Civil war in Iraq 39

President Bush’s victory in Iraq, such as it was, has been thrown away by President Obama.

The pro-Iranian Shiite government cannot hold the country together. The Sunni terrorist organization, ISIS (Islamic  State in Iraq and the Levant), an al-Qaeda offshoot grown into an effective army, has taken Fallujah, Mosul, and Tikrit, and is marching on Baghdad.

This is from DebkFile:

Under its commander, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, Al Qaeda’s Islamic State in Iraq and Levant – ISIS – formed up Wednesday night, June 6, to march on Baghdad in two columns – one from Tikrit, which fell a few hours earlier, to Taji, just 20 km from the capital; the second from Tuz Khormato, 55 km south of the northern oil center of Kirkuk.

The Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered the last two divisions and six mechanized brigades, totaling 50,000, still operational out of his million-strong army, to build a defensive line to save Baghdad and the seat of Iraqi government from the enemy.

But it remains to be seen how these units perform, given the way the 3rd and 4th divisions supposed to have defended Mosul and the central Salahuddin province melted away under Al Qaeda onslaughts Tuesday and Wednesday, June 10-11.

Al-Baghdadi has assigned the second column heading for Baghdad the additional task of wrapping up Islamist control of the eastern province of Diyala on the Iranian border.

The first column will approach the capital from the north; the second from the east. Suicide bombers have meanwhile fanned ahead of the columns to smash the roadblocks and military posts set up in their path to check their advance.

This week, Muslim extremists worldwide acclaimed the ISIS chief their hero. …

Al Qaeda’s march of conquest at incredible speed, while causing havoc and misery across Iraq, is also beginning to mutate from a terrorist assault into an insurgency. It is gathering up a growing following of disaffected Sunnis ready for revolt against the Shiite-led government in Baghdad. Sunni Muslims account for around one-third of the Iraqi population of 35 million and their numbers are therefore in the region of 12 to 14 million.

Wednesday alone, in a lightening push, ISIS fighters captured the Iraqi oil refinery and electricity power center of Biji (Baiji), 200 km southeast of Mosul, torched the court and police buildings and warned local police and soldiers not to challenge them. They next moved south to seize Hawajah and Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s birthplace, 140 km northwest of Baghdad.

With the Mosul refinery, the Islamists now control Iraq’s northern oil refining facilities as well as the Biji power center which supplies Baghdad and Kirkuk with electricity. …

Various Sunni militias, who had never before followed al Qaeda – not during the American occupation, or even last year when ISIS began moving fighting strength from Syria to Iraq – [are] flocking to the ISIS campaign against Nuri al-Maliki.

Among them are not only demoralized army commanders, but adherents of  the dictator Saddam Hussein’s secular Baath Party, who have come out of retirement to join the jihad against Shiite rule.

Wednesday night, the panic-stricken Al-Maliki accused Sunni politicians and army chiefs of “betraying the Iraqi motherland”. He refused to believe that Al Qaeda had been able unaided to conquer northern and central Iraq in a two-day blitz, unless it was the fruit of a long conspiracy carried out between the Islamists and Sunni leaders behind his back. The Iraqi prime minister alleged that the Sunni plotters against the government had provided Al-Baghdadi with intelligence, funds and arms caches ready for his fighters to use.

ISIS is well funded for the moment. This is what happened when it took Mosul, as we summarized this report for our Facebook page:

ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has become the richest terror group ever after looting 500 billion Iraqi dinars – the equivalent of $429m – from Mosul’s central bank. A large quantity of gold bullion was also stolen. Following the siege of the country’s second city, the financial assets collected by the group are likely to worsen the Iraqi government’s struggle to defeat the insurgency, which is aimed at creating an Islamic state across the Syrian-Iraqi border. They are in control of Mosul airport and local television stations. They also seized US-supplied military hardware. Photos show Isis parading captured Humvees in neighbouring Syria, where they are waging war against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Within hours of taking Mosul, ISIS also seized Tikrit. (Again, this is our summary. Read more here.)

Over 500,000 refugees from Mosul fled to Tikrit after Mosel was taken over on Tuesday by the Al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). Now ISIS has attacked Tikrit (only 95 miles north of Baghdad). They have freed some 300 inmates of a city prison. Local authorities have reported mass beheadings throughout the city. Who’s to blame? Politicians point fingers at security forces and Maliki. The governor of Iraq’s Nineveh Province, Ethyl Najafi, held Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki personally responsible for Mosul’s takeover by the ISIS, insisting that it is the result of a systemically weak government. He accused Iraqi military leaders of pulling out of the northern city and giving al-Maliki false reports just hours before the Islamists seized the city. He demanded that military leaders be put on trial for the failure. “Military commanders and the Iraqi army in Mosul vanished,” he said. “What happened in Nineveh is a collapse of the Maliki government. The absence of security and military forces in Mosul made it easier for ISIS and all groups that reject al-Maliki’s policy to take the city.” Najafi cited reports that ISIS has been cooperating with other Sunni militias, as well as cooperating with the Syrian regime. He said civilians in Mosul would form popular committees – or leave – and not look to the Iraqi government for protection.