Commentary on the economic , geopolitical and simply fascinating things going on. Served occasionally with a side of snark.
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Iraq Sectarian Civil War and Jihadist Battles Updates ( July 3 , 2014 ) ..... As if battling the Kurds and Sunnis wasn't enough on his plate , PM Maliki opens a third front by battling a Shi'a rival in southern Iraq - and somehow Maliki sees a new Iraqi Government by next week ( with Maliki still at the helm ? ) ..... Ever notice Maliki listens to no one but wants everyone to help him ( Maliki Urges Neighbors to Join in Iraq’s War Against ISIS Says Caliphate Is a Problem for the Whole Region ) ? Biggest problem for any Unity government is neither of the three major factions and combatants ( Shi'a / Sunni or Kurd trust each other and no one trusts Maliki )
2nd July: Iraqi Parliament got delayed when Najiba Najib, a Kurdish lawmaker, asked that federal funds withheld from Kurdistan be released. This was asked when the speaker was being decided. This angered Kadhim Al Sayadi of the state of the law coalition who responded by threatening to crush the Kurds in their bid for independence. Sunni MPs left when mention of the DI of Daash was made. Most of the Sunni and Kurdish MPs did not return after the interval.
2nd July: The clashes in Karbala have reported to have started when the local police tried to remove concrete barriers installed around cleric Hasan al-Sharkhi’s office in Saif Saad neighborhood south of the city. The police were confronted by the supporters of the cleric and on ignoring their protests were shot at. Two policemen were then killed. The police returned fire. Supporters then spread out in Karbala and armed reinforcements were sent from Najaf by Maliki. The police later arrested over 100 followers of the cleric. The cleric is reported to have fled.
2nd July: Massoud Barzani has met with the head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, Ahmed al-Jarba, on Wednesday.
3rd July: Supporters gather outside the Kurdish Parliament in Kurdistan in support of Barzani’s call for a referendum. Kurdish authorities are insisting that they will go ahead with their bid for independence with or without “American” approval. Massoud Barzani has arrived at the Kurdish parliament and is expected to give a speech shortly. Latest: Barzani calls for independence.
3rd July: State of Law coalition, which is headed by Nouri Al Maliki, has stated that it will not allow Osama Al-Nujaifi to occupy any of the three presidencies (President, Prime Minister, Speaker) and that alternatives should be considered. Their spokesperson, Mohammed al-Sayhood, stated “our belief is that Nujaifi has failed the political process in Iraq.”
Nujaifi’s party, the Motahedoun, has rejected the candidacy of Maliki and has asked the National Coalition to propose some other candidate.
3rd July: Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the head of the National Alliance meets with members of the National Coalition to discuss government formation.
3rd July: US adds to pressure, state department spokesperson, Marie Harf, “time is not on Iraq’s side” when referring to law makers adjourning parliament.
3rd July: America’s 300 give their first assessment of Iraqi forces: Iran is doubling its efforts to train Shiite militias. The Baghdad airport is ill prepared with only eight apache gunships.
3rd July: Turkoman refugee families in Iraqi Kurdistan have had their movements restricted to the camps. Those wanting to travel to the south of Iraq are finding it impossible on account of the roads being held by Daash. The airport and the entire city of Erbil have been put off limits by Kurdish authorities.
3rd July: Saudi news channel Al-Arabiya claims that the Iraqi army withdraws its patrols and forces from the Iraq Saudi Border in the province of Karbal, forcing the Saudi army to deploy 30000 troops along the border. The claims are later denied by the Iraqi Army.
3rd July: Daash has released 32 Turkish drivers it had abducted in the beginning of June. They are now with Turkish authorities in northern Iraq.
3rd July Shannon Maureen Conley, a 19 year old American is arrested in Colorado while trying to board a flight to Germany. She was on her way to fight for Daash in Syria. She is being interrogated by the FBI.
3rd July: An IED has exploded in the south west of Kirkuk city killing one Peshmerga fighter and injuring another five. Iraqi government aircraft have targeted Daash fuel tankers that were loading fuel in Al-Safra village south of Kirkuk. The airstrike destroyed three tankers and damaged six.
