Tag Archives: Islamic State of Iraq

​Chaos theory: ISIS & Western foreign policy

A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds an ISIL flag and a weapon on a street in the city of Mosul, June 23, 2014.

by Dr. Roslyn Fuller – As ISIS/ISIL cuts a swathe through the Middle East, retroactively transforming Osama Bin Laden into the highbrow arm of modern Islamic terrorism, we’ve quite naturally begun the game of deciding who to blame for its existence.

In fact, Tony Blair showed admirable consistency in sticking to the doctrine of preemptive self-defense by firing off a statement that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant had nothing to do with his policies in Iraq – the moment they made their big break into mainstream television.

This back and forth over responsibility is really at the heart of the matter, but in a far deeper way than we usually get around to discussing.

After all, a good deal of Western foreign policy post-Cold War has revolved around NATO states voluntarily assuming responsibility for issues that were, strictly-speaking, not their responsibility. Someone needs to ‘police the world’, ‘bring the bad guys to book’, exercise their ‘R2P’ (‘responsibility to protect’ – yes, we have descended into text-speak) and ‘nation-build’.

It looks good on paper.

But if you really look at how this policy has played out on the ground, you will notice that far from nation-building, this voluntary ‘assumption of responsibility’ has instead sown a level of chaos and dissension that cannot plausibly be blamed purely on ‘mistakes’ or ‘unforeseeable circumstances’.

Instead, it seems to be the old divide and conquer strategy at work and we probably have keen minds like Richard Perle and Bill Kristol of the neo-conservative think tank Project for a New American Century (PNAC) to thank for this modern take on an old classic. We will return to the thoughtful documents penned and disseminated by PNAC shortly. But first, let’s try to figure out what is really going on beyond the rhetoric when it comes to our ‘responsibilities’ around the world.

I think we can discern a few key trends.

The first trend is that Western countries do engage in what could be termed nation-building activities in a few select, small countries, provided those countries have for one reason or another really made headlines. Think of Timor L’Este (now independent after a mere 30 years of occupation); Rwanda (yes, 800,000 people were killed, but we did give them a tribunal once activists remembered to play the racism card), and Kosovo (presents a somewhat more contested narrative, but it was too close to the EU’s future borders for comfort).

Other troubled nations like Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire (another contested narrative) have certainly seen their fortunes improve in recent years, thanks in part to international peacekeeping missions and efforts to facilitate community reconciliation and post-conflict justice.

But those are, in a certain sense, ‘the lucky few’. In most other places, we have chosen to ‘take responsibility’ along more Blair-ish lines, which means that our sense of responsibility tends to come and go with astonishing rapidity. Consider the following:

Somalia

The failed state par excellence. Americans were apparently willing to ‘take responsibility’ for restoring law and order in Somalia until 19 of them were killed. That was too much ‘responsibility’ and Somalia was left minus a government and awash with weapons next to one of the greatest shipping lanes in the world. All things considered, it took Somalis a surprisingly long time to master modern piracy.

A Somali Al-Shebab fighter

Sudan, South Sudan, Chad, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo

All rocking around on the cusp of failed statehood for decades now; in the case of the DRC ever since Western countries decided to rid the world of Patrice Lumumba back in the ’60s.

Mali

Currently a respectable No. 38 on the Fund for Peace’s Failed State Index, but Taureg rebels control an impressive hunk of territory.

Ukraine and Pakistan

Both pretty nearly failed states, run along semi-feudal lines by leaders who are openly oligarchs, whether that be the ‘new money’ of Ukrainian industrialists or the ‘old money’ of tribal leadership in Pakistan.

Libya

Currently rated an uneasy No. 54 on the Failed State Index, down from a comfortable No. 111 in 2010 (on par with South Africa) before we decided to get rid of Gaddafi, only to be instantly stricken with amnesia about the country he ran for 42 years.

Yemen

Despite having the latest technology in drone strikes lavished upon it, Yemen maintains a virtually unbroken record in the top 10 failed states, currently at No. 6.

Syria

Locked in a civil war, which has seen a once secular-oriented nation become the home of armed jihadists, who were permitted to obtain their weapons and cash with remarkable ease. Apparently ‘getting rid of Assad’ was the sum total of our planning abilities on what should happen in Syria.

Egypt

Round and round she goes, and where she stops nobody knows. Spiraling somewhere.

Iraq and Afghanistan

I’m not even sure what the correct term for Iraq and Afghanistan, rated No. 11 and No.7 respectively on the Failed State Index, would be these days. Suffice it to see that after more than a decade of nation-building, we are having difficulty discerning progress on these construction sites, which I’m pretty sure haven’t even gone one day without a work-related accident. Of course, the already abysmal ratings were handed out before ISIS went big last week. (Interesting fact: current ISIS head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who, unlike many detainees, truly did have a history of terrorist involvement, was captured by Americans in Iraq in 2004 but released in 2009. You had one job…)

Then there are places like Western Sahara, Transdniester and Palestine, which cannot fail because they do not even count as states. To add to our woes, the UN recently announced that there are more displaced persons today than at any time since the end of WWII.

These are a lot of open problems to have for a world hegemony so bent on nation-building and stability, especially when you consider that its citizens spend something like a trillion dollars annually on ‘defense’.

