Friday, July 4, 2014

Iraq Updates July 4 , 2014 -- Ironic that as the US celebrates Independence from Britain today , we discourage the Kurd from achieving their own independent Kurdistan ? Latest items of note on Iraqi politics ( their principal factions absolutely no closer to forming a Government as Maliki refuses to leave , the Kurds and Sunnis seem determined to have their own independent territories ) .... US " mission sprint in Iraq on full display - Advisors only quickly morphed into combat troops to guard the US Embassy , now we see combat troops in Irbil ....... Status of civil war - Shi'a rounding up Sunnis in Baghdad , security forces killing " militants " across Iraq , Iraq wants F-16's it can't even fly , US scared to provide the jets because Maliki just might use them against political foes / Kurds - but we are okay with supplying thousand of Hellfire missiles ? What a masquerade !

Vineyard of the Saker.....

4th July Iraq SITREP by Mindfriedo

"defendants will be safe in our hands; for as Imam Ali said, ‘If you have the ability to oppress people, then you should remember the power of god over you.’”
---Kurdish judge Ra'ouf Rashid Abdul-Raham who sentenced Saddam to death.

4th July: The Iraqi army has taken over the village of Awja, birth place of Saddam Hussain. The village lies 8 kilometres south of Tikrit. Fighting has left 50 rebels dead. The assault on the village involved Iraqi Security forces, Pro government militias and Air strikes.
4th July: Fighting between Daash/rebels and Peshmergas continues in Jalawa, Diyala province. The area was originally contested by the Kurds and the government in Baghdad. It has a mix Kurdish Arab population. Peshmergas had taken the area when federal forces withdrew but seem to have lost the Arab parts to Daash.
4th July: The Obama administration is planning to sell 4000 hellfire missiles to Baghdad soon (soon being a relative term).
4th July: The 46 Indian nurses being held by militants in Tikrit. They are currently in Erbil waiting to be flown out. The Indian government has arranged for an official aircraft with ministers from Kerala (the state the nurses hail from) and the centre flying down to escort them home. The nurses had earlier expressed their frustration at the Indian diplomats and had reprimanded them "prepare our coffins instead." It is unclear if 10 Bangladeshi nurse employed at the same hospital in Tikrit were also heading home.
4th July: The BBC is reporting of wide scale abuse of non Sunni Arab communities in Mosul. Militants are reported to be going door to door to identify Shias, Christians and Kurds.
A released Kurdish hostage: "For Shias, if they cannot be exchanged for prisoners, [the Isis rebels] would simply cut off their heads."
Others have the possibility of being ransomed.
4th July: The US joint security command run by special forces is now operational in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan.
4th July: A British fighter of Daash, Abu Osama, calls up Radio 5 in the UK and calls Britain "Pure Evil." He states that he will not return till the black flag of Daash is flying over Buckingham Palace.
4th July: Four children are killed when Daash fighters demolished two houses using explosives in Namil village, north of Tikrit. One if the houses belonged to the chief of the Salahuddin province police who had evacuated his residence prior to the incident.
4th July: Atta's/Government's claims for today:
Anti terrorism forces of the Iraqi government have killed 80 terrorist and destroyed 12 vehicles in Salahuddin province
Atta announces complete control over Karbala and other southern cities ending the crisis involving the cleric Mahmoud al Sarkhi
Iraq's new Sukhoi fighters carry out airstrikes in Kirkuk against Daash targets
Around 30 Daash fighters are killed in an assault on Baiji refinery, vehicles also destroyed

A Short Analysis, disinformation and propaganda
A commentator pointed out to a link in the last SITREP:
Unfortunately I could not find its English version on Thierry Meyssan's webpage. I did however stubble upon this news article dated 26th June:
It states two glaringly distorted facts, the first that Judge Abdul Rahman was killed by Daash militants as revenge for Saddam's killing. This news later turned out to be false and part of Ba'athist propaganda.
Please check this, it is an excellent article that touches upon Ba'athist propaganda:
The second that the gas attacks on Halabja were carried out by the Iranians. That the gas fired elsewhere drifted into Halabja. It quotes a NYT article that first suggested this. I tried looking up sources that the Iranians used chemical weapons on the Kurds, if at all during the war. It seems the only reports were from American intelligence sources and later in recent times Israeli intelligence scaremongering about the threat of Iranian chemical weapons.
Please read this link that adds caveats to its claims of Iran's use of these weapons:
And this one that talks about limited use by Iran without corroborating any facts, but mostly 99.99% of corroborated Iraqi use:
This one that talks about the US assisting Iraq in gassing the Iranians:
And this one that touches the tip of the iceberg of Iranian suffering. To any Wahabi/Ba'athist readers, don't worry they are only Shias:

This is from an Iranian survivors of Iraq/German/American Mustard Gas attacks 30 years later: "one of my wishes in life, is to take a deep breath."

Further reading:
According to this article, America did its best, but the Iraqis were just too incompetent. It seems they can't even learn to fly. I remember watching an episode of Mind Your Language where a police inspector holds Mr Brown (English teacher) responsible for his pupil's (Jamila's) shoplifting; stating "if anyone is to blame, it's the person who taught her English."

Al Arabiya....

Former Iraq parliament speaker ‘to step aside’ so Maliki can go

Osama al-Nujaifi said he would not nominate himself for another term. (File photo: Reuters)
Former Iraqi parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, a major political foe of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, said he would not nominate himself for another term to make it easier for the Shiite political parties to replace the premier.

"I appreciate the demands of the brothers in the National Alliance who see that Maliki will insist on holding on to the premiership if I nominate myself for speaker of the Council of the Representatives," he said, according to a text of the speech published on his Facebook page late on Thursday.

The National Alliance is a bloc comprising the country's biggest Shiite parties, including both Maliki's list and his foes.

"Out of respect for them and in order to achieve the interests of the people and the country and to defend the oppressed and those who hold rights, I have decided not to nominate myself," said Sunni Muslim Nujaifi.

Iraqi politicians have been deadlocked over the formation of a new government despite pressure from the United States, Iran, the United Nations, and Iraq's own Shiite clerics to overcome their differences to face a major insurgency.

Sunni militants, complaining of marginalization by Maliki's Shiite-led government and spearheaded by an al Qaeda offshoot, have seized swathes of Iraq's north and west in a sweeping offensive over the past three and a half weeks.

Yet the first meeting of Iraqi parliament since its election in April collapsed without agreement. Kurds and Sunnis walked out, complaining Shiite lawmakers had not yet determined who they would put forward as premier.

Maliki's opponents blame his divisive rule for fuelling the crisis and want him to step aside.

Under the governing system put in place after the United States toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, the prime minister is usually a Shiite, while parliament's speaker is a Sunni and the largely ceremonial role of president goes to a Kurd.

Currently all three blocs are beset by internal divisions and have not decided on their nominees. Furthermore, each says it wants to see who the other side wants to nominate before naming its own candidate. 

Hot Air...... Mission creep ( or is it a sprint ? )

US Sends Special Forces to Northern Iraq

Troops Setting Up Joint Operations Base in Kurdistan

by Jason Ditz, July 03, 2014
Though the majority of US ground troops in Iraq remain in and around Baghdad, agroup of special forces has been sent northward into Kurdistan to set up a second “Joint Operations Center” in Irbil.
Setting up a center in Kurdistan is an odd choice, since the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is nearing secession from Iraq, and certainly wouldn’t allow Iraqi ground forces in for “joint” missions with the Americans.
It also goes against what US officials say is the primary focus of their “advisory” mission right now: assessing the Iraqi military. Officials say the troops in Baghdad are doing that, but the ones in Irbil are far away from any Iraqi military personnel.
And while officials continue to insist the troops won’t engage in combat, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey says that the war may “get to the point” where they start launching airstrikes against ISIS.
All signs point to the US “advisers” getting ready for direct combat operations in both Iraq and Kurdistan, with the Pentagon shipping Apache attack helicopters to Baghdad to “protect American interests” in the capital, and deploying combat troops to fly them.

Hagel: US Combat Troops, But No Combat Missions in Iraq

Pentagon Brass Try to Downplay Growing Escalation

by Jason Ditz, July 03, 2014
The growing US military escalation into Iraq has been hugely unpopular domestically, and has the administration and the Pentagon brass constantly trying to minimize exactly what the US is doing there.
Initially, officials pledged “no boots on the ground.” That was broken quickly, and replaced with “no combat troops.” The combat troops came Monday, and followed up with attack helicopters for the troops to fly.
Despite all the escalation, the Pentagon is still sticking to the old playbook, with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel now preposterously insisting that the US sent combat troops to Iraq but doesn’t intend for any of them in combat.
Ironically, as the US occupation of Iraq wound down, the US redefined everyone as “non-combat” troops for rhetorical reasons, while they continued to engage in combat. This time, we’re expected to believe they’re doing the exact opposite, and military officials continue to reject public concerns of mission creep.
At the same time Hagel is denying any combat missions will happen, the US is setting up “joint forces” bases, and openly talking about Iraq needing direct military aid to recapture lost territory.

Gen. Dempsey: Iraq May Defend Baghdad, But Probably Can’t Retake Lost Cities

Says Iraq Would Need 'Outside Help' to Reclaim West

by Jason Ditz, July 03, 2014
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey sought to be optimistic aboutIraq’s chances of defending Baghdad, saying early assessments are that the Iraqi military is likely capable of holding its capital from ISIS invasion.
That’s the end of the good news for Iraq, however, as Gen. Dempsey went on to concede that Iraq’s “logistically challenged” military would struggle to try to launch any counterattacks at all, and probably will never be able to retake cities from ISIS on its own.
Dempsey continued to try to downplay the notion that the US is going to be the “outside help” Iraq would have in retaking cities from ISIS, insisting “we’re not there yet,” on any decisions to take direct action in Iraq.
Despite this protestation, the US has been adding armed drones, combat troops and attack helicopters at a growing rate over the past few weeks, and even if no formal announcement on the intervention has been made, it’s impossible to deny that the deployment is building in that direction.

As ISIS Assault Looms, Baghdad Rounds Up Suspected Sympathizers

Sunnis Complain About Govt Intimidation

by Jason Ditz, July 03, 2014
If you didn’t think the situation in Iraq could get any more divisive on a sectarian: prepare to be surprised, as Iraqi forces are moving to round up Sunnis they accuse of planning to join in an ISIS assault on the capital city.
As ISIS takes the cities surrounding Baghdad, a direct invasion of the capital itself is inevitable. While the military has made some effort to gear up for such a fight, the focus right now seems to be on intimidating local Sunnis, and accusing them of planning betrayal.
Iraq is dubbing them “sleeper cells” of ISIS, and claims there are 1,000 on the outskirts of Baghdad, and another 1,500 inside Western Baghdad itself, strategically clustered around the Green Zone.
The Green Zone comments appear to be in part an effort to coax the US into further escalation, as it houses the massive US embassy. Western Baghdad likewise covers the entire area between the Green Zone and the airport, meaning the losses could severely impede evacuation of the embassy.

Security Forces Kill Scores of Militants Across Iraq
by , July 03, 2014
Most of the 141 people reported killed today were militants. A policeman was wounded in a shooting.
The Iraqi government is rounding up as many as 2,500 individuals who, they say, are involved with "sleeper cells" that will attack Baghdad. Shi’ite militiamen are "helping" detain people, giving credence to the accusation that this is really just an "intimidation campaign" against Sunnis.
Saudi Arabia deployed 30,000 troops to the border with Iraq after learning that Iraqi troops may have left their posts. The Interior Ministry’s spokesman, Saad Maandenied the accusation. The troops may have been re-deployed near Karbala, where clashes took place yesterday.
Kurdish President Massoud Barzani requested Baghdad to organize a referendum on Kurdish independence. The Kurdistan Regional Government is also threatening to sue Baghdad if it does not cease trying to block oil sales.
Militants released 32 Turkish truck drivers who were captured on June 11. They alsorelocated 46 Indian nurses, but they are hanging on to a group of 40 Indian construction workers captured near Mosul.
Refugees say that Islamic State (ISIS) militants are executing non-Sunnis and Sunnis opposed to their takeover.
The bodies of 12 people, including women and children, were found dumped by the road near Tikrit.
In Mosulnine bodies bearing signs of torture were found.
Several civilians were killed during air strikes in Qaim.
In Jurf al-Sakhar, a police colonel was wounded in a shooting. Three militants were killed during air strikes.
Security forces said 88 militants were killed in Salah ad-Din province.
Another 14 were killed in Khalidiya.
In Baghdad, a gunman was killed.
militant was killed in Latifiya.
Violent clashes between Peshmerga and ISIS took place in Jalawla.
Iraq forces bombed the Shirqat mayor’s office where they believe militants are.

Iraq desperate for F-16s, but has no-one to fly them

Last updated 13:48 04/07/2014
IN DEMAND: A delivery date for the F-16s is uncertain, in part because Balad Air Base, which would have housed the jets, is no longer secure.

Middle East

Mounting tensions in Middle EastThe Israeli kidnapping crisis in 25 photosShip sets sails with Syria's chemical weaponsClashes in Jerusalem after body foundJerusalem clashes after body foundViolent man who forced women into prostitution convictedUS too slow to act on Isis, Iraq saysIsrael bombs Gaza Strip after bodies found Iraq's new lawmakers under pressureEgypt vows revenge after blasts

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Despite complaints by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that the United States has been slow in its delivery of F-16 fighter jets, no Iraqi pilot team has qualified to fly the aircraft in combat and none will be ready before mid-August, according to an official at the US-based program where the pilots are being trained.
That problem is one of many the Obama administration is confronting as it tries to speed more equipment to the Iraqi air force to help it defeat the Islamic insurgency engulfing the country. There are also challenges in providing or quickly deploying laser-guided Hellfire missiles and Apache combat helicopters, and concerns that the weaponry going to Iraq could be used against political targets.
As the crisis worsens, the Pentagon and Congress are scrambling to send hundreds of Hellfires to Iraq, but only two planes in the Iraqi air force are capable of firing them, both turboprop Cessnas. The US military is rushing to figure how to retrofit other rudimentary aircraft that the Iraqis can fly.
For the moment, the United States has been left with accelerating the shipment of 1132 Hellfires that Congress has approved for sale to Iraq. A Pentagon spokesman said that more than 400 have been delivered this year and that Congress is interested in sending hundreds more beyond the current order.
Lukman Faily, Iraq's ambassador to the United States, said in Washington this week that Baghdad had asked the administration "again and again" for air support such as Apache helicopters and without it, Iraq has been forced to turn to Russia for fighter jets. "We don't have choices," said Faily. "The situation on the ground is pushing us to choose whoever will support us." Russia sent several disassembled Su-25 fighter jets to Iraq this week, and Iran has also supplied Su-25s.
The United States has also approved the sale to Iraq of Apache helicopters, which are capable of carrying Hellfires. But as of January 27, when the State Department officially notified Congress of the deal, Iraq had not signed the sales contract, said a State Department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak publicly.
Iraq's ageing attack helicopters are armed only with .50-calibre guns and 2.75-inch rockets that can only reach targets when the aircraft fly low, making them more vulnerable.
The United States has given Iraq more than US$1 billion (NZ$1.14bn) in equipment over the past decade to create an air force.
A delivery date for the F-16s is uncertain, in part because Balad Air Base, which would have housed the jets, is no longer secure. On June 12, militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis), now known as Islamic State, neared the base 64km north of Baghdad and forced US contractors working on security there to leave the area.
"It's just too soon for us to say when we'll be able to deliver them," a Pentagon spokeswoman said of the F-16s.
But at the Pentagon last week, spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters: "We're still committed to the sale and the process continues to churn, even given the unrest in Iraq."
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There are some concerns within the US government that the Iraqi air force will use the Hellfire missiles not only to kill terrorist leaders but also to intensify a sectarian campaign against Sunni political foes, according to senior US military officials and experts.
A spokesman said the Pentagon has not seen any abuses of Hellfires by the Iraqis.
"We've seen no evidence of the allegations that [Iraq's security forces] have used Hellfire missiles against inappropriate targets," said Commodore Bill Speaks. "Prior to the past two weeks, in particular, the ISF were very sparing of their usage of a limited supply of Hellfires, and it would not have made sense to misuse them against 'soft' targets."
Years before US forces left Iraq in 2011, the US military developed a plan to train the new air force to carry out targeted killings against suspected terrorist leaders by employing US-made aircraft, smart bombs and targeting techniques, according to senior US Air Force officials involved in the effort.
The CIA, the National Security Agency and the secretive Joint Special Operations Command offered help in developing target packages that pilots could use to hit "high-value individuals" and mid-level commanders, the officials said.
The US participants tried to control which targets were struck. The hope was that the controversial tactic of targeting individuals, developed by the CIA and US military during the long wars against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and elsewhere, would increase Iraq's ability to kill terrorist and insurgent leaders without direct US involvement while limiting civilian deaths.
But even before the US military left the country, the Iraqi government purged many of its best intelligence officers and assets because they were either Sunnis or Kurds, vastly degrading its ability to locate important terrorist targets, according to a senior intelligence official who spoke anonymously so that he could speak freely. Killing terrorists was no longer the Shiite-dominated government's top priority, the officials said.
Instead, the goal became one of undermining Sunni influence and power.
To accomplish this, Maliki created a special military liaison office, the Office of the Commander in Chief (OCINC), as a work-around to the normal chain of command, the officials said. It was also meant to bypass prying American eyes.
Michael Pregent, a former Army intelligence officer working on contract as an embedded adviser to the Iraqi security forces in 2008, obtained evidence that showed how politicised the Iraqi targeting process had become.
Pregent was secretly passed a list of 3000 targets that OCINC was giving to its ground commanders conducting raids, he said in a recent interview. A confidential analysis of the list by Americans in a targeting cell at the Baghdad Operations Center found that 95 per cent of the targets were either Sunni men of military age, tribal leaders or other Sunnis listed simply as "the friend of a terrorist, father of a terrorist, grandfather of a terrorist", Pregent said. No direct evidence of terrorist involvement was provided, he said.
Officials at the Iraqi Embassy did not respond to requests for comment on the list.
Now, the United States is faced with another dilemma: either push for a new coalition government for Iraq and endure a chaotic transition, or continue to arm and strengthen the Maliki government, with the possibility that it will use its weapons to further divide the country.
Some argue that stemming the crisis takes precedence.
The United States should rush more planes, smart bombs and other help there immediately, James Jeffrey, US ambassador to Iraq until June 2012, said in an interview. "It would be absurd under any circumstances, let alone the existential one the Iraqis are in now, to think they will only use [Hellfire missiles] on high-value targets as we would use them. They will hit anything that moves that they halfway think is the Isis or Sunni insurgents."
Maliki reiterated this week that his priority is to defeat the insurgency and then deal with Iraq's internal political situation. "I don't believe there is anything more important than mobilising people to support the security situation," he said in a speech broadcast on state television. "Other things are important, but this is the priority."
For the United States, the larger concern is not simply to safeguard the F-16s and their classified technology, but also to prevent their misuse. Using the bombs to kill Sunni political foes will lead "back to the same cycle", said the senior intelligence official. "The more people you kill, the more terrorists you produce."
"Everything they are doing is running contrary to what we want them to do, because all they are doing is creating more fear and distrust," said Richard Brennan, a senior political scientist at the Rand Corporation who studies Iraq's air force. "There are a lot of indiscriminate attacks."
Human Rights Watch says Iraqi forces have also repeatedly struck Fallujah General Hospital this year, injuring doctors and staff. Iraq also reportedly dropped "barrel bombs" filled with scrap metal and explosives on Fallujah, a Sunni-dominated city, and the surrounding areas during a two-week period in May. Maliki's office denies both charges.
Proponents of training foreign air forces in targeted killings say the tactics will decrease the number of civilians killed. But even supporters recognise the risks inherent in arming unstable allies with such lethal technology.
"None of this is perfect," said retired General Norton Schwartz, who was Air Force chief of staff from 2008 to 2012 when the Iraqi programme began. "You have to be very judicious to act in a lethal way against potential targets. . . . I don't have any problem acting against combatants as long as there is probable cause. It's a balancing act. I watch people struggle with it."
Iraq is buying 36 F-16s, which will give it a greatly enhanced ability to kill people from a distance. In 2011, Iraq delayed a pending US$1 billion contract for the first 18 of the planes, saying it could not afford them because it needed the money for food aid to the poor. The contract was restarted in late 2012.
Twelve of the 18 Iraqi pilots undergoing F-16 training are at an Air Force facility in Tucson. Two have advanced to the final stage and should be certified to fly as lead pilots in mid-August, according to Tom Fox, a civilian government employee who manages the F-16 training programme.
Six others have qualified as wingmen who would accompany the lead pilot in separate planes, and four are in basic training, Fox said. The plan is to train a total of 54 pilots. Fox said Iraq was having trouble paying the agreed-upon price for the training, so the Air Force created a payment plan to make it more affordable and keep it on track.

George plays the US foreign policy there sounds 

Tweets.... FWIW ! Especially the Baghdadi injury in al Qaim ( was he both at al - Qaim , as well as also giving Friday prayers in Mosul today - 6 hour drive between the two Cities. )

ISIS controls an area of Syria five times the size of neighboring Lebanon

Local Iraqi TV channel reporting ISIS leader al-Baghdadi injured in an airstrike in al-Qaim.

The Islamic State publishes images of them destroying Shia religious sites

 Retweeted by Brown Moses
Local Iraqi TV channel reporting ISIS leader al-Baghdadi injured in an airstrike in al-Qaim.

Feeling the heat? RT : AFP: PM Maliki statement: "I will never give up on my candidacy for the post of Prime Minister"

 Retweeted by Mark
Villages now reported as occupied by ISIS “: Ziyaret, Zor Mixar/Zawr Mughar & Bayadiyah

mobile phone networks cut off for the entire city of Mosul

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi reportedly was the Imam of Friday prayer in Grand Mosque today. cut all mobile coverage in .

media outlets confirm Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was in today and they cut all cellular coverage for security reasons.

intensify aerial bombardment on as we speak..

12 killed; 30 injured in a suicide attack on army convoy south of ..

Iraqi PM Nuri Maliki refuses to step down, saying that his bloc is the largest & has the right to be premier.

"We spoke with the Americans about self-determination, and self-determination is done through a referendum".

Erbil has embarked on a global diplomacy to sound opinion on the issue of Kurdish independence.

’s parliament faces an uphill battle in nominating the country’s new leadership.

On the catastrophe of US Embassy Baghdad's "ardent" support for Maliki, in 2010, by Ali Khedery, who was there

The US might not send the F-16s to Iraq this year after all because Balad, their base, is at risk.

Great story by in Najaf, where ISIS have forced Iraq's Shiite clergy to make a rare foray into politics

Read this F-16 story to the end; under the bland US spin there is some worrying info about Iraqi use of US weapons