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

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.

Click here for the entire story

Strait of Hormuz showdown unlikely

Vandana Hari reports for Platts:

It would be "relatively easy" for Iran to shut down the Strait of Hormuz and disrupt some 15 million b/d of crude flows but such an event is unlikely and any blockade would not last beyond two weeks, due to a US-led military response, Societe Generale said in a research report released Friday.

"We believe it would be relatively easy for Iran to shut down the Strait of Hormuz. A credible threat from missiles, mines, or fast attack boats is all it would take for tanker insurers to stop coverage, which would halt tanker traffic," SocGen analysts said in the report.

Click here for the entire story

Iraq turns justice into a show, and terror confessions a script

Jack Healy reports for The New York Times:

The cameras were rolling and the reporters were ready inside the auditorium, so the Iraqi police officer gave the signal: Bring in the prisoners. In they shuffled, 21 men accused of terrorism and murder, hands shackled, eyes tracing the floor. This was no day in court. Today, they were lined up to meet the press.

“Lift up your faces,” a police officer ordered, as photographers swarmed.

Over the objections of Western diplomats and human rights workers, Iraq’s security forces are increasingly taking to the airwaves with dramatic demonstrations of how they are cracking down on terrorism, using detainees — mostly Sunni men — as backdrops for speeches and broadcasting confessions on state-run television.

Click here for the entire story

Targetting Shia pilgrims continues

Sameer N. Yacoub reports for The Associated Press:

Iraqi officials say a roadside bomb has killed two Shiite pilgrims and wounded 10 others south of Baghdad.

Police and health officials say Monday's blast targeted pilgrims walking to the holy Shiite city of Karbala to commemorate the end of 40 days of mourning following the anniversary of the death of Imam Hussein, a revered Shiite figure.

Click here for the entire story

Baghdad demands Hashimi from Kurds

The Associated Press reports:

Iraq's Shiite-led government on Sunday demanded that authorities in the semiautonomous Kurdish region hand over the country's top Sunni official to face terrorism charges, turning up the heat in a political crisis that is stoking sectarian tensions.

Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi traveled to the Kurdish north in December just as the last American troops were leaving the country and charges against him were being drawn up.

The government accuses him of running a hit squad that assassinated government and security officials years ago — allegations he denies. Fellow Sunnis, who made up the dominant political class under Saddam Hussein, see the charges as part of an effort to sideline them.

Click here for the entire story

As Iraq ignites, Sadr seeks gains as peacemaker

Sam Dagher and Ali A. Nabhan report for The Wall Street Journal:

With the end of the U.S. military's mission in Iraq last month, one of its fiercest longtime opponents is repositioning himself as a national leader. Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who waged a bloody insurgency against Americans here over a period of more than eight years, now presides over one of the country's most organized and influential political groups—a cause of significant concern for the Americans.

This week, amid a power struggle that has threatened to bring down the Iraqi government, Mr. Sadr has sought to rise above the fray by calling for a referendum on his own plan to prevent renewed sectarian warfare. On Thursday, he joined talks in Iran with Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who was on a mission to ease Sunni-Shiite tensions in the Middle East.

Click here for the entire story

Norway court sides with DNO

DNO said in a statement:

An Oslo court has dismissed legal attempts by rebel investors in DNO to block its merger with RAK Petroleum, approved last year by shareholders.

The court ordered Petrolia Invest AS to pay the equivalent of about $168 thousand in Norwegian Kroner to cover DNO's legal costs.

Click here for the entire story

Night in a Baghdad E.R.

Dr. Lubna Naji writes in The New York Times:

Now that the United States military has left Iraq, the long-term legacy of two decades of war and sanctions will become clearer over the coming months and years. Not only through violence, but also in the emergence – or otherwise – of civil institutions and their ability to provide basic services.

Here, one Iraqi doctor writes about how her hospital is coping.

Click here for the entire story

Iraq Shi’ite militia to lay down weapons

Suadad al-Salhy reports for Reuters:

The leader of a Shi'ite militia which carried out some of the most prominent attacks on foreigners during the Iraq war, said the group will lay down its weapons and is prepared to join the political process.

"This stage of the military conflict between the Iraqi armed resistance and the occupation forces is over, with a distinct, historic Iraqi victory and a distinct, historic U.S. failure," Qais al-Khazali told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.

Khazali also said the group was willing to hand over the remains of British bodyguard Alan McMenemy, kidnapped along with four others in 2007, without conditions.

Click here for the entire story

Al-Qaeda band detained in Kirkuk

Diyar Samad reports for AKnews:

Security forces in Kirkuk have detained a five-member militant group in southern Kirkuk that has operated under the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) organization – al-Qaeda’s Iraq front.

Police said the group have been responsible for scores of armed attacks in southern western areas of Kirkuk “and were planning to attack police and government offices in Hawija district, 55 km south west of Kirkuk, once again”

Click here for the entire story