Thursday, June 26, 2014

Iraq Civil War Updates June 26 , 2014 -- ISIS two week blitz has already severely degraded Iraq's Army ( 10 billion in losses and half of the Army destroyed ) ........ In the absence of US military involvement of any significance , Iran and Syria get involved in the Civil war in support of PM Maliki ( meanwhile John Kerry warns syria and Iran not toget involved and somehow sees Maliki as open to a National Unity government that Maliki has already dumped on. ) .... Great opinion piece from Joyce Karam ( Fighting Isis starts by standing up to PM Maliki ) ..... Iraq's powerful Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has called for a national emergency government, a day after Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, rejected any attempts to challenge his rule.

Late in the day day items .....

Anti War...

Obama Asks Congress for Another $500 Million for Syria Rebels

Hopes to Create an Alternative to ISIS

by Jason Ditz, June 26, 2014
Having thrown hundreds of millions of dollars at the various “moderate” Syrian rebel factions, the US has very little to show for it, as not only have groups like ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra long surpassed the moderates as the dominant rebel faction, but ISIS appears to be on the cusp of forming its own country, carved out of Iraq and Syria.
Still, President Obama sees no reason to try something new, and is doubling down with a request to Congress for another $500 million for Syrian rebel funding, aiming at both training and equipment for the factions.
The White House is presenting this as an effort to do two things: oust the Assad government in Syria and create an “alternative” to factions like ISIS. Yet a casual glance at the situation suggests it will do neither.
The moderate groups like the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are in shambles, and US aid seems to accomplish little but postpone the inevitable collapse of the group, which controls no meaningful territory and is at this point more of a rebellion inside ISIS territory than what remains of Syria itself.
As an alternative to ISIS, the FSA has an even more uphill battle, as their long-term lack of success and reliance on groups like ISIS to do the heavy lifting in conflicts suggests that they are not a competent rebellion on their own, and $500 million more thrown their way isn’t likely to change that.

Analysis: Kurdistan Banking on Oil Sales

By Alexander Whitcomb 2 hours ago
Kurdistan Region's independent oil pipeline. Photo: Rudaw
Kurdistan Region's independent oil pipeline. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region— It’s no secret that Iraqi Kurdistan is running short on cash six months after Baghdad stopped sending money to the region, cutting off the region’s main source of revenue. Banking on oil sales to pay bills, Kurdish officials are leveraging newly expanded oil fields and diminished confidence in war-torn Iraq to draw financing from the international community. 
Yesterday, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Minister of Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami told Reuters that the region expects to export 1 million barrels per day by the end of 2015, including crude from Kirkuk.
Major fields in Iraq’s disputed territories — many of which are now under Kurdish control, including Kirkuk — are set to increase the KRG’s share of oil wealth and make the region even more lucrative to international investors. 
One minor hurdle will be increasing its pipeline capacity, currently at 300,000 barrels per day. Energy experts estimate Kurdistan would need to export 450,000 barrels per day for oil revenue to match Kurdistan’s share of Iraq’s national budget. 
The major caveat is that Hawrami promised any oil revenue would be shared with the central government, which has been locked in disputes with the autonomous region over hydrocarbon exports for years now.  
There are two potential outcomes. The first is that the Kurdistan Region bargains with Baghdad and gains official permission for independent oil exports. The second is that no agreement is reached, and the KRG looks for down payments on future deliveries of oil international buyers. The latter would require buyers to bet against the resurgence of a strong Iraq by ignoring Baghdad’s warnings that Kurdish oil can only be purchased with the central government’s approval. 
Before the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took Mosul, Iraq filed for arbitration against Turkey and its state-owned pipeline for facilitating the sale of crude oil from Iraqi Kurdistan without Baghdad’s permission.
Although the case is not expected to be ruled on soon, Iraqi officials threatened to sue and blacklist any oil buyers who purchase without Baghdad’s permission, which would likely deny them future access to larger fields in southern Iraq. Until recently the tactic worked, leaving one tanker full of Kurdish oil stranded off the coast of Morocco.  
Buyers seem to be less intimidated by Baghdad ever since militants captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. The Iraqi military quickly crumbled in the face of a mounting insurgency, and it’s doubtful that many Sunni-dominated areas will be back in government control anytime soon. 
According to Turkish and Kurdish officials, $200 million in revenue from Kurdish pipeline oil has now reached Turkey’s state-owned Halk Bank, although the buyers have not been announced. The first cargo has been offloaded in Israel, a country that would never recognize lawsuits from Iraq. The two countries have officially been at war since Israel’s creation in 1948.  
In the absence of an agreement or international aid, the pace of Kurdish oil sales needs to accelerate. Baghdad hasn’t sent money to the KRG in six months, and $200 million doesn’t make a dent in the region’s mounting debts. Even the $3 billion in loans Hawrami claims the KRG has secured amount to less than half of what the federal government owes the region.  
A day before the ISIS and their allies drove the Iraqi military out of Mosul, KRG spokesman Safeen Dizayee stated the region needed approximately $1 billion for the monthly budget.  
Since then, several factors have dramatically increased spending. At least 300,000 refugees have arrived from Mosul, deepening a humanitarian crisis in a region already filled with refugees from Syria and Anbar.  
The Peshmerga now must to protect a 1,000-kilometer border they share with ISIS and Baathist insurgents. The region has expanded by 40 percent now that the Peshmerga control the disputed territories, and the KRG must pay salaries, ensure basic services and offer security.  
The Ministry of Finance has declined to comment on the budgetary crisis, but Gareth Stansfield, a former United Nations advisor to Iraq, estimates that these factors may have pushed monthly costs up to $1.5 billion.  Despite the increase, he is optimistic that regional and international partners won’t let the KRG go broke. 
According to Stansfield, the crisis “draws Turkey even closer to Erbil.” Turkey needs to ensure oil from Iraqi Kurdistan is exported for the sake of its own energy security, and Iraqi Kurdistan also serves as a territorial buffer against ISIS.   
“The choice is relatively simple for the international community, and especially the Americans. They really want to protect Kurdistan and endure that it remains stable domestically,” Stansfield says. “The Americans need to give them $1.5 billion a month, or they let the money earn the money themselves at $100 million a tanker. It’s a difficult argument to push back on.”

