Archive for the ‘Iraqi military’ category

US threatens to shoot down any Iraqi warplane targeting Kurds

October 16, 2017

US threatens to shoot down any Iraqi warplane targeting Kurds, DEBKAfile, October 16, 2017

Iraqi and Kurdish sources reported Monday that the US had warned the Al-Abadi government against deploying the Iraqi air force against Kurdish targets in the fighting which erupted around the oil town of Kirkuk Monday. The US Air Force would shoot the Iraqi planes down, Baghdad was warned. The US also informed the Iraqi government that its military offensive against the Kurds over Kirkuk constituted a flagrant violation of Clause 9 of the Iraqi constitution, as well as a breach of Iraqi-US agreements which prohibit the use of military force for resolving internal political disputes.

Propping up US-Iraqi Mosul flop exposed Baghdad

December 31, 2016

Propping up US-Iraqi Mosul flop exposed Baghdad, DEBKAfile, December 31, 2016

(I receive frequent daily Google alerts on Iraq. Most deal with terrorist attacks in and near Baghdad, sometimes resulting in a few deaths and sometimes resulting in many.  —  DM)

mosul_iraq_destroyed_tank_12-16Iraqi tank blown up by ISIS bomber in Mosul battle

This week, another 1,700 US special operations forces and 4,000 members of the Iraqi federal police and counter-terrorism service (CTS) were urgently sent out to reinforce the crumbling front lines. Their deployment was officially characterized as marking the launch of “the second phase of the operation to retake Mosul.”


The US-backed Iraqi campaign launched in October to liberate Mosul from the clutches of the Islamic State is on its last legs, although the Obama administration and Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi are making every effort to disguise the debacle.

AS DEBKAfile has been reporting for three weeks, the Iraqi army’s Mosul operation has run aground, despite solid US military backing, giving the advantage to Islamic State fighters occupying Iraq’s biggest city since the summer of 2015.

This development has major security ramifications – not only for Iraq, but also for Syria, Jordan, Israel and the West at large.

The jihadists staunched the Iraqi army’s advance by releasing in its path hundreds of suicide killers in waves on foot and in bomb cars. This tactic has inflicted crippling losses on the two elite Iraqi divisions leading the offensive, the Golden Division, which is the backbone of Iraq’s Special Operations forces, and the 9th Armored Division. Devastating losses forced both to pull back from the battlefield.

This week, another 1,700 US special operations forces and 4,000 members of the Iraqi federal police and counter-terrorism service (CTS) were urgently sent out to reinforce the crumbling front lines. Their deployment was officially characterized as marking the launch of “the second phase of the operation to retake Mosul.”

Their real function was to prop up the few positions Iraqi forces have captured so far and save the Mosul offensive from crashing.

Western military observers noted Saturday, Dec. 31, that more and more American troops are to be seen on the embattled city’s front lines. US combatants are therefore fighting face to face with ISIS jihadists, a development the Obama administration is loath to admit, never having released the number of American lives lost in the Mosul offensive.

Our military sources add that the Iraqi counter-terrorism force sent to Mosul was previously posted in Baghdad to secure the capital against Islamist terrorist operations and ISIS attempts to seize the center and Iraqi’s national government centers. Its transfer to Mosul, 356km to the north, exposed central Baghdad to terror.

And, inevitably, on Saturday, two suicide bombers blew themselves up on a main street of the capital, killing 28 people and injuring 40 in their first major attack there in three months since the onset of the Mosul offensive..

This happened the day after the Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook released an unwelcome report that US security agencies “do think [Abu Bakr al] Baghdadi is alive and is still leading” the Islamic group and the battle for Mosul.

ISIS for its part issued a menacing new communiqué that jacked up its threat against neighboring Jordan’s King Abdullah II and his security forces, in the wake of its terrorist-cum-hostage assault earlier this month on the southern town of Karak, in which 10 people were killed and 29 injured.

The communiqué reads:“All Jordanian soldiers, police, mosque preachers, information activists and regime supporters are legitimate targets for the muhahideen’s bullets and knives. All of Jordan is an open battlefield!”