3rd July: Peshmerga fighters clash with Daash militants in Jalawalaa district, north east Baqouba. Casualties are being reported amongst the Daash fighters.
3rd July: Atta/Government claims for the day:
Some areas of Jurf al-Sakhar district in Babel province have been cleared of Daash fighters/Rebels The air force has bombed the Mayor’s building in Shurqat, Salahuddin province
Abu al-Oula al-Shami, a Daash commander responsible for recruiting, has been killed by Security Forces in Anbar
2nd July: An EU court has scrapped sanctions that were imposed by the EU on the Sharif University. The University was placed under sanctions for supporting Iran’s nuclear program. The sanctions were scrapped for lack of evidence.
3rd July: Iran and P5 enter final stages of the Iranian nuclear negotiations.
3rd July: Sunni Bangladeshi migrant workers returning from Iraq complain of being beaten, insulted and their cleric tortured by Iraqi Security Forces for being pro rebel/Daash. The 21 labourers said that the abuse had been widespread. One laborer was allegedly stripped naked, those with long beards were singled out for abuse.
3rd July: Obama talks to the Saudi King Abdullah about the security situation in Iraq. The Saudi king offers 500 million USD aid to those displaced in the fighting. The money will be channeled through the UN (and not the regular Daash channels).
3rd July: Zahran Alloush, head of the Syrian Islamist militant group Jaish al Islam (Army of Islam) is seriously injured in a suburb of Damascus when a meeting of his fighters was struck by mortar shells fired by Daash fighters. He had earlier referred to the Daash in a YouTube video as being “Kharjities” and destroyers of Jihad.
The Telegraph, UK, today stated the glaringly obvious. The only asset the Americans did not supply the Iraqi leadership with was air power. It states that even a rudimentary air force of Second World War aircraft would have prevented Daash from making rapid advances corroborating what Maliki had claimed earlier. It also goes on to state that the F-16s promised would have been ill suited for ground attack missions.
The inability of the Iraqi forces to stop the Daash/rebel advance on the roads, is now forcing them to fight a costly, in terms of men and money, urban confrontation.
Osama al Nujaifi today claimed that “he had received confirmation from the U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on the ‘need for change’ in the country. Maliki is now the past.” He also justified the Kurdish call for independence by referring to it as an outcome of the “marginalization” policies of the government in Baghdad, which as the speaker of Parliament, he was part of.
Must watch, Shia militias trained in Syria fighting in Iraq
After a bloody crackdown on Sunni Arabs, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki saw violence soar for months, and most of the Sunni portion of the nation now taken over by ISIS. Kurdistan, likewise, is one foot out the door to secession.
Major fighting ensued with a militia loyal to the cleric, Mahmoud al-Sarkhi, and at least 45 people have been killed already. The military has put Karbala on full lockdown, and Sarkhi escaped by the time the military finally broke into his house.
What with Karbala being the most important city in Shi’a Islam, the fighting sparked a major reaction across Iraq’s Shi’ite territory, which is to say the only territory Iraq has left. Pro-Sarkhi fighters attacked a police station in Diwaniyah, while protesters blocked major roads in the southern port of Basra.
Sarkhi has a long history of running afoul of the mainstream religious leaders in Iraq and Iran, and in 2007 supporters of his actually attacked the Iranian Consulate in Basra to protest unfavorable coverage of his sermon on Iranian TV. Still, with Iraq already flying apart at the seems, the crackdown appears to be another agitation that Maliki can ill-afford.
Yesterday’s parliament session was the first for the newly elected parliament, and was expected to center on forming a new government. Any deal seems far apart, and parliament will meet again next week, but it seems liable to end the same way as this week’s meeting did.
The US, keen to see Maliki replaced, has been making calls, pushing various Iraqi MPs into trying to come up with some sort of “unity” deal with someone other than Maliki at the helm. Vice President Joe Biden has been making the calls.
Maliki seems to be holding out his hope toward courting the Sunni on an offer of amnesty for tribesmen who had joined the ISIS rebellion, but he faces strong opposition from not only Sunni Arabs, but from Kurds and his fellow Shi’ites as well.
