Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Iraq Updates ( July 2 , 2014 ) Despite the Iraq sectarian strife showing absolutely no movement toward resolution and Iraqi politicians showing no interest in forming an emergency unity government - US escalates its involvement in Iraq ? As the Iraq Government battles Sunni forces , the Kurds have cast their lot with independence

Minfriedo Overview.....


June 2nd IRAQ SITREP by Mindfriedo


How strange! How strange! By Allah my heart sinks to see the unity of these people on their wrong…and your scattering away from your right. Woe and grief befall you. You have become the target at which arrows are shot”
---Ali ibn Abi Talib (as) to the people of Iraq

Today’s SITREP has been divided for clarity; a lot can happen in 24 hours

Government Areas 

1st July: The followers of the anti Iranian Shia cleric Mahmud al-Hasani al-Sarkhi march on the Imam Hussain (as) shrine in Karbala and clash with security personnel blocking them. The clashes are reported to be fierce with 25 people killed. The exact cause of the confrontation is unclear. Al-Sarkhi is opposed to the influence of “Iranian Marjas” such as Sistani. It is interesting to note that Sistani is Iranian born but has lived in Najaf most of his life. 

2nd Junly: Karbala is under curfew and security forces have laid siege to the office of Al-Sharkhi where he has taken shelter along with a number of his followers. His followers have also blockaded roads in Nasiriyah and Basra (both southern Shi’ite cities) and clashes have been reported between the army and his supporters in other cities of the south of Iraq. 

2nd July: A second batch of five Sukhoi fighters has arrived in Iraq. The Iraqi Air Force now has 10 SU25s supplied by Russia. Seven helicopter gunships have also been delivered by Russia, three MI-28M Havocs and four Mi-35s. A further 24 MI-35Ms and MI-28NEs are to be delivered till 2016 under a 4.2 billion USD contract signed in 2012. The helicopters are believed to have night warfare capabilities. 

2nd July: The Iraqi Government has released footage of army operations in Tikrit to corroborate its claims of having entered the city. Army personnel are seen patrolling the streets and clearing the University Campus. 

2nd July: The Iraqi army’s advance into Tikrit has been slowed down by booby traps, IEDs, and traps installed by militants. The army’s engineering wing his assisting the regular forces identify and contain them. Traps were found in government buildings and roads. The withdrawal of rebel forces from parts of Tikrit is being seen as a trap to cause non combat casualties amongst the army. Clashes in some areas have been fierce with the army calling in air strikes to dislodge entrenched rebels. 

2nd July: The Iraqi army claims to have defused over 40 IEDs and to have painstakingly removed Daash flags from buildings and roadsides in Tikrit. 

2nd July: The Iraqi ambassador to the US, Luqman Al-Faili, has asked the United States for much needed Military aid and airstrikes. In his address to the Carnegie Institute he stated “Baghdad would be unable to wait for more to receive additional assistance from the United States.” He stressed that Iraq would turn to other governments and Iran for military aid. He stated that both Iran and Turkey could be asked to aid with airstrikes. 

2nd July: Dr Haider Al-Abadi, senior politician and spokesperson for Maliki, to Huffington Post UK “We have to be careful not to become involved in a sectarian war,” he said, adding: “Shias are not against Sunnis and Sunnis are not against Shias.” And that “Isis has got its own agenda regarding what it’s doing in Iraq. Whatever we do, even if we bring in a Sunni prime minister, they’ll be against him.. They fought against (former Iraqi prime minister Ayad) Allawi because he was secular, even though he wasn’t a Shia.” He also pointed out threat of returning Daash fighters to the UK. 

2nd July: Analysts at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), UK, claim that the jets delivered to Iraq on the 1st of July originated in Iran and not Russia. 

2nd July: Maliki has offered an amnesty to rebels “I announce the provision of an amnesty for all tribes and all people who were involved in actions against the state but who now ‘return to their senses,’ excluding those involved in killings.” 

2nd July, Government claims for the day: 

Iraqi government releases a video showing “Russian” supplied Su-25s attacking Daash/rebel positions 

Iraqi government releases further videos of its air force bombing Daash/rebel fighters in Anbar and Baylon 

The Iraqi army is in control of the University of Tikrit and is using it as a base of operations to “liberate” Tikrit
The air force is reporting killing 60 Daash fighters in the Jurf al-Sakhar district of northern Babel.

Sunni/contested Areas: 

2nd July: Athel al-Nujaifi , the Governor of Nineveh has called for the creation of a “Sunni Territory” within Iraq. He states that the Sunnis no longer trust the army or the government in Baghdad. He has pointed out that the region is rich in natural oil wealth such as the 15 unexploited newly discovered oil fields in Anbar province. He has also citied ample water resources and agriculture as arguments for secession or autonomy. 

2nd July: Daash had in a meeting held on Tuesday in Mosul asked its allied tribes and Ba’athist fighters to lay down their arms and swear allegiance to their caliph. This call has been made throughout the Sunni areas it controls in Iraq and Syria. Strangely Daash’s insistence on allegiance to stay within the DI (Daulat Islamia) of Daash is very similar to what is required of the citizens of the United States. 

A funny thing that needs to be mentioned is that Al Baghdadi, the caliph of the DI of Daash’s real name is Ibrahim ibn Awwad ibn Ibrahim Ali ibn Muhammad al-Badri al-Hashimi al-Husayni al-Qurashi. His name implies that he is from the lineage of the Prophet and from the same tribe. The devil is in the detail. This information needs to be dusted for fingerprints. 

2nd July: A rocket attack in the Shirqat district, north of Tikrit, has left 16 people dead and injured 5. It is not clear who was responsible for the rocket attack that damaged seven houses. The district is located close to Baiji and has seen clashes between the Iraqi army and Daash/Rebel fighters. 

2nd July: Senior Jordanian Al Qaida figures/clerics Abu Mohammed Al Maqdissi and Mohammad Shalabi have condemned the DI of Daash. 

2nd July: Clashes break out between Daash fighters and Naqshabandi fighters in Himreen in Nineveh province leaving four dead.

Kurdish areas 

2nd July: Amir-Abdollahian, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister speaking in Russia “Although Iraq has a strong army, Iran is ready to send military consultants to the neighboring country to help with battles against the al-Qaeda splinter Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).” Further “All Iraqi factions should respect the country’s constitution.” 

2nd July: Maliki refers to the Kurdish bid for an independence referendum as unconstitutional.


2nd July: Daash fighters in Syria have captured the Syrian/DI of Daash town of Boukamal from the rival Al-Qaida linked “Obama moderate” rebel Al Nusra front. Al-Nusra fighters had earlier defected to the ranks of Daash. Daash is now advancing to the Al Nusra stronghold of Shuheil that is also the birth place of Al Nusra’s leader Abu Muhammed Al Golani. Heavy fighting is expected and residents of Shuheli are fleeing in mass. 

2nd July: More Bandars for Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has appointed Prince Khaled Bin Bandar as its intelligence chief. The earlier Bandar, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, was sacked three months ago. The King has put the armed forces on a high state of alert fearing violence from Islamic militants. 

2nd July: Rebels in Syria released this statement “We, the leaders of the brigades and battalions...give the National Coalition, the [opposition] interim government, the [rebel] Supreme Military Council and all the leading bodies of the Syrian revolution a week to send reinforcements and complete aid. Should our call not be heard, we will lay down our weapons and pull out our fighters," 

2nd July: Number of Turkish tourists visiting Israel in 2013, not on flotillas of course, 24,385. 

2nd July: Jordanian forces on the Iraq Jordan border have been on a heightened state of alert since June 16th.

Short Analysis, America’s plan B: 

America’s plan B, or was it plan A all along, is now becoming clear: The division of Iraq into three autonomous regions. This is primarily to weaken the Shia block. Following the rebel takeover of Sunni Cities, this has been brought about by: 

Undermining the security forces of the Iraqi government, by questioning their credibility and effectiveness and by denying military assistance.

Questioning the validity of Maliki’s reelection and repeatedly calling for a unity government. By making Aid conditional on Maliki resigning, they made it harder for him to do so.

Using Iraqi Kurdistan as an example to follow, asking the Iraqi government to be inclusive while exemplifying the autonomy of Iraqi Kurdistan

Support and encouragement of Sunni politicians looking to break away. Constantly referring to them as marginalized and excluded. 

In all conflicts, a political solution follows a military one. The Americans are insisting that a political solution precede the retaking of Iraqi cities by Baghdad. They are asking the Iraqi government to negotiate from a position of weakness and with those advocating sedition. They never spoke to Saddam in the same way even after defeating him. This is not just double standard; they seem to want to create chaos even where there is a possibility for peace.

Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces has stated that some of the work carried out by the US military personnel will be to assess the Iraqi army, its capabilities and representation: What are they doing?, what is there Composition? Are they still force that represents all Iraqis?” then “When we get this assessment, We will take decisions on some other types of support that we can provide…” and finally “the ability to reach a political reconciliation between the groups, and provide a comprehensive way to the people of Iraq, will lead to the formation of an important factor in DETERMINING what we will do in the FUTURE.”

Tweets..... FWIW ( Note in fighting between Shi'a forces south of Baghdad ! )

Anti groups surrounding Brigade 8 in . Extreme fierce clashes as we speak..

Dual attack targeted regime army patrol in west . Deaths and injuries reported.

Intense clashes in as we speak..

 Retweeted by Memlik Pasha
Opinion piece from : Obama's Armed Drones in Iraq Reek of Mission Creep

: Report claim /allied rebels destroyed armored humvee vehicle with ATGM (for the first time) in al-Niba'i

: Reports of weapon shipments from arrived at Umm Qasr Port

Intensity of clashes between Ayatollah Sayed Sarkhi Hasani supporters and forces over ..

Pro pages call to carry arms to fight Ayatollah Sayed Sarkhi Hasani supporters and call them the ' of Shia'!

HUGE!! Unconfirmed reports Ayatollah Sayed Sarkhi Hasani killed in a direct bombing by helicopters on his house.

Clashes between Ayatollah Sayed Sarkhi Hasani supporters & is finally now on

Shame on you Muqtada al-Sadr.. This man -> Ayatollah Sayed Sarkhi Hasani is the one representing Shia of today..


Anti War.....

ISIS Continues Anbar Offensive, Nearing Haditha

Iraq Sends More Troops to Haditha Dam

by Jason Ditz, July 01, 2014
While they remain in de facto control of virtually the whole Anbar Province, ISIS continues to pick off the towns along the Euphrates River one by one, most recentlymoving against Rawah and nearby Anah, giving them more directions from which to attack the key city of Haditha.
Haditha is home to the Haditha Dam, the capture of which would give ISIS a major hold on electricity generation in Iraq, and the option of flooding certain nearby regions to deny the Iraqi military access to them for counterattack.
The Iraqi military has sent another 2,000 troops to the dam to try to reinforce it from potential attack, and Iraqi military officials are said to be considering opening the floodgates themselves to flood out ISIS territory.
ISIS has been shoring up its control of the area around Haditha for over a week now, and while there has been a lot of fear of them trying to damage the dam to damage the Iraqi power grid, the indications are that they are planning to seize it outright, not damage it.

US Troops Will Fly Attack Helicopters in Iraq

Pentagon Sending Apaches, More Attack Drones

by Jason Ditz, July 01, 2014
While continuing to insist they are trying to keep their involvement limited to “advisory” operations, the Pentagon continues to pour military equipment into Iraq, with US combat troops on the ground to carry out this new Iraq War.
Today, the Pentagon is rushing Apache attack helicopters to Baghdad, along with more Shadow drones, couching it as a move to prepare for a possible evacuation of the US Embassy.
Yet far from being focused on the embassy itself, officials say the US ground troops will be operating the helicopter gunshipsto “protect US interests” in and around Baghdad.
The US had already done multiple escalations centered on the notion they needed to prepare to evacuate the US Embassy, but at this point the deployments seem centered around laying the groundwork for a long-term US military operation in the nation.

