Iraqi Shiite tribal fighters deploy with their weapons in the northwest Baghdad’s Shula neighborhood, Iraq, Monday, June 16, 2014. (Photo: AP, Karim Kadim)
June 17, 2014, Tuesday/ 15:59:45/ REUTERS / BAGHDAD
Scores of Iraqis were killed on Tuesday during a battle for a provincial capital, and fighting shut the main oil refinery, starving parts of the country of fuel and power as an uprising by Sunni insurgents threatens Iraq’s survival as a state.
Government forces said they repelled an attempt by insurgents to seize Baquba, capital of Diyala province north of Baghdad, in heavy fighting overnight.
Some residents and officials said the dead included scores of prisoners from the local jail, although there were conflicting accounts of how they had died.
ISIL fighters who aim to build a Caliphate based on mediaeval Sunni precepts across the Iraqi-Syrian frontier launched their revolt by seizing the north’s main city, Mosul, last week and have swept through the Tigris river valley north of Baghdad. They have boasted of massacring hundreds of troops captured in their advance.
The fighters have been joined by other Sunni factions, including former members of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party and tribal figures, who share widespread anger among Iraq’s Sunni minority at perceived oppression by the Shi’ite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
Western countries, including the United States, have urged Maliki to reach out to Sunnis to rebuild national unity as the only way of preventing the disintegration of Iraq.
But the long-serving prime minister, who won an election two months ago, seems instead to be veering in the opposite direction – relying more heavily than ever on his own majority sect and vowing to purge opposition politicians and military officers he has labelled “traitors”.
Hassan Suneid, a close Maliki ally, said on Tuesday the governing Shi’ite National Alliance should boycott all work with the largest Sunni political bloc, Mutahidoon.
“It is not possible for any bloc inside the National Alliance to work with Mutahidoon bloc due to its latest sectarian attitude,” he told a TV channel of Maliki’s party.
The sudden advance by Sunni insurgents is scrambling alliances in the Middle East, with the United States and Iran both saying they could cooperate against a common enemy, all but unprecedented since the 1979 Iranian revolution.
US President Barack Obama, under fire at home by critics who say he did too little to shore up Iraq since withdrawing troops in 2011, is considering options for military action such as air strikes. He has sent a small number of extra marines to guard the US embassy but has ruled out redeploying troops.
“The president will continue to consult with his national security team in the days to come,” the White House said, without elaborating. A senior US official said Obama had not yet decided on a course of action.
In a diplomatic rapprochement, Britain said it planned to reopen its embassy in Tehran, two and a half years after a mob ransacked the mission.
Officials confirmed that the Baiji refinery north of Baghdad had shut down and foreign workers were evacuated, although they said government troops still held the vast compound. With the refinery shut, Iraq will have a harder time generating electricity and pumping water to sustain its cities in summer.
The refinery has been protected by elite troops, while the nearby town largely fell to ISIL fighters last week. Baiji’s refinery had stayed open despite years of civil war while US forces were in the country, and the threat to it shows how much more vulnerable Iraq is now to insurgents than it was before Washington pulled out troops in 2011.
Tens of thousands of Shi’ites have rallied at volunteer centres in recent days, answering a call by the top Shi’ite cleric to defend the nation. Many recruits have gone off to train at Iraqi military bases.
But with the million-strong regular army abandoning ground despite being armed and trained by the United States at a cost of $25 billion, the government is increasingly relying on extra-legal Shi’ite militia to fight on its behalf, re-establishing groups that fought during the 2006-2007 bloodletting.
According to one Shi’ite working in the government, well-trained fighters from the Shi’ite organisations Asaib Ahl Haq, Khetaeb Hezbollah and the Badr Organisation are being deployed as the main combat force, while new civilian volunteers will be used to hold ground after it is taken.
The Sunni militants have moved at lightning speed since seizing Mosul last Tuesday, slicing through northern and central Iraq, capturing the key towns of Hawija and Tikrit in the north before facing resistance in southern Salahuddin province, where there is a large Shi’ite population.
The battle lines are now formalising, with the insurgents held at bay about an hour’s drive north of Baghdad and just on the capital’s outskirts to the west.
State television said Iraqi security forces repelled attacks on three neighbourhoods overnight in Baquba, capital of Diyala, an ethnically and religiously mixed province that saw some of the worst violence of the 2003-2011 US occupation.
Militants also attacked a northern Iraqi village, called Basher, 15 km (9 miles) south of Kirkuk, inhabited by Shi’ite ethnic Turkmens. They were repelled, police said.
Kirkuk itself has been taken by forces from the autonomous Kurdish region. In a further sign of ethnic and sectarian polarisation, Maliki allies have accused the Kurds of colluding with Sunnis to dislodge government forces in the north.
The mainly Turkmen city of Tal Afar, west of Mosul, fell to Sunni militants late on Sunday, and the Iraqi military said it was sending reinforcement there. The Iraqi army said on state television it had killed a top militant, named Abu Abdul Rahman al-Muhajir, in Mosul in clashes.
But security officials seemed pessimistic about the situation in Mosul. One Iraqi security officer warned: “There is no clear strategy for the Iraqi government to retake Mosul. And without the US and international community support, the Iraqi government will never retake Mosul.”
Al Hashemi: Mosul’s capture a revolution of oppressed, not of al-Qaeda
(‘Et tu Brute’ to Iraq? From ex-VP Hashemi, convicted of running death squads, now living and one might assume working for the Muslim Brotherhood – Turkish Government)
Iraq’s former Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi says Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for pursuing unjust policies targeting Sunnis. (Photo: Reuters)
[MC->Hashemi is living in Turkey after being convicted of running death squads in Iraq. As one might suspect he’s working for the Turks – Oil]
June 13, 2014, Friday/ 17:33:34/ SERKAN SAĞLAM / ANKARA
Tariq al-Hashemi, the former Sunni Iraqi vice president sentenced to death in 2012 after an Iraqi court convicted him of running death squads, has said the insurgency in Iraq and the recent capture of Mosul should not be seen as a revolution by the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) but by the oppressed and humiliated Sunnis of the country.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite government, which has been in power for three consecutive terms, has targeted the Sunni population in Iraq with laws to root out the Baathist political movement in the country, Hashemi told Today’s Zaman in an interview on Thursday.
“Sunni businessmen, students, doctors and civil servants are being closely monitored, their offices are confiscated, they are unfairly eliminated from positions in the public and private spheres and so on. Being Sunni has become tantamount to being a terrorist suspect in Iraq,” said Hashemi.
“Maliki’s unjust, unfair policies have driven them [the insurgents] to such groups [like ISIL]. The anti-terrorist laws have mercilessly targeted all Sunnis, the Sunni youth and the political and religious leaders of Sunni Arabs. This has radicalized especially the Iraqi youth and driven them to such groups,” he added.
Al-Qaeda flourished in Iraq from being almost nonexistent due to these discriminatory policies, the former Iraqi politician said, adding he will not allow al-Qaeda to seize power completely in Iraq. Living in exile in Turkey with the assurance that he will not be extradited, Hashemi still has some popular support in Iraq.
Maliki is now trying to manipulate international public opinion by blaming ISIL for the quagmire in the country, Hashemi claimed. He admitted however that ISIL retains power in Iraq, is a primary actor in Mosul and seems to be expanding its influence among fellow Sunni Iraqis. “But we will never allow al-Qaeda or similar groups to steal the revolution and implement their own agendas. We will establish a civilian and democratic administration in Iraq,” Hashemi told Today’s Zaman.
Recent reports by the United Nations Human Rights Watch (HRW) (MC->largely funded by Soros] have all pointed to the dire situation of the Iraqi population as a result of Maliki’s unfair treatment of selected groups in society, corruption in public services and even torture, Hashemi asserted, arguing that these allegations have not been sufficiently heeded especially by other Sunni Arabs in the Middle East.
Even the general elections are marred by gerrymandering in favor of the Shiite political movement, pushing Sunnis to think they are unable to seek their rights properly through politics, Hashemi asserted.
“No sanctions were employed against the deceit employed in the elections. Their [Sunni Arabs’] will was stolen and Iraqis had to make a choice between survival and changing their fates [negatively],” said Hashemi, noting that the current chaos in Iraq and ISIL’s rise should be perceived as the consequence of these derogatory and discriminatory policies.
War and division
Faced with a bomb in their laps, Iraqis are now standing in front of a very critical crossroad and all options, including even a civil war and division, are at stake, Hashemi underlined. No one is really able to see what lies ahead, he said.
For Hashemi, the Iraqi Parliament wanting Maliki to disband the government after it was found to be ineffective in managing the crisis was a pleasing development. He accused Maliki of establishing a dictatorship in Iraq during his eight-year term in power. “We want Iraqis to stay together since this is to the advantage of all groups in Iraq but this depends on [providing them with the conditions] to live in dignity,” said Hashemi.
Hashemi predicted that the revolution by Sunni Arabs will soon be mirrored in other Sunni-populated provinces of Iraq and Shiite dissidents in the South may also rise up against the central government.
ARABAŞLIK: Iran completes Shiite Crescent
Hashemi commented on the rising importance of Iran in the Middle East as well. He noted Jordanian King Abdullah’s remark in 2004 that Iran is pursuing a policy of creating a Shiite Crescent in the Middle East, adding that this policy seems to have been finalized successfully.
“Its influence is manifestly ubiquitous in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. In Lebanon, they are now able to even suspend the presidential election. Iran has managed a victory against its rivals in the Middle East and has become an unsolvable trouble for the region. [Iranian Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei’s deputy had said Iran’s borders now extend towards the Mediterranean and this remark alone shows Iran’s influence in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. The US is surely to be blamed for this but Arab states, as well as Iraq’s friends, have not stood up against Iran,” said Hashemi.
Northern Iraq may sell its oil
On the direct sale of oil by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) by bypassing the central government through Turkey, Hashemi said he is keen to accept that northern Iraq should be able to market the hydrocarbon resources on its soil.
“I wish other provinces would do the same as well,” he said, adding that the revenues from the sale of oil extracted in Basra in the South are not ordinarily transferred to the state coffers. “Oil from Basra is secretly sold outside Iraq while Iraqis have no knowledge of this,” said Hashemi.
23 ISIL elements killed, 11 vehicles destroyed in Diyala
Date and Time:16 June 2014 – 20:05
Picture source could be any at the site referenced
23 elements of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Levant were killed and 11 of their vehicles were destroyed in Diyala.
Security source within Dijla Operations Command stated to IraqiNews.com “A security force within Dijla OC killed 23 ISIL elements in Tabaj village of southern Jalawlaa of Diyala and destroyed 11 of their vehicles.”
- Urgent – More than 288 ISIL elements killed in Salah il-Din, Diyala & Anbar
- Iraqi Army airstrike kills many ISIL elements northern Diyala
- 60 ISIL vehicles and dozens of terrorists killed north of Iraq’s Baqubah
- ISIL convoy hit in Samarra, 200 vehicles destroyed
- BREAKING- 200 ISIL elements killed northern Fallujah
- BREAKING- Iraqi Army killed more than 200 ISIL terrorists in Baiji City
- Syria: Militants’ Boats, Vehicles Destroyed, Gunmen Killed
- Syria: Militants’ Boats, Vehicles Destroyed, Gunmen Killed
- Syria’s Daraa – Scores of Terrorists Killed, Vehicles Destroyed
- Iraqi Elite forces destroy 2 ISIL vehicles in Salah il-Din
UK to re-open Iran embassy in diplomatic breakthrough