News / Middle East

Iraq Militants Make Strides, Shi'ite Cleric Issues Call to Arms

Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraq city of Mosul, June 11, 2014.
Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraq city of Mosul, June 11, 2014.
Edward Yeranian
A crowd of Shi'ite worshipers in the iconic shrine city of Karbala applauded Friday, as senior cleric Abdel Mehdi al Karbalaie, representing Iraq's top Shi'ite spiritual leader Sheikh Ali Sistani, urged Iraqi citizens to volunteer and defend their country against Sunni ISIL militants:

He said that Iraq is going through an extremely critical period....and that it is the patriotic duty of its sons who are able to bear arms to defend their country, their people and their holy sites by volunteering to join the security forces. He also urges Iraqi politicians to put aside their differences and unite in support for the military.

Hundreds of mostly Shi'ite volunteers lined up in front of army recruiting posts in Baghdad and cities to the south and east.
 
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
 
  • Formed by members of al-Qaida-linked groups in Syria and Iraq
  • Aims to establish an Islamic emirate across Syria and Iraq
  • Led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, former leader of al-Qaida in Iraq
  • Believed to have 5,000 to 7,000 fighters
  • Has launched high-profile attacks in both countries
Some analysts say that over 90 percent of the Iraqi Army is composed of Shi'ites. Al Arabiya TV reported that many Sunni residents of the northern city of Mosul, now under ISIL control, expressed satisfaction that the government army had left.

Asharqiya TV, which supports the government of Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, showed Iraqi Army trucks pushing north from the capital Baghdad Friday, in an urgent bid to stop the advance of ISIL militants.

Some eyewitness reports put the militants just 60 kilometers north of Baghdad, while militants already control Fallujah in Anbar province, 40 kilometers to the west.

Kurdish Pershmerga commander Wafat Raouf said his men were fighting to prevent the ISIL militants from advancing north into Kurdistan, after government forces collapsed:

He says that the security situation was most critical to the south of the disputed oil town of Kirkuk after the Iraqi Army's 12th Brigade collapsed and fled due to low morale.

'Grave threat'

UN representative in Iraq Nicolay Mladinov said at a press conference that Iraq was facing an extremely grave threat to its existence and that the international community was alarmed by recent developments:

“Iraq now faces the biggest threat to the sovereignty and integrity of this country that it has faced in a number of years. The UN and the Security Council are watching very carefully and with great concern the situation in this country," Mladinov said.

Inside the Iraqi capital Baghdad, some residents were reportedly panicking at the approach of Sunni militants. Grocery stores reported a run on key food items, and gas stations that were open also faced heavy demand.

Iraq's major refinery at Beiji, north of Baghdad, was captured by militants Wednesday. Electricity supplies may also be cut if militants advance further south.
 
  • Iraqi Shiite tribal leaders chant slogans against the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in Baghdad, June. 13, 2014. 
  • People clean a street now under militant control, in the northern city of Mosul, June 13, 2014. 
     
  • Members of Iraqi security forces stand guard during an intensive security deployment in Kerbala, southwest of Baghdad, June 13, 2014. 
  • Volunteers who have joined the Iraqi Army to fight against the predominantly Sunni militants gesture from an army truck, Baghdad, June 13, 2014. 
  • A volunteer waits to register to join the Iraqi army. The volunteers want to fight against the predominantly Sunni militants who have taken over Mosul and other northern provinces, Diwaniya province, June 12, 2014. 
  • Sunni Islamist militants gained more ground in Iraq overnight, moving into two towns in the eastern province of Diyala, while U.S. President Barack Obama considered military strikes to halt their advance towards Baghdad. Seen here are members of Iraqi security forces chanting slogans, Baghdad, June 13, 2014.
  • Volunteers who have joined the Iraqi Army to fight against the predominantly Sunni militants chant slogans, Baghdad, June 13, 2014.

     
  • Members of the Kurdish security forces take part in an intensive security deployment on the outskirts of Kirkuk, June 12, 2014.

     

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by: Daniel Phelan
June 13, 2014 1:48 PM
"If we had gone to Baghdad, we would have been all alone. It would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq."

"Once you got to Iraq and took it over, took down Saddam Hussein's government, then what are you going to put in its place?"

"That's a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq, you can easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off."