Members of a newly formed brigade of Iraqi Shiite fighters parade in military fatigues with their weapons on June 24, 2014 in the southern city of Basra as thousands of Shiite volunteers join Iraqi security forces in the fight against Sunni Jihadist militants who have taken over several northern Iraqi cities.

When you are forking over that kind of money, you like to see results, and not hear excuses about the world’s instability being ‘also’ rooted in local problems. I can see very well that organizations like ISIS are ‘also’ rooted in local problems. However, I am also fairly certain that if some alien power used its superior resources to bomb us back to the Stone Age and then failed to provide any meaningful replacement infrastructure, that our ‘local’ problems would begin to get uglier too. And the reason is that they would have destroyed the social fabric and rule of law that keeps any place running as well as it does. Create that kind of power vacuum and anything can happen. To expect ‘the locals’ to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and jolly well carry on because we have suddenly lost interest in our overwhelming ‘responsibility’ to them is little short of delusional.

The second trend that I think emerges is closely linked to the first.

It is the deliberate ripping of the social fabric within states that are still relatively stable and prosperous. That this could in any way be connected to the first trend occurred to me while reading ‘A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm’, which was written by Richard Perle for Benjamin Netanyahu back in the 1990s. Now – and I do not say this lightly – not only does this document have a title that sounds like its composer was experiencing LARP-withdrawal at the time he wrote it, the text itself resembles the creation of an eight-year-old who was subjected to a crash course on international relations followed by a heavy dose of LSD. There are sudden switches in topic, where the free associative connection is at first less-than-obvious to the sober reader.

One of these switches was an abrupt change from harping on Israel’s alleged need to pursue a no-compromises peace strategy to urging a comprehensive privatization plan on the state. According to this paper, efforts to salvage Israel’s socialist institutions were undermining the legitimacy of the State of Israel and “Israel can become self-reliant only by, in a bold stroke rather than in increments, liberalizing its economy, cutting taxes, re-legislating a free-processing zone, and selling-off public lands and enterprises — moves which will electrify and find support from a broad bipartisan spectrum of key pro-Israeli Congressional leaders, including [then-]Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.”

Why Newt Gingrich’s support was synonymous with self-reliance was left unexplained.

However, like many things that happen on acid, ‘Securing the Realm’ has a weird strain of truth to it, because it combined, albeit clumsily, two separate ways to erode the social fabric. The first was to become much more aggressive externally and seek to crush foreign entities as oppose to negotiate with them, even when those negotiations had yielded results, most notably under the leadership of Yitzhak Rabin, assassinated just one year before ‘Securing the Realm’ was written. The second was to actually work on eroding Israel’s alleged socialism from within by selling off the same public goods, which they under no circumstances would give to Palestinians, to private bidders.

I would argue that we can see both of these strains at work around the world, in that we push aggressive, no compromises foreign policy to its limits (witness Ukraine and Syria) without much thought for the destabilization that this engenders, not to mention its quite extreme effect on our own bank balance.

We are also hard at work undermining our own prosperity. Western countries are the most prosperous on earth. We unequivocally enjoy the highest standard of living. China, India and Brazil are still a long way off the kind of lifestyle most of us are accustomed to. And enjoy that lifestyle partly because we were pretty successful at ripping other people’s wealth off them in the past and partly because we invented a brilliant economic system after WWII which centered on what Richard Perle – aka the Prince of Darkness – would probably designate ‘socialist institutions’.

Western nations may not have fully gotten the knack for doing good in the world, but there was certainly what I would term growing interest and truly altruistic concern for people in other parts of the world among ordinary Western citizens pre-9/11.

Thanks to policies like those the Prince of Darkness so thoughtfully outlined for Netanyahu all those years ago, we have privatized, liberalized and cut taxes to the point that most people in Western nations are now experiencing a deterioration in their own living standards and society is increasingly divided between the haves and have-nots. We are, in other words, tearing up our own social fabric.

What that means is that the place that would have been most able to use its resources to truly stabilize and improve those parts of the globe most in need now not only refuses to do so (which was bad enough), in the future it might be unable to so do. We may, in short, be destabilizing the rest of the world, while simultaneously reducing our own capabilities to ever put it back together.

The natural consequence of being responsible in short, sharp bursts.

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​ISIS in Iraq stinks of CIA/NATO ‘dirty war’ op

Iraqi Kurdish forces take position near Taza Khormato as they fight jihadist militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) positioned five kilometers away in Bashir, 20 kms south of Kirkuk

by – William Engdahl

For days now, since their dramatic June 10 taking of Mosul, Western mainstream media have been filled with horror stories of the military conquests in Iraq of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, with the curious acronym ISIS.

ISIS, as in the ancient Egyptian cult of the goddess of fertility and magic. The media picture being presented adds up less and less.

Details leaking out suggest that ISIS and the major military ‘surge’ in Iraq – and less so in neighboring Syria – is being shaped and controlled out of Langley, Virginia, and other CIA and Pentagon outposts as the next stage in spreading chaos in the world’s second-largest oil state, Iraq, as well as weakening the recent Syrian stabilization efforts.

Strange facts

The very details of the ISIS military success in the key Iraqi oil center, Mosul, are suspect. According to well-informed Iraqi journalists, ISIS overran the strategic Mosul region, site of some of the world’s most prolific oilfields, with barely a shot fired in resistance. According to one report, residents of Tikrit reported remarkable displays of “soldiers handing over their weapons and uniforms peacefully to militants who ordinarily would have been expected to kill government soldiers on the spot.”

