Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Iraq Updates June 18 , 2014 ( check 6/18 IRAQ SITREP from Mindfriedo for all the events of the day - fantastic wrap up 1 ) --- U.S. rules out Iraq airstrikes for now President Obama opts to pursue alternative strategies , Saudis blast back at PM Maliki , Updates on the Kurdish situation , Tweets of the Morning .........( Evening June 17 , 2014 ) -- As troops move throughout Iraq , the news of the day was the preemptive blast by Iraq Prime Minister Maliki directed to not just the Sunnis , but also a broadside directly at the Saudis ! This Is Not Going As Planned: Iraq Prime Minister Defies US, Accuses Saudi Arabia Of "Genocide" ........ Meanwhile the Kurds keep loading and selling Kurdish oil , controlling Kurdish territory ! Note rising tensions between Kurds and Turkmen though in Kirkuk !

Evening wrap 6/18/14....

Explosive !


Donald Rumsfeld: The U.S. government paid Shia imam, Ali al-Sistani, $200 million to issue fatwas in support of the U.S. invasion of

Donald Rumsfeld: When Sistani received the money, President Bush established a new desk at the CIA, headed by retired admiral Symon Polandi


Donald Rumsfeld: My relationship with Sistani was established through Jawad al-Mahri, Mr. Sistani’s secretary in Kuwait

Former ambassador to : funding & arming terrorists in ; how can we trust they will attack in ?!


for the fierce clashes inside oil refinery since hours..




David Petraeus Warns Obama "There Is Great Risk" In Military Involvement With Iraq

Tyler Durden's picture





The Army general who oversaw the U.S. military’s surge of troops into Iraq in 2007 issued a stark warning Wednesday on any further military action. As WaPo reports, Retired Gen. David Petraeus says a number of preconditions should be met before Washington intervenes in the growing crisis - the United States should not offer military support unless Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (whoc has stated "it's too late for regret," is able to adjust political conditions there so that his Shiite-led government is seen as fair and representative throughout the country. The bottom line, he warns, "this cannot be the United States being the air force for Shia militias or a Shia on Sunni Arab fight. It has to be a fight of all of Iraq against extremists."

The architect of the successful “surge” strategy that helped to quell the last great outbreak of sectarian violence in Iraq almost a decade ago saidthere was a great risk that the U.S. would be seen as picking sides in a religious battle that has been waged for generations.

...

If America is to support then it would be in support of a government against extremists rather than one side of what could be a sectarian civil war,” he said at the Margaret Thatcher Conference on Liberty in London. “It has to be a fight of all of Iraq against extremists, who happen to be Sunni Arabs, but extremists that are wreaking havoc on a country."

...

Although Petraeus was careful not dismiss the idea of airstrikes entirely, he made it clear that his pre-conditions for support could not be met by the current government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

...

You cannot have 18 to 20 percent of the population feeling disenfranchised; feeling that it has no stake in the success of the country, in fact it has a stake in the failure of Iraq."
But (as WaPo reports) it does not seem like Maliki is willing to compromise...
It seems unlikely that Maliki will move toward compromising with the Sunnis any time soon. He admitted on television Wednesday that his government has made some mistakes, but it was not the time to dwell on them.

“What has happened is a setback, but not all setbacks are defeat,” he said, according to The Washington Post. “It’s too late for regret.”
We are sure President Obama is listening, looking at his putt, listening, looking at his approval ratings, and will make the right decision.

http://rudaw.net/english/interview/18062014

Erdogan Advisor Blames Maliki, Says ‘Iraq Practically Divided’

10 hours ago
Celik: ‘Some people might like to write scenarios, but the Turkish government does not act according scenarios written by other people.’ Photo: Rudaw
Celik: ‘Some people might like to write scenarios, but the Turkish government does not act according scenarios written by other people.’ Photo: Rudaw
 By Kemal Avci
Huseyin Celik, spokesman for Turkey’s ruling Jusice and Development Party (AKP) and a key advisor to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said it has become clear for Ankara “that Iraq has practically become divided into three parts.” In an interview with Rudaw, Celik placed blame for the unfolding crisis in Iraq squarely on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the “sectarian policies by which he marginalized the Sunnis.”
Sounding pessimistic over developments in Iraq, where rebels are marching on Baghdad to overthrow Maliki’s Shiite-led government, Celik denied accusations that Turkey had ever aided the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which is involved in the Iraq fighting. “What we see now is the absence of authority in Iraq,” Celik said. “It is unfortunate that Iraq became a second Syria.” Commenting on ties between the autonomous Kurdistan Region and Turkey – Erbil’s largest trade partner and arguably its closest ally -- Celik vowed: “We will continue to develop our relationship” despite Baghdad’s disapproval of growing ties, which include large cooperation over oil exports that Baghdad has opposed.
Rudaw spoke to Celik in Ankara. Here is an edited transcript of the interview:
What we see now is the absence of authority in Iraq,

Rudaw: The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has controlled Mosul and the onslaught continues, while the Turkish consulate in Mosul has been occupied. How do you evaluate the situation and what do you think the goals of the ISIS are?
Huseyin Celik: We are certainly worried about the safety of our citizens in the Turkish consulate of Mosul and condemn this action. We hope our citizens will return without being harmed. But I would like to comment on how Iraq is viewed from Turkey.  Undoubtedly, what’s going on in Iraq is worrying for Turkey as a neighbor. We have strong economic relations with Iraq. It has become clear for us that Iraq has practically become divided into three parts. 
The path has become clear for the creation of a federal region or a state system and this is internationally acceptable. However, the central government of Iraq has been absent. Unfortunately, Maliki’s sectarian policies have brought Iraq to the brink of collapse. The occupation of Iraq by the United States and then abandoning it has created a great chaos. Maliki’s government came to power amidst this chaos and it was extremely weak and incompetent. He implemented sectarian policies by which he marginalized the Sunnis and did not give them a chance to take part in the political process. 
When people are denied access to express themselves within a democratic political framework, the radical groups will take the initiative. The ISIS and the other radical groups are the product of such policies. 
As you know a short while ago parliamentary elections were held in Iraq and Maliki’s list was the winner in the elections, but he cannot form a new government without resorting to a coalition. This means that Iraq is practically without a government. Aside from that, the Iraqi parliament is made of around 10 small political blocs. In general, there is a weak political process in Iraq. 
Our brothers in northern Iraq also held parliamentary elections. It is true that the government has not been formed yet, but the groups have agreed to appoint Nechirvan Barzani as the prime minister and Qubad Talabani as his deputy prime minister. In this aspect northern Iraq is a stable region with a progressive booming economy and it has very good ties with Turkey. As friends of -- and brothers of -- northern Iraq, or let’s say Iraqi Kurdistan, we are very happy with the continuous progress there. Seventy percent of our economic transaction with Iraq is done through Iraqi Kurdistan. 
  When people are denied access to express themselves within a democratic political framework, the radical groups will take the initiative. 

