Saturday, June 28, 2014

Iraq Updates June 28 , 2014 -- Drones, Troops, and Hellfire Missiles: US Involvement in Iraq Grows Iraq Used All 300 Hellfire Missiles Weeks Ago ( Mission creep and policy by the seat of pants ? ) , While Grand Ayatollah Sistani urges that the Iraq Parliament agreee on a new PM by Tuesday , can that happen with atrocities occurring on both the Sunni and Shi'a side ? Regional impacts ( Syria , Jordan , Lebanon and Saudia Arabia in focus ) .....Iraq's Kurds rule out any Kirkuk retreat Massoud Barzani says ambition of incorporating city "achieved", amid growing calls for inclusive government in Baghdad ( Kurds say Kirkuk and former Article 140 issues are de facto resolved by Iraq Government / Military failure and they have no intentions of withdrawing from thier newly acquired territory - Unity government going to come with this type of commentary from the Kurds ? )

Tweets to consider -- FWIW...

 Pinned Tweet

Extreme fierce clashes near ..

Anti forces launched a massive counter attack on base in as we speak..

High Profile Source: army has consumed the first batch of Hellfire missiles supplied by ; field results are:Zero!

security forces reportedly closed al-Jumariyah bridge with concrete blocks. .

Several tanks and APCs spotted being deployed in all the roads leading to the Green Zone in .

Tribes of will have a firm stance on announcement today; but not at this very critical stage when all are approaching ..

forces have closed all roads leading to north from with concrete blocks..

HUGE! Very reliable information speaks army will start building concrete walls and barriers to completely seal .

says could not advance inside because city is surrounded by land mines.. WoW! must spent months to complete that

Emir of Dulaim Tribe Ali Hatem: Those who aid in are the same who aid terrorism everywhere in this world..

Heavy battle now on road (50km) btw & -dozens of burning vehicles (probably ambush on the huge -forces convoy)

Rebels destroyed tanks & armored vehicles on highway bridges in northern Saqulauiah area

-forces started today biggest assault so far to regain control of with thousands of soldiers, aircrafts & heavy weapons

Anti War....

Drones, Troops, and Hellfire Missiles: US Involvement in Iraq Grows

Iraq Used All 300 Hellfire Missiles Weeks Ago

by Jason Ditz, June 27, 2014
A week on from announcing what we were assured would be a very small “advisory” force for Iraq, President Obama has dramatically increased US involvement in the nation’s ongoing war with ISIS, as armed US drones loom over the capital city, andover 500 US troops have already arrived, with more expected.
More troops are coming, and more US Hellfire missiles, which have been sent to the Iraqi government in “emergency” shipments. 300 Hellfires the US already sent were burned through weeks ago, and the Maliki government is requesting another 1,400.
The US has promised to “expedite” the shipments of those as well, and along with other military gear the US is keen to increase the Iraqi military’s stockpiles, even as fleeing soldiers leave US-made arms in the field for ISIS to recover.
The scariest aspect of all this is that the administration is presenting its current response as very tempered, holding out for the replacement of the Maliki government. With talk that this could be resolved by Tuesday, an even more massive escalation of US involvement could be coming very soon.

Sistani Urges Iraqi Parliament: Agree on New PM by Tuesday

Still No Consensus Candidate Among Shi'ite MPs

by Jason Ditz, June 27, 2014
Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the most powerful religious leader in Iraq, today urged the incoming Iraqi parliament to reach agreements on all positions, including president and prime minister, before they convene on Tuesday.
The Tuesday session is supposed to only agree on the parliamentary speaker, with the issue of the president to be settled within 30 days, and the premiership even later.
But with ISIS taking over new cities several times a week, time is of the essence, and Sistani’s call underscores the sense of urgency on settling the issue, and replacing the divisive Prime Minister Maliki.
Maliki’s State of Law Party seems to be willing to talk, even if Maliki himself insists he wants to continue ruling, the talks are ongoing to pick a replacement. Today’s meeting ended with no consensus.

Gen. Dempsey: Iraq Coordination With Iran ‘Not Impossible’

Pentagon Had Previously Ruled Out Military Coordination

by Jason Ditz, June 27, 2014
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey contradicted previous comments from the Pentagon today, saying he believes it is “not impossible” that the US will begin coordinating its military operations in Iraq with Iran.
The Pentagon had previously insisted that there would never be any coordination with Iran, but Gen. Dempsey conceded in today’s interview that there could be situations where, with both sides’ interests coinciding, they could work together.
Gen. Dempsey sought to downplay the significance of this, saying he was clear the US and Iran had different overall interests in Iraq, but the difference realistically seems minimal, with both angling for a situation where a Shi’ite-dominated government remains in power and controlling the entirety of Iraq’s borders.
US officials have suggested previously there were more eager to see Prime Minister Maliki go than Iran was, though Iran’s interest in Maliki has always been in continuing Shi’ite rule, ensuring an ally in Iraq, and all indications are that whoever replaces Maliki will be another Shi’ite, likely one with even closer ties to Iran.

