Efforts by Iraq’s premier to court disbanded army officers from Sunni areas of the country can help boost security and support for the Shiite leader ahead of upcoming elections, analysts and observers say. | AFP

Iraqi Shiites increasingly fear the Muslim sect and its holy sites could be targeted in neighboring Syria as the civil war there takes on increasingly sectarian overtones, and as Iranian-backed militants are girding for violence in both countries. | AP


Kuwait banned gatherings of more than 20 people and gave police more powers to disperse protests, local media reported on Tuesday, in an escalating standoff with the opposition ahead of the December 1 election. | Chicago Tribune

Kuwait’s government has given final approval to settlement with Iraq to end a standoff over Gulf-War-era debts and lift restrictions on Iraqi Airways flying to destinations in the West. | Reuters


Iraq’s Kurdish government says it has agreed to increase oil exports from its self-rule territory to 250,000 barrels a day next year in a sign that relations with Baghdad are improving following a standoff over disputed oil payments. | AP

The targeting of Iraq’s well-respected central bank chief appears to be a move by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to consolidate power and sends a bad message to international investors, experts and diplomats say. | AFP


Exxon Mobil wants to leave its flagship Iraqi oil project after upsetting Baghdad by signing a deal last year with the autonomous northern Kurdish region, which the central government deemed illegal. | Reuters

A Saudi rights group has accused Iraqi authorities of deliberately mistreating Saudi inmates, highlighting lingering tensions between the two Arab countries. | Reuters


Shootings and bombings in Baghdad and northern Iraq killed three people, including a police captain, on Wednesday, security and medical officials said. | AFP


Iraq abruptly removed the longtime governor of the country's central bank after he and other bank officials were targeted in an investigation into alleged financial wrongdoing. | AP

Scores of Iraqi Shi'ite militants are fighting in Syria, often alongside President Bashar al-Assad's troops, and pledging loyalty to Iran's supreme Shi'ite religious leader. | Reuters


Iraq plans to spend up to $1.6 billion on solar and wind power stations over the next three years to add 400 megawatts to the national grid to help curb daily blackouts. | Reuters

Two car bombs exploded in the center of Iraq’s restive Kirkuk, killing at least one and wounding another fifteen. | Reuters


President Vladimir Putin lobbied Iraq’s prime minister to support Russian energy investment, as the oil arm of gas export monopoly Gazprom pushes for a foothold in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan. | Reuters

Washington’s new ambassador to Iraq arrived in Baghdad and was sworn into his new position on Thursday after President Barack Obama’s original pick for the job had to withdraw his candidacy. | AFP


Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will head a government delegation to the Czech Republic on Thursday, with a potential arms deal involving several dozen Czech-made subsonic jet fighters likely to figure on the agenda. | AFP

Al-Qaida is rebuilding in Iraq and has set up training camps for insurgents in the nation's western deserts as the extremist group seizes on regional instability and government security failures to regain strength. | AP

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has urged NATO not to interfere in the Syrian conflict under the pretext of defending Turkey. | Radio Free Europe


Iraq signed contracts to buy weapons from Russia worth more than $4.2 billion recently, according to a Russian government document. | Reuters

Iraqi authorities carried out six more death sentences on Monday, bringing to twenty-three the number of people executed in a week, defying international calls for a halt to Baghdad's use of capital punishment. | AFP


Omar Rashad Khalil, a U.S. citizen convicted of links with al Qaeda, has been sentenced to life in prison by an Iraqi court. | Reuters

A car bomb exploded near an Iraqi army convoy in Baghdad, killing at least four people and wounding 11 others. | CNN


The highest-ranking member of Saddam Hussein’s ousted regime, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, purportedly said in an online interview that the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Baghdad has ultimately served to make Iraq beholden to Iran. | AP


Bahraini police have arrested five medical personnel after a court rejected appeals to overturn their convictions for roles anti-government protests last year in the Gulf kingdom. | Boston Globe

Baghdad moved to end Turkey’s military presence in north Iraq where Ankara is pursuing Kurdish rebels, signaling a further deterioration in ties between the neighbors. | AFP


The death toll from militant attacks across Iraq doubled in September to 365, the highest toll for more than two years, with most killed in bomb attacks. | Reuters

Oil payments from Baghdad to Iraq’s Kurdish region will be transferred today, offering hope that a long-running conflict between the central government and autonomous region is easing. | Reuters


Dozens of prisoners, including convicted al-Qaeda members, escaped an Iraqi jail after militants dressed in police uniform attacked the prison and released them. | Reuters; CNN


Officials say attacks against police checkpoints in central Iraq have killed four policemen, including a lieutenant colonel. | AP

Iraq’s cabinet decided to provide humanitarian aid to war-torn Syria and launch a relief campaign via the Iraqi Red Crescent. | Gulf Today


The United Nations envoy in Iraq welcomed the appointment of eight of the nine members of the Board of Commissioners of the country’s electoral commission, while voicing regret at the absence of women on the panel. | UN News Center

Militants carried out a series of attacks against Iraqi security forces, killing seven police and soldiers and wounding eleven. | AFP


Iraq denied permission for a North Korean aircraft to cross its airspace on its way to Syria over suspicions it would carry arms and advisers there. | AFP

The U.S. State Department said it did not support a suggestion from a prominent senator that future U.S. assistance to Iraq be made conditional on Baghdad's cooperation in stopping Iranian aircraft suspected of ferrying weapons to Syria. | Reuters

The Iraqi provincial council of Najaf decided to ban flights by Bahrain's carrier Gulf Air in solidarity with those facing "repression" in the tiny Sunni-ruled kingdom. | AFP


The Obama administration’s leading foreign policy ally in Congress, Senator John Kerry, said Wednesday that aid to Iraq might be made contingent on cutting off flights shuttling military supplies from Iran to the repressive government in Syria. | New York Times

Iraq denied a Western intelligence report that said Iranian aircraft had flown weapons and military personnel over Iraqi airspace to Syria to help President Bashar al-Assad battle an 18-month-old uprising. | Reuters


President Obama’s choice for ambassador to Iraq says he will make clear to Baghdad that U.S. officials are angered by reports that Iran is using Iraqi airspace to deliver weapons to Syria. | AP

Iraq reopened its border with Syria to receive refugees escaping violence, but refused entry to young men for security reasons. | Reuters


The relocation of an Iranian exile group from a refugee camp in Iraq where they've lived for more than 25 years is nearing completion. | CNN

Iraq's fugitive vice president said that Iran is using Iraqi airspace to fly supplies to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, and thousands of Iraqi militia fighters have crossed into Syria to support his troops. | Reuters


Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan said it would keep its oil production for export at 140,000 barrels per day this month before raising it to 200,000 bpd for the rest of the year, as part of a deal with Baghdad to end a dispute over oil payments. | Reuters

Ties between Turkey and Iraq have been strained as Ankara refused to extradite Iraq’s vice president, who was sentenced by default to death by an Iraqi court. Iraq revoked operating licenses for Turkish companies in Iraq. | Al Arabiya


Thousands of supporters of powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr protested in several cities in Iraq on Thursday against an anti-Islam film that has sparked anti-US violence in north Africa. | AFP


Turkey will not hand over Iraq's fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, who faces a death sentence against him in Baghdad, and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said that he can remain in Turkey as long as he needs to. | Reuters


After being sentenced to death, Iraq's fugitive Sunni Vice President, Tariq al-Hashem, says the terror trial that convicted him of masterminding death squads against rivals was illegitimate and is accusing the nation's Shiite prime minister of being behind it. | AP


One year after a prominent Iraqi journalist and government critic was killed, no one has been arrested for his murder and activists and analysts say press freedoms have worsened. | Arab News


Three U.S. senators voiced concerns to Iraq's prime minister that Iran has resumed using Baghdad's airspace to fly weapons and equipment to Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria. | AFP


Iraq's central government is considering cutting federal budget payments to the country's Kurdistan by more than $3 billion to cover losses it says came from the autonomous region's oil exports. | Reuters


Iraqi Kurdistan is ready to restart negotiations with Baghdad to end their crisis, focusing on a long-delayed oil law that would lendregions more say in managing energy resources. | Reuters


Five security forces members, including two senior officers, have been killed in a series of shootings and bombings in Iraq, officials say. | BBC

Iraq executed five more people on Wednesday, including a Syrian national, a justice ministry spokesman said, two days after 21 people were executed. | Daily Star


Iraq executed 21 people, including three women, convicted of terror-related charges, on the same day, bringing the number of people executed so far this year to 91. | Daily Star

Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government threatened to stop oil shipments again at the start of September, claiming Baghdad’s central government has continued to hold off on payments to oil companies, as the two sides continue a long-running dispute. | Reuters

A group of Iranian exiles that are resisting leaving their camp in northeast Iraq say they have been attacked by military forces, and twenty of the exiles have been wounded. | AP


Iraq's communications minister has resigned, accusing Prime Minister Nouri Maliki of refusing to stop "political interference" in his ministry. | BBC

A fire on a pipeline carrying about a quarter of Iraq's oil exports forced the closure of the link on Monday and halted loading at Turkey's Ceyhan export terminal. | Reuters

Iraq's military is trying to staunch spillover from Syria's crisis, tightening border controls as its troops exchange fire with gunmen, rockets hit a frontier patrol, and Syrian army shells land on an Iraqi border town. | Reuters


Two explosions in the Sadr City neighborhood of north Baghdad ahead of Friday prayers killed three people and wounded at least eight. | AFP


Syrian military planes crossed into Iraqi airspace on Thursday in order to carry out air strikes against the rebel-held border town of Albu Kamal. | AFP

Al-Qaeda’s front group in Iraq has claimed responsibility for dozens of deadly attacks in the Sunni-dominated western Anbar province this summer. | Washington Post


The United States said that oil companies should not bypass Iraq’s central government after authorities in the autonomous Kurdish north signed dozens of deals with foreign energy firms. | Arab Times

Turkish fighter jets bombed border territories in the Kurdistan region of Iraq Tuesday evening in the latest strike on Kurdish rebels suspected to be hiding out in the region. | Al-Akhbar


As Iraq’s clout as an oil producer grows, many citizens feel they’re missing out on the boom. | Washington Post

Top US military officer General Martin Dempsey insisted Washington still had an important role to play in Iraq, where he landed on Tuesday, eight months after American troops departed. | AFP


Iraq insisted that its trade with neighboring Iran was above board, and denied reports that it was helping the Islamic republic skirt sanctions by smuggling oil and secretly moving cash. | AFP

Bombings and shootings in Iraq killed at least 409 people and wounded 975 during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, according to an AFP tally based on security and medical sources. | Ahram


A wave of insurgent attacks killed at least 22 people and wounded dozens in central and northern Iraq in the latest series of persistent strikes aimed at undermining the government’s authority on Thursday. | Washington Post


The supply of Syrian goods to Iraq is slowly drying up as Syrian businesses are forced to close and trucks struggle to cross borders that have become frontlines. Traders in Iraq say the result is predictable: shortages of Syrian goods and higher prices. | Reuters

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Deputy Secretary of the Kurdish National Party, Barham Saleh, discussed the coming National Conference due to convene following the return of President Jalal Talabani. | Awsat al-Iraq


The Iraqi Interior Ministry denied permitting the passage of gunmen into Syria to support the Syrian regime. | Aswat al-Iraq


Al-Qaeda’s branch in Iraq claimed responsibility Monday for a double bombing that targeted a counterterrorism unit in Baghdad last month. | AP