It is obvious that the Iraqi government is upset with the economic ties between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan and tries to hinder them. But we will continue to develop our relationship. 
Five more gates (border crossings) will be opened between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan in the near future. Our ties will progress at all levels after opening these new gates. I believe the Iraqi central government does not like this, either. 
However, Iraqi Kurdistan is a federal region, and there could exist another federal region (Sunni). But, a government that can protect the territorial integrity of Iraq is important for Iraqi-Turkish ties.
Rudaw: You said that Iraq has practically been divided into three parts. Don’t you think that this division will deepen further if the ISIS creates a de facto state in Mosul and Tikrit?
Huseyin Celik: What we see now is the absence of authority in Iraq. No one knows who is the enemy and who is a friend. There are also rumors that Turkey assisted the ISIS. But I would like to emphasize that Turkey wants the removal of the oppressive regime in Syria more than anything else.
We are not hiding our desire to topple Bashar al-Asad, because we believe that he represents the authority of a minority that wants to rule the majority through force. He is hurting the Syrian people for this reason. But Turkey only supports the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The ISIS is fighting against the FSA, against the Nusrah Front and against the Democratic Unity Party (PYD). Hence, the rumors accusing Turkey of assisting the ISIS is ridiculous and laughable, because we only support the FSA.
Rudaw: Do you think that the Middle East is on the brink of a sectarian war?
Huseyin Celik: There are some people who wish this war to happen, but our hope is to never see this happening. I would like to draw your attention to the statements of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran says that they will get involved in the war in Iraq if Najaf and Karbala were threatened. You all have witnessed the intense fighting in Syria. Iraq has also become engulfed in this fighting. The Iraqi army has practically gone offline. The Peshmargas are controlling some regions in the north and there is a state and government authority in those regions. But unfortunately the Iraqi army has disintegrated. 
There is no information about the regions evacuated by the Iraqi army and which are controlled by armed groups.  Imagine what happens if Iran got involved! 
It was greatly unfortunate that Iraq got occupied and then abandoned by the United States of America (US), before the normalization of the situation on the ground. As a result we see groups like the ISIS have surfaced, and this is a great misfortune for the region and the Islamic region.
  We are not hiding our desire to topple Bashar al-Asad, 

Rudaw: Is the ISIS alone or supported by other forces?
Huseyin Celik: We have to know the ISIS is not a state, and they cannot buy weapons with their own pocket money. Let’s put the weapons they seized in Mosul aside, and think about their number, which exceeds thousands, and how they can provide food and transportation for them. I do not want to talk about the mind and the power behind the ISIS. It is important to be wise at such circumstances. It is unfortunate that Iraq became a second Syria. 
Rudaw: What message does the ISIS want to send to Turkey through abducting the members of the Turkish consulate in Mosul?
Huseyin Celik: We can say that the ISIS has resorted to the Turkish consulate because it is the only foreign representative in Mosul, through which they can send their voice to the world. They would have attacked other foreign representatives had they existed in Mosul. They want to make the world hear their voice through this action.
Rudaw: The Turkish media have been talking about sending Turkish forces to Mosul and Kirkuk, according to the Ankara agreement of 1928. What do you say about this?
Huseyin Celik: Turkey does not have expansionist and imperialist ambitions. Iraq is our neighbor and its borders are obvious. We respect those borders and support protecting them. Some people might like to write scenarios, but the Turkish government does not act according scenarios written by other people. 
Rudaw: If Iraqi Kurdistan declared independence in the light of the current situation, what would Turkey’s reaction be?
Huseyin Celik: The Kurds of Iraq can decide where to live and under what title they want to live. Turkey does not decide for them. The people of Iraqi Kurdistan are our friends and we helped them in all aspects. We will continue to help them and we will never become their rivals. So if Iraq could not solve its internal problems and the practical division of Iraq that we mentioned earlier, and this became an official division, then the people living there would have the right to self-determination like other nations. Of course, our hope for Iraq is to remain united, but at the same time we hope that all sides will respect the human rights, their democratic aspirations and the achievements of the federal units. Turkey will always support Iraqi Kurdistan whenever they have such aspirations.
Rudaw: How can Iraq overcome this crisis?
  Turkey does not have expansionist and imperialist ambitions. Iraq is our neighbor and its borders are obvious. 

Huseyin Celik: It depends on PM Maliki. If he really wants to become the prime minister (again), then he should treat everyone equally and stand at the same distance from everyone. He must not differentiate between the Shiites and the Sunnis. He must not differentiate between the north and the south. The solution for this crisis is clear. 
You remember when I wanted to visit his Excellency Barzani (in Erbil) in order to attend a number of ceremonies. Baghdad did not give our private plane permission to land, so we came with an ordinary plane. This incident is enough to understand the nature of the Iraqi central government.



http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2014/06/june-18th-iraq-sitrep-by-mindfriedo.html

( Great overview of today's events ! ) 

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 18, 2014


June 18th IRAQ SITREP by Mindfriedo

I would like to thank the Saker for permitting me to post these updates. They are mostly open source. I just compile them. There were a few commentators (appreciate all your support) who had asked about Daash and the future of Iraq. I am no expert here. However, please refer to this link:
 
 
It shows how Daash is establishing control and earning revenue through oil. This oil and Kurdish oil is flowing through Turkey. The militants are attacking through Turkey; the injured are leaving through Turkey. Turkey is playing both sides. Turkey, unlike Saudi Arabia, is in it for the money. Turkey is the new Pakistan of the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. Whoring itself unscrupulously. Turkey should look at Pakistan now and shudder. For once the militants loose, and they will lose, they will turn in frustration on their masters. Blowback/karma is a bitch. 

17th June: The US embassy has been supplemented with 275 marines. An additional force is being kept in reserve with Osprey V-22 aircraft on stand by.
17th June: Lakhtar Brahimi has very politely called Tony Blair a spent force. One that nobody is interested to listen to anymore.
17th June: America confirms that discussions were held with Iran regarding Iraq on the sidelines of the Vienna summit. Iran at first denies any talks concerning Iraq. They are then confirmed by Iran's foreign minister Javed Zarif.
17th June: Six terrorist bombings in Baghdad have left 17 dead and 34 injured.
17th June: Police personnel have discovered the bodies of 18 men in the west of Samarra. They were members of the security forces and were shot through the head and chest.
17th: Maliki sacks four senior military commanders. He recommends the court martial of one of the four.
17th June: The brother of the slain Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi in Sallahuddin province along with 10 other Daash militants has been arrested by Security Forces.
17th June: Reuters reports that Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli minister of Strategic Affairs, has cautioned the US against working with Iran stating "Iran should not be helped to expand its influence in Iraq."
18th June: Baiji refinery is now under heavy attack with militants using mortar and machine gun fire and attacking from two sides. It is not expected to hold on for long. The attack started at 4 am.
18th June: Maliki appears on Iraqi television along with Kurdish and Sunni leaders appealing to militants to lay down their arms.
18th June: Rouhani says that Iran will do whatever it takes to protect Shia shrines in Iraq.
18th June: Nasrallah speech made on Tuesday the 17th of June: "We are ready to sacrifice martyrs in Iraq five times more than what we sacrificed in Syria, in order to protect shrines, because they are much more important than [the holy sites in Syria],”
18th June: The Shia militias are holding back the rebels in Baqouba.
18th June: Baiji refinery is now mostly in rebel hands.
18th June: Dr. John Andrew Morrow, an Islamic scholar terms Daash as not belonging to the Sunni faith; Zaid Hamid a Sunni Pakistani defence analyst has gone further and called them Kharajis, an anarchist, heretic early Islamic sect.
18th June: Heavy fighting has resumed in Tal Afar. The army has airlifted troops and is attempting to wrest control of the city from Daash
18th June: Shia militias have started returning from Syria. Their aim is to join the fight in Iraq against Daash. This is expected to affect the balance of power in Iraq and in Syria.
18th June: German police have arrested an injured French national on his return from Syria. The man was fighting against the Assad are gone and was returning via, very interesting, Turkey. The man was arrested on Sunday. French authorities deported a Tunisian who was recruiting French nationals to fight for Daash. French authorities estimate that 800 of its nationals are currently in Syria.
18th June: Daash has reportedly asked all other groups in Mosul to refrain from claiming parts of Mosul in any other name. Daash has also confiscated weapons from fighters in Hawija and forced them to swear allegiance before being allowed to be armed.
18th June: The town of Qaratapa in Diyala province, 110 km north of Baquba is now completely under Peshmerga control
18th June: Clashes between Peshmergas and Daash in Jalawla, a town 70 km north of Baquba, has displaced 150 families from the outskirts of the town.
18th June: Saqlawiyah, a town north of Fallujah is in government hands. Security forces claim to have killed 250 "terrorists." The town was earlier under opposition control.
18th June: The Iraqi airforce attacked a Daash military parade in Fallujah. An estimated 400 militants tried to hide on seeing the aircraft and hid an apartment building. The building was subsequently bombed. The air strike has reportedly killed 270 militants and destroyed seven vehicles.
18th June: the Iraqi armed forces are claiming to have killed 56 terrorists in the past 24 hours in and around Baghdad.
18th June: Maj Gen Qassim Atta, the spokesperson of the Iraqi Armed forces, claims that the army has killed 279 militants in Salahuddin, Diyala, and Nineveh. This claim was made on Sunday.
18th June: Iraqi state television is reporting the deaths of 70 militants in government airstrikes in Samarra and another 17 in Baqouba.
18th June: The Iraqi national news agecncy is claiming the success of the armed forces in Tal Afar. It has also claimed that the attack on Baiji refinery has been repelled. Forty militants are reported killed and vehicles destroyed.
18th June: Al Manar is reporting the deaths of 21 Daash militants by the army in Anbar.
18th June: al Manar is also reporting the deaths of 19 Daash militants in Edhaym. And government gains in Bala, Dhuluiya and Ishaqi.
18th June: Atta's press conference, points put forward:
Rumours of the fall of the Iraqi government, pro Daash tweet, are untrue
The government is not running out of food; the BBC was reporting yesterday of food shortages and hoarding
Confirms that Attack on Baiji refinery was repulsed and resulted in 40 terrorists being killed
Most of Tal Afar in government hands
Twenty terrorist killed in Tikrit and vehicles destroyed
Twenty one terrorist killed in Anbar province
Fifteen terrorist killed in Baqouba
Most of his assertions confirm earlier reported figures and are not in addition.
18th June: Sixty foreign workers have been kidnapped by Daash from Kirkuk. They were from Pakistan, Turkey, Bangladesh, Turkmenistan, and Nepal. The Turkish nationals were working on a hospital in the town of Dor. It is situated between Kirkuk and Sallahuddin. A worker who managed to evade capture has informed authorities of the abduction.
Forty Indian workers have been kidnapped by Daash in Mosul on Tuesday.
Eighty Turkish nationals were abducted by Daash when Mosul was captured. Thirty one of these were truck drivers.
Abductions, kidnappings and ransom are a lucrative means for Daash to fund its activities.
18th June: the United States has defended it's ally Saudi Arabia and termed Maliki's comments as "inaccurate and unprofessional."
18th June: the BBC is carrying a story on Gassem Soleimani and the power he wields. It talks about how the US needed his help in the past and how it might have to work with him again, of his helping Assad survive, and his organising the fight against Daash.
18th June: The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has warned in parliament that Daash plans attacks on the UK next.
18th June: Sir Peter Tapsell, referred to as the father of the house in the UK, has suggested that Tony Blair be impeached for misleading the world prior to Iraq's invasion.
18th June: the telegraph reports that Major General Mohammed Koraishi, allegedly captured and to be executed by Daash, is alive and well and is leading the assault against the militants in Tal Afar.
18th June: Rouhani's advisor has stated that Iran would be willing to work with America once the nuclear talks are successful

There is a touchy subject that I would like to mention. This is because everywhere I read in the western press it's always referred to as sectarian violence and sectarian killings. I would request readers to always read the detail in every report and not the headlines; the devil is in the detail. 
Nine times out of ten in Iraq it's the Sunni takfiris that are targeting Shias. Their modus operandi is suicide bombings, market bombings, mosque and shrine bombings, hospital bombings and targeted killings; mostly it is indiscriminate terror. This is true from Beirut to Karachi and in the case of other communities being targeted, all the way till Bali. The Shia response is ALWAYS a retaliation, and it has always occurred after a tipping point has been reached. Killings by Shias are equally bad (during the height of tit for tat killings, some Shia militias used ambulances to drive to Sunni areas in Baghdad, asked for blood for the resistance fighting against the Americans in Fallujah, kidnapped Sunni young men volunteering to donate blood, executed them, and dumped their bodies outside Sadr City-No good deed goes unpunished), no doubt, but the targets are never women, children, and civilians. Most targets were initially ex-Baathist. Then it was almost always young men. The Shia clergy, be they apolitical Sistani or the political mullahs of Iran, have always condemned them and called for restraint. 
 
This article by Patrick Cockburn is a case in point (the New York Times has printed a similar misleading story "As Sunnis Die in Iraq, a Cycle is Restarting")
 
 
He compares two events in Iraq. One the killing by Daash of 1700 Shia airforce recruits and the killing of 44 or 63 Sunni prisoners in Baquba. The Shias were recruits looking for a job, the prisoners were almost all arrested under Iraq's anti terrorism laws, possibly arbitrarily, but militants none the less. The Shias were killed in cold blood, the Sunnis, most probably, either in panic or fear of having to face them in the future. People can draw their own conclusions. But if Shias were to come down to sectarian killings, I doubt many Sunnis would remain in Iraq. 
I received a forwarded message today that was informing Shias that the fight in Iraq is not a Shia Sunni one, that Shias should reach out to Sunnis in their local communities, and that Daash are not Muslim. It was from a Shia.





























































































































































































































































































































































Morning of 6/18/14 ...


http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-rules-out-iraq-airstrikes-for-now-2014-06-18


June 18, 2014, 2:03 a.m. EDT

U.S. rules out Iraq airstrikes for now

President Obama opts to pursue alternative strategies

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By Carol E. Lee, Julian Barnes and Dion Nissenbaum
WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama decided against immediate air strikes on marauding Sunni extremists in Iraq, opting instead to pursue strategies such as providing intelligence to the Iraqi military, addressing the country’s political divisions and seeking support from regional allies.
Mr. Obama will convene a White House meeting Wednesday with Republican and Democratic leaders from the House and Senate to brief them on what officials call this new comprehensive approach.

U.S. forces capture key Benghazi suspect

The U.S. has captured Ahmed Abu Khattala, a senior suspect in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
The president wants to avoid airstrikes for now in part because U.S. military officials lack sufficient information to hit targets that would shift momentum on the battlefield. Officials say their approach also would help address underlying causes of the Sunni uprising and the collapse of Iraq’s military forces.
“What the president is focused on is a comprehensive strategy, not just a quick military response,” a senior administration official said. “While there may potentially be a military component to it, it’s a much broader effort.”
Mr. Obama ultimately may decide not to order air attacks, senior U.S. officials said, bucking what for days appeared to be the leading U.S. option to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, the terror group that has seized a large swath of Iraq’s north and west. U.S. strikes are still actively under discussion, but the officials cautioned Tuesday that they don’t expect Mr. Obama to put military action back on the table quickly, and said he may announce steps in a broader U.S. response over time.

Reuters
Volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi Army to fight against predominantly Sunni militants from the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), carry weapons during a parade in the streets in Al-Fdhiliya district, eastern Baghdad June 15, 2014.
The White House and Pentagon now hold a more skeptical view of the possible effectiveness of speedy airstrikes and instead are considering deploying U.S. special operations forces to provide intelligence and battlefield advice to the Iraqi military, the U.S. officials say.
Such an effort, the officials hope, would allow Iraqi forces to mount a counterattack. Officials said Mr. Obama could follow up increased training and advising of Iraqi forces with airstrikes if deemed necessary, but that outcome isn’t a sure thing. 























http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2014/06/18/Saudi-warns-of-civil-war-in-Iraq.html


Saudi warns of civil war in Iraq


Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said the unrest in Iraq 'carries warning signs of a civil war.' (File photo: Reuters)
Saudi Arabia warned Wednesday of the risks of civil war in Iraq with unpredictable consequences for the region, after Sunni militants seized large areas from Shiite-led government forces.

