Mainstream media (MSM) is beginning to report that the ‘nice’ behaviour of Isis/IsiL (I’m sticking with IsiL from this point in) has evaporated and they have resorted to the use of extreme violence in the pacification of the population in areas that they control. The United Nations in Iraq has stated that 27 ‘civilians’ were killed in one street in Mosul, a dozen Iraqi soldiers in another area, and at least 4 women ‘committed suicide’ after being raped and/or ‘married’ to IsiL fighters in the city of Mosul. Footage on the internet showed an Iraqi police force Major being apprehended in his home, handcuffed, blindfolded and then be-headed with a knife. His head was then photographed, resting on his legs, and uploaded to ‘Twitter’ with the title ‘This is our football, it’s made of skin #World Cup’; expect a lot more reprisals by IsiL against the Iraqi state apparatus but, maybe less on social media, as the current Shi’ite dominated Iraqi government have been attempting to dampen panic in Baghdad by closing down internet portals.
BestGore readership has already raised questions as to the fate of the security forces captured during the advance of IsiL, rumours from Baghdad suggested that there is a distinct possibility that up to 1700 may have been executed, many by removal of heads from bodies and shooting; photographic evidence of this has just hit the internet.
An IsiL spokesman, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, has declared ‘The battle is not yet raging, but it will rage in Baghdad and Karbala. Put on your belts and get ready’ He also taunted the current Iraqi President, Nouri al-Maliki as being ‘an underwear salesman who had lost Iraq for the Shia’, adding ‘You lost a historic opportunity for your people to control Iraq and the Shi’ites will always curse you for as long as they live’.
Al-Adnani also indicated that IsiL is planning to march toward Baghdad and other pivotal cities, including the holy cities Karbala and Najaf, and then ‘March to Baghdad al-Rashid, the Baghdad of the Caliphate. We have a score to settle…Be certain of the victory of Allah as long as you fear Him’. It sounds, very much, as if the gauntlet has been thrown on the ground.
Baghdad, itself, appears to be a city poised on the brink with many of its 9 million population stockpiling food and water with commodity prices rising, rapidly. BBC interviews with residents suggest that market areas are abandoned, possibly due to fears of IEDs/suicide bombers, and that many are contemplating mechanisms of escape; possible if you have the means and money, impossible if not.
The country’s leading Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani announced yesterday that ‘Citizens who are able to bear arms and fight terrorists, defending their country and their people and their holy places, should volunteer and join the security forces to achieve this holy purpose’ and this has led to large numbers of young men ‘enlisting’ into the Army and joining militias with the aim of President al-Maliki to create a ‘ring of iron’ around the capital.
It will be interesting to see how untrained adolescents and young adults fare against the seasoned IsiL fighters, in comparison to the capitulation by the US trained Iraqi Army in previous encounters, not least because the rout left behind equipment worth around $1.3 billion; including at least 72 tank and armoured cars, and several helicopters which were seen in a triumphant fly-past in Mosul; it’s believed that they were piloted by Sunni ex-military pilots who were previously loyal to Saddam Hussein. The abandoned tanks appear to be Russian built T55 medium tanks; not a great deal of use to IsiL as they need to be moved to where they are required by transporter, and, also you can’t just hop into them and play World of Tanks as this video demonstrates.
Nonetheless, tanks are useful in obliterating road blocks (IsiL used bulldozers in Mosul), destroying other armour and terrifying untrained infantry.
Baghdad has witnessed demonstrations of gunmen from the Shia Mardi army driving in trucks, saloon cars and expensive 4×4 vehicles complete with flags and honking horns, as well as a procession on foot of Shi’ites who were ‘ready to fight
Although a T55 is vulnerable to anti-tank rounds and rockets, you need to have the weapons systems and training to light them up. IsiL has a pretty good record of scoring hits on Syrian T72s, so we’ll see if the Shi’ite militia can match them if IsiL actually deploy their new toys.