"It's a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq." - Dick Chenney 1994

"We must assume that the political objective of such an order would have been capturing Saddam Hussein," he wrote. "What purpose would it have served? And would serving that purpose have been worth the many more casualties that would have occurred? Would it have been worth the inevitable follow-up: major occupation forces in Iraq for years to come and a very expensive and complex American proconsulship in Baghdad? Fortunately for America, reasonable people at the time thought not." - Colin Powell – 1991

200,000 dead Iraqi's and the Republicans still say they care about life. It is imperative that we rid our country from the burdens of blood oil. Why I will never vote for a Republican as Commander in Chief.

by: George Sayre from: LV NV
June 13, 2014 1:44 PM
We should at least get the mineral rights from these wars.

by: Sunny Enwerem from: Abeokuta Nigeria
June 13, 2014 1:11 PM
As long as we have an undemocratic Al Meliki as the Prime Minister Iraq will forever seen as a sectarian state governed by an Iranian Puppet, he needs to go to bring true peace or else sunni lives are at risk of killing.

by: meanbill from: USA
June 13, 2014 10:11 AM
THE WISE MAN said it; -- "Where others see defeat, others see victory" -- (THINK ABOUT IT?) -- Maliki of Iraq and Assad of Syria should thank Allah for this (ISIL) attack heading to Bagdad -- because Iraq and Syria can now (mine) their borders, with the (ISIL) terrorists and allies trapped in between Bagdad and the (mined) Syrian border -- and a counter-attack by a great Iraq leader (Maliki), can once and for all destroy the (ISIL) in Iraq, and a complete victory over (ISIL) in Iraq is guaranteed.... (Like the battle of Dien Bien Phu -- the (ISIL) has gone all in, and it's total victory or total defeat for them in Iraq... "The Art of War" .. by Sun Tzu?

by: Not Again from: Canada
June 13, 2014 9:11 AM
There are no good options for the West in the civil wars in Syria and Iraq. Both of these wars are based on religeous fanaticism, a lust for power, the failure of consensus to ensure all groups are willing to compromise and have an input into the running of the states involved. Not one of the adversarial groups are willing to share power; there is no trust between them; and lastly the brutality of the conflicted parties is evermore increasing, pushing a peaceful solution over the near horizon.

Areas that are stable need to be firmed up, to ensure the conflict does not continue to spread. As in all civil wars, the parties on the ground need to reach a ceasefire and stop the war. At this point in time, a ceasefire is not very likely. The flow of resources needs to be controlled/cut off, unfortunately this would take international consensus, which is not in place.

I think that if the ISIL breaches Baghdad the conflict will rapidly spread to adjacent countries, not yet openly involved. It is all a bad situation, which needs containment, like a fire, and then it needs to be put out. Iraq's Shia gvmt needs to do its work, they are the ones mainly responsible for this catastrophic failure, because they did not wish to share power, thus they completely alienated the Sunni population; the Iraqi gvmt needs a new leader, open to compromise....

A political solution maybe beyond possibility= partition maybe the only way ahead, unless some state is willing to pour massive forces to bring the conflict to a limited end, and to the detriment of at least one ethnic group, which will cause blowback.

by: nestor vidal from: saudi arabia
June 13, 2014 3:42 AM
Events all around the world are noticeably islamic headed towards one goal- the estabblishment of an islamic world under one khalifa or king, as written in " interprrtations snd meanings of the noble koran" in the english language, by dr. M. Taqi-ud-din al hilahi and dr. M. Mushin khanl.
In Response

by: Steve from: San Francisco
June 13, 2014 7:01 PM
Yes, with the HELP of the United States as well.
Democracy don't sell in these region and the West is Pushing it so hard. Look, does any Muslim really care or believe in choices? In Democracy? In making individual decisions? In Human Right? In Respect of different sects or Religion?
No, their religion is " I Slam".
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
June 13, 2014 9:20 AM
A CALIPHATE AGAIN? -- This US President bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia -- (AND?) -- this US President supports the Sunni Saudi King and the Sunni Islamic monarchies, against freedom and democracy -- (AND?) -- all the Islamic countries this US President interfered in -- (bringing violence, killings, destruction and war) -- were those Islamic countries that allowed other religions than the Sunni Muslim, in their countries.... (If a Caliphate is being formed, it's for the Saudi King, with the help of this US President?)

MY OPINION? -- In the Islamic world, -- only a King, (like the Saudi King), or other Monarchy leader -- could have himself and his country become the Caliphate -- (BECAUSE?) -- in an elected government it'd be impossible to do. -- (NOW?) -- what Islamic countries did this US President politically interfere in for the Saudi King and a Caliphate -- Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and now Iraq -- (AND?) -- the Saudi King and other Islamic Monarchies are the one's funding all this distruction of non-Sunni countries, aren't they?
In Response

by: Ali baba from: New York
June 13, 2014 7:23 AM
The Islamic goal to convert the world into Islamic empire which run by imam will not happen. Islamic radical action shall be destroyed . if radical Islam believe Obama and prime minister of England are so weak. Another Bush will coming soon and he will not be a nice guy. The radical Islamists are coward and idiot. they believe that the western response is weak. .soon they get right action

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