The unrest in Iraq “carries warning signs of a civil war with unpredictable consequences for the region,” Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said at the opening of an Islamic bloc meeting in the Red Sea city of Jeddah. 
Prince Saud renewed Saudi accusations that "sectarian policies of exclusion" of Iraq's Sunni Arab minority implemented by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government were responsible for the violence.

This paved the way for countries with "bad intentions" towards Iraq "to go ahead with plots threatening its security, stability, national unity and sense of Arab identity," Prince Saud said.

His remarks came as Iranian President Hassan Rowhani said his country would do whatever it takes to protect Shiite holy sites in Iraq against the Sunni militants.

The Iraqi government, which is close to Tehran, has issued a statement accusing Sunni Saudi Arabia of financing the militants.

"We hold (Saudi Arabia) responsible for what these groups are receiving in terms of financial and moral support," the Iraqi government said in a statement, accusing Riyadh of "siding with terrorism".










































Rudaw....

15 Kurds Trapped with Iraqi Army Unit in Tikrit as Rebels Close in on Baghdad

15 minutes ago
 By Nasir Ali
DUHOK, Kurdistan Region - Fifteen Kurds are among around 200 Iraqi army soldiers trapped for nine days at a military base near Tikrit, one of the key cities that has fallen to insurgents over the past week.
The soldiers at the base are members of the Golden Contingent special forces unit, which retreated to Tikrit after the rebels moved into Mosul on Tuesday last week, following an Iraqi military collapse that has seen soldiers deserting en masse.
The Kurds, who are mostly from Duhok, said there were originally 50 Kurdish soldiers in the unit, but that most of the others were able to escape.
“We were around 50 Kurdish soldiers but some of us were able to reach Baghdad,” said Sardar Doski, one of the trapped soldiers who is from Duhok. “We were around 30 soldiers four days ago, but 15 were able to return to the Kurdistan Region with the help of some tribal leaders of Tikrit,” he added, speaking by telephone.
Iraq is plunged into its biggest crisis since the 2003 US invasion, after rebels who include militants of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) stormed into Mosul last week and continue a lightning advance that has them now in Baqubah, only 65 kilometers from Baghdad and one of the last cities before the capital.
With the rebels closing in on Baghdad, the United States said it is sending 275 marines to protect the US Embassy in the Iraqi capital, the largest US mission in the world with several thousand personnel. 
The Sunni rebels have vowed to storm Baghdad, where they want to topple the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Washington is also considering air strikes and Special Forces operations against the rebels.
“We are around 200 soldiers in this military base,” said Doski, one of the trapped soldiers in Tikrit. “Our base is surrounded by plain barren fields and ISIS fighters are shooting at us with bullets and mortars on a daily basis.”
Doski said, “We get food by helicopters, but the food is not good and sometimes it is inadequate.”
Doski was pessimistic about his fate and of the other soldiers trapped with him.
“We cannot go to Baghdad and cannot get to the tribal leaders who helped us before, because we are afraid of being captured or killed on the way,” the Kurd said. “We do not know what will happen to us. 
“Two days ago friendly forces tried to reach our base and they were accompanied by 140 vehicles, but they could not save us and were stopped by ISIS attacks,” said Doski.














































Kurdish Prime Minister Does Not Believe Iraq will Stay Together

By RUDAW 7 hours ago
Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani speaking to the BBC.
Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani speaking to the BBC.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - The prime minister of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani said he does not believe the country will stay together, as Sunni extremist militants continue to make territorial gains and are marching towards Baghdad.
In an interview with the BBC, Barzani said it would be "almost impossible" for Iraq to return to the situation that existed before the city of Mosul was captured by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) last week, and that the various factions needed to "sit down and find a way to live together."
“We see now Iraq before Mosul and after Mosul. I think it will be very difficult for the situation to go back the same as before,” he said in the interview, broadcast Tuesday. 
ISIS militants have seized much of Iraq’s Sunni-populated territories, among them Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul. Some reports suggest that the insurgency is run only in part by the ISIS, saying that the bulk of it has is a “revolt” by the Sunni minority of a Shiite-led country.
Barzani said he does not think a solution for Iraq will be a military one, but “a political process.”
“Of course, we cannot deny ISIS has been involved in this situation. But I think it is not only ISIS. It is the result of the wrong policy in Baghdad vis-a-vis Sunni areas. It’s about all the Sunni community that feels neglected, and first we have to convince the Sunnis in a political process,” Barzani told the BBC.
He said the agenda of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is “to protect the Kurdistan Region” as a top priority, although he agreed that the Iraqi army cannot face the extremist challenge alone, advising for some Sunni tribes to take over the fight.
Asked about Shiite Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has turned into a figure of hate by both Iraq’s Sunnis and Kurds, Barzani said there is no trust left between Maliki and Iraq’s Sunnis, Kurds or even Shiites.
Regarding possible US intervention in Iraq, Barzani said there are many ways to help the country without sending in troops. But he pointed out that the most important thing for Washington “is to make a decision to help Iraq very seriously.”
Barzani added that, if the situation in Iraq returns to normal the US, which has been a supporter of Maliki, will have to tell him to go.
Barzani said he sees the Sunnis having their own region, similar to the Kurds.
“Regarding a solution, is for the Sunni areas to decide, but the best model is to have a Sunni region like we have in Kurdistan,” the premier said.
Kurds are also majority Sunni, but because of their different ethnicity they stand apart from Iraq’s large Sunni Arab minority.

































































Tweets .....



StateTV speech: 's President Rohani announces military action in



news agency Reuters - Gunmen in control of 75 percent of the refinery





Iraqi rebels seize weapons depots in Ramadi



Iraqi rebels say they have captured Iranian fighters in Baiji


Iraqi rebels say they have seized more than 300 troops at the oil refinery in Baiji


Al-Maliki's forces are bombing Fallujah





A good overview........June 17 , 2014


http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2014/06/june-17th-iraq-sitrep-by-mindfriedo.html


