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.

       

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    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

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora