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Iraqi insurgents capture fourth town since Friday

Iraqi insurgents capture fourth town since Friday thumbnail

Sunni Muslim insurgents in Iraq captured their fourth town in a little more than 24 hours late Saturday, hours before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in the Middle East to try to shore up Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s faltering government.

Iraqi officials told the Associated Press that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) captured the town of Rutba in the western province of Anbar, about 90 miles east of Iraq’s border with Jordan. However, AP reported that residents were trying to negotiate with the militants to leave due to the presence of an army unit that threatened to begin shelling.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Rutba is the fourth Anbar town to fall to ISIS fighters and allied Sunni militants since Friday, dealing a serious blow to Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government.

The other three are Qaim, Rawah and Anah, as well as a border crossing with Syria. The towns are the first territory seized in the predominantly Sunni province west of Baghdad since ISIS overran the city of Fallujah and parts of the provincial capital of Ramadi earlier this year.

Sunni militants have carved out a large fiefdom along the Iraqi-Syrian border and have long traveled back and forth with ease, but control over crossings like that one in Qaim allows them to more easily move weapons and heavy equipment to different battlefields. Syrian rebels already have seized the facilities on the Syrian side of the border and several other posts in areas under their control.

Chief military spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi acknowledged Qaim’s fall, telling journalists that troops aided by local tribesmen sought to clear the city of “terrorists.”

Sunni militants also captured the Euphrates River town of Rawah, ransacking government offices and forcing local army and police forces to pull out, Mayor Hussein Ali al-Aujail said. The town, which had remained under government control since nearby Fallujah fell, also lies dangerously close to an important dam near the city of Haditha.

The vast Anbar province stretches from the western edges of Baghdad all the way to Jordan and Syria to the northwest. The fighting in Anbar has greatly disrupted use of the highway linking Baghdad to the Jordanian border, a key artery for goods and passengers.

Al-Maliki’s Shiite-dominated government has struggled to push back against Islamic extremists and allied Sunni militants who have seized large swaths of the country’s north since taking control of the second-largest city of Mosul on June 10 as Iraqi government forces melted away.

The prime minister, who has led the country since 2006 and has not yet secured a third term after recent parliamentary elections, also has increasingly turned to Iranian-backed Shiite militias and Shiite volunteers to bolster his beleaguered security forces.

Al-Maliki has come under growing pressure to reach out to disaffected Kurds and Sunnis, with many blaming his failure to promote reconciliation led to the country’s worst crisis since the U.S. military withdrew its forces nearly three years ago.

In Baghdad, about 20,000 militiamen loyal to anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, many in military fatigues and even some wearing red berets, white gloves and combat helmets, marched through the sprawling Shiite Sadr City district, which saw some of the worst fighting between Shiite militias and U.S. soldiers before a cease-fire was reached in 2008 that helped stem the sectarian bloodshed that was pushing the country to the brink of civil war.

Similar parades took place in the southern cities of Amarah and Basra, both strongholds of al-Sadr supporters.

Al-Maliki’s State of Law bloc won the most seats in the April vote, but his hopes to retain his job have been thrown into doubt, with rivals challenging him from within the broader Shiite alliance. In order to govern, his bloc, which won 92 seats, must first form a majority coalition in the new 328-seat legislature, which must meet by June 30.

If al-Maliki were to relinquish his post now, according to the constitution, the president, Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, would assume the job until a new prime minister is elected. But the ailing Talabani has been in Germany for treatment since 2012, so his deputy, Khudeir al-Khuzaie, a Shiite, would step in for him.

The U.S., meanwhile, has been drawn back into the conflict with so much at stake. Obama announced Thursday he was deploying up to 300 military advisers to help quell the insurgency. They join some 275 troops in and around Iraq to provide security and support for the U.S. Embassy and other American interests.

Obama has been adamant that U.S. troops would not be returning to combat, but has said he could approve “targeted and precise” strikes requested by Baghdad.

Manned and unmanned U.S. aircraft are now flying over Iraq 24 hours a day on intelligence missions, U.S. officials say.

Meanwhile, on Saturday four separate explosions killed 10 people, including two policemen, and wounded 22 in Baghdad, according to police and hospital officials. And in an incident harkening back to the peak days of sectarian killings in 2006 and 2007, two bodies, presumably of Sunnis, were found riddled with bullets in Baghdad’s Shiite district of Zafaraniyah, police and morgue officials said.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.