Hague Appeals for Unity in Baghdad, as Maliki Turns to Syria and Iran

By RUDAW 9 hours ago
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague confers with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Photo: AFP
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague confers with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – UK Foreign Secretary William Hague made an urgent appeal for political unity in Baghdad against a jihadi blitz, but amid indications Iraq’s Shiite prime minister was turning to Iran and Syria in face of a Western reluctance for military involvement.
Hague’s unannounced visit came just as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki confirmed that Syrian warplanes had carried out border raids against the militants, who include the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). 
The Sunni jihadis have captured cities and key installations, such as two border posts with Syria, since beginning their rampage about a fortnight ago. They vow to march on Baghdad to oust the Shiite government. 
The Iraqi military has largely collapsed since the rebel advance began with the capture of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. But as Hague prepared to go into talks in Baghdad, state television showed army troops in control of the Baiji refinery, the country’s largest, which reportedly had fallen.
“The immediate priority, and the focus of my discussions today, is to help and encourage Iraqi leaders to put sectarian conflicts behind them and unite across all political parties,” Hague said in Baghdad, adding he would also be meeting with Massoud Barzani, president of the autonomous northern Kurdistan Region.
“The Iraqi state is facing an existential threat, with huge ramifications for the future stability and freedom of this country. The single most important factor that will determine whether or not Iraq overcomes this challenge is political unity,” Hague said.
He expressed the same view as US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was in Baghdad Monday before traveling to the Kurdish capital of Erbil.
But in the time that Kerry left Baghdad and Hague arrived, Maliki reneged on a pledge to the US secretary that he would quickly form a salvation government to stop Iraq from splintering into Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish portions.
“The call to form a national emergency government is a coup against the constitution and the political process,” he said on state television Wednesday.
Hague, however, came with an urgent appeal for unity. 
“As a friend of Iraq, the UK believes the urgent priority must be to form an inclusive government that can command the support of all Iraqi people and work to stop ISIS in its tracks,” he said.
The British minister said the UK can provide diplomatic, counter-terrorism and humanitarian support to Iraq. He said his government has already provided five million pounds in emergency relief to Iraq and “there is more that we will be able to do in support of a unified Iraqi government.”
But Maliki, who has pleaded for US air strikes against the militants, has only received 300 advisors from Washington, which has been his main Western backer up to now.
Maliki confirmed that warplanes in Syria -- where ISIS is also fighting and where he has helped the regime receive weapons from Iran by opening Iraqi territory -- had carried out raids against the militants on the border with Iraq.
“There was no coordination involved, but we welcome this action,” he told the BBC. “We welcome any Syrian strike against ISIS, because this group targets both Iraq and Syria,” he said. “The final winners are our two countries.
The avowed goal of ISIS is to create an Islamic state on territory straddling both Iraq and Syria. 
Following the Syrian air raids earlier this week, reportedly inside Iraq, the White House warned Damascus to stay out of the war next door.
As Maliki refused to budge, ISIS militants were reported to be fighting only an hour away from Baghdad.
Maliki’s rejection of Western appeals for a unified government was seen as an indication he is counting on support from elsewhere, namely Shiite Iran.
 The New York Times reported that Tehran is supplying Maliki with tons of military equipment every day. It said that the very powerful commander of Iran’s elite Quds force, Qassem Soleimani, has been in Iraq to coordinate the fight against insurgents.