Iraq is outpacing rival Iran to become the second-biggest crude producer in OPEC, as its oil production reached 3.2 million barrels per day, according to the country’s Deputy Prime Minister. | RT


A suicide bomber driving a truck attacked a Shi'ite mosque near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul as Friday prayers ended, killing at least five people and wounding 70. | Reuters


Iraq’s crude oil output surpassed three million barrels a day last month for the first time since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. | Bloomberg

A car bomb blast south of the Iraqi capital left at least eleven people dead and wounded twenty-five others; the attack occurred as mourners gathered for a funeral in Aziziya, a predominately Shiite town south of Baghdad in Wasit province. | CNN


A growing rift between Baghdad and the autonomous northern region of Kurdistan is exacerbated now by conflicting views of the Syrian rebellion and by territorial disputes that pose questions about the unity of Iraq. | Reuters

Academi LLC, the military contractor formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, has agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine to settle charges of arms sales violations, the U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday. | Guardian


More than 22,000 Iraqis have fled the violence in Syria for their home country in less than three weeks, joining over 12,000 Syrian refugees, a UN refugee agency official said. | AFP

Iraq is to "review" relations with Turkey after Ankara's foreign minister visited the disputed northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk without informing Baghdad. | AFP


A wave of brazen attacks killed dozens of Iraqi soldiers, police and anti-Qaeda militiamen in recent days, but security forces say it pales in comparison with the worst years of violence in the country. | AFP


Twin car bombings in the Iraqi capital Baghdad have claimed 19 lives, and left at least 47 people injured, officials have said. | Al Jazeera

Iraq's Kurdistan region said it will resume oil exports during the first week of August as a confidence-building measure, after stopping them for more than four months following a row with Baghdad. | Al Akhbar


July was the deadliest month in Iraq in almost two years, with 325 people killed in attacks, and included the deadliest day since December 2009, official figures released on Wednesday showed. The statistics compiled by the health, interior and defense ministries showed that 325 people (241 civilians, 40 police and 44 soldiers) were killed nationwide during the month. | Al Akhbar

Twin car bombs hit central Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 19 people, and security forces fought off a separate attack inside a police station by two suicide bombers trying to free al-Qaeda prisoners. | Reuters


Iraqi Kurdish forces gave basic training to Syrian Kurds to fill any "security gap" should the Syrian regime fall, a top official in the party of the Kurdistan region's president said. | Al Akhbar

Gunmen shot dead a television presenter and wounded his mother, wife and baby in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, a media rights group said today. | Al Akhbar


U.S. auditors have concluded that more than $200 million was wasted on a program to train Iraqi police that Baghdad says is neither needed nor wanted. | al Arabiyya


Al-Qaida's Iraq front group claimed responsibility for a wave of attacks that killed 113 people on Monday in Iraq's deadliest day in two and a half years, saying it marked the launch of a new campaign promised by its leader.| Naharnet

Diyala provincial spokesman Salih Ebressim Khalil said one soldier was killed and another wounded today when al-Qaeda in Iraq insurgents shot at an army helicopter and forced it to make an emergency landing.
| Al Arabiya


Iraqi police say an explosives-rigged motorcycle killed six Kurdish intelligence officials when it blew up near them in a town in the country's north.| Daily Star

Officials said that the death toll from Monday’s deadliest attacks in two years in Iraq has risen to 115, after five more people died from injuries sustained near a café in a Shiite neighborhood in eastern Baghdad. | The Daily Star


Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has instructed Iraq's security forces and Red Crescent to allow Syrian refugees to cross the border into Iraq and to provide them with support, reversing an earlier decision. | Al Akhbar

91 people were killed and at least 172 injured in a series of attacks in Baghdad and other northern areas of the capital. | Al Arabiya


Al Qaida in Iraq is planning on carrying out attacks against judges and prosecutors as part of a plan to try and liberate its prisoners from Iraqi jails. | Al Akhbar


Two Iraqi journalists, Ali Juburi al-Kaabi and Falah Taha were stabbed and shot dead in Damascus. | Al Arabiya


The Iraqi Province of Diyala witnessed shootings and explosions on Sunday, killing 3 and injuring 10 others. | Naharnet

Iraqi Government Spokesman Ali Dabbagh has said that “Turkey must stop accepting "illegal" transfers of crude oil from the autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq or risk damaging bilateral ties.” | Naharnet

Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki has urged the United States to speed up its arms transfer to Iraq. | Naharnet


Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said that the Syrian ambassador to Iraq, Nawaf al-Fares, has left the country and is now in Qatar. | Now Lebanon


Al Qaeda's affiliate in Iraq has claimed responsibility for dozens of bombings and assassinations targeting Shi'ite Muslims that rocked cities and towns across the country in June. The Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) said a statement posted on radical Islamist websites that it was behind more than 73 attacks that mainly targeted Shi'ite pilgrims and security officials. | Reuters


The trial of Iraq's fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, accused of running death squads, was postponed on Sunday as judges await an appeals court ruling on the conduct of the trial. | AFP

Iraqi Kurdistan has begun sending oil produced in its three-province autonomous region out of the country without the express permission of the central government, an official said on Sunday. | AFP


Iraq has "solid information" that al Qaeda militants are crossing from Iraq into Syria to carry out attacks and has sent reinforcements to the border, the foreign minister, Hoshiyar Zebari, said today. | Reuters


A truck bomb blamed on Al-Qaeda killed 25 people at a crowded market in central Iraq while attacks elsewhere claimed 11 lives, the latest victims of a spike in nationwide unrest. | AFP


At least 282 people were killed across Iraq from June 1 through June 30, according to an AFP tally, while figures compiled by the Iraqi ministries of health, interior and defence showed that 131 Iraqis—85 civilians, 26 police and 20 soldiers—died in violence last month. | Nation

Iraq's revenues from oil, which account for the lion's share of the country's income, fell in June to their lowest level in 16 months because of rising local demand, an oil ministry spokesman said on Sunday. | NOW Lebanon


Bombings and shootings around Iraq killed 22 people and wounded more than 50, authorities said, as a spike in violence made June Iraq's bloodiest month in almost a half a year. | AP


A series of attacks in and north of Baghdad left five dead and 22 wounded, Iraqi police said. | CNN


Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Wednesday warned he will call for early elections if other political parties refuse to negotiate to end a deadlock over power-sharing that has crippled the government. A government spokesman said it was not an immediate call for early elections, but a signal from Maliki to other political parties to negotiate over the crisis or face an early ballot. | Al Arabiya


Iraq ceased cooperation with the United States on archaeological exploration because Washington has not returned Iraq’s Jewish archives, stated Iraq’sTourism and Archaeology Minister Liwaa Smaisim. The fate of the archives, which were removed from Iraq following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, is a long-running point of contention between Washington and Baghdad, which has for years sought their return. | Al Arabiya

Two bomb blasts nearly 150 kilometres apart killed 14 people Monday night, officials said. Iraq’s death toll continued to climb in the second bloodiest month since U.S. troops withdrew late last year. The first explosion happened when a minibus passed a youth football field in the city of Hillah, while the other exploded outside a store in Baquba. | Dawn

Iraq has suspended plans to close 44 media operations in the country, including the BBC and Voice of America, after an outcry by press freedom advocates, an official said. | Daily Star


Influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said Sunday that Prime Minister al-Maliki must resign as a first step to pull Iraq out of the morass that has all but paralyzed its government. Al-Sadr accused al-Maliki’s government of keeping Iraq’s minorities away from power and failing to fix legal systems and other public services. | Dawn

An Iraqi regulatory body has ordered the closure of 44 media outlets in the country including the BBC and Voice of America in a dispute over broadcast licences, but no action has yet been taken. | Express Tribune


At least 13 people were killed and more than 100 wounded when two roadside bombs exploded in a Baghdad market, Iraqi police and hospital sources said, in the latest attack targeting Shia Muslims this month. | Al Arabiya


The speaker of Iraq's parliament Osama al-Nujaifi, a leader in the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya political coalition, reaffirmed that lawmakers are prepared to oust the nation's prime minister if he refuses to share authority with his political opponents and break the government deadlock. | Business Week

Turkish warplanes bombed several Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets in northern Iraq in cross-border air raids "effectively hitting" several PKK targets, the military said on Wednesday. The air strikes came a day after eight Turkish soldiers were killed in fighting with PKK rebels in the south-eastern Hakkari province that borders Iran and Iraq. | RTT News


President Obama’s nominee for ambassador to Iraq withdrew from consideration a day before facing an uncertain vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In his resignation letter, Brett McGurk said his withdrawal "is in the best interests of the country" because "Iraq urgently needs an ambassador." | CNN


Bombings in Iraq killed five people and wounded 34 others on Sunday, security and medical officials said. | DAWN


Iraqi authorities banned motorcycles from Baghdad's streets and dispatched tens of thousands of security forces to guard a Shiite pilgrimage Thursday after coordinated car bombings targeted processions across the country the day before, killing 72 people in one of the worst attacks since the U.S. troops withdrawal. | Associated Press


The death toll in Iraq rose to 72 and around a 100 were reported injured after several attacks occurred throughout the country during a Shia religious pilgrimage. The United States condemned the attacks as “cowardly,” offering Iraqi forces assistance in bringing those responsible to justice. | Al Arabiya; Al Rafidayn


At least 57 people have been killed in a series of bombings and shootings across Iraq, with many of the attacks targeting Shia pilgrims during a major religious festival. | Al Jazeera

As Iraq increases oil output and emerges as a key supplier, it is now pushing a candidate for OPEC secretary general, part of efforts to boost its profile and retake a big role in the cartel it helped found. | Business Recorder


Iraq has stepped up security ahead of a major Shiite pilgrimage after a mortar attack on a religious procession killed 7 people and wounded dozens more. | CBS News


Opponents of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have failed to muster enough support to bring him down in a vote of no confidence, Iraq's president Jalal Talabani said in a statement posted on his website Sunday.| Associated Press

Two mortar bombs struck a square filled with Shi’ite Muslim pilgrims in Iraq’s capital Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least six people and wounding 38. A group that monitors online communication among insurgents said on Sunday Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq had claimed responsibility for the attack on the government-run Shi’ite Endowment, which manages Shi’ite religious and cultural sites. | Express Tribune


Iraq’s central bank, struggling to stem an illicit tide of dollars into sanctions-bound Iran and Syria, has had some success in steadying its own dinar by pumping dollars to Iraqis through two state-run banks, traders and officials say. | Al Arabiya


Saddam Hussein's trusted personal secretary and bodyguard has been executed by hanging, the Iraqi justice ministry said. Abed Hamid Hmoud was the latest in a series of former senior regime officials who have been executed by Iraq's new rulers since the toppling of Saddam during a US-led invasion in 2003. | Press Association


Election authorities in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region on Tuesday indefinitely postponed provincial polls scheduled for September because of laws that restrict minority voting rights.| AFP

Democrats and Republicans pressed ahead on President Barack Obama's choice for U.S. ambassador to Iraq, even though a top GOP lawmaker has "grave concerns" about the nomination of Brett McGurk. | AP


One of the key player partners in al-Maliki’s government, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, travelled to Iran for talks on Monday, government officials said. A day earlier, al-Sadr urged al-Maliki to “do the right thing” and resign from the government. | Al Arabiya


A powerful car bomb exploded outside a Shi'ite Muslim administration office in central Baghdad today, killing at least 18 people and wounding around 60 more, just days after six coordinated blasts rocked the Iraqi capital. | Reuters