Fox News

15 Comments on "Iraqi insurgents capture fourth town since Friday"

  1. Davy, Hermann, MO on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 6:39 am 

    Art, in a previous comment made a good point that the Sunni extremist are doing the dirty work of dividing up the ME along religious and ethnic lines. I doubt the gains of the ISIS will reach into the Shia dominated areas. They will never garner popular support in these areas and do not have the population to drive the Shia’s from there strong holds. Baghdad is a big unknown having the mix of so many ethnicities and the three religions. World powers like the US will further pressure the ISIS advances of the needed logistics and heavy equipment with targeted airstrikes with Shia militias being the needed boots on the ground. We will see a new dynamics in the ME centered on the example coming out of Iraq. If cooler heads prevail the ME can get back to business along these new ethnic and religious lines. This region is in massive overshoot so it must and soon. If the region gets torn apart by a widening religious civil war and the oil stops flowing significantly there will be grave consequences for all including the wider world. The global group of nations with their many ideologies all know this. Even the lobby of plenty folks are nervous though bad news is still good news for these folks…for now. IF this dynamics continues forget Iraq oil production growth so forget an undulating plateau. As the high value ME crude dwindles the PO dynamics will kick in with a vengeance toppling the debt repressed global financial system. Confidence cannot be maintained if we have a liquid fuel crisis. AltE and and unconventional energy production will falter with reduced capex and high cost of money. The many and varied global predicaments will just magnify. A smallish reduction in oil production is all that is needed with the current supply dynamics so precarious. With the financial system in the late stages of a bubble a financial collapse is ever present. The global system will not be able to maintain the necessary complexity to support the necessary trade if the financial system collapses. This will especially be seen with food as exports drop from lack of confidence in letters of credits between nations. Food insecurity will magnify failed state potential which magnifies further pressures on global economic activity. This could be the black swan to end global growth. It looked like Ukraine was heading that way but now all eyes are on the Iraq and the ME.

  2. Arthur2 on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 8:21 am 

    During the US occupation, Bagdad was largely ethically cleansed. Don’t think ISIS will even attempt to take over Bagdad. But that city is on the very border, so cities nearby could all be taken. Airstrikes won’t work, you never know who you hit.

    Wladimir Putin no doubt secretly loves this unexpected development since it forces Washington’s attention away from meddling in Ukraine. Putin already offered ‘help’ to his western ‘partners’.lol

    Last week senator Graham expressed fears that ISIS could march towards Jordan and Lebanon and his fears are founded. Because it is not just a few thousand ragheads doing this, the sunni part of the iraqi army allied itself with ISIS, hence the implosion of that army in Mosul. It is like 1917 when merely 10,000 determined bolshevik revolutionaries unleashed a revolution that ended up taking an area from Berlin to Moscow to Bejing to SE-Asia. But the days of secular revolutions are over. These days the establishment of grey-haired 1968 hippy lefties are too busy programming their iphones. The great American prophet of the multi-polar world order Samuel Huntington was right: the next revolutions are going to be reactionary, backwards, religeous, traditional, fundamentalist. Huntington published his theory in 1993 and he had almost zero clue about peak oil , which plays totally in the hand of his world view. Peak oil will finish off secular modernity. It is beginning in the ME, where secular progressive Baath parties are being replaced by jihadis. But this development will arrive in the West soon enough. It already happened in Russia, where orthodoxy is state religion again. Perhaps Putin will crown himself as the new czar in a few years time.

  3. Davy, Hermann, MO on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 8:50 am 

    Art, I disagree on airstrikes. It was proven in 1st gulf war large troop concentrations and heavy equipment in the desert are extremely vulnerable. The ISIS will go nowhere quick without logistics and heavy equipment. The ISIS will surely hold Sunni areas and it is in those areas airstrikes will be ineffectual to dislodge them in and among their Sunni strongholds.

  4. Arthur2 on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 11:18 am 

    Davey, the gulf war was a 2nd generation war between regular armies, but that is not how ISIS fights. They have civilian pickup trucks, which everybody in these parts has, plus light armour. You can’t discern that from high altitude. This is assymetrical warfare where airplanes have not much use.

  5. Arthur2 on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 11:26 am 

    ISIS humour:

  6. edboyle on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 12:21 pm 

    ISIS troops are similar to the private armies and national guard running rampant in Ukraine. They go into towns and execute a hundred men they pulled out and piss on other men, humiliating them or rape and slit throats of women or bomb civilians all day long destroying apartment houses and churches. We get all this from threads in Russian reporting from the front. Meanwhile western press focuses on reporting Kiev press propaganda which takes and turns everything exactly around saying Russia or separatist troops did this or that evil thing. It is like reading Pravda under Soviets I suppose, watching nightly news. Just reverse the names and then you know the truth of events. Weird. Under such circumstances it can only make one inwardly satisfied that the USA project Iraq democratization has failed as had Vietnam war and presumably Afghanistan when troops are pulled out. Perhaps Taliban will roll through Afghanistan and then take Pakistan and then India in some years. Iran would be encircled if Baghdad falls to these people. Is Iran now a moderate country whose future as bastion of democracy we should fear for? I thought they were an extremist theocracy with stonings and sharia. So the swing to the far right is not just in USA. When Wahabism is seen as moderate as Lutheranism or Anglicanism watch out.

    The Ukrainian govt. is not coming very far as they are seen as panicky, amoral, corrupt and the separatists are fighting on their own ground for their lives and their families. 400,000 have fled to Russia probably more internally to other parts of Ukraine. Ukrainian troops have low morale, training, knowledge of local layout against local guerrillas. Mothers in West Ukraine want their boys back. Protests are starting against the war. Like in Spanish civil war lots of idealistic foreigners who see the lies on TV and know of Nuland coup are coming to help at cost of life and limb. These are not extremists but just the opposite, people who support right of people to autonomy and protection against fascists state and IMF dictatorship.

