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

Speaker’s visit to Kurds divides Iraqi parliament

Philip Issa writes for AP:

A leading Iraqi parliamentarian upbraided the legislative body's leader for meeting with Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani on Sunday as Baghdad's politicians voiced their differences over how best to respond to a controversial Kurdish referendum for independence.

Iraqi member of Parliament Humam Hamoudi called Parliament Speaker Salim Jabouri's meeting with Barzani "disappointing" and "unfortunate" and said Jabouri went to Barzani in a personal capacity, not as Parliament's representative.

Two days of high level visits by Baghdad politicians to Irbil, the seat of the Kurdish regional government, have failed to resolve the impasse between Baghdad and its Kurdish region, which voted for independence in a non-binding referendum two weeks ago.

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Cinders and desolation in Iraq’s Hawija after IS

Sarah Benhaida writes for AFP:

One side of the billboard calls for jihad, while the other warns of death for smokers. Iraq's Hawija still bears clear signs of its three years under jihadist rule.

Islamic State group jihadists set fire to everything they could before they fled an Iraqi government offensive on the northern town in oil-rich Kirkuk province.

Thick black smoke billows from burning oil wells around the city. Fields lie scorched in the surrounding region known for its cereal crops and watermelons.

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Iraq’s Kurds need to put democracy before independence

The Washington Post Editorial Board writes:

THE LEADERS of Iraq’s Kurdistan region are suffering considerable consequences for their reckless staging of a referendum on independence late last month. The Iraqi government has teamed up with Turkey and Iran to impose tough sanctions, including a ban on international flights from Kurdish airports. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once a Kurdistan ally, is threatening to shut down an oil pipeline that provides the economically struggling region with much of its revenue. Meanwhile, the United States, long the Kurds’ most important ally, has called the referendum illegitimate and done little to stanch the growing backlash.

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‘Game Over.’ Iraqi Forces See Beginning of the End for ISIS

David Zucchino writes for The New York Times:

The jubilant outpouring that erupted in the heart of Hawija on Friday, the day after Iraqi forces claimed victory there, celebrated more than the fact that the Islamic State militants had finally been routed from the city, their last major urban stronghold in Iraq.

For many of the Shiite Muslim militiamen, who sped through the streets in pickups, flying militia colors and blaring religious music on loudspeakers, and the federal paramilitary police, who feasted on mutton and rice, their swift two-week victory represented the beginning of the end for militants who just three years ago ruled a third of Iraq.

“Game over,” said Gen. Sabah al-Aboda of the Iraqi police, as he chewed a date in the shade of a collapsed storefront. “When they lost Mosul, they were broken.”

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Most Kurds in Iraq support independence. So why did some voters stay home during last week’s referendum?

Nicole F. Watts writes for The Washington Post:

The day before a referendum on independence, all was business as usual in the city of Sulaimani, the second-largest city in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. While many other Kurdish cities were awash in flags and banners, Sulaimani’s streets looked bare by comparison. But the muted atmosphere did not represent its population’s attitudes on Kurdish statehood. Like most of the Kurds in Iraq, the 1.3 million citizens of Sulaimani province historically support the idea of independence.

Rather, the atmosphere reflected the deep concerns over how the referendum was called and its implications for the distribution of power under the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

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ACLU seeks writ of habeas corpus over American held by US military in Iraq

AFP reports:

The American Civil Liberties Union has moved to force the US military to bring to civilian court an American being held in Iraq for allegedly fighting for the Islamic State group.

The US rights group petitioned the federal court in Washington for a writ of habeas corpus that would force the defense department to bring the unidentified man to court and formally charge him.

The move is aimed at compelling the military to bring the man – originally captured by local fighters in Syria about three weeks ago – into the civilian courts, preventing his being held in legally questionable military detention and possibly being sent to the Guantánamo Bay prison compound.

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Suspected ISIS Ties? Some Aid Workers May be Shying Away

Belkis Wille writes for Human Rights Watch:

Hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq have suffered horribly at the hands of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. Now the families of those suspected to have joined the extremist group are paying a price as Iraqi forces continue to retake territory.

Across federal Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, security forces are holding families of ISIS affiliates, often referred to by local authorities and communities as “ISIS families,” displaced by the fighting, and severely restricting their movements.

To be clear, anyone displaced by fighting that is not accused of a crime has the right to return home if there are no longer military operations there, and under Iraqi law, to be compensated for property destroyed by the conflict. They also have the right to move freely throughout the country and resettle elsewhere if they prefer. Authorities can’t lawfully use camps for displaced people as open-air prisons.

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France offers to mediate between Baghdad and Kurds

John Irish and Marine Pennetier report for Reuters:

France offered on Thursday to mediate in a political crisis pitting Iraq’s government against Kurdish regional authorities, and promised to maintain a military presence there until Islamic State was defeated.

The offer by President Emmanuel Macron coincided with a visit by Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, his first abroad since its Kurdish-held northern regions last month voted for independence in a referendum declared illegal by Baghdad.

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Iraq Claims Victory in ISIS’ Last Urban Stronghold

David Zucchino and Rod Nordland write for The New York Times:

Iraqi forces have driven Islamic State fighters from the northern city of Hawija, the militants’ final urban stronghold in Iraq, three years after they seized control of nearly a third of the country, the Iraqi government said Thursday.

Iraq’s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, said in a televised appearance in Paris, where he is on a state visit, that Hawija had been “liberated,” calling it a “victory not just for Iraq but for the whole world.”

The United States-led coalition confirmed the fall of Hawija, calling it “a swift and decisive victory” by the Iraqi forces.

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Abadi: ‘We Don’t Want Armed Confrontation’ With Kurds

Voice of America reports:

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Thursday urged Kurdish peshmerga forces to continue working with Iraqi security forces in the fight against Islamic State, while also reiterating his rejection of Kurdish independence.

Speaking during a visit to Paris, Abadi said his government does not want armed confrontation with the Kurds, but that "federal authority must prevail."

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