Iraq Police Confirm Mass Execution of Sunni Prisoners

Govt Claims of ISIS Attack Untrue, Police Say

by Jason Ditz, June 27, 2014
report earlier this week of 70 Sunni prisoners dying “in the crossfire” of an ISIS attack on the police transporting them has unsurprisingly turned out to be untrue, according to Hilla police who were involved in the transportation.
The police confirmed to Reuters that no ISIS attack ever took place on the convoy, and that the police decided to just execute all of them to “prevent them from escaping.”
It was the second mass execution of Sunni detainees in less than a week, after police gunned down 52 prisoners in Baquba on a similar pretext. The Iraqi government continues to deny the killings, though police brag about them openly as a law and order measure.
The killings underscore the growing sectarian divide in Iraq, as even while police execute Sunni “suspects” held without charges en masse, Shi’ite prisoners who were on death row for convicted crimes have been summarily pardoned to join pro-government militias.

Human Rights Watch ...

Satellite Imagery, Photo Analysis Pinpoint Site in Tikrit
JUNE 27, 2014
The photos and satellite images from Tikrit provide strong evidence of a horrible war crime that needs further investigation. ISIS apparently executed at the very least 160 people in Tikrit.
Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director
(Baghdad) – Analysis of photographs and satellite imagery strongly indicates that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) conducted mass executions in Tikrit after seizing control of the city on June 11, 2014.

The analysis suggests that ISIS killed between 160 and 190 men in at least two locations between June 11 and 14. The number of victims may well be much higher, but the difficulty of locating bodies and accessing the area has prevented a full investigation, Human Rights Watch said.

On June 12, ISIS claimed to have executed 1,700 “Shi’a members of the army” in Tikrit. Two days later, it posted to a website photographs with groups of apparently executed men. On June 22, Iraq’s human rights minister announced that ISIS had executed 175 Iraqi Air Force recruits in Tikrit.

“The photos and satellite images from Tikrit provide strong evidence of a horrible war crime that needs further investigation,” said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director. “ISIS apparently executed at the very least 160 people in Tikrit.”

On June 12, ISIS first announced on its now-closed Twitter feed that it had “exterminated” 1,700 Iraqi troops. The same day, the group posted videos of hundreds of captured men in civilian clothes, who it claimed had surrendered at the nearby Iraqi Speiker military base. On June 14, ISIS posted roughly 60 photographs, some of which show masked ISIS fighters loading captives in civilian clothes onto trucks and forcing them to lie in three shallow trenches with their hands bound behind their backs. Some of the images show masked gunmen pointing and firing their weapons at these men.

By comparing ground features and landmarks in the photographs released by ISIS, Human Rights Watch established that two of the trenches were at the same location. By comparing these photographs with satellite imagery from 2013 and publicly available photographs from Tikrit taken earlier, Human Rights Watch located the site in a field about 100 meters north of the Water Palace in Tikrit – a former palace of Saddam Hussein next to the Tigris River. The location of the third trench has not been identified.

Human Rights Watch also reviewed satellite imagery of the area recorded on the morning of June 16. The imagery does not reveal evidence of bodies at the site with the two trenches, but does show indications of recent vehicle activity and surface movement of earth that is consistent with the two shallow trenches visible in the ISIS photos. Without visiting the site it is impossible to know if bodies are buried there or were moved.

On June 22, the Iraqi human rights minister, Mohamed Shia Sudani, said at a news conference that the bodies of some of the 175 air force recruits who had been killed were thrown into the Tigris River and that others were buried in a mass grave. A spokesman for the minister confirmed that statement to Human Rights Watch on June 23.

An Iraqi security official said that as many as 11 bodies of the executed recruits had been recovered from the Tigris River downstream from the execution site.

The execution photographs that ISIS distributed suggest that gunmen killed the men at the site in at least three groups. The photographs show one group of men lying in one trench and a second group of men lying on top of the first. A third group of men is seen lying in a second trench.

Based on a count of the bodies visible in the available photographs, Human Rights Watch estimates that ISIS killed between 90 and 110 men in the first trench and between 35 and 40 men in the second.