Report: Obama Wants to Sell Iraq 4,000 More Hellfire Missiles

Shipments of Already Ordered Missiles Expected Soon

by Jason Ditz, July 01, 2014
Iraq has already burned through hundreds of US-made Hellfire Missiles in fighting the ISIS invasion, and another 100 already ordered are expected to be delivered in mid-July. This is just the tip of the iceberg, however.
According to officials familiar with the situation, President Obama intends to push through a plan to sell another 4,000 Hellfire Missiles to Iraq soon, a major contract for Lockheed Martin.
Iraq doesn’t have a lot of options for firing Hellfire Missiles yet, with no US warplanes delivered, and Iraq is said to be using Cessna 208Caravan prop planes to fire the missiles.
Some in Congress had previously objected to selling the Maliki government masses of Hellfire Missiles, noting Maliki’s inclination to use them against internal opposition. The objection seems to have dried up in recent days, with many hoping to escalate US involvement in the war.

Iraq to US: Bomb ISIS Or We’ll Ask Iran

Envoy Warns Maliki Won't Wait Forever for US Intervention

by Jason Ditz, July 01, 2014
Spokesman for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Dawa Party Haider al-Abadi issued a warning today that the nation is running out of patience with the US on not intervening against ISIS yet.
Abadi went on to say that the US needs to launch immediate airstrikes against ISIS, and that if they don’t, Iraq would court Iran to launch the strikesfor them instead.
Iran has been keen to aid the Iraqi government, but the nation’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian insists Iran won’t send ground troops to directly intervene, and will limit their involvement to arms shipments and the current advisory operations.
Which sounds remarkably familiar to what the US is doing itself, suggesting both nations are in a race toward back door involvement in the war, while both assuring the public they won’t be doing so.
Still, even as the US continues to escalate and break promises of staying out of Iraq, the Iraq Ambassador to the US seems to be taking the words more seriously than the actions, and is warning the nation “can’t wait” for US involvement, and could court regional rivals as an alternative.


