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

U.S. empties biggest Iraq base, takes Saddam’s toilet

The U.S. military is vacating Saddam Hussein's ornate palaces at its war headquarters in Baghdad and will turn the property over to Iraq next month, but Saddam's prison toilet is leaving with the Americans.

The stainless steel commode and a reinforced steel door have been removed from the cell where the dictator spent two years before his 2006 execution and is destined for a military police museum in the United States.

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Unemployment in Diyala down due to security gains and govt loans

Local officials in Diyala province say unemployment in the province has dropped to 35% due to improving security situations and government loans.

There were some 120,000 unemployed people in Diyala in 2010, 70,000 of whom hold at least a diploma or BA degree.

An adviser to the governor of Diyala for reconstruction and investment, Rassem al-Agidi claimed that the number of unemployed have dropped from 120,000 to 80,000 in 2011, a 35% decrease from the previous year.

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Kirkuk’s historic stone bridge gets restored

Authorities in Kirkuk province have restored a historic landmark in Kirkuk city that was damaged more than five decades ago.

The 1875 stone bridge, which leads to one of the historic Kirkuk citadel’s gates, was constructed during Ottoman times under Nafiz Pasha, the ruler of Kirkuk. It was severely damaged in 1954.

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Parliament committee recommends re-formation of pro-govt militias

Yazn al-Shammari report for AKnews:

The Iraqi Parliament’s security and defense committee recommended the re-formation of pro-government militias to maintain security and fight local insurgent groups, says Kurdish member of the committee Shwan Mohammed Taha.

The recommendation comes as the country is witnessing a surge in the armed actions in the capital Baghdad and several other provinces.

“The Awakening Council forces had a great role in facing the armed groups and contributed to maintaining security throughout Iraq.” Says Taha, “We support the reformation of these forces… as the security situation is seeing deterioration.”

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MP reports embezzlement in Najaf project

Mohammed Tayyeb report for AKnews:

There is a case of 'serious fraud' in a project intended for Najaf City, an Iraqi MP warned today.

Hussein Sharifi, who is a member of Tourism and Archeology Committee in parliament, told AKnews the case involved is the construction of a three-floor building for which 100 billion Iraqi dinar (US$85 million) has been allocated while the project requires only 4b IQ (US$3.4 million).

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German truck maker MAN in $14m Iraq venture

Reuters reports:

German truck and bus maker MAN has signed a 10 million euro ($14 million) deal with Iraqi firm Numoor Al-Bararry to manufacture commercial trucks in Baghdad, the managing director of MAN’s representative in Iraq said.

Under the contract, the two companies will establish an assembly line and maintenance workshop, said Peter Mayr, managing director of Terramar Company, which represents MAN.

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Image of peril hides Baghdad’s charm

Hadeel al Sayegh report for the National:

Iraq is not the first country that comes to mind as a top-10 travel destination after more than eight years of war there. A stream of bad news over the years has kept most people away.

But Baghdad, the capital, is experiencing an influx of business professionals as foreign companies such as Royal Dutch Shell and British Petroleum make major investments in the country.

For those brave enough to wander beyond a company's compound and with enough time to explore the city between meetings, Al Mutanabbi Street, which is named after the 10th-century poet Abu Tayib Al Mutanabbi, is a good place to see. This area is known as the heart and soul of the Baghdad intellectual community, and many publishing houses, printing companies and bookstores have their main offices there.

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Iraq factions spar over security force

Sam Dagher report for the Wall Street Journal:

A struggle between Iraq's political factions is sowing divisions in the country's security forces just weeks before the last U.S. troops depart, as Iraqis rely on a unified force to hold the country together and suppress extremist violence.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a member of the majority Shiite sect, has in recent weeks accelerated measures to purge the Iraqi forces of anyone who served in the intelligence and security services of the former Sunni-led regime of Saddam Hussein.

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U.S. pullout leaves Iraqi interpreters out on limb

entire story:

An Iraqi identified only as Tariq writes in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times:

I am an Iraqi citizen who worked as an interpreter with the U.S. military for two years. It was an honor to serve, and I did it because I believed that bringing freedom to Iraq required brave people to stand up and try to make a difference. Now, as a result of my service, I find myself in a dangerous limbo.

...

My fellow interpreters and I were promised by the U.S. government that special visas would be made available for us to move to the United States if our lives were put in danger by our work for the military. Congress backed up that promise by passing a law setting aside 5,000 such "special immigrant visas" per year for Iraqis.

But the process is broken. The program is going so slowly, it is barely a program at all. In August, according to American news reports, a mere 10 visas were issued, and that is typical.

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Anbar governor escapes assassination

Sameer N. Yacoub report for the Associated Press:

Police say the governor of Iraq's largest Sunni province has escaped an assassination attempt on a highway in a former insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad.

Iraqi police say the governor of Anbar province, Qasim al-Fahadawi, escaped unhurt Monday morning after a roadside bomb hit his motorcade as it headed to Baghdad.

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