Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Iraq / Syria War Theatre Civil War updates - Focus on Iraq ( June 25 , 2014 ) -- Over 4,000 Killed Across Iraq So Far in June .......... State of play regarding battles within Iraq for control and the process of encircling Baghdad may have become ........ Kurds rebuff John Kerry who warned the Kurd against seceding from Iraq even as Maliki stands firm in running Iraq his way and apparently straight into the ground ( note Maliki opposes forming a national emergency government ) .....

Late Day wrap.....



BIG NEW....

Business Insider....

Iraqi Officials: We Have Essentially Given Up The North Of The Country





BAGHDAD (AP) — Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is ready to concede, at least temporarily, the loss of much of Iraq to Sunni insurgents and is instead deploying the military's best-trained and equipped troops to defend Baghdad, Iraqi officials told The Associated Press Tuesday.
Shiite militias responding to a call to arms by Iraq's top cleric are also focused on protecting the capital and Shiite shrines, while Kurdish fighters have grabbed a long-coveted oil-rich city outside their self-ruled territory, ostensibly to defend it from the al-Qaida breakaway group.
With Iraq's bitterly divided sects focused on self-interests, the situation on the ground is increasingly looking like the fractured state the Americans have hoped to avoid.
"We are facing a new reality and a new Iraq," the top Kurdish leader, Massoud Barzani, told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday in Irbil, capital of the self-ruled Kurdish region in northern Iraq.
Two weeks after a series of disastrous battlefield setbacks in the north and west, al-Maliki is struggling to devise an effective strategy to repel the relentless advances by militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a well-trained and mobile force thought to have some 10,000 fighters inside Iraq. The response by government forces has so far been far short of a counteroffensive, restricted mostly to areas where Shiites are in danger of falling prey to the Sunni extremists or around a major Shiite shrine north of Baghdad.
These weaknesses were highlighted when the government tried but failed to retake Tal Afar, a mixed Shiite-Sunni city of some 200,000 that sits strategically near the Syrian border. The government claimed it had retaken parts of the city but the area remains under the control of the militants after a battle in which some 30 volunteers and troops were killed.
Iraq
REUTERS
Government forces backed by helicopter gunships have also fought for a week to defend Iraq's largest oil refinery in Beiji, north of Baghdad, where a top military official said Tuesday that Sunni militants were regrouping for another push to capture the sprawling facility.
In the face of militant advances that have virtually erased Iraq's western border with Syria and captured territory on the frontier with Jordan, al-Maliki's focus has been the defense of Baghdad, a majority Shiite city of 7 million fraught with growing tension. The city's Shiites fear they could be massacred and the revered al-Kazimiyah shrine destroyed if Islamic State fighters capture Baghdad. Sunni residents also fear the extremists, as well as Shiite militiamen in the city, who they worry could turn against them.
The militants have vowed to march to Baghdad and the holy Shiite cities of Najaf and Karbala, a threat that prompted the nation's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, to issue an urgent call to arms that has resonated with young Shiite men.
The military's best-trained and equipped forces have been deployed to bolster Baghdad's defenses, aided by U.S. intelligence on the militants' movements, according to the Iraqi officials, who are close to al-Maliki's inner circle and spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss such sensitive issues.
The number of troops normally deployed in Baghdad has doubled, they said, but declined to give a figure. Significant numbers are defending the Green Zone, the sprawling area on the west bank of the Tigris River that is home to al-Maliki's office, as well as the U.S. Embassy.
"Al-Maliki is tense. He is up working until 4 a.m. every day. He angrily ordered staff at his office to stop watching TV news channels hostile to his government," one of the officials said.
The struggle has prompted the Obama administration to send hundreds of troops back into Iraq, nearly three years after the American military withdrew.
The Pentagon said Tuesday that nearly half of the roughly 300 U.S. advisers and special operations forces are now on the ground in Baghdad, where they have begun to assess the Iraqi forces and the fight against Sunni militants. Another four teams of special forces will arrive in days, bringing the total to nearly 200.
Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, also said the U.S. is conducting up to 35 surveillance missions daily over Iraq to provide intelligence as Iraqi troops battle the aggressive and fast-moving insurgency. About 90 of the U.S. troops are setting up a joint operations center in Baghdad.
Iraqi officials said the U.S. advisers were expected to focus on the better units the Americans had closely worked with before pulling out.
Iraq's best-trained and equipped force is a 10,000-strong outfit once nicknamed the "dirty division" that fought alongside the Americans for years against Sunni extremists and Shiite militiamen. Now it is stretched thin, with many of its men deployed in Anbar province in a months-long standoff with Sunni militants who have since January controlled a city 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Baghdad.
The focus on Baghdad, rather than recapturing the vast Sunni areas to the west and north, has been subtly conveyed to the media in daily briefings by chief military spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi. He has in recent days shifted from boilerplate assurances that the military is on the offensive to something less confident.
"Withdrawals from anywhere to another location does not mean defeat or that we permanently left an area," he said Monday. "It is a battlefield, and the fight includes going forward and backward and regrouping."
The Iraqi military, rife with corruption and torn by conflicting loyalties, lacks adequate air cover for its ground troops and armor, with the nation's infant air force operating two Cessna aircraft capable of firing U.S.-made Hellfire missiles. That leaves the army air wing of helicopter gunships stretched and overworked.
While Iraq's security forces number a whopping 1.1 million, with 700,000 in the police and the rest in the army, corruption, desertion and sectarian divisions have been a major problem. With a monthly salary of $700 for newly enlisted men, the forces have attracted many young Iraqis who would otherwise be unemployed. Once in, some bribe commanders so they can stay home and take a second job, lamented the officials.
Al-Maliki's effort to bolster the defense of the capital coincides with Iraq's worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. forces, with the nation facing a serious danger of splitting up into warring Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish enclaves.
The declaration by Barzani, the Kurdish leader, of a "new Iraq," was a thinly veiled reference to the newly won Kurdish control of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which the Kurds have long sought to incorporate into their self-rule region.
Control of Kirkuk and Kurdish pockets in Diyala province and elsewhere have been at the heart of tension between the Kurdish region and the Baghdad government, and the Kurds are unlikely to want to give up that territory, regardless of the status of the fighting.
Al-Maliki, who has no military background but gets the final say on major battlefield decisions, has looked to hundreds of thousands of Shiite volunteers who joined the security forces as the best hope to repel the Islamic State's offensive.
While giving the conflict a sectarian slant — the overwhelming majority are Shiites — the volunteers have also been a logistical headache as the army tries to clothe, feed and arm them. Furthermore, their inexperience means they will not be combat ready for weeks, even months.
Still, some were sent straight to battle, with disastrous consequences.
New details about the fight for Tal Afar — the first attempt to retake a major city from the insurgents — underscore the challenges facing the Iraqi security forces.
Dozens of young volunteers disembarked last week at an airstrip near the isolated northern city and headed straight to battle, led by an army unit. The volunteers and the accompanying troops initially staved off advances by the militants, but were soon beaten back, according to military officials.
They took refuge in the airstrip, but the militants shelled the facility so heavily the army unit pulled out, leaving 150 panicking volunteers to fend for themselves, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
The ill-fated expedition — at least 30 volunteers and troops were killed and the rest of the recruits remain stranded at the airstrip — does not bode well for al-Maliki's declared plan to make them the backbone of Iraq's future army.





