Iraq’s southern oil production facilities and ports have been untouched by fighting further north, yet August oil production and exports fell. Continued infrastructure challenges have come into sharper focus even as new oil comes online (see p3).

In the north, fighting between the Iraqi army, backed by Kurdish Peshmerga troops and Shia militia groups with support from US air power, has pushed back Islamist fighters from some territory gained since their onslaught in June, though fierce battles are reported around the oil city of Kirkuk. Yet the military successes have yet to be consolidated and the alliance of previous opponents on the battlefield has yet to translate into the political arena in Baghdad, where efforts to form an all-inclusive government have yet to bear fruit. (CONTINUED - 1033 WORDS)