12.6.14

Τρία αποκαλυπτικά άρθρα του ALMONITOR για τη κατάσταση στο Ιράκ, το ΙΚΙΛ και τον ιρακινό στρατό. Η εκδίκηση του Σαντάμ Χουσεΐν;

ISIS gains from Iraqi military defectors

A civilian stands near damaged vehicles belonging to Iraqi security forces during clashes between Iraqi security forces and al-Qaeda spin-off Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, June 10, 2014. (photo by REUTERS)

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) continues to implement its security and military plan. As soon as the “Breaking the Walls” operation finished during the month of Ramadan last year [July-August 2013], ISIS began to carry out a new plan under the name “Soldiers’ Harvest.” The seizure of the Iraqi city of Mosul falls under the general framework of the latter, putting the region on the verge of the abyss. This situation should ring alarm bells in the Middle East, and particularly in Arab countries.

Facts on the ground show that ISIS is operating according to premeditated plans, taking advantage of the military expertise it gained from former Iraqi army officers who joined the group.
It is important to mention that a number of current ISIS emirs were major generals during the era of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. This experience has enabled ISIS to benefit from weak points in the Iraqi army and gaps in the security apparatus since the emirs are well-acquainted with them. They also allowed ISIS to set up military and security plans that are in line with the situation on the ground and its requirements.

The “Breaking the Walls” operation was announced by
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi himself at the beginning of July 2012. It was the first time his voice was heard since he became leader of the organization’s emirate in May 2010. Data show that after he assumed the position, Baghdadi was able to restructure the organization, which was struggling due to the relapses after 2007. These were caused by the organization’s fight against the US forces, the Iraqi army and the Sahwa and tribal forces. Baghdadi surrounded himself with a large number of consultants and leaders, the majority of whom were [former] officers in the Iraqi army, and set up the plans with them. They took into consideration the expected changes that would emanate from the Arab Spring.

The “Breaking the Walls” plan aimed at liberating detainees in Iraqi prisons. Even though the operation was focused on jihadist detainees, the environment in Iraqi prisons in general constituted an attractive factor for the leaders of ISIS, as they found large numbers of prisoners to recruit. During the latest operation, “Defeating the Tyrants,” carried out as part of “Breaking the Walls,” ISIS broke into the famous Abu Ghraib prison, as well as al-Hout prison in al-Taji. Although there were conflicting reports about the number of prisoners who escaped, estimated at hundreds or thousands, it was certain that hundreds were former leaders in extremist Islamist factions. After they escaped, they became cadres and militants for ISIS.

During this phase, ISIS established itself as one of the most powerful factions in the north and east of Syria and was able to open supply routes extending from its strongholds in the east of Syria to the Iraqi regions where its members were spread. This helped strengthen its forces and take advantage of the fighting experience it gained in Syria to implement in Iraq. The battles in Syria were sometimes fought in the form of [urban] street fights and other times in the form of wars directly between factions. This was not the case in Iraq; therefore ISIS opted for bombings and storming [areas].
This is why the announcement of the “Soldiers’ Harvest” operation at the end of Ramadan 2013 indicated that ISIS had opened a new phase in terms of military planning, taking advantage of its military expertise in Syria and Iraq. All indicators pointed in the direction that Syria would be the favorite battleground to implement this plan, to the extent that the spokesman for ISIS, Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, announced that the bombing of al-Saboura in the countryside of Hama in July 2013 was the first step in the implementation of the plan.

However, developments in Syria, especially on the level of
fighting between ISIS and jihadist factions, led to a change of theater, shifting the focus again to Iraq.
 Last week, we witnessed significant developments, namely the breaking into Samarra, and [ISIS] control over Mosul and the town of Rabia on the Iraqi-Syrian borders.

Some keep saying that the biggest plan of ISIS is to control the largest geographical area possible before the coming Ramadan [at the end of this month] — the date set to announce the establishment of the Islamic caliphate.