TWEETS OF NOTE......FWIW....



floating bridges flooded after opened dam spillways caused massive water to be released.




Holy!! Catastrophic if true!! opens dam spillways. Massive water released. Near by villages flee.


Another angle of the hotel suicide blast in


Ambulances and Civil Defense units near by the hotel suicide site along with many others..


Eyewitnesses: Large deployments of army units are now surrounding aiming to secure and isolate it







http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-06-25/isis-holds-parade-captured-us-military-vehicles

ISIS Holds Parade With Captured US Military Vehicles

Tyler Durden's picture




As ISIS marches south over Iraq, produces moviescreates annual reportsand attacks damsThe Long War Journal reports The Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham's Ninewa Division continues to crank out images of its conquest of Mosul and the surrounding province. Earlier today, the Ninewa Division released photographs of its forces seizing control of several bases, displaying captured military hardware, and executing Iraqi soldiers. Then, the Ninewa Division published a set of photographs of amilitary parade in the city of Mosul. The photographs provide a glimpse of the ISIS' military strength in Mosul.

Scores of ISIS technicals, as well as several captured US-supplied Humvees, armored cars, and even artillery pieces are shown. Hundreds of ISIS fighters are involved in the parade, which begins during the day and goes on through the night.
Scores of ISIS vehicles and hundreds of fighters line up for the parade:
ISIS-Mosul-Parade-1.jpg
Seized Iraqi police pickup trucks, an armored car, and a military flatbed truck are shown in this picture:
ISIS-Mosul-Parade-2.jpg
A troop transport truck tows an artillery piece:
ISIS-Mosul-Parade-3.jpg
Military trucks tow two artillery pieces:
ISIS-Mosul-Parade-5.jpg
ISIS fighters celebrate while riding on US-supplied Iraqi military Humvees:
ISIS-Mosul-Parade-6.jpg

An ISIS fighter sits atop a captured US-made armored Humvee that appears to have been owned by the Iraqi National Police:
ISIS-Ninewa-photos-Jun24-9.jpg
The ISIS convoy moves through Mosul after the sun sets:
ISIS-Mosul-Parade-7.jpg
Two captured Iraqi soldiers are photographed, and their military IDs are displayed:
ISIS-Ninewa-photos-Jun24-15.jpg
ISIS fighters execute three Iraqi soldiers:
ISIS-Ninewa-photos-Jun24-16.jpg
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-06-25/baghdad-may-lose-its-drinking-water-isis-approaches-second-largest-dam

Baghdad May Lose Its Drinking Water As ISIS Approaches Second Largest Dam

Tyler Durden's picture




Against a background of having lost control of all western border crossings, Iraqi officials are concerned that ISIS fighters are advancing on the Haditha Dam, the second-largest in Iraq. With militants pouring in from the north, the northeast and the northwest, The NY Times reports, army officers told employees to stay inside and to be prepared to open the dam’s floodgates if ordered to do so. "This will lead to the flooding of the town and villages and will harm you also," warned one worried employee but this would not be the first time that the Iraqi government and ISIS have engaged in dam warfare, as the closure of the Falluja dam earlier in the year starved areas downstream in the provinces of Najaf and Diwaniya of water needed for crops. The situation is growing more grave as Maliki rejected calls for a caretaker government and has forced Iran's hand to help. Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia noted "the Iranians are playing in a big way in Iraq."

Iraq has lost control of its Western borders...
Beginning on Friday and in a rapid succession, ISIS fighters captured the western border crossings at Qaim, Waleed and Trebil.


Iraqi security officials said Wednesday that fighters for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria were advancing on the Haditha Dam, the second-largest in Iraq.