ISIS is informing the world of its coming targets, say DEBKAfile’s counterterrorism sources, which are:

1. The overthrow of the Hashemite king and his rule, and

2. The seizure of southern Jordan.

If Baghdadi succeeds in this scheme, he will gain control of a large stretch of land adjacent to Israel and Egyptian Sinai to the west and Saudi Arabia to the south, thereby bringing both under threat and placing itself close enough to block the port of Aqaba, Jordan’s only outlet to the sea.

From the desert region of southern Jordan, ISIS will also achieve proximity to the Sinai desert – through Israeli and Egyptian Bedouin – and be able to control the main Middle East arms-smuggling route and the Sinai center of operations of this illicit and enormously profitable trade

U.S. Accused of Training Iranian-Tied Forces in Iraq

December 16, 2016

U.S. Accused of Training Iranian-Tied Forces in Iraq, Washington Free Beacon, December 26, 2016

(It all depends on what “Iranian-tied” means. — DM)

pmfIraqi government-backed Popular Mobilization forces take part in a joint military parade with Iraqi security forces in Baghdad / AP

“There are militiamen, Sunni, Shias, and Christians who are not part of the Iranian-backed network in Iraq and are not necessarily amenable to Tehran’s influence,” he said. “However, these are dwarfed, out-financed, and out-gunned by the IRGC-backed militias, who promote the brand of Islamic identity as espoused by the IRGC, and openly display ideological loyalty to the velayat-e faghih (the Islamic Republic’s founding ideology) and Iran’s supreme leader.”


The United States military is facing accusations that it has been training Iraqi militia fighters who are tied to Iran, a charge that military officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon denied this week while insisting that the United States and Iran share common goals in the war-torn country, as both sides fight to eradicate the threat of Islamic State terrorists.

The latest charge that the United States may be directly involved in the training of Iranian-backed militia fighters has reignited concerns that America is becoming too cozy with Iranian interests operating in Iraq, an issue that highlights the difficultly facing U.S forces as they seek to counter the influence of ISIS.

Video recently emerged of U.S. military advisers training Iraqi militia fighters in Makhmur. Some foreign policy observers assessed that these militia fighters may have ties to Iran, which controls an increasing number of Iraqi militia fighters taking on ISIS.

The charge was picked up this week in a lengthy Los Angeles Times exposé claiming, “The U.S. is helping train Iraqi militias historically tied to Iran.”

Senior military sources who spoke to the Free Beacon denied the United States is directly working with Iranian forces, but acknowledged the United States and Iran do share similar goals in Iraq when it comes to combatting the threat of ISIS.

“In Iraq, with regards to ISIL, our interests and Iranian interests have some convergence,” said one senior military official who spoke to the Free Beacon on background, using another acronym for the Islamic State.

Iranian influence over militias in Iraq continues to be a challenge for the United States, which is barred by law from working with any such group. Foreign policy insiders who spoke to the Free Beacon about the issue warned that U.S. intervention against ISIS in Iraq is serving to bolster and legitimize Iran’s regional influence.

During last spring’s campaign in Fallujah, the U.S. provided air cover to Iraqi fighters, some of whom came from militias tied to Iran. Iranian media reported that some of the fighters belonged to Iran’s state-controlled militia.

“The forces that the LA Times observed in that story are not affiliated with Iran,” Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for the U.S. Joint Task Force operating in Iraq, told the Free Beacon. “They are approved as hold forces ‎for terrain that has been liberated by the Iraqi Security Forces. They are being trained by coalition forces. They are local forces, and they represent diverse ethnic and sectarian backgrounds. The local tie is a key element in their acceptance by the population they are going to keep secure.”

Dorrian added that the headline on the LA Times article discussing the training of these militias “is very misleading.”

“There’s a lot of good information ‎in the article but the Iranian tie is nonexistent,” Dorrian said. “The Government of Iraq has enrolled these forces as Popular mobilization forces. I think LAT conflated that fact with Iran. Despite my telling them there’s no tie, they went with that headline.”

Multiple other military officials, Obama administration sources, and outside experts familiar with the matter told the Free Beacon that the militia fighters depicted in recent videos have no ties to Iran.

However, they said the United States and Iran share common goals in Iraq, where the threat of ISIS has sparked sectarian battles and endangered the Western-backed government.