ISIS seen as liberators by some Sunnis in Mosul
The jacket belonging to an Iraqi army uniform lies on the ground in front of the remains of a burnt-out Iraqi army vehicle, close to the Kukjali Iraqi army checkpoint, some 10 kilometers (6 miles) east of Mosul, June 11, 2014. (photo by AFP/Getty Images/Safin Hamed)
Dindar Zebari, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) assistant head of the Department of Foreign Relations, announced in a press conference that approximately 500,000 refugees arrived in Iraqi Kurdistan, with about 180,000 refugees in Dahuk and 100,000 in Erbil. The KRG will build three camps near the entry checkpoints of Erbil and Dahuk.

On June 11, the Kurdish security forces took over the Rabia border crossing, replacing Iraqi soldiers who fled, and have mobilized along Kirkuk and disputed areas.
Tiswa Mahmud, an Iraqi citizen from the countryside of Mosul, told Al-Monitor how she fled.
"I slept with my son in the hospital, which was bombed. The Iraqi army surrounded the hospital. We did not have food or water for days. I do not know who shot us. After this, we fled to Dahuk," she said.

Omar Abdulsami, a member of the Iraqi army and a Kurd, told Al-Monitor they fought ISIS close to a hospital. "But when a car bomb exploded, we fled, and left our positions," he said.
According to Abdulsami, the Iraqi army could have defended Mosul, if they stood their ground.
"If just 300 soldiers defended Mosul, we could defend all of Mosul. But in the Iraqi army, only the
Kurds fought. Even off-duty Kurdish soldiers helped us. The police even helped Daash [ISIS] against the Iraqi army and gave their cars. I blame this on [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki and his friends."

Yunis Ibrahim, a member of the Kurdish Zerevani forces, said that at one point there was an accidental skirmish between ISIS, Kurdish forces and the Iraqi army, which wanted to open the road to flee Mosul.
Some civilians who fled Mosul suggest that the Iraqi army — with soldiers mostly from provinces in southern Iraq — is weak because they are not well-liked in Mosul.
Al-Monitor witnessed Iraqi soldiers on June 1 randomly firing shots in the air in the streets of Mosul, and stopping and harassing the local population.
The inhabitants of Mosul see the Iraqi army as a Shiite occupation army from Baghdad, and some civilians welcomed ISIS when they entered Mosul and removed all Iraqi army checkpoints.
Athil al-Nujaifi, governor of Ninevah province, has reportedly lobbied for local police to replace the Iraqi army in Mosul, but Baghdad maintained its military presence, which is deeply unpopular with many residents.

Sunni Arabs and Kurds from Mosul, especially, had no good words for the Iraqi army's deputy chief, Abboud Qanbar, and the head of the Ninevah Operations Command, Mahdi al-Ghrawi, suggesting they had arrested innocent civilians and were involved in corruption.

"The Iraqi army oppressed the people, they stole their money," said Ali Ahmed, a driver, who was shot while fleeing Mosul.

According to Ahmed, the local population in Mosul welcomed ISIS. "The people in Mosul do not like Daash, or Maliki, but they now feel better under Daash, and water and electricity returned."

Ahmed al-Ghadra, 74, a former resident of Mosul, told Al-Monitor the army mistreated him. "The Arab Iraqi people want Maliki to go to prison. He is a traitor. Fourteen Daash members come, and the whole Iraqi army flees. The people of Mosul do not want the
Iraqi army in Mosul. I'm an old man, and they stopped me for one hour at a checkpoint, using bad language."

More witnesses confirm that ISIS treated the civilian population well, and told them that they would only punish those who work with Maliki. Basma Mohammed told Al-Monitor that the situation was horrible in Mosul. "We had no water, no food in Mosul, but now everything is back. They [ISIS] told the people to go back to Mosul."

Dr. Omar al-Faris, from Mosul, who works in the Dahuk emergency hospital, told Al-Monitor that the population welcomed ISIS because they removed all the checkpoints. "Before, it took two hours to get somewhere. Now the civilians are free to move. All of them are happy that the Iraqi army left."
Mohammed Saad Ali from Mosul, whose son was hurt in the crossfire, told Al-Monitor he is not hopeful about the future. "I do not think the Iraqi army can get Mosul back again. For 10 years there was no stability. It is in the hands of God."


