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

ISIS still stealing, spilling and smuggling oil throughout Iraq

Hollie McKay writes for Fox News:

Despite being recently defeated from their major strongholds of Mosul and Tel Afar in Iraq, more than two years after Iraqi forces specifically sought to retake oil-rich areas from the Islamic State, its militants are continuing to steal, spill and smuggle crude oil from Iraqi oil fields as a means to wreak havoc and fund their spluttering but surviving campaign of terror.

“While ISIS is steadily losing its hold on populated areas, it still controls a not-insignificant portion of territory that contains oil and oil infrastructure,” Justin Dargin, global energy expert at the University of Oxford, told Fox News. “As a result, ISIS is continuing at a frantic pace to produce and smuggle as much oil as possible in a bid to acquire its ever-declining revenue base.”

According to Iraq’s state-run North Oil Company (NOC), ISIS still controls scores of wellheads in parts of the northern Ajil field which are considered contested land between Iraq and Kurdish governments. The terror network still controls some 75 percent of the Alas Dome in the nearby and prominent Hamrin field, NOC adds.

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Tribal clashes, political void threaten oil installations in Iraq’s south

Aref Mohammed and Ahmed Rasheed write for Reuters:

Worsening clashes among tribes and a political void is threatening security at oil installations in Iraq’s main southern oil producing region, officials and security sources said.

Iraq has concentrated security forces in the north and west of the OPEC oil producer in the biggest campaign since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to retake territory lost to the Sunni extremist group Islamic State in 2014.

That has created a void in the south, home to Iraq’s biggest oilfields, where fighting between rival Shi‘ite Muslim tribes over farmland, state construction contracts and land ownership has worsened in the past few weeks.

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Shattered by war, Sunni Arabs despair over future in Iraq

Hamza Hendawi writes for AP:

Fawaz Saleh Ahmed has been secretly sneaking into his own village in northern Iraq to visit his home.

The last time he went, he wept as he spent several hours going from room to room in the partially destroyed house, he said. When his tears dried, he made his way back to the nearby Khazir camp housing those displaced by war, where he and his family have lived for almost a year.

Frustratingly, tantalizingly, he can see his house from there, but the Kurdish forces controlling his village, called Hassan Shami, won't allow him to return to live.

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Iraq Holding Hundreds of Foreign IS Family Members

AP reports:

Iraqi forces are holding more than 1,300 foreign women and children, the families of Islamic State fighters, at a camp for displaced people in northern Iraq.

The 1,333 individuals, from 14 countries, surrendered to Kurdish forces at the end of August after an Iraqi offensive drove the extremist group from the northern town of Tal Afar, near Mosul, Iraqi security officials said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with military protocol.

They say the women and children will not be charged with crimes and will likely be repatriated to their home countries. Most hail from Central Asia, Russia and Turkey, but the group also includes people from as far away as Japan and South Korea.

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Prominent Iraqi Shiite clerics move out of Iran’s shadow

Mina Aldroubi writes for The National:

Iraq’s Shiite political scene is witnessing significant shifts ahead of parliamentary elections next year that could affect Iran's influence in the country.

The rising tensions between pro-Tehran Shiite alliances have been worrying enough to prompt Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to send an envoy to Iraq last week on a mission to unite the disputing parties.

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For Iraq’s Long-Suffering Kurds, Independence Beckons

Tim Arango writes for The New York Times:

A pair of rusted eyeglasses, a grimy antique watch, torn bank notes and old identification cards.

These simple items on display at a museum here in northern Iraq, dug from a mass grave of Kurdish tribesmen massacred by Saddam Hussein’s henchmen, help explain why there is little doubt about how Kurds will vote in a referendum this month on independence from Iraq.

Even if the outcome is a foregone conclusion — nearly every Kurd holds dear the dream of statehood — the vote in Iraqi Kurdistan represents a historic moment in the Kurds’ generations-long struggle for political independence.

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Iraq steps up strikes on IS-held Hawija ahead of offensive

Qassim Abdul-Zahra reports for AP:

The Iraqi air force and the U.S.-led coalition have stepped up a campaign of airstrikes on the Islamic State group-held town of Hawija Saturday ahead of a planned ground assault there, according to Iraq's minister of defense.

Also Saturday, the secretary general of the Arab league visited Baghdad to encourage political dialogue with Irbil as Iraq's Kurdish region pushes forward with plans to hold a referendum on independence Sept. 25.

Despite ongoing military operations to clear out the last pockets of territory held by IS, the looming referendum has increased tensions between the central government and the Kurdish region.

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Slow recovery for Iraq’s Mosul after ISIS ouster

AFP reports:

Two months since Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul from Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group fighters, Mohammed Seddiq's bullet-riddled car is still off the road and his fruit and vegetable shop has yet to reopen.

Much of Iraq's second city lies in ruins and many businesses are still at a standstill, even those that produced the famous muslin cotton fabric for which Mosul was renowned before the militants seized it in 2014.

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The war-zone drawings of Ghaith Abdul-Ahad

Killian Fox writes for The Guardian:

During a reporting career that has seen him taken captive twice, Guardian journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad’s watercolour sketches of war zones have helped him cope with the traumas of the frontline. Here he describes a selection of his sketches.

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Cash-for-work initiative aims to develop Iraq’s agriculture sector

Mina Aldroubi writes for The National:

Iraq’s humanitarian crisis remains at alarming levels as years of conflict has left millions at risk of food insecurity.

As the violence continues to force people to abandon their farms and agriculture-based livelihoods, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has teamed up with Zain — a regional mobile telecommunications company — to reconstruct Iraq’s agriculture sector.

The partnership aims to provide 12,000 displaced families in more than 30 villages with access to urgently needed money through a safe cash payment as a means of restarting or expanding their agriculture activities.

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