Iraq Rebels Gain Support by Handing Control of Seized Lands to Local Tribes

By Omar al-Mansuri 33 minutes ago
Jihadi Sunni fighters who are in control of large parts of Iraq. Photo: AFP
Jihadi Sunni fighters who are in control of large parts of Iraq. Photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Jihadi-led insurgents who have taken over large parts of Iraq’s disgruntled Sunni lands have handed over administration and security to local tribes and people, returning life to normal in some “liberated” regions.
Tribal leaders in areas seized by the insurgents, which include the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and remnants of late dictator Saddam Hussein’s military, have issued calls for volunteers to join militias that are taking over security in areas where Iraqi government forces have been pushed out.
Meanwhile, local councils have emerged to take over administration, as the rebels call on government employees to return to their jobs and try to restore public services such as water and electricity.
“The rebels have handed over management of the liberated provinces to its people,” confirmed Khodeir Morshedi, secretary-general of the National Islamic Front, which opposes the Iraqi government and includes the Baath party and local Islamic and jihadi forces.
“The local managers in those cities were chosen after lengthy meetings,” he said, adding that the rebels had gained local sympathies by liberating lands and handing control to the people themselves.
Since the axis of Baathist and Islamist forces joined hands three weeks ago and began a military push that has seen the Iraqi army largely collapse, the rebels have gained control over all of Anbar province – Iraq’s largest – as well as areas in Nineveh, Salahaddin, Diyala and Kirkuk.
Sheikh Ali Hatem al-Suleiman, one of the main tribal leaders in Anbar, said that local councils had taken over in the Nineveh capital of Mosul and captured regions in Salahaddin. Councils also would soon be announced in the rest of the areas under rebel control, said Suleiman, who is from the Dualaimi tribe in Ramadi, Anbar’s capital.
"Leaders of tribes that have joined the rebellion have called on their men to volunteer for security forces in the liberated cities, in order to protect the people, their properties and the gains of the revolution,” he said.
“The various armed groups that are fighting in the rebellion have clear goals for their military operations: they attack the Iraqi army, push them out of cities, then hand over control to local administrations, which deal with the affairs of the people and attend to their needs,” Suleiman explained to Rudaw.
“This was amply demonstrated in Mosul, when they immediately formed a local administration and appointed a governor for Nineveh,” he said.
Fallujah and other cities of Anbar, such as Rutbah, Qaim, and Haditha are reportedly under tribal control. The rebels have also called on government employees to return to their jobs.
“Before returning to work as a traffic police I was worried about the Iraqi prime minister’s statement, in which he said that government employees in cities not under government control would not be paid,” said Huzaifa Ahmed, who lives in Fallujah.
“But frankly, I was also surprised when the rebel tribes told us of their intention to pay salaries to all employees next month, without depending on the Iraqi government,” Ahmed added.
Iraq’s beleaguered Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose alleged one-sided policies in favor of the ruling majority Shiites is blamed for alienating the Sunnis and Kurds and igniting the insurgent juggernaut now threatening to split Iraq into three parts, has claimed time and again that the rebels are incapable of administering cities they have captured.
There have also been accusations, including by international human rights watchdogs, of attacks against minorities such as Christians and mass executions of captured army soldiers. The rebels have also been accused of imposing harsh Islamic laws in seized regions.
But residents have clearly been telling a different story. That is because there are many forces involved in the Iraq turmoil, the most potent of which appears to be the partnership among the Baathists and Islamists. All of the fighting in Iraq is not being done by a single, united force.
“If I was not an employee in a governmental department I would be the first to volunteer and join the tribal rebels,” said Waleed Khaled, a 38-year-old health department employee in Fallujah, who is back at work.
"Tribal rebels in Fallujah announced through mosque loudspeakers that all employees had to return to their jobs. The rebels gave the employees a deadline of three days to comply before getting permanently sacked," he explained.
Sheikh Qasim Karbouli, a tribal leader in Anbar, told Rudaw that in city of Qaim, “The livelihood of the people has been restored and they have begun cooperating with the tribes on security cells to protect the city.”
"Things have moved quickly. We have begun with securing the most important services that immediately impact the lives of people,” he explained. “Employees at health, electricity and water services were called back to work, and now there are discussions to appoint administrative staff.”