A State Department official authorized only to speak on background told the Free Beacon that the United States does not train any Iranian-tied fighters, even if they are officially backed by the Iraqi government.

“The U.S. provides support to the Iraqi Security Forces, and those aligned with the Iraqi government,” the official said. “The U.S. does not, and will not, provide direct support to any group proscribed by American law, or which does not operate under the aegis of the Iraqi government.”

Much of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMFs, are comprised of Shia Muslim fighters, many of whom are ideologically aligned with Iran’s hardline regime.

Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway, a Defense Department official, confirmed to the Free Beacon that some Iraqi units have been barred from receiving U.S. training due to their inability to pass background checks.

“Some Iraqi units have been restricted from receiving assistance because their commander didn’t pass vetting,” Rankine-Galloway said. “Because that quarterly report is classified, we cannot release which units were disqualified from receiving ITEF assistance.”

Rankine-Galloway further maintained that the United States has not changed its policy with regards to training in Iraq.

“U.S. government support to the counter-ISIL campaign remains by, with, and through the central Government of Iraq—and only to forces under the command and control of the Iraqi Security Forces,” Rankine-Galloway said. “Department of Defense policies on the provision of military assistance to foreign military forces have not changed. Iraqi Security Forces units who receive Iraq Train and Equip Fund assistance are strictly vetted” for ties to terror groups and the government of Iran.

Critics of the Obama administration’s policy in Iraq charge that even if the forces are not directly under the Iranian government’s orders, they are influenced by its senior military leaders.

“For proof the Obama administration treats our enemies like friends, look no further than their efforts to train armed militias loyal to Qassem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC-Qods Forces, in Makhmur,” said one senior congressional aide who works on the matter. “Incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn knows intimately what Iran is capable of, so it’s hoped that he and the Trump administration will reverse this disgrace.”

Amir Toumaj, an Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said that militia fighters tied to Iran far outnumber other fighters in Iraq.

“There are militiamen, Sunni, Shias, and Christians who are not part of the Iranian-backed network in Iraq and are not necessarily amenable to Tehran’s influence,” he said. “However, these are dwarfed, out-financed, and out-gunned by the IRGC-backed militias, who promote the brand of Islamic identity as espoused by the IRGC, and openly display ideological loyalty to the velayat-e faghih (the Islamic Republic’s founding ideology) and Iran’s supreme leader.”

“Key leaders” in the PMF “are beholden to Qassem Soleimani,” a top Iranian military leader, Toumaj said. “For example, the PMF operations commander is Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, Iran’s number one man in Iraq who has been designated as a terrorist by the U.S. Treasury and has overseen lethal attacks against U.S. soldiers during the occupation of Iraq. Iraqi militia and party leaders openly travel to Iran, and have received royal treatment, such as Akram al Kabi, head of Harakat al Nujaba, or the Movement of the Noble. The group under his command has committed war crimes and summary executions of women and children in east Aleppo this past week, according to the U.N.”

“The law legalizing the PMF has been welcomed in Iran. When Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei this past week received Ammar Hakim, head of the National Alliance Shia party that helped passed that bill, he called the PMF a ‘great wealth’ for Iraq that should be ‘supported and consolidated.’”

“The current U.S. policy of defeating the Islamic State above all else is empowering the IRGC-backed network, which has worked to infiltrate the Iraqi government and cement itself into a part of the state and establish an Iraqi version of the IRGC, crystallized in the PMF,” Toumaj said.

Iran’s Tel Afar op is in sync with Russia in Syria

October 30, 2016

Iran’s Tel Afar op is in sync with Russia in Syria, DEBKAfile, October 30, 2016


The irony of this arrangement is that, the US armed the Iraqi army, and indirectly the Shiite militias, for this offensive with top-notch Abrams M1 tanks, M1-198 Howitzers and M88 Recovery vehicles for tanks. All this s valuable hardware looks like ending up away another battlefield away from Mosul in Syria, and under a different command, Russia.


The pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite drive to capture Tel Afar, 55 km from Mosul in western Iraq, was designed less to complete the encirclement of the Islamists in Mosul – in support of the US-led coalition – and more to forge a link in the land bridge Tehran aspires to build to give its Revolutionary Guards free passage to Hizballah and the Shiite groups fighting for Bashar Assad in Syria. This is reported by DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources.

The Iraqi Shiite battle for Afar is led by Iran’s Al Qods chief, Gen. Qassem Soliemani from the front lines.

US and Iraqi commanders of Operation Inherent for expelling ISIS from Mosul welcomed the Iran-led Iraqi Shiites’ initiative to take Tal Afar in order to sever ISIS’ supply lines from Syria to Mosul.

But Iran’s overriding motive in initiating this operation was laid bare by Ahmad al-Asadi, spokesman of the pro-Iranian Iraqi Hashid Shaabi Shiite groups, when he spoke to reporters Saturday, Oct. 29 in Baghdad.

After “clearing” these “terrorist gangs,” from 14,000 sq. km of Iraq including Tal Afar and the regions bordering on Syria, he said, “We are fully ready to cross the border into Syria and fight alongside President Bashar al-Assad.

According to our sources, this plan was not coordinated directly with the US-Iraqi command of the Mosul operation, but with the Russian military command center in the Syrian province of Latakia.

It is important enough for the Russian command to have just established a new center for military and intelligence interchanges. It is staffed by Russian, Turkish, Syrian, Iraqi Shiite and Iranian officers. This mechanism has been put in charge of coordinating Shiite military operations both in Syria and Iraq.

It was decided that when US military assistance or air support is deemed necessary, requests will be piped through the bureau of Iraq’s Shiite Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and passed on to the US-Iraqi command of Operation Inherent.

Russian, Iranian and Turkish officers have thus effectively hitched on to the decision-making process for the Mosul offensive alongside American officers.

The irony of this arrangement is that, the US armed the Iraqi army, and indirectly the Shiite militias, for this offensive with top-notch Abrams M1 tanks, M1-198 Howitzers and M88 Recovery vehicles for tanks. All this s valuable hardware looks like ending up away another battlefield away from Mosul in Syria, and under a different command, Russia..

Tehran will fight Turkey’s role in Mosul operation

October 24, 2016

Tehran will fight Turkey’s role in Mosul operation, DEBKAfile, October 24, 2016


The involvement of Turkish special operations, armored and artillery forces in support of the Kurdish Peshmerga battle to drive ISIS out of Bashiqa, 12 south of Mosul, marks a pivotal moment in the US-led coalition’s anti-ISIS offensive to free Iraq’s second city. The entire Mosul operation hangs in the balance since Turkey stepped into the fighting in Iraq, at the initiative of the US. Instead of fighting ISIS, the coalition’s partners are squaring off to fight each other.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that Turkey was allowed to gatecrash the fighting around Mosul after US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter visited the KRG capital of Irbil Sunday, Oct. 23. He urged Kurdish leaders to bow to President Tayyip Erdogan’s demands for a role in the battle.

The Kurdish leaders succumbed to the pressure with the proviso that Turkey cease its air and artillery assaults on Syrian Kurdish militias in northern Syria.

When Ankara accepted this condition, Ashton set out for the Bashiqa arena, becoming the first US defense secretary to come that close to a battlefront against ISIS in Iraq.

He visited the Turkish military encampment outside Bashiqa and was given a briefing by their commanders. As soon as he departed, Turkish units entered the fray in support of the Peshmerga fighters

According to Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildrim, this involvement was limited to tank and artillery support for the Kurdish forces. Our military sources report, however, that it went much further and included Turkish special operations forces and tanks. By Monday, Oct. 24, Turkish troops were still backing up the Kurdish effort to purge Bashiqa of ISIS fighters.

Tehran’s reaction to this change on the game board was extreme. Our sources report that the pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite militias assigned to subordinate tasks in the Mosul operation were immediately put on a state of readiness. Commanders of the Bader Brigades, the Population Mobilization Force and the Hashd eal-Shaabi reported that they were standing ready to attack the Turkish forces operating at Bashiqa, whom they termed “gangs of terrorists no less dangerous than ISIS.”

The Iranian government leaned hard on Iraq’s Shiite Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi to make him redirect Iraqi government forces from the Mosul arena to join the Shiite forces preparing to strike the Turkish troops at Bashiqa.