We are told that ISIS masked psychopaths captured “arms and ammunition from the fleeing security forces” – arms and ammunition supplied by the American government. The offensive coincides with a successful campaign by ISIS in eastern Syria. According to Iraqi journalists, Sunni tribal chiefs in the region had been convinced to side with ISIS against the Shiite Al-Maliki government in Baghdad. They were promised a better deal under ISIS Sunni Sharia than with Baghdad anti-Sunni rule.

According to the New York Times, the mastermind behind the ISIS military success is former Baath Party head and Saddam Hussein successor, General Ibrahim al-Douri. Douri is reportedly the head of the Iraqi rebel group Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order as well as the Supreme Command for Jihad and Liberation based on his longstanding positions of leadership in the Naqshbandi sect in Iraq.

In 2009, US ‘Iraqi surge’ General David Petraeus, at the time heading the US Central Command, claimed to reporters that Douri was in Syria. Iraqi parliamentarians claimed he was in Qatar. The curious fact is that despite being on the US most wanted list since 2003, Douri has miraculously managed to avoid capture and now to return with a vengeance to retake huge parts of Sunni Iraq. Luck or well-placed friends in Washington?

The financial backing for ISIS jihadists reportedly also comes from three of the closest US allies in the Sunni world—Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

US passports?

Key members of ISIS it now emerges were trained by US CIA and Special Forces command at a secret camp in Jordan in 2012, according to informed Jordanian officials. The US, Turkish and Jordanian intelligence were running a training base for the Syrian rebels in the Jordanian town of Safawi in the country’s northern desert region, conveniently near the borders to both Syria and Iraq. Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the two Gulf monarchies most involved in funding the war against Syria’s Assad, financed the Jordan ISIS training.

Advertised publicly as training of ‘non-extremist’ Muslim jihadists to wage war against the Syrian Bashar Assad regime, the secret US training camps in Jordan and elsewhere have trained perhaps several thousand Muslim fighters in techniques of irregular warfare, sabotage and general terror. The claims by Washington that they took special care not to train ‘Salafist’ or jihadist extremists, is a joke. How do you test if a recruit is not a jihadist? Is there a special jihad DNA that the CIA doctors have discovered?

Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) parading with an Iraqi army vehicle in the northern city of Baiji in the in Salaheddin province.

Jordanian government officials are revealing the details, in fear that the same ISIS terrorists that today are slashing heads of ‘infidels’ alongside the roadways of Mosul by the dozens, or hundreds if we believe their own propaganda, might turn their swords towards Jordan’s King Abdullah soon, to extend their budding Caliphate empire.

Former US State Department official Andrew Doran wrote in the conservative National Review magazine that some ISIS warriors also hold US passports. Now, of course that doesn’t demonstrate and support by the Obama Administration. Hmm…

Iranian journalist Sabah Zanganeh notes, “ISIS did not have the power to occupy and conquer Mosul by itself. What has happened is the result of security-intelligence collaborations of some regional countries with some extremist groups inside the Iraqi government.”

Iraq’s Chechen commander

The next bizarre part of the ISIS puzzle involves the Jihadist credited with being the ‘military mastermind’ of the recent ISIS victories, Tarkhan Batirashvili. If his name doesn’t sound very Arabic, it’s because it’s not. Tarkhan Batrashvili is a Russian – actually an ethnic Chechen from near the Chechen border to Georgia. But to give himself a more Arabic flair, he also goes by the name Emir (what else?) Umar al Shishani. The problem is he doesn’t look at all Arabic. No dark swarthy black beard: rather a long red beard, a kind of Chechen Barbarossa.

According to a November, 2013 report in The Wall Street Journal, Emir Umar or Batrashvili as you prefer, has made the wars in Syria and Iraq “into a geopolitical struggle between the US and Russia.”

That has been the objective of leading neo-conservatives in the CIA, Pentagon and State Department all along. The CIA transported hundreds of Mujahideen Saudis and other foreign veterans of the 1980s Afghan war against the Soviets in Afghanistan into Chechnya to disrupt the struggling Russia in the early 1990s, particularly to sabotage the Russian oil pipeline running directly from Baku on the Caspian Sea into Russia. James Baker III and his friends in Anglo-American Big Oil had other plans. It was called the BTC pipeline, owned by a BP-US oil consortium and running through Tbilisi into NATO-member Turkey, free of Russian territory.

Batrashvili is not renowned for taking care. Last year he was forced to apologize when he ordered his men to behead a wounded ‘enemy’ soldier who turned out to be an allied rebel commander. More than 8,000 foreign Jihadist mercenaries are reportedly in ISIS including at least 1,000 Chechens as well as Jihadists Saudi, Kuwait, Egypt and reportedly Chinese Uyghur from Xinjiang Province.

Jeffrey Silverman, Georgia Bureau Chief for the US-based Veterans Today (VT) website, told me that Batrashvili “is a product of a joint program of the US through a front NGO called Jvari, which was set up by US Intelligence and the Georgian National Security Council, dating back to the early days of the Pankisi Gorge.”

