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

The Fuzzy Math of Funding Iraq’s Reconstruction

Krishnadev Calamur writes for The Atlantic:

At first glance, a conference on Iraq that raised $30 billion this week may look like a success. But compared to the estimated $88 billion the Iraqi government said was needed to rebuild the country after the devastation wrought by ISIS and U.S.-led airstrikes, the amount sounds paltry. And like most things involving Iraq, its neighbors, and reconstruction, the true picture is far more complicated.

“If we compare what we got today to what we need, it is no secret, it is of course much lower than what Iraq needs,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said in Kuwait, where the conference was organized. “But we know that we will not get everything we want.”

The days when Iraq got the kinds of sums it asked for at conferences like this one might be over. Many of the usual international donors are tapped out. Some, like the Persian Gulf countries, are focused on internal economic reform and on Yemen, which has been devastated by a civil war that is also proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Others, such as the United States, have become more inward-looking.

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Ethical Dilemma Over Treating Civilians Injured In The Battle For Mosul

Jason Beaubien writes for NPR:

Under the Geneva Conventions, warring parties are responsible for providing medical care to civilians in the territory they control.

But what happens if the warring parties don't have the will or the capacity to treat the civilian casualties? Or if they could not care less about the civilians?

That's a question that erupted in Iraq late in 2016, when the Iraqi military launched a massive military offensive to retake the city of Mosul from ISIS — the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. ISIS had seized control of Mosul two years earlier.

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Families in Iraq with Alleged ISIS Ties Denied Aid

Belkis Wille writes for Human Rights Watch:

Yesterday in Kuwait, international donors pledged US$30 billion to help rebuild Iraq. But it’s unclear whether any of this support will reach one of the most marginalized segments of the population – families of suspected Islamic State (ISIS) members, many of whom joined the extremist group because of longstanding government repression.

While these families may not be the most sympathetic constituency, it is a critical group to refranchise if the Iraqi government wants to prevent future sectarian strife. But there is already mounting evidence that security forces and area residents in Mosul are preventing international aid organizations from providing these families with basic humanitarian assistance.

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Pushing back on Iran, part 4: The struggle for Iraq

Kenneth Pollack writes for The American Enterprise Institute:

Yesterday, I discussed how I think a policy of pushing back on Iran should be applied in Syria, where I believe the United States needs to go on the offensive against Iran.  Today, I want to look next door, at Iraq.

As in Syria, Iran has important vulnerabilities in Iraq, but it also has considerable strength there.  An Iranian-dominated Iraq would serve as a dangerous conduit for Iranian influence into the rest of the Arab world.  Yet Iraq remains a fragile state, one still struggling to emerge from the nightmarish combination of Saddam’s tyranny, a dozen years of international sanctions, invasion, a botched occupation, civil war, neglect, and renewed civil war.  The United States has its own interests in Iraq that extend beyond denying it to Iran’s sphere of influence.  Most Iraqis hope that both America and Iran will help them to rebuild and heal the wounds of its savage past.  And Iraqis do not want their country to become the battlefield on which Iran and America fight.

All of this makes addressing the Iranian challenge in Iraq uniquely complex, very different from Syria, and so worthy of its own discussion.

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NATO to expand Iraq military training mission

Lorne Cook  reports for AP:

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday announced that the alliance will expand its military training mission in Iraq and help the conflict-ravaged country develop new academies and schools for its armed forces.

NATO already has a small team of military and civilian personnel in Iraq and uses mobile teams to train national forces in de-mining, countering home-made bombs and dealing with explosives. The allies have also trained Iraqi troops in neighboring Jordan.

“We will scale up,” Stoltenberg said after talks with NATO defense ministers in Brussels, though he declined to say how many personnel the effort would involve or where it would operate. He said the mission would not be used for combat, but rather to train Iraqi officers so they in turn can train their own troops.

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Yazidi Women Finally Go To School, Defying Former ISIS Rulers — And Their Own Parents

Jane Arraf writes for NPR:

Before she went to New York last fall to speak to thousands of people, Najla Hussin had never been more than a few hundred miles from her village in northern Iraq.

Hussin, 20, is from Sinjar in northern Iraq, where ISIS swept in four years ago to kill and enslave members of the ancient Yazidi religious minority.

Before ISIS, the Yazidi community in Sinjar was one of the poorest and most underdeveloped groups in Iraq. In some villages, it was considered improper for girls to go to school. But now, young Yazidi women like Hussin have resolved to take their future into their own hands.

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How militants in Iraq and Syria recruit and use children

Mara Revkin writes for The Washington Post:

The Islamic State’s recruitment of children has been extensively and graphically documented. The militant group has used children as young as 7 as combatants, messengers, drivers and guards. Islamic State propaganda videos depict juvenile executioners from its “Cubs of the Caliphate” unit shooting prisoners at close range. Although the Islamic State has become notorious for its systematic indoctrination and use of children, media coverage has largely failed to acknowledge that it is but one of many armed groups in Syria and Iraq that have recruited underage girls and boys.

In a new study for United Nations University, I analyze patterns of child recruitment by 10 of the major armed groups participating in the geographically linked conflicts in Syria and Iraq. I found that while children’s pathways into and out of armed groups are rarely linear and their roles are fluid, we still see several patterns.

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Donors talk big $ on Iraq reconstruction, but Mosul residents go it alone

Tom Westcott writes for IRIN:

Happy cries of children on reopened fairground rides in east Mosul echo out across the placid expanse of the Tigris River while Muhunnad, 27, stands on top of the ruins of his former home in west Mosul's Old City.

Last week at a Baghdad press conference, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi talked about Iraq’s “readiness for huge investment” following the defeat of IS. And this week’s Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq is expected help lay the foundations for large-scale rebuilding – Iraq says it needs $88 billion to recover from the last three years of war.

But as donors, politicians, and investors meet to discuss Iraq’s future and talk big money, tangible help is yet to reach many residents, especially in places like Mosul’s Old City where the needs are immediate and residents like Muhunnad have been left doubting government promises.

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Allies promise Iraq $30 billion, falling short of Baghdad’s appeal

Maher Chmaytelli and Ahmed Hagagy report for Reuters:

Iraq received pledges of $30 billion, mostly in credit facilities and investment, on Wednesday from allies but this fell short of the $88 billion Baghdad says it needs to recover from three years of war.

Donors and investors gathered in Kuwait to mull ways to rebuild Iraq’s economy and infrastructure as it emerges from a ruinous conflict with Islamic State militants who seized almost a third of the country before being beaten back.

“If we compare what we got today to what we need, it is no secret, it is of course much lower than what Iraq needs,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari told a news conference.

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In Iraq, the best digits cost a mint

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

In Iraq, owning this special item can grease the skids in business, get a politician to stand at attention and even inspire affection in a sweetheart.

This key that opens so many doors is a cellphone SIM card. But not just any SIM card. It must be “distinguished,” associated with a phone number considered prestigious because it has a distinctive or beautiful series of digits. Say, for instance, a string of sevens or zeros, or a repeating pattern of numerals.

The marketplace for these modest pieces of plastic inside phones, which connect them to a network, can rival that of gold and precious stones — with trades in the thousands and tens of thousands of dollars.

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