Al-Abadi had in the past week demanded the removal of Turkish troops from Iraqi soil, a demand Ankara just as steadily rebuffed.

Building up at present is an imminent head-to-head fight between Turkish and Kurdish forces on the one hand and Iraqi Shiites on the other.

In an effort to prevent the long-awaited Mosul operation degenerating into an all-out conflagration among US allies, with the Islamist State no doubt cheering on, the Obama administration Monday turned to Tehran, Baghdad, Ankara and Irbil and asked them back off lest they wreck their primary mission of evicting ISIS from Mosul.

Tehran may decide to give ground on this but the price it exacts will be steep: an overhaul of the Iraqi Shiite militias’ rear position and permission for their direct intervention in the battle for Mosul, including their entry into the city. This permission the US commanders have hitherto withheld.

This would be a big prize. Mosul has been coveted by Iranian strategists as a major transit point on the land bridge they have designed to link the Islamic Republic to Syria and the Mediterranean. This prize would go by the board if the Turks and Kurds were first in the liberated city first and assumed control.

Mosul assault – a military Tower of Babel

October 17, 2016

Mosul assault – a military Tower of Babel, DEBKAfile, October 17, 2016


The underlying US rationale for embarking on this high-wire operation is President Barack Obama’s aspiration to achieve Mosul’s liberation before his departure from the White House in January, in the hope that this landmark success will provide a major distraction from his administration’s failed policies in Syria.


Sunday night, Oct. 16, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, supported by a bevy of generals, announced that the military operation to recapture Mosul from its two-year occupation by the Islamic State had begun.

Three formally approved participants are taking part in the operation, DEBKAfile’s military sources report:

1. American special operations, artillery and engineering units – equipped with floating bridges for crossing the Tigris River – plus the US air force for massive bombardment to crush enemy resistance.

2. Iraqi army armored divisions, special ops forces, regular troops and anti-terror police units.

3. The Iraqi Kurds’ Peshmerga.

The Iraqi prime minister pledged formally that only Iraqi fighters would enter Mosul, i.e. no Americans, Kurds or other non-Iraqi forces.

It was a pledge that neither the Iraqi Sunni and Shiite combatants nor the Kurdish and Turkmen fighters trusted him to uphold, after similar promises went by the wayside in the US-led coalition battles fought in the past two years to retake the Iraqi towns of Ramadi, Tikirit, Baiji and Fallujah from ISIS.

The first forces to enter those cities were by and large pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite militias, especially the Bader Brigades and the Popular Mobilization Units, under Iran’s supreme Middle East commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Nonetheless, despite the ravages they wrought in those Sunni cities, US air support was forthcoming for their advance, while in Washington US officials pretended they were helping Iraqi government army units.

With regard to the Mosul campaign, Obama administration officials and military officers, like the Iraqi prime minister, insist there will be no repetition of the Iranian-backed Shiite invasion and conquest of yet another Sunni city, where a million inhabitants still remain.


They don’t explain how this will be prevented when those same pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite forces are already massing northeast of Mosul, near the Iraqi-Syria border, and standing by for the order to advance into the city.

Tehran quite obviously has no intention of being left out of the epic capture of Mosul.

Neither is another uninvited party, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. He too has positioned a Turkish military concentration in Iraq, in defiance of strong objections from Washington and Baghdad. Turkish troops stand ready to move forward to do Erdogan’s will and achieve three strategic goals:

a) To actively frustrate Kurdish Peshmerga entry to Mosul, although its 15,000 fighters out of the 25,000 invasion force are a vital element of the spearhead thrust into the city. Ankara has warned that if Kurds set foot in Mosul, Turkish troops will follow.

b)  To block the path of Syrian Kurdish YPG militiamen from entering Iraq and linking up with their Iraqi brothers-in-arms.

c) To provide backing, including Turkish air support, for the Iraqi Turkmen militias still present in the Turkmen quarter of Mosul.

DEBKAfile’s military sources count six assorted military groupings taking part in the liberation of Mosul. They have nothing in common aside from their determination to drive the Islamic State out.