  7. Davy, Hermann, MO on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 12:51 pm 

    Art, without heavy equipment for logistics and fighting ISIS have no chance against the Shia areas, Jordan, and or any other country. You can preach all you want about the 10,000 Bolsheviks taking Russia and the like. They are nothing more than a guerrilla group that has gained popular support among the Sunnis. A guerrilla force will not make headway in a battle to gain and hold territory outside its home range without heavy equipment “period”. Heavy equipment in the desert will be toast unless protected by airpower. Art, that is basic military doctrine. ISIS must transform into a conventional force to take and gain territory outside their popular support area. Pickups will be useless as military equipment and highly vulnerable and discernibly from the air. Fighters and or heavy guns in the back of pickups are eye candy to air power. ISIS will have and control the Sunni areas because like you mention they have asymmetrical warfare advantages in Sunni areas. They may terrorize the Shia areas with car bombs and suicide bombers but that will be the extent of it.

  8. Arthur2 on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 3:12 pm 

    Davey, why would the Jordanian army behave different as the Iraqi army and not run? The potent Syrian army with heavy equipment like tanks and planes still can’t beat the jihadis.

  9. Arthur2 on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 3:17 pm 

    Oops, the ink of my previous post is not yet dry and already I see news that the jihadis have taken a Syrian-JORDANIAN border post. Jordan is mobilizing.

  10. Davy, Hermann, MO on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 3:17 pm 

    Art, not up on the effectiveness, moral, and capabilities of Jordan. I believe there is a heavy US presence there with F16’s. I feel Jordan is a harden target with a population having no stomach for another Syria or Iraq. In the case of Syria their army is back on the offensive with the jihadis.

  11. Makati1 on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 9:01 pm 

    The Summer of 14’Theater is showing a double feature this year. ‘Iraq Civil War’ and ‘Ukraine Civil War’ with coming attractions like: ‘The Ever Shrinking Dollar’, ‘Hardship in the West’, ‘The Growing East’, and ‘Bush Wars in Africa’.

  12. rockman on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 10:03 pm 

    Davey – Jordan has a tad more capabilities then it did back in May. So much for the POTUS commitment of “no boots on the ground”. I suppose it depends on what ground he meant:

    “Roughly 13,000 additional American troops are in the Middle East right now as the Pentagon begins joint military drills with soldiers in the neighboring countries of Israel and Jordan.

    The United States-Israeli exercise, “Juniper Cobra,” which began earlier this week, involves participation from around 6,000 members of the US Eastern Command and 1,000 airmen, and will involve the joint missile defense systems used by the allies; on Saturday, more than 6,000 US Marines moved to Jordan will begin conducting drills there as part of the annual Eager Lion program.

    According to Israel’s news agency, the activities in Israel and Jordan constitute “the first time that the US has unified two large military exercises,” which is reportedly being implemented in order to counter an alleged advancement of Hezbollah troops.”

    The rest of the story:

  13. Northwest Resident on Sun, 22nd Jun 2014 11:48 pm 

    Makati1 — Looks like the “coming attractions” are going to be a mixed bag of hype, wishful thinking, pure fantasy and irrelevant drivel — in that order. What? No comedy? Maybe ‘The Growing East’ would fit that genre — it’s a laugher, that’s for sure.

  14. Davy, Hermann, MO on Mon, 23rd Jun 2014 6:45 am 

    Rock, I was aware there had been some US military activity in Jordan. It appears more robust now that you clarify the logistics of it. I would consider Jordan a hardened target now unless the population support is lost. I hear of no significant social issues at the moment. There has been Jordanian issues in the past and these problems may be suppressed. With that kind of marine commitment and the airpower component the jihadist would be target practice if they test Jordan. This does not mean they would not attempt destabilization tactics but head on conventional style attacks are folly. I also understood in the past the Syrian rebels were getting training in Jordan so I would think the Jihadist would welcome the help in the fight against Assad. I imagine at one time KSA help for the Jihadist was coming through Jordan so why would they bite the hand that feeds. Yet, these jihadist are a wild animal so expect anything out of them.

  15. Davy, Hermann, MO on Mon, 23rd Jun 2014 6:58 am 

    NR, Mak practices conceptual hypocrisy. He wants his cake and eat it too. He wants to spout off about how the world is unraveling and how world war is imminent. But then in the next sentence Mak wants to talk about how despite all this mayhem the East is gloriously ascending to take the place of the West in the position of nations. Mak is proselytizing a vision of a great and rising East. Meanwhile the collapse will begin right in front of Mak in the East on his overcrowded Island with nothing to export to garner food and liquid fuels when the decent turns nasty. Mak lives in a mega city that is doomed. He is living the Asian overshoot. His poster girl China is claiming Philippians Islands and Mak could care less because he feels Asia is living in a harmony. Every world ill is related to the West. Mak has even proposed the west stop eating and consuming significantly so Asia can continue with its baby factories. Mak is a slug and everywhere he goes he leaves slime behind.

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