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But they hadn't destroyed it.
June 11, 2014 9:12 PM   Subscribe

On Tuesday, a group of Islamic militants that were thrown out of al-Qaeda for being too violent took over Iraq's second largest city. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (abbreviated as ISIS) kicked the Iraqi Army out of Mosul, a wealthy city in northwestern Iraq. Today, ISIS secured another northern city, Tikrit. It currently controls an area "the size of Belgium," according to Jason Lyall, a Yale University political scientist who studies insurgencies.

"Right now, the Iraqi government has no answer to the ISIS threat. And a hard look at the reasons behind ISIS' rise and the causes of its current success suggest a grim future for the Iraqi government's efforts to beat back the dangerous militant group.

ISIS used to be known as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the leading Islamist extremist group during the Iraq War. AQI controlled significant amounts of Iraqi territory during the war, until the US military and allied Sunni militias famously defeated it during the post-2006 "surge."

But they hadn't destroyed it."
posted by whyareyouatriangle (215 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Mission Accomplished.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 9:22 PM on June 11 [20 favorites]


Also known as "The people the US is helping to take over Syria", because no matter how much official talk there is about "arming moderates" it's these bastards that will be running the show if Assad goes.
posted by Grimgrin at 9:32 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Map of ISIS-controlled areas as of June 10.
posted by gubo at 9:35 PM on June 11


I didn't think the west should have invaded in the first place and this is pretty much why. Pushing a violent genocidal, but stable, government out of power was idealistic, but mostly it just left an opening for every other person that thought they could gain power to do whatever they could to push out the people who disagreed with their thing. I don't know if there's anything to do now but cross our fingers and hope for the best. It's going to get ugly for a while. We've just been putting it off for about 10 years.
posted by downtohisturtles at 9:36 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (sometimes translated "Syria" instead of "Levant")
*chuckles* That's just precious.
posted by effugas at 9:38 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


They went back to what they knew
So far removed from all that we went through
And ISIS made a big attack
The odds are stacked
We'll go back to Iraq
posted by humanfont at 9:38 PM on June 11


Interesting that these angry, patriarchal monotheists would share a name with an Egyptian goddess.
posted by clockzero at 9:39 PM on June 11


your gasoline, or the gasoline that others use around you, will cost more... soon.
posted by wallstreet1929 at 9:46 PM on June 11


I got two-thirds of the way through the fpp before I realized this wasn't about season six.
posted by ryanrs at 9:48 PM on June 11 [21 favorites]


Wikipedia entry on these events, created Wednesday

Short PRI piece on ISIS from The World from January. They paint the buildings black when they take over a city?
posted by XMLicious at 9:49 PM on June 11


They don't share a name with an Egyptian goddess; that's just an initialism of the group's name translated into English.
posted by Earthtopus at 9:56 PM on June 11 [4 favorites]


The problem here is that the "State of Iraq" is a complete fiction, and not supported by the people that live there. Nobody is going to take a bullet to protect its territorial integrity. They're going to support their families, co-religionists, tribes, etc, but not for Iraq. Which is why the Iraqi army can't stop the ISIS, in the long term. The Kurds will fight to protect their homeland. The Shi'a will fight to protect the government of Iraq for as long as they hold power there, and the Sunni will fight to take power.

There's no solution here but partition. Nothing the outside world can do is going to change the facts on the ground.
posted by empath at 9:59 PM on June 11 [5 favorites]


Islamic State Of Who?
As an ideological offspring of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), ISIS ascribes to similar transnational jihadist. However, unlike Al Qaeda as a global franchise, ISIS has a regional strategic focus: removing the artificially drawn borders of the Levant and creating a new Sharia-based transnational Islamic State. Disavowing AQ-leader Al Zawahiri’s demand not to declare political Islamist entities, ISIS’s self-declared Emir Al-Baghdadi has been on the forefront of an initiative which initially aimed at creating an Islamist State in Iraq. Later, with the Syrian Civil War unraveling, Al Baghdadi broadened his initiative to the Levant as a whole.
The Last 12 Hours In Mosul: Conflicting Narratives
The Fall Of Mosul And The False Promises Of Modern History
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:59 PM on June 11 [8 favorites]


Video of ISIL celebration in Mosul (with an English-speaking narrator, no less)

Features much gunfire into the air. Pretty crazy scene.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 10:01 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (sometimes translated "Syria" instead of "Levant")
*chuckles* That's just precious.

"Shams" doesn't mean Syria or the Levant, precisely. Shams as I understand it means the region that comprises parts of Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine but not really the coastal parts.
posted by chaz at 10:02 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


"Smashing the Sykes-Picot border"

Here it is, a stroke of the pen.
posted by stbalbach at 10:03 PM on June 11 [4 favorites]


empath: I agree the solution is probably partition. I also pull and fear for the Kurds, not just because they appear to have made the closest to a stable state in the remnants of Iraq, but also because we (the US) seem so intent on abandoning them whenever it is convenient.
posted by roquetuen at 10:04 PM on June 11


Right, so it's only in a purely ad hoc and coincidental sense that they share a name in English.
posted by clockzero at 10:05 PM on June 11


I also pull and fear for the Kurds, not just because they appear to have made the closest to a stable state in the remnants of Iraq, but also because we (the US) seem so intent on abandoning them whenever it is convenient.

I don't think the Kurds will have a problem holding off the ISIS. They have plenty of money, security, and willpower.
posted by empath at 10:05 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Also:

Jesus Tapdancing Christ, no.
posted by empath at 10:08 PM on June 11






I agree the solution is probably partition.

The point of the ISIS is to remove partitions imposed on them.
posted by stbalbach at 10:21 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


That was a good piece, from Juan Cole, man of twists and turns. I especially liked the way he broke it down into an historical context over a century old. Of course this:

Mosul’s changed circumstances are also an indictment of the irresponsible use to which Sunni fundamentalists in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Oil Gulf are putting their riches.

remains the inconvenient truth the US and others cannot dare to contemplate.

Addendum: the comments are delightfully well informed, too.
posted by smoke at 10:23 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]


I don't know. They can take a lot of territory, but can they keep it? ISIS can only succeed if it can convince Sunnis to unite under their ideology, and right now it looks like a majority of ordinary Sunnis aren't buying in.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:24 PM on June 11


A partition would be a disaster for the entire region. Of epic proportions.
posted by phaedon at 10:24 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


As it has been since 1916.
posted by carping demon at 10:26 PM on June 11 [22 favorites]


You do have a point.
posted by phaedon at 10:27 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


So I was listening to a thing on NPR today, and some pundit (on the Right, and who I broadly disagreed with) was lamenting that this was just another example of the death of the post-WWI national borders in the Middle East. Said right-wingish* pundit seemed really upset about this, as if it was a Thing We Should All Be Very Afraid Of.

Why is that?

I mean, the borders drawn after WWI were fairly arbitrary, and colonialist in nature, no? And isn't this the same period of border-drawing that brought us Yugoslavia and allowed for all the Turkish atrocities against Greeks and Armenians, and continues to create a touchy situation for the Kurds?

I'm not pro-ISIS, obviously, but aside from the militance and general instability, is there a particular reason to be worried about a Syria/Iraq merger, or any other shifting of national borders in the Middle East?

*He was introduced as having worked on the McCain and Romney campaigns and being at the Heritage Foundation or somesuch.
posted by Sara C. at 10:42 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Pushing a violent genocidal, but stable, government out of power was idealistic,

If you stretch a word too far eventually it won't ping back and you won't be able to use it for anything any more. This is known as Hooke's law of absolute nonsense.
posted by biffa at 10:45 PM on June 11 [9 favorites]


Apparently they looted the bank in Mosul which had over $500 million in cash and gold.
Oh yeah, they also seized "considerable amounts of US-supplied military hardware".
posted by sophist at 10:45 PM on June 11


Sophist, there's a good chance that the governor or other "loyalist" forces looted it first, and blamed it on ISIS. That's what I would have done, and it's certainly not any worse than leaving it for the invaders.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:49 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


I'm not pro-ISIS, obviously, but aside from the militance and general instability, is there a particular reason to be worried about a Syria/Iraq merger, or any other shifting of national borders in the Middle East?

I can't even comprehend how big of a deal this is. You're talking about an area of land that touches Iran, Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia, all of which have, to put it mildly, competing interests. And a repartitioning on what basis? Self-actualized tribal and/or religious identity? How do you pull that off? Mass relocation or genocide? In order to do what exactly? Establish a democratic society? Something else perhaps? What the hell is really keeping some of the countries in this region together anyways?

I also wouldn't characterize "Turkish atrocities" as the result of Western border-drawing. That was almost entirely Kemal's doing, and if I may flirt with the idea of explaining his actions, an attempt to carve out a modern-day country out of the ruins of a collapsed empire.

In other words, not much unlike what is going on here. Things can get a lot worse.
posted by phaedon at 11:13 PM on June 11 [5 favorites]


Oh, I know it would be a big deal. The dissolution of Yugoslavia was the news story of the 90s, after all. I was in Slovenia a few years ago -- a former Yugoslavian country that didn't even get terribly wrapped up in the war -- and you couldn't really escape the specter of it.