MAY 31

Six explosions hit Baghdad, killing at least 11 people and wounding dozens more, making these attacks the deadliest to hit the Iraqi capital in more than a month. | Reuters

Influential Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said on Wednesday that his parliamentary bloc would back a motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki if that gave it the support of a majority of MPs. "I promised my partners that if they got 124 votes, I will complete the 164 votes," he added, referring to the 40 MPs who belong to his parliamentary bloc. | Middle East Online

MAY 30

Iraqi police will take over responsibility for security in Baghdad from the army from July, a statement said on Tuesday, a move that has been delayed several times over concerns over their capabilities. The Security of Baghdad Committee head Abdelkarim al-Zirab said in the statement that army forces will be redeployed “outside the city in locations close to the entrances to secure Baghdad’s surrounding areas. | Al Arabiya

MAY 29

A top politician in Iraq's oil-rich Basra province moved on Monday to give the area more autonomy from the central government, three years after the failure of a similar bid. Basra provincial council chief Sabah al-Bazzouni told reporters he was making the push because of a prolonged political crisis that has seen Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki threatened with a vote of no confidence and criticism that he has centralised power. | Daily Star

Iraq has been preparing to hold its first auction of oil and natural-gas exploration rights since the 2003 ouster of Saddam Hussein, offering investors the opportunity to exploit the world’s fifth-largest crude reserves. 47 companies pre-have been selected to take part in bidding tomorrow and May 31. | Bloomberg

MAY 24

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has submitted his resignation letter to Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani to show his support to the Kurdish position against Baghdad. Barzani and Talabani met with major Iraqi leaders in Erbil recently. During the meeting the parties set a deadline for Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki to end his "unilateral" decision-making, otherwise, they warned they will arrange for withdrawing confidence from his government. | AK News

MAY 23

A U.S. Senate panel on Tuesday voted to eliminate funding for a police training program for Iraq, saying the danger and expense were just too great after the American troop pullout last year. The panel refused to provide $850 million that President Barack Obama's administration requested for fiscal year 2013 for the program. The subcommittee's decision must still be ratified by the full Senate and the House of Representatives for it to become law. | Reuters

MAY 22

Iraq is seeking to acquire surveillance drones to help protect its oil pipelines and platforms, which are key to the country's economy, Iraqi and U.S. officials said. An Iraqi oil ministry spokesman said authorities were in contact with Chinese and U.S. firms to provide the drones, which he said may or may not be armed, but a U.S. official said Baghdad had already agreed to buy American aircraft. | AFP

MAY 18

Three roadside bombs exploded in quick succession at an outdoor market in Baghdad, killing five people and wounding 31 others, police officials said. | CNN

MAY 17

Iraq's national carrier is planning to re-emerge as a major regional airline, with the first of 40 Boeing aircraft set to be delivered next year. "We want to expand our fleet and operate routes to Europe, Malaysia and India. We want to operate just like any other regional airline," said Nasser Hussein Bandar, the head of Iraq's civil aviation authority. | Al Bawaba

MAY 15

The Central Criminal Court of Iraq opened the case in absentia against accused Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi after a two-week delay over a venue dispute, and heard testimony from families of three victims whose deaths he is accused of orchestrating. | Al Arabiya

MAY 11

Iraq, seeking to more than double oil output by 2015, is poised to overtake Iran as OPEC’s second- largest producer by the end of the year as sanctions hobble crude production in its Persian Gulf neighbour. | Bloomberg

Catherine Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission signed with the Foreign Minister of Iraq, Hoshyar Zebari, the EU-Iraq Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. | Euroalert

MAY 10

The trial of Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi was delayed again by a row over the venue, this time until May 15, a day after Turkey said it would not extradite the Sunni official. Hashemi, whose trial was originally due to have started on May 3, and his bodyguards face around 150 charges related to running a death squad, and the vice president is now the subject of an Interpol red notice calling for his arrest. | Al Arabiya


Interpol has issued an international 'Red Notice' alert for Iraq's fugitive Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi on suspicion of "guiding and financing terrorist attacks." Hashemi, who is being tried in absentia in Baghdad after being accused of running a death squad, insisted in a statement on Tuesday that he was not above the law and was ready to appear in court if his security, and a fair trial, could be guaranteed. | Al Jazeera


Four of the most senior political leaders in Iraq's fragile coalition have threatened to bring a vote of no-confidence in the government unless "autocratic decisionmaking" stops, a letter published in a state newspaper on Saturday said. The four senior lawmakers—Osama Al Nujaifi, Masoud Barzani, Eyad Al Alawi, and Moqtada Al Sadr—sent the letter to Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki's bloc on Thursday. | Gulf News


Leaders from almost all of Iraq’s top political blocs will convene at a unity meeting in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region, on May 7, in order to find a solution to the political crisis between the Shiite-led government and the country’s Sunnis and Kurds. | Hurriyet Daily News


The trial of Tariq Al-Hashemi, Iraqi vice-president charged with several counts of murder, has been adjourned until May 10. Hashemi, who remains in the Turkish city of Istanbul, is not expected to attend the trial, initially scheduled to begin on Thursday. | Al Jazeera


Violence against journalists and restrictions on media have worsened in the past year in Iraq, a local rights group said, in a country already thought to have among the worst press freedoms in the world. | Al Arabiya


Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council said Monday the terror trial of the country's fugitive Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi will begin Thursday. | CBS News

Some U.S. commanders believe funds for relief and reconstruction during the country's war in Iraq may have ended up benefiting insurgents, reported a U.S. watchdog organization. | AFP


A simmering dispute between Iraq's central government and the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan is an internal affair, a top Baghdad official said on Thursday, in an implicit rebuff of U.S. efforts to broker a compromise between the two sides. | Chicago Tribune

Iraq’s fugitive vice-president Tariq Al-Hashemi says the country has reached a "crossroads," but strongly rejected the country's partition amid a deepening crisis stoking sectarian tensions. Hashemi held the Iraqi premier, a Shiite, responsible for the current crisis, which he said was "really unique" compared to previous ones since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003 and requires "unique solutions." | Daily Star


Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr will meet Kurdistan chief Massud Barzani in a bid to resolve a crisis between the autonomous region and Baghdad, the cleric’s spokesman said. | Al Arabiya

A United Nations panel has approved another $1 billion in compensation for victims of Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. | CTV


Most of Iraq's remaining 40,000 anti-Qaeda militiamen, “Sahwa” (Awakening) members, have seen their pay cut by 20 percent this year following a decision by parliament, an aide to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said. | AFP


Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki arrived in Tehran on Sunday for two days of meetings with Iranian leaders and senior officials on various bilateral issues. The visit notably comes ahead of an important May 23 meeting to be hosted in Baghdad between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers on Tehran’s disputed nuclear program. | Al Arabiya

Iraq, locked in a public row with neighboring Turkey, has summoned Ankara's ambassador in Baghdad to protest critical remarks by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. | Daily Star


Iraq’s al-Qaeda branch, known as the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks that killed 38 in Baghdad and across the country on Thursday. | Al Arabiya


A report issued by the London-based International Centre for Development Studies confirmed that Iran is stealing large amounts of oil from neighbouring Iraqi fields. According to the report, Iran steals $17 billion worth of Iraqi oil from fields that are mostly Iraqi and not shared between the two countries. | Al Arabiya

Iraq's fugitive Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi has said he fears the country could break up. He added that policies being pursued by Nouri Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, were causing "sectarian polarisation" and violence. | BBC News


President Barack Obama has launched an urgent behind-the-scenes push to ease tensions between the Baghdad central government and the Kurds. | Maktoob News

The Iraqi High Tribunal has ordered the release of 16 officials from Saddam Hussein’s regime, after finding no charges to bring against them, an official in the justice ministry said. | Sumaria News


The arrest of Faraj al-Haidari, chief of the Independent High Electoral Commission, casts doubt on the prospects of fair voting in Iraq. Prime Minister Maliki has sought for two years to consolidate control over the electoral commission, whose independence is viewed as essential in ensuring that Iraqi elections are free from fraud, vote rigging and interference from political parties. | New York Times

The deputy oil minister said that Iraq is looking to gradually privatise its oil refineries and to attract investment in new plants around the country to meet the fast rising domestic demand for fuel. | Trade Arabia


For weeks now, Iraqi businesses say they have been struggling as the dinar has become increasingly volatile due to fallout from sanctions imposed on neighboring Iran and Syria and to Iraq's own political turmoil. | Reuters

Iraq's electoral commission chief and another member were released on bail on Sunday after spending three days in jail on corruption charges, in a case that has stirred political tensions in the country's fragile power-sharing government. | Chicago Tribune


Armed men killed seven Shia pilgrims in ambushes today, police and hospital sources said, in the latest attacks to highlight underlying sectarian and ethnic tensions in Iraq. | Irish Times 

Iraq has accepted a request from Libya to provide assistance in disposing of Tripoli's chemical weapons, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement released on Thursday. | Pak Tribune


Iraq's parliament has sent a letter to the cabinet telling it not to interfere in monetary policy, a parliamentary source said, in a skirmish over central bank independence that reflects concerns over the extent of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's influence. | Reuters

Iraq’s judiciary denied Wednesday the latest allegations by the country’s fugitive vice president Tareq Al-Hasemi that two more of his bodyguards were tortured to death by security forces during a terrorism investigation last month. | Daily Star


The next round of nuclear talks aimed at resolving a standoff between the West and Iran over its nuclear programme will be held in Baghdad following this week's negotiations in Istanbul. Iraq said it had offered to host the nuclear negotiations following a request from neighbouring Iran. | World Bulletin


Iraq's fugitive vice president has flown to Turkey, his third stop in what he has called an "official visit" to regional countries. A statement issued late Monday by Tariq al-Hashemi's office said he will meet Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the developments in the region while Turkish sources had denied that the prime minister and the foreign minister agreed to meet him. | Newsday; Al Rafidayn

Iraqi MPs have approved the first independent human rights commission in the country’s history, which is to track rights violation, lawmaker Ashwaq al-Jaff said on Tuesday. | Dawn


Iraqi security forces have arrested members of an al-Qaida-linked insurgent cell responsible for deadly attacks and robberies in Baghdad, a police official said Sunday. | Boston

Jordan began a technical study on importing natural gas from Iraq to compensate for recurrent cuts in supplies from Egypt, Al Rai reported. Iraqi authorities have informed Jordan of plans to build a gas pipeline link across the border in the next five years, the Amman-based newspaper reported, citing an unidentified official at the Jordanian Energy Ministry. | Bloomberg


Fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi will return to Iraq, a close aide said Thursday, denying a claim by a Saudi official that he might remain in the kingdom until his political foe, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, leaves office. “He will return very soon to Kurdistan,” said a member of his delegation. | Daily Star


Qatar has rejected Baghdad's demand to hand over Iraq's Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, who is accused of running a death squads, and who arrived in the Gulf state on Sunday. | Al Jazeera

Iraq's parliament speaker says the nation's long-awaited reconciliation conference has been postponed because of "mounting differences" among rival political groups. Osama al-Nujaifi said on Wednesday that the conference has been postponed indefinitely and that holding it under current circumstances would only complicate matters. | CBS News


Iraq’s fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi on Monday rejected Baghdad’s demand for Qatar to hand him over, saying he enjoys constitutional immunity and has not been convicted. Earlier, Baghdad had demanded Doha hand over Hashemi, who is accused of running a death squad, and who arrived in the Gulf state on Sunday from Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan, where he fled in December. | Al Arabiya

Iraq’s central bank has tightened its clampdown on its sales of dollars amid fears that buyers are using them to launder money and skirt international sanctions on neighbouring Iran and Syria. | Financial Times


Iraqi Vice-President Tariq al-Hashimi has arrived in Qatar on what the Gulf nation's state news agency called an “official” visit. The unexpected visit on Sunday marks Hashimi's first foreign trip since he fled to Iraq's semi autonomous Kurdish region to avoid an arrest warrant issued in December. In retaliation, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani said that Qatar’s welcoming of fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi was "unacceptable" and called on the Gulf emirate to hand him over. | Al Jazeera; AFP

Iraq's northern Kurdish semi-autonomous region has halted oil exports over a payment row with the central government in Baghdad, causing further deterioration in its relationship with the country's Arab-led government. | Newsday


An aide to Iraq's top Shiite cleric said Arab and international leaders should work to remove long-standing U.N. resolutions against Iraq. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said lifting the U.N. sanctions is essential for the country to gain full sovereignty, according to al-Sistani's representative, Ahmed al-Safi. | Seattle Post Intelligencer


The annual Arab summit meeting opened in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Thursday with only ten of the leaders of the 22-member Arab League in attendance and amid a growing rift between Arab countries over how far they should go to end the one-year conflict in Syria. As the summit opened, two explosions were heard in central Baghdad. | AP


Arab foreign ministers have convened in Baghdad for the first Arab League summit in Iraq in two decades amid plans to ask their heads of state to urge a halt to the crackdown in Syria. It is also the first time since 1990 that Iraq has accepted a Saudi Arabian ambassador. | Al Jazeera


Crude exports from Iraq’s semi- autonomous Kurdish region dropped to 50,000 barrels a day and may cease in a month if the central government refuses to pay about $1.5 billion owed to producers, Kurdish authorities said. | Businessweek


As Arab leaders converge on Baghdad for a landmark summit meeting this week, they will be treated to carefully chosen glimpses of a new Iraq: gleaming hotel lobbies, renovated palaces and young palm trees lining an airport highway once called the Road of Death. | New York Times


Iraqi fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi accused the government on Wednesday of torturing to death one of his bodyguards, an accusation that could make it more difficult to resolve a case that has split the country's politics on dangerous sectarian fault lines. | Daily Star


Al-Qaeda’s front group in Iraq claimed responsibility for a wave of bombings that killed 50 people Tuesday in the deadliest violence in two months ahead of a landmark Arab summit next week. | Al Arabiya

President of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani accused Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of dragging the country to “dictatorship” and into the “abyss.” Barzani appeared to raise the stakes, with language suggesting he could seek a referendum of some kind on the Kurdish region's relations with Baghdad - although he stopped far short of breaking a taboo by making explicit reference to independence. | Al Arabiya


Explosions rocked Iraqi towns on Tuesday killing as many as 44 people and wounding up to 190 others, police and hospital sources said. At least 14 other explosions hit various Iraqi cities and towns earlier on Tuesday, extending a spate of militant violence ahead of next week’s Arab League summit in Baghdad. | Al Arabiya


Up to a million followers of Iraqi cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr took to the streets on Monday in a massive show of force before the opening of an Arab League summit, which Iraq's Shi’a majority view as their debut on the regional stage. | Ahram
Iraq may reactivate long-idle pipelines to get its oil to world markets if tensions over neighbouring Iran result in the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, a government spokesman said on Sunday. | CNN


Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region will not hand over fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi to stand trial in Baghdad because "Kurdish ethics" forbid it, the region's leader said on Thursday. | Daily Star

Iraqi Kurdistan claimed on Thursday that the central government owed $1 billion for oil pumped in 2011. | AFP


Kurdish Syrians fleeing their nation’s bloody uprising are all but prisoners in northern Iraqi refugee camps, though they seek shelter in a region that was created specifically as a safe haven for ethnic Kurds. | Washington Post

Iraq has reached a $500 million agreement with Kuwait to resolve a standoff over Gulf War-era debts that had prevented Iraqi Airways from flying to destinations in the West, an aide to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Wednesday. | Annahar


Some Iraqi tribal chiefs have seized the moment of American departure and national political chaos to administer their own form of justice: expelling suspected insurgents and their families from this town with the threat of death. | New York Times

CIA Director David Petraeus discussed developments in Iraq with Turkish leaders including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his surprise visit to Ankara that ended on Tuesday. | RTT News


Iraq is deploying an unprecedented number of security forces to protect the capital for an upcoming meeting of the Arab world’s top leaders, a top official said Monday even as insurgents proved their continued threat by killing 14 people in a handful of attacks. Citizens and lawmakers questioned whether Baghdad would be safe during the annual Arab League summit that is scheduled for the end of the month. | Boston Globe


A recent rash of killings of people perceived to be gay or “emo” in Iraq has stoked fear within those communities, which worry the government might be unwilling or unable to protect them. At least 14 such victims were killed in Baghdad in the past three weeks, according to a senior Interior Ministry official, who was not authorized to talk to the media. Rights activists claim the number is actually much higher, with some suggesting dozens or more than 100 have been killed since February. | CNN


The parliamentary commission on the regions requested more provincial power in nominations and budget spending. The head of the commission stressed that decentralization required guarantees to provincial power, considering that provincial governors are in a better position to assign nominations as well as keep track of proper allocation of the budget. Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki had confirmed, in a meeting with the provincial administration, that decentralization was essential even if not provided for in the constitution. | Al Rafidayn

The government’s official spokesperson Ali Al-Dabbagh confirmed that Iraq’s position towards Syria is set, stressing the importance of people acquiring their freedom without foreign interference. The government also proposed an Iraqi plan for a peaceful transition to solve the Syrian crisis through elections; adding, that a single party government cannot rule Syria and that had been Iraq’s position even before the Arab League meeting. | Assabah


Iraq began loading oil from a long-awaited new floating Single Point Mooring (SPM) platform in the Gulf on Thursday, two sources at the state-owned South Oil Company said, in a breakthrough that could substantially boost its exports. | Reuters


A car bomb followed by an attack by a bomber wearing an explosive vest have killed 12 people in the town of Tal Afar, about 420 km (260 miles) north of Baghdad and just west of the volatile northern city of Mosul. | Al Arabiya


Iraq's fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi had said on Monday he would stay in the autonomous Kurdish zone unless he was told he had become an "embarrassment" to the Kurdish authorities. The Shi’ite-led central government issued an arrest warrant for Hashemi, one of the country’s top Sunni politicians, on charges of running death squads. | Today’s Zaman


The exiled Iranian opposition group, Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), forced to relocate from its paramilitary base in eastern Iraq, has proposed to temporarily move to the Jordanian border instead of Camp Liberty near Baghdad. | Daily Star

Armed men dressed in police uniforms have killed up to 27 members of Iraq's security forces and police in attacks on checkpoints in the city of Haditha, a mostly Sunni Arab province. The gunmen had also entered the homes of a colonel in the interior ministry security force and a captain, kidnapping them and shooting them. | Al Jazeera


Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki said on Thursday that the Iraqi government supports the Syrian people's aspirations for freedom, rebuffing accusations that he supported the Syrian regime’s crackdown against pro-democracy protesters. Al-Maliki further stressed that the Iraqi government backs the Arab League plan to resolve the crisis peacefully through Arab-UN backed Syrian national dialogue. Iraq has to date shied away from imposing punitive measures against Syria. | Kuwait News Agency

An Iraqi official announced on Thursday that Iraq has nominated a candidate for OPEC's next secretary general. Thamer Ghadhban has been nominated to succeed Abdullah al-Badri when Badri's term ends at the end of 2012 and will compete with a candidate from top OPEC producer Saudi Arabia. Ghadhban is the top energy adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. He held the Iraqi government's top oil post after the U.S.-led invasion. | Reuters


The United States sent a strong signal on Wednesday that dropping the Mujahadin-e Khalq from a U.S. terror blacklist may hinge on the Iranian dissident group's cooperation in closing its Camp Ashraf base in Iraq. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the group's cooperation in moving residents from Camp Ashraf would be a "key factor" as the United States weighs whether to remove it from the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations. | Chicago Tribune

Iraq’s average crude-oil exports exceeded 2 million barrels a day in February, said Falah al- Amri, director of the State Oil Marketing Organization. The precise figure for the average crude exports in February will be published later this month. | Bloomberg


Two car bombings in and near Baghdad have left at least six people dead and several others injured, according to Iraqi security and medical sources. The latest attacks come less than a week after a wave of bombings claimed by al-Qaeda killed at least 42 people across the country and just a month before Baghdad is due to host an Arab League summit. Iraqi authorities on Wednesday released figures showing nearly 70,000 people died in violence from 2004 to 2011, markedly fewer than numbers cited by other sources. | Al Jazeera

Iraq’s main Sunni Muslim insurgent groups have rejected laying down their arms to join the political process and will keep fighting, nearly three months after the last U.S. troops withdrew, a senior security official and militant leaders said. Many Shi'ite and Sunni armed groups have laid down their weapons since U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq in mid-December. But six prominent Sunni armed groups say they will fight on to drive the last Americans from Iraqi soil and topple "the occupation government. | Reuters


Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki appears to have emerged with even more power over the Iraqi state and more popularity among his Shiite constituents, despite a potentially destabilizing political crisis after he rounded up hundreds of former Baathists, accused the vice president of running a hit squad and threatened to use the apparatus of state to target other top Sunni leaders. | New York Times

Vice-President Tariq Al-Hashemi’s coalition has met with Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki asking to “turn over a new leaf”. The coalition members stressed the need for direct communication with the Vice-president, who has pending terrorism charges against him, in order to enforce national unity and the sanctity of the law through the independence of justice courts. | Al Rafidayn


Exxon Mobil Corp. has confirmed that it negotiated exploration and production contracts with Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government last year. The confirmation comes after months of silence by Exxon. The move has infuriated Iraq's federal government, which considers as invalid any deals signed with the Kurdistan Regional Government. | Fox Business


Sabah Abdul-Kadhim, the head of the legal section of Iraq's Petroleum Contracts and Licensing Directorate, has stated that Iraq has improved the terms under which it will auction off twelve oil and gas exploration blocks after firms said the deals were unattractive. In the new version the state partner has been removed from the contract, paving the way for companies to have a 100 percent stake in the projects. | Reuters

At least 50 people have been killed and hundreds injured in a wave of bombings and shootings across Iraq. The violence targeted predominantly Shia areas, in particular police officers and checkpoints. Shia targets have come under increasing attack since the government of Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki moved against senior members of the predominantly Sunni Iraqiya political bloc. | BBC News; Al Rafidayn


A Justice Ministry official has revealed that four people have been executed in Iraq this week, bringing the total number of people put to death this year to at least 69 – one more than in all of 2011. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has expressed shock at the number of executions, criticising the lack of transparency in court proceedings and calling for an immediate suspension of the death penalty. | AFP

The Iraqi Supreme Court of Justice has set May 3 as the date for Vice President Al Hashemi’s trial in absentia. Al Hashemi rejected all allegations that he ran a death squad linked by an Iraqi judicial panel to at least 150 bombings and assassinations since 2005. | Al Rafidayn


Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari has announced that Saudi Arabia has named an ambassador to Iraq to re-establish full diplomatic ties between the two countries for the first time since Saddam Hussein invaded neighbouring Kuwait. Saudi Foreign Ministry spokesman Osama Nugali said that the ambassador has been nominated but that he will not reside in Iraq. | Al Arabiya

The Iraqi government is reportedly in the process of wrestling control of the once international Green Zone - formerly the heart of the American occupation – goading international inhabitants to leave. The Green Zone was once riddled with international private security companies and international firms but an increasing Iraqi hold on the area has forced such firms to relocate. | Al Arabiya


Iraq has announced that ExxonMobil will not be permitted to bid on any of the oil lease blocks the government has put up for sale because the American company has signed a development deal with the semi-autonomous Kurdish region to explore for oil there. The Wall Street Journal reports that Iraq contains between 45 billion and 100 billion barrels of oil beneath unexplored areas. | Investor’s Business Daily

An Iraqi judicial panel has accused Tariq al-Hashemi, the country's Sunni vice-president, and his employees of running death squads that carried out deadly attacks on security officials and Shia Muslim pilgrims. Hashemi has denied the allegations, and accuses Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, of co-ordinating a smear campaign as part of a power grab. | Al Jazeera


American officials in Washington, Baghdad, and Beirut have stated that Sunni extremists, including fighters linked to Al Qaeda’s franchise in neighbouring Iraq, are likely responsible for two recent bombings in Damascus as well as attacks in Aleppo on Friday. Al Qaeda is seeking to exploit the turmoil and reinvigorate its regional ambitions after being sidelined in the initial popular uprisings of the Arab Spring a year ago. | New York Times

One of the leaders of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an exiled Iranian opposition group, said that members living in the long-standing Camp Ashraf in Iraq are ready to begin moving to a new temporary site, under a plan agreed to with the United Nations. | CNN


The United Nations has expressed gratitude towards Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki for extending the deadline for the evacuation of Iranian refugees from Camp Ashraf, two hours outside Baghdad, where tension persists between the Iraqi government the government an Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedeen-el Khalq (MEK) – which once fought alongside Saddam Hussein. | New York Times


Sunni Arabs in Iraq’s western desert are beginning to rally to the cause of the Syrian opposition with analysts suggesting that Syria is likely to become the training ground for a new generation of Jihadists. Elsewhere this week, Al Qaeda’s ideological leadership and the more mainstream Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood called for jihadists around the world to fight Assad’s government. | New York Times

Iraq inaugurated a new offshore oil export terminal in the Persian Gulf on Sunday in a vital step to ease infrastructure constraints and to bring sorely needed cash for reconstruction after decades of war and international sanctions. The ceremony took place in the oil-rich province of Basra, where Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki opened the tap to start experimental pumping for the oil reserves. | Newsday


U.N. estimates suggest that one in five women in Iraq suffers from domestic abuse, in a society where a woman leaving her husband for any reason is considered grounds for punishment. One rights group said cases of abuse appear to be on the rise in the last ten years. | Al Jazeera

Prime Minister Al-Maliki has ordered the change of head officers in the security and military forces in Iraq. The most notable changes are the heads of the army, the intelligence services, and the ground forces. | Al Rafidayn


U.S. State Department officials have announced plans to cut the size of the U.S. embassy in Iraq, currently the most expensive American diplomatic mission. It was originally thought that the $750m embassy and the huge diplomatic operation were necessary to establish normal relations and help ensure Iraq became a stable democracy. However, diplomats now believe that approach was ill-advised, with many complaining an inability to leave the embassy because of security concerns and Iraqi obstructionism. | BBC News


U.S. State Department officials have announced plans to cut the size of the U.S. embassy in Iraq, currently the most expensive American diplomatic mission. It was originally thought that the $750m embassy and the huge diplomatic operation were necessary to establish normal relations and help ensure Iraq became a stable democracy. However, diplomats now believe that approach was ill-advised, with many complaining an inability to leave the embassy because of security concerns and Iraqi obstructionism. | BBC News

Government spokesmen have expressed mistrust with and a desire to curtail the presence of private security companies operating in Iraq. Mistrust stems from perceived arrogant behaviour by employees of these firms in the past and various incidents of violence involving them. | Al Arabiya


Iraq is set to begin loading crude oil at its first new Gulf oil export terminal in the south of the country within ten days after bad weather and technical problems delayed its initial start.. Iraq plans a $1.3 billion expansion of its Gulf port export facilities in the Basra oil region with the ambitions to enter the ranks of the world's top oil producers. | Trade Arabia


The Iraqiya coalition is set to resume attending cabinet meetings, in an effort to ease the government crisis which erupted following the issuing of an arrest warrant against Sunni vice-president Tareq al-Hashemi on charges of terrorism by the Al-Maliki government. | World Bulletin


An Iraqi appeals court has confirmed death sentences for three men convicted of executing a massacre at a Baghdad church in late October of last year. Forty-four congregation members, two priests, and seven security force personnel were killed in the attack claimed by Al-Qaeda's local affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq. | Al Arabiya


Vice President Al-Hashimi has lashed out at Prime Minister Al-Maliki, predicting that Iraq could soon return to sectarian violence that could require the return of U.S. forces. The vice president, currently in hiding in Kurdistan to avoid an arrest warrant against him on charges of running a death squad, also expressed his disbelief at U.S. President Barack Obama’s characterization of Iraq as a free, stable, and democratic country. | CNN

Prime Minister Al-Maliki has said that corruption within the government is as dangerous a threat as terrorism, in a country that sees almost daily bomb and gun attacks. Iraq ranked 175th out of 182 countries in anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index in 2011. | Al Arabiya


According to reports from the the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction the U.S. Defense Department cannot account for about $2 billion it was given to cover Iraq-related expenses and is not providing Iraqi authorities with a complete list of US-funded reconstruction projects, according to two new government audits. | CNN

Security forces have detained 16 of fugitive vice president Tareq al-Hashemi's bodyguards, in a move al-Hashemi described as nothing new in a series of false accusations. Al-Hashemi has been hiding in the autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq since mid-December after being accused of involvement in terrorist activities. | AFP


The largest political alliance in the government, the Iraqiya bloc, said that it would end its boycott of parliament to ease the ongoing political crisis. Lawmakers will return to parliament when it reconvenes on Tuesday, but Iraqiya's ministers will not attend the cabinet meeting on the same day in protest of arrests and prosecutions against Sunni officials. | Al Jazeera

Senior Iraqi officials have expressed outrage at the presence of U.S drones patrolling the skies above Iraq a month after the U.S. withdrawal, describing the presence of the unmanned aircrafts, deployed to help protect the United States Embassy and consulates, as well as American personnel, as an affront to Iraqi sovereignty. | New York Times


Twenty-eight people were killed and a further 50 wounded when a bomb exploded near a Baghdad marketplace in the latest attack on a mainly Shi’ite neighborhood. The blast hit the funeral procession of casualties from another attack in Baghdad the previous day. More than 200 people have been killed in attacks since American forces completed their pullout on December 18, according to an AFP tally. | Al Arabiya


Thirteen people have been killed in two bomb attacks in Iraq including ten in an attack on the house of two brothers who served as policeman in Mussayib, a predominantly Shia town 60 km south of Baghdad. | Al Arabiya

The Baghdad government vowed yesterday to take legal action after an American marine was spared jail by a U.S. military court over the massacre of 24 unarmed civilians in the Iraqi town of Haditha in 2005. The verdict, widely criticised in Iraq as being too light, closed a case that fuelled anger and highlighted why authorities demanded Americans be subject to local laws in failed talks to extend the U.S. military presence in the country beyond 2011. | Gulf Times


Iraqis have expressed disdain and disillusionment with the American judicial system following the light sentence handed out to Staff. Sgt. Frank Wuterich, leader of the Marine squad that killed 24 Iraqis during the Haditha massacre of 2005. Wuterich was sentenced on Tuesday to a reduction in rank and a three-month jail sentence. | New York Times

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has warned his Iraqi counterpart, Nouri Al-Maliki that he will not remain silent if Maliki pursues a sectarian conflict within Iraq. Erdogan’s words come during a month of heightened tension between the two countries with Turkey having recently been accused of interfering in Iraqi internal affairs. | Al Arabiya


The United States has postponed the processing of visas for Iraqi refugees in Syria, leaving thousands of people at the grip of an increasingly violent insurrection, with little hope of leaving anytime soon. | New York Times

At least 13 people were killed and 62 wounded in four separate car bomb attacks in Shi’a districts of Baghdad. Violence has come amid a marked deterioration in Iraq's fragile political process, with the country's most prominent Sunni Arab politician, Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi, being sought by the authorities on terrorism charges. | BBC News

Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, leader of the Marine squad that killed 24 Iraqis in the town of Haditha in 2005 pleaded guilty to dereliction of duty on Monday ending the longest running criminal case against U.S. troops to emerge from the Iraq War. Wuterich now faces a maximum sentence of 3 months. | France 24


At least six people were killed on Sunday when a car bomb went off in Mosul and gunmen attacked a police checkpoint in the northern city of Baquba. | CNN

A Human Rights Watch report has criticized the Iraqi government for torturing detainees and harassing journalists as increasing numbers of activists are forced to leave the country or go underground. The report states that torture continued even whilst the US military handed detainees over to the Iraqi authorities before leaving the country last year. | Al Jazeera


The Iraqiyya bloc has expressed a willingness to end parliamentary boycotts if Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki agrees to respect the power-sharing agreements between the major political forces within the country. | Al Jazeera

Iraqi journalists are under increased pressure not to criticise the government over the growing sectarian violence within the country following the recent killing of a high profile talk-show host. The number of Iraqi journalists killed since 2003 is 230. | CNN


Shia militias have stated their intention to maintain their weapons despite the withdrawal of U.S. forces due to continued sectarian tension within the country. | Al Rafidayn

The government has refused to allow a number of Iraqiyya ministers to resume work in their ministries, in retaliation to their boycotting of cabinet meetings and parliamentary sessions. | Assabah


A policeman has been killed at a checkpoint in the Western province of Anbar only two days after an attack on a police building in the provincial capital of Ramadi left seven dead, raising serious questions about the security forces’ ability to maintain order only a month after the withdrawal of U.S. forces. | BBC News


Governor of Baghdad Salah Abdul Razak announced on Thursday that four armed Americans including two women were arrested after they were spotted loitering in a car near his house. Razak stated that the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs should undertake diplomatic measures to investigate the violation. | Al Sumaria

The Salahuddin province announced on Thursday that it has begun distributing support forms for the province’s declaration as a region, described by MP Abdul Karim Al Jabbar as an irreversible public demand. Signatures are to be presented to the electoral commission to carry out the next steps stipulated by the Iraqi constitution. | Al Sumaria


Deputy prime minister and senior official of the Iraqiyya, Saleh Al Mutlaq, called for the replacement of Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki on Wednesday. Al Mutlaq stated that keeping the Iranian backed Maliki as prime minister threatened to segregate the country. | Al Sumaria

A U.S. soldier has told the military jury in the trial of Staff Sgt Frank Wuterich, the principal suspect in the Haditha Massacre of 2005, that Wuterich killed five Iraqi citizens during the massacre and told fellow marines to blame the killings on Iraqi soldiers. | Al Jazeera


A member of the American military unit involved in the 2005 Haditha Massacre has testified that precautions were not made to ensure that there were armed people inside the targeted house during the trial of Staff Sgt Frank Wuterich in California. | Al Jazeera

Muhammad Al-Khalidi, parliament deputy of Iraqiyya has stated that the return of Iraqiyya members to parliament depends on the success of the national conference and on receiving guarantees that their demands will be met. | Al Sumaria