They are utterly divided on the two main aspects of the offensive: How to achieve their common goal and what happens to Mosul after the Islamist invaders are gone.

The underlying US rationale for embarking on this high-wire operation is President Barack Obama’s aspiration to achieve Mosul’s liberation before his departure from the White House in January, in the hope that this landmark success will provide a major distraction from his administration’s failed policies in Syria.

The Islamic State might have been expected to take advantage of the prior warning of the offensive for a stand in defense of the Iraqi capital of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s caliphate and so exploit the conflicting interests of the invading force.

But ISIS leaders decided against waiting for the combined offensive. Indeed, according to DEBKAfile’s sources, thousands of jihadis made tracks out of the city two or three months ago, relocating the bulk of their combat strength and institutions in two new locations: in the western Iraqi desert province of Anbar at a site between the Jordanian and Saudi borders and eastern Syria. Several hundred fighters were left behind in Mosul to harass the US-Iraq-Kurdish armies as they advance into the city and exploit the invaders’ discord to retain a foothold in Mosul.

The Obama administration is pushing Iraq into further chaos

September 30, 2016

The Obama administration is pushing Iraq into further chaos, Washington Post, Editorial Board, September 29, 2016

mideast_islamic_state_analysis-6073a-1671A member of Iraqi counterterrorism forces stands guard near Islamic State group militant graffiti in Fallujah, Iraq, in June. (Hadi Mizban/Associated Press)

Though the absence of such political solutions facilitated the rise of the Islamic State, the Obama administration is not pushing for them. It is not using its considerable leverage — U.S. air support will be vital to liberating Mosul — to insist on better political preparations or the exclusion of Shiite militias. Instead, eager for the operation to begin before President Obama leaves office, it has been encouraging Mr. Abadi to speed up the Mosul offensive, while leaving the Day After problem to the Iraqis. That is a highly risky course.


AN ASSAULT by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces on Mosul, the largest stronghold of the Islamic State, is expected within weeks — far sooner than seemed likely a few months ago. Unfortunately, the acceleration is not good news. The government of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is rushing the operation forward even though it lacks a strategy to secure and govern the multiethnic city of roughly 1 million people once the terrorists are driven out. It is recruiting sectarian militia forces that have a record of abusing civilians and seizing territory for themselves. Plans for protecting refugees, who may number in the hundreds of thousands, are sketchy.

In short, the Mosul offensive is setting the stage for a potentially catastrophic Day After problem. Though the United States has painfully experienced what such poor preparation can lead to, in Baghdad in 2003 and Libya a decade later, it is pushing the Abadi government to move still faster.

Military experts are more concerned about the aftermath than the fight itself. Brig. Gen. William F. Mullen, who was deputy commander for U.S. operations in Iraq until June, predicted last week that Islamic State defenses in Mosul could collapse quickly. “And then what?” he asked at a forum at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The Iraqi government’s plan, he said, amounts to “chips will fall and we’ll sort it out when we get to that.”

“That’s not a good plan,” Mr. Mullen said. “This is going to be ugly.”

It’s not hard to foresee where the ugliness will come from. Though the Mosul attack is expected to be led by U.S.-trained Iraqi counterterrorism units, Mr. Abadi has said Shiite militia forces also will participate. Iraqi Kurdish units may also move in from the north. Controlled by Iran rather than the Baghdad government, several of the Shiite militias were accused of atrocities during and after operations in the Sunni cities of Ramadi and Fallujah. There is ample reason to fear similar abuses against Sunnis in Mosul.

Once the Islamic State is vanquished, the various forces may turn on one another. Kurdish and Shiite fighters already have sparred in nearby Diyala province. Turkey has threatened to intervene on behalf of ethnic Turks in the city. Though a Sunni police force is being trained, it is a fraction of the size needed to prevent human rights abuses and factional fighting.

Plans for governance are equally threadbare. Iraqi leaders reportedly want to restore the former provincial governor and council, but that could be contested by another former governor with his own Sunni force. More important, the Baghdad government has taken no serious steps to resolve long-standing disputes with Sunni and Kurdish leaders over territory, revenue and the delegation of powers to local governments.