A preliminary review of the shadow length and angle in the photographs suggests the two groups of men in the first trench were possibly executed around 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. The men in the second trench were possibly executed around 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Photographs from ISIS show a fourth group of approximately 30 to 40 prisoners on, and later next to, one of the two transport trucks on the main road between the execution site and the Water Palace. The photos were probably taken later that day, between 4 and 5 p.m.

One of the photographs that ISIS distributed suggests that the group killed prisoners at a second site around the same time, but Human Rights Watch has been unable to locate that site. That photograph shows a large trench with between 35 and 40 prisoners being shot by at least 8 ISIS fighters. Based on the shadow length and angle, the photograph was probably taken between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. One of the ISIS gunmen visible at that site was also visible in photographs from the killing site with the two trenches near the Water Palace.

The photographs and satellite imagery strongly suggest that ISIS transported its captives by trucks to the two killing sites. Human Rights Watch identified the same ISIS fighters and captured men in multiple photographs, including captives who were photographed in trucks and then again being unloaded from the same trucks next to the execution site at the Water Palace.
Human Rights Watch spoke with one man who said he fled Tikrit after the killings. The man said he watched from the rooftop of his home in the Hay al-Qadsia neighborhood in the late afternoon just after ISIS arrived as armed members of ISIS loaded hundreds of captured men onto trucks and drove them away:
I saw them with my own eyes. It was late afternoon. It was a long line. I saw about 10 armed gunmen with their guns pointed at the line of men, walking them to military trucks. Some of the gunmen had masks and others showed their faces. The [captured] men were not handcuffed. They wore civilian clothes.
The man said he did not know where the men took their captives and could not remember the exact date. Tikrit residents told him later they saw bodies floating in the Tigris, he said.

During an armed conflict, the murder of anyone not taking an active part in hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those in detention, is a war crime. Murder, when systematic or widespread and committed as part of a deliberate policy of an organized group, can be a crime against humanity. Both war crimes and crimes against humanity are considered international crimes, with criminal liability attaching to those who commit or order the crime, but also those who assist, and commanders who should have known of the crime but fail to prevent it.

Human Rights Watch has previously documented serious crimes by ISIS in other areas of Iraq and Syria, including car and suicide bomb attacks in civilian areas, summary executions, torture in detention, discrimination against women, and destruction of religious property. The evidence documented by Human Rights Watch strongly suggests that some of these acts may amount to crimes against humanity.

“ISIS is committing mass murder, and advertising it as well,” Bouckaert said. “They and other abusive forces should know that the eyes of Iraqis and the world are watching.”

Regional Impacts ....

Anti War.....

US-Backed Syria Rebels Crumbling in Face of ISIS Expansion

Many Quitting Rebellion, or Joining ISIS

by Jason Ditz, June 27, 2014
In the ongoing Syrian Civil War, one constant has been the Free Syrian Army’s downward trajectory as a rebel faction of consequence. The primary of the US-backed “moderate” rebel groups has steadily lost influence to bolder Islamist factions for years.
Now, with ISIS seizing massive portions of Syria and Iraq and seemingly on the cusp of forming a new nation, the FSA is falling apart at the seams, with no territory to speak of and many of its fighters on the way out the door, either quitting the rebellion outright or to join the more successful ISIS.
FSA leaders have long complained about the US aid not being aggressive enough, and now, as President Obama looks to escalate, they’re complaining it’s simply too late.
That doesn’t seem to be stalling the administration, but it should, as the defections to more extreme rebel factions mean those “carefully vetted” fighters are going to be bringing their US provided weapons and cash straight to the harshest militants on the planet.

Al Arabiya.....

