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Jun 13

Written by: Diana West
Friday, June 13, 2014 8:22 AM 

From the AP (multiple hat tips to Andrew Bostom):

...While ISIL fighters gained the most attention in this week's swift advances, it was increasingly clear that other Sunnis were joining the uprising.

Not ... the "Sunni Awakening" Sunnis ... the same Sunnis of Anbar who, once upon a "surge," "rejected Al Qaeda"?

Several militant groups posted photos on social media purporting to show Iraqi military hardware captured by their own fighters, suggesting a broader-based rebellion like that in neighboring Syria.

In Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, overrun by militants Wednesday, witnesses said fighters raised posters of the late dictator and Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, his former deputy who escaped the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and eluded security forces ever since.

Fighters loyal to his Naqshabandi Army as well as former members of Saddam's Baath Party were the main militant force in Tikrit on Thursday, said a resident who identified himself by his nickname, Abu Mohammed, out of concern for his safety. He said about 300 soldiers surrendered near the governor's office - a spectacle captured in multiple amateur videos posted online.

Lawmaker Hakim al-Zamili as well as two senior intelligence officials, who were not authorized to talk to the press, confirmed the involvement of al-Douri's group and other former Baathists and Saddam-era military commanders. That could escalate the militants' campaign to establish an al-Qaida-like enclave into a wider Sunni uprising and lead to breaking up the country along ethnic and sectarian lines.

Feisal Istrabadi, a former Iraqi ambassador to the U.N., said the rapid fall of Mosul and Tikrit required trust from the local population - something ISIL or al-Douri wouldn't necessarily have on their own. ...

From the Washington Post, on the collapse of the far larger, much better armed and expensively trained Iraqi army:

The army’s dilemma came down to a single question that soldiers had to ask themselves as they faced sudden attack, said Derek Harvey, a former top U.S. military official in Iraq: “Do I want to die for Maliki?”...

With reports of summary executions (including beheadings) by ISIS jihadists seizing Iraqi territory and cities, it seems debateable at least that the calculus of the average soldier takes in more than Maliki's political future. But blaming Maliki, blaming Obama -- never Bush, and never, ever COIN and the nation-building fiasco -- is de rigeur in this instant classic of CYA. 

Harvey, a former top intelligence adviser to David H. Petraeus, who served as commander of the allied forces in Iraq, said the military’s problems are a symptom of a much deeper crisis in Iraqi society created largely by Maliki’s mishandling of delicate sectarian tensions.

Maliki, again. What was that about purple fingers and elections we used to celebrate again -- let freedom reign?

“The core of all this is political,” Harvey said. “What we’re facing today is not al-Qaeda, and Prime Minister Maliki wants us to focus on ISIS as the primary threat. The vanguard is ISIS. The breadth and depth of this is basic Sunni Arabs who are fed up.”

Absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with COIN and nation-building, all executed by George W. Bush, long before the world even heard of Barack Obama.

Is this poiltical, too?

From Al Arabiya:

Iraq’s most influential Shi’ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani Friday warned of the “serious situation” in the country, saying that Baghdad is now the target of militants.

Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said: “Repelling terrorists is the responsibility of everyone and does not concern on one sect.” He urged political parties to ignore their differences and focus on fighting terrorism.

Meanwhile, the country’s highest religious authority for Sunnis warned against labeling the “rebels” as “terrorists.”

Religious cleric Rafi’ al-Rifaee stated that the “free rebels” should not be accused of belonging to terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and said such allegations will only incite division between these rebels and the cities they are “liberating” from the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Rifaee described what is happening in Iraq as a process to liberate Iraq from Maliki’s army.

Here's political for you -- and confusing:

From Memri, a TV interview with Iraqi politician, Jamal al-Din, who advocates the separation of religion and state. I interviewed him back in 2010 for a column titled: "Anyone Surprised Iraq Is the New Iran?"

Jamal al-Din: ... The war in Syria and the war in Iraq are one and the same – both in Syria and in Iraq, it is a war against ISIS. The U.S. strives to weaken the Syrian regime, and this benefits ISIS, but in Baghdad, it supports the regime against ISIS. This is suspicious and perplexing, to tell you the truth.

Truer words.

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