Though the absence of such political solutions facilitated the rise of the Islamic State, the Obama administration is not pushing for them. It is not using its considerable leverage — U.S. air support will be vital to liberating Mosul — to insist on better political preparations or the exclusion of Shiite militias. Instead, eager for the operation to begin before President Obama leaves office, it has been encouraging Mr. Abadi to speed up the Mosul offensive, while leaving the Day After problem to the Iraqis. That is a highly risky course.

More airports under ISIS threat after Istanbul

June 29, 2016

More airports under ISIS threat after Istanbul, DEBKAfile, June 29, 2016


The US, Europe and the Middle East are again refusing to connect the dots of the terrorist threat, recalling the denial that marked the peak period of Al Qaeda’s atrocities in the early 2000’s.

When the US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter trumpeted the Fallujah victory over the Islamic State on June 27, he neglected to disclose that the real victors were Iranians – not Iraqis. The next day, an ISIS suicide attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk airport overshadowed that success, killing at least 41 people including 13 foreign nationald and injuring more than 230.

As the Obama administration labored to conceal from the public in the West its strategy of using Shiite forces to hammer ISIS in Iraq and parts of Syria, the Sunni terrorists retaliated in Istanbul – and not just there.

Seven ISIS suicide bombers, some on motorcycles, exploded on Monday, June 27, in a Christian village in the Lebanon Valley near Baʿalbek. A week earlier, an ISIS suicide bomber blew himself up at the gates of a large Jordanian military base on the Syrian border.

The connection between the ISIS arenas and cause and event is there for anyone who wants to see it.

ISIS has a ready store of suicide bombers who are willing to blow themselves up, not just because they are ‘extreme fanatics’ or “thugs” as President Obama insists on defining them, but because they believe they are fighting a religious war: Sunnis against Shiites, Sunnis against Christians and Sunnis against Jews.

On this point, Obama is in denial.

Turkey’s Sunni President Tayyip Erdogan was swiftly punished for concluding a political-military-intelligence agreement with the Jewish state. That same day, three suicide bombers, probably waiting for months at a safe house near the Istanbul airport, were ordered from ISIS Syrian headquarters in Raqqa, to go into action.

Neither the dense US intelligence net in the region, nor Turkish and Israeli intelligence managed to intercept the order.

DEBKAfile intelligence sources point out that the highly secure Ataturk airport, the third largest in Europe, is not the only one on the continent at which ISIS suicide units are lurking ready to strike.

American-European intelligence input points to their presence near at least two or three other airports in Europe. The problem is that the intel is very general, pointing to intent, with no specifics on countries or airports.

The public in the West and Middle-East are not told either about the ‘small’ victories scored by ISIS on the battle field. For instance, ISIS forces managed to block the Syrian-Hizballah advance towards the highway leading from Palmyra to Raqqa, inflicting heavy losses despite Russian air cover.

In Israel, where security awareness is usually high, no one was told about the successful ISIS engagement at the Syria-Jordan-Israel border junction bordering on the Israeli Golan against US-trained and armed Syrian rebels, who fought under artillery cover from Jordan.

In other words, ISIS has established itself on the Israeli border, a few kilometers away from the Sea of Galilee and Tiberius.

The Islamic State is fully geared to respond to such losses as Fallujah by going for strategic gains on the ground and inflicting horrible retribution on its victims by remotely activating sleeper cells of suicide killers.

Rather than being degraded, as Obama claims, ISIS is fully equipped to target its victims across several continents.

On Tuesday Istanbul airport was its chosen target. Now, we must wait and see who is next.

Satire | Shi’a death squads liberate Fallujah from Sunni death squads

June 22, 2016

Shi’a death squads liberate Fallujah from Sunni death squads, Duffel Blog, June 22, 2016

iraq-army-fallujah-1000x600Members of the Iraqi Army pass in review. (USMC photo.)

FALLUJAH, Iraq — Shi’a death squads have resumed patrols on the streets of Fallujah, “restor[ing] a sense of normalcy” to the beleaguered Iraqi city, residents say.

The Shi’a patrols follow the flight of Sunni death squads, religious police, and bootleg pornography vendors who had dominated the largely Sunni city since the Islamic State conquered it in 2014. The rapid departure of ISIS has paved the way for a welcome return to sectarian tension, corruption and graft.