ISIS erases Iraq-Syria border
Burnt vehicles belonging to Iraqi security forces are pictured at a checkpoint in east Mosul, one day after radical Sunni Muslim insurgents seized control of the city, June 11, 2014. (photo by REUTERS)

As soon as dozens of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) fighters spread in Mosul’s streets, thousands of Iraqi soldiers and policemen withdrew from the city without resistance, leaving behind their weapons, equipment and vehicles, while displaced persons started knocking on doors in search of a safe place.

Summary Iraqi soldiers and policemen in Mosul fled as soon as Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) convoys entered the city.

Author Mushreq Abbas Posted June 11, 2014
Translator(s)Rani Geha


ISIS wasn’t satisfied by just controlling Mosul; it also controlled all of Ninevah province and eliminated the border between Iraq and Syria at the al-Yaarabiya crossing.

But Mosul’s stature and population (Iraq's second-largest city after Baghdad) make it difficult for ISIS to manage for long. So, ISIS tried to reassure the population and declared its desire to open a dialogue with clerics, city notables and tribal leaders.
Baghdad seemed in a state of shock after receiving news that its army in Mosul had collapsed and that top commanders fled. That shock wasn’t alleviated by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki declaring a general mobilization and him calling on parliament to declare a state of emergency, which is difficult to implement because it would need the support of two-thirds of parliament. Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi called parliament for a special session Thursday [June 12].
Yesterday afternoon [June 10], Al-Hayat obtain information from inside Mosul confirming that a number of clerics, notables and tribal leaders in the city have been invited to meet with ISIS leaders. ISIS also contacted former army members asking them for their “allegiance” to the Islamic state, as the organization had done elsewhere in Syria and Iraq. But tribal figures discounted that and suggested that the organization may try to involve the people in administering the city to prove that what is happening is a “popular revolution” and to give ISIS a chance to use its fighters in new operations.
The
people of Mosul who fled when ISIS’ first armed convoys entered the neighborhoods of “July 17,” al-Najjar, al-Mashrafiyya, al-Yarmouk and Tall Rumman, witnessed the army leaving those neighborhoods before completely leaving the city. The fleeing soldiers said they received vague withdrawal orders from the leadership and that the military unit commanders suddenly disappeared.
Within hours, ISIS fighters, whom the population asserts are a mixture of Iraqi and foreign nationalities, had taken control of the local government headquarters, Mosul airport, the banks, the official institutions and the prisons, from which nearly 1,300 detainees were released.
Yesterday [June 10], Maliki asked parliament to declare a state of emergency and called for regional and international organizations to support Iraq. Regarding the army’s collapse in Mosul, Maliki’s spokesman Ali al-Moussawi read a statement: “The General Command of the Armed Forces has issued instructions to hold accountable, according to the Military Penal Code, those found not having done their duties.”
Although Nujaifi, who hails from Mosul, expressed his willingness to sit down with Maliki, and called for the intervention of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces to liberate the city, he didn’t hide his fears that ISIS may move toward Baghdad. Yesterday [June 10], ISIS gunmen took over Baiji and al-Sainiyya in Saladin province, expanded westward toward the Rabia crossing and took control of both sides of the Iraq-Syria border. In the east, they took the town of al-Sharqat, which is adjacent to the Kurdistan Region and saw violent clashes yesterday evening.
The most likely scenario, according to security leaders in Baghdad, is that
ISIS will try to exploit the collapse of the army to complete its grip on the Iraq-Syria border to the west and then progress toward Saladin province to reach the outskirts of Baghdad by using its active cells near the capital. Those cells have lines of communication and logistical support with Anbar to the east and the provinces of Diyala and Kirkuk to the west.
The Mosul event triggered major global reactions. US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States considers ISIS fighters a threat to the entire Middle East and that Washington supports “a strong and coordinated response” to the attack on Mosul and is ready to provide “all assistance to Iraq.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed “grave” concern. His spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, called on Iraqis to unite to confront this danger.

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