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

Iraq still operating secret torture site, rights group says

The Los Angeles Times reports:

A clandestine jail and alleged torture site under the control of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki continues to operate more than a year after the government ordered it shut down, Human Rights Watch claims in a report being released Tuesday.

Massive roundups of suspected loyalists of late leader Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party were conducted in October and November, when government security agents went door to door in Baghdad, the capital, with lists of those targeted for secret detention, the rights group reported. Another sweep of suspected government opponents occurred in March, ahead of an Arab summit, it said.

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Iraq bombs kill six

AFP reports:

Six people were killed in attacks in central and northern Iraq on Monday, including five who died in a spate of bombings in the former insurgent bastion of Fallujah, officials said.

In Fallujah, just west of Baghdad, three bomb attacks in close succession killed five people and wounded 18 others.

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Syrian Kurds fleeing to Iraqi safe haven

Samer Muscati:

It was a January evening when his Syrian army unit raided a house near the city of Zabadani, not far from Damascus, the former sergeant recalled. A 70-year-old man wearing a hospital gown was brought to the house, and the soldiers, including a colonel, interrogated him. When he wasn’t able to respond to their satisfaction, one of the guards beat him ferociously in the face with a helmet.

“I heard the old man muttering in a muffled sound as he fell to the ground,” the former sergeant told me. “About 15 minutes after they first brought the man in, I went inside and saw his lifeless body. There was blood coming out of his nose and ears. I’m positive he was dead and they just disposed of his body.”

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US affirms Iraqi police training program

The Associated Press reports:

The US Embassy in Baghdad says it is scaling back efforts to train Iraqi police officials but has no plans to end the program completely.

A statement Sunday by the Embassy denied a report in The New York Times that the US$500 million Police Development Program could be eliminated by the end of the year.

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What Iraq’s oil boom means for the global market

NPR's Talk of the Nation reports:

In a remarkable shift, Iraq's oil exports jumped by 20 percent since January, and the country exported more oil in April than in any month since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990.

Energy expert Daniel Yergin discusses how Iraq's oil wealth is driving the Iraqi economy and reshaping the global oil market.

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Relative calm in Iraq brought to end by fatal bomb blasts

Jack Healy reports for The New York Times:

Bomb blasts aimed largely at security forces in western and central Iraq killed six people and wounded several more on Sunday, a relatively violent day after a few weeks of calm across the country.

Just a few years ago, the day’s toll would have been a footnote in the relentless killing roiling Iraq, when it was not uncommon for 100 people to be killed in one day of bombings, assassinations, and fighting between militants and Iraqi and American forces. So far this month, 60 people have died in attacks, according to United Nations statistics, and 320 were killed in April.

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Famed Shiite clerics meet in wax in Iraq

AFP reports:

Some of the most famed Shiite clerics of modern times have gathered together in a modest room under a religious school in Najaf in central Iraq -- as wax figures, waiting to be put on display.

The 20 likenesses depicting people who studied, lived or were born in Najaf, most of them clerics, are arrayed around the walls of the carpeted room, with fans protecting them from the heat.

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Iraq seeks bidders to start work on Faw port

Aref Mohammed reports for Reuters:

Iraq has issued a tender for the building of a breakwater in the Gulf, the country's state port company said on Saturday, the first stage of construction in a giant $6 billion port scheme shelved under former dictator Saddam Hussein.

"The closing date for the tender is July 15, and offers will be opened on July 16," Anmar al-Safi, a spokesman at the General Company for Ports of Iraq, told Reuters.

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U.S. may scrap costly effort to train Iraqi police

Tim Arango reports for The New York Times:

In the face of spiraling costs and Iraqi officials who say they never wanted it in the first place, the State Department has slashed — and may jettison entirely by the end of the year — a multibillion-dollar police training program that was to have been the centerpiece of a hugely expanded civilian mission here.

What was originally envisioned as a training cadre of about 350 American law enforcement officers was quickly scaled back to 190 and then to 100. The latest restructuring calls for 50 advisers, but most experts and even some State Department officials say even they may be withdrawn by the end of this year.

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Car perk overrides promises to public

Lara Jakes report for The Associated Press:

Iraq’s lawmakers have hightailed it out of town for a six-week vacation without following through on promises to cancel a pricey perk for free armored cars that they approved for themselves in the annual budget.

It is the sort of move that is fueling resentments among the struggling Iraqi public, many of whom accuse the country’s leaders of being corrupt and only in politics for their own profit. For months, parliament has failed to rework the $100 billion budget that came under widespread criticism or pass a list of laws to tackle the country’s numerous problems.

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