Jvari is the name as well of a famous Georgian Orthodox monastery of the 6th century. According to Silverman, David J. Smith—head of something in Tbilisi called the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies, as well as the Potomac Institute in Washington where he is listed as Director of the Potomac Institute Cyber Centerr—played a role in setting up the Jvari NGO.

Silverman maintains that Jvari in Rustavi, near the capital, Tbilisi, gathered together Afghan Mujahideen war veterans, Chechens, Georgians and sundry Arab Jihadists. They were sent to the infamous Pankisi Gorge region, a kind-of no-man’s lawless area, for later deployment, including Iraq and Syria.

Batrashvili and other Georgian and Chechen Russian-speaking Jihadists, Silverman notes, are typically smuggled, with the assistance of Georgia’s Counterintelligence Department and the approval of the US embassy, across the Georgia border to Turkey at the Vale crossing point, near Georgia’s Akhaltsikhe and the Turkish village of Türkgözü on the Turkish side of the Georgian border. From there it’s very little problem getting them through Turkey to either Mosul in Iraq or northeast Syria.

Silverman believes that events in Northern Iraq relate to “wanting to have a Kurdish Republic separate from the Central government and this is all part of the New Great Game. It will serve US interests in both Turkey and Iraq, not to mention Syria.”

Very revealing is the fact that almost two weeks after the dramatic fall of Mosul and the ‘capture’ by ISIS forces of the huge weapons and military vehicle resources provided by the US to the Iraqi army. Washington has done virtually nothing but make a few silly speeches about their ‘concern’ and dispatch 275 US special forces to allegedly protect US personnel in Iraq.

Whatever the final details that emerge, what is clear in the days since the fall of Mosul is that some of the world’s largest oilfields in Iraq are suddenly held by Jihadists and no longer by an Iraqi government determined to increase the oil export significantly.

Report : Attack near border with Iraq kills 3 Iranian border guards

TEHRAN, Iran – An Iranian semi-official news agency says an attack near the country’s western border with Iraq has killed three Iranian border guards.

The Fars news agency on Wednesday quoted security official Shahriar Heidari as saying the troops were killed on Tuesday night while patrolling along the border in western Kermanshah province. A border outpost commander was among those killed.

Heidari says an unspecified “terrorist group” was behind the attack. No other details were immediately available.

Iran has boosted border security amid the blitz offensive in neighboring Iraq by Sunni militants from the al-Qaida breakaway Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The militants have snatched much of northern and western Iraq from Baghdad‘s control.

In the past, sporadic clashes have taken place between Iranian troops and opposition groups in western Iran.

Official: Intelligence community warned about ‘growing’ ISIS threat in Iraq

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The U.S. intelligence community warned about the “growing threat” from Sunni militants in Iraq since the beginning of the year, a senior intelligence official said Tuesday — a claim that challenges assertions by top administration officials that they were caught off guard by the capture of key Iraqi cities.

Earlier Tuesday, in an interview with Fox News, Secretary of State John Kerry said “nobody expected” Iraqi security forces to be decisively driven out by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, as they were earlier this month in Mosul.

But in a separate briefing with reporters Tuesday afternoon, the senior intelligence official said the intelligence community had warned about the ISIS threat.

“During the past year, the intelligence community has provided strategic warning of Iraq’s deteriorating security situation,” the official said. “We routinely highlighted (ISIS’) growing threat in Iraq, the increasing difficulties Iraq’s security forced faced in combating (ISIS), and the political strains that were contributing to Iraq’s declining stability.”

Asked who failed to act, the official did not explain.

Offering a grave warning about the current strength of the group — which is a State Department-designated terror organization — the official also said that barring a major counteroffensive, the intelligence community assesses that ISIS is “well-positioned to keep the territory it has gained.”The official said the ISIS “strike force” now has between 3,000 and 5,000 members.

Further, the official said ISIS, as a former Al Qaeda affiliate, has the “aspiration and intent” to target U.S. interests. Asked if Americans have joined, the intelligence official said it “stands to reason that Americans have joined.”

The information from the intelligence community adds to the picture of what is known about the ISIS threat, and what might have been known in the weeks and months before its militants seized Mosul and other northern cities and towns.

Kerry, speaking with Fox News on Tuesday in the middle of a multi-country swing through the Middle East and Europe as he tries to calm the sectarian crisis in Iraq, pushed back on the notion that more could have been done from a Washington perspective to prevent the takeovers. Pressed on whether the fall of Mosul and other cities to Sunni militants marks an intelligence failure, Kerry said nobody could have predicted Iraqi security forces would have deserted.

“We don’t have people embedded in those units, and so obviously nobody knew that. I think everybody in Iraq was surprised. People were surprised everywhere,” he said.

The secretary noted that the U.S. and Iraq did not sign a formal agreement allowing troops to stay in the country past 2011, so “we didn’t have eyes in there.”

“But the Iraqis didn’t even have a sense of what was happening,” Kerry said.

When asked what the U.S. did to shore up Mosul, after seeing other Iraqi cities fall earlier this year, Kerry added: “In the end, the Iraqis are responsible for their defense, and nobody expected wholesale desertion and wholesale betrayal, in a sense, by some leaders who literally either signed up with the guys who came in or walked away from their posts and put on their civilian clothes.

“No, nobody expected that.”

But aside from the apparent warnings from the U.S. intelligence community, reports in The Telegraph and Daily Beast claim that Kurdish sources did warn American and British officials that ISIS was gaining strength and ready to advance, but it “fell on deaf ears.”

A senior lieutenant to Lahur Talabani, head of Kurdish intelligence, reportedly told The Daily Beast that the Kurds passed on warnings about a possible takeover of Mosul to British and U.S. government officials.

“We knew exactly what strategy they were going to use, we knew the military planners,” the official said.

The Telegraph reported that Washington and London got warnings months ago about Sunni militant plans to try and take over the northwestern region of Iraq. The Kurds reportedly had been monitoring developments on their own.

At this stage, though, the question for Kerry and the Obama administration is how far they are willing to go to shore up the embattled Iraqi government. Kerry, in Baghdad a day earlier, pressed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to proceed with the formation of a new government — Iraq’s parliament is set to begin this process next week.

In the meantime, President Obama has committed up to 300 U.S. military advisers to help Iraq’s government fend off ISIS forces. The administration continues to weigh whether to authorize airstrikes.

via Official: Intelligence community warned about ‘growing’ ISIS threat in Iraq | Fox News.

Jordan bolsters defense on Iraq border

A member of the Iraqi security forces takes position during a patrol looking for militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) at the border between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, June 23, 2014.

A member of the Iraqi security forces takes position during a patrol looking for militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) at the border between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, June 23, 2014.

Reuters – Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Jordan beefed up its border defenses with Iraq on Sunday after Sunni gunmen seized territory close to its border in Anbar province and appeared to have also taken control of the only land crossing with its large eastern neighbor, officials and witnesses said.

Two officials said the border crossing almost 575 km (357 miles) from the Iraqi capital and nearly 320 km (199 miles) from Amman was effectively closed after Sunni gunmen took control of the crossing.

A Jordanian minister earlier told Reuters traffic had halted and there were signs of chaos at the crossing that serves as a major artery for passenger and trade flows between the two countries.

“The last traffic was around 7:30 pm (1630 GMT) and border officials are saying the situation is not normal on the other side of the border,” Minister of State for Media and Communication Mohammad al-Momani said.

Earlier, Iraqi Sunni gunmen had seized control of the town of Rutba, just 90 miles (145 km) east of the border with Jordan.

An army source confirmed that army units had been put in a state of alert in recent days along the 181-km (112-mile) border with Iraq, redeploying in some areas as part of steps to ward off “any potential or perceived security threats”.

Truck drivers who arrived in Jordan before traffic halted after crossing the border said Sunni tribal militants were now running and manning checkpoints along large stretches of the Baghad-Amman highway that runs through the crossing.

A security source who requested anonymity said the border crossing on the Iraqi side had fallen earlier in the day to local Sunni tribal gunmen who permitted customs officials to continue to run it administratively until later on Sunday.

U.S. ally Jordan was expected to formally close the border to traffic as soon as the Iraqi government formally announces its loss of control over the crucial trade and passenger crossing, he added.

On Sunday, militants overran a second frontier post on the Syrian border, extending two weeks of swift territorial gains as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) pursues the goal of its own caliphate straddling both countries.

ISIL thrust east from a newly captured Iraqi-Syrian border post on Sunday, taking three towns in Iraq’s western Anbar province after seizing the frontier crossing near the town of Qaim on Saturday, witnesses and security sources said. They seized a second, al-Waleed, on Sunday. The gains have helped ISIL secure supply lines to Syria, where it has exploited the chaos of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad to seize territory.

The loss of the Iraqi border crossing with Jordan was not seen as an immediate security threat to the kingdom although some were unnerved by the prospect of al Qaeda-affiliated groups along the border with Iraq, another official said.

It was difficult to see security-conscious Jordan, which has almost cut off any flow of militants across its heavily sealed northern border with Syria, allowing itself to become a launching pad or supply route for Islamist jihadists into Iraq, he added.

Jordan, grappling with the mounting impact of the grinding conflict in neighboring Syria, is one of the closest U.S. allies in the Middle

Sunni militants seize Tal Afar city of 200k citizens enlarging control of Iraq

The Sunni militants fighting to make an Islamic state in Iraq have scored another victory in their move to control more territory. They captured Tal Afar, a city of 200,000 residents in north-west of the country.The city was taken just before dawn on Monday, Mayor Abdulal Abdoul confirmed to AP. The report was also confirmed by residents on the phone.

Residents reported that there was heavy fighting within the city limits as Shiite security troops used rockets and helicopters in an attempt to stop the advancing militants.

“The situation is disastrous in Tal Afar. There is crazy fighting and most families are trapped inside houses, they can’t leave town,” a local official told Reuters on Sunday before the city was overrun. “If the fighting continues, a mass killing among civilians could result.”

Tal Afar is home to mostly ethnic Shiite and Sunni Turkmen. Residents fear persecution by the hardline orthodox Sunni fighters comprising the radical Islamic State of Iraq and Sham movement.

The city had been one of the few spots of resistance to ISIS in the north-west of Iraq because, unlike most other Iraqi troops, the unit defending it didn’t flee the militants. It is also located close to the regions controlled by Kurds, who have been autonomous from Baghdad in most regards and have their own militias.

Iraqi men, who volunteered to fight against the Jihadist militants, gather around buses in Baghdad on June 13, 2014, as security forces are bolstering defenses in the capital.