I'm not really thinking "yeah so just redraw some lines and then we all go to Olive Garden for lunch". I'm just curious about why some guy who is generally pro having wars and people dying miserably in general would be so worked up about this particular aspect of the ISIS problem.
posted by Sara C. at 11:26 PM on June 11


I also wouldn't characterize "Turkish atrocities" as the result of Western border-drawing. That was almost entirely Kemal's doing

I wasn't taking the blame for that away from the specific actors, at all. But when you're like "oooooh let's make a bunch of pretend countries that loosely correspond to religious identities!" you kind of invite sectarian atrocities.
posted by Sara C. at 11:29 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Sara it's because those borders have generally served the west (oil companies) for a very long time.
posted by chaz at 11:35 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]


Things can get a lot worse.

And may just if Iran decides ISIS threatens them or that they just want to support their Shi'a brothers & sisters in Bagdad. And of course our newly emboldened friends in Russia have deep ties to the ruling regimes in both Syria and Iran.
posted by digitalprimate at 11:37 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]




During the height of the Syria crisis last year, the main worry seemed to be that that civil war would spill over into the neighbouring countries... well, here we all are.

Any meaningful counter-offensive against ISIS henceforth will have to be co-ordinated on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border and therefore won't be easy, especially given the current instability in Syria. The Kurds are possibly the best positioned group to engage on both sides, but I doubt they'd get involved in anything beyond defensive actions.

What a fine mess this is.
posted by all the versus at 11:43 PM on June 11




But when you're like "oooooh let's make a bunch of pretend countries that loosely correspond to religious identities!" you kind of invite sectarian atrocities.

That may be true, but it has to be pointed out that modern Turkey's borders were defined in a peace treaty. The genocide against the Greeks happened prior to the Treaty of Lausanne. The borders were designed to end sectarian violence, not let it flourish. Albeit with mixed long-term results. I guess you can chalk that up to people being assholes.

I think what you're saying is it takes a lot more than borders to fix these kinds of problems and that we are really tied down to some decisions we made a long time ago. I think what's scary in the Middle East is how tenuous some of these societies are. Saudi Arabia, in particular. Not to be too crass, but underneath the Western economic arrangement, there is nothing. Not even a standing army.

If you're under the illusion that these imaginary borders don't matter - all it took was Saddam Hussein to cross into Kuwait, and look, twenty-five years later, we're still there. I think that's probably why Republicans are freaking out.
posted by phaedon at 11:52 PM on June 11 [8 favorites]


“US occupation deepened Shia-Sunni rift in Iraq,” Subodh Varma, The Times of India, 12 June 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 11:54 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


They can take a lot of territory, but can they keep it? ISIS can only succeed if it can convince Sunnis to unite under their ideology, and right now it looks like a majority of ordinary Sunnis aren't buying in.

This NYT report suggests that a number of Sunni militants are coordinating their efforts --

"it was evident that a number of militant groups had joined forces, including Baathist military commanders from the Hussein era, whose goal is to rout the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. One of the Baathists, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, was a top military commander and a vice president in the Hussein government and one of the few prominent Baathists to evade capture by the Americans throughout the occupation.

“These groups were unified by the same goal, which is getting rid of this sectarian government, ending this corrupt army and negotiating to form the Sunni Region,”

posted by all the versus at 11:59 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Yeah... but Al-Qaeda. My understanding of this is pretty rudimentary, but it seems like there's the guys who want to drive the Shias out of their areas of traditional predominance, which includes some of Saddam's old people, and a bunch of modern rebels who (rightly) see no future for Sunnis in a Shia-dominated Iraq - and then there's the Al-Qaeda guys who cut off heads and blow innocent people to bits on a regular basis. At the moment they're all unified by a common cause, but will the general (Sunni) public learn to live with one if they sympathize with the other? Or will they continue to flee and leave the area empty?
posted by Kevin Street at 12:11 AM on June 12


George W's legacy really is the gift that keeps on taking.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 12:39 AM on June 12 [17 favorites]


And this will probably shift the senate elections to the Republicans, as soon as they can make up the appropriate "Obama's weakness" talking points.
posted by happyroach at 12:58 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]


Juan Cole is fantastic.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:36 AM on June 12


the man of twists and turns' Islamic State of Who? article says that ISIS is mostly made up of foreign fighters, neither Iraqi nor Syrian, which would make its ability to hold Sunni territory rather uncertain if the Sunnis fight back. But who really knows. It seems like everybody has an opinion on this ISIS group, but nobody knows much about them.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:38 AM on June 12


roquetuen: "I also pull and fear for the Kurds, not just because they appear to have made the closest to a stable state in the remnants of Iraq ..."
The problem is that neither Turkey nor Iran supports an independent Kurdistan carved out of Iraq, since that would create even bigger unrest in their own adjacent majority-Kurdish areas.
posted by brokkr at 1:39 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]


Reports are that ISIS are trying to take over the refinery at Baiji, but Iraq's oil minister says it remains in government hands today.
posted by digitalprimate at 2:53 AM on June 12


It sounds like Maliki has been presiding over an ineffectual and unstable regime on the take while the people of Iraq suffer, to the extent that they are glad when an invading militia arrives to get rid of the police and army. The Sunni are working with them, which explains their rapid movement across the country. According to a report from Mosul ISIL/ISIS have been cleaning the streets, collecting garbage and generally making the place more habitable. They have stated that no one need fear them as long as they are unarmed, specifically going into Shiite areas to calm any tensions. There are also reports of evidence of looting, so YMMV.
posted by asok at 3:11 AM on June 12


The media is doing its job here of highlighting the theme that 'these guys are even more extreme than Al Qaeda!' and not much else.

Which will mean of course that 'we' have to act in even more extreme ways soon to cope with the 'threat' etc.
posted by colie at 4:06 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


I don't think this can really be blamed on George Bush. Most branches of the US government have been subject to regulatory capture, and the military is simply the largest and most embarrassing example. US military adventures are no longer a tool of foreign policy - what foreign policy could explain them? They're just a supply-driven way of channeling money to manufacturers and to suppliers of contract labour. So yes, Bush announced that the USA was invading Iraq - but it's not as if Obama reigned things in. The scope of US military involvement around the globe is literally incomprehensible and immeasurable - literally, because it's so vast and because so much of the budget is secret that I don't believe anyone can have their finger on it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:12 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


I may not have the full information, but on the face of it the Iraqi army seems to have put in the most cowardly and ineffective performance in history. Facing an enemy that was relatively badly equipped and which they massively outnumbered, they offered no resistance at all: leaving behind a vast reserve of money and a giant stockpile of every kind of armament, they immediately abandoned their second largest city and fled as quickly as they could?

We knew they might not be top-notch, but if that's what happened it seems to go beyond anything the most pessimistic imagination could have devised.
posted by Segundus at 4:40 AM on June 12


Somewhere, Saddam's ghost is laughing its ethereal ass off.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:44 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


I may not have the full information, but on the face of it the Iraqi army seems to have put in the most cowardly and ineffective performance in history.

Let's imagine that it's the 1950s, and the US is invaded and conquered by the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union disbands the entire US military and trains up a brand new military based on Soviet military doctrines, and then leaves a puppet socialist government in place.

Now imagine that a bunch of well-armed conservative christian militia of former marines, etc, tries to liberate Texas, augmented by arms and money from a free western europe. How willing do you think the new US military is going to be to die and kill to prevent that from happening?
posted by empath at 4:51 AM on June 12 [9 favorites]


That's a lot of imagining.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:08 AM on June 12 [4 favorites]


Somewhere, Saddam's ghost is laughing its ethereal ass off.

As is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 5:15 AM on June 12


I watched videos of ISIS death-squads operating on the highways of Syria on Liveleak last week (probably now removed). They were absolutely brutal. These guys are more extreme than Al Qaeda and more capable. Today I read a quote from an Iraqi army regular that called them devils. Based on what I saw in the video clips it is a fair assessment.
posted by vicx at 5:21 AM on June 12


The spokesman, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, also threatened that ISIS fighters will take the southern Iraqi Shia cities of Karbala and Najaf, which hold two of the holiest shrines for Shia Muslims.

From what I've read, the fighting force of ISIS only numbers in the low ten-thousands. Maybe even the teens. And they want to poke Iran?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:23 AM on June 12


There is absolutely nothing we can do anywhere in the Middle East that won't have disastrous results. But I'm sure we won't let that stop us from trying because it never has.
posted by tommasz at 5:36 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


So does this mean the creation of a Kurdish State is immanent?
posted by vicx at 5:47 AM on June 12


These guys are more extreme than Al Qaeda and more capable. Today I read a quote from an Iraqi army regular that called them devils. Based on what I saw in the video clips it is a fair assessment.

That's what you're supposed to be doing when you fight a war. I doubt 'our' guys in sunglasses paid by Blackwater are much different.
posted by colie at 5:53 AM on June 12


Wars never accomplish anything. They merely stir the pot. Follow with me on this, it is not the standard argument.

For example, the good war, World War II. If the objective was to eliminate Hitler, then I guess Hitler died*. But if it was to liberate Europe from a despot, well, then Eastern Europe was solidified into the hands of Stalin--Hitler with a better mustache. If it was to beat back the Japanese Empire, well China fell under the sway of Mao. More people were living under a brutal regime. These were not coincidental events, they were the result of the power vacuum or negotiations that took place. If you look at U.S. interests, we backed Mao and Ho Chi Minh during World War II and of course, Stalin was an ally. The US went on to fight the Cold War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War to address the fruits of their victory.

Of course, if you look at World War I, the results were worse.

Terry Southern, in one of his books, had a professor walk along the border of the United States and Canada. He pointed out that Canada achieved the same virtual freedom without a revolutionary war.

