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Iraq asks US for air strikes on ISIL rebels

Iraq asks US for air strikes on ISIL rebels thumbnail

Iraqi FM asks Obama administration to launch attacks as his country’s armed forces struggle to stop fighters’ advance.

Iraq’s foreign minister has asked the US to launch air attacks on Sunni rebels to put down a week-long rebellion by fighters led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Hoshyar Zebari told a news conference on Wednesday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, that a request had been made “to break the morale” of ISIL fighters.

The statement came as Iraqi security forces battled rebels at the country’s main oil refinery and claimed to regain partial control of a city near the Syrian border.

General Martin Dempsey, the top US military commander, confirmed the request during a Senate sub-committee hearing.

“We have a request from the Iraqi government for air power,” said Dempsey. “It is in our national security interest to counter ISIL wherever we find them.”

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama told Congressional leaders he didn’t not need congress’ approval for any action in Iraq, a leading Senate Republican said.

After a meeting between the president and senior members of Congress, Senator Mitch McConnell told reporters the president “indicated he didn’t feel he had any need for authority from us for steps that he might take.”

White House officials have suggested Obama may be able to act on his own as the Iraq government has requested US military assistance.

Earlier, Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, said the government had “started our counter-offensive, regaining the initiative and striking back”.

Maliki’s relatively upbeat assessment came as the military claimed its forces regained parts of the strategic city of Tal Afar near the Syrian border, which ISIL fighters captured on Monday.

Its closeness to the Syrian border strengthens ISIL’s plan to carve out an “Islamic emirate” stretching across the Iraq-Syria border.

Refinery attack

Also on Wednesday, Iraqi government forces claimed to have repelled an attack by rebels on the country’s largest oil refinery at Baiji, about 250km north of Baghdad, according to Qassim al-Moussawi, the chief military spokesman.

Moussawi said 40 attackers were killed in the fighting there overnight and on Wednesday morning.

There was no independent confirmation of his claims, nor those on the Iraqi military retaking neighbourhoods in Tal Afar.

Al Jazeera’s Omar Al Saleh, reporting from Baghdad, said that he spoke to a relative of an official at the refinery and was told that “75 per cent of the refinery was under the control of the rebels”.

“The situation remains unclear,” he said.

Rebels attack Iraq’s largest oil refinery

Meanwhile, oil companies Exxon Mobil and BP have started evacuating all non-essential staff from Iraq, and concerns have risen among oil importers about supplies.

In Salaheddin province, the fighters seized three villages, Albu Hassan, Birwajli and Bastamli, in northern Iraq on Wednesday during clashes with Iraq’s security forces and residents.

The fighting left at least 20 civilians dead, Shallal Abdul Baban, a local official, said.

Later on Wednesday, the United Arab Emirates recalled its envoy from Iraq and slammed “sectarian” policies. Saudi Arabia warned Iraq was heading for civil war.

In another development, the president of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region has called on all retired members of the Peshmerga military to contact their former units, the Deutsche Presse-Agentur news agency reported.

“As a result of the current situation along the Kurdistan region borders, and in order to defend our people and to safeguard the achievement of the people of Kurdistan, it is the duty of all the people of the Kurdistan Region to demonstrate their support to the Peshmerga and security forces of Kurdistan,” Massoud Barzani said on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Turkish foreign ministry said its diplomats were investigating claims that fighters had abducted 60 foreign construction workers, including about 15 Turks, near the oil city of Kirkuk.

The claims were based on a Turkish private Dogan news agency report that cited an unnamed worker who was reportedly freed by the rebels.

In New Delhi, Syed Akbaruddin, a spokesman for the Indian foreign ministry, said that 40 Indian construction workers had been kidnapped in Iraq.


27 Comments on "Iraq asks US for air strikes on ISIL rebels"

  1. bobinget on Tue, 24th Jun 2014 8:18 am 

    A week ago Iraq became an Oil Importer….
    With one third of its diesel, gasoline, kerosene out of commission for the foreseeable, Iraq will be importing finished product.

    This means 300,000 B p/d gasoline, diesel etc needs to be refined elsewhere or Iraqi government simply collapses for want of fuel. US which has extra refining capacity, returns heretofore empty hulls back to the Mideast with fuels, who says war is bad for business?

  2. bobinget on Tue, 24th Jun 2014 8:28 am 

    I forgot to mention, the Iraqi government subsidizes diesel, gasoline. Currently .48 US per L

    “Iraq will bleed from every office’.© bobinget

  3. rockman on Tue, 24th Jun 2014 8:42 am 

    Bob – That may lead to the Mother of All Ironies: Israel is importing Kurd oil with the Baghdad threatening to sue them. But Israel exports 25% of its refinery products so it could become a supplier to Iraq. At least for the Kurds who had insufficient refinery capacity before ISIS showed up.

  4. Plantagenet on Tue, 24th Jun 2014 10:11 am 

    So far Obama doesn’t seem to care much if ISIS takes over much of Iraq, takes over Iraq’s oil infrastructure, and sets up terrorist training camps.

  5. PrestonSturges on Tue, 24th Jun 2014 10:17 am 

    Maliki needs to share power with the ethnic groups or the rebels will saw off his head with a dull knife.

    There is a lot we could be doing with drones and Hellfires to take out the rebels vehicles. We’ve been using them in Afghanistan on individuals on foot, which is terribly wasteful, but we’ve had years and years of practice.

    The current army seems to be no-show patronage jobs. Maliki may just need to follow the WW2 Russian strategy of drafting the whole population and sending them sytaight to the front lines. The survivors are the army

  6. Arthur2 on Tue, 24th Jun 2014 11:19 am 

    Trouble of course is that it is impossible to identify ‘rebel vehicles’ let alone ‘individuals on foot’. But what the heck, war is a video game with the sole purpose of getting to the next level.

    Forget about power sharing. The country was already largely ethnically cleansed, during the US occupation, nota bene. The country is gone. Don’t try to mend a broken marriage. The open question now is: what’s next on the jihadist todo list, Jordan or Saudi-Arabia?

  7. westexas on Tue, 24th Jun 2014 11:26 am 

    I’m a little puzzled by the following, since ISIS and the Saudi royal family are both Sunnis. Perhaps ISIS regards the Saudi royal family as being hopelessly corrupt?

    Destabilization risk greater than Iraq: Expert
    Tuesday, 24 June 2014 9:15 AM ET

    Providing his perspective on Iraq, former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen, says the most important thing to do is sure up the defenses in Jordan and Saudi Arabia to prevent ISIS from destabilizing both countries.

  8. Perk Earl on Tue, 24th Jun 2014 11:33 am 

    Let me get this straight:

    We invaded Iraq and dismantled their 700k army.

    We then spent hundreds of billions rebuilding their army to 900k.

    Iraqi oil production increased allowing more exportation with lots of revenue to further support their military.

    Iraq asked us to leave so we did.

    Maliki lead govt. eliminates Sunni representation.

    Just as soon as the Sunni’s revolt with a relatively some small ragtag militia charging through in black outfits the army folds up like a lawn chair.

    Now we have to make airstrikes to in effect hold their hands in hopes they will reassemble their military and drive ISIS from the refinery and towns they have overtaken.

    What a wicked web we weave when first we poke a stick in some other country’s hornets nest, and then thereafter become responsible for returning to continue to hold their hands, even though they won’t agree to share political power and oil revenue with the faction revolting!

    So the US has no political power – just military power. What good is military power if it doesn’t achieve any improvement between the Shiite and Sunni? Aren’t we just setting ourselves up to become nursemaids to a one sided political system bound to have further unrest?

  9. bobinget on Tue, 24th Jun 2014 11:34 am 

    I don’t agree with PrestonStruges.

    US use of drones in Pakistan has arguably made matters worse. Currently there are unheralded throngs of Refugees fleeing Waziristan, (northern Pakistan)

    “Troops have since encircled the mountainous region on the Afghan border and fighter jets have pounded villages and militant hideouts, sending a wave of panicked refugees spilling into the nearby region of Bannu, as well as Afghanistan”..

    For every ‘successful” drone strike killing Islamic militants, friends and supporters, we create hundreds of refugees.

    ISIS and other Islamic fighters learned early on to mix with innocent civilians for self preservation.

    The time is long past when we can simply pass off
    ‘terror bombing’ as defensive. Terms such as ‘collateral damage’ don’t fly no mo.

  10. Davy, Hermann, MO on Tue, 24th Jun 2014 11:39 am 

    I could never figure out why the US pushed this national Iraqi identity thing. It is another failed US intellectual exercise of which the US is increasingly guilty. We had the chance to separate the parties by force when they were helpless. As a matter of fact T(US)PTB running the Iraq game show could have used the divide and conquered strategy and avoided so many American/coalition losses.

  11. bobinget on Tue, 24th Jun 2014 11:48 am 

    “The number of people living as refugees from war or persecution exceeded 50 million in 2013, for the first time since World War Two, the UN says.

    The overall figure of 51.2 million is six million higher than the year before, a report by the UN refugee agency says.

    Antonio Guterres, head of the UNHCR, told the BBC the rise was a “dramatic challenge” for aid organisations.

    Conflicts in Syria, central Africa and South Sudan fuelled the sharp increase.

    “Conflicts are multiplying, more and more,” Mr Guterres said. “And at the same time old conflicts seem never to die.” ”

    Bob asks: How many of the 51 million will ever be able to return to their homes?
    In the interim, how will non refugees provide for these
    people in an environment of Climate Change caused
    food shortages?
    Are these internally and externally displaced the responsibility of Post Colonial, largely Western Nations that caused this “worst refugee situation since WW/2
    (question mark!)

  12. longtimber on Tue, 24th Jun 2014 12:32 pm 

    Where are the retired A10’s when you need m.

  13. Plantagenet on Tue, 24th Jun 2014 1:16 pm 

    Obama has had no problem identifying terrorists and terror camps for drone attacks in Aghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, etc.

    Why is it suddenly impossible to do this in Iraq?

  14. rockman on Tue, 24th Jun 2014 2:41 pm 

    wt – “…since ISIS and the Saudi royal family are both Sunnis”. Based upon what I read about the extreme views of ISIS I doubt they consider the Saudi gov’t Sunni. They are allies of the western infidels which doesn’t even make them Islamic let alone Sunni. Which obviously means the Saudis should be very afraid of ISIS. Not only are the Saudis traitors to Islam they also represent a huge potential financial prize for ISIS or, at least, a potential damaging blow to the non-Islamic world if oil exports can be disrupted.

    So now it may not even be as simple as Sunni vs Shia but Sunni vs Sunni-light vs Shia. And maybe there’s a Shia-light to be heard from yet. And then you can toss in all the corrupt and brutal govt’s, like Assad and perhaps Malaki, that use the religious wedges for their on benefit. And to round off the cast we have powers such as the US, EU and Russia with their own agendas.

    Makes me think of a line I recently read in a story on AOL: “It not my circus and those ain’t my monkeys”. IOW when observing a cluster f*ck in progress some times it just better to sit back and wait instead of rushing in to join.

  15. westexas on Tue, 24th Jun 2014 3:08 pm 


    Yep. A post on Peak Oil Barrel that might explain the Saudi’s concerns:

    “ISIS considers the Saudi family to be willful Kafirs i.e. hypocrites on Sunni Islam. Death penalty.”

  16. rockman on Tue, 24th Jun 2014 6:02 pm 

    BBC had unconfirmed reports that the US began areal recon on ISIS 5 days ago. Not exactly unexpected IMHO. Connecting the dots with deployment of US Special Forces that MIGHT be FAC we could be seeing some direct contact missions coming soon. Perhaps the best we might do is interdiction of supply lines into Syria.

  17. Newfie on Tue, 24th Jun 2014 8:13 pm 

    Islamic jihadis are the barbarians of the modern era and America is Rome. Guess what happens ?

  18. Makati1 on Tue, 24th Jun 2014 8:41 pm 

    What a great worldwide environment to sell weapons! The M.I.C. must be partying all night, 24/7/365! Trillions to be made here before it all goes BANG! Then trillions more to rebuild. $$$$$$$$$$$$

  19. Makati1 on Tue, 24th Jun 2014 10:28 pm 

    On the real news sites:

    “Middle East Conflict Intensifies: Israel Launches Airstrikes inside Syria”

    “Iraq: Bagdad Agrees to Immunity from Prosecution for US Military, Obama Could Order Strikes”

    “Growing CIA and Pentagon Involvement in Africa”

    In other news:

    “Memo on Drone Killings of US Citizens Makes Case for Presidential Dictatorship”

    “The U.S. Supreme Court Is Marching in Lockstep with the Police State”

    “The Present State of America – Far From Exceptional and Sinking Fast”

    All on

  20. Poordogabone on Tue, 24th Jun 2014 11:20 pm 

    All of this just cause saddam hussein had aspirations to sell oil in euros. Just like a little kid American policy makers never ever learns that they might be bad consequences to their impulsive actions. Air strikes are just gonna make matters worst. It is as clear as mountain water that secular iraq under Hussein was a much better place short of the sanctions imposed by the US.

  21. simonr on Wed, 25th Jun 2014 5:04 am 


    you said
    All of this just cause saddam hussein had aspirations to sell oil in euros

    You may be correct, but this is a fairly large assumption.
    How do we know that the current situation is not what was intended.

    Washington has some seriously cunning people in it.


  22. Makati1 on Wed, 25th Jun 2014 5:58 am 

    Washington has cunning people, but they are NOT your elected officials. I see your point about wanting chaos everywhere to try to hold the USSA together until the elite own everything of value, but, I do not think any of them are smart enough to make such long range plans that work. Instead, since Vietnam, they have been losing everything they try. But then … you may be correct.

  23. Davy, Hermann, MO on Wed, 25th Jun 2014 6:28 am 

    With the US in the equation now the ISIS advances on Shia areas will have to go asymmetrical and guerrilla. The frontal assaults with large supply lines and troop formations are over soon. They will have to take cover among the Sunni civilian populations in urban areas. They will consolidate control of the Sunni areas. A conventional army will not prevail against boots on the ground (Shia militias/army) and US airpower, battlefield intelligence and special op expertise. The US as learned about this warfare in Iraq earlier and Afghanistan. There are plenty of US support personnel in the Baghdad embassy to do intelligence. Last I read 5000 personnel in Baghdad. We can rest assured the Iraq we once knew is no more. It was a false construction and a mistake by the Americans to ever perpetuate post invasion. The bastard neocon Americans wanted a unified Iraq to prevent Iranian influence most likely. Probably too, some think tank wonk thought it a good idea in the abstract. Much of the ethnic cleansing has been done with the sectarian violence already. The big question is Baghdad and the surrounding areas. The other question is the infrastructure of the oil industry being dispersed throughout the country. How much civil war is left to play out? I see the ISIS slipping into a Taliban style arrangement with infiltration of any and all areas with a Sunni majority. They are still a force to be reckoned with. We see the strength of the Taliban. No match for the US in conventional war but extremely effective in asymmetrical strategies.

  24. GregT on Wed, 25th Jun 2014 8:18 am 

    I wonder what the true cost of gasoline at the pump would be in the US, if militarism and human bloodshed were added to the price? But then again, blowing shit up does add substantially to GDP.

  25. bobinget on Wed, 25th Jun 2014 9:01 am 

    I believe ISIS is faking invasion of Jordan as misdirection.

  26. J-Gav on Wed, 25th Jun 2014 12:14 pm 

    The U.S. had ample info on ISIS preparations for an offensive in Iraq from Kurdish intelligence operatives back in early May. Result – no reaction.

    Shouldn’t that tell us something? Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds – Iraq is set up to be chopped into 3 pieces (divide and rule oblige). Whether the plot will continue according to plan is another question, given the success rate up to now of Western intervention in the region …

    Euh, not that Saudi-Qatari-Kuwaiti- Iranian – Turkish machinations in the area (with no Western influence, clearly a hypothetical scenario) would be likely to end up with stability either … I suspect Turkey will end up playing a bigger role than most news outlets would have us believe at the moment.

  27. synapsid on Wed, 25th Jun 2014 3:08 pm 

    I told them not to break up the Ottoman Empire. I told them and told them but they wouldn’t listen.

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