June 26th IRAQ SITREP by Mindfriedo

22nd June: Umaya Naji Jbara, the advisor to the governor of Tikrit was killed by a Daash sniper. She was holding a RPG at the time of death and had killed three fighters of Daash before she was martyred. 

25th June: The airstrikes carried out on rebel positions around the town of Qaim were by the Syrian air force. Nouri al Maliki in an interview to the BBC stated that even though the air strikes were not requested by his government, but they were welcome. The Iraqi had first claimed that US drones had carried out the strikes, which the latter had denied. 

25th June: The Iranian foreign Ministry has denied that General Qassem Soleimani is in Iraq. The Iranians insist that Iraq has not asked for assistance, when it does, they will consider the request. 

25th June: Daash, or if people prefer to call them a coalition of Sunni Muslim Iraqi tribes, have burnt 11 churches, and destroyed/desecrated the grave of Prophet Yunus(Jonah[as]) and the grave of prophet Shayth (Seth[as]) in Mosul. There is a twitter photograph of a Daash fighter taking a sledge hammer to the grave of Prophet Yunus (as)., 

26th June: Kerry has warned other nations from meddling. (Pot calling the Kettle black) 

26thJune: Iran is reportedly shelling the positions of an Iranian Kurdish opposition group, PJAK, inside Iraq. 

26th June: A fresh offensive by Daash against Christian villages in the north has seen villagers fleeing to Kurdish areas for refuge. 

26th June: Shia refuges from the village of Tuz Khurmato and Bashir outside of Kirkuk who had fled to Kurdish areas for protection are describing a massacre by Daash. The Kirkuk deputy police chief, Gen. Turhan Abdel-Rahman, has confirmation of 40 bodies shot at point blank range from three villages. More bodies remain in Bashir. Peshmerga snipers cover the village to check the advance of Daash. Those killed were Turkoman Shias. 

A Shia man has narrated how his father, a septuagenarian, was gunned down by Daash. He now says, with tears in his eyes, that he will kill the militants with his bare hands. 

26th June: The weapons that Iran is airlifting to Baghdad include rockets, heavy machine guns and multiple rocket launchers. 

26th June: The former Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq and Kurdish politician, Barham Salih, “We need to empower the moderate Sunnis to take on Isis”. 

26th June: Moqtada Al Sadr from Najaf “We will shake the ground under the feet of ignorance and extremism.” Sadr had been critical of Maliki seeking a third term. He has asked for the formation of a unity government that includes Sunnis. Sadr has been critical of allowing American “advisors” back into Iraq. 

26th June: The Iraqis are reorganizing the armed forces. 

26th June: John Kerry is expected to visit Saudi Arabia. 

26th June: William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary, is in Baghdad for talks. He will be travelling to Iraqi Kurdistan to meet Kurdish leaders too. 

26th June: Iyad Allawi, Former Prime Minister of Iraq and head of the United Coalition that is also a part of the ruling United Alliance, has been meeting, Kurdish, Arab Sunni, and Iraqi leaders to find a solution for Iraq’s future. 

26th June: A Saudi suicide bomber blew himself up in a hotel in Beirut when Security Services were raiding it. They were acting on intelligence and were trying to apprehend a terrorist cell. 

26th June: Members of the National Alliance, which includes Maliki’s coalition, have met in Baghdad to discuss future government formation. Maliki is insisting on being made Prime Minister for a third term. 

26th June: The government has repelled another assault on Samarra. Six Daash militants were killed and weapons including a sniper rifle seized. 

26th June: Daash just got richer. Daash militants have robbed a Government bank in Central Baghdad of 6 billion Iraqi Dinars equivalent to 6 million USD. For a militia with sublime aims, they sure know how to rob banks. 

26th June: Violence reported from different parts of Iraq: 

The government security forces are claiming to have killed a Daash commander north of Tikrit with the aid of air support. 

Qassim Atta (spokesperson of the Iraqi Army) has announced the killing of 22 Daash fighters and the destruction of 8 vehicles by the Security Services in Anbar province. 

A car bomb explodes in Kirkuk. Kurdish security personnel and local police tried to clear the crowd in anticipation of a follow up attack. A man being beaten by the locals is arrested and taken away. 

Mortar attacks on the Shia suburb of Mahmoudiya in Baghdad have resulted in 58 fatalities. 

A shop selling alcohol is attacked in Eastern Baghdad by unidentified gunmen. Five people are reported dead. 

Tribal fighters have killed 7 Daash fighters north of Baqouba, Diyala. 

Iraqi army helicopters bomb Saddam’s palace in Tikrit.

Further reading: 

These are two articles by Bhadrakumar, in the first one he talks about Iran snubbing the Americans on cooperation in Iraq, and in the other, he talks of possible cooperation. 

Somebody had posted the first link when I had mentioned possible cooperation in an earlier SITREP. Nothing seems constant in Iraq’s shifting sands. 

An old article by Seymour Hersh that touches on US and Israeli support of anti Iranian Kurdish groups: 

An anti Daash page

A Short Analysis: 

If I were an Iraqi Shia: I would want to have Sunnis on board, Kurds on Board, but since the majority is Shia, Shias on top. I would want federalism as opposed to autonomy. Seeing that my shrines are in danger, I would arm against Daash. 

If I were an Iraqi Sunni: I would want what the Kurds have, autonomy from any Shia government, share in the pie. A nationalist government at the centre. Seeing that none of this is possible, I would not fight against Daash. 

If I were a Kurdish Iraqi: Autonomy to continue if not independence. The government in the centre to fight with Daash, it is a mess they created. A greater Kurdish region or at least borders where my people can move freely. I would be forced to arm myself against Daash. 

If I were an Iraqi Christian: There is no region I can go to. An urban people spread out with Daash as crazy and the rest uninterested. Might as well leave for my children’s sake. 

Now these are the only people who should actually matter. But the pressure from without will make Iraq look like the Lebanese civil war on a country scale. The Iraqi army is being reorganized. What this probably means that it is becoming a Shia army. The Shia leadership won’t trust Sunni officers after Mosul. Maybe what they can aim for is for Sunni cities to have a Sunni police force even if the army goes all Shia. 

The cooperation between the United States and Iraq/Iran is bound to fail. The Iranians will gain, the US will realize later, but still play the game.

Iraqi Defense Official: Army Has Lost 7 Divisions; Losses at $10b

By HEVIDAR AHMED 9 hours ago
Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) inspecting military vehicles abandoned by the Iraqi army. Photo: AFP
Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) inspecting military vehicles abandoned by the Iraqi army. Photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Since they began their blitz just over a fortnight ago, Sunni insurgents in Iraq have destroyed half of the Iraqi army and inflicted $10 billion in losses, a senior Iraqi defense official said.
Those losses continued to mount Wednesday as the jihadi-led insurgents reportedly overran the Ajeel oil site east of the captured city of Tikrit, and Iraqi television showed helicopters flying in troops as fighting continued for Baiji, the country’s largest oil refinery.
Meanwhile, Iraq’s Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki poured cold water on any hope of a resolution to the serious gripes of the country’s very large  Sunni and Kurdish populations that lie at the heart of Iraq’s problems.
Two days after US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Maliki in Baghdad to quickly form an inclusive government where the ethnic and religious populations feel empowered, the prime minister rejected the idea on state television.
"The call to form a national emergency government is a coup against the constitution and the political process," he declared in a televised address. "It is an attempt by those who are against the constitution to eliminate the young democratic process and steal the votes of the voters," he said.
Maliki’s rejection was seen as an indication he is counting on support from elsewhere, namely Shiite Iran. 
The New York Times reported that Tehran is supplying Maliki with tons of military equipment every day, and that the very powerful commander of Iran’s elite Quds force, Qassem Soleimani, has been in Iraq to coordinate the fight against insurgents, who are led by the jihadi Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). 
The Iraqi defense official told Rudaw, on condition of anonymity, that his ministry had assessed its losses in a report. 
“The damage to the Iraqi army is estimated to be more than $10 billion, not taking into account the hundreds of army officers lost. So far, seven military divisions have been destroyed,” he quoted the report as saying. 
Iraq reportedly has about 14 army divisions, which would mean that half have been destroyed.
Fighting was reported Wednesday between ISIS forces and the Iraqi Army in the Uzaim area, only 60 kilometers from Baghdad.
The defense official noted that while Baghdad is predominantly Shiite, it is surrounded by rings of Sunni-populated territories.
“Baghdad will not be spared from the war because every day towns around Baghdad are falling to ISIS,” he warned. 
Meanwhile, Hassan Jihad, a Kurdish MP in the Iraqi parliament and former member of its defense and security committee, said that only 500 insurgents were involved in the attack on Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city which fell two weeks ago after the heavily-armed Iraqi army turned and fled.
The defense official said that the army had collapsed because Maliki had ignored military commanders and moved reserve troops from the fallen cities of Mosul, Tikrit and those in Diyala province to the fighting in Anbar, which is now entirely in the hands of insurgents.
He also said that widespread corruption inside the Iraqi army was another problem. Some Iraqi MPs are asking what happened to all the billions given every year to train and equip an army that Maliki had boasted was one million-strong, but which was not there when needed. 

