Thursday, June 12, 2014
UPDATE: The Latest On Iraq
Things are not looking up so far for Maliki and the Iraqi government.
The New York Times has reported that Iraqi PM Nuri al=Maliki made an appeal to President Obama for military strikes on ISIS - and was turned down flat.
The White House is content so far to watch al-Qaeda take over Iraq. Aside from how its prog base would scream and yell, congress is not really in the mood to allow yet another Obama war without their approval, especially since it's now known that the president and his team have been covertly funding, arming and training ISIS and other jihadi groups fighting in Syria for at least 2 years. The locals are certainly aware of it.
If Obama does intervene, we'd be involved in the ludicrous spectacle of sending our forces in to fight jihadis their commander-in chief armed and trained, along with help from Qatar, the Saudis and the other GCE countries. And we'd also be helping Assad, the Iranians and Putin! That would not bode well for the Democrats in the midterms.
The Brits likewise have made it clear that the Iraqis are on their own as far as the UK is concerned. Maliki's government is at the point of arming raw civilians as a militia and sending them to the front lines. THis does not look like it's going to end well,based on who's turning out:
Maliki seems to be losing whatever authority he had fairly quickly.
He called an emergency meeting of the Iraqi parliament on whether or not to declare a national state of emergency, but failed to even get another members of Iraq's parliament to attend to make up the required quorum . Only 128 of 325 MPs showed up to the meeting to vote,which sounds an awful lot like 'the tribe has spoken.'
It's now been officially confirmed a day after I first reported it that the Kurds have indeed occupied and taken Kirkuk for their own.The reports say that the units are Kurdish Persh Merga,but one of my Notorious Lil' Birdies on the scene says that it's a mixture of Persh Merga from Irbil and fully equipped Kurdish members of the 2nd and 3rd Iraqi Army divisions, formerly stationed in Nineveh and the 4th division, formerly hunkered down in Salahadin. Apparently, as I surmised, they simply voted with their feet, decided not to shed blood for Maliki and rather than head south towards Baghdad they headed Northeast to Kirkuk and Kurdistan, which could very well mean that there is an arrangement between the Kurds and ISIS, since ISIS has yet to attack or invade any territory in either Iraq or Syria held by their fellow Sunnis,the Kurds.
A deal could make sense for both ISIS and the Kurds, who have no love for Maliki or the corrupt Shi'ite kleptocracy he presides over. ISIS doesn't want the Kurds allied with their enemies, while the Kurds want Kirkuk back and a market for their oil. The Kurds have the oil fields, but the pipelines all run through ISIS held territory. If a deal's been made, it works for both of them and this could be the birth of an independent Kurdistan carved out of the Kurdish territories in Iraq and Syria.
As I also predicted, Iran is making a fair amount of noise about their Shi'ite colony possibly going under new management:
In his broadcast, live on state television, he said, "This is an extremist, terrorist group that is acting savagely." Al Jazeera described him as agitated. It has been reported that a unit of the Quds force, Iran's elite special forces, has already been sent to Iraq.
Speaking of which, while ISIS has definitely been mounting executions and insuring that Sharia rules th eday, so far they haven't made al-Qaeda's mistake and engaged in wholesale butchery of the civilian population. Most of the executions have been confined to policemen, Iraqi troops and Iraqi government officials. There are no wholesale rapes and abduction of young girls, no gratuitous brutality, no kidnappings for ransom and no blatant thievery or looting, as we saw with al-Qaeda in Iraq. For now, ISIS appears content to maintain order, especially among Iraq's Sunnis.
I think that what we'll see is the Shi'ites consolidating their forces and making a stand to keep the Baghdad-Karbala-Basra corridor in their hands, together with the Southern oilfields and the Persian Gulf pipeline. Baghdad could very well become a war zone and a stalemate, with the dividing line being where the Shi'ite and Sunni areas meet.
So far, the Iraqi forces seems to have slowed ISIS's advance at Samarra,just north of Baghdad using aircraft. Samarra, you may recall, is home to the Golden Mosque, al Askaria, one of the holiest shrines in Shi'ite Islam. The dome of that mosque was destroyed by al-Qaeda in February of 2006. ISIS has promised to raze the mosque to the ground if the Iraqi Army doesn't withdraw.
Meanwhile, ISIS has leapfrogged the Iraqi defenses, making raids on towns along the rods between Samarra and Baghdad, only a few miles away.This make sense tactically. Aside from making sure that any reinforcements and supplies coming from Baghdad to Samarra's defenders have difficulty getting through, it will also make a retreat from Samarra if it becomes necessary will have to fight its way through to safety.