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

From Al-Qaeda To ISIL: Continuity And Change In The Jihadist Movement

Stephen Tankel writes for War on the Rocks:

In summer 2010, the National Intelligence Council organized a small, one-day conference with Europe-based academics to get their read on possible futures for the jihadist movement. I was one of the approximately 20 participants. Osama Bin Laden was still alive, but the core al-Qaeda organization was beginning to come under rising pressure in Pakistan as a result of increasingly intense drone strikes. Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) was degraded thanks to the surge of U.S. forces and the Sunni Awakening. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was emerging as the most dangerous jihadist group in the world. We looked for trends and debated the future of the core of the al-Qaeda organization in Afghanistan and Pakistan, whether AQAP might take up the mantle of leadership and what that would augur, and who could emerge as the next bin Laden, among other things.

Today, with the core of the so-called Islamic State (ISIL) increasingly squeezed in Syria and Iraq the jihadist movement may be facing an even bigger inflection point. Will al-Qaeda be able to regenerate and fill the void? Could another group — perhaps an ISIL or al-Qaeda affiliate, or maybe an independent actor — take the reins? Or might we witness the atomization of the jihadist movement after years in which ISIL and al-Qaeda became its competing lodestars? In either case, what would this mean for the long-running fault line between globalism and nationalism? And what of the 40,000-plus foreign fighters who flocked to Syria and Iraq, or the technological advances that ISIL exploited to recruit them and direct or inspire attacks around the world? To help clarify the problem, we brought together three scholar-practitioners — Kim Cragin, Josh Geltzer, and Daveed Gartenstein-Ross — to weigh in on what lies ahead for the jihadist movement and the threats its adherents pose.

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Iraq holding 19,000 on ISIL and terrorism allegations

AP reports:

Iraq has detained or imprisoned at least 19,000 people accused of connections to ISIL or suspected of other terror-related offences, and sentenced more than 3,000 of them to death, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

The mass incarceration and speed of guilty verdicts raise concerns over potential miscarriages of justice — and worries that jailed militants are recruiting within the general prison population to build new extremist networks.

The AP count is based partially on an analysis of a spreadsheet listing all 27,849 people imprisoned in Iraq as of late January, provided by an official who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media. Thousands more also are believed to be held in detention by other bodies, including the Federal Police, military intelligence and Kurdish forces. Those exact figures could not be immediately obtained.

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Local directors of Iraq’s Korek reject accusations from foreign shareholders

Reuters reports:

Three local directors of Iraqi mobile telecoms operator Korek have rejected accusations from the firm’s foreign shareholders that they mismanaged and squandered tens of millions of dollars.

Iraq Telecom, the name of the joint venture of Kuwaiti logistics firm Agility and France’s Orange, this month filed a claim against the trio in the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts.

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Lebanese airliner resumes, announces 3 flights to Erbil

Rudaw reports:

The Lebanese Middle East Airlines (MEA) has announced the resumption of their flights to and from the Erbil International Airport after the Iraqi government lifted the ban on international flights last Wednesday.
The airliner will have regular flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays every week, it announced on its official Facebook page on Tuesday.
The first flight will take off on April 3, MEA stated.

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This man is trying to rebuild Mosul. He needs help – lots of it

Raya Jalabi and Michael Georgy write for Reuters:

Perched atop a mound of rubble, Abdelsattar al-Hibbu surveyed what remained of his second-floor office: twisted iron and centuries-old stone reduced to dust by an airstrike.

“I used to look out at the river from my window,” Hibbu said wistfully, recalling how the nine-month battle that defeated Islamic State militants in Mosul last year destroyed tens of thousands of buildings. “Now look at it.”

Hibbu is the municipality chief of Mosul and faces the titanic task of rebuilding Iraq’s second largest city from the ruins of war. It is a mega-project that could take years and require billions of dollars – yet his administration is strapped for cash.

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Iraqi fans celebrate lifting of 3-decade FIFA ban

Susannah George writes for AP:

Iraqi soccer fans are celebrating the lifting of FIFA’s three-decade-long ban on their country holding international competitions as the southern city of Basra prepared to host a friendly match with Qatar on Wednesday.

The world soccer’s governing body lifted the ban last Friday, allowing Iraqi cities of Basra, Karbala and Irbil to host full international games and competitions for the first time since the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Even while the ban was in place, Iraq was still allowed, since 2017, to host friendly matches and tournaments — such as three- nation face-off between Iraq, Qatar and Syria slated to begin Wednesday evening.

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In symbolic victory, Iran conquers Iraq’s dates market

Michael Georgy, Ahmed Aboulenein, and Ahmed Rasheed write for Reuters:

It isn’t hard to find signs that Iran is winning a proxy war with Saudi Arabia in Iraq.

There are the Iraqi Shi’ite militia who have sworn allegiance to Iran and the politicians beholden to Tehran. There are the Iranian companies that make everything from Baghdad’s yellow taxis to the refrigerators and air conditioners that flood street markets.

And then there are the dates.

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15 years after the Iraq War began, the death toll is still murky

Philip Bump writes for The Washington Post:

Tens of thousands of people died fighting in the Iraq War, which began 15 years ago Tuesday. Nearly 5,000 of them were U.S. service members. Tens of thousands were insurgents battling the transitional Iraqi government put in place after the ouster of Saddam Hussein.

But that figure obscures the actual number of deaths attributable to the conflict. During the war and during the Islamic State militant group’s occupation of as much as a third of the country in recent years, the number of deaths runs into the hundreds of thousands, including civilians killed as a result of violence and, more broadly, those who died because of the collapse of infrastructure and services in Iraq resulting from the ongoing conflict.

A precise death toll, though, is almost impossible to calculate.

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Bloody scenes of life under IS haunt Mosul returnees

Raya Jalabi writes for Reuters:

For residents of the Old City, returning to Mosul is an exercise in trying to forget.

Its streets bear the scars of the horrors they survived – either living under Islamic State’s (IS) draconian rule or during nine months of brutal fighting, as the U.S.-led coalition battled to recapture the city from the jihadists.

“This corner is where Daesh whipped my sons for talking out of turn,” said Um Abdullah, using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State, walking around the neighborhood she returned to in January. “And this corner is where they killed my father for trying to stop them.”

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39 Indians kidnapped by Islamic State in Iraq were killed, officials say

Shashank Bengali and Parth M.N. report for LA Times:

India said Tuesday that 39 of its citizens who were abducted by Islamic State militants had been found dead in northern Iraq, ending a four-year mystery that had gripped the South Asian nation.

India's foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, told Parliament that Iraqi authorities found 39 bodies buried under a mound near a village northeast of Mosul, the city that Iraqi forces freed from Islamic State control last July.

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