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

ISIS After the Caliphate

Scott Atran, Hoshang Waziri, and Richard Davis write for The New York Review of Books:

Following the expulsion of the Islamic State, or ISIS, from Mosul in Iraq, and with the imminent fall of the group’s de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria, reports have suggested that ISIS fighters are defecting or surrendering en masse. But such bullish appraisals of the collapse of ISIS’s fighting spirit may be over-optimistic.

Most people who have fled from ISIS-controlled areas have done so because they were terrified of the invading Shia militias and Shia-dominated Iraqi government forces. Last month, when Iraqi forces liberated the area around the city of Hawija, north of Tikrit, it wasn’t only ISIS fighters who ran. Those from families who had a member in ISIS, even if dead, did also. Many internally displaced Sunni Arabs we interviewed told us that they left their homes and risked passing through Iraqi army and Shia militia lines to reach the Kurdish Peshmerga because “they are also Sunni” and “don’t want to kill us.”

Although there is some evidence of local ISIS forces in Iraq abandoning the fight, ISIS’s foreign volunteers are much more likely to fight to the death or melt away in the hope of fighting another day. A center run by the Kurdish intelligence service in Dibis, north of Hawija, to screen those fleeing ISIS territory had detected only one foreign fighter, an Egyptian, in recent weeks. The head of the center, Captain Ali Muhammad Syan, said that as many as eight thousand people were screened since the start of operations to retake Hawija in September. Nearly all of them, he said, had links to ISIS, mostly through family connections, but many were not actual combatants.

Click here for the entire story

This Is What Victory Over ISIS Looks Like

Megan Specia writes for The New York Times:

The declarations of victory played out across Iraq and Syria: The long campaigns to retake city after city from Islamic State militants had come to an end.

But the hard-won battles left vast destruction in their wake, and the celebrations from atop the rubble of once-grand buildings are ringing hollow for hundreds of thousands of displaced residents.

Iraqis and Syrians return to cities that are ghosts of their former glory, lacking the infrastructure for normal life to begin again. Now they must grapple with how to rebuild.

Click here for the entire story

Iraqi court issues arrest warrant for Kurdish vice president

Balint Szlanko and Philip Issa report for AP:

A Baghdad court issued an arrest warrant for the vice president of Iraq's autonomous northern Kurdish region on Thursday for saying that Iraqi forces had "occupied" the disputed province of Kirkuk this week.

However, the warrant against Kosrat Rasul is unlikely to be executed as the central government in Baghdad has no enforceable authority in the Kurdish-administered north.

The court accused Rasul of "insulting" Iraq's armed forces, which is forbidden by Iraqi law.

Click here for the entire story

With Loss of Its Caliphate, ISIS May Return to Guerrilla Roots

Margaret Coker, Eric Schmitt, and Rukmini Callimachi write for The New York Times:

Its de facto capital is falling. Its territory has shriveled from the size of Portugal to a handful of outposts. Its surviving leaders are on the run.

But rather than declare the Islamic State and its virulent ideology conquered, many Western and Arab counterterrorism officials are bracing for a new, lethal incarnation of the jihadist group.

Islamic State leaders signaled more than a year ago that they had drawn up contingency plans to revert to their roots as a guerrilla force after the loss of their territory in Iraq and Syria. Nor does the group need to govern cities to inspire so-called lone wolf terrorist attacks abroad, a strategy it has already adopted to devastating effect in Manchester, England, and Orlando, Fla.

Click here for the entire story

What to Watch For in Post-ISIS Iraq and Syria

Zachary Laub writes for The Council on Foreign Relations:

The self-proclaimed Islamic State, once estimated to have occupied a third of Iraqi and Syrian territory, has been reduced to a handful of enclaves, bringing a complicated endgame into focus. In July 2017, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory in Mosul, as his troops, with U.S. backing, recaptured Iraq’s second city. In Syria, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) recaptured the Islamic State’s self-styled capital of Raqqa in October, and the SDF and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are both closing in on the Islamic State in its final eastern redoubt.