A series of attacks primarily targetting Shi’ite pilgrims en route to Karbala have left 19 dead and more than sixty wounded across the country. | Al Jazeera

Proceedings have begun in the trial of Staff Sgt Frank Wuterich, the main suspect in the 2005 Haditha Massacre. Prosecutors stated that Wuterich “lost control” and made a series of fatal assumptions when he and his squad killed 24 Iraqis, including unarmed women and children. | Al Sumaria


At least two people were killed and tens of others injured in a renewal of attacks on Shi’ite pilgrims travelling to Karbala. | Al Jazeera

Kurdistani authorities are refusing to deliver Prime Minister Tarek Al-Hashimi to Baghdad. Meanwhile, several political parties are heading towards establishing a national conference to confront the growing sectarian instability in the country. | Al Jazeera


The government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is welcoming the militant group Asaib Ahl al-Haq into Iraq’s political system, a move that some speculate could tilt the nation’s center of gravity closer to Iran. The government’s support for the militia, which only just swore off violence, has opened new sectarian fault lines in Iraq’s political crisis. | New York Times

Insurgents fired five rockets against Baghdad’s Green Zone during Iraq’s Armed Forces Day parade on Friday, a security official said. The rockets hit on the outer edge of the heavily-fortified area, home to the U.S. embassy and parliament and did not cause any casualties. | Al Arabiya


The cabinet on Wednesday approved the executive decrees for the law on oil excavation in Lebanon’s territorial waters. The approval of the decrees opens the door for the Cabinet to draw tenders to start oil exploration off the Lebanese coast. | Daily Star


Political leaders from Sunni, Shi’a and Kurdish blocs aim to establish a national conference this month to confront issues of growing sectarian tension within the country. | Al Jazeera


The President of the Council of Sunni Muslim Scholars Hareth Al-Dari stated that the political process in Iraq has proved its corruption and failure while the speaker of Parliament, Usama Al-Nujayfi, held that there were grave violations of Human Rights in the country and warned of the collapse of the political process. | Al Jazeera


Following an emergency meeting of the Anbar provincial council, Deputy Saadoun Oberin Al Shaalan announced the province’s decision to grant the central government a time limit of fourteen days to response to twenty constitutional and legal demands. | Al Sumaria


On Friday and in accordance with the withdrawal agreement, Iraqi authorities received the last of the over 500 U.S. military bases in Iraq. | Al Sumaria News


Defense Secretary Leon Panetta declared the official end to the U.S. war in Iraq on Thursday in a ceremony at Baghdad's international airport. | Washington Post


Speaking at a press conference in Washington, Prime Minister Maliki encouraged significant investment from US companies, saying that the new relationship between the US and Iraq should be defined by businessmen rather than generals. | Al Sumaria News


The Diyala Provincial Council voted Monday to establish the province as an independent administrative and economic region, following similar declarations in other provinces. | Al Sumaria News


Prime Minister Maliki will meet with President Obama in Washington Monday; in a statement from the prime minister’s office, the two leaders will meet to discuss future bilateral relations between the countries and the application of a “Strategic Framework Agreement.” | Al Sumaria News


Five people were killed Wednesday in a series of attacks targeting security forces across Iraq, including 4 policemen and a contractor. | Washington Post


Multiple Iraqi bomb attacks in Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad and about 50 miles south of the capital killed over 20 people and injured dozens on the Shi’a holy day of Ashura. | New York Times


On Monday, government economic adviser Salam Quraishi announced that the final approved budget for 2012 is about $100 billion (117 trillion Iraqi dinars). | AK News


At least 18 Iraqis were killed Thursday in a series of bomb attacks in Diyala, at the same time that U.S. Vice President Joe Biden met with Iraqi officials to discuss the future of Iraq. | BBC


Meeting with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Maliki called for significant U.S. investment in Iraq in the coming year. | Al Sumaria News


In an unannounced visit, Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Baghdad Tuesday to discuss the future of U.S.-Iraqi relations after the completion of US troop withdrawal next month. | Al Sumaria News


As the total number of killed and wounded from Monday’s prison attack in Taji rose to 72, the Ministry of Interior announced that a new al-Qaeda affiliated group called “Eagles of Paradise” was behind the attack. | Al Sumaria News


Turkish airstrikes resumed in the northern province of Erbil on Monday after 10 days of calm along the border. | Al-Sumaria News


The governor of Kirkuk has settled the dispute between police forces and Iraqi army regarding who will take over the Freedom Airport Base now that U.S. forces have withdrawn. | AK News


Tensions are high in Kirkuk this week after the United States handed authority of the airport to Iraq as the Iraqi army and provincial government vie for control of the facility. | AK News


U.S. military personnel will remain on ten Iraqi bases as after the troop withdrawal deadline to train the Iraqi military. | New York Times


Parliament approved a deal with companies Royal Dutch Shell and Mitsubishi worth $17 billion in order to help boost the country’s power supply. | Reuters


The chairmen of several of Iraq's provincial governments presented demands, in a statement Monday, that the central Baghdad government take steps towards decentralization. | Aswat al-Iraq


Interim Minister of Defense Saadoun Al Dulaimi said that following the completion of U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, the responsibility for security of the provinces will be placed on the local Operation Commands.| Sot Al Iraq


The U.S. military handed control of its second largest military base to the Iraq government, a base which had served up to 36,000 U.S. soldiers and contractors at the height of the war. | Reuters


The Iraqiya bloc criticized PM Maliki Friday, calling on him to prioritize his duties as prime minister of Iraq over personal interests embedded in his leadership role with his political party. | Al Sumaria News


U.S. Army spokesman Jeffery Buchanan affirmed the U.S. commitment to full withdrawal by the end of year deadline. Yet he joined other U.S. officials in warning the Iraqi government about encroachment by Iranian Quds forces, calling for political dialogue with the Persian neighbor. | Al Sumaria News


Sadrists admonished Kurdish President Massoud Barzani’s call for an independent Kurdistan, deeming it a threat to national unity. | Al Sumaria News


A US watchdog agency overseeing reconstruction says that strong oversight is still needed after the US military presence ends at the end of the year. | Wall Street Journal


A double bombing in Baghdad late Thursday has left at least 32 people dead and dozens more wounded; continued violence throughout Iraq early Friday raised the total dead to 35. | AFP


On Wednesday, the Iraqi Central Bank refused to claim responsibility for the loss of US$17 billion from the Development Fund of Iraq, which was created in 2003. | Al Sumaria News


Kurdish President Mahmoud Barzani’s visit to Kirkuk Wednesday was boycotted by Arab politicians who have criticized him for failing to deal with key issues in Kirkuk. | AK News


Amid the continuing ground effort by Turkish forces to root out PKK rebels in Northern Iraq, hundreds of Turkish soldiers have surrounded Amadiya village in Dahuk. | Al Sumaria News


Following US President Obama’s declaration that all US troops will leave Iraq as scheduled, Prime Minister Maliki affirmed that talks regarding the presence US trainers after withdrawal is ongoing. | Reuters


In a statement Thursday, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry emphasized that Iraq will not become a safe haven for terrorism, noting its need to secure the northern border with Turkey. | Sot Al Iraq


In response to the recent attack that killed at least 24 soliders Tuesday, Turkish armed forces have begun ground and air operations, striking against PKK strongholds in northern Iraq. | AK News


Following attacks killing 26 Turkish soldiers Wednesday morning, the military launched an incursion into northern Iraq to root out the PKK rebels. | AP


The government announced Tuesday that U.S. military personnel at 485 military bases are preparing to evacuate, with 20 remaining. | Al-Sumaria News


The U.S. Defense Department denied reports claiming complete troop withdrawal after the deadline. | Dar Al Hayat


The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad announced Wednesday that it has handed control of Iraqi airspace over to the Iraq Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) after eight years of control by the U.S. Air Force. | AFP


A series of deadly suicide bombs struck Baghdad Wednesday morning resulting in an estimated 23 deaths and dozens more injured. | Al Jazeera English


In response to U.S. insistence that any deal to extend its military presence must include immunity from Iraqi law for its troops, Baghdad has threatened to cut off all military relations with the United States. | Financial Times


Minister of Transport Hadi al-Amiri commented Thursday on a technical report examining the effects of Kuwait’s Mubarak Port on Iraq. He stated the Kuwaiti project will heavily restrict access to Iraq’s ports, calling for a halt to construction. | Al-Sumaria News


The Kirkuk provincial council agreed to allow 1,500 US troops remain in the province for security and training purposes after the 2011 deadline for withdrawal. The measure now requires the approval of the central government. | AK News


The White Iraqiya bloc called on Prime Minister Maliki Tuesday to file a claim against Kuwait in the International Maritime Court in response to the building of the controversial Mubarak Port. | Al-Sumaria News


A suicide bomb attack targeting policemen at bank in Kirkuk killed 2 on Thursday, and injured nearly 60 more. | Al Jazeera English


Former Electricity Minster Raad Shallal was released from custody Thursday. He was arrested the previous day following his dismissal from parliament a month ago for signing fictitious business contracts. | AFP


In an interview Tuesday, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari confirmed the likelihood that U.S. troops will remain in the country beyond the end-of-year deadline for withdrawal in order to train Iraqi troops. | AP


An advisor for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki confirmed that a contract between American company Lockheed Martin and the Iraqi air force to purchase eighteen F-16 warplanes has been signed. | Wall Street Journal


Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Speaker of Parliament Osama Nujaifi have called for calm amid a wave of sectarian violence, which intensified Sunday with a series of explosions in Karbala that killed ten people and injured 90 more. | AK News


Seventeen people including women and children were killed or injured in an explosion in West Baghdad Friday morning. The attack was committed by unknown armed men. | Al Sumaria News


Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki held a phone conference Thursday with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to discuss an extension of certain U.S. troops staying beyond the end-of-year deadline, but they did not reach an agreement. | AK News


A day after the explosion in Ankara, Turkish forces heavily bombed Kurdish rebel headquarters in Northern Iraq. | Guardian


The State of Law Coalition announced the issuance of an arrest warrant for parliamentary member Sabah al-Saadi, claiming al-Saadi verbally insulted and slandered the government and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. | Al-Sumaria News


The State of Law Coalition stated yesterday that the presence of Kurdish opposition groups, such as the PKK and PJAK in Iraq, does not give Turkey and Iran the right to strike Iraq and kill innocent civilians. | Al-Sumaria News


The Sadrist movement released a statement emphasizing the role of today’s protests. Sadrist follower Hakem Al Zameli asserted that the protests are in response to social issues and unrelated to the mass demonstration promised by Muqtada Sadr if the government failed to meet his demands. | Al Sumaria News


Along with Oman and other Arab countries, Iraq joined in negotiation talks with Iran to release the two Americans arrested on the Iran-Iraq border in 2009 on allegations of spying. | Miami Herald

Sadrist Member of Parliament Jawad Al Hasnawi claims to have discovered hidden links between al-Qaeda and U.S. forces. He believes that al-Qaeda attacks in Iraq are intended to delay U.S. troop withdrawal. | Al Sumaria News, Los Angeles Times


The government presented a document to the parliamentary foreign affairs committee declaring that the construction of Port Mubarak in Kuwait will hurt Iraq. | AK News


A group of armed gunmen attacked a bus of pilgrims traveling to a Shiite holy site in Western Iraq Monday, killing 22 people. | BBC Arabic


