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

Emirates adds to Basra schedule

The Khaleej Times reports:

Emirates airline has planned to introduce three additional flights from Dubai to Iraqi southern port city Basra from next month. The move will support the growing number of travellers to the Iraq city. The airline is increasing the service from four to seven flights per week.

The extra flights will increase existing capacity by 79 per cent per week in both directions, making it easier for both business and leisure travellers in Basra to connect seamlessly with key industry hubs in the US and Europe, the airline said in a statement.

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Ex-Electricity Min. gives to Romney

Aamer Madhani reports for USA Today:

In 2008, the Republican National Committee raised critical questions about campaign contributions Barack Obama received from a former Iraqi politician with a controversial past and close ties to an Obama fundraiser who was convicted on attempted bribery and extortion charges.

During this election cycle, the donor, Chicago-area resident Aiham Alsammarae, has given $4,800 to likely GOP nominee, Mitt Romney, Federal Election Commission records show.

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ABB wins $120M power deals

ABB said in a statement:

ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, has won orders worth around $120 million from KAR Construction and Engineering Company Ltd. to design and build a power plant and construct two 400/132 kilovolts (kV) high-voltage substations that will supply power to the Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq.

The 640 megawatt (MW) open cycle power plant will use natural gas from the Khormala oil field and light fuel oil (LFO) as backup to generate electricity from gas turbines. Two 400/132 kV high-voltage substations will help feed the power into Iraq`s regional and national grid, and also supply electricity to the Khormala oil field. There are plans to convert it into a combined cycle power plant in the future, increasing its capacity to 1,000 MW. This power plant will be the first in the region to feed power into the 400 kV national grid through the new Erbil Center 400/132 kV air-insulated switchgear (AIS) substation.

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At least 282 killed in June attacks

AFP reports:

Attacks in Iraq killed at least 282 people in June, according to an AFP tally based on security and medical sources, though official figures put the death toll at less than half that number.

At least 282 people were killed across Iraq from June 1 through June 30, according to the AFP tally, while figures compiled by the Iraqi ministries of health, interior and defence showed that 131 Iraqis -- 85 civilians, 26 police and 20 soldiers -- died in violence last month.

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Amid Iraq violence, journalists struggle with government control

Scott Peterson reports for The Christian Science Monitor:

The killings were a reminder that Iraq remains a very dangerous place, though much improved. And just as the bright, prosperous future that many Iraqis dreamed of at the start of the US-led war in 2003 has yet to materialize, so too have many of the basic freedoms it was assumed would flow from regime change.

Iraqi journalists, in particular, are still struggling to report freely and safely about their nation, something that was brought home when Marwan Ibrahim, a longtime reporter for Agence France-Presse, was seriously injured in a roadside bomb attack in the northern city of Kirkuk this morning.

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Deadliest day in months

Tim Arango reports for The New York Times:

In the deadliest day in Iraq since the withdrawal of the United States military in December, a series of explosions that mostly targeted Shiite Muslims amounted to an emphatic demonstration of the still-potent capabilities of the Sunni insurgency and a reminder of the instability left behind by American forces.

Shortly after midnight Wednesday, a homemade bomb exploded here in the capital, a harbinger of mayhem. Around 5 a.m., a truck bomb exploded in Kadhimiya, a Baghdad neighborhood where Shiite pilgrims had begun to gather to commemorate the life and death of a revered imam who was the Prophet Muhammad’s great-grandson. Then, reports of other attacks flooded in from around the country — Samarra, Kirkuk, Mosul, Falluja, Ramadi, Hilla — and by midday officials said more than 90 people were dead and at least 260 were wounded.

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Embattled Obama nominee gets endorsement from diplomats

Aamer Madhani reports for USA Today:

President Obama's embattled nominee to be the next ambassador to Baghdad is facing tough questions from several GOP senators about his qualifications and his judgment following last week's e-mail leaks between him and a newspaper reporter that he later married.

But late Wednesday, Brett McGurk got an important vote of confidence from the three previous ambassadors to Baghdad.

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Senate Republicans oppose Iraq envoy nominee

Rebecca Berg reports for The New York Times:

Opposition mounted in the Senate on Wednesday to the nomination of Brett McGurk as the next ambassador to Iraq, as seven Republican senators recommended that his name be withdrawn from consideration. The White House expressed support for its embattled nominee.

The senators, all members of the Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to President Obama saying that Mr. McGurk “lacks the leadership and management experience necessary” for the post. “There are strong concerns about Mr. McGurk’s qualifications, his ability to work with Iraqi officials, and now his judgment,” the letter read.

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Bombs kill 44 in Iraq attacks on pilgrims, police

Reuters reports:

Bombs targeting Shi'ite pilgrims in Baghdad and police in southern Iraq killed at least 44 people on Wednesday in a wave of attacks during a major religious festival, police and hospital sources said.

Violence in Iraq has eased since the height of the war, but Islamists tied to al Qaeda are still potent, often targeting Shi'ite pilgrims to try to inflame sectarian tensions that drove Iraq close to civil war in 2006-2007.

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Iraq Kurdistan needs 5k new homes a year to end shortage

Kadhim Ajrash and Khalid al-Ansary report for Bloomberg News:

Iraq’s Kurdistan region needs to spend 200 billion dinars ($172 million) a year on homebuilding to resolve a residential shortage over the next decade, according to an adviser to the housing ministry.

“We are capable of resolving the housing crisis in the coming 10 years through building 5,000 units a year,” Ammar al- Najjar said in an interview with Bloomberg today. “We’ll need 200 billion dinars a year to implement this plan.”

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