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

Iraq election: Ex-sports stars seek to shake up politics

AFP reports:

In the sweltering heat of Mexico '86, Ahmed Radhi and Basil Gorgis pulled on the same jerseys to represent Iraq's football team in its sole World Cup Finals.

But now, a third of a century later, they're just two of several former stars taking part in a very different contest - as parliamentary candidates in the May 12 election.

While the World Cup adventure ended in dismal failure, with Iraq crashing out after losing all three of its group games, the ex-players' appeal could be a big draw for some Iraqi voters.

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Sunni and Shia struggle with Iraq’s reconciliation process

Erika Solomon writes for Financial Times:

Dirt barriers and charred no-man’s lands still divide the Sunni and Shia families in Yathrib even after a three-year reconciliation process meant to heal a community torn apart by the war with Isis. Officials plan to segregate roads and irrigation canals, even lobbying to split administration of the remote agriculture district in two.

Though the bitter struggle to drive Isis out of Iraqi territory is largely won, Yathrib’s story shows how daunting the process of reconciliation can be. Yathrib is not a large city, like Mosul or Ramadi, where vast urban districts were razed in months-long battles. It is not even one of the most demographically complex areas that must be reconciled. And still, millions of dollars were spent to win the peace here.

Dozens of Iraqi officials, mediators, UN affiliates, and even local militias shuttled for years between Yathrib’s divided tribes. But farmers like Qassim al-Saadi still waver between a peace they were told they must accept, and a nagging desire for revenge against neighbours they believe embraced Isis when the Sunni jihadi group stormed their land.

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New electronic system to speed up Iraqi election results: elections chief

Raya Jalabi and Ahmed Aboulenein report for Reuters:

A new electronic system will deliver the results of Iraq’s upcoming national election within hours of polls closing, the country’s chief electoral officer said, a marked improvement from previous years when it took weeks to announce the outcome.

“The results will be announced in hours, not days,” Riyadh al-Badran, the Chief Electoral Officer of the Independent High Electoral Commission, said in a Reuters interview at the commission’s headquarters in Baghdad.

“We will have results that accurately reflect the will of the voters,” Badran said, adding that the new system significantly limits the possibilities of voter fraud.

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Landmark mosque in Iraq’s Mosul to be rebuilt

AP reports:

The United Nations' cultural agency, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq have signed an agreement to finance the reconstruction of a landmark mosque in Mosul that was blown up last year by the Islamic State group.

UNESCO announced Monday that the UAE will provide $50.4 million to finance the project, focusing on the restoration of the Al-Nouri Mosque, built in the 12th century and once famous for its leaning minaret.

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Precision Fires Hindered By Urban Jungle

Amos Fox writes for Association of the United States Army:

In a March–April 2015 Military Review article, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster wrote about a handful of fallacies that plague thinking about modern war. Specifically, in “Continuity and Change: The Army Operating Concept and Clear Thinking About Future War,” McMaster suggested, “These fallacies are dangerous because they threaten to consign the U.S. military to repeat mistakes and develop joint forces ill-prepared for future threats to national security.”

The fallacies—the “vampire fallacy,” the “Zero Dark 30 fallacy,” the “Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom fallacy” and the “RSVP fallacy”—are a good starting point when thinking about modern warfare. However, the counter-Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria adds further legitimacy to McMasters’ vampire fallacy, which posits that technological innovation will deliver quick, easy and inexpensive victories while lifting fog and friction from the battlefield.

The counter-Islamic State campaign, underwritten by U.S. precision-strike capability, provided another opportunity for the proponents of precision strike to advance their position. Yet the hard slogs in Mosul, Iraq; Raqqa and Aleppo, both in Syria; and, to a lesser degree, Ramadi, Iraq, have further eroded the promises of precision warfare. As such, McMasters’ vampire fallacy lives on, but perhaps with an additional wrinkle—a precision paradox.

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The Yazidis who never came down the mountain

Tom Westcott writes for IRIN:

Nestling near the summit of Sinjar Mountain in northwestern Iraq, hundreds of blue and white tents line several kilometres of battered road snaking through a windswept valley.

This is where, in 2014, some 50,000 members of the Yazidi religious minority fled a massacre by so-called Islamic State. Trapped on the mountain with no food or water, their plight grabbed international headlines.

Four years later, more than 2,000 families, some 10,000 people, still live on the mountain in a camp with scant facilities. Unable to return to their flattened homes or too terrified of further persecution to leave – or both – they feel increasingly forgotten.

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Three Shiites lead field for Iraq election

AFP reports:

An incumbent prime minister, his ousted predecessor and a paramilitary chief instrumental in defeating the Daesh group are the three favourites vying for Iraq's premiership.

Since Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein was toppled in the US-led invasion of 2003, the constitution has vested key powers in the prime minister, a post reserved for the majority Shiite population.

Under a system of checks and balances designed to avoid a return to dictatorship, the winner of the May 12 parliamentary elections will have to form alliances with other Shiite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish lists to secure a majority.

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Iraqi shrine tablets offer blessings, cures and a living

Alaa al-Marjani writes for Reuters:

For pilgrims, the clay tablets from Iraq’s Shi’ite Muslim Kerbala shrine are a blessing, an aid to prayer, even a cure for sickness. For local families, the are all that, and also a business.

The tablets, known as “turbah” or soil in Arabic, come in many shapes - round, square, lozenge, half-circle - with various inscriptions, often praising Imam Hussein, Prophet Mohammad’s grandson who is buried in the city.

But they are all pressed from the same sand dug up around the site, 100 km (62 miles) south of Baghdad, where the imam was killed with most of his companions and many of his family in the 7th century, after he rose up against Ummayyad Caliph Yazeed.

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Restoring Mosul’s lost treasures one byte at a time

James Langton writes for The National:

If they looked to the skies in 2015, the fighters of ISIS in their enclave of Mosul might have noticed a small drone circling overhead.

At the controls was not a soldier with his trigger finger on a Hellfire missile, as the Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga forces tightened the noose around the extremists’ stronghold.

Instead the drone was being flown by a team of digital archaeologists intent on discovering the extent of destruction of ancient monuments and sites after nearly two years of systematic and targeted cultural destruction.

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Islamic State Declares War on Iraq’s General Elections

Rikar Hussein writes for Voice of America:

As Iraq approaches an important election to choose a new parliament and government, the Islamic State terror group has vowed to carry out attacks against candidates running for office.

Referencing the Jordanian radical Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's 2005 call for a "bitter war" on Iraq's parliamentary elections at the time, the group said Friday that candidates and voters who participated in the elections would be considered infidels and outside Islam.

"Candidates in elections are claiming divinity and seeking to become demigods, while those who vote for them have taken them as divine and partners to God," the IS terror group report said, quoting al-Zarqawi.

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