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Iraq on brink of collapse

  • Iraqi men gather outside of the main army recruiting center to volunteer for military service in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, June. 12, 2014, after authorities urged Iraqis to help battle insurgents.  The al-Qaida-inspired group that led the charge in capturing two key Sunni-dominated cities in Iraq this week vowed on Thursday to march on to Baghdad, raising fears about the Shiite-led government's ability to slow the assault following the insurgents' lightning gains. (AP Photo/ Karim Kadim)

    Iraqi men gather outside of the main army recruiting center to volunteer for military service in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, June. 12, 2014, after authorities urged Iraqis to help battle insurgents. The al-Qaida-inspired group that led the charge in capturing two key Sunni-dominated cities in Iraq this week vowed on Thursday to march on to Baghdad, raising fears about the Shiite-led government's ability to slow the assault following the insurgents' lightning gains. (AP Photo/ Karim Kadim)

  • This image made from video posted by Iraqi0Revolution, a group supporting the al-Qaida breakaway Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Wednesday, June 12, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows a militant standing in front of a burning Iraqi Army Humvee in Tikrit, Iraq. The al-Qaida-inspired group that led the charge in capturing two key Sunni-dominated cities in Iraq this week has vowed to march on to Baghdad, raising fears about the Shiite-led government’s ability to slow the assault following lightening gains. Fighters from ISIL on Wednesday took Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, as soldiers and security forces abandoned their posts and yielded ground once controlled by U.S. forces. (AP Photo/Iraqi0Revolution via AP video)

    This image made from video posted by Iraqi0Revolution, a group supporting the al-Qaida breakaway Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Wednesday, June 12, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows a militant standing in front of a burning Iraqi Army Humvee in Tikrit, Iraq. The al-Qaida-inspired group that led the charge in capturing two key Sunni-dominated cities in Iraq this week has vowed to march on to Baghdad, raising fears about the Shiite-led government’s ability to slow the assault following lightening gains. Fighters from ISIL on Wednesday took Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, as soldiers and security forces abandoned their posts and yielded ground once controlled by U.S. forces. (AP Photo/Iraqi0Revolution via AP video)

  • Refugees fleeing from Mosul head to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region in Irbil, Iraq, 350 kilometers (217 miles) north of Baghdad, Thursday, June 12, 2014. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the al-Qaida breakaway group, on Monday and Tuesday took over much of Mosul in Iraq and then swept into the city of Tikrit further south. An estimated half a million residents fled Mosul, the economically important city. (AP Photo)

    Refugees fleeing from Mosul head to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region in Irbil, Iraq, 350 kilometers (217 miles) north of Baghdad, Thursday, June 12, 2014. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the al-Qaida breakaway group, on Monday and Tuesday took over much of Mosul in Iraq and then swept into the city of Tikrit further south. An estimated half a million residents fled Mosul, the economically important city. (AP Photo)

  • Iraqi army armored vehicle is seen burned on a street of the northern city of Mosul, Iraq, Thursday, June 12, 2014. The al-Qaida-inspired group that captured two key Sunni-dominated cities in Iraq this week vowed on Thursday to march on to Baghdad, raising fears about the Shiite-led government's ability to slow the assault following the insurgents' lightning gains. Fighters from ISIL on Wednesday took Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, as soldiers and security forces abandoned their posts and yielded ground once controlled by U.S. forces. (AP Photo)

    Iraqi army armored vehicle is seen burned on a street of the northern city of Mosul, Iraq, Thursday, June 12, 2014. The al-Qaida-inspired group that captured two key Sunni-dominated cities in Iraq this week vowed on Thursday to march on to Baghdad, raising fears about the Shiite-led government's ability to slow the assault following the insurgents' lightning gains. Fighters from ISIL on Wednesday took Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, as soldiers and security forces abandoned their posts and yielded ground once controlled by U.S. forces. (AP Photo)

  • Iraqi men gather outside of the main army recruiting center to volunteer for military service in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, June. 12, 2014, after authorities urged Iraqis to help battle insurgents.  The al-Qaida-inspired group that led the charge in capturing two key Sunni-dominated cities in Iraq this week vowed on Thursday to march on to Baghdad, raising fears about the Shiite-led government's ability to slow the assault following the insurgents' lightning gains. (AP Photo/ Karim Kadim)
  • This image made from video posted by Iraqi0Revolution, a group supporting the al-Qaida breakaway Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Wednesday, June 12, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows a militant standing in front of a burning Iraqi Army Humvee in Tikrit, Iraq. The al-Qaida-inspired group that led the charge in capturing two key Sunni-dominated cities in Iraq this week has vowed to march on to Baghdad, raising fears about the Shiite-led government’s ability to slow the assault following lightening gains. Fighters from ISIL on Wednesday took Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, as soldiers and security forces abandoned their posts and yielded ground once controlled by U.S. forces. (AP Photo/Iraqi0Revolution via AP video)
  • Refugees fleeing from Mosul head to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region in Irbil, Iraq, 350 kilometers (217 miles) north of Baghdad, Thursday, June 12, 2014. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the al-Qaida breakaway group, on Monday and Tuesday took over much of Mosul in Iraq and then swept into the city of Tikrit further south. An estimated half a million residents fled Mosul, the economically important city. (AP Photo)
  • Iraqi army armored vehicle is seen burned on a street of the northern city of Mosul, Iraq, Thursday, June 12, 2014. The al-Qaida-inspired group that captured two key Sunni-dominated cities in Iraq this week vowed on Thursday to march on to Baghdad, raising fears about the Shiite-led government's ability to slow the assault following the insurgents' lightning gains. Fighters from ISIL on Wednesday took Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, as soldiers and security forces abandoned their posts and yielded ground once controlled by U.S. forces. (AP Photo)

Iraq was on the brink of falling apart yesterday as al-Qaida renegades asserted their authority over Sunni areas in the north, Kurds seized control of the city of Kirkuk and the Shiite-led government appealed for volunteers to help defend its shrinking domain.

The discredited Iraqi army scrambled to recover after the humiliating rout of the past three days, dispatching elite troops to confront the militants in the central town of Samarra and claiming that it had recaptured Tikrit, the home town of the late Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein, whose regime was toppled by U.S. troops sweeping north from Kuwait in 2003.

But there was no sign that the militant push was being reversed. With the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and Syria now sweeping south toward Baghdad, scattering U.S.-trained security forces in its wake, the achievements of America’s eight-year war in Iraq were rapidly being undone. Iraq now seems to be inexorably if unintentionally breaking apart, into Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish enclaves that amount to the de facto partition of the country.

As the scale of the threat to the collapsing Iraqi state became clear, Obama administration officials met to discuss options for a response, including possible airstrikes. An Iraqi official close to the office of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the United States had committed to carrying out airstrikes against the militants, but U.S. officials said no decision had been reached.

President Obama indicated there would be some form of intervention, though he did not specify what. “It’s fair to say . . . there will be some short-term, immediate things that need to be done militarily,” he said.

The attempted government counteroffensive only appeared to have slowed the pace of the advance of the extremist army, which had headed south toward Baghdad after capturing the northern city of Mosul earlier this week. More than 90,000 Iraqi soldiers deserted rather than confront the militants, according to the official close to Maliki’s office who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the media.

The official said the extent of the militants’ control of Tikrit had been exaggerated and that it is now back in government hands. He denied a report in the Wall Street Journal that members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps had helped the security forces.

But the official’s claim could not be confirmed. A chilling video posted on YouTube showed hundreds of Iraqi soldiers captured at the former Speicher U.S. military base being herded by the militants to an uncertain fate, amid fears that they had been executed.

Even as the security forces attempted to regroup elsewhere, the government lost control of more territory in the northeast of the country, to Kurdish forces who took advantage of the chaos to assert control, unopposed, of the city of Kirkuk.

The government of the semiautonomous region of Kurdistan has long coveted Kirkuk, which sits atop a large if depleted reservoir of oil, as the capital of an independent Kurdish state. Successive Baghdad governments have pushed back against those aspirations, and the seizure of Kirkuk further exposed the helplessness of the central authorities.

Meanwhile in Mosul, one of Iraq’s most important cities, ISIS set about asserting its control, issuing an 11-point charter spelling out the creation of an Islamic state along with new laws, punishments and incentives. Alcohol, cigarettes and drugs are outlawed, citizens will henceforth be required to pray five times a day, thieves will have their hands amputated and women must stay indoors except in cases of emergency, the charter said.