ISIS has reached the border of Saudi Arabia

The brief statement by the Saudi Royal Court reflects the heightened state of alert in the entire region. The Extremists have reached the border. Al-Qaed is a stone's thrown from three countries: Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. ISIS, the most extreme faction of al-Qaeda, is mobilizing its forces to face Assad’s regime and recently, Maliki’s government. ISIS has built an army of thousands of suicide bombers of different nationalities, all of whom are prepared to return to their countries and start a world war.
Similar to what happened in Syria, what is now happening in Iraq is a genuine revolution against a sectarian, repugnant rule. Al-Qaeda became involved in this revolution under many banners: ISIS, the al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham. They claimed supporting the oppressed people until they took they stage with their extraordinary global capabilities. The group exploited the anger of millions of Sunni people around the world, from Indonesia to Britain, and made them cheer to its achievements. Today, ISIS is the star of the box office. as my colleague Youssef al-Dini said.
In order to understand the unprecedented and rapid developments, we should be aware that we have two rivals which we cannot take sides with: Assad and Maliki’s sectarian governments on one side, and ISIS and its terrorist affiliates on the other.
Turkey, which was at first confused between Syrian nationalists and Islamist extremists, has finally decided to close its borders to Islamic terrorist groups, declaring that they are now threatening its security and not the Assad regime. Jordan and Saudi Arabia had from the beginning distinguished the moderate national Free Syrian Army from the terrorist ISIS and al-Nusra Front, despite the fact that all three of them are against the Assad's regime.
Limiting the solution to military action against ISIS will not succeed, as evidenced by its failure since 2001
Abdulrahman al-Rashed
How can we put together the rivals Assad, Maliki, ISIS and al-Nusra all in one basket? In fact, if it weren’t for Assad and Maliki, ISIS and the al-Nusra Front would not have existed. Most of their leaders were detained in Syrian and Iraqi prisons and then were released by the regimes who believed that their release would shuffle the cards. Indeed, the cards were shuffled: Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia announced their readiness to fight these terrorist groups.

Collective activity

There is no doubt that all regional and international concerned countries are aware of what is happening. We will surely witness vital collective activity on the international military and political levels. It is most likely that this will lead to a military and security camp that will wage a larger-scale war against terrorism. Nevertheless, the problem is still a political one, as each state perceives the danger from a different angle. They are all against these terrorist organizations, but each of them believes in different solutions. The United States has two competing visions: the first calls for dealing with Iran, and therefore continues to support Assad and Maliki. Meanwhile, European and Gulf countries believe in the change, and believe that without a strong centralized regime that is acceptable in Syria and Iraq, it would be impossible to eliminate extremist groups. Therefore, a political solution must be imposed in Syria and Iraq; Sunnis should be mobilized to cooperate and fight against the extremists.
The Gulf countries believe that fighting against al-Qaeda will only succeed through the cooperation of the Sunni people of Syria and Iraq, as it will ensure the eradication of these terrorist groups. It will stop the international diaspora of Sunnis from sympathizing with this group and its ideology. However, the policies of Assad’s and Maliki’s sectarian governments have triggered this chaos. Therefore, the solution lies in a strong central government in Baghdad and Damascus with American, Western and regional support. This will most probably be accepted by the Russians.
Limiting the solution to military action against ISIS will not succeed, as evidenced by its failure since 2001. ISIS will bspread thanks to the chaos and sectarian governments that want to export their problems to the world so that they can extend their existence.

ISIS tells Lebanon to prepare for more suicide attacks

'We tell the party of Satan and its army in Lebanon that this is only the beginning,' ISIS said in a statement. (AFP)
The Al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility Friday for this week's Beirut hotel suicide bombing, warning that dozens of more men plan to carry out similar attacks.

The claim, in an online statement, was the first by the group for a suicide attack in Lebanon. It recently captured wide areas in northern Iraq and eastern Syria.

A suicide bomber blew himself up at a Beirut's Duroy Hotel on Wednesday when security forces raided it to arrest him. His accomplice was wounded and was being questioned at a Beirut hospital.

Lebanese officials said both men were from Saudi Arabia. Eleven people, including three security men, were wounded in the blast.

The statement said the two men blew themselves up while surrounded by members of the country's powerful General Security. It claimed that the security agency is loyal to the militant Hezbollah group that has been fighting in Syria along with President Bashar Assad's forces.

It referred to Hezbollah which is Arabic for party of God as "the party of Satan."

"We tell the party of Satan and its army in Lebanon that this is only the beginning. Get ready for hundreds of martyrs who love the blood of Rafida," the group said, using a derogatory term for Shiite Muslims.

It was the third suicide bombing in Lebanon in less than a week and sparked fears of renewed violence.

Lebanon has been hit by a wave of attacks over the past year that left scores of people dead.

Previous attacks were claimed by the Al-Qaeda-linked group, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, and the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front. Both groups have warned that such attacks will continue as long as Hezbollah takes part in Syria's civil war alongside Assad's troops.


Iraq's Kurds rule out any Kirkuk retreat

Massoud Barzani says ambition of incorporating city "achieved", amid growing calls for inclusive government in Baghdad.

