The ISIS assault on Iraq (more like a takeover), is happening at lightning speed.
We begin with the NYTimes reporting that Iraqi Kurds have joined the party, by taking over the Northern city of Kirkuk.
Iraq verged on a sectarian fracturing on Thursday as Kurdish forces poured into the strategic northern oil city of Kirkuk after government troops fled, while emboldened Sunni militants who seized two other important northern cities this week moved closer to Baghdad and issued threats about advancing into the heavily Shiite south and destroying the shrines there, the holiest in Shiism.
Kurdish officials said on Thursday that their forces had taken full control of Kirkuk in northern Iraq as government troops abandoned their posts there and vanished. “The army disappeared,” said Najmaldin Karim, the governor of Kirkuk.
Unlike the Iraqi national army, the Kurdish forces, known as pesh merga, are disciplined and very loyal to their leaders and their cause: autonomy and eventual independence for a Kurdish state. The Kurds’ allegiance to the Shiite Arab-led Iraqi central government is limited, but neither are they known to be allied with the Sunni Arab militants. Many of the tens of thousands of Mosul residents who fled the militant takeover of the city have sought safety in Kurdish-controlled areas.
With its oil riches, Kirkuk has long been at the center of a political and economic dispute between Kurds and successive Arab governments in Baghdad. The disappearance of the Iraqi army from the city on Thursday appeared to leave Kirkuk’s fate in the Kurds’ hands.
Some Kurdish politicians quickly sought to take advantage, arguing that it was a moment to permanently seize control of Kirkuk and surrounding lands they have long regarded as part of a Kurdish national homeland.
We have the excuse needed for Turkey to make its military play. Remember Kurds in Turkey have been pining to breakaway from Erdogans’ clutches and create a larger Kurd homeland…we may now have a larger war brewing.
Now on to the ISIS march towards Baghdad as reported by The Guardian:
Reports from Iraq have painted a confused picture of a rapidly developing situation with fighting reported in a number of key locations on Wednesday night and on Thursday, including on the outskirts of the city of Samarra, where government officials said Isis fighters had been driven back.
According to Army Staff Lieutenant General Sabah al-Fatlawi, quoted by Agence France-Presse, “elite forces” backed by air strikes pushed back a “fierce attack by Isis fighters who then bypassed the city heading towards Baghdad”.
Complicating the picture of the past few days were emerging suggestions that other Sunni insurgent groups, including Ba’ath nationalists, supporters of the executed Saddam, had played a role in the series of stunning setbacks for the Iraqi military.
The sudden collapse of the Iraqi army has raised international concerns about a rapidly widening regional crisis that has implications for Iraq’s powerful neighbours, Iran and Turkey.
And Reuters just reported that the oil refinery of Baiji is set to fall into Al Qaeda’s hands.
Insurgents surrounded Iraq’s largest refinery in the northern town of Baiji on Thursday, police and an engineer inside said.
Sunni militants first moved into Baiji late on Tuesday, closing in on the refinery, but later withdrew to the surrounding villages after reaching a deal with local tribal chiefs.
A witness who lives in a house near the refinery said the militants arrived in more than 50 vehicles.
All signals point to an assault on Baghdad in the next coming days, and all signs show that the Iraqi army is very ill-equipped to handle the on-coming attack. Momentum is gaining for the ISIS militants, and this brings us to Obama’s latest remarks via Zerohedge…
As we reported yesterday, Iraq, realizing it has neither the capacity nor the willingness to engage Al Qaeda’s ISIS “spin off” did what every other oil-rich regime in such a situation does: asked Obama for “kinetic support.” Moments ago Obama gave his response:
- OBAMA SAYS “I DON’T RULE OUT ANYTHING” WHEN IT COMES TO HELPING IRAQ DEAL WITH INSURGENTS
- OBAMA SAYS US HAS AN INTEREST IN MAKING SURE JIHADISTS DON’T GAIN A FOOTHOLD IN IRAQ
- OBAMA SAYS THERE WILL BE SHORT-TERM IMMEDIATE ACTIONS THAT NEED TO BE DONE MILITARILY IN IRAQ, US OFFICIALS LOOKING AT ALL OPTIONS
And here is why, as we predicted yesterday when faced with not only but two brand new scandals, the VA farce and the Berghdal “extraction” fiasco, the most likely outcome is war:
- OBAMA SAYS IRAQ `CLEARLY IS AN EMERGENCY SITUATION’
- OBAMA ADMINISTRATION SAID NOT CONSIDERING GROUND TROOPS IN IRAQ
- OBAMA SAYS US IS PREPARED TO TAKE MILITARY ACTION WHEN ITS NATIONAL SECURITY INTERESTS ARE THREATENED
Score one more for US foreign policy. Meanwhile, the one person who benefits the most from rising crude prices, that would be Putin for those who still don’t get it, is laughing all the way to the bank.
Is this Shock and Awe Part II?
Finally we have the video and transcript of the June 10th U.S. State Department briefing on Syria where Jen Psaki runs through all the U.S. military equipment supplied to the Syrian rebels to overthrow Assad, now part of the ISIS military cache, and being used to take over Iraq.
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything to preview for you on that front. I can give you a quick overview just to make sure everybody’s aware of all of the pieces that we have provided.
I think you all are aware of the shipments that we have provided that include the delivery of 300 Hellfire missiles, millions of rounds of small arms fire, thousands of rounds of tank ammunition, helicopter-fired rockets, machine guns, grenades, flares, sniper rifles, M-16s and M-4 rifles to the Iraqi security forces. We also delivered additional Bell IA-407 helicopters late last year. Ten ScanEagle surveillance platforms are on schedule for delivery this summer. We’ve moved the Apache lease case forward and we’re now awaiting the Iraqi signature and funding for the deal.
We also recently notified Congress of an additional sale of $1 billion in arms, including up to 200 Humvees, that is now in the 30-day review period. And certainly, we remain in a discussion with the Government of Iraq about their needs during this time.
The photos of the ISIS militants inspecting their shiny new Humvees courtesy of the Obama State Department.
Isis commander Umar al Shishani appears thrilled with a captured US Humvee.
Photo via Jawa Report of US Humvees now used by the emerging terrorist caliphate