“To those of you who ask, ‘Who are you?’ The answer: We are the soldiers of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria . . . who took it upon ourselves to bring back the glory of the Islamic Caliphate and turn back injustice and indignity,” the charter announced.

It also struck a conciliatory note, telling citizens that those who embraced its vision would be forgiven. “Whoever hated us yesterday is safe, unless he rejects, fights or abandons Islam,” the charter said. Those who oppose their new rulers, however, will be “killed, crucified or have their hands and feet cut off,” it added.

For many in the mostly Sunni city, the ouster of the hated national security forces was welcome, offering a sign of just how much the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad has alienated the Sunni population in the eight years since Maliki came to power.

There were celebrations on the streets of the city overnight Tuesday, according to videos posted on the ynternet, as ISIS fighters paraded some of the booty they captured from fleeing security forces, including an assortment of army and police vehicles. The Iraqi official confirmed numerous eyewitness reports that the militants flew a captured helicopter over the city late Tuesday.

Some 500,000 citizens have fled the city of 1.5 million, seeking refuge in nearby Kurdistan. Yesterday, however, Mosul residents said life was getting back to normal under the supervision of ISIS fighters, who have prevented looting, protected banks and institutions and imposed a level of security unknown under the rule of the reputedly corrupt and inefficient security forces.

“Normal people, like me, we aren’t scared,” said Wissam Attiyeh, a 33-year-old electrical engineer who was leaving town with his wife and five children; he said it was fear of Maliki’s response, not ISIS rule, that was driving them to flee. “The ones who are scared are those who did something bad in the past, like those in the army and the police.”

He said ISIS had restored electricity, were running services and that shops and businesses have reopened. “People are willing to give them a chance,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad and in towns and cities further south, young men flocked to recruitment centers to volunteer to fight against the extremists, underscoring the sharpening sectarian divide that risks engulfing the entire country in war.

State television broadcast footage of the long lines, accompanied by patriotic songs whose lyrics tout the army’s achievements: “We’re the soldiers of the nation, we shall never retreat.”

Shiite militias also were gearing up for a fight.

“We announce our readiness to defend Iraq and its holy shrines,” said the Iranian-backed Asaib Ahl Al-Haq in a statement, pledging “revenge for the blood of the martyrs” killed by ISIS.

The statement came as ISIS issued its own pledge to avenge past grievances, vowing to march on Baghdad “to settle scores” and also the holy Shiite cities of Najaf and Karbala farther south. In an audio address posted on the internet, ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani taunted Maliki. “What have you done to your people, oh foolish one?” he said. “You lost a historic opportunity for your people to control Iraq, and the Shiites will always curse you for as long as you live.”

In yet another indication of Maliki’s growing powerlessness, parliamentarians failed to show up in sufficient numbers to secure a quorum for his request for the passage of a law declaring a state of emergency.

Legacy Comments11

What condition was Iraq in when Bush left office? Take it from there and then it is pretty easy to see what happened. Collie is right, the troops were pulled out too soon. The Iraq army was making very slow progress in getting their act together. President Obama was campaigning to get his second election assured. As usual, with this President, politics rule. I agree we should not have been there, but we are, so dealing with it was important in regards to what happens down the road. All foreign policy under this President and Hillary Clinton is nothing short of leading from behind. They dealt with nothing till it became a crisis. Then it is too late.

Sowwy Wabbit, but the real starting point here is WHY Gee Dubya went into Iraq in the first place? And the answer is, to restore his father's rep. Please hit rewind all the way to Desert Storm in 1991. What was the only criticism of GHWB in the aftermath of our forces kicking butt in Kuwait? That Bush #41 didn't complete the job by getting Saddam. Now fast-forward to September of 2001. What does 'little George Bush' do in the direct aftermath of "911"? He mistakenly fingers Saddam as the culprit. Doesn't take Paul Harvey to tell you...the rest of the story. So, love him or hate him, you can't pin Iraq or Afghanistan on Obama, any more than you can blame "Alice" for cleaning up a mess made by the Brady Bunch.

You did not get my point DL. My post was not intended to defend Bush. My point was, the condition of Iraq when President Obama took over and what has happened since. At some point you have to judge what exactly President Obama did or did not do in regards to foreign policy. You cannot keep blaming others for your performance while in office. At some point President Obama has to take responsibility for his tenure. That seems to be the running theme here, he inherited this and that. What about the theme what did he do with what he inherited? Why is President Obama's term in office not evaluated?