Last updated: 28 Jun 2014 08:34
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The president of the Kurdish region of northern Iraq has issued a defiant statement to the Iraqi government that there was no going back on autonomous Kurdish rule in the oil city Kirkuk.
Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, made the comments at a joint news conference in Erbil with visiting William Hague, British foreign secretary, on Friday.
"We waited for 10 years for Baghdad to solve Article 140," he said, referring to the constitutional item which was meant to address the Kurds' decades-old ambition to incorporate the territory in their autonomous region in the north over the objections of successive governments in Baghdad.
"Now its accomplished because the Iraqi army pulled out and our Peshmerga forces had to step in. So now the problem is solved. There will be more no more conversation about it."

Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from Erbil, said Barzani's statement was expected to put more strain on the Baghdad government.
"The Kurds see themselves in a position of strength, and say the Iraqi government's pullout forced Peshmerga forces to fill the security vacuum," she said.
Kurdish forces stepped in when federal government forces withdrew in the face of a Sunni rebel offensive led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) earlier this month.
The Sunni rebels made the gains as Iraq's flagging security forces were swept aside by the initial insurgent push, pulling out of a swathe of ethnically divided areas.
The Iraqi army carried out airstrikes on Tikrit, and launched an assault on a strategic university campus on Friday to recapture the rebel-held city.
Exclusive video obtained by Al Jazeera showed damage inside the city after reports of Iraqi military helicopters flying commandos into the city on Thursday.
Several locals told Al Jazeera there were no rebels in the area and that the military hit targets indiscriminately.
Nouri al-Maliki, who has been Iraq's prime minister since 2006, has faced intense pressure to form an inclusive government and address the longstanding grievances of the Sunni and Kurdish communities.
Sistani urges unity
On Friday Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's leading Shia religious leader, became the latest prominent figure to distance himself from Maliki when he called on politicians to unite and choose a prime minister before parliament sits next week to begin forming a government.
Sistani, who commands unswerving loyalty from many Shia in the region, said the various political blocs should agree on the next prime minister, parliament speaker and president before the newly elected legislature meets on Tuesday.
Massoud Barzani: Flying the Kurdish flag
Under Iraq's governing system put in place after the fall of Saddam Hussein, the prime minister has always been a Shia, the largely ceremonial president a Kurd and the speaker of parliament a Sunni.
Dividing up the three posts before parliament meets would require leaders from each of Iraq's three main ethnic and sectarian groups to commit to the political process and resolve their most pressing problems, including Maliki's fate.
"What is required of the political blocs is to agree on the three [posts] within the remaining days to this date," Abdul Mehdi Karbalai, Sistani's spokesman, said during a Friday prayer sermon in the Shia shrine city of Karbala.
Maliki, whose Shia-led State of Law coalition won the most seats in the April election, had been positioning himself for a third term before the onslaught began.
Despite the turmoil and calls both domestically and internationally for him to step down, Maliki has said any attempt to undermine him would be tantamount to a "coup".

Turkey ready to accept Kurdistan ???? That's a turn of events but reality does sink in the minds of some folks !

Friday, June 27, 2014 1:45 PM

Divided Iraq Inevitable; Isis Targets Baghdad Green Zone; Obama's Inane Weapons Proposal

A breakup of Iraq is now inevitable, even as the US and Iran are ideologically aligned in preventing that outcome.

And while the US is still worried about potential problems a separate Kurdistan may cause, Turkey is Ready to Accept Kurdish State in Historic Shift
 “In the past an independent Kurdish state was a reason for war [for Turkey] but no one has the right to say this now,” Huseyin Celik, spokesman for the ruling AK party, told the Financial Times.

“In Turkey, even the word ‘Kurdistan’ makes people nervous, but their name is Kurdistan,” he added. “If Iraq is divided and it is inevitable, they are our brothers . . . Unfortunately, the situation in Iraq is not good and it looks like it is going to be divided.”

This week, Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign minister, also told John Kerry, the US secretary of state, that the creation of an independent Kurdish state was a foregone conclusion.

In strongly worded comments for a Nato member, Mr Celik blamed not just Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, for Iraq’s growing fragmentation, but also the US: “They didn’t bring peace, stability, unity, they just left chaos, widows, orphans. They created a Shia bloc to the south of our country.”
Mr. Celik's observation is correct but insufficient. At a cost of trillions of dollars to the US and even more to Iraq, the illegal and unwarranted US attack left Iraq in ruins and laid the grounds for an Isis uprising.

Isis Targets Baghdad Green Zone 

Please consider City on Edge as Baghdad Residents Await Isis Attack
 Isis, which along with allied Sunni armed groups seized Mosul and other cities this month, has made clear it is aiming to take Baghdad. An eerie calm has settled on the city. There have been few bombings or assassinations in the last two weeks convincing many that Isis is planning something big, perhaps to coincide with the start of the holy month of Ramadan next week.

“They will try to suffocate Baghdad economically,” says Hisham Hashemi, a researcher and author of the forthcoming book, The World of Daish. “Isis considers the centre of Baghdad as a site for mischievous acts, where they intend to carry out bombings and killings.”
How Big is Isis?

The US state department estimates Isis is about 3,000 strong. Other report put the number as high as 10,000. Regardless of size, Sophisticated Tactics Key to Isis Strength.
 “They [Isis] are going against a supposedly professional military force with a speed and ferocity that has the Iraqis taking to their heels,” says Patrick Skinner, a former counter-terrorism officer at the Central Intelligence Agency and now analyst at the Soufan Group. “The Iraqi Security Forces [ISF] are mind-crushingly inept.”

Of immediate concern is the seizure by the jihadis of a range of high-grade military equipment. A force once lightly armed with an arsenal of shoulder-held missile launchers and anti-aircraft guns mounted on pick-up trucks, Isis is now far more comprehensively kitted out, thanks to its raids on the depots of the Iraqi army’s second motorised division.

Identifying exactly what the jihadi group has in its armoury is complicated because it has been wildly embellishing its capabilities for effect on social media. But even a conservative list – corroborated by intelligence and military officials – is worrying enough. It includes unknown quantities of M114 Humvees, other armoured personnel carriers and Stinger missiles, as well as a huge cache of explosives and small arms and an unspecified number of M198 155m howitzer artillery pieces with a conventional range of 22km.

In July 2012, Isis – then still known as al-Qaeda in Iraq – began the first of two intensive insurgency campaigns that paved the way for its current fight.

“These were intelligent campaigns in design: well-resourced, prepared, executed and adapted,” says Jessica Lewis, a veteran US army intelligence officer who served in Iraq and is now research director at the Institute for the Study of War. “These are not things I might associate with a terrorist organisation. These are things I associate with an army.”

All of which raises questions about just how big Isis is. US intelligence officials posit a central fighting force of 3,000. Military and intelligence analysts put the minimum size of Isis’s larger force at 7,000 to 10,000.

“They are not spreading themselves too thinly,” says Ms Lewis. “They have matched personnel to their objectives carefully.”

As to what those objectives are, Isis’s attack pattern now seems to point squarely in one direction.

“Isis has uncommitted forces proximate to Baghdad,” says Ms Lewis. “They always meant to establish control. They always meant to break the state. They want Baghdad.” And specifically, she adds, the government-protected Green Zone.
Awkward Allies 

The Financial Time highlights something I commented on several days ago: Iraq Makes Awkward Allies of US Enemies.
 Barack Obama has called for the removal of Bashar al-Assad for nearly three years over his brutal suppression of domestic dissent and on Thursday proposed $500m in funding for moderate rebels fighting his regime. Washington directly blames Syria for fomenting the rise of Isis, which is rooted in al-Qaeda-linked jihadi groups that received sustenance from Damascus for years. Some have also accused the regime in Tehran, Mr Assad’s primary patron, of enabling Isis’ rise.
Curiously, US support for alleged "moderate rebels" constitutes direct support for Isis who also wants to overthrow Assad.

And as a result "Mr Obama finds himself inadvertently allied with Mr Assad, who under pressure from Iraq has belatedly begun to use the air power that he has mostly directed against Syrian civilians and moderate rebel groups against Isis."

Tangled Mess

I spoke about the "tangled mess" in Absurdities, Blatant Lies, Chutzpah, Political Expediency, Odd Couples.
 Absurd and Conflicting Realities

  1. The US wants to overthrow Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
  2. US ally, Saudi Arabia, also wants to overthrow the Syrian president.
  3. The rebels fighting Assad are primarily Al Qaeda and Isis. Thus the US is in alignment with Al Qaeda and Isis.
  4. The US and Iran want Isis out of Iraq.
  5. The US refuses help from Iran out of fear of making Iran and Iraq allies.
  6. Iran supports Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
  7. Saudi Arabia is ruled by Sunnis.
  8. Isis consists primarily of extreme Sunnis.
  9. Iran is ruled by Shias.
  10. The US overthrew Saddam Hussein, a secular ruler whose party was dominated by Sunnis.
  11. The US helped install Nouri al-Maliki, who is a Shia, even though the US is at severe odds with Iran.
  12. Maliki is politically aligned with Iran.
  13. Under Maliki's regime, extreme Sunnis got fed up with political oppression, giving rise to Isis. 
  14. Maliki accuses Saudi Arabia of sponsoring Isis and genocide.
  15. According to The Guardian, Lina Khatib of the Carnegie Foundation says "There is Saudi money flowing into Isis but it is not from the Saudi state. Maliki is trying to shift blame from himself and is echoing Iranian propaganda.". 

It is impossible to untangle that mess.

Moreover, arms given to Syrian rebels eventually make their way into the hands of Isis and Iraq.

Nonetheless, many Republicans and some democrats accused Obama of not providing enough assistance to Syrian rebels, most of which are Al Qaeda or Isis connected.
Obama Proposes $500 Million Aid for Syrian Rebels

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported Obama Proposes $500 Million to Aid Syrian Rebels.
 The White House on Thursday proposed a major program to train and arm moderate Syrian rebels, in a significant expansion of the U.S. role in a civil war that officials fear is bleeding into Iraq and across the region.

The Obama administration requested $500 million—a larger amount than expected—to aid the Syrian opposition, reflecting growing U.S. alarm at the expanding strength of Islamist forces in Syria, who in recent weeks have asserted control of large parts of neighboring Iraq and now pose threats to U.S. allies in the region.

Coming on the heels of a decision to send 300 military advisers to Iraq, the Syrian rebel training elevates the U.S. role in the Middle East. 
Inane Proposal

President Obama now sides with John McCain and Dick Cheney in wanting to send arms to Syrian "moderate" rebels (as if we can correctly determine who is moderate and who isn't).

Even if we could make such a determination, the likelihood weapons eventually end up somewhere else is overwhelming.

Assad is fighting Isis (a far bigger threat than Assad), yet we are hell-bent on removing Assad. If Assad falls, it will be to Isis or Al Qaeda.

The stupidity of this setup is staggering.

I repeat what I said on Tuesday in Kerry's New Definition of "Intervention"

Contrary to Obama administration beliefs, the splitting up of Iraq is likely the best outcome now. The sooner this all happens the better.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Point of view .....



Two short/long analyses by Mindfriedo

Two short/long analyses in one:
Was the fall of Mosul good for the Shia militias?
Are the Sunnis/Wahabi tougher than the Shia?

Till early 2014, the Americans were putting pressure on Maliki to reign in Shia militias. The argument was that they could destabilize his government, they were proxies of Iran, and were getting combat experience in Syria. The Iraqi government formed brigades like the Wolf (Being led by Abu Al Walid, the commander fighting in Tal Afar), Tiger and Scorpion to counter the threat these militias could pose and primarily as a tool to keep Sunnis in check. Other measures included closing the Iraqi border with Syria and suspending direct flights. Both these measures at the time seemed to target Sunni Jihadist but were in fact meant to restrict the flow of Shia fighters. Maliki was also half hearted in his attempts. And the latter was a token gesture on the part of the Iraqi government as flights between Iran and Damascus were ongoing. The American threat to create a no fly zone over Syria was meant to stop these flights. The current surveillance flights over Iraq and the taking over of Iraq -Syria land border by Jihadist is also meant to stop this flow of Shia fighters.

The deployment of the Americans to Iraq after Mosul fell is mostly for monitoring the Shia, more than the Sunni. The Americans have checked Sunni revolutions in the past; they know how to turn the tap off. They have relations with Sunni elders and ex Ba’athist they can use to curb any Sunni insurgency. It’s the Shias they cannot control. It’s what you cannot control that frightens you.

The US was also interested in using moderate Shia clerics like Sistani to contain the allure of the Shia Jihadist groups. But this has now changed to some extent. Sistani’s call to arms has been the best recruiting drive the militias could have hoped for. He specified that it’s the army the youth should join. But the youth have a mind of their own. They know who kicks ass.

The Iraqi government is now relying on these militias to contain Daash. The Iraqi government will for the moment not restrict the training of fighters in Iran or their free flow between Syria and Iraq and will oppose any US pressure to stop the same. This can be seen in Maliki praising Syrian airstrikes on Iraq that normally any Prime Minister should oppose. Unlike the Sunni fighters of Daash (Chechens, Afghans, Saudis, Moroccans, Europeans etc) the Shia fighters are mostly Arab, from Iraq and the Levant that Daash so covets. The Sunni Arabs and tribes are on the side of Daash on account of a sense of being left out, part propaganda, part genuine frustration. But this is a problem they have to learn to live with. The power they once wielded is now gone. It is never coming back. The more they fight, the more Baghdad will become a Shia city and the more their frustration will grow. Some will eventually realize this but some will get radicalized by Saudi propaganda.

In the meanwhile, the militias will become the new Fremen against the Empire’s (Anglo Zionist) Sadukar (Daash) waiting for their Muad'Dib (Mahdi). It is the harsh environment of Iraq and the threat posed against them that will keep them on their toes, at the ready and well trained, growing stronger day by day, learning valuable combat lessons and outclassing Daash in skill, professionalism and morale.

Are the Shia militias tougher than the Sunnis (Wahhabi)? 

There is an old colonial joke. The British wanted to raise a Muslim company. They asked the Muslims, who are your fiercest people? The Muslims partly misunderstanding what the Tommy’s were asking for said that our butchers (Kassabs) are the fiercest. So a company of butchers was hired. When the fighting started the butchers were not advancing beyond the trenches. The Tommy commander asked them, why don’t you advance? Go fight!
The Butchers replied: “buddy tie them up and bring them, we’ll do the slaughtering!”
This is what the fighters of Daash are: Butchers that the lambs flee.

I was watching some Jihadi videos last night. Not something very pleasant, but necessary.
First, professionalism:

Every single Shia militia fighting in Syria is organized militarily. They have brigades. These brigades have battalions of rocket troops, mortar firing, and assault. Each militia has proper uniforms and insignia. There is the ability to work within a command structure, under the Syrian army at times. Weapons being used are almost identical. AKMs, AMDs, PMKs, SVDs, hand held mortar launchers and RPGs. This is almost identical.

Sunni/Wahabbi militants are fierce but operate without any noticeable military organization, no uniform, no standard military equipment. The FSA in Syria is more professional with its army background. But Jihadists lack professionalism. This is also evident from Daash’s insistence to control its own allies, infighting over minor issues, its inability to curb its fighters from carrying out atrocities (but this is also a tactic employed), and its inability to fight in a sustained manner in any confrontation.


This may not seem obvious to all. But Shia fighters are drawn to the fight out of love of something that they hold dear, i.e., the AhlulBayt. The Wahabbis on the other hand, from almost every single message, are driven by hatred, of Western values, saints, Shias, Christianity, Jews, everything they assume is corruption.

Jihadist propaganda is based on a puritan message. It requires Sunnis to give up belief systems that have held on for generations (however many Sunnis seem to be dropping earlier concepts of Walis and Wasilah faster than a stripper her “modest” clothing). The Shias on the other hand are being asked to act on something they have always believed in.

Age group:

Most Jihadists are young men. Most die young as well. But a quick research on the internet will show you that the starting age of a Daash fighter is upward of 10. For the Shia, except in the case of Khomeini’s human waves, it is much higher than 18. On an average it is 22.


Here is where the Shias have been unlucky from the nascent stages of Islam. The Sunnis kept wealth to themselves and marginalized Shias throughout. Iraq may eventually change this balance. The oil wealthy of Shia Iraq and Iran may soon dwarf Saudi Arabia. But for now, the Sunnis have it good. The sanctions on Iran keep it poor.


It is strange that the videos of Daash are almost always horrendous. And that the same videos that are used by Daash or Al Qaida for recruitment are used by their detractors (rational human beings) as counter propaganda. Shia militia videos are never of atrocities. They are almost always centered on the cult of martyrdom. The Americans try to highlight the alleged atrocities of Shia militias as counter propaganda but fail as most Shia distrust authority.

Two recent examples of combat effectiveness:

One was Hezballah’s takeover of Beirut in May 2008. Hariri’s thugs were no match. But I agree Beirut is not Tripoli. Mosul could be a counter example. But Beirut is more of a mixed city and Mosul more of a Sunni Ba’athist city. Moreover Beirut was military style takeover, while Mosul was a planned betrayal and collusion.

The other was Qusayr in 2013. Entrenched Jihadis with the full backing of the Arab states, Turkey and the West broke ranks and fled. The price Hizballah paid was high and Syria did pulverize most of Qusayr, but the fact remains that the Jihadist literally fled for their lives. Compare this to Bint Jabil in 2006 and it becomes clearer. The same odds, or higher if you consider the arsenal at Israel’s disposal, stacked against Hizballah and Hizballah humiliates Israel. When Israel leaves a path for escape, more fighters join the fight. Also the assessment Hezbollah gave of their performance. They were critical of two of their commanders being present at the same place at the same time. Qusayr has frightened the Anglo Zionist Empire. Mosul’s fall is going to petrify them.