The militants are coming from the north, the northeast and the northwest.The ISIS fighters had already reached the nearby town of Burwana, on the eastern side of Haditha, and government forces were fighting to halt their advance.

Worried that the insurgents would reach the dam on the Euphrates River, about 120 miles northwest of Baghdad, army officers told employees to stay inside and to be prepared to open the dam’s floodgates if ordered to do so, an employee said.

“This will lead to the flooding of the town and villages and will harm you also,” the dam employee said he told the army officer.

According to the employee, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media, the officer replied: “Yes, I know, it will be against us and our enemies.”

This would not be the first time that the Iraqi government and ISIS have engaged in dam warfare.Earlier this year, when ISIS fighters seized the Falluja Dam, they opened it to flood fields of crops all the way south to the city of Najaf. The water at one point washed east as well, almost reaching Abu Ghraib, just west of Baghdad.

The closure of the dam also starved areas downstream in the provinces of Najaf and Diwaniya of water needed for crops. The dam was reopened after several weeks.
Iran is directing surveillance drones over Iraq from an airfield in Baghdad and is secretly supplying Iraq with tons of military equipment, supplies and other assistance,American officials said. Tehran has also deployed an intelligence unit there to intercept communications, the officials said.

Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the head of Iran’s paramilitary Quds Force, has visited Iraq at least twice to help Iraqi military advisers plot strategy. And Iran has deployed about a dozen other Quds Force officers to advise Iraqi commanders, and help mobilize more than 2,000 Shiite militiamen from southern Iraq, American officials said.

Iranian transport planes have also been making two daily flights of military equipment and supplies to Baghdad — 70 tons per flight — for Iraqi security forces.

“The Iranians are playing in a big way in Iraq,” Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, said in an interview.
But Maliki remains resistant to US calls for change...
Separately on Wednesday, Mr. Maliki rejected calls for a caretaker government, as he has before, but it appeared to be a repudiation of the Western leaders who have asked him to agree to share power with Iraq’s Sunnis and Kurds.

In a televised address, he criticized “other parties,” a reference to Sunnis and Kurds, for not doing more to support the government, and he rejected the idea of a caretaker government, which could be formed without his participation.

“Despite what we are suffering through, we haven’t heard from our political partners with any support,” Mr. Maliki said. “They are not partners in facing the crisis but they are partners in spending the wealth of Iraq.”
But apart from that - US equities are rallying on the worst GDP print in years and all media can talk about ius the Aereo decision...mission accomplished


http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2014/06/june-25th-iraq-sitrep-by-mindfriedo.html


WEDNESDAY, JUNE 25, 2014


June 25th IRAQ SITREP by Mindfriedo


24th June: First batch of US “Advisors” arrive in Iraq. Most arrive in Baghdad but some have been sent to Kirkuk to try and establish a coordinated intelligence gathering centre in Kirkuk and in Baghdad. The US plans to fly 30-35 reconnaissance missions over Iraq soon. The Iraqi government has agreed to share intelligence with the US. 

24th June: Iraqi news sources are reporting on US drones carrying out strikes on Daash positions in Anbar.
25th June: Gunmen have killed three Iranian Security Personnel on patrol along the Iran Iraq border in Kermanshah. 

25th June: The Milliyet Turkish Daily states that citizens from the following countries are detected at the Turkish Syrian border: China, Germany, France, Switzerland, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, the United States, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Yemen, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, Sudan and Russia 

25th June: Iraqi PM Nouri Al Maliki on efforts by the West to supplant him “The call to form a national emergency government is a coup against the constitution and the political process. The dangerous goals of forming a national emergency government are not hidden. It is an attempt by those who are against the constitution to eliminate the young democratic process and steal the votes of the voters.” 

25th June: Iran Moves in. According to the New York Times Iran is sending two flights per day of 70 tons each of military supplies. Iran has also set up an intelligence gathering centre and a communications intercepting post in Baghdad. It has also started flying reconnaissance drones over Iraqi airspace. 

25th June: Iran has repatriated 88 (some sources claim 130) aircraft, military and transport, that it held for 20 years to Iraq. Qassim Atta the spokesperson of the Iraqi Armed Forces states that these aircraft will now be used to fight Daash. 

25th June: Syria carries out airstrikes on rebel positions in Western Iraq. The rebel authorities are reporting civilian casualties. Syria is also reportedly flying drones over Iraqi areas along Syria’s border. The Sunni residents of Western Iraq are protesting these airstrikes. 

25th June: Time magazine publishes a piece titled “the End of Iraq.” The future map of Iraq it proposes hands Kirkuk to the Kurds and Baghdad to the Sunnis. The Sunni parts include parts of Syria and the Kurdish future state has both Iraqi and Syrian parts of Kurdistan as one. 

25th June: Forty Five Grad and Katyusha rockets are seized west of Basra on the Iraqi Saudi border. 

25th June: Iraqi government security forces are digging in around the town of Haditha. The dam and hydro electric power plant there is of strategic importance. The local Al-Jaghafa tribe has pledged support of the government force. The commander of the Iraqi forces in Anbar, Rashid Falih, is confident that his perimeter will hold. 

25th June: The US authorities have upped their estimate of Daash fighters in Iraq from 7000 to 10000 and climbing. 

25th June: Bernard Kouchner, the French Foreign Minister, states that he will travel to Kurdistan soon to witness the establishing of an independent Kurdish state. 

25th June: The United States authorities are more or less confident that the defence of Baghdad against a Daash led assault will hold. 