TUESDAY, JUNE 17, 2014


June 17th IRAQ SITREP by Mindfriedo

  • 16th June: Iraqi Airforce hits Daash targets in Tal Afar
  • 16th June: All heavy military equipment is shifted by Daash from Mosul. They have taken most heavy equipment to Syria.
  • 16th June: The Bathist governor of Mosul, Colonel Hashem al-Jammas, is ensuring twenty hours of power supply to Mosul residents as opposed to two hours being provided previously.
  • 16th June: Saudi Arabia has blamed the current government for the ongoing Sunni rebellion. They blame Maliki’s sectarian policies as the main reason for Sunni dissatisfaction.
  • 16th June: A bomb explodes in central Baghdad on a passenger bus killing six civilians.
  • 17th June: The Iraqi government has blamed Saudi Arabia of siding with the rebels. In its statement it said: “We hold it (Saudi Arabia) responsible for what these groups are receiving in terms of financial and moral support. The Saudi government should be held responsible for the dangerous crimes committed by these terrorist groups”
  • 17th June: Example of a misleading pro Daash tweet: Baghdad collapses. Shells on US and Iranian embassies. Maliki fled. Chief of Military Staff flees to Germany. Heavy casualties to Iranian forces.
  • 17th June: The rebels constitute three elements:
  • Islamists: Daash and other extremist Islamic groups-The Shock Troops
  • The Military Council: Former officers of the Iraqi army-The mainstay, they had worked against the Islamist under the Americans but have now sided with the Sunni uprising
  • The Naqshabandi Order: Former Ba’athist led by Ibrahim Izzat Al Douri. It is the weakest of the three and its members are mostly former Ba’athist.
  • 17th June: Power sharing in Mosul involved Daash handing over administration to the Military Council. The military Council insisted that Daash withdraw its foreign fighters from the city.
  • 17th June: Daash has asked women in Mosul to indoors and has banned all forms of entertainment and alcohol
  • 17th June: Posters of Saddam that were hung all over Mosul were a point of contention between Daash and the Naqshabandi order
  • 17th June: Ali Shamkhani , chief of the Iranian National Supreme Security Council on the purpoted Iran US co-operation in Iraq: That is part of a psychological war, and is totally unreal, information published in the West’s media. As we have already said, if there is an official Iraqi request we will be ready to study it under the framework of international rules, and this concerns no other country.”
  • 17th June: Rouhani blames the spread of Daash as a direct outcome of the West and its allies arming the Syrian opposition, saying “We warned them a year ago that these terrorist groups were a danger for the whole region. [But] they sent them arms – or their colleagues in the region sent them arms.”
  • 17th June: An overnight attack on Baquba police station resulted in the death of prisoners held there. The rebels claim that Shia militias and security personnel executed the Sunni prisoners when rebels tried to free them. The government claims the rebels killed the prisoners.
  • 17th June: The UK has decided to reopen its embassy in Tehran
  • 17th June: Syrian authorities claim that they foiled a chemical attack planned by Daash
  • 17th June: Nasrallah stated on Sunday “If [Hezbollah] hadn’t intervened in Syria the right way and at the right time, ISIS would be in Beirut now.” He also mentioned that the call made by Sistani was not for the Shias of Iraq alone “not intended to protect a particular sect, but to protect Iraq as a whole.”
  • 17th June: Heavy fighting has been reported in Baquba with rebel advances being met with heavy resistance.
  • 17th June: The Turkmen village of Basheer, 15 kilometers south of Kirkuk was attacked by Daash. The Turkmen defenders and security services repelled the assault with the help of Kurdish forces. The clashes left a senior Kurdish police brigadier injured. Six of his bodyguards were also killed in the clashes.
  • 17th June: Kurdish forces assisting the Turkmen in Basheer have reportedly left after being upset with comments made by Turkmen leaders that supported the Shia Government in Baghdad and Kirkuk’s status.
  • 17th June: Daash has attacked Basheer a second time after the Kurds left.
  • 17th June: The Al-Qaim border crossing between Syria and Iraq is now in the hands of the Free Syrian Army and the Nusra front. Iraqi secutiy forces had abandoned the post earlier.
  • 17th June: Arshad Sahili the president of the Iraqi Turkmen Front has stated that if the Kurds “refuse to return Kirkuk [to the Iraqi government] we will fight back." He has announced the creation of a new Turkmen militia.
  • 17th June: The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) says that it has no plans to hand back Kirkuk to the central government. They have insisted that they will protect all ethnicities under their protection.
  • 17th June: The KRG had reportedly opened the local army base and allowed residents to arm themselves.
  • 17th June: The telegraph reports that over 5000 Iranians have signed up to be drafted into militias that may be sent to defend Shia Shrines in Iraq
  • 17th June: It is now confirmed that Ghasem Soleimani, the head of the Qods force, is in Iraq. The Americans were informed prior to his arrival.
  • 17th June: There is now confirmation that Tal Afar is in Dassh hands. However, parts of the city are in the control of the Government.
  • 17th June: The government has dispatched 1200 fighters of the Golden Brigade, its elite Shia unit, to Tal Afar to reinforce government troops there.
  • 17th June: Hundreds of thousands of Shia families are now moving towards Kurdish controlled areas. They fear ethnic cleansing at the hands of Daash.
  • 17th June: Nechirvan Barzani, the premier of the Kurdish enclave, has stated that there is no going back to the status quo that existed. His comments appear to support the partition of Iraq on ethnic lines. He has also suggested that Iraqi Sunnis be asked if they desire an independent state.
  • 17th June: Al-Suleiman Majid Ali Suleiman, the chief of the Sunni Al-Dulaim tribe has stated “We reject any person who joins hands with Daash”
  • 17th June: Daash controls a number of villages in the Saadia area in the north of Diyala province. Local administration officials are being forced to work. Half the population has fled. Local officials have asked the government in Baghdad to allow Peshmerga forces to assist in fighting Daash.
  • 17th June: Baiji north of Samarra is in Dassh hands. The oil refinery outside of town is in government hands but is surrounded by rebels. Oil production has ceased and staff has been evacuated.
  • 17th June: President of Iran Rohanni uploads photos of him watching Iran and Nigeria playing in the world cup. He is wearing pajamas and enjoying a cup of tea. The contrast with the bloodthirsty tweets of Daash is plain to see according to Robert Tait, Middle East Correspondent.
  • 17th June: Fighting in the north of Baghdad is ongoing.

Anti war....


Top Iraqi Commanders Fired After Fleeing Militants

Iraqi PM Orders One Commander to Face Court Martial

by Jason Ditz, June 17, 2014
The Iraqi government has announced the dismissal of several top military commanders today for fleeing during the ISIS takeover of the Nineveh Province, and its provincial capital of Mosul.
Most of the commanders were simply fired from their positions, though one was reportedly facing a court-martial for desertion as well. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had been calling for the execution of deserters in recent days.
Heavily armed and praised for its training, the rapid and complete collapse of Iraq’s military has been a shocking turn of events, as ISIS has routed them at every turn, and in many cases troops fled before the fighting even began.
The overwhelming loss has hit Iraqi military morale even further, as the armed forces are seen as increasingly unreliable, and locals look to volunteers and militias to defend them from ISIS.


Lip-Service to Unity, But Maliki Continues Centralizing Power

Accuses Saudis of Backing 'Genocide' in Iraq

by Jason Ditz, June 17, 2014
An uncomfortable looking visage on Iraqi state TV, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki broadcast a call for “national unity” and an end to sectarian tensions in the face of a growing war.
It’s clear his heart wasn’t in it, and just a few hours prior Maliki was railing against neighboring Saudi Arabia,accusing them of backing “genocide” in Iraq before making a show of standing with Sunni and Kurdish politicians in front of the camera.
Behind the scenes, its business as usual, and the indications are that even as his country gets torn to bits the prime minister is working on further centralization of power with himself.
It’s not surprising. After all, the growing disquiet about the military advance has many believing replacing Maliki with a consensus-builder is vital, and the long-time PM clearly doesn’t plan on leaving without a fight.