Anti War......

Iran, Syria Stepping Up Involvement in Iraq

US: Iran Operating Surveillance Drones Out of Baghdad

by Jason Ditz, June 25, 2014

As ISIS expands its control over a large portion of the Iraq-Syria frontier, both Syria and Iran are increasing their involvement in the fighting across the border, aiming to aid the floundering Maliki government.
Syria’s airstrikes yesterday in Iraq’s Anbar Province were just an inaccurate as their airstrikes against ISIS in Syria itself, and left at least 57 civilians dead and over 120 others wounded.
Iran is being a little more careful with its involvement, sending supplies and some troops to aid with the defense of Baghdad. Their major involvement, according to US officials, is the dispatch of Iranian surveillance drones to the country, which they are operating out of an airfield in Baghdad.
Iran has been aiding Syria in its fight against ISIS for years, and as ISIS gets closer and closer to their border, there is a palpable fear of the violence spreading further. Three Iranian border patrolmen were shot dead along the Iraq border today.
Secretary of State John Kerry expressed concern about Iran’s involvement, warning it “might exacerbate the sectarian divisions” in the country.

Kerry ‘Warns’ Syria Over Airstrikes on ISIS-Controlled Iraq

Cautions Killings Could 'Act as a Flash Point' for Conflict

by Jason Ditz, June 25, 2014
Secretary of State John Kerry responded to news of Syrian airstrikes against ISIS-controlled towns inside Iraq’s Anbar Province today, warning Syria that the strikes “might exacerbate the sectarian divisions.”
Kerry went on to caution that Syrian military involvement against ISIS “could act as a flash point with respect to the sectarian divide,” while other officials expressed concern about Iran sending surveillance drones to aid Iraq.
Though the Obama Administration had made clear their own intention to intervene militarily on the exact same side and for the exact same reasons, officials have been extremely negative about Syria and Iran doing so.
When pressed on the matter, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf insisted theUS blames Syria and Iran for the entire ISIS problem, saying one of the main reasons ISIS is so strong is because of the civil war in Syria.

ISIS Supporters: US Airstrikes Would Make Americans a Target

Aim to Warn Obama Off Intervention in Iraq

by Jason Ditz, June 25, 2014
Online supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have been warning the Obama Administration away from a potential policy of airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq.
The ISIS backers say any strike on ISIS would be met with retaliatory attacks against Americans, and that Obama’s intervention would be a “threat to every American.
Given its history as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), ISIS is already seen by the administration as a potential threat to the US, but the group seems more interested in acquiring territory in Iraq and Syria right now.
That could quickly change as the US looks to insinuate itself directly in the conflict, and while that would only escalate US involvement, it would likely also give ISIS another recruitment tool around the world to be resisting the US.

Maliki Slams Calls for Unity Government as ‘Rebellion’

Insists Opposition Must Unify Behind His Continued Rule

by Jason Ditz, June 25, 2014
In a new speech, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki angrily rejected pressure to step down in favor of a new unity government, accusing those who were calling for it of a “rebellion against the constitution.”
Since the fall of Mosul and the takeover of much of the rest of the Sunni Arab portion of the country by ISIS, Maliki has been under growing pressure to resign, with the US in particular pushing for a new government that could court Sunni Arabs and Kurds after years of bristling under Maliki’s rule.
Maliki, however, saw recent calls by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani for unity, which everyone else interpreted as backing for a post-Maliki government, as a call for everyone to simply get unified behind his continued rule.
A post-Maliki government, if indeed one happens at all, isn’t likely to be much more friendly to Sunnis or Kurds, as the primary candidate hinted as the US favorite has been Ahmed Chalabi, whose years running the De-Baathification system have made him a lot of enemies among Sunni politicians, most of whom he’s tried to ban from office at one point or another.
Ironically unity might’ve been easier in 2010, when the secular Iraqiya Party won the election, but the US backed another term for Maliki in the hopes he would be more friendly to continuing the occupation. Iraqiya is much smaller this time around, as their big power base, the Anbar Province, largely didn’t get to vote in this year’s election, as it was under ISIS control.
The US shrugged off Maliki’s comments, insisting they believe he is still open to the “process” by which he will be removed from power.