25th June: The Egyptian government stops broadcasting three Iraqi channels, Baghdadiya , al-Rafedain and al-Hadath, after the Iraqi government requests that they be banned for inciting sectarian conflict in Iraq. 
25th June: Jordanian truck drivers returning from western Iraq are reporting the absence of Daash militants. They state that Sunni tribes have rebelled against Maliki’s government. They state that locals are generally happy that the government forces have been routed. 

25th June: Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI) is calling for the prosecution of Shia Militias involved in the killing of Sunni prisoners in Hilla earlier in the week. Sixty nine detainees were killed. 

25th June: Iraqi government reports of violence in Iraq on the 25th of June:
Inter Rebel clashes in Saida in Diyala. Peshmerga forces witnessing the clashes withdrew in order to let rebels better kill each other. 

Daash attacks on a Pershmerga base in Baqouba have left 2 Peshmergas dead. 

Mortar fire has killed two civilians and injured four in Jalawa, Diyala.

Five Daash fighters killed in Tikrit. They were killed in government air strikes near Spiker base. This base in Tikrit is where government forces had fled and 1500 had been captured by rebels on the 12th of June. 350 SWAT members were chained and paraded, then locked up. 

Daash militants have taken 180 civilans hostage from Shiekhan and Kubba villages in Nineveh. They had earlier destroyed two mosques there. 

25th June: The brother of Sunni politician Mashaan al-Jobouri has been assassinated in a hotel in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. A silenced pistol was used in his assassination. Mashaan al-Jabouri was in exile in Syria earlier and had fled Iraq in 2006. His TV channel had been critical of the American Forces in 2003 and had been described as inciting sectarian division by the Iraqi government. He later returned to Iraq in 2013 and spoke against Kurdish control of Kirkuk. The Kurds saw this as an effort on his part to curry favor with Maliki.

Further reading: 

The following is a revealing debate on Al Jazeera following Saddam's execution between a Shia Iraqi politician and an Iraqi Sunni politician (Mashaan al Jobouri). The Sunni politician distinguishes between Iraqi Shias and those that are pseudo Iraqi, proxies of Iran and a part of Iran’s “Safavid” project. Transcript of Jobouri’s explanation at the end of the debate after the Shia politician walks out on being called an Iranian dog: 

“Well, first, if you please, Mr. Faisal allowed me to explain to the audience…. you were unable to bring one national Shiite guest accepts to show himself in this position. 

Clarify for the Iraqis….. these papers issued by the Interior Ministry, this person [Sadeq al-Musawi] who his name is "Tarek" request of Iraqi nationality in 2004, You know that he entered Qatar as Tariq and not on as Sadeq Al Mousawi, his father and mother living in Iran when recalling his friends, he recalls Ibrahim al-Jaafari and says that the has no family in Iraq. 

This person is not of an Iraqi citizen, he is part of the Safavid, Iranian project, when I say Shiites I do not mean the sons of Iraq from the Shiites Patriots.” 

http://www.uruknet.info/?p=29590



http://rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/250620144


Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 3 in Kirkuk, First Bombing Under Peshmerga Control

By RUDAW 6 hours ago
Security forces arrived in large numbers at the scene, and mosques were appealing for blood donations. Photo: Rudaw
Security forces arrived in large numbers at the scene, and mosques were appealing for blood donations. Photo: Rudaw
KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region – A suicide bomber detonated his explosives in the center of an arms market in a predominantly Kurdish neighborhood in Kirkuk, killing and wounding at least three people, including a child, and wounding dozens, according to preliminary reports.
The bomber detonated a belt full of explosives at the Rahimawa neighborhood of Kirkuk, which has been under the control of Kurdish forces since the Iraqi army withdrew from large parts of the country in the face of an onslaught by insurgents who have vowed to march on Baghdad.
A Rudaw correspondent in Kirkuk said the explosion took place at 6:15 pm local time. According to preliminary reports, two security forces personnel and a child were killed, and dozens of others wounded.
The explosion was the first since Kurdish forces took control of city’s security on June 11.
Colonel Ghalib Taha, police chief of Rahimawa, told Rudaw that the attacker had been acting suspiciously and had been spotted by people, but he detonated his payload before security forces could open fire.
Security forces arrived in large numbers at the scene, and mosques were appealing for blood donations.
On Tuesday, attackers gunned down 61-year-old Munir Kafili, the chairman of the Kirkuk City Council. Kafili, who was also the executive council member of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, was reportedly shot dead while distributing humanitarian aid from Turkey.
















































Tweets of note - FWIW....






ISIS is attacking an airbase – and closing in on its very own planes



Sending special ops forces to Iraq without a clear purpose is "an impossible mission"






Death toll increased to 50+ dead after airstrike of 'n army on 'i border town of




Reports the military advisers from will guide & command a direct imminent attack on in the next few days.



By bombing areas in ; tells the world I have a luxery of time to defend the axle of resistance after civil war in is over


http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-06-25/syrian-and-iraqi-al-qaeda-groups-merge-us-troops-arrive-full-iraq-update

Syrian And Iraqi Al-Qaeda Groups Merge As US Troops Arrive: The Full Iraq Update

Tyler Durden's picture




Here are the most notable news updates from overnight events in Iraq.
  • Syrian, Iraqi Al-Qaeda Groups Merge
As we noted previously, Iraq scourge ISIS is well-versed in the ways of corporate marketing, branding and etiquette, having released annual reports for at least the past two years. As it turns out, in what may be the most stunning update overnight from Iraq, ISIS is also proficient in corporate finance, namely mergers and acquisitions, after what Reuters reports was an effective merger of unequals after Syria's al Qaeda, aka the Nusra Front, pledged allegiance to the formerly rival group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in a Syrian border town, a monitoring group said, strengthening ISIS's control of both sides of the Syria-Iraq frontier.