US-trained Iraqi army and security forces proved to be grossly unprepared to defend the country from the lightning operation of ISIS, which is now in control of a large territory, including Iraq’s second-largest city Mosul and Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit.

ISIS military success made US consider the prospect of joining forces with its long-time adversary Iran to help the Iraqi government in dealing with the imminent threat.

ISIS seeks to create a fundamentalist Islamist state in the territories or Iraq and Syria with the majority of Sunni population. They are one of the fiercest and most radical fighters in the region, notorious for staging suicide bombing attacks and mass executions.

Their Iraqi offensive also made them the most wealthy and well-armed militant force in the region, after they captured banks and military depots.

ISIS ‘execute’ 1,700 Iraqi soldiers, post gruesome pictures (GRAPHIC)

An image uploaded on June 14, 2014 on the jihadist website Welayat Salahuddin allegedly shows militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) executing dozens of captured Iraqi security forces members at an unknown location in the Salaheddin province.

Radical Sunni militants who have been capturing cities in northwest Iraq claimed on Twitter that they executed 1,700 Iraqi soldiers. The radicals posted graphic photos as evidence.

The photographs, which were posted on the Twitter account associated with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL), came with captions that described their alleged massacre. They did not provide a date or location, but chief military spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said the killings took place in Salahuddin province, located north of Baghdad.

Some of the images show dozens of captured men in civilian clothes loaded onto trucks, with the captions saying that they were taken to their deaths.

An image uploaded on June 14, 2014 on the jihadist website Welayat Salahuddin allegedly shows militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) transporting dozens of captured Iraqi security forces members at an unknown location in the Salaheddin province ahead of executing them.

Another image shows men lying down in a ditch with their arms behind their head. Some of the final photographs show bodies covered in blood with several gunshot wounds.

It is impossible to independently verify the photographs and the number of people killed.

Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, confirmed the photos’ authenticity on Sunday, adding that he is aware of mass executions of captured Iraqi soldiers in areas controlled by ISIS.

Following the analysis of the images by military experts, it was concluded that about 170 soldiers were shot to death by the militants, he told the Associated Press.

An image uploaded on June 14, 2014 on the jihadist website Welayat Salahuddin allegedly shows militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) executing dozens of captured Iraqi security forces members at an unknown location in the Salaheddin province.

Violence continued to escalate in Iraq on Sunday, with local residents telling to Reuters that ISIS insurgents attacked and took control of the town of Tal Afar, located in northwestern Iraq.

Iraqi Gen. Mohammed al-Quraishi confirmed to CNN that the city fell to Sunni rebels. Tal Afar is located in the Nineveh province and has a population of about 80,000 people, most of whom are Iraqi Turkmen.

Meanwhile, the US announced it will be increasing security at its embassy in Baghdad and moving some of its personnel out of the capital. Less than 100 US Marines and other military personnel are headed to Iraq to reinforce security at the US embassy in Baghdad, Reuters reported, citing a military official.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) also said that a number of embassy staff were withdrawn from Baghdad on Sunday. “The Australian embassy remains open with reduced staffing levels,” DFAT stated. “We are unlikely to be able to provide consular assistance in Iraq at the current time.”

An image uploaded on June 14, 2014 on the jihadist website Welayat Salahuddin allegedly shows militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) standing next to dozens of captured Iraqi security forces members at an unknown location in the Salaheddin province ahead of executing them.

Earlier, ISIS insurgents seized Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul in the north of the country as well as Tikrit – the capital of Salahuddin province, where the alleged massacre of soldiers took place.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Friday that the organization received a number of reports of “summary executions and extrajudicial killings” as ISIL militants raided Iraqi cities. The number of people killed last week may be in the hundreds, she added.

Once an offshoot of Al-Qaeda, ISIS fell out with the global terrorist network. The hyper-fundamentalist group, which is active in Iraq and Syria, gained notoriety for its ruthless tactics which include publicly crucifying and beheading those who violate their strict religious interpretations.

Iraq came under the influence of a Shia-majority government after the US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-dominated regime in 2003. Since the withdrawal of US troops in 2011, sectarian tensions have boiled over, resulting in Sunni insurgents increasingly waging war against the central government.

How US Policy Enabled the Rise of Al Qaeda 2.0 and the Collapse of Iraq

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Policy decisions and politically driven censorship of the American national security establishment have helped strengthen Al Qaeda‘s successor and hastened the collapse of the nation of Iraq.

The current administration and the President represented Operation Iraqi Freedom as the “wrong war,” as opposed to the “good war” that was Afghanistan. The Vice President even called the end of our involvement in Iraq one of the great achievements of Obama’s tenure.

With the jihadi group ISIS now in control of parts of the country that together equal the size of Syria, taking over former US bases, and moving toward the capital of Baghdad, the “achievement” has vanished.

The chaos and murder unleashed in the last few days are beyond the comprehension of the majority of Americans who have never served or lived in a war zone. According to the vicar of Baghdad Andrew White, Iraq is now witnessing mass violence and atrocities worse than anything seen since the invasion in 2003.

Almost 4,500 American servicemen and women died in OIF, and the US taxpayers have spent $20 billion to equip and train the Iraqi security forces. So how did we arrive at this apocalyptic horror?