Tweets of note -- FWIW...

President invest $500 million to bolster moderate rebel forces in -to late after whole north-eastern lost to radical

& tribal forces take control of several villages north of

Tribal rebels claim pro-regime-forces open dam to flood cities & villages which under rebel control -unconfirmed-

Reports that & tribal forces take control of infamous "Camp Ashraf" & try to invade

Fighting ISIS starts by standing up to Maliki

If $2 trillion in war funding in Iraq has taught the U.S. one thing, it is that military might cannot bring stability to a country unless paired with a long-term political strategy. The collapse of this political strategy under the sectarian polarizing leadership of Nouri Maliki is the main driving force for the radical militant group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and it would be dangerously naive to think that F-16s or drones or airstrikes can alone reverse it.
As ISIS threat looms over the Levant with two bombings in Lebanon, a protest in Jordan and continued fighting in Syria, Iraq is today the most fertile ground for the group. The weak state institutions, deep sectarian divide, the chaos in bordering Syria, and mostly the bad governance on part of the Maliki coalition have allowed ISIS to fester in Iraq, and conquer more territory in North-Western of the country. Those gains and the stacks of millions of dollars in bank robberies, extortions and oil revenues have established ISIS rule in key areas with the help of local tribes, and after the collapse of the Iraqi army in those areas.

Maliki destroyed Petraeus plan

Following the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz war fiascos dragging Iraq into a sectarian bloodbath by 2006, it was the former commander of the coalition forces in Iraq General David Petraeus who saved the country from the specter of ethnic cleansing and partition. The genius of the Petraeus plan was not the military component but a political roadmap extending a hand to the Sunni tribes and the local councils in the Anbar region to roll back the advances and popular of ISIS which was an affiliate of al-Qaeda then. These exact same tribes Maliki lost today.
There is nothing that ISIS would love more than a government in Baghdad that breeds sectarianism and local militias, and Maliki has been the best man for such job
Joyce Karam

The “Sahwa strategy” saw its roots in fostering inclusive governance, bringing Sunnis into the fold, and offering security and economic incentives for the tribes in a post-Saddam Iraq. The Sahwa gave the U.S. confidence that it can withdraw in 2011, assuming that the leadership in Baghdad would build on and sustain this political roadmap. Alas, Nouri Maliki had a different plan in mind, halting payments to tribal forces who were combating Al-Qaeda, and ruling with an agenda of fear and division that only intensified the sectarian rift.
Maliki spread conspiracies about a Baathist take over to orchestrate an authoritarian crackdown and silence the opposition. He saw any national unity government as a threat, and instead used patronage and corruption to sustain a sectarian coalition and pay off friendly militias. The Iraqi Prime Minister made more enemies inside and outside Baghdad than any other regional figure. He pointed fingers at Turkey, Qatar, Saudi, Kurdish president Masoud Barzani, the former Baathists, Al-Qaeda, accusing of destabilizing Iraq. He gave many promises to the Americans but did not deliver. Today, it is Maliki’s policies of marginalizing minorities, isolating Baghdad regionally and taking over security apparatus that broke Iraq and aided ISIS.
In this sense, Petraeus is right, the U.S. cannot heed Maliki’s request for military strikes inside Iraq. Petraeus warned from London last week that “this cannot be the United States being the air force for Shiite militias, or a Shiite on Sunni Arab fight.”

Governance before ammunition

Almost like every other Arab autocrat, Maliki has been promising since coming to power in 2006 that he will be a “one-term” prime minister. Eight years later, he is fighting tooth and nail to stay for a third term, even if it comes over a crumbled Iraq and a shadow central government.
In essence, Maliki keeping the course and staying in power is the best case scenario for ISIS. There is nothing that ISIS would love more than a government in Baghdad that breeds sectarianism and local militias, and Maliki has been the best man for such job. Reversing Maliki’s agenda is the only route that can rescue Iraq from further fragmentation, while employing firepower and airstrikes could backfire in this political environment and rally more Sunnis around ISIS.
Rallying regional efforts around a diplomatic roadmap for Iraq with the help of Turkey, the Arab Gulf states and Iran will be crucial in the next few weeks to save Iraq from a likely partition or becoming a global hub for terrorists. Unless Maliki reverses his destructive style of governance, he is only a liability in such an effort and the best recruiting tool that ISIS can have in Baghdad.