From Reuters:
Fighters from Nusra Front, the Syrian wing of al Qaeda, took an oath of loyalty to ISIL in the town of Albu Kamal, close to the Iraqi border, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and an Islamist website said on Wednesday.

The central leadership of al Qaeda has disowned ISIL and proclaimed the Nusra Front as its official Syrian affiliate.

ISIL, which seized Iraq's main northern city Mosul on June 10, has since marched virtually unopposed towards Baghdad and is in control of major border posts on the frontier with Syria.

The group also controls large parts of eastern Syria, where it has both clashed with rival rebels groups and occasionally fought alongside them, complicating the three-year-old insurgncy against President Bashar al-Assad.

Twitter users posted a photo they said showed the Nusra Front leader of Albu Kamal, Abu Yusuf al-Masri, swearing loyalty to one of ISIL's prominent fighters. "It is very important because Nusra is strong in Albu Kamal," the Observatory's Rami Abdurrahman said. "We cannot say (ISIL) controls Albu Kamal but we can say they are now in Albu Kamal."
Ok, so Al Qaeda has now mastered mergers. Can they please already hire Goldman for the IPO as well? There is a lot of other people's money burning a hole in the pockets of the 1%, and it will find its way to ISIS. One way or another.
* * *
  • Maliki defies Kerry agreement, rules out national emergency government
According to AFP, as if John Kerry wasn't humiliated enough in Egypt already, today his "accomplishment" to get Maliki to agree to a emergency government, is also up in flames.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Wednesday ruled out forming a national emergency government to confront a Sunni militant offensive that has overrun large parts of the country.

“The call to form a national emergency government is a coup against the constitution and the political process,” Maliki said in a televised address. “The dangerous goals of forming a national emergency government are not hidden... It is an attempt by those who are against the constitution to eliminate the young democratic process and steal the votes of the voters,” said the Iraqi leader.

Maliki’s electoral bloc won by far the most seats in April 30 parliamentary elections with 92, nearly three times as many as the next biggest party, and the incumbent himself tallied 720,000 personal votes, also far and away the most. But he fell short of a majority in Iraq’s Council of Representatives, and has had to court the support of rivals in order to form a government.

A recent militant offensive led by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, has put pressure on Maliki from both domestic opponents and overseas, with critics alleging his policies are sectarian.
So with the democratic route out of the picture, it means the US flipflops on the ground will have to be activated.
* * *
  • US Troops Arrive In Baghdad On ISIS Mission
According to SkyNews, about 40 US special operations personnel have arrived in the Middle East to assess the Iraqi response to the invasion of ISIS.

The first team of American military advisers has arrived in Iraq to help the country tackle the threat from Islamist insurgents. About 40 of the 300 expected to be deployed to the Middle Eastern country were described by the Pentagon as having "started their mission".

Admiral John Kirby told reporters that two "initial assessment teams" have been deployed in Baghdad.

He said their role would be to assess the Iraqi army and not to engage in attacks on militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), who have seized several towns north of Baghdad.

Admiral Kirby said: "This isn't about rushing to the rescue.

"These teams will assess the cohesiveness and readiness of the Iraqi security forces ... and examine the most effective and efficient way to introduce follow-on advisers."
Scratch flipflops, make that boots.
* * *
  • Militants attack Iraq air base, seize control of small fields
The finaly update from Reuters, shows that any hopes to contain ISIS for now are in vein. Militants attacked one of Iraq's largest air bases and seized control of several small oilfields on Wednesday as U.S. military experts arrived to set up an operations centre to help Iraqi security forces counter a mounting Sunni insurgency.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who is fighting for his job and is under international pressure to create a more inclusive government, said he supported starting the process of forming a new government within a week.
In northern Iraq the Sunni militants extended a two-week advance that has been led by the hardline Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) but also includes an amalgam of other Sunni groups angered by Maliki's rule.
They blame him for marginalising their sect during eight years in power. The fighting threatens to rupture the country two and a half years after the end of U.S. occupation.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pressed Iraqi officials to form an "inclusive" government during a visit this week and urged leaders of the autonomous Kurdish region to stand with Baghdad against the onslaught. [ID:nL6N0P51PO]
A parliament session is planned within a week that will start the process of forming a new government based on the results of elections held in April.
"We will attend the first session of parliament," Maliki said on state television, adding the commitment stemmed from "loyalty to our people" and respect for a call by Iraq's foremost Shi'ite clergy.
* * *
In conclusion, here is the latest event map from the Institute for the Study of War:







Anti War......


