Saturday 28 June 2014

Iraq civil war update - 06/27/2014

Recent - through Twitter

Official: has established a base in airport..
Kerry: Syrian militants can help us in Iraq
US Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States hopes to enlist so-called “moderate” Syrian militants in the battle against terrorists in neighboring Iraq

27 June, 2014

Kerry made the remarks on Friday in Jeddah where he also met with Saudi Arabian King Abdullah.

US President Barack Obama on Thursday requested $500 million from Congress to train and arm militants fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Militants from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are spilling over form Syria's border into Iraq and threatening to overwhelm the country. Over the past days, heavy clashes have been underway between Iraqi armed forces and the ISIL terrorists, who have threatened to spread their acts of violence to Baghdad and other Iraqi cities.

"Obviously, in light of what has happened in Iraq, we have even more to talk about in terms of the moderate opposition in Syria, which has the ability to be a very important player in pushing back against ISIL's presence and to have them not just in Syria, but also in Iraq," Kerry said at the start of a meeting with Syrian militant leader Ahmad al-Jarba.

Al-Jarba thanked the Obama administration for requesting the $500 million, but said his men want even more foreign aid for their so-far unsuccessful effort to oust Assad.

Washington has been openly supporting the armed opposition in Syria both financially and militarily in the years-long conflict that ravaged the Arab nation.

A recent report shows that the ISIL terrorists were trained by the CIA in Jordan more than two years ago. The report said that the militants were initially trained at the time as part of covert aid to the militants operating inside Syria.

Pentagon Admits Armed Drones Flying Over Baghdad; Top Shiite Cleric Joins US Calling For Maliki Ouster

27 June, 2014

With Iraq closing a last minute deal with Russia to reinforce its depleted airforce by purchasing second-hand Su fighter jets, suddenly the US found itself scrambling: the last thing it wants is to hand over control of Iraq's skies to foreign-made warplanes. Which is perhaps why as CBS just reported, a Pentagon official has officially confirmed that the US is now flying armed drones over Baghdad. 

"The flights, which are not round the clock, are for the protection of the embassy and are not the precursor to air strikes" according to the same source.

So despite its reticence to engage in yet another Iraqi war, the US has now sent not only "military experts" but is once again doing what it does best: killing people by remote control. Not only that, but the people it (supposedly) intends to kill (for protection purposes of course) are the same Jihadist militants which Obama just requested another $500 million to equip and train. Because if you can't find enough support for a limited regional war, the next best thing is to wage a proxy war... against yourself. And since the US military industrial complex is arming both sides, it is a win-win once again for any neo-con interests.

In other Iraqi news, the days of the current PM Maliki, who has now burned all bridges with the US, appear numbered after Iraq's top Shiite cleric - Iranian-born Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani - on Friday called on political blocs to agree on the next prime minister before the newly elected parliament sits next week, stepping up pressure on political leaders to set aside their differences and form an inclusive government in the face of Sunni militants who have seized large swaths of territory. However, from a geopolitical perspective this opens up a new can of worms: since the new PM will certainly be even more pro-US in a country in which Russia has invested generously to build out its oil infrastructure, this means that Putin will likely have to intercede once again to make sure the new PM is just as agreeable to Russian interests as the current one. Which also means that a whole lot of money is being spent behind the scenes.

The reclusive al-Sistani, the most revered figure among Iraqi Shiites, rarely appears or speaks in public, instead delivering messages through other clerics or, less frequently, issuing edicts.
Prominent Shiite leaders are pushing for the removal of al-Maliki, whose bloc won the most seats in April's elections - 92 out of the legislature's 328 - but who has been widely accused of monopolizing power and alienating Sunnis with a heavy-handed response to years of militant violence.
Even al-Maliki's most important ally, neighboring Iran, is said to be looking at alternatives.

According to Reuters, a western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, predicted that Maliki was now done

It looks like the debate is whether it is going to be Tareq Najem from inside State of law or someone from outside Maliki's alliance," the diplomat said, referring to Maliki's one-time chief of staff and a senior member of his Dawa party.
"It is generally understood it will not be Maliki," the diplomat said. "Security was his big thing, and he failed."
Allies of Maliki said Sistani's call for a quick decision was not aimed at sidelining the premier, but at putting pressure on all political parties not to draw out the process with infighting as the country risks disintegration.

Meanwhile, on the military front, a senior Iraqi army official told The Associated Press that Iraqi commandos aboard four helicopters landed at a soccer pitch inside a university campus in the insurgent-held city of Tikrit late Thursday and clashed with militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant for several hours.

One of the helicopters developed mechanical problems after takeoff from Tikrit, 80 miles north of Baghdad, but landed safely in the provincial military headquarters. The official had no word on casualties and declined to specify the mission's objectives. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.

The official also said 200 troops have arrived at a key refinery north of Baghdad under attack by militants for more than a week. The reinforcing troops join a 100-strong contingent that has been defending the Beiji refinery, Iraq's largest and the source of about a quarter of the country's oil product needs, including fuel for power stations.

Finally, for the visual learners, here is the latest Iraqi situation report from the Institute for the Study of War

"America Deluded Us" Slams Angry Iraq PM, Will Buy Russian Jets Instead In War Against ISIS

27 June, 2014

It was a week ago when we learned that in yet another diplomatic masterstroke, Russia's Vladimir Putin took advantage of the vacuum in relations between the US (which now wants its heretofore puppet prime minister in Iraq removed) and the Iraqi PM (who has been increasingly vocal against US allies in the region, namely Saudi Arabia, and US demands for a coalition government) and offered his "complete support" to the Iraqi leader. Yesterday the Iraqi leader has decided to take Putin up on his offer (especially since as we reported previously the Iraqi air force is currently made up of all of two "equipped" Cessna jets) and has announced he has bought used Russian jets which he will use instead of US fighter planes in his war against ISIS.

As BBC reports, citing Maliki, "Jets from Russia and Belarus will hopefully make a key difference in the fight against ISIS in Iraq." He expressed regrets over Iraq's contract with the US, saying their "jets are taking too long to arrive."

"God willing within one week this force will be effective and will destroy the terrorists' dens," he told BBC Arabic.

Mr Maliki says Iraq has ordered Sukhoi fighter jets from Russia, possibly similar to the one pictured.

In the meantime, the prime minister took another chance to poke the US in the eye, which despite sending "weaponized consultants" or whatever Obama calls troops and special CIA agents these days, has so far failed to deliver on its promised fighter jets to the civil war-torn country. Maliki criticized the process of purchasing US jets as “long-winded,” adding that the radicals could have been repelled if Iraq had proper air defense.

"I'll be frank and say that we were deluded when we signed the contract [with the US]," Maliki said. "We should have sought to buy other jet fighters like British, French and Russian to secure the air cover for our forces; if we had air cover we would have averted what had happened," he went on.

Maliki said Iraq bought second-hand jet fighters from Russia and Belarus "that should arrive in Iraq in two or three days." He was speaking to the BBC's Arabic service in his first interview for an international broadcaster since Isis - the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant - began its major offensive. 

The prime minister also confirmed that Syrian forces had carried out air strikes against Islamist militants at a border crossing between Iraq and Syria. He said Iraq had not requested the strikes but that it "welcomed" them."They carry out their strikes and we carry out ours and the final winners are our two countries," he said.

Ironically, this also means that, at least optically, the US is now alligned with Russia as well as Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia in the "all against one" fight against ISIS which continued to consolidate its territory in Iraq and Syria.

What it really means is that Obama has asked, and is about to get $500 milllion more to arm ISIS and its al-Qaeda peers in Syria, which in turn the Iraq air force will now use Russian jets to bomb.

What is the definition of a proxy war again?

Iran flying drones and sending military supplies to support Iraq, says US
Iran is reportedly flying unarmed surveillance drones over Iraq to aid the local government in countering the ongoing offensive by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants.

27 June, 2014

Unnamed US military officials told The New York Times that Iran has established a special control centre at Rasheed Air Base in Baghdad to operate a small fleet of Ababil UAVs over the country.

Iran is also sending two plane loads of military supplies every day to aid Iraq.
A senior US official said the material is substantial and is 'not necessarily heavy weaponry, but it's not just light arms and ammunition'.

Support from Iran follows reports that Syria has carried out aerial strikes on ISIS insurgents near Iraq's western borders, killing at least 50 civilians and injuring 132.

Syria and Iran have pledged their support to Iraq Government in fighting ISIS, which has taken control of several major cities in the recent weeks.

Tehran has reportedly deployed ten divisions of its army and its Quds Force soldiers along the border with full readiness to act if Baghdad or Shiite shrines are threatened.

In a clash of interests, support from Iran and Syria come at a time when the US has also sent its advisers to assist Iraq forces with intelligence inputs.

Iran, meanwhile, has denied reports that it is sending its military force to Iraq.

Iran Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said: "As the Iraqi ambassador to Tehran emphasized, none of Iranian military officials are in Iraq, and the claims concerning the presence of Iranian military forces in the country are not true."

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