The fact is that ISIS – The Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (or the Levant) – has grown in strength and ferocity in the last three years to a point that it now is more powerful and capable than the original Al Qaeda whence it came. It has become Al Qaeda 2.0. ISIS’s growth is in part a result of conscious actions and policy decisions taken by the current US administration.

  • First, since very early on in his presidential campaign and then after becoming the Commander-in-Chief, it became obvious that the President had little interest in international affairs and national security. In fact, in his first speech to graduating West Point cadets in 2009, he was unequivocal. It was time to “end the war in Iraq” because “we must rebuild our strength here at home.” The White House agenda since 2008 has primarily been driven by domestic projects aimed at expanding the state such as Obamacare. That is why none of the National Security Advisers appointed by the White House since General Jim Jones was ignominiously replaced in 2010 have been recognized names in the world of national security. The issue just does not interest the incumbent, and therefore there was no need for a Kissinger- or Brzezinski-caliber replacement.
  • As attested to by a remarkably in-depth 2011 article in The New Yorker, the administration sees all crises as unique and unrelated to one another. So great is this belief that America does not need a strategy to deal with the world and inform our national actions in a consistent fashion that the President, when interviewed on national television, actually stated that having “blanket policies” can get you “into trouble.” As a result, the idea that the chaos in Syria, where ISIS built its forces, was connected to the future stability of Iraq did not occur to the administration until Mosul, Fallujah, and Tikrit had fallen to fighters trained and hardened in the war against Assad just next door. Our government cannot connect the dots if the Commander-in-Chief openly believes that doing so is a bad idea.
  • This lack of any strategic approach to the global threat of jihadi groups is compounded by politically-driven censorship of the national security and defense establishment. As documented elsewhere, in 2011 putative “representatives” of the Muslim communities in the US demanded that the White House review and censor all counterterrorism training materials and trainers used by the Defense Department and Department of Justice, their claim being that existing materials and trainers were un-Islamic or “Islamaphobic.” This event that has come to be known as “the purge” – see this documentary for the full story – and led to the forced removal of any mention of Islam or jihad from all governmental training materials used by our armed forces or the FBI. As a result, as a government, we have blinded ourselves to such an extent that it has become practically impossible for a national security professional to understand what is going on in the Middle East and what drives groups like ISIS or Al Qaeda without getting into trouble for being politically incorrect.Of course, trying to understand the decapitation of enemy forces or the tactic of suicide attacks without referring to, or being allowed to refer to, jihad is analogous to our trying to understand the Third Reich in 1944 while banning our soldiers and intelligence professionals from talking about and analyzing Nazism.
  • Lastly, the fact that Senator Obama built a campaign narrative on the foundation that Afghanistan is the “good war” and Iraq was the “bad war” locked his administration onto a politically defined track that short-changed America’s national security interests. Once in office, commitment to this narrative – that was deemed to have helped him win office – meant that the Iraqi campaign had to end at all costs. So great was the pressure that the administration was prepared to pull all US forces out in 2011 without securing the standard Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Baghdad that would have allowed us to leave enough forces in country to suppress and deter violence against the Maliki regime and keep the country functioning after more than 4,000 Americans had died to free it from Saddam Hussein.

You don’t have to be a dastardly neoconservative to understand that the events occurring now in Iraq – and Syria, and Libya, and even Egypt – have direct implications for the security of America. We know that Westerners, including Americans, are going to the Middle East to fight the jihad. If they win, or simply survive to come back home, they will present a clear threat to any political system such as ours that is not sharia-compliant or theocratic.

But there is a bigger danger.

Al Qaeda was formed out of an organization not dissimilar to ISIS. In the 1980s a Palestinian-Jordanian called Abdullah Azzam created the Services Bureau (MAK) to fight the Soviet military units in Afghanistan just as ISIS is fighting the military units in Iraq that they consider to be kufr (unbelievers) because they are Shia and not Sunni. Azzam’s deputy was a Saudi named Osama bin Laden who inherited the MAK when Azzam was assassinated. Bin Laden then turned the MAK into Al Qaeda, the same Al Qaeda that killed almost 3,000 Americans in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania on September 11th, 2001.

According to the official investigation, the 9/11 attacks cost Al Qaeda $500,000. On its murderous rampage to Baghdad, ISIS has captured $430,000,000 from Iraqi government coffers. Should these jihadists, who are now stronger than the original Al Qaeda they grew out of, capture all of Iraq, or Iraq and Syria, they will likely turn their sights on the “Far Enemy” as the MAK/Al Qaeda turned against us when the Soviets were defeated.

In this case, however, they will have enough money for at least 800 9/11-scale attacks.

Dr. Sebastian Gorka has been appointed the Major General Horner Chair of Military Theory at Marine Corps University and is the National Security Affairs editor of Breitbart.com.

After stealing $425 million, ISIS is being called the ‘world’s richest terrorist group’

A provincial governor in Iraq says that insurgents from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) went into Mosul‘s central bank and took off with 500 billion Iraqi dinars, or $425 million.

The Washington Post reports that Atheel al-Nujaifi shared that the militants also took millions from other banks in Mosul, as well as a “large quantity of gold bullion.” With its new fortune, ISIS has more money than several small nations, including Tonga and the Marshall Islands, and can “buy a whole lot of Jihad,” Brown Moses, a regional analyst, wrote on Twitter. “For example, with $425 million, ISIS could pay 60,000 fighters around $600 a month for a year.”

The International Business Times has declared ISIS the “World’s Richest Terror Force,” but as the Post points out, it’s difficult to determine if that’s true — not everyone agrees on which organizations should be labeled “terrorist,” and it’s also hard to know the exact amount of money each group has on any given day. For some perspective, The New York Times reported that at one time, the Taliban had an annual operating budget between $70 million and $400 million, and Hezbollah worked with between $200 million and $400 million. Around Sept. 11, 2001, Al-Qaeda had an operating budget of $30 million.

Iran Deploys Forces to Fight Militants in Iraq

The commander of Iran's Quds Force, Maj. Gen. Qasem Solaimani, went to Baghdad this week. Shahaboddin Vajedi

The commander of Iran‘s Quds Force, Maj. Gen. Qasem Solaimani, went to Baghdad this week. Shahaboddin Vajedi

BEIRUT—The threat of Sunni extremists eclipsing the power of its Shiite-dominated Arab ally presents Iran with the biggest security and strategic challenge it has faced since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

With the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, an offshoot of al Qaeda, rapidly gaining territory, Iran deployed Revolutionary Guards units to Iraq, according to Iranian security officials.

Iran has invested considerable financial, political and military resources over the past decade to ensure Iraq emerged from U.S. war as a strategic partner for the Islamic Republic and a strong Shiite-led state. The so-called Shiite crescent—stretching from Iran to Iraq, Lebanon and Syria—was forged largely as a result of this effort.

Two Guards’ units, dispatched from Iran’s western border provinces on Wednesday, were tasked with protecting Baghdad and the holy Shiite cities of Karbala and Najaf, these security sources said.

The involvement of Iran would pose yet another security challenge for the White House, and raises the prospect of the U.S. and Iran fighting on the same side. The U.S. opposes Iran’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but with Tehran is jointly supporting Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

State Department officials on Thursday refused to outline what steps the Obama administration would take if Iranian forces entered Iraq.

Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said American diplomats who met with Iranian officials in Geneva this week to discuss Tehran’s nuclear program didn’t raise the issue of the Iraqi crisis.

“We’ve encouraged them to play a constructive role in Iraq,” Ms. Psaki said about the Iranians.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, reached by phone in London, said of the report that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards were entering the fight: “Frankly I have no idea about that. I am in London now.”

Syria’s conflict has turned Iraq into an important operational base for Iran to aid another ally, the Assad regime, which is dominated by an offshoot of Shiite Islam. Shiite militia trained by Iran, weapons and cash have flowed from Iran to Syria via Iraq.

“Iraq is viewed as a vital priority in Iran’s foreign policy in the region and they go to any length to protect this interest,” said Roozbeh Miribrahimi, an independent Iran expert based in New York.

House Speaker John Boehner ripped the President for not doing more in recent days to prevent Sunni jihadist militants from taking control of key Iraqi cities, including Mosul and Tikrit. Insurgents have been advancing through Iraq’s heartland with their eyes set on Baghdad, the country’s capital.

“They are 100 miles from Baghdad,” said Boehner Thursday. “And what’s the president do? Taking a nap.”

“It’s not like we haven’t seen this problem coming for over a year,” he added.

Boehner believes the U.S. should provide “the equipment and technical assistance that the Iraqis have been asking for.” The U.S. has rebuffed requests by the Iraqi government to order airstrikes in extremist areas, according to The New York Times. The Obama Administration has been reluctant to engage the recent extremist uprising as the American public largely endorsed withdrawing the last of its troops from Iraq in 2011.

Boehner said he did not know “enough of the details” to comment on whether or not the U.S. should engage in airstrikes.

Some of Boehner’s Republican colleagues in the Senate were also critical of the Obama Administration on Thursday, none more so than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). McCain told reporters that Obama’s entire national security team, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, should be replaced.

Kurdish military units known as peshmerga deployed armor at the provincial capital of Kirkuk on Thursday as Iraq edged closer to full-scale sectarian conflict following lightning strikes on major cities

Kurdish military units known as peshmerga deployed armor at the provincial capital of Kirkuk on Thursday as Iraq edged closer to full-scale sectarian conflict following lightning strikes on major cities

That coarsely worded threat further vindicated Iran’s view that the fight unfolding in Iraq is an existential sectarian battle between the two rival sects of Islam-Sunni and Shiite—and by default a proxy battle between their patrons Saudi Arabia and Iran.

“Until now we haven’t received any requests for help from Iraq. Iraq’s army is certainly capable in handling this,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afgham said Wednesday.

Iranian President Hasan Rouhani cut short a religious celebration on Thursday and said he had to attend an emergency meeting of the country’s National Security Council about events in Iraq.

“We, as the Islamic Republic of Iran, won’t tolerate this violence and terrorism…. We will fight and battle violence and extremism and terrorism in the region and the world,” he said in a speech.

ISIS’s rapid territorial gains in the past few days appeared to have caught Iranian officials by surprise and opened a debate within the regime over whether Iran should publicly enter the battle.

Iran’s chief of police, Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam said the National Security Council would consider intervening in Iraq to “protect Shiite shrines and cities,” according to Iranian media.

In the short-term, analysts said the outcome of the crisis in Iraq will only strengthen and increase the influence of Iran and the Revolutionary Guards.