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

Iraq’s Kurds unwilling to hand Hashemi to Baghdad

Jon Hemming reports for Reuters:

Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region is unwilling to hand over Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi despite a formal demand from the central government that he be sent to Baghdad to face charges of running death squads.

While not refusing outright to arrest the Sunni leader and send him to face trial, Iraqi Kurdish officials said the Baghdad government should accept Hashemi's demand to be tried outside the capital.

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Investing in Iraq requires patience, drinking tea

Serena Chaudhry reports for Reuters:

Foreign investors seeking a foothold in Iraq take heed: you'll need a healthy dose of patience, a flexible schedule, and a love of tea.

Nearly nine years since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, Iraq remains a state-centric economy and, beyond oil, private businesses have yet to play a significant role in the rebuilding of the once thriving Middle East bread basket.

Infrastructure remains dilapidated after years of war and economic sanctions, and investment is needed to reform banking, build houses and roads and fix a chronic electricity shortage.

That means plenty of opportunities for investors, but foreign executives already on the ground say it can take more than a year to become operational in Iraq, where security is one of the most costly risks.

Taking the time to build relations with local partners is the key to success, they say.

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Three policemen killed, two injured in Anbar armed attack

Anwar Msarbat reports for AKnews:

Three policemen were killed and two others were in injured on Wednesday in an armed attack as insurgents raided a police station in Saadiya district, western Anbar.

“Police forces were able to chase the unidentified gunmen and kill one of them. They have also detained another alive, but the rest escaped,” Lieutenant Khamis al-Dulaimi told AKnews. “The detainee is under interrogation now to disclose the identity of other attackers and their whereabouts.”

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Two gunmen killed while attacking Representative’s house in Kirkuk

Abdullah al-Amiri reports for AKnews:

Guards of Representative Zhae al-Naftchi shot two gunmen dead in Kirkuk after the militants attacked the Representative's house, a security source told AKnews.

“Unidentified gunmen attacked the house of Iraqiya Representative Zhale al-Naftchi in central Kirkuk today. The guards engaged the gunmen and killed two of them,” an anonymous security source told AKnews. The source did not give further details.

The attack on Naftchi’s house is the third of its kind since last year, and second attack this week.

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Marine testifies in Haditha massacre trial

The Associated Press reports:

A former squad mate of a Marine implicated in the deaths of 19 Iraqis testified Tuesday that after a roadside bombing, the group raced to nearby homes, firing rounds and tossing grenades for 45 minutes, even though he said the Marines did not take gunfire, come across a single insurgent or find a weapon.

Still, former Cpl. Steven Tatum told a military jury at the Camp Pendleton that he felt the squad did nothing wrong that day in the town of Haditha in 2005, when Marines killed 24 Iraqis, including unarmed women and children.

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Latest Iraq attacks kill 10, including schoolboys

Mazin Yahya reports for the Associated Press::

Three schoolboys were among at least 10 people killed in Iraq on Tuesday, extending a wave of bloody attacks that have rocked the country since American troops pulled out.

Several of the Tuesday attacks struck predominantly Sunni areas north of Baghdad, though an evening blast in the capital appeared to target Shiite pilgrims commemorating a holy period known as Arbaeen.

The violence followed deadly car bomb blasts the evening before, and pushed to more than 100 the number of Iraqis killed in less than a week.

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No free press in Iraq

Dahr Jamail reports for Al Jazeera English reports:

Iraq has been one of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists since 2003.

While scores of newspapers and media outlets blossomed across Baghdad following the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime in the spring of 2003, the media renaissance was also met with attacks on both local and international journalists across the country – that have not stopped to this day.

...

Adding to the overt physical risks from a dangerous security situation and threats of kidnapping, Iraqi journalists have told Al Jazeera that they now face threats from the Iraqi government itself, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

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Shi’ites brave crisis, bombs for Iraq pilgrimage

Mohammed Ameer and Aref Mohammed report for Reuters:

Tens of thousands of Shi'ite Muslims are pouring into Iraq's holy city of Kerbala, despite having become the main targets of a bombing campaign that followed the withdrawal of U.S. troops last month.

A political crisis since the U.S. withdrawal has raised fears among many Iraqis of a return to the sectarian slaughter in which tens of thousands were killed in 2006-07.

Attacks targeting Shi'ites have killed scores of people since the Shi'ite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki issued an arrest warrant for a Sunni vice president and the main Sunni backed party boycotted parliament.

Pilgrims have choked the streets of the capital Baghdad and border crossings with Iran this week for Arbain, one of the main holy days of the Shi'ite calendar.

Many pilgrims say they are fully aware of the dangers but are determined to commemorate the end of a 40-day mourning period for Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed who was killed in a 7th century battle in Kerbala.

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Gulf Keystone releases an operational update

A company statement says:

Gulf Keystone continues a well testing programme for the Shaikan-4 appraisal well, drilled 6 km to the west of the Shaikan-1 discovery well, targeting several formations in the Jurassic and Triassic.

The Shaikan-5 appraisal well, 6 km to the north-east of the Shaikan-2 appraisal well, is currently drilling at a measured depth of 1,008 metres.

The Shaikan-6 appraisal well, 9 km to the east of the Shaikan-2 appraisal well, has drilled to a measured depth of 362 metres and 26" casing has been set.

As part of the ongoing Extended Well Test ("EWT") on the Shaikan block, the output from the Shaikan-1 & 3 EWT facility has been at an average level of 2,520 barrels gross of oil per day from the latter part of November through to the end of 2011, totalling 103,328 barrels gross as of 31 December 2011.

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Western Zagros releases an operational update

A company statement says:

Oil production from the extended well test of Sarqala-1 continues uninterrupted, averaging over 4,000 bopd in December. This production is refined in local plants under the auspices of the Ministry of Natural Resources.

The Mil Qasim-1 well was cased to a depth of 2,129 metres and successfully drilled and wirelined logged to a final total depth of 2,425 metres.

The Kurdamir-2 exploration well has been drilled through the Lower Fars top seal to a depth of approximately 2,270 metres, where the third string of casing will be set above the Oligocene reservoir. Operations, to date, remain on time and on budget.

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