Friday, June 13, 2014

Iraq major oil fields and refineries

End of the Iraqi State as we know it

... Iranian Gen. Qassem Suleimani was, according to numerous credible reports, said to be directing the defenses of Baghdad personally. Suleimani is a well known figure in Middle East security circles and is said to control Iranian operations in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. Supporters of Iran often credit him personally for devising the strategy that salvaged the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad during the past year of the civil war there.

The outpouring of support from the Shiite community was to be expected _ the Islamic State on Thursday issued a manifesto in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city which the Islamic State captured Tuesday, calling for the destruction of all Shiite shrines. But it was given direct religious endorsement by the top Shiite religious authority in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who issued a decree at Friday prayer services that all men capable of carrying a weapon were religiously obligated to take up arms to defend “their homes, their cities and their holy places” from the Sunnis.

In an interview with McClatchy, Emma Sky, an Iraq expert and one time adviser to U.S. forces in Iraq, called the events “the slow death” of the Iraqi state.

The call by Sistani for Shiites to rally to the defense of their religion also revealed a lack of confidence in Maliki and his ability to save the situation. Previously, Sistani has remained largely aloof from political affairs, even in the darkest days of sectarian war from 2006 to 2008, when his public statements called on Shiites to support the government and security forces.

On Friday, however, he appeared to favor unilateral militia action after years of clashing with Shiite militia commanders.

“The statement by the Marja, Sistani,” said Abu Zeinab, using a Arabic term of respect that loosely means “object of emulation” to describe Sistani, “has changed everything now. It says we should fight as Shiites to protect Shiites. I think this means there is no Iraqi state now.”...

Read more here:

Iraqi security forces withdraw from Syrian border

Baghdad, June 12 (IANS) Iraqi security forces withdrew from the Syrian border in the Sunni province of Anbar, an official said Thursday.
The Iraqi army, police and border guards withdrew late Wednesday night from their positions on the border with Syria near the city of Qaim, some 330 km northwest of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, the official told Xinhua.
Also in the province, Sunni militants swept a major military base of the al-Mazraa just west of the militant-seized city of Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad, after the army soldiers withdrew suddenly overnight toward Baghdad, the official said....
-bth: so basically the Iraqi government, such as it is, has given up on the Syrian/Iraqi border.

Iraq Maps June 13 2014

Ethno-religious map of Iraq

Regional tensions: How religious and military divides shape the Middle East

200 U.S. contractors surrounded by jihadists in Iraq - WND

Americans are being evacuated from an airbase near Baghdad to escape the incursion from Islamist group ISIS.
Officials said three planes were set to leave Balad airfield in Sunni Muslim territory north of Baghdad, with ISIS militants sweeping south after capturing the city of Mosul yesterday.
Those being evacuated including 12 US service personnel and several hundred contractors, the Associated Press reports.

-bth: if Obama does not take action to get these guys out, Benghazi will look like an afterthought.

US contractors in Iraq

According to a Pentagon report, in January 2014 there were 820 American contractors (out of 3,234 in total) working with the Department of Defense in Iraq.