Meanwhile Kurdish Peshmerga (‘those who confront death’) forces have retaken the city of Kirkuk and have liberated at least 10 Iraqi tanks and removed them on transporters, and dozens of Humvees. The Peshmerga are seasoned fighters, including women amongst their ranks, dating from the 1920s when the Ottoman and Qajar Empires collapsed. They are non-secular and played significant roles in the capture of Saddam Hussein in December 2003, and the interception of a messenger for Usāmah bin Muḥammad bin ‘Awaḍ bin Lādin in 2004.
The Kurdish front, around Kirkuk, was visited, yesterday, by Amira Zangana, a Member of the Kurdish Democratic Party, who declared ‘The Iraqi Army should not have given up this way. They should have stayed to fight ….. this means we do not need them. Our people, the Peshmerga, are fearless and they will fight Isis. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has no role here’. The Kurdish move re-enforces their territorial position as they regard Kirkuk as their own provincial capital and it, effectively, hands them control over the adjacent oil fields.
In other news, Turkey has warned IsiL against harming the Turkish Consul General and the Turkish Special Forces troops that were captured during the taking of Mosul. An IsiL commander has reassured Rudaw, a Kurdish media network, that ‘The diplomats are safe and we are treating them well. We assure their safety and will return them to their country, they have nothing to fear because they are Sunnis and of the Hanafi faith. One of the diplomats has a dog with him and we provided food and water for his pet, too’.
Barack Hussein Obama II, the 44th and current President of the United States (US) has announced that he will decide what he will do ‘in a few days’ and that ‘military plans are being considered’ but, that, American troops would not be returning to Iraq to assist the current government. Reading between the lines suggests that the Obama leadership has been caught with its shoelaces undone and has only spotted the implications of the IsiL advance when the refinery at Baiji in Salahaddin province, and the nearby Ajeel oil field, fell to the advancing IsiL forces; the refinery produces 320,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Iraq’s oil output; to put this in context, Iraq has 8 operating oil refineries with the second and third largest being 150,000 bpd Basra, and 100,000 bpd Daura refineries IsiL fighters have not, so far, disrupted oil production.
On Friday Brent crude futures stabilised at $112.32 per barrel and United States crude levelled to $106.55, a record 9 month high as concerns grew on the ability of Iraq to continue production (just to remind BestGore readers; Iraq is the world’s second largest oil exporter; oil accounts for approximately 85% of its gross domestic product, and 20% of its output is destined for the US). As Shell and BP are the major companies involved in Iraqi oil production, I expect that their executives have had their telephones on re-dial to the White House and Whitehall over the past few days.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in London, said that ‘given the gravity of the situation’ he would ‘anticipate timely decisions from the president regarding the challenge’ in Iraq.
‘We have already taken some immediate steps …… including providing enhanced aerial surveillance support to assist the Iraqis in this fight. We have also ramped up shipments of military aid to Iraq since the beginning of the year’. The Apache Longbow and F16 Flying Falcon orders, together with an order for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV) commonly known as the Humvee, may be delivered a little ahead of schedule, after-all the Iraqi Army appears to have misplaced a large number of its current vehicles.
The latest news is that a US Aircraft carrier, one destroyer and one cruiser have been deployed to the Arabian Gulf; the carrier USS George H W Bush, moving from the North Arabian Sea, will be accompanied by the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun. They are due to be on station by next weekend.
And look; Iran and the ‘Great Satan’ appear to becoming Best Friend’s Forever. Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, said that Iran would not rule out working together with the United States to battle Sunni extremist fighters. It appears that neither the US, Iran nor the present Iraqi government are keen on the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate across the Iraqi-Syria border.
Iran has increased the preparedness of its air defence systems and Major General Qasem Soleimani, Commander of the Iranian Islamic Revolution Guards Quds Force, has been inspecting Iraqi and militia positions north of Baghdad. A little internet digging has suggested that Major General Soleimani and General Hasan Gohari were able to slip, with impunity, in and out of Baghdad, during the occupation by coalition forces 2003 – 2011; exactly who was the Iraqi government taking ‘advice’ from?
Obama stated ‘This is a regional problem, and it is going to be a long-term problem …… what we’re going to have to do is combine selective actions by our military to make sure that we’re going after terrorists who could harm our personnel overseas or eventually hit the homeland’. I guess using the term ‘terrorist’ is easier for the general population to digest as they might be easily confused by Isis, IsiL, Shia, Shi’ite, Iran, Iraq and Syria.
As the United States ramps itself up for another bombing and cruise missile frenzy, with the civilians caught up in it labelled as ‘co-lateral damage’, it’s worth remembering the words of Brigadier General William R Looney III on Operation Southern Watch* ‘If they turn on their radars we’re going to blow up their goddam SAMs (surface to air missiles). They know we own their country. We own their airspace …. We dictate the way they live and talk. And that’s what’s great about America right now. It’s a good thing, especially when there’s a lot of oil out there we need’. Postwar bombing Looney Ibid. Washington Post, Page 3, 10 August 1999.
It’s amazing what you discover when writing for BestGore; looking up Brigadier General William R Looney III, I discover that, amongst his many awards he has ‘The Global War on Terrorism Service Medal’. I didn’t know that even existed. So, here is a little more about it, courtesy of Wikipedia; The Global War on Terrorism Service Medal is a military award of the United States military which was created by Executive Order 13289 on 12 March 2003 by President George W Bush. The award recognizes those military service members who have performed service in the War on Terror from 11 September 2001, to a date yet to be determined.
Iraqi government forces have launched air attacks on IsiL positions, including in Tikrit, where a mosque was among buildings targeted; so much for the Geneva Convention (again) and, it appears, that the stand-off in Fallujah has led to the Iraqi forces employing artillery barrages and dropping ‘barrel bombs’ on civilian areas and hospitals.
Despite the counter-attack yesterday, there are reports of fresh clashes in Dujail, Ishaki and Dhuliuya in Salahuddin province, just north of Baghdad and IsiL have vowed to capture Karbala and Najaf, holy Shia cities in the South This brings IsiL fighters to within 60 miles of the capital prompting the evacuation of several hundred United States nationals from a base north of Baghdad.
Britain’s Foreign Minister William Hague has, finally managed to discuss matters with his Turkish counterpart; a step-up from spending so much time with Brad Pitt and Angeline Jolie, last week at a four day London conference intended to place countries under pressure to prevent their soldiers from using rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war.
Mr Hague has indicated that Britain is ‘considering its (surely ‘her’) options’ but he has, apparently ruled out ‘boots on the ground’ whilst ‘looking urgently at other ways to help’ such as ‘counter-terrorism expertise’ which is unlikely to mean TSA style airport staff and more likely to mean British Special Forces and Intelligence Officers; rather like Prime Minister David Cameron’s pledge in 2011 that no British troops would be involved in Libya; whilst, conveniently, forgetting about the British Special Forces and Intelligence Officers.
Meanwhile British politicians have promised £3 million for food, water and, rather oddly, household items for displaced persons, in a show of humanitarian generosity.
Remember the video of the three unfortunate truck drivers stopped by IsiL in Anbar province? The dark bearded individual engaged in the questioning of the drivers prior to their execution at the roadside appears to be a Shakir Wahiyib with a family name of Fahdawi, which suggests that he is a member of the Anbar-based Albu Fahd tribe. He has earned a reputation for appearing unmasked in public and on video, whilst engaging in a series of extremely unpleasant executions. Iraq has, apparently, placed a bounty of US$50,000 on his head.
* Operation Southern Watch began on 27 August 1992 with the stated purpose of ensuring Iraqi compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 of 5 April 1991, which demanded that Iraq “immediately end this repression and express the hope in the same context that an open dialogue will take place to ensure that the human and political rights of all Iraqi citizens are respected.” Nothing in the resolution spelled out the Iraqi no-fly zones or Operation Southern Watch Source: Wikipedia
Photographs of Shakir Wahiyib, mean and fearless executioner for ISIS:
Photo of Major General Qasem Soleimani, Iranian commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Quds Force: