News / Middle East

    Iraqi Militants Seize Mosul in Quest for Islamic State

    A Kurdish policeman stands guard while refugees fleeing Mosul head to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region in Irbil, Iraq, June 10, 2014.
    A Kurdish policeman stands guard while refugees fleeing Mosul head to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region in Irbil, Iraq, June 10, 2014.
    Amanda Scott
    Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant overran Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, Tuesday as part of their push to create a region ruled by Islamic law in parts of Iraq and Syria.  Analysts say this attack, which follows similar gains in Ramadi and Fallujah, is part of a wider objective of showing the Iraqi government's weaknesses as a way to garner support for their campaign.  

     Witnesses say hundreds of fighters in military dress arrived in Mosul's southern section and made their way to the west before capturing the heart of the city while taking control of military bases, government facilities and television stations.

    Amir Goran, a Mosul-based reporter for VOA's Kurdish service, says in the beginning, everyone was expecting a strong response from Iraqi government forces backed by their helicopter gunships.  He says no one expected the ISIL militants to take control of the entire city.

    A doctor based in Mosul described his sense of shock in realizing that the city been left defenseless.

    "There is no fighting. They run away.  Everybody, the army, they run away.  It is unbelievable.  All the the army on the left side of the city, leave the city without any fighting," he said.

    Ken Pollack, a Middle East expert with the Brookings Institution, says the lack of response by Iraqi forces is the result of the politicization of the Iraqi military and a reduction in the training of its forces.

    "What we saw from the Iraqi security forces in Mosul is indicative of a larger pattern that we've seen with the Iraqi military since the departure of American forces since 2011," said Pollack. "The Iraqis were never terrific to begin with, but they achieved a certain level of competency under the Americans."

    Pollack says other factors, including the replacement of key generals, has led to a wide-scale breakdown in morale, which is evident in the army's fighting against ISIL militants in Fallujah, Anbar province and Mosul.

    He says the ISIL has thrived during that breakdown, also tapping into the disillusionment of many of Iraq's minority Sunni Arabs who feel they are being marginalized and have no alternative but to fight the Shia-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

    "What we have seen is that ISIL has grown enormously in strength over the past two or three years as a result of the disillusionment of the Arab Sunni community with the Shia-dominated government of Nouri al-Maliki.  There is an increasing sense among Sunnis that Nouri al-Maliki is nothing but a Shia chauvinist who seeks to oppress them exactly as they oppressed the Shia under Saddam Hussein's regime," he said.

    The takeover of Mosul is the latest step in the ISIL's campaign to create an Islamist state in western Iraq and eastern Syria.  In broadcasts to the city's  residents, the militants said they want to preserve the safety of civilians and promised not to inflict damage to their properties or government buildings.

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: meanbill from: USA
    June 11, 2014 1:05 AM
    MY OPINION? -- The Saudi's are the ones who are planning to revive the Caliphate, with the despotic King of Saudi Arabia? -- (CRAZY AS IT SEEMS?) -- The US is helping to overthrow any non-Sunni countries for Saudi Arabia, and the Sunni Monarchies, and arming and supplying them... (LOOK at a map, and who did the US President bow too?)..

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora