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Isis declares establishment of a sovereign state

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The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the extremist jihadi group behind an insurgency that has seized a swath of territory in Iraq and Syria, formally declared the establishment of a caliphate on Sunday, even as Iraqi government forces began to push back against it in a campaign centred on retaking the city of Tikrit.

A spokesperson for Isis said the organisation’s ruling shura council had decided to establish the caliphate, a sovereign state believed by many muslims to be the official inheritor of the Prophet Mohammed’s temporal and spiritual authority. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Isis’s enigmatic leader, was declared caliph in a move the group said now required all muslims around the world to pledge allegiance to him.

The inflammatory declaration came as Iraqi security forces counterattacked against Isis positions in an effort to alter the balance of power with the Sunni armed groups.

Bolstered by air strikes and surveillance aircraft, Iraqi government ground forces backed by Shia militiamen continued their advance from their base in Samarra towards the symbolically important city of Tikrit, claiming on Sunday to have taken control of the city’s university.

The forward momentum against Isis and its allies came amid the arrival of a consignment of Russian Sukhoi Su-30k fighter jets to Iraq and increasing co-operation with the US, which has been flying surveillance drones over Iraq airspace for the last several days.

Brigadier General Saad Maan, spokesman for the Iraqi armed forces, said US officials were scheduled to meet again with their Iraqi counterparts on Sunday. “The Americans have their air reconnaissance abilities,” he said. “They will give us help on the ground.”

In a televised briefing Major General Qassem Atta, an army spokesman, painted a picture of a country at war on multiple fronts. He described fighting in the northern city of Kirkuk, in and around Mosul, the western province of Anbar and the so-called “Baghdad belt” around the capital.

A victory for Iraqi forces in Tikrit would boost the morale of armed forces reeling from the loss to Isis earlier this month of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. After a lightning advance through much of the country’s north and northwest, the offensive by Isis and its allies appears to have ground to a stalemate, with Iraqi forces successfully holding their ground in the city of Samarra, which hosts a Shia shrine complex in the heart of Sunni territory.

Maj Gen Atta claimed the Iraqi flag was now flying over Salahaddin University, a large campus a few kilometres to the north of central Tikrit and located on the road to Baiji, another town under Isis control. “We can confirm that Isis terrorists have started fleeing the Salahaddin area and that their morale is collapsing,” he said.

The claim was refuted by media outlets sympathetic to the insurgents. While Iraqi state television aired footage showing the chairman of the provincial council of Tikrit distributing sweets to children, pro-Sunni al-Taghyeer television aired footage showing “revolutionary tribesman” near Saddam Hussein’s former palaces in the city that is his ancestral homeland.

The US, Russia and Iran have come to Iraq’s aid, hoping to stop the onslaught by Sunni extremists.

Iraqi state television reported that five Sukhoi Su-30k fighter jets had been bought from Russia in a deal worth up to $500m. Officials said a second shipment of Russian jets would arrive shortly.

Iraqi officials said their pilots have the ability to fly the sophisticated jets. “We have the pilots already,” said Brig Gen Maan. “They might need some advice or brushing-up training to refresh their memories.”

State television said an air attack was planned on Fallujah, a city to the west of the capital that has long been under the control of Isis and allied insurgent groups.

“We will fly the planes with the help of our experienced fliers and helpful Russian advisers and we will push them,” air force commander Anwar Hamad Amin said in a television interview.

The Russian experts’ arrival will be seen as a rebuke to the US, where concerns in Congress about the sectarian policies and regional alliances of Iraq’s government have stalled aircraft sales to Iraq.

Hisham Hashemi, a leading expert on Isis, described air power as the group’s Achilles heel. “The Iraqi air force poses a major problem for them,” he said.

The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been pleading with the US for more aircraft to fight Isis, but US officials are concerned that the Shia government would use the weapons against ordinary Sunni and nationalist-minded rebel groups seeking political aims.

Already Sunni complain about increased targeting of their community by Iraqi Shia militias and regular security forces. State television on Sunday aired images of six alleged members of Isis who had been detained in Baghdad with explosive equipment. Security officials claimed they were planning attacks on civilians and military personnel. The alleged Isis fighters, their heads covered by black bin bags, confessed to membership of the Sunni militant group on camera.

FT



21 Comments on "Isis declares establishment of a sovereign state"

  1. rockman on Sun, 29th Jun 2014 2:48 pm 

    What the heck: I hereby declare Texas to be a sovereign state. Don’t even need to hang the Texas flag: have tens of thousands of them flying over state already. All we need do is lower the Stars and Strips, respectfully fold and put them away. It’s official: The great Republic of Texas is finally it’s own independent country…again. This time hopefully for more then 10 years.

    Nothing personal folks…just business. LOL.

  2. J-Gav on Sun, 29th Jun 2014 2:55 pm 

    I guess it was only going to be a matter of time … So now, which Caliphe would you vote for? Another Ha-ha which isn’t likely to be funny at all for the Iraqi people – Al-Baghdadi or La Bag-lady?

    After being “freed to death” (to the tune of between 500,000 and 1 million) by the American-led coalition, having had their history and art ransacked and their infrastructures destroyed … in the name of defending democracy; now it appears a number of Iraqis will fall under the yoke of ISIS and taste the delights of islamic fundamentalism.

    It’s not yet sure, though, just how much territory this band of mindless robots will actually manage to hold on to. When you’ve got the Russians, the Iranians and even the U.S. saying bad things about you (and sending “advisors” and weapons), your opportunities for expansion are bound to diminish.

  3. Davy on Sun, 29th Jun 2014 3:59 pm 

    These ISIS folks are the type that can create strange bed fellows. Like Gav said “When you’ve got the Russians, the Iranians and even the U.S. saying bad things about you (and sending “advisors” and weapons), your opportunities for expansion are bound to diminish.” I am wondering if the KSA will have pause with a monster of their creation. Sometimes everyone agrees on what is evil and what must be destroyed. I am wondering if all parties with ME concerns will put aside differences and bring an end to evil.

  4. Arthur on Sun, 29th Jun 2014 4:51 pm 

    I think ISIS has more (covert) support than many realise: Turkey, KSA, Qatar, Pakistan and thousands and thousands of wannabee revolutionary jihadis currently vegetating in Europe’s welfare systems. Patrick Coburn in Scott Hortons show was talking about the islamic counter part of the Khmer Rouge.

    http://scotthorton.org/interviews/2014/06/26/062614-patrick-cockburn/

    For muslims, the Caliphate is the supreme chance to rise to prominence, again, like in centuries gone by. Remember the siege of Vienna in 1529 and again in 1683. The Caliphate was abolished in 1924, but now it is back. It is an event of global significance, comparable to the regime change in Petersburg in 1917.

  5. J-Gav on Sun, 29th Jun 2014 5:17 pm 

    Arthur – Correct – there’s plenty of support amongst the ‘veggie-taters’ in the EU. Personally, I’m doubtful that will suffice to bring back any lasting Caliphate with a broad base. Maybe I’m just trying to convince myself that Muslims are not that stupid – after all, Westerners have plenty of historical examples of our own insanity in such matters (see chapter entitled ‘Crusades,’ up until this very day), so why should they be any smarter than us?

  6. Davy on Sun, 29th Jun 2014 8:36 pm 

    The best case scenario for this neo-caliphate is a much damaged BAU or an outright collapse. This would allow these folks to go about their barbaric ways like times of old. These barbarians could sweep across the ME in search plunder MAD MAX style all the while cleansing the land of infidels and non-believers. Funny you mentioned it Art, I was on the tractor today cutting hay and Poll Pot came to my mind. I saw the report of the moderate Sunni’s being crucified for being too moderate. Probably more to the point they were on the doll of the US.

  7. Plantagenet on Sun, 29th Jun 2014 9:34 pm 

    Obama was taken by surprise when ISIS invaded iraq after he refused to intervene in Syria, just as he was taken by surprise when Russia invaded Ukraine after he naively thought he had “reset” relations with Russia and taken by surprise when tens of thousands of children were sent to the US after he announced the US would no longer deport illegal aliens who were children.

    Soooo-prise Soooo-prise Soooo-prise.

  8. Newfie on Mon, 30th Jun 2014 4:40 am 

    Perhaps we will witness a replay of the fall of the Roman Empire where Islamists are the barbarians and the American Empire is Rome in terminal decline.

  9. Arthur on Mon, 30th Jun 2014 4:49 am 

    Plant, Washington DID intervene in Syria by creating ISIS in order to overthrow Assad, an ally of Moscow. Poor Washington. The moneyhouses in London and NYC wanted a New American Century, build on the corpses of Russia and China. Now they created yet another NWO adversary to defeat on a long list: Russia, China, European nationalists, the Shi’ite empire, American Constitutionslists/secessionists and now the Caliphate.

    Victoria Nuland, John Kerry and Camoron against the rest of the world.

    Now how would you like your Red Coat *** fried Plant/forum Piers Morgan, medium or well done? Rofl

  10. peakyeast on Mon, 30th Jun 2014 5:07 am 

    Just look at what happened in Libya after Ghadaffi was removed by EU and NATO.

