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

State Dept. unprepared to oversee contracting in Iraq

Austin B. Smith report for the Federal Times:

At the end of the year, the State Department is set to take on more contracting oversight in Iraq than it has in any country — roughly 14,000 contractors.

And some experts question whether it can handle the task.

The possibility of waste, fraud and abuse occurring is a "huge risk," said Dov Zakheim, a former Pentagon comptroller and member of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, in an interview. "I would go so far as to say it's a likelihood."

The State Department is "not organized, structured or oriented to doing this sort of thing," he said, adding that some problems could be avoided if the Defense Department, as it draws down the military presence in Iraq, lends personnel to help out.

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In Iraq, U.S. turns to more private contractors

Walter Pincus report for the Washington Post:

As American troops head out of Iraq, U.S. officials are being forced to bring in more private security contractors.

The withdrawal of the remaining troops from Iraq — 33,000 at last count — has caused U.S. officials to move quickly to fill a series of security gaps to ensure the continued protection of American diplomatic personnel as well as U.S. goods.

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Turkey’s Kurdish politicians meet Iraq’s Talabani

Today's Zaman reports:

Some of the most prominent figures in Kurdish politics, who have been in the northern autonomous Kurdish region for a visit, met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani on Sunday purportedly to enlist his help in convincing the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) to initiate a cease-fire amidst ongoing military operations by the Turkish military against PKK bases in northern Iraq.

Kurdish politicians such as Ahmet Türk and Aysel Tuğluk, who currently jointly head the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), a civil society platform that is an unofficial continuation of the now defunct Democratic Society Party (DTP), the predecessor of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), and the BDP's Selahattin Demirtaş and Gültan Kışanak met in İstanbul last week with Massoud Barzani, head of Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region, where the PKK has made a home to launch attacks into Turkey.

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Iraq PM calls for Baath party ‘repentance’

AFP reports:

Iraq's prime minister on Wednesday called on members of Saddam Hussein's now-dissolved Baath party to declare their rejection of the party in writing, and threatened prosecution if they do not.

Nuri al-Maliki called on Baath members to "announce their repentance and innocence" and to sign a document to that effect "in front of the relevant state agencies," in a speech in the central Shiite shrine city Karbala.

"If not, they are subject to ... legal prosecution," he said.

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Twin IED blasts in Anbar kill one, injure three

Anwar Msarbat report for AKnews:

Twin IED blasts in Anbar province on Wednesday killed one civilian and left four policemen injured.

In the first blast a farmer was killed in while he was watering his plantations in Anbar's al-Obeidi district, west of the provincial capital Ramadi, capt. Abbas al-Duaimi from Ramadi police department told AKnews.

In the second IED struck a police patrol in Ramadi's al-Jazeera area wounding four policemen in addition to causing extensive damage to the police vehicle and a civilian car parked near the scene of the attack.

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The daily struggle of Iraq’s widows of war

Aseel Kami report for Reuters:

Halima Dakhil lost her husband in the sectarian slaughter that engulfed Iraq after the U.S. invasion in 2003 and now spends her days tearful and scared, knowing her $250 monthly wage won't pay the rent and feed five children.

One of an estimated 2 million women who are primary breadwinners in Iraq, Dakhil is but one face of the humanitarian crisis left behind as U.S. forces withdraw from Iraq nearly nine years after toppling dictator Saddam Hussein.

Rent takes $210 of her monthly earning as a cleaner in a medical clinic. She depends mainly on the kindness of neighbors and other donors to feed her family.

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Leighton launches barge for oil export expansion project

Leighton Offshore announces in a press release:

Leighton Offshore today launched the newest edition to the fleet, the Leighton MPV-1 cable lay vessel, at the Al Jazeera Port in Ras Al Khaimah.

The MPV -1 will be mobilised to undertake the cable lay scope of the $799m Phase 1 Iraq Crude Oil Export Expansion Project (ICOEEP) currently underway.

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Three policemen killed in armed attack in Mosul

Rezan Ahmed report for AKnews:

Three policemen were killed on Tuesday evening in two separate armed attacks in the volatile city of Mosul, 365 km north of Baghdad.

Insurgent shot dead a traffic policeman near his house while ff duty in Mosul’s al-Karama area before running away, Brig. Gen. Mohammed al-Jubbouri told AKnews.

Separately, insurgents in a speeding car opened fire on two policemen in al-Sukkar area, east of Mosul, killing them immediately.

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With camera, Iraqi boy celebrates life

Dan Zak report for the Washington Post:

The boy angled his camera upward and the jumbled world slid into focus.

Giant men lumbered under high brick ceilings. They slouched on padded wooden benches, crossing and uncrossing their legs, nearly knocking him over. The boy steadied himself to take photos of the bustling scene at the century-old Shahbandar Cafe.

Kamer Hashim’s head barely reached the waistlines of the poets and intellectuals who strode in and out of the sunny, smoky cafe on Mutanabi Street, the book-selling enclave of the Iraqi capital. Kamer was the youngest there by at least 20 years, the smallest by at least a foot, and the least accustomed to digesting the problems of Iraq.

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Once-sensitive US sites to return to Iraqi control

W. G. Dunlop report for AFP:

What were once among the most sensitive US sites in Iraq, including a palace that housed top generals and a bombed-out villa that held Saddam Hussein, will soon be back in Iraqi hands.

US forces are closing down the Victory Base Complex (VBC) on Baghdad's outskirts, a small city that once featured American fast-food chains and was the main base from which the US war in Iraq was run, and are to finish handing it over to the Iraqi government in December.

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