Monday 23 June 2014

Kerry arrives in Baghdad

Regime change - that is what the US wanted all the time as ISIS, supported by the US in Iraq, has been unleashed on the country. Meanwhile co-operation with Iran seems to be off the table.

No doubt there will be more commentary tomorrow

Iraq crisis: John Kerry in 

Baghdad as Isis seizes more 


US Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Iraq's capital, Baghdad as Sunni insurgents expand their control of towns across north-western Iraq.


23 June, 2014

BREAKING: US Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Baghdad as Iraq reels from insurgent onslaught.
— The Associated Press (@AP) June 23, 2014

In Egypt on Sunday, Mr Kerry warned that Sunni militants Isis' "ideology of violence and repression is a threat not only to Iraq but to the entire region".
On Sunday rebels - spearheaded by Isis militants - captured border crossings to Syria and Jordan.
The strategically important airport in the northern Tal Afar has also fallen.
The town controls the main road from the Syrian border to Mosul, Iraq's second biggest city, which was captured by the rebels two weeks ago.
Officials said the rebels of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant took two key crossings in Anbar on Sunday, a day after seizing one at Qaim, a town in the province that borders Syria.
The capture of Tal Afar airport is a blow to the government as they were hoping to use it as a springboard to recapture the city of Mosul, says the BBC's Jim Muir in northern Iraq.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in Cairo on Sunday, urged Iraq's leaders "to rise above sectarian motivations and form a government that is united in its determination to meet the needs and speak to the demands of all of their people".
Since the fall of Mosul in early June, Isis have helped win large areas in the west and north.
They have taken four strategically important towns in the predominantly Sunni Anbar province - Qaim, Rutba, Rawa and Anah - in the last two days.
Gunmen reportedly captured the border posts of al-Waleed, on the Syrian frontier, and Turaibil, on the Jordanian border, on Sunday after government forces pulled out.
The capture of frontier crossings could help Isis transport weapons and other equipment to different battlefields, analysts say.
The BBC's Kim Ghattas, travelling with John Kerry
John Kerry called again on Iraq's leaders to rise above sectarianism and form an inclusive government. He was keen to stress in Cairo that Isis is a threat to the whole region. His message was clearly directed at Gulf countries and perhaps even Turkey.
Many Sunnis saw in groups like Isis a useful tool to push back against the influence of Shia Iran, in Iraq, but also Syria. Turkey also turned a blind eye to funding flowing to Isis because, just like Gulf countries, it hoped the extreme radicals would bring about the demise of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Mr Kerry has appealed for countries to help stop funding for Isis, much of it comes from individuals, not governments.
US officials are also hoping that clamping down on Isis might help the more moderate groups in Syria that are fighting Mr Assad and Isis. But unless the US is willing to drastically increase support for the moderate rebels, it may be too late for that strategy - especially as territorial gains by Isis in Iraq and Syria look hard to reverse for now.
The US, which pulled out of Iraq in 2011, is deploying some 300 military advisers to Iraq to help in the fight against the insurgents.
Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar say Isis militants make up only a small number of the fighters involved in taking over the province - most are tribes people and former security personnel from the Saddam Hussein era.
Shaikh Raad al-Suleiman, a senior figure in Ramadi, said the reason they had captured so much territory was because soldiers in the Iraqi army were not prepared to fight.
"Most of the officers and men came to their senses, left their arms, guns and vehicles and fled out of Anbar," he said.

From the Guardian -

Kerry is due to have a frosty meeting with Iraq's prime minister Nouri al-Maliki after heavy hints from Washington that the US wants him to step down.
But a US official told AP that Kerry will not explicitly call for Maliki to go.
The official said Kerry will not ask al-Maliki to resign, as some in the US and Sunni Arab states in Middle East have demanded, because "it's not up to us."
However, Kerry is expected to urge Maliki to quickly create a new government that is far more sensitive to Sunni and Kurdish demands for jobs, power and a fair legal system.
Currently, Baghdad is operating under a lame-duck government, as a new parliament that was elected in April has not yet selected its Cabinet ministers.
It took more than nine months to seat a new government the last time Iraq underwent the process, in 2010. This time around, the State Department official said, Maliki and other Iraqi officials cannot risk exacerbating the political instability, and further inflaming the insurgency, by stalling a new and more inclusive government.
Both President Barack Obama and Iraq's top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, also have urged Maliki to quickly form an inclusive government that promotes the interests of all of Iraq's ethnic and religious groups.
The State Department official described Maliki and other Iraqi officials as anxious about what, if any, additional help the U.S. might provide to help curb Isis after Obama this week said he would send about 300 special forces troops to Baghdad to advise and train local security forces.
Obama did not rule out the possibility of also launching air strikes against the insurgents, but that is not expected anytime soon, if ever, and he has adamantly said he will not send combat forces back to Iraq.
Kerry is scheduled to meet first with Maliki in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, which houses the prime minister's office and parliament building as well as the US Embassy.
He then will talk to the influential Shia cleric Ammar al-Hakim, who heads a leading rival Shia political party; Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, one of Iraq's highest-ranking Sunnis; and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki during a meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House in November 2013.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki during a meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House in November 2013. Photograph: Pool/Getty Images

CNN's Jim Sciutto is part of the press pack travelling with Kerry

We are wheels down in Baghdad w/@johnkerry as #Iraq in crisis. Here's him and team on military transport
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) June 23, 2014

.@JohnKerry w/two messages: US stands w/#Iraq and Iraqi leaders must get political house in order - State Dept officials
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) June 23, 2014

Kerry has given foretaste of what he is likely to say in Baghdad.Speaking in Cairo on Sunday he said:
This is a critical moment where together we must urge Iraq’s leaders to rise above sectarian motivations and form a government that is united in its determination to meet the needs and speak to the demands of all of their people.
He added:
The United States is not engaged in picking or choosing or advocating for any one individual or series of individuals to assume the leadership of Iraq. That is up to the Iraqi people. We have made that clear since day one. It is up to the people of Iraq to choose their future leadership. But we do note that the Kurds have expressed dissatisfaction with the current situation, the Sunni have expressed dissatisfaction with the current situation, and some Shia have expressed dissatisfaction. And Ayatollah Sistani very recently issued a statement in which he said that it was vital for the leadership of Iraq to be a leadership that did not have – did not continue the mistakes of the past and that was going to represent all of the Iraqi people.
So I think we are completely in sync with the people of Iraq, certainly with the expressed comments of various leaders. The United States would like to see the Iraqi people find leadership that is prepared to represent all of the people of Iraq, that is prepared to be inclusive and share power in a way that will maximize the ability of Iraq to focus on the real danger at this moment from an external source, which is Isis.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaks during a press conference in Cairo.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, speaks during a press conference in Cairo. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AP

Another Two Border Crossings Seized By Iraqi Rebels

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