I got your point, Wabbit. Problem here is, you don't get THE point. You apparently are under the misconception that Iraq was in great shape when Bush #43 left office. Wrong. It was a 'house of cards' from the get-go. There wasn't a rebellion going when GWB made the decision to take out Saddam. It wasn't the US and her allies assisting the Iraqi people in finishing the job. It was a clear case of Gee Dubya pointing the finger at Saddam for "911", which was absolute BS. But it satisfied his agenda; to vindicate "Daddy". The new government was forced upon the Iraqis. It wasn't their will that brought Saddam down, it was Gee Dubya's. In short, Obama couldn't be expected to make a silk purse from a sow's ear. The man solely responsible for the current mess over there is George Walker Bush. It was GWB, and GWB alone, that got thousands of good US soldiers killed and wounded. And for what? NOTHING.

This is sickening, but not unexpected. I feel for parents, wives and children who lost loved ones in this conflict. "For what"!! Another screw up from a President and Administration that could not run a lemonade stand!!!! Thanks to our inept Government, they will be coming for us soon. What astounds me, is nobody really cares. Fun and games, dancing down the road. Learn from history America! Our days as a nation are numbered, if someone does not smarten up pretty soon. Radical Islam wants to take over the world and kill everyone who does not bow to Allah. Geez, will you ever get it!!

No blame for the administration that got us into this unwinnable situation in the first place? Just what do you think the Obama Administration could have done to prevent this inevitable outcome? You said yourself it was not unexpected.

Well, I would agree that Bush should not have gone into Iraq without more intelligence but in principle the other reason which was to free the Iraqi people is not much different than what Obama pulled in Libya and Egypt and those countries are in turmoil as well. Obama kept announcing the date of withdrawl which was a mistake and Republicans wanted to leave a small military presence there, Obama refused. Malaki has been asking for help for months, Obama showed no interest. ISIS is now the richest terrorist group in the world. We are expecting people in the 21st century, practicing a religion which has never gone through reformation to be civilized. Unfortunately, they act more like savages. It is far more dangerous to do nothing but we can expect that Obama will do little else.

At some point we would have had to leave anyway the timing is not an issue. From the second that the first US boot touched down in Iraq we had already lost the war. We may have won the battles but lost the war because the only way to effect a change is with a brutal iron fist and occupation. Neither of which we do. You claim to have a degree in history, tell us who the last person to win a war in what is now Iraq, was. Alexander the Great is the answer as you know. So not even the Russian's did any better than we did. A smart card player knows when to fold, that is what Obama did. What would you have him do knowing the history of the region? Sacrifice more American lives and running up more debt?

We lost Vietnam because the politicians would not allow us to win. My college roommates father was a Marine Colonel and a pilot and they would see convoys and be called off from attacking them. Many officers from that era said the same thing. It happened again in Iraq, we involve lawyers to decide whether we can attack a convoy of terrorists. Our soldiers can and could win if we allowed them to fight. In reality, the Middle East as a whole (exception Israel) is populated by people with a 12th century mindset and 21st century technology. That makes them DANGEROUS. Up next is Iran getting a nuke, wait and see, Obama will fold on that. So, ISIS is not approaching Baghdad. The answer to this is to carpet bomb their advance (we know where they are through satellites) and if necessary obliterate the advancement to stop the madness of these subhuman extremists. And I don't care what Muslims think, this group is raping women and beheading people. We need to take a stand and protect what our soldiers sacrificed their lives for.

You still don't get it, are you sure you have a pertinent history degree. You bare dealing with a tribal and secular population. You can't carpet bomb these forces away. You could kill all the attacking extremists, but just create more in the fighters in their place. Don't even get me going on Vietnam, we could have won what? We were only there because of the arrogance of US Generals who wanted to test new weapons. Since the end of WWII we have not been involved in any battle where we faced a direct threat. We certainly didn't want to fight China. The days of solving terrorist problems by killing them are long gone, you just create more each time you kill one.

Absolutely correct, the previous administration also owns this along with the present. We should never have gone in there but we did so leaving a presence of troops there until more stable should have been done.

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