    Now its an islamic state with sharia law.

    That sounds like an ideal democratic country – and now the citizens are happy and peaceful unlike before….

    mmmm… That was worth billions..

  11. Davy on Mon, 30th Jun 2014 6:04 am 

    Now Art, the US inadvertently created ISIS along with some other Gulf States we are well aware of. It is apparent in that part of the world extremism lurks around every corner so any attempt at forging any kind of opposition especially with the radicalized Sunnis, risks a backfire. This was the same in Afghanistan. As a matter of fact the US inch along with this arming of the Syrian rebels. And of course the friggin damned if you do damned if don’t global geopolitics, the only game in town for the US, criticized heavily the US intransience then its arming action. The US can’t win for losing or IOW anything the US does is a loss in global public opinion. Is it no wonder the US just does what it thinks best in its self-interest “damn the world”. I whole heartedly agree with you on the “New American Century” take. What a waste of clout and treasure. I despise what has happened and what is now in Washington. The US was in a kind of zenith that lasted just a very short time. Basically the Clinton years. This waste was economically with the acceleration of the “American Sprawl” post Regan Berlin Wall victory. Now Art despite all the decay of American greatness there is still much left. Those on this board that write America off are delusional in propagandist dew. I admire your take on the American situation and enjoy your in depth look at the ugliness of American politics. I like that you are one to balance your discussions with American strengths and positives.

  12. Arthur on Mon, 30th Jun 2014 6:23 am 

    No disagreement Davey. And in no way do I intend to diminish the great accomplishments of the American people. In fact I keep on stressing the importance of a renewal of the trans-Atlantic relationship after the end of the NWO, for starters to balance the rise of Chinese and Islamic power. And that we should allow Russia entrance into the ‘white Christian’ world. If that succeeds, the future of European… ummm western… ummm northern civilization is garanteed and all that is left to do is battling the consequences of resource depletion. Piece of cake, really.lol

  13. Davy on Mon, 30th Jun 2014 6:40 am 

    Sounds like a plan Art! My daughter is Spanish living in Madrid and my girlfriend a Dolomite Italian so my connections to Europe are strong. Moravian (Czech) by origin where the best beer is made!

  14. Juan Pueblo on Mon, 30th Jun 2014 9:50 am 

    I think most places in the world are getting worse, and so is the world in general, too. There are a few exceptions, but they won’t last long and pretty soon we will all be living in deteriorating conditions.
    Enjoy the preview!

  15. Juan Pueblo on Mon, 30th Jun 2014 9:53 am 

    Davy, my sister lives in Spain, I have 2 Spanish nephews, and my brother’s wife’s an Italian living here in the USA.

  16. Davy on Mon, 30th Jun 2014 11:13 am 

    Juan, one of the many great thing about my Spanish and Italian connections is the great food!….no offense Art…and Gav Paris is wonderful but a bit pricey.

  17. HalfEmpty on Mon, 30th Jun 2014 12:44 pm 

    I must agree with Juan Pueblo, things are getting worse across the board. Desperate times right around the corner. My constant faith is in Fishhooks, Penicillin and Whiskey, altho I am look at buying or investing in 20,000 yards of quality monofilament.

  18. Northwest Resident on Mon, 30th Jun 2014 1:51 pm 

    Authur said: “…we should allow Russia entrance into the ‘white Christian’ world.”

    I hope it happens. The thing I like about Russia is that they are up front, honest and in-your-face about the fact that the mafia’s rule the roost, and that their extortion, bribery, skimming and outright fraud is the “accepted” way of doing business. Here in America and I suppose in most Western countries, the “mafia” hide behind illusions of freedom for all, democracy, rule of law and all those fairy tales that are created to keep the masses thinking “all men are created equal”.

  19. Davy on Mon, 30th Jun 2014 2:19 pm 

    Yea NR or like soft and hard porn . The soft variety you can use your fantasy and imagination to undress her and imagine the act in so much more intensity in your mind’s eye. Hard porn is down and dirty with graphic effects with little imagination but allot of voltage. Have you ever had that analogy of Russia and American Mafia economics?

  20. Northwest Resident on Mon, 30th Jun 2014 2:32 pm 

    Davy — I never thought of it that way to be honest. But it is a good analogy. When I was in Russia, I was too busy making my own porn to be looking at any made by others!! Ahhh, the good old days! Those Russian gals are exceptionally hot, exotic and treacherous in equal portions.

  21. R1verat on Mon, 30th Jun 2014 7:49 pm 

    I think I hear the tune, “California girls”, in the background…..

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