Iraqi government forces announced new rules, heralding an end to the barbaric reign of ISIS.

“We are delighted to announce an end to the Sunni-on-Sunni rape that has so typified Daesh rule,” said Brig. Gen. Haider al-Obeidi of the Iraqi Federal Police/Iranian Revolutionary Guard. “From now on, brutal violence against women and children will be conducted under the rule of law.”

Fallujah’s embattled population expressed their gratitude at their liberation from slavery to second class citizenship.

“We’re just so grateful!” exclaimed repatriated resident Amira Albu Issa. “I thought we’d surely be killed for being Christian, but now, we only have to worry about being killed for going outside on Friday nights.”

Shopkeepers in Fallujah were equally overjoyed. “We will no longer pay ten percent zakat to the religious police, but only two percent for the protection racket instead! Allahu Akbar!”

Prime Minister Haider al-Badi also expressed his gratitude to the Iraqi Army, Popular Mobilization Units and militia that may or may not have been trained by Iran that backed them.

“Fallujah has returned to the embrace of the nation,” al-Badi said. “Now we must begin the rough task of providing security, rooting out heretics, punishing collaborators, and avenging Hassan.”

“We’re sending the very best personnel to aid in this undertaking.”

Prime Minister Al-Badi went to detail a security package featuring members of Asaib Ahl Haq, the Mahdi Army and the Iranian Qods Force, who would be taking point.

“I am excited to have this opportunity.” said Akram Abbas al Kabi, a former senior commander of Asaib Ahl Haq and current militia member. “We won’t let the Prime Minister or our country down.” Al-Kabi then called “dibs” on the first woman to “show some ankle.”


Iran’s Soleimani leads US-backed attack on Fallujah

May 24, 2016

Iran’s Soleimani leads US-backed attack on Fallujah, DEBKAfile, May 24, 2016

Qassem_Soleimani_overseeing_Fallujah_ops_1Exclusive photo of war conference.

For months, US President Barack Obama and the Pentagon opposed the participation by pro-Iranian militias in the war against ISIS in Iraq.

The main objection were to the Popular Mobilization Army commanded by Iranian Gen. Abu Mahdi al Muhandis who has been named as a “specially designated global terrorist” by Washington.

The US was also against the Badr Organization (formerly the Badr Brigade) commanded by Hadi Al-Amiri from Iran’s Al Qods Brigades. These militias slaughtered the Sunni residents of cities that they recaptured from ISIS during the last year. As a result, many Sunni Iraqis preferred to be ruled by ISIS, and did not trust the coalition of US, Baghdad and Tehran.

But on May 22, with the start of the Iraqi attack on Fallujah, the capital of Anbar province in western Iraq, it became clear that the participation of pro-Iranian forces is no longer taboo for the US.

Even though Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced that 35,000 Iraqi troops launched an attack to liberate Fallujah from ISIS, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report that most of these forces are not participating in the assault.

It is spearheaded by the Popular Mobilization Army and the Badr Organization, and they are under the direct command of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of Iranian forces in Iraq and Syria, who is operating from a field command center.

The US air force is helping Soleimani’s attempt to capture Fallujah.

In a new exclusive photo showing the Iranian war room on the front, Soleimani is seen smoking a thick cigar with al-Muhandis on his left, leaning on a US map of the area of the battle.

Our military sources report that by assisting the offensive, which the Obama administration opposed for a long time, the Americans have actually given up on attacking Mosul, the ISIS capital in Iraq, any time soon.
Instead of liberating Mosul, Washington now prefers to place it under siege and gradually cause the collapse of ISIS rule.

The American decision to support Soleimani’s operation shows the central role played by Iran for the past few weeks in the wars carried out by the US and Russia in the Middle East.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the Iranian general came to Fallujah from northern Syria, near the city of Aleppo, where he commanded the Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah armies. At this stage, it can be concluded that he has failed against the Syrian rebels on the Aleppo front.

Following that failure of that campaign, which was backed by Russian air power, Soleimani has relocated to the Fallujah front where his troops are operating under the protective umbrella of the US air force.