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

Diyala-Iran border crossing re-opens

Bryar Mohammed reports for AKnews:

The Mundhariya (Parvizkhan) border point opens today, after being closed by Iran after recent public protest and violence in Diyala.

The crossing point, popular with traders and Iranian worshippers visiting holy Shiite sites in Iraq, was closed shortly after the Diyala Provincial Council demanded regional autonomy, last year on December 12.

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Iraqiya officially ends Cabinet boycott

Haider Ibrahim reports for AKnews:

Iraqiya List has ended its boycott of the Council of Ministers following party talks yesterday.

Iraqiya member Hamid al-Mutlaq said the party made the decision due to the goodwill of fellow political parties to resolve the ongoing disputes.

"The return of the President of the Republic to Iraq [Jalal Talabani] and adopting the convergence of views between the political parties encouraged us to take the decision," said Mutlaq.

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Two policemen dead after mosque attack

Rezan Ahmed reports for AKnews:

An attack outside a Mosul city mosque left 2 policemen dead and 3 worshipers injured.

The armed gunmen, who are believed to be insurgents, clashed with the police outside Abu Bakir al-Siddiq Mosque, with worshipers caught in the cross fire.

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Iraqiya denies nomination of new Diyala gov.

Mahmoud al-Jabbouri reports for AKnews:

The Iraqiya List in Diyala province has denied reports about the nomination of a new governor to replace Abdul Nasser al-Mahdawi.

The head of the Iraqiya bloc in Diyala Amer al-Karkhi said that such a procedure would need to be formally requested by the current governor Mahdawi and submitted to the council.

Mahdawi is currently still in office, though he has not gone to work since his house was burnt down. The residence was torched in December after the council officially demanded regional autonomy.

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Iraq detains 16 vice presidential guards

Salam Faraj reports for AFP:

Iraqi security forces have detained 16 of Tareq al-Hashemi's bodyguards, the interior ministry said, in a move the fugitive vice president said Tuesday was the latest in a string of false accusations.

Hashemi is hiding in the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq after the Baghdad authorities issued a warrant for his arrest in mid-December on charges of running a death squad.

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Crude awakening: Iraq and oil policy

(Iraq Oil Report managing editor) Ben Van Heuvelen writes in Foreign Policy magazine:

On Dec. 17, two days after the U.S. military cased its colors and formally ended its mission in Iraq, the brain trust of the Iraqi oil sector gathered for a symposium at Baghdad's Alwiyah Club, a fortified concrete complex of meeting rooms and outdoor gardens. They were officially meeting to discuss "Challenges Facing the Development of the Extractive Industry." The issues they grappled with held the prospect to transform the global energy marketplace and determine the course of Iraqi democracy.

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Decoding Iraq’s sectarian rivalries

Hayder al-Khoei writes in Foreign Affairs:

By many accounts, Iraq appears to again be in the throes of sectarian conflict. Last month, the country’s judiciary issued an arrest warrant for its Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi, for his alleged involvement in terrorism.

At the same time, Nouri al-Maliki, the Shiite Prime Minister, sought to remove another high-profile Sunni official from office, Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlak, who had accused Maliki of being a dictator. Critics accuse the prime minister of deliberately targeting his Sunni political opponents to consolidate his power.

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An Iraqi film hero in America

Naomi Wolf writes in Project Syndicate:

One of Iraq’s only working filmmakers, Oday Rasheed – whose brilliant film 2005 Underexposure followed a group of characters in Baghdad after the United States-led invasion in 2003, and whose new film Qarantina is now premiering – is in Manhattan.

The glamorous settings in which he is now showing Qarantina – a screening at the Museum of Modern Art, for example, and in the private homes of American directors and stars – could not be further removed from the violence-riddled context of his daily life.

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Iraqiya bloc ends boycott

Dan Morse reports for The Washington Post:

A Sunni-backed political bloc ended its boycott of Iraq’s parliament Sunday, a boost for Prime Minister Nouri ­al-Maliki, a Shiite, as he tries to consolidate power in the wake of the U.S. troop departure.

But key members of the bloc, Iraqiya, continue to boycott meetings of the cabinet, and Maliki has indicated that he will replace them if they do not return.

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US audit: billions missing in Iraq

Josh Levs reports for CNN:

The U.S. Defense Department cannot account for about $2 billion it was given to cover Iraq-related expenses and is not providing Iraq with a complete list of U.S.-funded reconstruction projects, according to two new government audits.

The reports come from the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

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