The Security and Defence committee announced Thursday that the government has not received any documents regarding the dates and specifics of a withdrawal plan, while Washington confirmed it has not yet made a decision to remain in Iraq after the deadline. | Al Aalem; Al Jazeera

The parliament voted Thursday to abolish resolutions 293 and 427 drafted by the Revolutionary Command Council, a move that curtails the powers of President Jalal Talabani. | Al-Sumaria News


With a spate of recent violence in the country, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is reportedly supporting a plan to keep 3,000 to 4,000 troops in Iraq past the Dec. 31, 2011 deadline for full U.S. withdrawal. The remaining troops would only train Iraqi security forces. | New York Times

One hundred fifteen members of parliament (MPs) from various blocs and coalitions signed a proposal to limit the number of terms a prime minister can serve to two. The action was taken amid fears by some that Prime Minster Nuri al-Maliki, currently in his second term, will seek reelection. | AK News


The transportation minister declared that Iraq will be closing its borders at Safwan in order put pressure on Kuwaiti authorities not to build the Mubarak Port at the designated location. | AKNews


A suicide bombing at a mosque in west Baghdad on Sunday left at least 28 people dead and more than 30 wounded. MP Khalid Fahdawi was among those killed in the attack. | BBC


Prime Minister Maliki’s office released a statement Friday insisting that missiles fired by an armed group in Iraq near the construction site of Kuwait’s Mubarak port on Thursday were not aimed at the site but at the Iraqi army stationed at border. | Al-Sumaria News


The National Accord Movement of former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi made a statement Thursday blasting current Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki after his announcement that Hussein al-Shahristani would serve as temporary Minister of Electricity. | AK News


The Basra Council released a statement warning against a build-up of Kuwait’s military at the Iraqi border, considering it a provocation at a time where tensions between the neighboring countries are high due to the building of the controversial Mubarak port. | Al-Sumaria


A statement released by the Turkish military said that its strikes in northern Iraq over the last several days have killed over 90 PKK members and injured 80 more. | BBC


The Basra provincial council expressed grave concern over Kuwait’s recent mobilization of forces near the construction site of the Kuwaiti Mubarak port, adding that its neighbor’s actions have hampered relations between the two countries. | Al Sumaria News


In a speech on Thursday night, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that Israel is the biggest benefactor of the Arab spring. Maliki did not mention Syria as he has taken a soft stance towards the weakening regime of Bashar al-Assad. | New York Times


Sadrist leader Moqtada al-Sadr called on Kuwait to stop the construction of the Mubarak Port near the border between both countries. Last week Kuwait mobilized security forces in the area in what they deemed a precautionary measure to safeguard the port’s construction. | Al Sumaria News


AMany are criticizing Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s appointment of Sadun al-Dulaimy as acting minister of defense. Maliki reached an agreement two weeks ago with his rival political bloc Iraqiyya that would have appointed one of their candidates by the end of this week. | New York Times


A violent wave of coordinated attacks rocked the country in what appeared to be an effort to undermine security in the country. Of the 42 attacks that killed 89 and injured hundreds, the deadliest came in the southern city of Kut where two car bombs killed 35 civilians. | New York Times


As Baghdad continues to mull over a continued US troop presence past the December 31st, 2011 deadline, a string of violent attacks killed over 70 people across Iraq. The attacks, which marked the one of the most violent days in the country this year, occurred after a recent lull in violence. | Washington Post


A spokesperson for Iraqiya confirmed that the coalition has agreed to nominate three candidates for defense minister: Lieutenant Ali Medhat al-Obeidi, Hameed Dawood al-Obeidi, and Nagi al-Tabkajli. | Al Sumaria News


In a message addressed to U.S. forces, Sadrist Trend leader Moqtada al-Sadr accused the U.S. army of inciting violence and having no regard for human rights. | Al Sumaria News


The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraqi (UNAMI) released a report saying the human rights situation in the country is “fragile.” | AFP


Iraqiya named four candidates to replace the current nominees for defense minister. Salah al-Jobouri, Jaber al-Jaberi, and Qays al-Shadhar are among those named, while the name of the fourth candidate has yet to be released. | AK News


Salah Obeidi, a Sadrist leader, denied media reports that his camp had come to an agreement with the major political blocs to keep U.S. security personnel to train Iraqi forces beyond the 2011 deadline. | Al Sumaria News


Leaders of the main political blocs have agreed to begin negotiating with the United States about keeping a number of security personnel in the country beyond 2011. | Aswat al-Iraq


The interior ministry plans to sign a deal with the U.S. government that would supply 200 to 300 security personnel to train its troops. A ministry official noted the deal was not related to the issue of the U.S. troop withdrawal. | Al Arabiya


A statement released by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s office says that the parliament will decide on whether to keep U.S. troops beyond 2011 in their next legislative session. | Al Sumaria TV


In the coming weeks, U.S. forces will leave Iraqi and Kurdish forces alone to man checkpoints and conduct patrols in the northern provinces of Ninewa, Kirkuk, and Diyala. | Reuters


The logistics of withdrawing U.S. forces has emerged an imminent issue for the U.S. army, which is slated to withdraw by 2012. The government has yet to make a decision on any possible extension. | AFP


Vice President Tareq al-Hashimi welcomed efforts to trim government ministries. He noted that such efforts will not be successful unless “associated with a clear government program and reflecting a national consensus.” | Al Sumaria News


Dozens of protestors rallied in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, calling for better services and an end to corruption. Many said the current political stalemate in the government has stalled service provisions. Protestors also demanded the release of detainees who organized protests in previous months. | Al Sumaria

U.S. forces released a statement on Thursday saying that they have increased their activity in the southern provinces of Babil, Diwaniyah, and Wasit in order to target militias they claim are backed by Iran. The statement added, “Iraqi militias backed by Iran are putting Iraq’s infrastructure at risk.” | Al Sumaria


President Jalal Talabani is expected to convene top political leaders for another meeting, to take place at his residence in Baghdad, to discuss many contested issues, primarily the Erbil Agreement and the dispute over the National Council for Strategic Policies (NCSP). | AK News


UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said in a UN statement that although Iraq has made irreversible gains over the years, many problems still exist, such as the unsettled status of Kirkuk and the failure of the government to appoint key ministries. | UN News Centre


Syria has closed the crossing near the town of Bukamel on the Iraq-Syria border, according to an unnamed source. | Al-Sumaria News


The parliament is reviewing a proposal by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to trim the number of cabinet ministries from 43 to 29. | Aswat al-Iraq


Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says that the proposed strategic council is unconstitutional and that the National Alliance will not vote in favor of it. In a statement to Iraqiya, Maliki said that Iraq needs a number of U.S. trainers to help train Iraqi forces. | Al Sumaria TV


The government is quietly negotiating a deal that would keep U.S. troops in Iraq beyond 2011. The United States has been very critical of Iraq’s ineffectiveness to go after armed groups in Iraq’s south. | New York Times


Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi rejected U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s recent statements that Iraqi militias are receiving aid from Iran. | CNN


A senior Iranian military official accused Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani of giving land to the PJAK terrorist group, noting “Iran reserves its right to target and destroy terrorist bases in the border areas.” | Reuters


U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urged Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to reach a decision on the status of U.S. troops beyond 2011, to seek out Shiite militias using Iranian supplied weapons, and to name a defense minister. | NY Times

Three rockets launched from southeast Baghdad’s Zaafaraniya district appear to have landed in the Green Zone. | Aswat al-Iraq

Just days after unveiling the U.S. consulate in Basra, the United States opened a consulate general in Erbil. Among those at the opening ceremony were Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani and U.S. Ambassador James Jeffrey. | AK News

In his first visit to Baghdad as defense secretary, Leon Panetta expressed concern over Iran’s funding of militias who have attacked U.S. posts in Iraq in recent weeks. He added that the United States is prepared to operate “unilaterally” if necessary. Parliament member Qassim al-Araji, a member of the parliamentary security and defense committee, criticized the surprise visit as “not welcome.” | Reuters, Aswat-al Iraq


An Iraqiya party spokesman said a recent meeting between Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and top political figures produced no new results. He added that Iraqiya is effectively barred from decision-making regarding U.S. troop withdrawal because none of the security ministries are occupied by its party members. | Al Sumaria News


According to officials in the Obama administration, the United States is privately pushing Iraq to make a decision on whether troops should remain there beyond 2011 in order to have enough time to plan accordingly. Officials say they are willing to keep as many as 10,000 troops in Iraq if Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki requests them.  | Los Angeles Times


Two suicide car bombs in the garage of a municipal building killed 30 people and injured 60 others in the town of Taji, just north of Baghdad. The number of casualties is expected to rise, as many of the injuries are reported to be severe.  | Al Sumaria News


Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced he would cut the size of the government by nearly half to increase government efficiency. His plan will merge the ministries and cut the government from 44 current ministerial positions to 25. Maliki's advisor, Ali Mussawi, said he was confident that the plan would be accepted by political forces even though the project undermines the agreement that precipitated government formation. | Khaleej Times

The United Nations Security Council handed over control of the Development Fund of Iraq. The fund is estimated to have billions of dollars in oil revenues set aside for Iraq following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. This is considered a big milestone for Iraqi autonomy.  | CNN

June was the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Iraq in three years. Last month’s death toll was also the highest monthly figure for the number of Iraqis killed since September 2010. This comes amid the looming U.S. troop withdrawal expected at the end of 2011.  | AFP


Iraqi President Jalal Talabani met with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffery. Among the issues discussed were the expansion and development of bilateral cooperation, Iraq’s regional and international relations, and the current political and security situation in the country.  | Aswat al-Iraq


Iraqi Parliament Speaker Usama al-Nujeify denied calling for the establishment of a Sunni region in Iraq.  | Aswat Al Iraq; Al-Sumaria News

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki plans to trim the number of cabinet ministries from 42 to 20-25.  | Aswat Al Iraq


Iraqi President Jalal Talabani met with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffery. Among the issues discussed were the expansion and development of bilateral cooperation, Iraq’s regional and international relations, and the current political and security situation in the country.  | Aswat al-Iraq


U.S. troops pledged to evacuate the military zone of Basra’s International Airport a few months after the implementation of the security agreement signed between Baghdad and Washington, and also accused Iran of supporting armed groups to launch attacks against them.  | Al-Sumaria News

The Iraqiyya List attributed the increased activities of militias in specific areas to the ongoing vacancy of the security ministries and had nothing to do with whether U.S. troops are present in Iraq. It also called upon the prime minister to report to parliament the extent of the readiness of Iraqi security forces.  | Al-Sumaria News


A blast that rocked southern Iraq today was the result of “two booby trapped” cars. Among the dead was Salem Gharbawi, a reporter for Iraq’s Afaq TV Channel. Sources have reported that the number of casualties may be as high as 27. | Aswat al-Iraq

Iraq’s foreign ministry reports that “The Foreign Minister [Hoshiar Zibary] will pay an official visit to Tehran, accompanied by a high-level Ministry delegation, specialized in bilateral judicial and consulate affairs, to carry out talks with the Iranian side and discuss Iraq’s relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.”  | Aswat al-Iraq 

Iraq’s Finance Minster Rafie al-Esawi says Iraq is expected to run a deficit of 16 trillion dinars in 2012. This is expected to be less than the deficit for the current year.  | Aswat al-Iraq


Dozens of residents in Baghdad demonstrated in Tahrir Square demanding reform and the toppling the Maliki government.  | Al-Sumaria News