Over 500 Killed in Iraq Carnage
by , June 17, 2014
As in recent days, there is a lot of news to cover. And, a lot of casualties. At least 270 civilians, security forces and militants were killed and another 89 were wounded in recent violence. Most of it is highly plausible. The government also reported killing 270 militants in just one air strike in Falluja. That figure is probably a very rough estimate.
Politics:
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appeared on television alongside ethnic minority leaders in a call for national unity. Maliki’s allies, however, are accusing the Kurds and Sunnis of collusion in displacing government troops in the north and called for a boycott of the Sunni political bloc, Mutahidoon. The government earlier accusedSaudi Arabia of promoting genocide by supporting Sunni militants.
The premier has also suspended all talks of forming a new government and may still be trying to further consolidate his power. Behind the scenes, he also fired several senior army commanders as he tried to shift blame for the advancement of ISIS/DAASH troops across Iraq away from himself. At least one is headed for military court.
U.S. President Barack Obama is considering air strikes.
The Iraqi government banned civilians from carrying weapons.
Although much of the oil-producing region is in the south, foreign oil companies areevacuating staff or working on "contingency plans". The Kurdish Autonomous Region is trying to use the chaos to increase its oil sales. The government says it is still in control of an oil refinery in Baiji, but it has been shut down anyway.
The United Nations is concerned that the fighting will evolve into regional warfare. The U.N. is also worried about the estimated 800,000 refugees wandering within Iraq. Refugees from the Syrian conflict are already taxing resources in neighboring countries.
In Iran, over 5,000 potential volunteers have pledged themselves online to defend Iraq’s holy sites.
Turkey has evacuated its Basra consulate.
The Vatican announced that militants had, so far, not committed any violent acts.
Casualities:
Pro-government Shi’ite militiamen accompanied by national police gunned down 52 Sunni prisoners about the time Sunni militants tried to storm the jail near Baquba. The Iraqi government claimed they died during shelling; however, local authorities said they were ordered by the national police to leave the jail. Later, the prisoners were found shot to death. One detainee survived and nine militants were killedTwo policemen were also killed and six more were wounded.
The fall of Baquba to militants would be a terrible tactical loss to the Iraqi government. At only 40 miles away, Baquba’s fighting is the closest, so far, to Baghdad and would be a necessary precursor to invading the capital.
The bodies of 18 policemen were found dumped near Samarra.
A bomb in Sadr City killed 14 people and wounded at least 28 more.
In Baghdadfour young Sunnis were found dead around the Binouk neighborhood. The bodies of a Sunni cleric and two aides were found in the morgue after uniformed men had kidnapped them. A bomb in central Baghdad killed three people and wounded nine more. Four other bombings left three dead and 5 wounded. Gunmenkilled a civilian in Shula. Also, security forces said 55 militants were killed and 20 were wounded.
In the village of Basheer, near Kirkuk, militants tried to take over a predominantly Shi’ite Turkmen town. Peshmerga troops and local police managed to reclaim most of the village. Over 5,000 have fled. A Kurdish brigadier was wounded while six of his bodyguards were killed.
In Falluja, shelling killed six people and wounded 16 more. Security forces reportedkilling 270 militants during an airstrike. The airstrike did take place and leave many casualties. It is unclear if this estimate is fairly accurate.
Forty Indians were kidnapped as they were trying to evacuate from an area nearMosulTwo militants leaders were killed.
Clashes in Taza wounded one civilian.
The army says about 70 fighters were killed in Samarra.
In Muqdadiya, security forces killed 15 militants.
Peshmerga forces killed three militants in Saidiya.
Many militants were killed in Tal Afar clashes.
Hundreds of Syrian refugees fled clashes in Qaim by returning to their home country.








http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-06-17/latest-iraq-war-theater-complete-troop-movements


The Latest From Iraq - The Complete Troop Movements

Tyler Durden's picture




With stocks up and oil down, Iraq must be fixed?

However, things appear to be just as atrocious...
View image on Twitter
Executing security forces close to border with Also look at their dresses.
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-06-17/not-going-planned-iraq-prime-minister-defies-us-accuses-saudi-arabia-genocide



This Is Not Going As Planned: Iraq Prime Minister Defies US, Accuses Saudi Arabia Of "Genocide"

Tyler Durden's picture




Shortly after the US revealed that, in addition to aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships it was also sending a few hundred "special forces" on the ground in Iraq, contrary to what Obama had stated previously, Washington made quite clear it wants Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to embrace Sunni politicians as a condition of U.S. support to fight a lightning advance by forces from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Then something unexpected happened: Iraq's Shi'ite rulers defied Western calls on Tuesday to reach out to Sunnis to defuse the uprising in the north of the country, declaring a boycott of Iraq's main Sunni political bloc and accusing Sunni power Saudi Arabia of promoting "genocide."
In fact, as Reuters reported moments ago, the Shi'ite prime minister has moved in the opposite direction of Obama's demands, announcing a crackdown on politicians and officers he considers "traitors" and lashing out at neighbouring Sunni countries for stoking militancy.
Not only did Iraq defy the US, but it also called out America's BFF (or at least formerly so until the arrival of Iran, which the US is aggressively, and inexplicably, rushing to make its new key partner in the region) for being the real aggressor behind the scenes? How dare Maliki point out the truth - doesn't he know that those US troops in Iraq can just as easily be used to depose the current regime as "fight" the Al Qaeda Jihadists the US itself armed in the first place?
Apparently not, and instead of seeking a broad coalition with Sunnis as the US ordered, the latest target of his government's fury was Saudi Arabia, the main Sunni power in the Gulf, which funds Sunni militants in neighbouring Syria but denies it is behind ISIL.
"We hold them responsible for supporting these groups financially and morally, and for the outcome of that - which includes crimes that may qualify as genocide: the spilling of Iraqi blood, the destruction of Iraqi state institutions and historic and religious sites," the Iraqi government said of Riyadh in a statement.
As Reuters notes, Maliki has blamed Saudi Arabia for supporting militants in the past, but the severe language was unprecedented.
And just to show it won't take being exposed for the whole world to see sitting down, on Monday Riyadh blamed sectarianism in Baghdad for fueling the violence.
The rest of the story is largely known: Iraq is slowly sinking into sectarian violence which is exposing age-old rifts, and even forcing leaders to speak out of place, in the process revealing very undiplomatic truths:
ISIL fighters who aim to build a Caliphate based on mediaeval Sunni precepts across the Iraqi-Syrian frontier launched their revolt by seizing the north's main city, Mosul, last week and swept through the Tigris valley towards Baghdad. The fighters, who consider all Shi'ites to be heretics deserving death, pride themselves on their brutality and have boasted of massacring hundreds of troops who surrendered.

Most Iraqi Sunnis abhor such violence, but nevertheless the ISIL-led uprising has been joined by other Sunni factions, including former members of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein's Baath Party and tribal figures, who share widespread anger at perceived oppression by Maliki's government.

Western countries, including the United States, have urged Maliki to reach out to Sunnis to rebuild national unity as the only way of preventing the disintegration of Iraq.

"There is a real risk of further sectarian violence on a massive scale, within Iraq and beyond its borders," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday. "I have been urging Iraqi government leaders including Prime Minister al-Maliki to reach out for an inclusive dialogue and solution of this issue."

But the long-serving prime minister, who won an election two months ago, seems instead to be relying more heavily than ever on his own sect, who form the majority in Iraq. Hassan Suneid, a close Maliki ally, said on Tuesday the governing Shi'ite National Alliance should boycott all work with the largest Sunni political bloc, Mutahidoon.
In the meantime, until the solution to Iraq violence is found, alliances in the mid-east are changing at a ferocious pace and pitting such one time enemies as Saudi Arabia and Iran (not to mention the US) on the same side, forced to fight an extremist Jihadist movement that the US itself was funding. "Iran, the leading Shi'ite power, has close ties to Maliki and the Shi'ite parties that have held power in Baghdad since U.S. forces toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. But although both Washington and Tehran are close allies of Baghdad, they have not cooperated in the past."
Domestically, the chaos is just as bad, if not worse:
Tens of thousands of Shi'ites have rallied at volunteer centres in recent days, answering a call by the top Shi'ite cleric to defend the nation. Many recruits have gone off to train at Iraqi military bases.

But with the million-strong regular army abandoning ground despite being armed and trained by the United States at a cost of $25 billion, the government is increasingly relying on extra-legal Shi'ite militia to fight on its behalf, re-establishing groups that fought during the 2006-2007 bloodletting.

According to one Shi'ite Islamist working in the government, well-trained fighters from the Shi'ite organisations Asaib Ahl Haq, Khetaeb Hezbollah and the Badr Organisation are now being deployed as the main combat force, while new civilian volunteers will be used to hold ground after it is taken.

The Sunni militants have moved at lightning speed since seizing Mosul last Tuesday, slicing through northern and central Iraq, capturing the towns of Hawija and Tikrit in the north before facing resistance in southern Salahuddin province, where there is a large Shi’ite population.