Onetime U.S. allies in Sunni Awakening sit out new Iraq conflict

The aging ex-general remembers another era not long ago, when American military commanders would visit him at his compound and sip tea as they sat on plastic chairs in a tidy garden ringed by date palms.
Back then, Mustafa Kamil Shibib was an important U.S. ally against Al Qaeda in Iraq militants, leading 2,000 Sunni Muslim fighters who helped drive the insurgents out of south Baghdad by 2008 as part of a tribal uprising called the Awakening.
With much of Iraq now besieged by an Al Qaeda splinter group called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Shibib is in no hurry to pick up his weapons again. To do so, he said, would be to defend a corrupt government that has cast aside or jailed his former fighters and systematically oppressed his fellow Sunnis.

“If ISIS were to show up here, I would step aside and point them in the direction of the Green Zone,” Shibib said, referring to the former U.S.-run enclave in central Baghdad that is now the seat of the Iraqi government. “If they have any quarrel, they can take it up with them.”
As Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s Shiite Muslim-dominated administration loses more and more territory to ISIS-led Sunni insurgents, many former Awakening leaders are staying on the sidelines, saying they won’t fight for a government he leads. Some are quietly striking deals with more moderate factions fighting alongside ISIS, including ones led by former army officers and ex-functionaries of the outlawed Baath Party who once served Saddam Hussein.
Without the support of Awakening fighters — and with U.S.-trained security forces collapsing in the face of the insurgents — Obama administration officials believe that Maliki’s government may not be able to regain lost territory in northern and western Iraq for the foreseeable future.

The insurgents gained another victory Tuesday when government forces reportedly ceded control of Iraq’s largest oil refinery, in the northern city of Baiji, to Sunni tribes after several days of intense fighting. Meeting Secretary of State John F. Kerry in Irbil, the president of northern Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani, said, “We are facing a new reality and a new Iraq.” The comments suggested that the Kurds might use the crisis to push for an independent state.
Scrambling to keep Iraq from falling apart less than three years after U.S. troops withdrew, American officials have asked Sunni tribal leaders to take on the militants, although they have not backed up the requests with cash and weapons as American military commanders did nearly a decade ago. Although some sheiks say they would be ready to battle ISIS if Maliki is replaced, others see the insurgency, however extreme, as a way to acquire greater rights for Sunnis.

“There’s no question that there’s a tendency in some groups to kind of jump on the bandwagon and even use [ISIS] for other ends,” said a senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. “That’s just a very dangerous game because once [the militant group] gets rooted in territory, in towns, it’s even harder to root them out.”
The fact that some of Iraq’s most devoted anti-Al Qaeda fighters are now tolerating or even siding with the extremist ISIS illustrates how badly relations have deteriorated between Sunni tribes and Maliki’s government, greatly complicating U.S. efforts to find a way out of the crisis.

The Awakening was a game-changer in the Iraq war, a grass-roots uprising against the brutal tactics of Al Qaeda in Iraq that turned the tide against the insurgency and delivered a critical boost to Maliki’s then-fledgling government. U.S. commanders provided weapons and paid monthly salaries of a few hundred dollars each to nearly 100,000 Awakening fighters before handing the program over to Iraqi government control in 2008.
The government pledged to integrate 20% of the fighters into the army and police and provide civil service jobs for the rest, but experts who tracked the program said many former Awakening members were left out. Some quit the jobs because of low or inconsistent pay. Maliki’s government allied with others in a bid to divide the movement, analysts say.
As the government arrested hundreds and perhaps of thousands of Sunni politicians and civil servants in 2010 and 2011, allegedly for Baath Party or terrorism connections, many former Awakening fighters also were rounded up by an increasingly Shiite-dominated security force that regarded them as thugs or worse.
“Hundreds of them are rotting in detention centers without trials for five and six years,” Shibib said.

A former general in the Hussein-era army, Shibib wears a loaded handgun over his long white dishdasha but rarely ventures outside his home for fear he might be killed by Al Qaeda militants. He has escaped, by his count, six bombs planted in his cars and more than 300 mortar rounds fired in the direction of his compound, nestled among fruit orchards in Baghdad’s southern suburbs.
“There can be no dialogue between the Awakening and Al Qaeda, because we fought them very severely,” he said. “But the situation in the country is grave and whole areas are coming under control of this [insurgent] movement. So if there are factions that are reasonable, then Awakening leaders might reach an agreement with them to keep their people safe.”
Shibib and others say that ISIS and allied factions often negotiate with local officials before attempting to take control of villages and towns. The talks offer a chance for tribal leaders, including Awakening members, to defuse problems before the militants arrive.
This month, Shibib said, before insurgents entered the town of Duluiya, about 55 miles north of Baghdad, ISIS negotiators sent word to local officials that they wanted to question 50 people whom they considered enemies, many of them ex-Awakening fighters. Town officials rejected the demand, prompting a feverish negotiation with other insurgent factions before the tribal leaders agreed to let the insurgents in without a fight.
In Hawija, in the northern province of Kirkuk, an Awakening leader who goes by the name Abu Saddam said ISIS controlled the area but so far had left his men alone.
“There is some communication between us and the revolutionaries, and for now we feel they don’t hold any grudges against us,” he said by phone.
In the Sunni-dominated western province of Anbar, the heart of the Awakening movement, analysts say that many tribal leaders are on the fence, waiting to see whether ISIS and its allies have staying power. If they turn on the insurgents, many observers say, it would be out of self-interest and not to defend Baghdad.
“The sahwa have lost all confidence in the government,” said a former high-ranking Iraqi official, using the Arabic word for awakening. The official, a Shiite, did not want to be identified criticizing Maliki’s policies.
“Some of them cannot live with terrorists. Some are staying neutral. Some are giving accommodation to the terrorists,” the former official said. “But you cannot expect them to fight for the government, because that would be fighting for their sworn enemy.”

Iraqi cleric pushes for emergency government

Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of powerful Mahdi army, says "new faces" are needed to tackle ISIL and Sunni rebellion.

Last updated: 26 Jun 2014 09:50
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Fighters loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr vowed to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [Getty]
Iraq's powerful Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has called for a national emergency government, a day after Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, rejected any attempts to challenge his rule.
Sadr, whose movement, the Mahdi army, has vowed to battle the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, on Wednesday said that the Iraqi government "must fulfill the legitimate demands of the moderate Sunnis and stop excluding them because they have been marginalised".

The cleric demanded "new faces" in a national unity government following April 30 elections that saw Maliki emerge with by far the most seats, albeit short of a majority.
"We also need to rush the formation of a national government with new names and from all backgrounds and not to be based on the usual sectarian quotas," he said in a televised address.
"I call upon all Iraqis to stop fighting and terrorising the civilians, the Iraqi government must fulfill the legitimate demands of the moderate Sunnis and stop excluding them because they have been marginalised."
Al Jazeera's Imran Khan, reporting from Baghdad, said that the comments effectively said that Sadr wanted to get rid of Maliki and choose a new government.
"These comments are strong and will be noticed," he said, adding they showed a "huge rift" between what Maliki wants and what others believe.
"But Maliki ‎insists that he is the only one that can lead Iraq out of this crisis. July 1st will be a big test for him politically. That's when parliament are due to meet, and they'll discuss the formation of the new government."
Sadr promised his fighters would "shake the ground under the feet of ignorance and extremism".
Sadr's remarks came days after fighters loyal to him paraded with weapons in the Sadr City area of north Baghdad, promising to fight the offensive by the fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Maliki ruled out a unity government on Wednesday.
ISIL and associated groups have overrun swaths of several provinces, killed nearly 1,100 people, displaced hundreds of thousands and threaten to tear the country apart.
Barack Obama, the US president, has so far refrained from carrying out air strikes on the rebels, as urged by Maliki, but American military advisers began meeting Iraqi commanders on Wednesday, with Washington having offered up to 300.
Washington has pressed for Iraq's fractious political leaders to unite in a national emergency government, and on Wednesday brushed off Maliki's insistence that such a move would be a "coup against the constitution and the political process".
Washington has stopped short of calling for Maliki to go, but has left little doubt it feels he has squandered the opportunity to rebuild Iraq since American troops withdrew in 2011.

FWIW  Might be some evidence of flooding of waters from Haditha Dam....

Modern army drown

Modern army drown
Government forces sink modern lift the siege of militants by the motionless | moderngovernment troops stationed in the district of a modern, open the gates of Haditha Dam, which led to a rise in the water level of the Euphrates River to more than 50 cm so far, in a move designed to hinder the movement of militants. reported Witnesses, that "the water of the Euphrates River rose to more than 50 cm so far, with fears the people from the sinking of the existing zone basin of the river." added witness of parents, that "militants seizing control of the area Alkhsfah (10 km west of modern), with continued Government forces stationed on the Haditha Dam bombardment by artillery, which led to the displacement of dozens of families out of the city. " The government forces have come to rely methods - non-military - in the face of areas beyond the control of hurting people, including the dumping of cities and cutting off water, electricity and fuel, and last but not least to refrain from paying salaries to the staff of the provincial Almentvdh