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

At least 6 Iraqi forces killed in apparently mistaken U.S. airstrike

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

At least six Iraqi police officers and allied militiamen were killed early Saturday by U.S. airstrikes after Iraq’s military apparently mistook them for armed insurgents.

The apparent friendly fire is being investigated by Iraqi and U.S. officials in Baghdad, and it already has provoked anger among critics of the United States who have long been suspicious of or hostile to its involvement in the fight against the Islamic State.

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Turkish operations on Syrian border to extend as far as Iraq, Erdogan says

Reuters reports:

President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday promised to sweep militants from the length of Turkey’s Syrian frontier, saying that Ankara could extend its current military operation in northwest Syria all the way east to the border with Iraq.

Turkey’s offensive in Syria’s Afrin against the Kurdish YPG militia, which it views as a security threat, has opened a new front in the multi-sided Syrian civil war and further strained ties with NATO ally Washington.

Since the start of the incursion, dubbed “Operation Olive Branch” by Ankara, Erdogan has said Turkish forces would continue east to Syria’s Manbij, potentially bringing it in confrontation with the U.S. soldiers positioned there.

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Security And Economy Top Iraqis’ Priorities

Hamzeh Hadad writes for 1001 Iraqi Thoughts:

National reconciliation seems to be an important topic to focus on in a state as diverse as Iraq, considering all the violence the country has witnessed. However, according to a nationwide poll conducted in the summer of 2017 by Al-Bayan Center for Studies and Planning, national reconciliation is near the bottom of the priorities of most Iraqis. Citizens are more concerned with security and the economy, which is why these concerns should be the focus of foreign assistance and aid.

Out of 2,310 Iraqis polled from all 18 provinces (each participant selected their two main priorities), the top four election pledges citizens want to see candidates deliver on were: services and economy, security and border protection, job creation and anti-corruption. Only 1.5% voiced concern regarding resolution of issues between the Federal and Kurdistan Regional Government and 1.4% on resolving issues between the Federal Government and Sunni majority governorates.

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Davos 2018: Iraq’s reconstruction may cost $100 billion, says Abadi

Gareth Browne writes for The National:

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi has said that Iraq’s reconstruction may cost up to $100 billion and tied the future growth plans to efforts to reassert the Iraqi constitution as the foundation of rebuilding ties between Baghdad and Erbil.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Al Abadi told the global gathering that at least US$45bn was needed for reconstruction of Iraq following the battle against Isil, and that the figure could be “up to $100bn”.

He said and that the “[upcoming] Kuwait conference will present opportunities for regional investors to take part in the reconstruction of Iraq”.

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Iraq’s Shunned Islamic State Families

Heather Murdock writes for Voice of America:

Houla, 25, has no children, so technically she can return to her village, where the children of Islamic State militants are not welcome, no matter how young. But as a militant’s widow, she says, her presence at home could put her whole family in danger.

Instead, she lives in a tent in one of Iraq’s bleak desert camps, where families continue to arrive daily, despite the war’s official end more than a month ago.

Even the most conservative estimates of the number of Iraqi IS militants killed or captured in recent years reaches tens of thousands. Many of their families now live in camps like this one, shunned by their neighbors and relatives, who are often also victims of IS’s brutal crimes.

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Iraq receives ex-trade minister convicted on graft charges from Lebanon

Reuters reports:

Iraqi authorities on Thursday took into custody a former trade minister convicted in absentia for corruption cases, following his extradition from Lebanon, Iraq’s corruption watchdog said in a statement.

Trade Minister Abdul Falah al-Sudany resigned in 2009 and fled the country in connection with graft allegations involving Iraq’s food rations program, one of the world’s biggest.

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Baghdad and Erbil move closer to ending crisis

Mina Aldroubi writes for The National:

Iraq and the autonomous Kurdistan region are closer to ending their bitter dispute after Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi met with Kurdish counterpart Nechirvan Barzani in Davos.

The officials held talks late Wednesday for the second time since the Kurdistan Regional Government held an independence vote condemned by Baghdad.

Talks in Davos reiterated the conclusion of Mr Al Abadi’s first meeting with Kurdish officials, the prime minister's office said. Earlier this month, the two sides reached an initial agreement to lift an international flight ban imposed on the autonomous Kurdish region by Baghdad.

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Defeated in Syria, ISIS Fighters Held in Camps Still Pose a Threat

Eric Schmitt writes for The New York Times:

American-backed Kurdish militias in northern Syria are detaining hundreds of Islamic State fighters and family members in makeshift camps, raising fears among United States military officials of potentially creating a breeding ground for extremists — repeating a key security mistake of the Iraq war.

Despite its concerns, the Trump administration has largely taken a hands-off approach toward the detainees, who come from more than 30 countries and were captured or surrendered after last year’s collapse of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed capital.

Unlike suspected Islamic State militants seized in neighboring Iraq, largely from the northern city of Mosul and surrounding areas, the detainees being held in the Kurdish region of Syria fall into a legal gray area and face an uncertain long-term fate.

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Iraq seeks aid to rebuild after IS, but donors could be wary

Susannah George and Balint Szlanko report for AP:

Iraq hopes to raise billions of dollars at a conference next month to fund reconstruction after its costly war against the Islamic State group, but many fear the country’s endemic corruption could undermine the appeal.

Iraq declared victory over the Islamic State group in December after driving the extremists from nearly all the territory they once held, but three years of grueling combat has taken a devastating toll, leaving entire towns and neighborhoods in ruins.

Neighboring Kuwait will host an international conference in mid-February aimed at rallying support for Iraq’s reconstruction. The United Nations, the United States and Saudi Arabia support the initiative, the details of which have yet to be made public.

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As Turkey Invades, Kurds See Betrayal Once Again

Yaroslav Trofimov writes for The Wall Street Journal:

In Kurdish history, there’s a betrayal that looms large. In the 1970s, the U.S. armed Kurdish fighters to rise up against Saddam Hussein in Iraq, as part of an effort to help the pro-American Shah of Iran. Then, once the Shah suddenly struck his own deal with Saddam and no longer needed the Kurds, Washington simply walked away, ignoring Kurdish pleas to help avert an imminent bloodbath.

“Covert action,” then U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger famously told a congressional committee, “should not be confused with missionary work.”

Today, as four decades ago, the Kurds in both Syria and Iraq are realizing just how disposable they are to the regional—and global—powers. That’s especially so now that Kurdish help is no longer needed in the campaign to topple Islamic State, and as geopolitical alliances shift in the contest over the future of Syria and the entire region.

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