The battle lines are now formalising, with the insurgents held at bay about an hour's drive north of Baghdad and just on the capital's outskirts to the west.
Meanwhile to the north, as we reported previously, the town of Kirkuk has been taken by forces from the autonomous Kurdish region. In a further sign of ethnic and sectarian polarisation, Maliki allies have accused the Kurds of colluding with Sunnis to dislodge government forces in the north.
That, however, is hardly the case, at least for now. As Fox reports, ISIS is so far mostly bent on taking their march south toward Baghdad, and not into the autonomous zone of Kurdistan, where hardened fighters are prepared to defend their oil-rich turf. This northern front is one of the few places where ISIS have encountered resistance -- for unlike the Iraqi Army, the cohesive Kurdish force has held them back.
The Kurds, of course, were lucky to seize the long-disputed oil rich lands in the north - they did so with the help of ISIS whose arrival promptly scattered the Iraq army.
Whatever the reason, the army here fled --  and into the vacuum came the Peshmerga -- the Kurdish Army that has for decades been fighting for freedom in this mountainous land, and who are now taking advantage of the chaos below them.

Today on the front lines in Kirkuk, Kurdish forces were digging in, excavating trenches and building defenses. This is becoming a permanent boundary.

...

As to the question of whether these impressive Peshmerga troops might help reclaim Mosul, Nechervan Idris Barzani, the prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan, was clear. Until a political solution is embarked upon, they will not help. To do so would be foolish without the support of other Sunni tribes in the area.
Perhaps the best summary of all the unfolding confusion comes from the following just released update chart from the Institute for the Study of War.
But where it would get most messy - literally - is if as the previously reported shuttering of Iraq's largest refinery leads to electricity blackouts for Baghdad. Because nothing gets people in a murderous rage quite as 115 degrees and no air conditioning.



Might Maliki have suggested this to the US , UN  ?

Killing in the Name ......And now you do what they told ya .....

As for the Saudis  , well you know how the song ends , right ?












http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/17062014


Maliki Lashes out at Sunnis and Riyadh, as Rebels Make New Gains

By RUDAW 4 hours ago
"The center of Tel Afar and most of the sub-districts and villages except Dhumar and Rabia have fallen,” said an Iraqi official who spoke to Rudaw on condition of anonymity. "Eighty percent of the population has fled.” Photo: ISIS Media
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – As Sunni militants in Iraq made new gains with the capture of Tel Afar, consolidating wins as they march toward Baghdad, Iraq’s Shiite prime minister defied calls to reach out to the country’s Sunnis and accused Riyadh of backing the rebels.
The fall of Tal Afar to a mix of jihadis and loyalists of the ousted Iraqi regime and military came just a week after the rebels captured the second-largest city of Mosul and vowed to continue to Baghdad, where they want to topple Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
"The center of Tal Afar and most of the sub-districts and villages except Dhumar and Rabia have fallen,” said an Iraqi official who spoke to Rudaw on condition of anonymity. "Eighty percent of the population has fled.” 
He added that the military had lost contact with the top commander in Nineveh province, where Mosul is the capital and Tal Afar is a key town on a highway to Syria. 
"We have lost contact with General Abu Walid. He has probably gone into hiding,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. 
But the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which is involved in the fighting, said it had captured the commander. 
Iraqi security forces have lost large swathes of territory to the Sunni militants, who are believed to enjoy local support from disgruntled fellow Sunnis who say they are fed up with a government that favors only the majority Shiite population.
The United States, which backs Maliki, has said it wants to the see the unpopular premier embrace the disgruntled Sunni population.
But Maliki, who is vehemently opposed by Iraq’s Sunnis, Kurds and even some fellow Shiite parties, declared he was fed up with the main Sunni political bloc. 
He said he was tired of “traitors” in the government and military, and accused Saudi Arabia of backing the rebels and fuelling“genocide.”
"We hold them responsible for supporting these groups financially and morally,” Maliki said, directing his accusations at neighboring Sunni Saudi Arabia, which denies financing the ISIS.
He accused Riyadh of being behind “crimes that may qualify as genocide: the spilling of Iraqi blood, the destruction of Iraqi state institutions and historic and religious sites.
The only real winners of the turmoil in Iraq have been the country’s Kurds, who are also Sunnis but are ethnically distinct from the Arab population.
After the Iraqi army deserted in droves following the rebel attack on Mosul, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) deployed its Peshmerga forces in large swathes of Kurdish-populated territories outside its official borders. The so-called “disputed territories” are also claimed by Shiites and Sunnis.
An official from Tal Afar who was fleeing with the population told Rudaw that residents had escaped en masse to the Kurdish-controlled town of Shangal.
Rudaw correspondent said that thousands were fleeing to Shangal and other areas under Peshmerga control.
The fall of Tal Afar is significant because of its location on a highway that runs to Syria, where ISIS is also engaged in fighting the Damascus regime.
The declared aim of the ISIS is to create an Islamic enclave that straddles both Iraq and Syria.




http://rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/170620144




Minister: More Tankers Loading Kurdish Oil; Crude Already Sold

By Harvey Morris 9 hours ago

There was no indication at the London conference that the crisis was pushing Erbil and Baghdad to an early compromise in their long-running dispute on oil exports. Photo: Rudaw
There was no indication at the London conference that the crisis was pushing Erbil and Baghdad to an early compromise in their long-running dispute on oil exports. Photo: Rudaw
London – Two more tankers of Kurdish oil will be loaded this week at the Turkish port of Ceyhan and the consignments have already been sold, Ashti Hawrami, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG’s) natural resources minister, said on Tuesday.
Hawrami, addressing the Iraq Petroleum Conference in London, also confirmed that the first two tanker loads of oil shipped via Kurdistan’s new pipeline to Turkey over the past month had also found buyers.
The tankers had been stuck in the Mediterranean, unable to offload, because of pressure from Baghdad and Washington on potential buyers.
Given the latest turmoil in Iraq, that pressure may now have eased. However, there was no indication at the London conference that the crisis was pushing Erbil and Baghdad to an early compromise in their long-running dispute on oil exports.
Hawrami declared: “We are not going back to where Baghdad can use its red card anytime it wants to.”
He sat alongside Thamir Ghadhban, chief advisor to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who maintained the government’s line that all oil should be exported through the federal system as he insisted was stipulated by Iraq’s constitution.  
Putting the KRG case, Hawrami said recent events had shown centralization of the Iraqi state did not work. “The new Iraq will have to have a system of power-sharing and revenue sharing,” he said. Baghdad was violating the constitution, which gave the KRG control over its own oil resources.
The central government was seeking to impose energy laws left over from the Saddam Hussein era, Hawrami charged. “From our point of view, Saddam’s laws are null and void,” he added. “Basically, anything said in Baghdad is just talk.”
He said the KRG’s revenue share had steadily dropped from 17 per cent of the national budget to 10 per cent and then 0 per cent this year. Current proposals by mediators seeking to resolve the dispute between the two sides would still leave the KRG with only 7.5 per cent of national revenues.
“People don’t add up the numbers,” he said. “Even well-wishers have failed to do their sums,” he added, without naming them. The US is the most prominent outsider to have attempted to reconcile the two sides.
Hawrami said Kurdistan was also being short-changed in terms of domestic energy consumption, of which it used to receive a 10 per cent share, now down to 3 percent. The region had built two refineries to compensate. “The KRG will catch up with this entitlement, however loud Baghdad may shout,” he said.
The minister said current Kurdish exports were at 125,000 barrels per day (bpd), a figure that would double by July and reach 400,000 bpd by the end of the year. He said the export policy would remain in place “until there’s agreement on 17 per cent or we get our own 17 per cent.”
Baghdad’s Ghadhban retorted that the Kurdish minister was using numbers to blind his audience, who included US and British officials and oil company executives. “By bringing so many figures and numbers, he managed to confuse the audience as well as myself,” he said.
But he agreed with Hawrami that Baghdad and Erbil should continue to work to find a solution.
That was a view shared by Amos J. Hochstein, the US State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for energy, who called for compromise at a time when Iraq was once again at a crossroads. “The Iraqi people need their leaders to come together and seek solutions to long-standing grievances,” the US official said.
Sir Jeremy Greenstock, a retired British diplomat who chaired Tuesday’s ministerial session of the London conference, said the present crisis in Iraq raised doubts about the capacity of the country to hold together as a state. “The one bright spot in this picture,” he said, “is that the oil-bearing regions in the south and far north are not in the areas affected.” 
The KRG’s Hawrami reiterated that the autonomous government continued to reach out to Baghdad in the hope of building a new, united and prosperous country. But he warned: “The terrorists will come back if we don’t put our house in order.”




http://gulfnews.com/news/region/iraq/sunnis-kurds-on-sidelines-of-iraq-leader-s-military-plans-1.1348536




Sunnis, Kurds on sidelines of Iraq leader’s military plans


Iraq PM’s message to Obama and Rouhani: It is just not possible to work with Sunnis, Kurds right now

  • By Alissa J. Rubin and Rod Nordland, New York Times News Service
  • Published: 17:39 June 17, 2014
  • Gulf News



  • Image Credit: The New York Times
  • Displaced children queue with their mothers to register at a temporary camp set up to shelter people fleeing the violence, yesterday, in Aski kalak, 40km west of the Kurdish capital of Arbil.

Baghdad: Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki has long held the title of “commander in chief” of Iraq, but it was largely ceremonial — until now. With the shocking collapse of his army before a Sunni militant assault and the potential threat that it poses to Baghdad and the Shiite-led government, it has become his identity.
He is spending much of his time on the military side of the presidential compound, while some of his close civilian aides have taken to wearing starched military fatigues. He spends the better part of his day running the war.
He meets with military commanders, travels to the front lines, makes speeches at recruiting drives rallying young Shiite men and, not infrequently, falls into fits of anger, according to members of his inner circle.
What he does not do, by all accounts, is spend much time on the political reconciliation with the Sunni Arabs and Kurds that his international allies in Washington and Tehran have insisted is his country’s only possible salvation. Even his top aide in charge of reconciliation said Monday that he thinks it is all but hopeless.



“Now there’s a war, there’s not reconciliation,” said Amir Al Khuzai, a longtime friend of Al Maliki’s.
“With whom do we reconcile?” he said.
President Barack Obama has made it clear that the United States will not provide military support unless Al Maliki engineers a drastic change in policy, reaching out to Sunnis and Kurds in a show of national unity against the Sunni militants, whose shock troops are the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil). Without that, analysts say, the country is at risk of a renewed sectarian war in which Baghdad could lose control over nearly a third of the country for the foreseeable future.
But Al Maliki is showing few signs of changing his ways. Just as he did in a similar, although not nearly as threatening, crisis in 2008 in Basra, he has doubled down on the military option. He is determined to use the Shiite fighters he trusts to stabilise the country and, he hopes, rout the Sunni insurgents and reimpose the government’s control over its territory.
In a rare show of concord, Obama has been joined by President Hassan Rouhani of Iran in pleading with Al Maliki to reach out to the Sunni Arabs and Kurds. As the Iraqi leader continues to resist those calls, though, the outside powers and prominent Iraqi politicians are increasingly questioning whether he will ever take such steps and, if not, whether to jettison him in favour of someone who will.
One of those waiting in the wings should Al Maliki falter, Shiite politicians say, is the one-time darling, longtime nemesis of the United States, the mercurial Ahmad Chalabi.
For now, Al Maliki’s public message to Obama and Rouhani is that it is just not possible to work with the Kurds and Sunnis right now, that the army first needs to retake lost ground.
Shiite politicians have said there are some immediate gestures Al Maliki could make that would help ease the tensions. He could release the thousands of Sunni prisoners detained by his security forces and being held without trial. He could make common cause with Sunnis and Kurds with statements against the Sunni militants, and he could work with them to bolster the military instead of turning to Shiite militias.
Convinced that there is a conspiracy to undermine him, Al Maliki speaks often of “failed politicians” who are working with the Isil, while his associates describe “dirty deals” between the Kurds, the Islamic State and the Sunnis. The accusations are then answered in kind by Sunnis who have lost patience and now simply want the prime minister to resign.
Many Shiite politicians are deeply uncomfortable with Al Maliki’s more indiscriminate condemnations. Saying the Kurds support the Isil militants “is not a useful narrative,” said a former member of Al Maliki’s government. “We need the Kurds. Even the Iranians are telling him that.”
The worry is that, barring reconciliation, Iraq will split into a Sunnistan and a Shiastan, said a former ambassador, Ryan C. Crocker. Preventing that, he says, will take a heavy US diplomatic hand.
“Either we intervene at the White House and the secretary of state level or this is going to devolve into a bloody stalemate,” he said, “a line of demarcation between north and south, to be determined, but probably just north of Baghdad and the establishment of a de facto Al Qaida state, and that’s completely terrifying.”
The suggestion of many is that Al Maliki has lost so much credibility that the best thing that could happen would be to form a new government with a different leader who might inspire more trust. But for now Al Maliki is not stepping down, and it seems unlikely that there would be enough unity to anoint a successor anytime soon.
Many Shiite politicians, worried about the fate of the country, have begun offering alternatives to Al Maliki’s approach. Chalabi, a Shiite with ties to many groups, wants to change the narrative so that instead of accusing the army (Al Maliki has been threatening to arrest officers who left their posts in Mosul) he is reaching out to Kurds, thanking them for receiving refugees and recommending a national reconciliation.
“The collapse in Mosul is not the fault of the soldiers and officers,” Chalabi said. “It’s the fault of a corrupt and incompetent command structure.
He added: “We need a plan, but it must be drawn by a leadership that’s not tainted by incompetence and corruption. We need a plan to defend Baghdad and continue operations with the Kurds.”
For now the government’s dominant view is that the most recent security deterioration is the result of a conspiracy of Sunnis and Kurds, and because of that there is no point in reaching out to them at the senior level. That does not mean that Al Maliki has lost faith in all Sunnis. He still has words of praise for the Sunni tribes with whom he has long worked, and who have fought and lost large numbers in battling Al Qaida-type extremists in western Iraq.
But Al Maliki has little faith in the Sunni political leaders, said Al Khuzai and other Shiite colleagues.
As recently as last week in the wake of the fall of Mosul, Al Maliki appeared to have a chance to reach out and create a unified multisectarian, multiethnic bloc to fight the Isil militants and those who support them. In a long late-night meeting with Sunni and Kurdish leaders, it appeared they might emerge with a unified stand. Hours passed, and when they emerged there was no agreement.
It turned out the Sunnis proposed raising in effect a Sunni army, a sort of new version of the tribal Awakening Councils that fought Al Qaida in 2007 and 2008. But that idea was rejected by Al Maliki, even as the Shiite militias were beginning to organise.
While the idea of separate Sunni and Shiite armies is an indication of the depths of the sectarian divide, Al Maliki’s inability to use the moment to try to build trust is telling, and his outright rejection left the Sunni leaders with nothing to deliver to their supporters.
So the speaker of Parliament, Osama Al Nujaifi, a Sunni, delivered a scathing assessment of Al Maliki, further deepening the divide.
“We don’t want this prime minister; we reject him,” Al Nujaifi said. “We tried to take him down on more than one occasion.”