War is the illusion that we can change the human narrative by force. War is the frenzy that says we must change it by force.

*In his recent justifications, Bush Jr. has down-graded the reason for the Iraqi War to "Hey, we're better off without Hussein."
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:07 AM on June 12 [17 favorites]


As an Arabic speaker and scholar of Middle East politics, and also as a die hard fan of the sludge/post-metal band Isis, this story had my hopes up.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:19 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


The fighters advanced on Saddam Hussein’s former hometown of Tikrit, and there were conflicting reports about whether they had captured the 310,000 barrel-a-day Baiji refinery.

(Bloomberg: Brent, WTI Oil Prices Surge as Conflict Escalates in North Iraq)
posted by bukvich at 6:22 AM on June 12


the duck by the oboe: George W's legacy really is the gift that keeps on taking.

I posted this in 2007. And even though I was obviously completely wrong about the inevitability of a Hillary Clinton presidency in 2008, I stand by my main point:

"On the day an aged and decrepit George Bush finally chokes on his own drool in a million dollar a month ultra-secure private hospital someplace, with no one around him but a few Secret Service agents and carefully vetted doctors who all hate his guts, a dozen hapless American kids who haven't even been born yet will die in some third-world shithole because of what he's wrought."
posted by Naberius at 6:38 AM on June 12 [6 favorites]


Wars never accomplish anything. They merely stir the pot. Follow with me on this, it is not the standard argument.

I'm having trouble following you. Yes, wars that you lose as an aggressor are bad for you. And wars that you win as the defender are still usually bad for you, because no matter what you get in the peace talks, you'd still rather have not been attacked in the first place.

But it seems you are overlooking how bad wars that you lose as a defender can be. It's hard to say whether Germany winning World War II would have resulted in objectively worse results worldwide over the following 70 years than the terrible stuff that has happened in our timeline, but it certainly would have had worse results for, say, the British. And when you're going to war on the defensive, you're never asking "How will taking up a rifle affect the global calculus of happiness?" You're asking "How will taking up a rifle change the outcomes for my family?"

Not to mention that wars you win as an aggressor can be very good for, once again, the people fighting them. The conquering of essentially all of Europe by the ancient Romans was bad for a great number of people (many of whom became slaves), but it worked out pretty well for the Romans for a pretty long time.

So, yeah, the foreign wars that the USA has been fighting and losing lately have been pretty terrible at accomplishing their stated goals (though maybe better at accomplishing unstated ones). But historically, wars have accomplished quite a lot.
posted by 256 at 6:41 AM on June 12 [8 favorites]


Oh, I think I've seen this one before. It's the one that ends with the scared shitless embassy people being evacuated off the roof with all the poor local bastards clinging to the helicopter, right? No thanks. Didn't care much for it the first time. Got anything else?
posted by jim in austin at 6:42 AM on June 12


"Shams" doesn't mean Syria or the Levant, precisely. Shams as I understand it means the region that comprises parts of Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine but not really the coastal parts.


EHHHHH.... sham means Syria. bilad assham means the levant.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:44 AM on June 12


Should have been more specific.

those aren't hard and fast rules so sham can also mean syria, but more like the area of syria rather than the country... I'm trying to think of an English equivalent by I can't.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:46 AM on June 12


bilad assham means the levant.

bi lad ass ham.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 7:10 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


256. Sometimes I say things to be provocative. Not in the troll sense, but to discuss things from a perspective the provokes thought.

Continuing the above narrative, sometimes wars are necessary - even though you don't get the grander goals out of them. The other goals, such as keeping England from being defeated by Hitler can be sufficient. And this, may be my ultimate point. Wars achieve something if they can be justified by fighting for achievable defined goals. Of the 20th century American wars, I put the Korean War and 1st Iraqi war on the most accomplished sheet. In the case of Korea, the goal was not to liberate Northern Korea or nuke China into freedom (as MacArthur was wont to do). It was to draw a line. And we achieved that. The 1st Iraqi War was to get Iraq out of Kuwait. That is not quite the same as saying these were wars that had to be fought. For example, the US could have kept Hussein out of Kuwait in the first place with the right signals.

My argument extends to future and recent considerations. Should we have fought in the second Iraq War solely to get rid of Hussein? An evil guy, but I would argue strongly no, for the same reason I don't want to go out of my way to get rid of Kim Il Sung. Policing the world is not worth the price that needs to be paid. (And doesn't often work.)

This is the reason that the international war on terror was and is bound to fail - by its very name. America should have responded to 911 by going after bin Laden (first) and Al Qaeda and declared victory. History tells us that what we're doing in Iraq and Afghanistan are not going to bring a solid, safe future and, in fact, the horrors of war tend to breed further horrors.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:11 AM on June 12 [3 favorites]


I read earlier that a more accurate if less than literal English translation of Shams would be Greater Syria...does that sort of work, MisantropicPainforest?
posted by digitalprimate at 7:11 AM on June 12


> The conquering of essentially all of Europe by the ancient Romans was bad for a great number of people (many of whom became slaves), but it worked out pretty well for the Romans for a pretty long time.

Actually, it worked out pretty well for most people for a pretty long time—there's a reason a bunch of "barbarians" (people outside the limes) wanted to get inside and become part of it, and a reason why it was so long and fondly remembered and imitated. The Holy Roman Empire (which was famously neither holy nor Roman nor an empire) was created and run by Germans, who clearly did not think of the Roman Empire as an evil overlord that had enslaved their people. This is not to deny that a lot of people suffered as a result of imperial expansion (as people always suffer in wars), and your comment in general is excellent; I just felt that nit needed to be picked.
posted by languagehat at 7:13 AM on June 12 [8 favorites]


Kinda. The important thing to remember is that the idea/concept/word of Sham preceded the current borders, so imagine if like, say, the pacific northwest was a distinct cultural area before Washington and Oregon were created, and most of the pacific northwest now is included in Washington, but some parts are in Oregon too. And then someone says, 'I'm fighting for the Pacific Northwest!' Now thats not the same as 'I'm fighting for Washington State and Oregon!'.

Meaning they are two different things that just happen to be referring to the same territory
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:20 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]


Iraqi Kurds take Kirkurk

Al-Qaeda in Iraq ISIS has always provided cover for Sunni militias with wider backing: attack kills the wrong people "Al-Qaeda did it!" More importantly, it provides cover so when the US negotiates with the Sunni establishment, ISIS can dissappear, our newly bought friends can claim to have routed Al-Qaeda and everyone saves face.

Note in the above article that "ISIS" is flying captured helicopters. You'd better believe that the pilots of those helicopters are former Iraqi Army pilots. Tikrit was famously the hometown of Saddam Hussein, and SH made a point of populating Mosul with Republican Guard officers.

here is a summary of the military situation in Northern Iraq

Also, that vox article was simply terrible. One source: Michael Knight(s), no mention of the connection between ISIS money and our gulf Arab friends, and it ends with a tacit appeal for US military intervention. The "Washington Institute of Near Middle East Policy," where Michael Knight is employed, was founded by AIPAC, as a nominally independent organization... but you can guess what it takes to get a job there.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:21 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


Maybe New England would be a better analogy. But you get the idea.

What's scary is that, as some scholar who I forget argued in a book about genocide, is that genocide is invariably tied to the fetishization of land. The fact that Isis are fighting for a land area and not a political entity or freedom should be deeply worrying.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:24 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


The "Washington Institute of Near Middle East Policy," where Michael Knight is employed, was founded by AIPAC, as a nominally independent organization... but you can guess what it takes to get a job there.

You can take this further. In addition to being founded by the right, WINEP is Saban funded (by the guy who, you guessed it, produced the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) and is almost explicitly right-wing on ME issues. Its much more ideological than a nominally nonpartisan think tank that leans one way.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:26 AM on June 12


also, Iran will intervene one way or another. If these Sunni groups advance too far, I would imagine that intervention might be spectacular. Iran won't sit back and watch the government in Iraq fall, anymore than it will watch the Assad regime fall.

I would imagine that the US would be happy to see a de facto partition of Iraq. The fundamental result of Cheney's war in Iraq was to install a Shia majority government fundamentally friendly to Iran.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:32 AM on June 12


WINEP is Saban funded (by the guy who, you guessed it, produced the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) and is almost explicitly right-wing on ME issues. Its much more ideological than a nominally nonpartisan think tank that leans one way.

I/P politics in DC is such a hall of mirrors that I have no idea what actually constitutes a "right-wing" agenda: it could mean so many things, especially since there is no meaningful "left" wing. e.g. Is Al Gore right or left wing? But, that vox article is a good example about how these players sell their agendas to a "dumb" mass audience. It's propaganda, and you have to treat it that same way you would treat a Pepsi marketing campaign, even (especially) if it goes under the label of "journalism."
posted by ennui.bz at 7:40 AM on June 12


Interview with Cheney in April '94:

Q: Do you think the U.S., or U.N. forces, should have moved into Baghdad?
A: No.
Q: Why not?
A: Because if we'd gone to Baghdad we would have been all alone. There wouldn't have been anybody else with us. There would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq. None of the Arab forces that were willing to fight with us in Kuwait were willing to invade Iraq.
Once you got to Iraq and took it over, took down Saddam Hussein's government, then what are you going to put in its place? That's a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq, you could very easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off: part of it, the Syrians would like to have to the west, part of it -- eastern Iraq -- the Iranians would like to claim, they fought over it for eight years. In the north you've got the Kurds, and if the Kurds spin loose and join with the Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey.
It's a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq.

posted by bukvich at 8:45 AM on June 12 [12 favorites]


The Fox News spin really is beggar belief:
"Asleep at the Wheel… Again? THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ONCE AGAIN appears to have been caught off guard by an explosion of violence in a country US forces helped liberate as Baghdad is threatened by well-armed Al Qaeda-aligned militants who already have overrun the northern Iraq cities of Mosul and Tikrit — confirming the 'worst fears' of Republican lawmakers and military analysts about the Obama-ordered US troop withdrawal in 2011."

John McCain, meanwhile: "This contradicts everything the president said in the 2012 campaign, that he was ending wars. This is one of the gravest threats to our nation's national security since the end of the cold war."

I just… I can't.
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 9:07 AM on June 12


As far as I can tell, most Americans think the war in Iraq was about delivering the gift of democracy (along with, conservatively, over 115,000 civilian Iraqi deaths). The US destabilized a stable government, and left a weak, corrupt government in its place. If you burn down somebody's house, you're supposed to build them a new one, and I think the Obama administration gave it a try, but we don't have the will to install another ruthless dictator who'd have the strength to keep the country anywhere near intact. The net result in terms of US security is that we are less secure. The waste of lives and trillions of dollars, pounds, kroner, zlotys, etc., is appalling. The Iraqis are paying, and will be paying for a long time. I have no idea what we should be doing, or not doing, in response.
posted by theora55 at 9:23 AM on June 12 [3 favorites]


On Tuesday, a group of Islamic militants that were thrown out of al-Qaeda for being too violent

Doing some actual reading on the subject, it seems more like ISIS was disavowed by al-Qaeda because of organizational politics. Kind of like a failed merger or hostile takeover in the corporate world.

It's really interesting, though, how news memes are cultured and then transmitted.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:37 AM on June 12


I don't think it is quite accurate to say Saddam's regime was 'a stable government' when they were posed to massacre their own citizens as soon as the NFZ ended. But, I suspect a lot of people in the Pentagon would give anything to have them back in power now.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:39 AM on June 12


As far as I can tell, most Americans think the war in Iraq was about delivering the gift of democracy

It's so weird, ten years on, to hear thinking Americans actually say this. How invading Iraq was a good thing. I actually had a major falling out with an American friend about this very topic. We're friends again, but I still remember the feeling of doom in the lead up to invasion in 2002 and 2003.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:39 AM on June 12


As far as I can tell, most Americans think the war in Iraq was about delivering the gift of democracy...

I'm not so sure about that. I still hear a lot of Americans repeating the WMD excuse or that it was to fight Al-Qaeda, or simply "Saddam was evil"
posted by Thorzdad at 9:50 AM on June 12



Terry Southern, in one of his books, had a professor walk along the border of the United States and Canada. He pointed out that Canada achieved the same virtual freedom without a revolutionary war.


Canada achieived the same aims with a sternly worded letter because Britain didn't want to have yet another war.
posted by ocschwar at 10:26 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


it seems more like ISIS was disavowed by al-Qaeda because of organizational politics

Yes but the corporate media propaganda line is: "ISIS are the new super-super-evil guys, nobody could have thought such evil could ever exist despite all that we did for these guys (insert here 1000x headchopping stories and/or something about women's rights), so be afraid everyone; also look what another mess Obama has caused."
posted by colie at 10:27 AM on June 12


As far as I can tell, most Americans don't think about the war in Iraq at all.

“There's no solution here but partition. Nothing the outside world can do is going to change the facts on the ground.”

"It is odd that we do not use poison gas on these occasions." – Lawrence of Arabia

Tough to get anywhere with political institutions of any kind created by a foreign power.

And while separating Iraq into various autonomous areas that have their own nation status, you get back to the question – who bells the cat?

So, what, the U.S. goes back in? A combined force?

Scaling back on our petroleum addiction would really lower the stakes and the energy in the political equation. That might take decades or centuries, but y’know, it’s been decades and centuries living with this kind of strife. And it’s not like it can’t be stable. Before the Mongols showed up things were pretty good. Even then, there wasn’t the crazy violence. Then oil became a thing and everyone got grabby.

But y’know, when Iraq (and Baghdad) worked was when everyone was just doing business together. Now Israel doesn’t want the Arabs to increase their influence. The Turks don’t (or didn’t) want the Kurds to have sovereignty. Now maybe they do but oil is linked with Kurdish nationalism so oil companies have to build pipelines which are now political – religious decisions because theocrats can’t stand nationalists. Blah blah blah.

I’d be with T.E. Lawrence and the Alexander the Great solution but Alexander’s empire lasted, what, 20 years before fracturing? Then we’re back to square one.

So yeah, war doesn’t really cure sectarian violence.

Addressing the social roots though – unemployment, poverty, overpopulation, and a big one no one talks about, birth control and sex, would take the air out of the sails.
I mean, look, Baghdad was a garrison city. But because people had jobs and opportunities to learn, it grew into something else. Give someone a job, they don’t have time for blowing stuff up. Indeed, they need the infrastructure (the road for example) to get to work. If your male to female ratio is too high, a guy without a wife, family, etc. is also more likely to have time on his hands to go asplode things.

We haven’t taken the time to adapt our social situation to survival-oriented needs. What, we’re going to use gas and oil forever? Everyone is going to drive a car? We triple our resource consumption before 2050, 90% of the weight of terrestrial vertebrates is human meat and we’re all still eating burgers?

Nah. Tip of the (melting) iceburg, this stuff. We unlink warfighting with mass troop & materiel movement it cuts the strategic necessity for oil. Goofy vicious cycle in the first place. You fight to secure the energy resources so you have them in case you need to fight.

Again, all that’s on a 100 year or so timescale. But I think a big part of the problem is no one takes that perspective. So we do - whatever we do - and even if it's a brilliant piece of foreign policy strategy - 15-20 years later, we're back again.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:34 AM on June 12 [8 favorites]


Here is how I see it playing out. The US will back the Kurds who are our only reliable allies in this whole mess. The Kurds will take Kirkut and Mosul and then negotiate a deal with the Iraqi central government for independence. The realist in me doesn't see much difference between ISIL and Malaki with regard to US interests. Both aren't what we'd like. ISIL isn't determined to attack the United States at the present moment. I see no reason to start bombing them to make them start rethinking that.
posted by humanfont at 11:03 AM on June 12


Isn't it interesting that the US and Iran now have a common foe in Iraq?
posted by RedShrek at 11:07 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


This is total wishful thinking to even suggest this, but maybe the lesson that can be drawn from Iraq is that it's a bad idea to overthrow a regime of a foreign country. Full stop. Crazy, I know.
posted by norm at 11:47 AM on June 12


Somebody call ODIN.
posted by klangklangston at 12:10 PM on June 12 [6 favorites]


This maybe-paywalled WSJ artcle says: Iran Deploys Forces to Fight al Qaeda-Inspired Militants in Iraq.

There is also this version from Vox: Iran just sent an elite military unit to fight in Iraq

I am sure Saudi Arabia loves this.
posted by rosswald at 12:18 PM on June 12




I'm going to try and explain why this is so confusing to me, but it involves a mini-lecture.

The war in Iraq can most clearly be thought of as series of small wars fought by US occupation forces (joined later by the new Iraqi army) against different opponents in different parts of the country. The worst of these conflicts from the US perspective was probably the War In Anbar Province, because it was the longest lasting. The US "won" that war eventually but it didn't really end, because the current situation seems to be a continuation of that conflict with many of the same faces behind the guns.

The war in Anbar started as a mass insurgency with the populations of whole Sunni cities rising up and fighting the US, but it later settled into a more clearly defined conflict between the Sunni insurgent group Al Qaeda in Iraq and the US military. Rather than fight in a regular army fashion (and no doubt lose), AQI adopted a pattern of fighting with sneak attacks, ambushes and hidden explosives. This made the war drag on inconclusively. But then AQI screwed up big time when they started assassinating the Sheikhs of the various Sunni tribes in an attempt to consolidate their power. Instead of meekly acquiescing, the Sunni tribes began to fight back against AQI in what became known as The Awakening, and from that point on AQI was forced to fight a sort of two front war against both the US and the Sunni militias. It was this multiplication of enemies and the US Surge of 2007 that led to their ultimate defeat.

But now they're back with a new name (ISIS), and they're just rolling through northern Iraq taking over massive areas, and leaving them lightly guarded while they concentrate their forces on expansion, and those Sunni tribes are doing... nothing? AQI assassinated Sheikhs and blew up a lot of Sunni civilians just seven years ago, but it's all cool now? That's confusing.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:46 PM on June 12 [2 favorites]


Iraq War III begins [Foreign Policy Magazine]
Surprise and aggression allowed the movement to crumble the morale of Iraq's paramilitary police and army forces in Mosul in three days of hard fighting. ISIS took on and defeated a government force 15 times their size. Let that sink in.
Iraq: Looming War of Shiite, Kurdish, Extremist-Sunni Militias [Juan Cole] Cole goes into detail about the reason Mosul fell so quickly:
Since the military is largely Shiite and had been lording it over local Sunnis as though they were an occupied and humiliated population, it isn’t any wonder that they fled in the face of a popular uprising against them. They couldn’t have stood against so many hostile Sunnis. (There is a parallel to the Taliban withdrawal from Kabul in late 2001...
The Battle for Kirkuk [The Telegraph]
Amira Zangana, a Member of Parliament from the Kurdish Democratic Party and a resident in Kirkuk, visited the front line yesterday in a show of solidarity for the troops.
Dressed in military fatigues, her nails painted in black and her hair perfectly permed, she shook the hands of the fighters and posed for photographs with the excited young men. Then, as an incoming ISIS mortar sprayed sand in the air less than 100 yards to her right, she began handing out brightly coloured fabric roses to the commanders.
“The Iraqi Army should not have given up this way; they should have stayed to fight,” she said. “This means we do not need them. Our people, the Peshmerga, are fearless and they will fight ISIS. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has no role here.”
posted by humanfont at 2:25 PM on June 12 [3 favorites]


AQI assassinated Sheikhs and blew up a lot of Sunni civilians just seven years ago, but it's all cool now? That's confusing.

Just pure conjecture here but perhaps ISIS / AQI learned something from their defeat 7 years ago. Work with the Sheikhs, don't rock the boat (at least for now) in terms of local power structures, and then they'll assist in defeating the common enemy: the Shiite government in Baghdad.

This is just a guess, but I'm basing it on the reports coming out of the occupied cities where the locals are saying ISIS is working with the local authorities to establish order and they are making an effort to take care of the civilians. These reports may be pure propaganda, but there seems to be a kernel of truth in it since ISIS is getting local cooperation in their war.
posted by honestcoyote at 2:30 PM on June 12


The one thing we can be sure of is that the Iraqi army is a terrible, incompetent organization. It's like they were all just playing pretend soldiers, and never intended to fight anybody.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:16 PM on June 12


RedShrek wrote: Isn't it interesting that the US and Iran now have a common foe in Iraq?

Not really. Iraq and Iran have been enemies for decades-or-longer, and Iraq and the USA have been enemies for decades-or-longer. I think it's more interesting that there were a few halcyon years neither Iran nor the USA were enemies with Iraq: Iran had emplaced a friendly government in Iraq; and the USA was pretending that the invasion was a success.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:22 PM on June 12


I'm really starting to feel like we're on the verge of world war 3, and we have our own issues with violent extremists and huge migration flows here destabilizing the us and the whole Western Hemisphere, really. It's not going to be a fun decade coming up.
posted by empath at 5:29 PM on June 12


"and leaving them lightly guarded while they concentrate their forces on expansion,"

I learned that tactic from Risk!
posted by klangklangston at 5:32 PM on June 12 [2 favorites]


Also, I don't understand why nobody is talking about Saudi arabia's role in all this. Articles always say 'foreign fighters' as if we don't know where they're from. They're from Saudi Arabia, funded with Saudi oil money. It's no mystery.
posted by empath at 5:56 PM on June 12


They're from lots of places, including Saudi Arabia. There's Moroccans, Algerians, Tunisians, Chechens, even fighters from France and Britain. Jihaddis from all over, financed (at least partially) by private individuals in the Gulf States, and by the proceeds from organized crime in areas they control.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:04 PM on June 12 [3 favorites]


New York Times has a terrific graphic which is going to put at least fifty new gray hairs on Obama's head. Where ISIS is gaining control in Syria and Iraq.
posted by bukvich at 6:09 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


My understanding is that the foreign fighters are actually predominantly, > 50% North African based on reports of those killed. 10-20% may be from Western countries. Foreign Policy mag suggested late last year that there were about 5000 foreign fighters in Syria and as many as a 1000 were from western nations. We are a long way from the 9-11 era when it was all Saudi men. A major concern for Western countries is what happens when these fighters come back home.
posted by humanfont at 7:18 PM on June 12 [2 favorites]


Choosing Rebels Over Army, Iraqis Head Home (NYT link)
“We are afraid it will be the same situation as in Falluja and Ramadi,” said a municipal worker who gave his name only as Abu Mohammed, for fear of losing his job. He was referring to the two cities in Anbar that have borne the brunt of government airstrikes, which have killed hundreds of civilians.

A woman nearby, asked if the militants were harming people, waved her hands in the air and said: “No, no, no. On the contrary, they are welcoming the people.”

Comments like these represent a stark repudiation at the grass-roots level of the governing style of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, a Shiite, and his policies that over the years have alienated the Sunni population.
***
One of the Mosul residents who escaped to Erbil was Atheel Nujaifi, the governor of Nineveh Province, where Mosul is. In an interview on Thursday, he said that one of the reasons Mosul was quiet on Thursday — and the citizens felt comfortable returning — was the presence of other groups, like tribal militias and a group led by former Baathist officers, in addition to the Islamists.

“The situation quieted down, and ISIS is not the only force in control in Mosul,” said Mr. Nujaifi, who considers himself too much of a target to return just yet. “And we tried to keep everything as it is — the electricity, water, everything. That’s why the people feel comfortable going back.”
posted by Kevin Street at 10:32 PM on June 12


There are some interesting bits in this, which is otherwise someone pumping her book:
'Iraqi Kurds close to declaring independence'
"Israel-Kurdish cooperation a possibility," Israeli expert Ofra Bengio tells 'Post.'
Asked if the Iraqi Kurds would be more likely to declare independence if their efforts to export oil independently via Turkey become constant and sustainable, Bengio responded that “the main obstacle for separation is the economic dependence of Erbil [the region’s capital] on Baghdad. If Erbil manages to export oil and gas independently of Baghdad it will make such a move much more plausible.”

The Iraqi Oil Ministry said last month that it was taking legal action against Ankara and state-owned pipeline operator BOTAS for facilitating the first sale of crude to be piped from Kurdistan without Baghdad’s consent.
If Baghdad can't defend Mosul, I can't see that it can take any practical steps to prevent the export. On the other hand, as long as it's recognised as the legal government it has ways to stymie the sale:
Regarding the Kurdish oil sales, [Michael Rubin] said that “Barzani needs something to support his lavish lifestyle – but they will always be under the thumbs of their neighbors and they haven’t found any buyers for the first tanker of Kurdish oil: It was turned away two weeks ago from the United States and last week from Morocco.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:18 PM on June 12




Golden Eternity - I don't think it is quite accurate to say Saddam's regime was 'a stable government' when they were posed to massacre their own citizens as soon as the NFZ ended.

As stable as it could be given the embargo, political isolation and the continuous bombing campaign. What is the evidence that there was some other kind of massacre waiting to happen at the hands of the Iraqi government?
posted by asok at 3:14 AM on June 13


humanfont: "A major concern for Western countries is what happens when these fighters come back home."
They shoot up Jewish museums, among other things.
posted by brokkr at 3:24 AM on June 13 [1 favorite]


What is the evidence that there was some other kind of massacre waiting to happen at the hands of the Iraqi government?

Witness to History: Remembering the Kurdish ‘No-Fly Zone’
posted by Golden Eternity at 6:25 AM on June 13


Shiites rally in Iraq as top cleric issues call to arms; Iranian General said in charge in Baghdad
Iranian Gen. Qassem Suleimani was, according to numerous credible reports, said to be directing the defenses of Baghdad personally. Suleimani is a well known figure in Middle East security circles and is said to control Iranian operations in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. Supporters of Iran often credit him personally for devising the strategy that salvaged the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad during the past year of the civil war there.
Iraq turmoil has one winner: the Kurds
“You can call it a gift from heaven for the Kurdish leadership,” says a Kurdish analyst in northern Iraq who asked not to be named, speaking about the stunning military offensive this week by Sunni militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). 

“From the Kurdish perspective, the threat and challenge that ISIS poses is serious, but [also] presents an opportunity to solidify Kurdish control over the disputed territories,” says the Kurdish analyst. “This is definitely a very good opportunity for the KRG [Kurdistan Regional Government] to pressure Baghdad.”
...

A de facto partition of Iraq into Kurdish, Sunni, and Shiite regions is emerging.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:36 AM on June 13


If Iraq did break down along Sunni/Shiite lines, would Iran annex the Shiite areas (IE Russia and Crimea) or would it prefer it kept as an autonomous region/zone/"country"?
posted by rosswald at 8:44 AM on June 13




Mission Accomplished!
Sykes-Picot, he dead!
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:56 AM on June 13


The major fallout for the West is not oil, but as mentioned already, the thousands of Muslims from Western countries who are fighting in Iraq and Syria, as well as the many more who sympathize with them back home. They may make up only a tiny percentage of the overall Muslim population in many countries, but their willingness to act on behalf of ISIS is frightening. Countries that participated in the "War on Terror" saw attacks in the last decade, and those that help the fight against ISIS could see more in time to come.
posted by Thing at 9:21 AM on June 13


Sykes-Picot, he dead!

They! Two people. And nobody thought highly of Mark Sykes anyway.
posted by Thing at 9:23 AM on June 13




If Iraq did break down along Sunni/Shiite lines, would Iran annex the Shiite areas (IE Russia and Crimea) or would it prefer it kept as an autonomous region/zone/"country"?

The Shi'ite arabs do not want to be Persians. There are some Arab areas of Iran that might end up in the the new Shi'ite Iraq if borders really were allowed to shift.
posted by humanfont at 11:32 AM on June 13 [1 favorite]






On ABC World News (6/10/14), Martha Raddatz declared that "Mosul was once a focal point of America's fight to bring peace and stability to this country."

Oh god. Pax Americana. Atque, ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.

Do these people not hear what is coming out of their mouths or do they simply not care?
posted by Justinian at 2:31 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


i'm sure this has been said upthread, but this is simply fucking terrifying
posted by angrycat at 2:59 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]




When we talk about Sunni or Shi'ite areas, there are actually multiple intersecting religious groups (Sunni, Shia, Druse, Christian, Yarsani, Yezidi, probably some Jews); ethnic groups (Arab, Persian, Kurdish, etc.); linguistic groups (Arabic, Farsi, Kurdish, and so forth, but not necessarily spoken by Arabs, Persians, and Kurds; and in any event different dialects of a single "language" may be mutually unintelligible); political groupings, groupings of convenience; groupings based on geography or familial ties; and probably others as well. It is literally impossible to draw lines on a map that separates these groups in a meaningful way, even if were desirable. I suppose you could shuffle people around, deporting some and importing others, but I really don't think that will be conducive to a lasting peace.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:02 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]






ISIS is carrying out mass executions of Shia civilian men. (Warning: photographs of mass executions).
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 5:03 PM on June 14


NSFW
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:53 PM on June 14


L.P. Hatecraft: “ISIS is carrying out mass executions of Shia civilian men. (Warning: photographs of mass executions).”
Jesus wept.

I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around how a few thousand rag-tag fighters, no matter their level of viciousness, weren't destroyed or scattered by the units stationed in the Samarra AoE, let alone the formations in Baghdad or elsewhere. I realize the units in the SOC and perhaps other commands in the northwest mostly evaporated. One presumes that's where the executed officers came from. Today's situation report indicates that a counterattack is underway, but I guess it was too late.

I also hadn't heard this elsewhere: ISIS captured "Turkish Consul Ozturk Yilmaz, and 41 other consulate employees." So we've got that going for us…

Here's a question I'd love to find a link for an answer to: Did the geniuses who put the ISF together put Shi'ite officers in charge of Sunni enlisted? Is that why the units fell apart as quickly as they did, some without even seeing any action?
posted by ob1quixote at 9:37 PM on June 14


ob1quixote: “Did the geniuses who put the ISF together put Shi'ite officers in charge of Sunni enlisted? Is that why the units fell apart as quickly as they did, some without even seeing any action?”
At least a partial answer to my own question, “Iraq army’s collapse may hold lessons for the future,” Chris Carroll, Stars and Stripes, 14 June 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 10:22 PM on June 14


It appears ISIS has allied with al-Douri. The article mentions the possibility that al-Douri had people inside the Iraqi military that helped pull off the raid. Seems like a good bet to me. There was a rumor going around that al-Douri's men came into conflict with ISIS when they raised a picture of him instead of the ISIS flag.

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri: the King of Clubs is back, and he may yet prove to be Saddam Hussein's trump card (5-18-2013)
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:24 PM on June 14


Yeah, the Al-Akhbar article is very interesting. No idea if it's true, but it describes the situation in northern Iraq with much greater resolution than any western news story I've seen. It mentions the names of a number of insurgent groups, and names this al-Douri as the overall mastermind.

According to the article, al-Douri planted numerous former Baathist army officers within the new army as low or mid-rank officers. Then ISIS invaded with mostly foreign fighters, and these men ordered their troops to surrender. ISIS moved on, and other groups made up of Iraqi fighters took over control of the cities.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:22 AM on June 15




.
posted by GrammarMoses at 6:32 AM on June 15


I am having a hard time reconciling the reports I heard on NPR of Iraqis returning to ISIS-controlled areas, given these reports of mass executions. Did anybody else hear that doctor who was interviewed on NPR? He talked about returning to ISIS territory and how people were not getting beheaded. Maybe he was Sunni?
posted by angrycat at 8:03 AM on June 15


I am having a hard time reconciling the reports I heard on NPR of Iraqis returning to ISIS-controlled areas

Sure you are getting contradictory reports, but then again competing propaganda machines are operating at full blast: Watching ISIS on TV
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 9:10 AM on June 15


Well, ISIS put out an hour long film of themselves beheading and killing these people in cold blood so I don't see how it can be denied. It is not clear to me who they were killing. Most likely it was mainly the local administers of the al-Maliki government. Tikrit was the home of Saddam Hussein and the vast majority of his closest advisers were from Tikrit as well, apparently. One article I was reading mentioned that a lot of people in his administration originally had the same last name, 'al-Tikriti' (or something similar), which they all changed so it wouldn't be so obvious how insular Saddam's inner circle was.

So chances are the Baathists still have a lot of support in Tikrit and perhaps in Mosul, and having al-Maliki's people running the city and arresting people, etc., probably didn't sit well with them. If ISIS is primarily killing representatives of al-Maliki's government and leaving bystanders alone, it is probably more evidence that a lot of help and planning for the attacks came from within Tikrit and Mosul.

I have a bad feeling Tikrit may be literally flattened by al-Maliki, Assad, and Soleimani by the time this is through. If Iran gets nuclear weapons, I'd be a lot more concerned if I lived in Mosul than Tel-Aviv.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:37 AM on June 15




The Atlantic: Iraq's Long Unraveling - "As militants vow to seize Baghdad, the country is facing a crisis that has been building for years."
Foreign Policy: Why Is Everyone So Damn Surprised?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:08 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]




The Long Shadow Of A Neocon
As jihadists everywhere celebrate their stunning victories in Mosul and Tikrit, as well as the abject retreat of the United States from Afghanistan, we can only hope that they accord due credit to a man who was indispensable to their success. Now an obscure businessman seeking crumbs from the table as an “international consultant,” Zalmay Khalilzad was in his day an imperial envoy sent by the United States to decree the fates of Afghanistan and Iraq. His decisions, most especially his selection of puppet overseers to administer the conquered lands, were uniformly disastrous, contributing in large degree to the catastrophes of today. To be sure, many others among the neocon clique and their liberal-democrat interventionist allies deserve a place on the jihadist honor roll of useful idiots, but few contributed as much as Khalilzad, the Afghan-born former academic who selected Hamid Karzai and Nuri al-Maliki as suitable leaders for their respective countries.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:21 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


I blame Snowden for stealing intelligence from the government of the USA.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:56 PM on June 15


Money Down the Drain: CRS Report Details U.S. Expenses on Iraq
The report puts total projected U.S. spending in Iraq from 2003 to 2014 at $57,184,400,000.
Wow. This is not the cost of the invasion or, I think, the cost of deploying and supporting US troops; it's the cost of money ostensibly spent to aid and support Iraq.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:50 PM on June 15


Iraq arrest that exposed wealth and power of Isis jihadists
"He said to us, 'you don't realise what you have done'," an intelligence official recalled. "Then he said: 'Mosul will be an inferno this week'.'

Several hours later, the man he had served as a courier and been attempting to protect, Abdulrahman al-Bilawi, lay dead in his hideout near Mosul. From the home of the dead man and the captive, Iraqi forces hoovered up more than 160 computer flash sticks...

The treasure trove included names and noms de guerre of all foreign fighters, senior leaders and their code words, initials of sources inside ministries and full accounts of the group's finances.
[...]

"Before Mosul, their total cash and assets were $875m [£515m]. Afterwards, with the money they robbed from banks and the value of the military supplies they looted, they could add another $1.5bn to that."
[...]

The group's leaders had been meticulously chosen. Many of those who reported to the top tier – all battle-hardened veterans of the insurgency against US forces nearly a decade ago – did not know the names of their colleagues. The strategic acumen of Isis was impressive – so too its attention to detail. "They had itemised everything," the source said. "Down to the smallest detail."
posted by Golden Eternity at 6:11 PM on June 15




This map was shared on one of the MidEast studies blogs I follow. It appears to have been compiled form various media reports and social media info about what is known of the current areas of control.
posted by humanfont at 8:11 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]






Events in Iraq Open Door for Interventionist Revival, Historian Says
But Exhibit A for what Robert Kagan describes as his “mainstream” view of American force is his relationship with former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who remains the vessel into which many interventionists are pouring their hopes. Mr. Kagan pointed out that he had recently attended a dinner of foreign-policy experts at which Mrs. Clinton was the guest of honor, and that he had served on her bipartisan group of foreign-policy heavy hitters at the State Department, where his wife worked as her spokeswoman.
[...]

“I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy,” Mr. Kagan said, adding that the next step after Mr. Obama’s more realist approach “could theoretically be whatever Hillary brings to the table” if elected president. “If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue,” he added, “it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.”
[...]

At an intimate fund-raiser for Democratic Senate candidates in May at the Upper East Side home of the financier Blair Effron, Mr. Obama became animated when answering a question about his foreign policy. He said calls from hawks like Senator John McCain for American intervention in Syria and other global hot spots were grossly irresponsible, according to one attendee. The president added that the entire notion that America undergirded global order through a broad use of force was a dangerous fallacy.

Mr. Kagan is equally resolute. The possible fall of Baghdad, he said, demands a response from Mr. Obama, who he fears has made up his mind to retrench the United States into a more “normal” and less internationally engaged posture. “I would be delighted to be cosmically wrong,” he said.
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:43 PM on June 16


Iran and the US joining forces to combat ISIS is absurd because the US is an ally of Saudi, which is supporting the anti-Bashar forces in Syria, while Iran is supporting Bashar, and also because of the history between the US and Iran for the past 35 years.

It's kind of like Lethal Weapon, or 48 Hours with Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:50 PM on June 16


U.S. Doesn’t Know Who to Hit in Iraq
Current and retired American defense and intelligence officials tell The Daily Beast that the CIA and the Pentagon are not certain who exactly makes up the forces that have taken so much of Iraq. Moreover, these intelligence and defense officials says that they believe that some of the people fighting with Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) are former U.S. allies who could be turned against the hard-core fanatics—if they can be identified
[...]

...the United States lost much of its visibility into the foreign fighter network in Iraq when it withdrew forces from Iraq in 2011 and pulled its intelligence officers—CIA and defense—inside the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, according to a former senior U.S. official who had been stationed there during the process.

“We don’t have boots on the ground providing intelligence and we don’t have confidence in information that the Iraqi government provides.”
[...]

DIA’s director Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn warned Congress in February that ISIS, which he said simply was al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) by another name, “probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014, as demonstrated recently in Ramadi and Fallujah, and the group’s ability to concurrently maintain multiple safe havens in Syria.” He said while most Iraqi Sunnis “probably remain opposed to AQI’s ideology and presence in Iraq and Syria, some Sunni tribes and insurgent groups appear willing to work tactically with AQI as they share common anti-government goals,” because of what Flynn described as “Baghdad’s refusal to address long-standing Sunni grievances, and continued heavy-handed approach to counterterror operations.”
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:01 PM on June 16 [3 favorites]






BTW, how the fuck did the NSA and CIA get caught flat-footed on this? Why didn't they know it was coming? They have all the spying machinery they wanted, and couldn't see this coming? Maybe they're spending all their time watching americans and their allies, because that's easier instead of watching the people they're supposed to be watching.
posted by empath at 8:37 PM on June 16


Stonekettle Station: Absolutely Nothing
How do I feel about losing all we fought for?

I don’t know.

First, I’m going to need somebody to explain to me exactly what it was that we were fighting for.

What was it? What is it that we gained, according to Mitt Romney? And what is on the cusp of vanishing? What is that? No, really, somebody please explain it to me.

Because I’d love to know.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:49 PM on June 16 [4 favorites]


how the fuck did the NSA and CIA get caught flat-footed on this?

You might ask why they didn't predict the fall of the USSR or the Russian invasion or Crimea. It's because intelligence is only useful once it has been considered and correctly interpreted. Everything else is just chatter and has no significance until it's too late.

Barring some wild advances in AI, the NSA needs someone to actually listen to intercepted conversations, place them within a wider picture (which it doesn't initially know), and understand what's going on. Suppose the NSA intercepts a Russian tank battalion's commander saying "Honey, we're moving east tomorrow." That's invaluable if the NSA know his rank and position, and that Russia is threatening Crimea. In the absence of that, though, what significance does it have? Perhaps he's a civilian getting a new job! The same applies to ISIS: there were lots of bad guys, and I presume many of their conversations actually were intercepted. But that doesn't mean the NSA knew what was going on or, significantly, that the Iraqi army would run like a cheap dress in the wash.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:00 PM on June 16




Grauniad:
Barack Obama sends troops back to Iraq as Isis insurgency worsens
  • Obama authorises 275 personnel 'equipped for combat'
  • White House considers special forces to advise Iraqis
  • US and Iran rule out military cooperation
posted by XMLicious at 2:38 AM on June 17


War On The Rocks: Iraq and the Fall of Saigon
Stars and Strips: Iraq Army's Collapse May Hold Lessons For Future
3 Quarks Daily: The Iraq Delusion, Revisited
We must reject this amnesia. We must remember what our leaders did in Iraq and follow this story all the way to its sordid denouement, if only because though the United States can leave, the inhabitants of these countries cannot. We should harbor no illusions that the nightmare that began on September 11, when Al Qaeda's henchmen attacked the United States, is over simply because we are in the process of disengaging from Muslim countries. We must understand our contribution to the festering of this problem so that we may instead contribute to its resolution.
Boston Review: Iraq's problems are not timeless. The U.S. is responsible.
Eight years ago, Nir Rosen made a startling prediction in the pages of Boston Review:
Sunnis will be cleansed from Baghdad. And the Shias will go to war against Sunnis. The Kurds, having waited for this opportunity, will secede.
Today, with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) taking over cities in Iraq one by one, Rosen’s words have proven true. Though, as it turns out, it is the Sunnis going to war against the Shias. And, while the Sunnis (thankfully) have not quite been “cleansed” from Baghdad, the Shia/Sunni conflict has been unrelenting, and Nouri al-Maliki’s sectarian policies seem to have prompted the most recent rounds of violence. (Even the Kurds are taking advantage of the conflict to secure land.)
NY Times: Torn Between Competing Perspectives On Iraq
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:37 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


Rosen's words have not proven true. I mean the writer actually goes on to cite how incorrect they were. WTF NY Times.
posted by humanfont at 9:18 PM on June 17


Iraqi Militants Seize Oil Refinery
Sunni militants are reportedly now in control of most of Iraq's largest oil refinery, which provides gas to about 25 percent of the entire country.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:08 AM on June 18


General Petraeus:
On the question of US or British intervention in the current conflict, he added: “There has to be a huge idea here, and it has to be that if there is to be support for Iraq it has to be support for a government of Iraq - a government for the people and responsible to Iraq’s institutions.

“This cannot be the US being the airforce for Shia militias in a Shia on Sunni Arabs fight. It has to be a fight for all of Iraq against extremists who are wreaking havoc on a country that had an enormous opportunity back in 2011.

“If america is to offer support, it has to be in support of a government rather than one side in a sectarian conflict.”

His comments came after Former Prime Minister of Australia John Howard hinted that the West should be doing more to combat the ISIS insurgency.

"The West needs to recover its cultural self belief,” he said.

"It needs to understand that the values we all instinctively think about - for all their flaws and blemishes - have been incredibly successful and have been responsible for repulsing assaults on liberty.

"It remains my view that Islamic extremism is a far greater threat than many people believe.”

He added of President Obama's approach to the threat of Islamic fundamentalism: "We have an incredibly chaotic situation in Iraq and we worry about Afghanistan. I think he has an altogether too complacent analysis of the threat posed."
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:48 AM on June 18


Not wanting Tony Blair to have all the fun, Dick Cheney is now chiming in: Cheney rips Obama over foreign policy in op-ed
posted by rosswald at 11:44 AM on June 18


ProTip: What ever Dick Cheney says to do on foreign policy, do the opposite.
posted by vibrotronica at 12:00 PM on June 18


How does that man avoid being struck by lightning? His karma must be in the negative triple digits by now.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:24 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]


ProTip: What ever Dick Cheney says to do on foreign policy, do the opposite.

Oh, I dunno. He made a pretty convincing argument for not invading Iraq:
“Because if we had gone to Baghdad we would have been all alone. There wouldn’t have been anybody else with us. It would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq. None of the Arab forces that were willing to fight with us in Kuwait were willing to invade Iraq. Once you got to Iraq and took it over and took down Saddam Hussein’s government, then what are you going to put in its place? That’s a very volatile part of the world. And if you take down the central government in Iraq, you could easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off. Part of it the Syrians would like to have, the west. Part of eastern Iraq the Iranians would like to claim. Fought over for eight years. In the north, you’ve got the Kurds. And if the Kurds spin loose and join with Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey. It’s a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq.”
In 1994.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:25 PM on June 18 [4 favorites]


How Arab backers of the Syrian rebels see Iraq
As the Obama administration debates whether and how to intervene in Iraq’s rapidly unfolding crisis, many advocates of intervention have argued that action in Iraq should be matched by action in Syria. Should the United States actually intervene militarily in support of the Iraqi government, however, it should know that it will be on the opposite side of many of the Arab networks that support the Syrian uprising.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:56 PM on June 18




From The Big Picture (which is generally great, I don't want to impugn it), the caption on one of the photos made me pause: "Civilian children stand next to a burnt vehicle [...]"

Yes, thanks for clarifying the status of these 10-year old kids.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:58 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


There are sporadic reports of ISIS using child soldiers. Nothing solid enough to link.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:17 PM on June 18


Kurdistan defies Baghdad and delivers a million barrels of oil to Israel

Basically, the Kurds no longer care what Baghdad says and don't expect that they'll have to change their minds.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:38 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


Ayatollah of Iran Says U.S. Should Avoid Iraq
“The main dispute in Iraq is between those who want Iraq to join the U.S. camp and those who seek an independent Iraq,” said the ayatollah, who has the final say over government policies. “The U.S. aims to bring its own blind followers to power since the U.S. is not happy about the current government in Iraq.”
That doesn't sound encouraging.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:32 PM on June 22


Great moments in US foreign policy, part CCCXII:
Militants Take Major Border Post; Kerry Hints U.S. Is Open to a New Premier
[...] As the government tried to cast the setback in a positive light, saying troops had made a “tactical” decision to withdraw, Secretary of State John Kerry appeared to increase the pressure on Iraq’s leadership by signaling that the United States was open to the selection of a new prime minister who could bridge the deep sectarian divides in the country.
See also:
Deckchairs, Titanic
Horse Bolted, Stable Door
Too, Little and Late
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:37 AM on June 23


I prefer to think of it as two mad dogs are fighting in the road and the US is smart enough to try to call the dogs back from a safe distance rather than jump into the middle of the fray.
posted by humanfont at 8:10 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


I mean just consider if the US had negotiated a status of forces agreement and this had happened anyway. For those who think that think wouldn't have happened had the US maintained a US presence (such as John McCain), consider that while the US was in Iraq previously this exact scenario unfolded. It was only beaten back at significant expense to the United States.
posted by humanfont at 8:32 AM on June 23


ABC's This Week:
KARL: No, no, what would you do now?

CHENEY: — leave behind a force — well, what I would do now, John, is, among other things, be realistic about the nature of the threat. When we’re arguing over 300 advisers when the request had been for 20,000 in order to do the job right, I’m not sure we’ve really addressed the problem.

I would definitely be helping the resistance up in Syria, in ISIS’ backyard, with training and weapons and so forth, in order to be able to do a more effective job on that end of the party.

But I think at this point, there are no good, easy answers in Iraq. And, again, I think it’s very important to emphasize that the problem we’re faced with is a much broader one, that we need to — an administration to recognize the fact that we’ve got this huge problem, quit peddling the notion that they — they got core al Qaeda and therefore there’s no problem out there.
Wait. What the heck is Cheney talking about? ISIS *is* the resistance in Syria, basically. Would 20k US troops be enough to stop ISIS without serious casualties and civilian deaths? Would Iran allow Maliki to give the troops immunity? Would Iran and al-Sadr kill US troops like they did before? How much would it cost? How long would the troops have to stay? Cheney is useless.

Well, the neocons have finally found the answer to the question they've been asking us for twenty years, "what could possibly be worse than Saddam Hussein?"


Netanyahu in first comments on Iraq: US should try to weaken both ISIS and Iran
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:57 AM on June 23






Humanfont, I'm not suggesting that the USA should be trying to do anything; I'm just saying that it's vastly amusing to see someone saying that the USA is "open to the selection of a new prime minister who could bridge the deep sectarian divides in the country" when in fact the USA is neither capable of directing the process nor interested in trying to do so. And the idea that Iraq, a country in the process of collapse, just needs the right prime minister is ... risible. Laughable. I don't know how Kerry regurgitated that suggestion with a straight face; I'm sure it wasn't his own idea.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:48 PM on June 23


So you are amused?
posted by humanfont at 3:09 PM on June 23


I'm actually kind of amused at John Kerry and, by extension, the US State Department. What's happening in Iraq and Syria is too horrifying to be amused at; and even the antics of the State Department are more of a horrific disbelief than anything funny.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:01 PM on June 23




Hmm.

'Thank God for the Saudis': ISIS, Iraq, and the Lessons of Blowback
U.S lawmakers encouraged officials in Riyadh to arm Syrian rebels. Now that strategy may have created a monster in the Middle East.

posted by Joe in Australia at 6:37 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]






A world without Dick Cheney would be a better place. No disrespect intended.
posted by Justinian at 10:49 PM on June 23


Telegraph claims that Kurdish sources tipped off US and UK intelligence agencies about ISIS plans five months ago.
"We had this information then, and we passed it on to your (British) government and the US government," Rooz Bahjat, a senior lieutenant to Lahur Talabani, head of Kurdish intelligence, said. "We used our official liaisons.

"We knew exactly what strategy they were going to use, we knew the military planners. It fell on deaf ears."
[...]
"I have completely lost hope in America after listening to President Barack Obama," Mr Talabani said. "I blame him personally for what has happened in Syria, in the Middle East, in Iraq at the moment. I have no hope any more.

"The British should still somehow support the Iraqi army, and what's left of Iraq."
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:45 PM on June 24 [1 favorite]


ISIS pledges to destroy shrines
It released a "Wathiqat al-Madina" (A "charter of the city"). In rough translation, the charter says : "Our position towards the polytheistic [i.e., Jewish, Christian, and probably Moslem - JiA] scenes and shrines in Iraq is that we would not leave any grave without flattening it, and no statue without obliterating it".

posted by Joe in Australia at 3:59 PM on June 24


Putin offers Iraq’s Maliki ‘complete support’ against jihadists

Iran returns military aircraft to Iraq after 20 years
A spokesman for the Office of the Adjutant General of the Iraqi armed forces has said that his country has returned 130 military aircraft to Iraq, which were held in Iran for more than 20 years. General Qassim Atta explained in a televised press statement that the Iranian authorities have equipped the aircraft with "sophisticated weapons".
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:59 PM on June 24


Scary stuff from The Jordan Times:
ISIL supporters rally in Maan for Islamic caliphate
Dozens of supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) rallied in Maan on Friday marking the upstart jihadist movement’s first public appearance in Jordan.


And this analysis from Canada's The Globe and Mail is intriguing:
ISIL’s impact ripples beyond Iraq's borders
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:00 AM on June 25


I should have said: hat tip to the Elder of Ziyon blog.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:01 AM on June 25


I'm wondering how long it will take for Turkey to mobilize its forces.
posted by empath at 3:17 AM on June 25


I presume they're already on alert. But hey, Turkey is a NATO member so if it's threatened the USA will intervene.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:17 AM on June 25


Scary stuff from The Jordan Times:
ISIL supporters rally in Maan for Islamic caliphate
Dozens of supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)


Dozens!!
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:54 AM on June 25


Maliki rejects pressure for unity government
In his weekly televised address, Maliki said: "The call to form a national emergency government is a coup against the constitution and the political process.

"It is an attempt by those who are against the constitution to eliminate the young democratic process and steal the votes of the voters."

Erbil’s ‘No’ to the Americans
Knowing full well this was the last thing Washington’s top diplomat wanted to hear, the autonomous Kurdistan Region’s President Massoud Barzani brought up what his people wanted to talk about: independence.
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:59 AM on June 25


Maliki is probably afraid that any power sharing arrangement will lead to him being forced out of office, and eventually killed. There's no tradition of honorable retirement, then writing a book and going out on the lecture circuit in Iraq.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:04 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]










What the article actually says is that Jordan is vulnerable to ISIS. Jordan is already an ally of the USA, so why is the US administration talking about Israel? To increase congressional support for military aid to Jordan? To float the idea of Israeli support in a war against ISIS? I have no idea.

Israel Could Get Dragged Into ISIS’s War, Obama Admin Warns
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:23 PM on June 29


“Extremist Group ISIS Declares New Islamic Caliphate,” Eyder Peralta, NPR, 29 June 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 7:01 PM on June 29


That's not guaranteed to make the right wing nutters go crazy at all.
posted by Justinian at 7:16 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]


It's kind of funny that all these photos are using the same small, wrinkled, black-and-white passport (?) photo of ISIS's head, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. You'd think that someone would have a better photo of him.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:17 PM on June 29


So we have Iran, israel, the us, and al queda all on the same side vs ISIS, and some how ISIS is winning?
posted by empath at 8:55 PM on June 29


So we have Iran, israel, the us, and al queda all on the same side vs ISIS, and some how ISIS is winning?


Because ISIS has not actually been in a battle with anyone who's put up serious resistance. ISIS's main ability seems t be to flow into power vacuums where they already have a lot of potential support. Therefore it's doubtful they'll take Baghdad, and very unlikely that they'll try to tangle with either Kurdistan or Jordan.

The real question one has to ask when an administration official says something like "Jordon is under threat" is what the REAL intent and purpose of that statement is.
posted by happyroach at 9:35 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]




Jordan shaken by threats from ISIS, Iraq, Syria
[...] head of the Foreign Relations Committee at the Lower House of parliament, Hazem Qashou, admitted that the Iraqi army’s withdrawal from the border point has created a challenge for Jordan. He told Al-Monitor that Jordan should accept the fact that there is an extension for ISIS in Jordan through Salafist jihadist groups, and that such an issue should be confronted before it is too late.

Former Minister of Culture Sabri Irbaihat warned that we know very little about ISIS, and “the fact that Jordan is now host to more than a million Syrians, over two million Iraqis and about 600,000 Egyptians should sound alarm bells.”
Wikipedia says Jordan's population is a bit under eight million. I don't know if that includes those 3.6 million Syrians, Iraqis and Egyptians, but I can see Sabri Irbaihat's point.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:38 AM on June 30




IRAQ’S CHRISTIANS SEE PUTIN AS SAVIOR

The article doesn't completely support the link baity title.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:19 AM on June 30


We will stand by Isis until Maliki steps down, says leader of Iraq's biggest tribe
The leader of Iraq’s biggest tribe has refused to break his military alliance with the Islamist extremist group, Isis, saying he will march a hundred thousand men on Baghdad if Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, does not step down.
...

“We can fight Isis and al-Qaeda whenever we want to,” he said. “But now are fighting for our lands and our tribes. We are not responsible for Isis. Look what has Maliki has done – look at the two million refugees. He has destroyed and killed – and where was the world then?”

Mr Suleimani was speaking in Erbil, capital of Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region, where he and a raft of other Sunni tribal leaders who have joined forces with Isis have been given sanctuary despite being wanted by the Iraqi government.

The Kurds are hoping the tribes will form the nucleus of a deal between the Sunnis and a new Iraqi prime minister, should Mr Maliki step down. He is currently under pressure to do both from factions within his country and from one-time allies like the United States.
...

Mr Suleimani, whose extended family runs to some three million people, is one of a number of senior tribal leaders in Iraq who wield vast political and military clout.
...

He also claimed that Isis’s takeover of Mosul had been made easier by many Iraqi soldiers quitting their ranks after being summoned home by their tribes.
...

He said there was still a chance to forge a reunited Iraq, with more autonomy for the Sunni tribal areas, but only if a new constitution were written and a government formed without Mr Maliki. “We demonstrated peacefully for our rights,” he said. “Mr Maliki said, 'these are not Iraqis, these are terrorists’ and he used that pretext to attack Sunni Arabs. We are only defending ourselves.”
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:32 PM on June 30


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