brother Dildar, 15. The siblings each look a good three years younger than their age, except for their eyes.

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Basra politicians call for independence from Baghdad

Mina Aldroubi and Azhar Al-Rubaie write for The National:

Politicians from Iraq’s southern oil producing province of Basra are calling for autonomy in a region that has endured deadly protests over political corruption and the government’s failure to provide adequate public services.

More than 20 of Basra’s provincial council members voted on Tuesday for the establishment of a federal state, the head of the council, Sabah Al Bazzouni said.

"Only 12 votes are required for an absolute majority in the council," Mr Al Bazzouni said. The vote will now be presented to the parliament in Baghdad to be put in motion, he added.

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For religious minorities targeted by ISIS, new schools and clinics. But where are the people?

Tamer El-Ghobashy writes for The Washington Post:

More than two years after Islamic State militants were ousted from this ancient town in northern Iraq, only one man has returned. He lives in the wreckage of a house that has enough of a ceiling to protect him from the winter rains, with four or five stray dogs at any time for company.

In the shadow of a church pocked with bullet holes, he survives on food donated by local security forces in exchange for performing an important task: keeping looters and vandals away from three newly renovated schools and a new medical center. Each has a sign in Arabic stating it was rebuilt through a partnership between the United Nations Development Program and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Batnaya, once home to some 6,000 Chaldean Catholics, is a small but striking example of the enormous challenge facing the Iraqi government, United States and United Nations in rebuilding and repopulating areas devastated by the Islamic State occupation and the three-year war to rid Iraq of the militants.

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Iraq needs three years on Iran power: parliament speaker

AFP reports:

Iraq's parliament speaker voiced hope Friday that the United States will keep waiving sanctions on energy purchases from Iran, saying his country will need to import electricity from its neighbor for three years.

President Donald Trump's administration has sought to cut off all exports from Iran but has twice granted three-month exemptions to Iraq, mindful of chronic blackouts that have reignited unrest in the war-torn country.

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