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

Congolese doctor, Yazidi activist, champions in fight against rape in war, win Nobel Peace Prize

Crispin Kyalangalilwa, Ted Siefer, and Nerijus Adomaitis report for Reuters:

Denis Mukwege, a doctor who helps victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nadia Murad, a Yazidi rights activist and survivor of sexual slavery by Islamic State, won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.

They were honored for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said.

“Each of them in their own way has helped to give greater visibility to war-time sexual violence, so that the perpetrators can be held accountable for their actions.”

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EU’s Iraq envoy struck down by Basra’s dirty water

AFP reports:

The European Union's ambassador to Iraq said Thursday he had become sick in the city of Basra from polluted water, which has seen tens of thousands of residents hospitalised.

Envoy Ramon Blecua said he felt ill and "had to cancel several meetings" in the southern city.

He said he had not planned "to take my solidarity with the people of Basra that far, but certainly now share how you feel".

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U.S. Blames Iran For Attacks In Iraq, They Both Have A History Of Targeting Each Other’s Diplomats

Tom O'Conner writes for Newsweek:

The U.S. has officially blamed Iran for recent attacks near Washington's diplomatic presence in Iraq, where the two powers have competed for influence in the latest venue of a decades-long feud sparked by an embassy hostage crisis.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Wednesday that "Iran is the origin of the current threat to Americans in Iraq" and was "to blame for the attacks against our mission in Basra and our embassy in Baghdad," adding that his department's "intelligence in this regard is solid." Iran has the support of a number of semi-official Shiite Muslim militias across Iraq, and Pompeo cited "repeated incidents of indirect fire from elements of those militias" against the two U.S. sites in a Friday statement announcing the closure of the consulate general in the southern city of Basra.

Iran, whose own consulate general in Basra was burned down last month, has rejected these charges. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Qasemi said Saturday that "the ridiculous justification [provided by Americans] for the closure of the U.S. Consulate General in Basra, which came after weeks of propaganda and false allegations against Iran and the Iraqi forces, is a suspicious move aimed at evading responsibility and pinning the blame on others responsibility and pinning the blame on others."

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Iraq to cut winter crop area by 55 percent on water shortages

Reuters reports:

Iraq’s agriculture ministry said on Thursday it would reduce its 2018-2019 winter crop planting area by 55 percent due to a water shortage.

Iraq will grow around 315,266 hectares of wheat on irrigated land, a statement by the ministry said.

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‘Last pocket of ISIS’ fighters surrounded, DoD official says

Kyle Rempfer reports for Military Times:

U.S. troops and their local partner forces have surrounded what has been called the “last pocket of ISIS resistance,” according to military officials involved in the campaign.

The final push, known as Operation Roundup, is in its third week. It is occurring in the Middle Euphrates River Valley’s Deir ez-Zor province, close to the Iraq-Syria border.

Syrian Democratic Forces, backed by the Operation Inherent Resolve coalition’s fire support, have dialed back the Islamic State precipitously over the past few years.

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In Iraq and Syria, Imagery of Nighttime Electricity Use Illuminates the Impacts of War

Stratfor reports:

The outbreak of conflict in Syria in 2011, which quickly escalated to a full-blown civil war, has done tremendous damage to the country. One compelling way to visualize the devastation is using satellite night-light imagery.

The image below represents electricity use in the Levant area of the Middle East by depicting the evolving intensity of night lights between 2012 and 2016. As millions of refugees fled Syria and warfare destroyed the country's electricity network, the night-light intensity in Syria dropped precipitously between 2012 and 2016.

A similar dynamic can be observed in certain parts of Iraq. The areas of the country that were overrun by the Islamic State in 2014, namely Anbar province and certain parts of the north such as Mosul, witnessed a dramatic fall in night-light intensity between 2012 and 2016. The decline is the result of the coalition bombing campaign of the Islamic State strongholds in these areas, as well as the offensives to take back the territory captured by the Islamic State.

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KRG election: Why such a low turnout?

Karwan Faidhi Dri writes for Rudaw:

When the Kurdistan Region held its first parliamentary election in 1992, voters were enthusiastic to see what a Kurdish government could offer them after decades of oppression by successive Iraqi regimes.

Full of hopes and expectations, 87 percent of voters turned out to choose between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). However, when the parliamentary seats were divided equally between both parties, known as the fifty-by-fifty system, people soon became disillusioned.

On Sunday, turnout fell again to 58 percent. Although a better showing compared to the measly 44.52 percent who turned out for Iraq’s May 12 election, it was still the lowest in the Region’s history.

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Trade Bank of Iraq in talks to acquire a Gulf lender: chairman

Stanley Carvalho reports for Reuters:

Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) is in talks to buy a Gulf bank with branches in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar as part of a strategy to boost revenues outside its home market, its chairman said on Wednesday.

The talks are underway and the purchase is expected to be completed in six to eight months, Faisal al-Haimus told Reuters. He did not disclose the name of the bank.

The move comes after TBI said in August it had put on hold its plans to buy a commercial bank in Turkey due to the weak lira.

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Deaths of high-profile Iraqi women spark fear of conservative backlash

Martin Chulov writes for The Guardian:

Even to a country inured to violence, the images were shocking. A man on a motorbike pulled up next to a car window and fired three shots at Tara al-Fares, killing her on a Baghdad street.

The daylight assassination, captured by a surveillance camera, was both brazen and familiar to Iraqis who lived through the civil war and painful decade since.

Yet it was also shockingly distinctive; the body slumped in the car seat was not a politician, official, insurgent or warlord. She was a former beauty queen; a young woman with both profile and attitude, one of four high-profile Iraqi women to have been killed across the country in quick succession.

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After the Battle: A Warning From Mosul

Pehr Lodhammar writes for The New York Times:

As the calamitous civil war next door in Syria grinds on toward a final battle in Idlib, with an unthinkably tragic end in sight, it’s worth taking a look farther east, at this shattered Iraqi city. Today, Mosul stands as a measure of how difficult “recovery” can be in this part of the world, even after the gunfire stops.

Explosive hazards implanted by the Islamic State, too dangerous and numerous to deactivate, still strew destruction, allowing the terrorist group to continue fighting in absentia and on the cheap. Their strategy has been, in a word, shrewd: Retreat from Mosul only after making life unlivable by making infrastructure all but impossible to fix.

So this remains a city of debris, nearly seven million tons worth, much of it concealing improvised explosive devices — I.E.D.s — and conventional ammunition that failed to detonate. Yes, an international team of experts is working to defuse both types of ordnance. But real security is still distant, given the slow pace at which we can clear the hazards with minimal funding and too few experts. So, the terror planted here by terrorists continues to stifle the economy and society in Iraq’s second city.

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