Kirkuk’s Kurds Don’t Trust Baghdad

By RUDAW 6 hours ago

Kurdish Peshmerga forces guarding checkpoint on the main road between Kirkuk and Tikrit. Photo: AFP
Kurdish Peshmerga forces guarding checkpoint on the main road between Kirkuk and Tikrit. Photo: AFP
KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region — Kurdish MPs and residents in Iraq’s most hotly contested province say they don’t trust Baghdad and have little interest in political dealings in the capital. 
Kurdish and Sunni Arab MPs walked out of Parliament’s first session on Tuesday after Shiite MPs failed to name a candidate for prime minister. Embattled Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has served for eight years, is facing massive opposition to re-election as Sunni extremists and Iraqi Sunni tribes gain control of large swaths of land and Kurds threaten to secede. 
Sirwan Rahman, an MP from Kirkuk, expressed anger over Baghdad’s decision six months ago to cut funds to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) — effectively cutting off the region’s main source of income. 
He said Kurdish MPs from the ethnically mixed province of Kirkuk “don’t need to sit in Baghdad” and believes a new prime minister won’t make a difference for the Kurds.
"Maliki rules autonomously,” he said. “Whomever comes to power will be authoritarian and anyone who succeeds Maliki would be like him; it’s the same policy. Maliki is guarded about what he’s doing; it’s the policy of the Arabs and this is how Arab policies are (towards Kurds),” he said.
Kurdish forces moved swiftly into Kirkuk to fill a security vacuum left by the retreating Iraqi army who lost battles to Sunni militias last month. Kurdish leaders are unanimously rejecting the demand that Peshmerga forces to withdraw from what they call "newly liberated Kurdish territories." 
Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution details a series of steps to resolve areas of dispute between the Kurds and Baghdad — most notably oil-rich Kirkuk — via a referendum that would determine whether the areas will join the Kurdistan Regional Government or be governed by Baghdad. But the referendum has never been held, angering Kurds who have accused Baghdad of dragging its feet on the issue.
Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Region, has called for the United Nations to help hold a referendum on Kirkuk. 
"The new reality (of Peshmarga capturing Kirkuk) resolved the territorial issues for us,” said Shakhwan Abdulla a newly elected MP for the Iraqi parliament. “Now there’s just the issue of the referendum over the fate of such areas." 
Many Kurds in Kirkuk also don’t trust Baghdad.  
"I think going to Baghdad to take part in the next Iraqi government is a big mistake,” said Hassan Jumaa, a writer from Kirkuk. “We shouldn’t forget that they’ve long been a wolf that has constantly attacked us. Now their teeth are broken.”

President Barzani: Kurdistan Independence Referendum in Months

By RUDAW 15 hours ago

Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani speaking to the BBC.
Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani speaking to the BBC.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A referendum to decide on independence for the autonomous Kurdistan Region in northern Iraq “is a question of months,” Kurdish President Massoud Barzani told the BBC in an interview.
“I cannot fix a date right now but it’s a question of months,” Barzani said about a referendum, 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 told the BBC.
His words came as MPs in Baghdad opened the new session of parliament on time on Tuesday, 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 Nouri al-Maliki as 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.
Riding on the crest of a Sunni insurgency they ignited, within weeks the insurgents have crushed the Iraqi army and taken control of large sweeps of territory, including the second-largest city, Mosul, and Anbar province, the largest.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an al-Qaeda offshoot fighting in both countries, has declared an Islamic State from Aleppo in Syria to Diyala in Iraq.
Barzani’s words confirmed that the division of Iraq is no longer a fear: it is happening.
"Iraq is effectively partitioned now; should we stay in this tragic situation that Iraq is living?” Barzani told the BBC. “Of course, we are all with our Arab and Sunni brothers together in this crisis, but that doesn’t mean that we will abandon our goal,” he said.
“The latest events have established that this is the solution. 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,” Barzani added.
Meanwhile, the United Nations reported that the death toll for June, in all of Iraq except Anbar province, was 2,417 people, three times more than the 799 killed in May, before the insurgents began their advance. Most of those killed in June – 1,500 – were civilians.
After Iraqi troops collapsed and retreated from the north in face of the jihadi-led advance, Kurdish Peshmerga forces moved into the oil-rich city of Kirkuk -- which the Kurds have always seen as the capital of a future homeland -- and into other disputed areas in the provinces of Nineveh and Diyala.  
The three province Kurdistan Region – Erbil, Sulaimani and Duhok -- achieved autonomy from Iraq effectively in 2003. 
Iraq’s five million Kurds, who suffered what is internationally being recognized as genocide under Saddam Hussein, have long yearned for an independent homeland. Until now, that dream has been opposed not only by neighboring Iran, Turkey and Syria – each with millions of minority Kurds – but by the United States as well.
The US has sent in 200 troops to secure its embassy in Baghdad, the largest in the world. But with the West unwilling to step in militarily to help Maliki, the prime minister has turned to Iran, Syria and Russia, which are reportedly providing arms troops and advisors.
Barzani said that an independent Kurdistan would be a threat to no one: “We will have the best of relations with all the neighbors and we will not be a threat to anyone at all, I’m sure.”