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

Seven family and security members killed in Baghdad house blast

Raman Brusk reports for AKnews:

Twin bomb blasts which targeted the house of a Sahwa leader in Baghdad late last night cost seven lives.

A spokesman for the Sahwa Forces in northern Baghdad, Sheikh Amer al-Fawaz, told AKnews gunmen exploded an improvised explosive device (IED) in the house of the Sahwa chief for Taji neighborhood, Sheikh Nadhem Mohammed last night.

Three family members of the Sahwa leader, including his wife, were killed in the blast.

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End game in Iraq

The List Project announces::

In the final months of the war, the List Project is receiving more requests for help than we are able to meet. Every day, we receive worrying news from Iraqi employees of the U.S. Government.

We have decided to start making this intelligence public – all while protecting the identity of those who have shared it with us, of course, since many of them are in hiding as a result of their service to America.

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Congress tough on Iraq cops training plan

Richard Lardner reports for The Associated Press:

Democrats and Republicans joined Wednesday to criticize harshly a State Department program for continued training of Iraq's police force, calling the nearly $900 million set aside in the 2012 budget a waste of money.

Lawmakers at a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing cited an October report from the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction that said the training program lacked focus, could become a "bottomless pit" for U.S. dollars and may not even be wanted by the Iraqis.

That audit also found that only about 12 percent of the money actually will go to helping the Iraqi police. It said most of the dollars will go for security and other items such as living quarters for trainers.

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US military explains its new posture

Liz Sly reports for The Washington Post:

In Iraq, it’s the end of an era: The U.S. military on Wednesday closed its press desk, which has sometimes informed and often baffled journalists for the past eight and a half years.

True to form, the final announcement — from the soldiers whose job it was to shape the message of the war — had members of the press corps scratching their heads.

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Talabani disputed territories bill draws criticism

Salam Saadi reports for Rudaw:

A bill drafted by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani that aims to redraw the borders of areas disputed between Kurds and Arabs is likely to face challenges in Parliament but could gain the support of a key Shia ally, Kurdish MPs say.

The bill, which was sent to Parliament in early November, redraws the boundaries of provinces that were changed by Saddam Hussein’s regime after his Baath party took power in 1968.

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Kurdistan in border revenue scandal

Hevidar Ahmed reports for Rudaw:

Allegations that revenue from Ibrahim Khalil, the lucrative border crossing between Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey, was funneled to a Kurdish leader instead of the government has set off a firestorm in the region.

In an interview with the Kurdish satellite channel Naliya last month, Sayid Akram, former director of the Ibrahim Khalil security department from 2000-2006, claimed that none of the customs revenue was given to the treasury of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) but was instead taken to the office of the then-regional Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani. Barzani is currently the deputy of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and is considered the favorite to become the region’s prime minister next year.

The Ibrahim Khalil trade center filed a lawsuit against Akram after the allegations were made, and Akram was sent to prison in the border town of Zakho. He was released after activists campaigned for his freedom.

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Kirkuk in the wake of the US withdrawal

Joost R. Hiltermann writes in The National Interest:

The ethnic fault line that bisects northern Iraq, imperfectly dividing Arabs and Kurds, might as well have been geological: the temblors it occasionally produces are as destructive as anything measured on the Richter scale. Yet, since 2003 at least, things have been surprisingly quiet along this line, even if the local population is frequently roused by disquieting rumblings.

In another month, however, U.S. troops will have fully withdrawn from Iraq. Soldiers embedded with the joint patrols and checkpoints have already pulled out. The only U.S. remnant in the north will be a Kirkuk consulate staffed by diplomats and a small number of military officers operating under the Baghdad Embassy’s Office for Security Cooperation. They will continue to be part of the Joint Coordination Center in Kirkuk, which monitors the Arab-Kurdish peacekeeping effort. Whether this sharp reduction in military personnel will trigger an outbreak of violence is the question all Kirkukis, and their friends abroad, now ask themselves.

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US troop return possible

Carol E. Lee reports for The Wall Street Journal:

U.S. and Iraqi leaders signaled Wednesday that the two governments are working toward an agreement to return some American forces to Iraq after completion of next month's troop withdrawal to help train Iraqi units and maintain security gains.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said there is "no doubt the U.S. forces have a role in providing training of Iraqi forces." Vice President Joe Biden, who arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday night to meet with Iraqi leaders and salute American troops as the war winds to a formal close, said the U.S. will provide security assistance to the Iraqis at Baghdad's request.

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US soldiers assess Iraq on way out

Scott Peterson reports for The Christian Science Monitor:

From its first "shock and awe" moments in March 2003, the American invasion of Iraq was about shaping perceptions. The bombing of Baghdad, live on TV, was meant to be so overwhelming that Saddam Hussein's regime would crumble – and along with it, the resolve of America's enemies from Al Qaeda on down.

Nearly nine years later, as American forces fully withdraw by Dec. 31, the US military is eager to do what it can to shape the legacy of a war that has witnessed the worst violence in the Middle East in recent decades, bitterly divided Americans over its cost in blood and treasure, and has now almost become a distraction or forgotten by the public at large.

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Green Zone ‘mortar’ actually car bomb

Sahar Issa reports for McClatchy Newspapers:

An explosion Monday in Baghdad's Green Zone that Iraqi officials at first attributed to a rocket that had landed in a parking lot was in fact a suicide car bomb that detonated at the entrance to the parliament building and killed five people, officials revealed Tuesday.

The admission that a suicide car bomber had penetrated the fortified Green Zone, the first suicide attack there since April 2007, sent a wave of concern across the capital about the abilities, and loyalties, of Iraq's security agencies.

The attack targeted the speaker of parliament, Osama al-Nujaifi, according to al-Nujaifi's spokesman. The speaker was uninjured.

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