A number of Shi’ite MPs have been put forward as replacements for Maliki, with Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council MP Adel Abdul-Mahdi and Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi being talked up as the front-runners.
Desperate to get any help he can with the ongoing war against ISIS, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki today urged all neighboring countries to join the conflict, arguing the declaration of a Caliphate by ISIS poses a problem for the whole region.
Maliki has already gotten support from Iran, and some airstrikes from neighboring Syria, which has also lost a lot of territory to ISIS. Its other neighbors have so far not gotten directly involved.
Jordan seems the most likely future target, with ISIS having taken over their border with Iraq. Turkey remains unlikely to get involved in the war directly, having long backed the rebels against Syria.
That leaves Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, which likewise seem unlikely to join the ISIS war. Saudis, like Turkey, have openly backed the rebels in Syria. Unlike Turkey, the Saudis have openly backed Islamist factions, and would definitely not suddenly change sides over concerns about ISIS.
Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki at his country's first parliamentary session since the start of hostilities in Iraq, July 1, 2014.Photo: AP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Nouri al-Maliki, who is looking increasingly like a lame duck prime minister as Iraq threatens to fall apart, lashed out at the country’s autonomous Kurds, rejecting their move into disputed territories and a planned independence vote.
In a televised weekly speech on Wednesday Maliki vowed that the Iraqi army would return to the vast territories where the Kurds have deployed their Peshmerga forces, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk that the Kurds have always wanted as a future capital.
“There is nothing in our constitution called self-determination," Maliki said. "No one has the right to take advantage of events… as happened with some actions of the Kurdistan Region."
His speech came a day after Kurdish President Massoud Barzani told the BBC that a referendum to decide on Kurdish independence “is a question of months,”
“I cannot fix a date right now but it’s a question of months,” Barzani said, adding it was up to the Kurdish parliament to decide on the date.
“I have said many times that independence is a natural right of the people of Kurdistan. All these developments (in Iraq) reaffirm that, and from now on we will not hide that the goal of Kurdistan is independence,” he said in the interview.
The same day that Barzani’s interview was aired, MPs in Baghdad opened the new session of parliament, following elections that preceded the current turmoil. But it remained in session only until the Kurdish and Sunni blocs walked out, after the Shiites failed to come up with any name to replace the embattled prime minister.
Maliki, who squeezed himself into a second term and looks determined to shoehorn himself into a third, appears amazingly out of touch, as Iraq falls apart before a cocktail of bulldozing forces that include Sunni jihadis, an al-Qaeda offshoot, and loyalists of Saddam Hussein’s ousted military.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces moved into Kirkuk, and other disputed areas in the provinces of Nineveh and Diyala, after the Iraqi army largely collapsed when jihadi-led insurgents began a lightning offensive three weeks ago.
The fate of Kirkuk and the other disputed lands was supposed to be decided under Article 140 of the constitution, in a 2007 referendum that never took place.
Barzani said that constitutional clause was finished; Maliki said that was “unacceptable.”
“This is unacceptable and inadmissible. Article 140 has not ended, it remains constitutional,” he said. “It must proceed in accordance with the constitution.”
But Barzani said the Kurds could not wait indefinitely to decide their fate.
“We can’t go back to the previous situation. We can’t experiment with our fate for another 10 years. We can’t remain hostages to an unknown future,” he said.
Maliki warned the Kurds, saying seeking independence would plunge the region into uncontrollable turmoil.
"Oppressed Kurdish people: this (statehood) will harm you, and plunge the region into an abyss that you cannot get out.”
Meanwhile, President Barzani will address the Kurdish parliament on Thursday about the current political and security situation in Iraq. He is also expected to bring up the referendum question.
Maliki also pleaded for dialogue with the Kurds.
"When everything goes back to normal, then we sit down at the constitutional negotiating table,” he said.
Saudi king, Obama call for Iraq unity govt
Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and U.S. President Barack Obama stressed on the importance of forming a new government that unites all of ‘Iraq’s diverse communities.’ (Reuters)
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News
Thursday, 3 July 2014
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday reaffirmed the need for Iraq’s leaders to form a unity government amid the violence in the country.