The rapidly receding footprint of the Islamic State has raised the risks for new confrontations as various armed groups in Iraq and Syria, and in some cases their foreign backers, vie for influence in the newly liberated areas. Meanwhile, experts warn that if the victors in both countries fail to make political arrangements that accommodate civilians and facilitate the return of refugees, the hard-fought military campaigns may only lay the groundwork for future cycles of insurgency and counterinsurgency. The following is a sketch of security, displacement, and reconstruction concerns in both countries.

Click here for the entire story

Iraq Will Remain United

Haider al-Abadi writes for The New York Times:

In June 2014, the cover of Time magazine echoed a sentiment common among pundits and outsiders: “The End of Iraq,” it read. I am proud to say that three years later, thanks to the Iraqi armed forces and the Iraqi people, these predictions were wrong.

Since then, Iraq has steadily dealt defeats to the Islamic State, also known as Daesh, a vicious enemy that has threatened our entire region and killed innocent people across the world. Now, having liberated cities including Mosul, Tal Afar and Hawija, Iraq is poised to drive out Daesh completely. Millions of people, forced out of their towns by barbaric terrorism, are going back home. Schools are reopening and doctors and nurses are returning to health clinics. We are beginning the enormous task of rebuilding our nation.

Our people have made extraordinary sacrifices to liberate their land. Daesh thought it could exploit the vulnerability of the Iraqi state, but it underestimated the overwhelming desire of the Iraqi people for unity.

Click here for the entire story

The Kurdish people have won the moral argument — the world should embrace our independence

Kosrat Rasul Ali writes for CNN:

Many who follow what is happening in the Middle East will be wondering what's next for the failed former states of Iraq and Syria in a post-ISIS world.

Here in the arbitrarily-designated Kurdish Region of Iraq, however, this is not the case.

Fresh off a resounding independence referendum victory, the Kurdish people are resolute in moving to secure their rights, having proven themselves bulwarks of freedom -- and against terrorism -- in a gravely troubled region.

Click here for the entire story

America Is in Denial About Iraq

Emile Simpson writes for Foreign Policy:

The last pockets of the Islamic State in Iraq have still not been recaptured, and already the country’s sectarian divisions are coming out in the open as the common enemy dissipates.

On Monday, as Iraqi regular forces and Shiite militia rolled into the city of Kirkuk that lies at the center of the territories and oil fields disputed between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi government, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad issued this statement: “ISIS remains the true enemy of Iraq, and we urge all parties to remain focused on finishing the liberation of their country from this menace.” The U.S. commander on the ground, Maj. Gen. Robert White, said the same thing: “We continue to advocate dialogue between Iraqi and Kurdish authorities. All parties must remain focused on the defeat of our common enemy, ISIS, in Iraq.”

Translation: We have been given no political strategy from Washington, so please, everyone, just stick to our military plan until we work one out.

Click here for the entire story

America’s Opportunity In Iraq Is Ready To Be Seized

Douglas A. Ollivant writes for War on the Rocks:

The American contribution to the defeat of the Islamic State (ISIL) has given Washington a new prestige in Iraq. Indeed, the United States has an extraordinarily favorable image in Baghdad. It is hard to overstate the significance of what Iraq has accomplished in the past three years, and most Iraqis understand the key role the United States played.

Iraq has liberated virtually all of its terrain from the Islamic State, stabilized its economy, added over one million barrels per day in oil production in the southern fields, kept human rights abuses at surprisingly low levels, avoided large-scale communitarian violence, and now made important strides in stabilization and reconciliation.

But progress in Iraq is fragile. A national election scheduled for April of next year will be critical in determining the future of this vital U.S. ally.

Click here for the entire story

The rise and fall of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria

Laris Karklis and Tim Meko write for The Washington Post:

On Tuesday, U.S.-backed forces claimed to have full control of the Syrian city of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s onetime capital and most symbolically important stronghold. The militant group — once known as al-Qaeda in Iraq — began seizing key cities in 2014 with the capture of Fallujah, Tikrit and Mosul.

The Islamic State continued to acquire land in Iraq until the end of 2015, when opposing forces started pushing the militants out of the cities. It retreated from Mosul, its last urban center in Iraq, in July 2017. With the loss of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s remaining areas of concentration are mostly in Syria’s Deir al-Zour and Iraq’s Anbar provinces, and a few scattered pockets elsewhere.

Click here for the entire story

Page 1 of 63212345...102030...Last »