The MP for the Iraqiyya List, Zuhair Araji, stated that Iraq needs U.S. forces to remain even if just for a short period until Iraqi security forces are ready to stand on their own.  He also emphasized that this was the feeling among Iraq’s political blocs.  | Al-Sumaria NewsAl-Iraqiya bloc spokeswoman Maysoun Damalouji announced that the bloc is seeking signatures in order to directly question Premier Nouri al-Maliki.  | Aswat al Iraq


Legislator Khalid al-Assady announced that the National Coalition had chosen him to read the constitutional oath as a parliament member and replace former Vice President Khudhier al-Khuzae.  | Aswat al Iraq

Al-Iraqiya bloc spokeswoman Maysoun Damalouji announced that the bloc is seeking signatures in order to directly question Premier Nouri al-Maliki.  | Aswat al Iraq

The leader of the Kurdistan Alliance accredited the formation of the current government to the United States, and claimed that it was their role that resulted in the failure of the Barzani initiative.  | Al-Sumaria News


Al-Ahrar bloc member of parliament Uday Awad accused U.S. forces of being behind the explosion in Basra to justify the continuation of their presence in the country.  | Aswat al Iraq


The Iraqiya list, led by former interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, collected signatures for a petition to summon Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to parliament in the coming days. | AKNEWS

Iraqi Parliament Speaker Usama Nujeifi met with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffery and Commanding General of U.S. Forces Lloyd Austin to discuss bilateral relations as well as regional conditions.  | Aswat al Iraq


The Supreme Judicial Council announced that 8,912 detainees were released during the month of May in all governorates of Iraq after being found innocent of the charges against them. The council also confirmed that another 4,263 detainees were referred to competent courts in the same period.  | Alsumaria News

Maysoun al-Damaloujy, the official spokeswoman of the al-Iraqiya coalition, stated that a member of parliament has the right to call Iraq’s prime minister or any of the ministers into question if a member collects signatures from 25 other members of parliament.  | Aswat al Iraq 

According to international legal expert Sardar Qadir, the Iraqi government is not legally obliged to compensate the United States for its losses in Iraq.  | Aswat al Iraq


Hundreds of people protested in Al Tahrir Square in Baghdad calling for the dismissal of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki’s government and urging for constitutional amendments. Pro-government demonstrations also took place in the square.  | Alsumaria TV

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Leon Panetta announced to Congress that 1,000 al-Qaeda militants are still operating in Iraq and that Iraq's leaders will probably ask U.S. forces to remain past the December 31 deadline for withdrawal.  | Alsumaria TV


The State Ministry for national reconciliation announced that al-Qaeda members are not excluded from reconciliation.  | Al Sumaria


According to Iraq’s National Reconciliation Minister Amer Al Khizaii, all political factions have been disarmed except for the Baath Party and al-Qaeda. Only some members of these two groups have laid down their weapons. | Al-Sumaria News

Iraqiya leader Iyad Allawi confirmed that his party does not plan to withdraw from the political process.  | Al-Sumaria News

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appointed National Security Adviser Faleh al-Fayad as acting national security minister until a new minister is named.  | Al-Sumaria News 


According to a National Alliance MP, a new draft law was submitted to parliament stipulating the decrease of provincial councils, governors' deputies, assistants, and advisers.  | Aswat al Iraq


Vice-President Tariq Al-Hashimi accused Premier Nouri Al-Maliki of "taking decisions unilaterally," and pointed out that instead the best solution to the current political crisis would be to conduct elections early.  | Aswat al Iraq

According to the Iraqi Health Ministry, fewer people were killed by insurgents in Iraq in May in comparison to April.  | AKNEWS

Sadr Current leader, Muqtada Sadr, will propose a project to narrow the differences between al-Iraqiya and National Coalition (NC) over the Erbil agreement.  | AKNEWS


Kurdish ruling and opposition parties agreed to meet on Saturday to negotiate a solution to the political crisis gripping the government. | AKNEWS

The governor of Dalia threatened to resign after two weeks if the central government does not respond to the demands submitted by his local government. | Aswat al-Iraq


Iyad Allawi’s al-Iraqiya bloc suspended talks with the State of Law Alliance led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, until the former’s demands on security issues are met and its candidate for the defense minister post is approved. | Aswat al Iraq

The Council of Ministers approved the draft law banning the Baath Party. The currently outlawed Baath Party nonetheless announced plans to run in elections following U.S. troop withdrawals at the end of this year. | Al-Sumaria News; AKNEWS

MAY 31

The Kurdistan government approved a 2011 general budget of USD$12 billion by a 65-25 vote. Parliament also approved a 10 percent reduction in salaries for the president, prime minister, parliament speaker, and other top officials. | Aswat al Iraq

First Vice President Adel Abdul Mehdi submitted his resignation on Monday. President Jalal Talabani has not confirmed his acceptance or refusal, and is scheduled to meet Mehdi to discuss the matter.  | Al-Sumaria; Awsat al-Iraq

U.S. Forces spokesperson General Jeffery Buckanon says attacks by armed groups against U.S. troops have increased as they near their scheduled departure at the end of 2011. | Aswat al Iraq

MAY 27

The Kurdistan Regional Government is due to respond to a damning Human Rights Watch report on violations against journalists and media workers in Kurdistan published on Tuesday. | AKnews

More than 19,300 displaced families have returned to their homes in northeast Iraq’s Diyala Province, said the Director of the National Center for the Displaced Families. | Aswat al Iraq

Thousands of Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi militia members took to the streets of east Baghdad’s Al-Sadr City to demand the withdrawal of US troops from the country.  While the Iraqiyya Coalition considered the demonstration to be a ‘natural’ expression, the State of Law Coalition denounced it as a threatening military demonstration. | Aswat al Iraq; Aswat al Iraq; Al-Sumaria News

MAY 26

Muqtada al-Sadr arrived in Sadr City in eastern Baghdad to oversee a demonstration of thousands of elements of the Mahdi Army. | Al-Surmaria News

Kurdish opposition forces returned to the streets demanding inclusion of their political agenda before the fifth round of talks resume next week. | Hawlati

The Iraqiyya coalition led by Iyad Allawi described the implementation of the terms of the Erbil Agreement among political blocs as “disappointing, noting a dangerous tendency for individual power struggles and political decisions. | Al-Sumaria News

MAY 24

The Iraqiya Coalition led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi presented candidates for the post of defense minister. | Aswat Al Iraq

Anbar Province Council Member Muzhir Hassan demanded the extension of the U.S. troop presence in Iraq until Iraqi security forces complete their readiness training. | Aswat Al Iraq

A member of parliament, Khalid Abdullah al-Alwany, charged Iraq’s former Trade Minister Abdul-Falah al-Soudany with squandering US$245 million of the Trade Ministry’s budget. | Aswat Al Iraq

MAY 23

Vice-President Tariq Al-Hashimi urged that changes be made to the current Baghdad security plan to limit frequent security breaches recently. He added the changes should be implemented months before U.S. personnel withdraw. | Aswat Al-Iraq

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki stated that the nation’s political blocs are not clear on their positions regarding the extension of a U.S. military presence in the country. | Sout Al-Iraq

Parliament member Hakim Al-Zamili declared on behalf of the Ahrar political bloc that the parade by the al-Mehdi Army planned for May 25 is “an expression of our rejection for U.S. forces to remain in Iraq.” | Aswat Al-Iraq

MAY 18

The deadline for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s “100-day” government ultimatum, announced on February 27, is June 7. Prior to the deadline, the parliament is slated to evaluate ministerial reports and determine whether each ministry was able to capably fulfill its duties. | AKNews

Kurdish President Masoud Barzani’s has called for “unconditional talks” to end the current political stalemate between parties, caused mainly by severe clashes between security forces and protestors in Sulaimaniya in April. Opposition members, excluding the governing Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), have been boycotting regular parliament sessions since March 19. Opposition parties have demanded that only emergency meetings be held. | AKNews

Haidar Al Ibadi, a senior official from the State of Law Party, on Tuesday announced that the coalition is seeking to reduce the number of Iraqi ministerial positions. Al Ibadi further stated that Maliki would like to reduce the government’s ministries, pending political parties’ approval. The current government formation consists of three vice presidents, three deputy ministers, and 44 ministers. | Sumaria

Corruption has been detected in weapons deals with U.S. military contractors, according to new information that was revealed by the Parliamentary Integrity Committee on Tuesday. The committee plans to investigate all contracts between ministries of defense and interior with U.S. companies from 2006-2011.|  AKNews

MAY 16

The Kurdish alliance warned against the divisions between Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi, claiming that they could lead to the dissolution of parliament and a new round of elections. The alliance also labeled the current government as a “lie” that had been imposed by U.S. forces. | Sumaria

Allawi called on all political forces to take a stand against Maliki’s State of Law coalition on Monday, stating that the behavior of State of Law members showed they were not “serious” about implementing the Erbil agreement and accepting true power-sharing. | Sumaria

MAY 10

A parliamentary national reconciliation committee was formed under the auspices of Kurdish Alliance representative Alaa Talabani. Talabani stated that the purpose of the committee is to mobilize political parties to agree on and adopt legislation, and also to undertake the measures necessary to stimulate national reconciliation. | Sumaria

Al-Iraqiya on Tuesday criticized parliament member Izzat Shabandar for his “irresponsible” remarks that Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi has been paying off protestors in order to placate and dissuade them from calling for the government’s downfall. | Sumaria 

Due to an outstanding disagreement between the State of Law Party and the Iraqiya Party, the voting on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s selection of ministers for the security portfolios that he currently controls will be delayed until mid-June. | Sumaria


Member of the Parliamentary Legal Committee Amir Al-Kanani said on Wednesday that the president would be unable to veto the cancellation of paragraph (b), Article 136 of the Iraqi criminal code. Article 136 has stood in the way of ensuring judicial independence and fighting corruption. | AKNews

Opposition parties in Kurdistan may be ending their boycott of the Kurdish parliament. The boycott has been in effect since March 29, when the Kurdistan Regional Government cracked down on protestors calling for reform, leaving ten dead. | AKNews

Sadr Front leader Moqtada al-Sadr called for a peaceful rally on May 23 as a measure to exemplify the extent of the front’s “popular base.” | Sumaria


The Diwaniya Governorate Council started an investigation into the laws that are facilitating the ease of corruption and is planning to reform these laws in order to safeguard against such behavior and encourage increased transparency. | Sumaria


The parliamentary economic committee announced that the parliament has agreed to increase the budget for mega-infrastructure projects to $100 billion in order to provide incentives to foreigners to invest in the country. | Sumaria

Member of Parliament Tareq Sahyood, head of the rule of law committee, threatened to withhold confidence from the Iraqi Higher Election Commission over allegations of fraud and corruption. | Aswat; Parliament-Iraq


Opposition groups in Kurdistan threatened to take legal action against the government for slashing their party budgets. The Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG), and Gorran said their budgets had been reduced after they supported a 65-day, massive protest in Sulaimaniya that began on February 17. | AKNews

Communist Party supporters demonstrated at Firdous Square in Baghdad, marking the occasion of Labor Day and demanding a repeal of Law 150 of 1987. Law 150 had disbanded the General Federation of Workers Unions in Iraq and severely limited workers’ rights. | AKNews


The Al-Iraqiya Bloc is threatening to withhold confidence from Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki over the delayed appointment of security ministers and has given Maliki a one-week deadline to fill the appointments. The matter has been disputed since elections were held last December. | Zawya