In a telephone call, the leaders discussed the threats facing Iraq after militants belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria group (ISIS) seized large parts of the country, according to a White House statement.
The meeting comes three days after ISIS declared a "caliphate" encompassing the entire Muslim world.
President Obama and the Saudi king Abdullah stressed on the importance of forming a new government that unites all of “Iraq’s diverse communities.”
The U.S. president also thanked the Saudi king for his $500 million pledge to help Iraqis displaced by the upsurge in violence.
“The president thanked the king for Saudi Arabia’s pledge of $500 million dollars to help alleviate the suffering of all Iraqis who have been displaced by the violence. The two leaders agreed to continue to consult closely on regional developments,” the White House said.
The country’s $500 million donation will go through the United Nations to counter Iraq’s humanitarian crisis.
Three days after ISIS declared itself a caliphate, President Obama and King Abdullah agreed to consult closely on regional developments, the White House said.
Saudi Arabia shares a 800 km border with Iraq.
Iraq has split along sectarian lines between the majority Shi’ite Muslims and the Sunni Muslim and Kurdish minorities.
Sunnis and Kurds on Tuesday walked out of the first meeting of Iraq’s new parliament, which failed to name a new prime minister as an alternative to current leader Nouri al-Maliki.
Video: Iraqi forces were asked to withdraw from Saudi, Syria borders
An Iraqi officer expressed his confusion over why border guard cohorts were asked to leave areas near Saudi Arabia and Syria. (Al Arabiya)
Al Arabiya’s sister News Channel Al Hadath showed on Wednesday an exclusive recorded video of an officer who said he was asked alongside with other border guards to withdraw from the country’s borders with Saudi Arabia and Syria by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s administration.
In the interview, the officer expressed his confusion over why border guard cohorts were asked to leave despite there was no evident danger.
“We didn’t know why,” he said, adding that another officer didn’t want to leave but he had to follow the military orders.
Without identifying exactly who, the officer said “they” burned cars and destroyed warehouses after the border guards’ retreated from their positions.
Report: Saudi troops deployed to Iraq border
Saudi-owned TV station says 30,000 troops move to border after Iraqis withdraw, while evidence of Iranian aid emerges.
Last updated: 03 Jul 2014 09:40
The Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV station said troops were deployed after Iraqi soldiers withdrew [Reuters]
Saudi Arabia has sent 30,000 soldiers to its border with Iraq after Iraqi soldiers withdrew from the area, Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television said on Thursday.
The country aims to guard its 800km border with Iraq, where Islamic State fighters and other Sunni Muslim rebel groups seized towns and cities in a lightning advance last month.
King Abdullah has ordered all necessary measures to protect the kingdom against potential "terrorist threats", state news agency SPA reported on Thursday.
The Dubai-based al-Arabiya said on its website that Saudi troops fanned into the border region after Iraqi government forces abandoned positions, leaving the Saudi frontier unprotected, the Reuters news agency reported.
The satellite channel said it had obtained a video showing some 2,500 Iraqi soldiers in the desert area east of the Iraqi city of Karbala after pulling back from the border.
An officer in the video aired by al-Arabiya said that the soldiers had been ordered to quit their posts without justification.
The authenticity of the recording could not immediately be verified. Iranian aid
Iraq is in the midst of a conflict with Sunni fighters in the north and west of the country, and has launched an offensive in Tikrit to recapture territory it lost during a rebel advance in June.
Thousands of soldiers, beacked by tanks, artillery and aerial cover, have made limited progress in retaking the city, the AFP news agency reported.
The Iraqi government has asked allies for help in tackling the rebellion, but has received a limited response from the US.
Washington has sent 300 military advisers to Baghdad, falling short of Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's request for weapons, including to speed up delivery of F-16 jets due for delivery later this year.
The Iraqis have instead turned to Russia and reportedly, Iran.
Russia sold Iraq a dozen Sukhoi-25 jets.
The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies has said three Sukhoi jets shown landing in Iraq in a video released by the defence ministry were probably from Iran.
Tehran has pledged to aid Iraq against the rebels, who are motivated, in part, by Iran's alleged influence on the Iraqi government.