Over 4,000 Killed Across Iraq So Far in June
by , June 24, 2014
At least 4,695 people were killed across Iraq so far in June, and the tally is only going to get higher as ISIS/DAASH militants continue their trek towards Baghdad. The United Nations also released its preliminary figures for the month, but they are much lower in comparison. Below is our methodology for using the higher figures.
Today’s violence left 313 dead and 172 wounded. Many of the victims were killed in air strikes and clashes. There was also at least one political assassination.
Casualty Analysis:
The United Nations already announced preliminary casualty figures for June even though there is another week to go in the month. They reported 1,075 civilian deaths during a 17-day period in four provinces. Nearly, 1200 people were wounded.
These confirmed figures are a "minimum" estimate of the tally, the group warned. Included in the numbers are the executions of security personnel who had surrendered to militants. Also, scores of detainees who were killed either in attacks or allegedly by Iraq security forces were considered civilians as well.
The U.N. has been reluctant to give a full account of the deaths in Iraq, due to the inability to confirm many of the reported deaths. For several months, they’ve avoided publishing any figures from occupied Anbar province, for example, even confirmed civilian deaths.
Many of the reports, particularly those from the Iraqi government need to be taken with a grain of salt. First, they appear to be undercounting military deaths. If they are to be believed, then several ground clashes resulted in the deaths of dozens of militants but not one soldier or policeman. It is also impossible to tell if they are overcounting militant deaths. Some of the tallies of militant deaths in airstrikes deep within occupied territory seem completely made up.
In this column, Antiwar.com has ignored some of the most outlandish reports, while still trying to make sense of what is obviously a very deadly situation. Any estimates made by anyone, even authorities in Iraq, are going to simply be estimates.
Here, we’ve tallied about 4,695 total deaths and 2,131 wounded, including today. Of these deaths, 3,106 were militants, suicide bombers, gunmen or other antagonists. Most of those deaths were reported by the Iraqi government and are not independently confirmable. That leaves 1,589 other deaths. Those belong to security personnel as well as civilians and includes a longer length of time, so it is still higher than the U.N. estimate, which is just civilians.
Politics:
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with leaders in Kurdistan and urged them to maintain unity with Baghdad. Kurdish President Massoud Barzani, however,said that this would be very difficult and blamed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for the country’s woes. Kurdish Spokesman Shafin Dizayee complained that Maliki has not been in touch with the Kurdish government at all since the hostilities began.
If Kurdistan is able to keep Kirkuk and its oilfields, which they occupied after Iraqi troops fled, the Kurds will have little incentive to stay within Iraq. Kirkuk would likely return to its historic status as a Kurdish capital.
The Iraqi cabinet announced it would not pay government employees in militant held areas until after the end of hostilities. Although it is obviously difficult to transfer money into the conflict areas, this could further alienate the minority groups residing there.
Jordanian jets peppered the border with air strikes as a warning to ISIS/DAASH militants. Unidentified jets were reported elsewhere, but they may have been Syrian.
Fighting:
The U.N. confirmed that 10 detainees were killed and 14 were wounded in Mosul, when Iraqi forces tossed a grenade in their cell. It is unclear when this occurred. Today, Iraqi air strikes were reported.
Around Balad, security forces killed 60 militants.
Thirty militants were killed near Falluja in Albu Shajal.
Security forces killed 24 gunmen in Saqlawiya.
In Jurf al-Sakhar36 militants were killed during a military operation.
Clashes continued in Adhaim after security forces were pushed out of the Himreenmountain area. At least 21 militants were killed.
In Qaim today, 20 civilians were killed and 93 were wounded when Syrian jets pounded the area.
The bodies of 12 policemen were found in RutbaEighteen civilians were killed and 42 more were wounded in an air strike against a petrol station. The "unidentified" aircraft may have been the same Syrian jets bombing other Iraq locations.
Airstrikes in Husseiba killed seven militants and six civilians.
In Baghdadthree dumped bodies were found.
Militants in Kirkuk assassinated a Turkmen leader, who was the head of the city council. A second prominent Turkmen was assassinated hours later.
Security forces killed three militants including their leader, in Hashimiya.
Six security elements were wounded in a mortar attack in Habaniya.
In Jalawla, at least one officer was killed in violent clashes.
civilian was gunned down in Muqdadiya.
militant leader was killed, along with dozens of his followers, in Hor al-Basha.
The former Camp Anaconda near Yathrib, which is now the Bakr Air Base, sustained a mortar attackThirteen militants were killed, including their leader.
Several militants were killed in Tal Afar.
Government forces are still in control of the Baiji refinery and Haditha dam.
Militants kidnapped 180 civilians from the villages of Shiekhan and Kubba in Ninewa province.



http://www.bnd.com/2014/06/24/3272636/islamist-fighters-reportedly-attempting.html


 — Iraq’s dire situation has gone from bad dream to nightmare in two weeks of fighting that have seen Sunni Muslim gunmen assert control over a growing area, including, Kurdish officials said Tuesday, at least two towns that lie on a crucial supply route linking Baghdad, the capital, with the mostly Shiite Muslim south.
The fall of towns in an area that American troops knew as the “triangle of death” because of its propensity for violence provided an ominous signal, the Kurdish officials said, that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and its Sunni allies are working to encircle Baghdad.
“The picture is no longer scary,” said Shafin Dizayee, the spokesman for the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government in Irbil. “It has become close to a nightmare scenario, where we see Daash expanding and taking control of its borders.” “Daash” is the Arabic acronym for ISIS.
Another Kurdish official, Jabbar Yawar, the spokesman for the Kurdish peshmerga militia, said ISIS fighters apparently had seized control of the towns of Iskandariya and Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad, and were reported in some instances to be just six miles from Baghdad.
“This area controls access to southern Iraq, and it appears as if they might try to push into Baghdad or even south towards the city of Hilla,” he said.
“This area controls access to southern Iraq, and it appears as if they might try to push into Baghdad or even south towards the city of Hilla,” he said.
Southern Iraq is mostly Shiite, and it supports the embattled government of Prime Minister Nouri al Malaki. Thousands of young men from the south have flocked to Baghdad to bolster the flagging army, and many observers have assumed that the flow of southern militiamen would help stem an ISIS advance that’s captured much of northern and central Iraq in the weeks since the city of Mosul fell under ISIS control June 10.
But the loss of the southern approaches to the capital would change that calculus and add to the sense that Baghdad was gradually being isolated. On Sunday, Iraqi soldiers lost control of the last major crossing point to Syria, while gunmen allied with ISIS took control Monday of Tirbil, Iraq’s only land crossing to Jordan. Anbar province, to Baghdad’s west, has been largely under ISIS’s sway since last year, and the group is now contesting government forces in Diyala and Salahuddin provinces, to the capital’s north and east.
As one town after another has fallen, the Iraqi government has insisted that most of the lost territory remains in government hands. But officials of the Kurdistan Regional Government provide a decidedly different view, one lent credibility by Kurdish estrangement from the Maliki government and ISIS. Their assessment of what’s taking place in Iraq also matches that of a U.S. defense official, who said ISIS and its allies were consolidating control of the Euphrates River Valley in apparent preparation for attacks on Baghdad.
The official, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, said Iraqi security forces were struggling to establish a defensive line centered on Samarra, a key city that controls the northern approaches to Baghdad. In a separate briefing, a senior U.S. intelligence official said ISIS was also menacing the Iraqi air base at Balad, the country’s largest military installation.
The only good news for the Maliki government, the Kurdish officials said, appeared to come from Baiji, where, the Kurds said, government troops remain in control of at least part of Iraq’s largest oil refinery. A government pullout from the refinery, which some news outlets reported Tuesday, would be an economic disaster for the government and a boon for ISIS. The facility produces 60 percent of Iraq’s gasoline.

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2014/06/24/3272636/islamist-fighters-reportedly-attempting.html#storylink=cpyThe only good news for the Maliki government, the Kurdish officials said, appeared to come from Baiji, where, the Kurds said, government troops remain in control of at least part of Iraq’s largest oil refinery. A government pullout from the refinery, which some news outlets reported Tuesday, would be an economic disaster for the government and a boon for ISIS. The facility produces 60 percent of Iraq’s gasoline.
“My information is that there is still fighting inside the refinery,” Yawar said. “When I last spoke with military officials in Baghdad, they said that about half the facility was in government hands and the other half in Daash hands and the government was sending special forces reinforcements from the besieged city of Samarra.”
So far, ISIS and its allies have mostly avoided direct confrontation with the Kurds’ peshmerga militia, which has a reputation for military effectiveness, and the peshmerga has largely avoided direct confrontations with the Sunni insurgents, refusing to assist Iraq’s army in repulsing ISIS beyond establishing a security line outside Kurdish territory, which stretches from the northern borders with Syria and Turkey south to the Iranian border. That Kurdish arc has remained more or less peaceful since the rebellion began.
The peshmerga also quickly occupied areas of the split Arab-Kurdish city of Kirkuk in the wake of the army’s retreat. The Kurdish government has long coveted Kirkuk for its symbolism as an ancient Kurdish city and its rich oil fields.
The estrangement between the Kurds and Maliki’s government is enormous. In the aftermath of the fall of Mosul, Maliki accused the Kurdistan Regional Government’s president, Massoud Barzani, of collaborating with ISIS, and the Kurds and Maliki have verbally battled over the Kurds’ push for autonomy and efforts to bypass Baghdad on oil sales.
Bridging that gap was the main reason Secretary of State John Kerry was in Irbil on Tuesday, meeting with Barzani, who’s called for replacing Maliki.
Despite the country’s dire security deterioration, there’s been no contact between Barzani and Maliki since Mosul fell, said spokesman Dizayee and Harry Schute, an American security adviser to the Kurdish Ministry of Interior.
The last contact between the peshmerga and the Iraqi army, Schute said, was when “they handed over the keys to the facilities” in Kirkuk.
Added Dizayee, “Maliki has not been in touch with Kurdish leaders once about the crisis. He’s adopted a stubborn position, and we simply cannot see how to go forward in light of this position.”
During his meeting with Kerry, Barzani told the secretary of state that “we are facing a new reality and a new Iraq.” Most analysts thought that statement meant the Kurds were unlikely to relinquish control of Kirkuk or to concede in their battle with Baghdad over oil revenues.
On Monday, Kerry met with Maliki officials in an effort to convince them to reach out to angry Sunnis _ who’ve flocked to support ISIS _ and the Kurds. At least part of that effort was successful: Dizayee said a delegation of officials from Baghdad would arrive in Irbil on Wednesday to begin talks on the crisis.

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2014/06/24/3272636/islamist-fighters-reportedly-attempting.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2014/06/24/3272636/islamist-fighters-reportedly-attempting.html#storylink=cpOn Monday, Kerry met with Maliki officials in an effort to convince them to reach out to angry Sunnis _ who’ve flocked to support ISIS _ and the Kurds. At least part of that effort was successful: Dizayee said a delegation of officials from Baghdad would arrive in Irbil on Wednesday to begin talks on the crisis.
Anti War......

Kerry Warns Iraqi Kurds: Don’t Secede

US Wants Kurdistan to 'Save Iraq'

by Jason Ditz, June 24, 2014
Meeting with leaders of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) today, Secretary of State John Kerry warned that the US is opposed to Kurdish secession from Iraq.
Kerry insisted he believes that Kurdish independence would  “accelerate a lot of negative trends” in the region, and in Iraqi politics in particular. KRG President Massoud Barzani has been talking up secession recently, urging Kurds to take the opportunity presented by the ongoing fighting.
Kerry envisions Kurdistan staying the course and somehow “saving” Iraq from ISIS by throwing their weight behind a new US-backed “unity” government. Iraq’s State of Law Party is going to attempt to form a new government at the end of the month.
Whether the Kurds give some nominal political support to a new post-Maliki government or not, the KRG is already one foot out the door, and likely to take the disputed city of Kirkuk, since taken by KRG Peshmerga fighters, along with the rest of Kurdistan.


Pentagon: ISIS a ‘Legitimate Threat’ to Baghdad

US May Set Up 'Joint Operations Center' in Northern Iraq

by Jason Ditz, June 24, 2014
Despite Secretary of State John Kerry saying that US military action was likely on hold until Iraq agrees on a new, post-Maliki government, the Pentagon today insisted there is a “sense of urgency” about the situation on the ground.
As the first US troops arrive in Iraq for “advisory” operations, the Pentagon says that they believe ISIS, which has taken over much of the nation’s west, is a “legitimate threat” to Baghdad itself and could seriously challenge the central government for its capital.
The first US troops will be operating out of Baghdad, but Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby says that they are considering setting up a secondary “joint operations center” in Iraq’s north.
Even with the “sense of urgency,” Kirby says the initial assessment of the state of Iraqi security won’t be completed for at least two or three weeks. This will likely put it beyond the formation of a new government, as indications are that those talks will begin in earnest at the end of the month.



http://rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/250620141


Erbil’s ‘No’ to the Americans

By RUDAW 51 minutes ago
US Secretary of State John Kerry is greeted in Erbil by Falah Mustafa, head of the KRG’s Departhment of Foreign Relations. Photo: DFR
US Secretary of State John Kerry is greeted in Erbil by Falah Mustafa, head of the KRG’s Departhment of Foreign Relations. Photo: DFR
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – When the US delegation that was arriving in Baghdad asked Iraqi Kurdistan’s top leaders to be there to meet with them, the Kurds reportedly refused.
In that rejection, and the reception they gave to Kerry in their own capital of Erbil on Tuesday, the Iraqi Kurds showcased their newfound confidence, strength and unity.
Knowing full well this was the last thing Washington’s top diplomat wanted to hear, the autonomous Kurdistan Region’s President Massoud Barzani brought up what his people wanted to talk about: independence.
Kerry was in Erbil to urge the Kurds to back the formation of a new, inclusive government in Baghdad, as insurgents that include the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) rack up stunning military victories against the Iraqi army and threaten to splinter Iraq.
Barzani told Kerry it could no longer be business as usual. “We are facing a new reality and a new Iraq.”
And while he did not reject Kerry’s request that the Kurds be part of a new, inclusive government in Baghdad, Barzani insisted that would have to be on Erbil’s terms.
But on Wednesday, it did not appear that Iraq’s Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was in any mood to change things.
"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.
As Maliki flails, Kerry’s visit to Erbil to seek Kurdish support is acknowledgement that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has a key say in what happens next in Iraq, where the first batch of US advisers have arrived.
Sources tell Rudaw that the US had asked that a KRG delegation, to include Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and former premier Barham Salih, travel to Baghdad to meet with Kerry’s visiting delegation. 
The Kurds said, ‘no,’ according to the source, who did not want to be identified.
“Because of some of the internal politics of Iraq right now, it was important for me to come here, and I’m glad I did,” Kerry said in Erbil.
In his 20-minute closed-door meeting with Kerry, "President Barzani frankly said that there is a new reality in Iraq and any solution should in light of the developments and the new reality," reported Falah Mustafa, head of the KRG’s Department of Foreign Relations.
According to a statement posted on the Kurdistan Presidency website, Barzani told Kerry that Kurds would no longer be willing to bow to Baghdad. 
“We believe that Baghdad is trying to marginalize us, as was the case with the previous regime, but the people of Kurdistan have made great sacrifices for their freedom and they would never accept this subjugation," said a  statement quoting the Kurdish president.
The Kurds have had a host of serious problems with the Shiite-led government in Baghdad, including over oil and their share of the budget, and the two have come close to war.
In Erbil, unlike previous meetings, where the Kurdish president would speak with senior foreign officials alone, the meeting with Kerry demonstrated stronger Kurdish unity: Leaders of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Change Movement (Gorran) also got a chance to speak with the US secretary.
"It’s important that most of the leaders of the winning parties of Kurdistan sit and convey the Kurdish views to an important personality like John Kerry," said Shorsh Haji, a senior Gorran leader.
The Kurdish president also reaffirmed that, while the Kurds are committed to fighting terrorism, they will not be dragged into a sectarian war under that pretext. 
"The people of Kurdistan are against terrorism in all shapes and forms and have been the victims of terrorism themselves,” Barzani told Kerry. “But the fight against terrorism has been a pretext for sectarian rivalries, and we cannot be part of this,” he said.



http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2014/06/25/Iraq-PM-rules-out-national-emergency-government-.html


Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Wednesday ruled out forming a national emergency government to confront a Sunni militant offensive that has overrun large parts of the country.

“The call to form a national emergency government is a coup against the constitution and the political process,” Maliki said in a televised address.

“The dangerous goals of forming a national emergency government are not hidden.

“It is an attempt by those who are against the constitution to eliminate the young democratic process and steal the votes of the voters,” said the Iraqi leader.

Maliki’s electoral bloc won by far the most seats in April 30 parliamentary elections with 92, nearly three times as many as the next biggest party, and the incumbent himself tallied 720,000 personal votes, also far and away the most.

But he fell short of a majority in Iraq’s Council of Representatives, and has had to court the support of rivals in order to form a government.

A recent militant offensive led by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, has put pressure on Maliki from both domestic opponents and overseas, with critics alleging his policies are sectarian. 


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