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

Associated Press figures on Mosul deaths are horrifying but not surprising

Amnesty International reports:

Responding to an investigation from the Associated Press news agency showing that between 9,000 and 11,000 civilians were killed in the battle for Mosul earlier this year, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International‘s Head of Middle East Research, said: “We are horrified, but not surprised, by these new figures."

According to the Associated Press investigation, which cross-referenced information from various NGOs (including Amnesty), Iraqi or coalition forces were responsible for at least 3,200 civilian deaths from airstrikes, artillery fire or mortar rounds between October 2016 and the fall of ISIS in Mosul in July. Many of these newly-reported deaths were a direct result of civilians being killed or crushed under buildings damaged in attacks by the coalition and Iraqi government forces that were disproportionate or otherwise indiscriminate.

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Back in business: River cruise weddings return to war-torn Iraq’s Basra

AFP reports:

To the sound of drums and trumpets, an Iraqi groom and his bride this week stepped hand-in-hand onto a speed boat on the river in Basra to celebrate.

Their wedding on Monday was the first such celebration to be held on the Shatt al-Arab waterway running through the southern city since the 1980s.

Aboard the small speed boat decorated with tinsel and balloons, laborer Hussein Ali Jabbar and his wife donned captain hats and posed for the camera.

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Iraq patriarch looks to life after war with IS

Sinan Salaheddin writes for AP:

As Iraq emerges from more than three years of war with the Islamic State group, battling an extremist “mentality” will be the key to peaceful coexistence among the country’s religious and ethnic groups, the top Chaldean Catholic Church official tells The Associated Press.

Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, leader of the Iraq-based church, also appealed for an end to discrimination against Christians in Iraq and the reconstruction of Christian areas in the country’s north left in ruins by the war to enable Christian families to return.

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Reporters Without Borders: 65 journalists, media workers killed in 2017

CBS News reports:

A total of 65 journalists and media workers were killed in 2017, the lowest toll in 14 years, according to figures released on Tuesday by Reporters Without Borders. The non-governmental organization said 60 percent of those killed were murdered. It added that 326 people working in media -- including 202 professional journalists -- are also being detained.

Syria was the deadliest country for journalists, with 12 killed, one more than in Mexico where many journalists have "either fled abroad or abandoned journalism."

Behind Syria and Mexico, the deadliest countries for reporters were Afghanistan, where nine journalists were killed in 2017, and Iraq, where eight perished. With four journalists gunned down, the Philippines was Asia's deadliest country.

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Germany ties Iraq aid to peaceful resolution of conflict with Kurds

Andrea Shalal reports for Reuters:

Germany on Monday said its continued support for Iraq and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government was contingent on peaceful efforts by both sides to resolve their differences.

“Our support is for Iraq as a unified state,” Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told reporters after meeting with KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani in Berlin.

“We want to continue that, but the precondition is that Iraq solves its internal conflicts peacefully and democratically, and that we find a way out of the tense situation we are in now.”

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Analyzing Voter Attitudes Towards 2018 Elections In Iraq

Hashim Al-Rikabi writes for 1001 Iraqi Thoughts:

A recent nationwide public opinion survey looked at voter attitudes towards the upcoming parliamentary and provincial elections in Iraq, scheduled for May 2018.  The results of the survey, which interviewed 2,300 people across all 18 provinces, offer some interesting insights into voter participation, preferences and priorities.

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Iraq: Parliament Rejects Marriage for 8-Year-Old Girls

Human Rights Watch reports:

Iraq’s parliament has rejected proposed amendments to Iraq’s Personal Status Law (PSL) that would allow religious judges to impose discriminatory law on family matters, Human Rights Watch said today.

The amendments would have covered areas including inheritance and divorce, and, by giving powers to impose family laws to certain religious communities, would have allowed girls to be married as young as age 8 under some of these laws. The head of the women’s rights committee in parliament rejected the initiative in mid-November, blocking the bill. However, two leading women’s rights organizations say that some parliament members have threatened to continue to push for the amendments to secure votes in some parts of the country in the May 2018 parliamentary elections.

“Parliament’s women’s rights committee has made a great contribution to Iraqi society in rejecting this effort to scuttle Iraq’s family law protections,” said Belkis Wille, senior Iraq researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Threats by lawmakers to dismantle protections under the current law and restore discriminatory laws would be devastating to women’s rights.”

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Top Iraqi Shiite cleric calls for scaling back militia influence, backing prime minister

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

Iraq’s top Shiite cleric on Friday called on the powerful Shiite militias that helped reconquer the Islamic State’s territory to choose between politics and arms, backing a key demand of the prime minister.

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani stopped short, however, of rescinding a religious edict he made in June 2014 urging Iraqi citizens to join security forces at a time when the Islamic State was sweeping through the country, eventually taking over about a third of Iraq’s territory.

Instead, he said that all weapons should be under the control of the state and that armed groups should steer clear of political participation — marking a significant step in Iraq’s demobilization from a war footing now that major combat against the Islamic State has ended.

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U.N. Condemns Executions of 38 Prisoners in Iraq

Nick Cumming-Bruce writes for The New York Times:

The United Nations said Friday that it was appalled by a mass execution of prisoners in Iraq and called for an immediate halt to executions, citing flaws in the country’s criminal justice system.

Iraq’s Ministry of Justice said 38 prisoners were executed on terrorism-related charges in the southern city of Nasiriya on Thursday, but it gave no details of the prisoners’ identities or the offenses for which they were sentenced to death.

“Given the flaws of the Iraqi justice system, it appears extremely doubtful that strict due process and fair trial guarantees were followed in these 38 cases,” Elizabeth Throssell, a spokeswoman for the United Nations human rights office in Geneva, told reporters. “This raises the prospect of irreversible miscarriages of justice and violations of the right to life.”

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Harnessing Iraq’s Deadly Array Of Armed Groups After ISIL

Sarhang Hamasaeed writes for War on the Rocks:

Earlier this week, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that a moment eagerly awaited by the Iraqi people had finally arrived: victory over the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Government forces had rooted out ISIL from its last pockets along the Syrian border, Abadi told the nation. The defeat of the terrorist group as an organized force was, he said, in large part a result of Iraqis’ “unity.”

Certainly, the fight against ISIL put virtually all elements in the fractious nation on the same side for a few years. The hope in some quarters has been that after the group’s defeat, the unity displayed in the counter-ISIL effort would transfer to Iraqi national politics and lead the armed groups that were formed to stop the extremists to disband. The unfortunate reality, however, is that the chances for such an outcome have withered as victory approached. Far from fostering national cohesion, tensions that have long threatened Iraq have resurfaced, and in some respects intensified, during the struggle with ISIL.

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