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U.S. considers air strikes, action with Iran to halt Iraq rebels

Posted by on Jun. 16, 2014 at 11:02 AM
  • 15 Replies

U.S. considers air strikes, action with Iran to halt Iraq rebels


(Reuters) - The United States said it could launch air strikes and act jointly with its arch-enemy Iran to support the Iraqi government, after a rampage by Sunni Islamist insurgents acrossIraq that has torn up traditional alliances in the Middle East.

Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have routed Baghdad's army and seized the north of the country in the past week, threatening to dismember Iraq and unleash all-out sectarian warfare with no regard for national borders.

Joint action between the United States and Iran to help prop up the government of their mutual ally would be unprecedented since Iran's 1979 revolution, demonstrating the urgency of the alarm raised by the lightning insurgent advance.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the advance an "existential threat" for Iraq. Asked if the United States could cooperate with Iran against the insurgents, Kerry told Yahoo News: "I wouldn't rule out anything that would be constructive."

As for air strikes: "They're not the whole answer, but they may well be one of the options that are important," he said. "When you have people murdering, assassinating in these mass massacres, you have to stop that. And you do what you need to do if you need to try to stop it from the air or otherwise."

Britain, once Washington's only major battlefield ally in Iraq, announced it had already reached out to Iran in recent days. A U.S. official said meetings with Iran could come this week on the sidelines of separate international nuclear talks.

Iran has longstanding ties to Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and other Shi'ite politicians who came to power in Iraq after the U.S. invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

ISIL seeks a caliphate ruled on mediaeval Sunni Muslim precepts in Iraq and Syria, fighting against both Iraq's Maliki and Syria's Bashar al-Assad. It considers all Shi'ites to be heretics deserving death and has boasted of massacring hundreds of Iraqi troops who surrendered to its forces last week.

Its fighters are joined by other armed Sunni groups, who oppose what they say is oppression by Maliki's Shi'ite-led government in Baghdad.

ISIL fighters and allied Sunni tribesmen overran yet another town on Monday, Saqlawiya west of Baghdad, where they captured six Humvees and two tanks, adding to an arsenal of U.S.-provided armor they have seized from the disintegrating army.

Eyewitnesses said Iraqi army helicopters were hovering over the town to try to provide cover for retreating troops.

"It was a crazy battle and dozens were killed from both sides. It is impossible to reach the town and evacuate the bodies," said a medical source at a hospital in the nearby largely insurgent-held city of Fallujah.

Overnight the fighters also captured the mainly ethnic Turkmen city of Tal Afar in northwestern Iraq after heavy fighting on Sunday, solidifying their grip on the north.

"The city was overrun by militants. Severe fighting took place, and many people were killed. Shi'ite families have fled to the west and Sunni families have fled to the east," said a city official who asked not to be identified.

Tal Afar is a short drive west from Mosul, the north's main city, which ISIL seized last week at the start of its push. Fighters then swept through towns and cities on the Tigris before halting about an hour's drive north of Baghdad.

Iraq's army is holding out in Samarra, a Tigris city that is home to a Shi'ite shrine. A convoy traveling to reinforce the troops there was ambushed late on Sunday by Sunni fighters near the town of Ishaqi. Fighting continued through Monday morning.

OBAMA WEIGHING OPTIONS

U.S. President Barack Obama pulled out all American troops in 2011 and has ruled out sending them back, although he says he is weighing other military options, such as air strikes. A U.S. aircraft carrier has sailed into the Gulf. CNN reported that it was accompanied by a Navy warship carrying 550 Marines.

The only U.S. military contingent on the ground is the security staff at the U.S. embassy. Washington said on Sunday it was evacuating some diplomatic staff and sending about 100 extra marines and other personnel to help safeguard the facilities.

The sprawling fortified compound on the banks of the Tigris is the largest and most expensive diplomatic mission ever built, a vestige of the days when 170,000 U.S. troops fought to put down a sectarian civil war that followed the 2003 invasion.

Iraqis now face the prospect of a replay of that extreme violence, but this time without American forces to intervene.

Potential cooperation between the United States and Iran shows how dramatically the ISIL advance has redrawn the map of Middle East alliances in a matter of days.

Rouhani has presided over a gradual thaw with the West, including secret talks with Washington that led to a breakthrough preliminary deal last year to ease sanctions in return for curbs on Iran's nuclear program. But open cooperation against a mutual threat would be unprecedented.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed that London had already made overtures to Tehran.

A U.S. official said talks over Iraq between U.S. and Iranian officials could take place this week in Vienna, where both sides are attending nuclear negotiations.

SAUDI FEARS

Iran blames the United States and its Gulf Arab allies for stoking Sunni militancy in the region by backing the uprising against Tehran's ally Assad in Syria, where ISIL emerged as a dominant Sunni rebel group in a three-year civil war.

Asked if Iran would work with the United States against ISIL, Rouhani said on Saturday: "We can think about it, if we see America starts confronting the terrorist groups in Iraq or elsewhere."

Any rapprochement between Washington and Tehran over Iraq could anger U.S. allies Israel and the Sunni Gulf Arab states. Saudi Arabia, the Gulf's main Sunni power, said it rejected foreign interference in Iraq, and blamed Baghdad's "sectarian and exclusionary policies" for fuelling the insurgency.

ISIL fighters began their assault last week by capturing Mosul. They swept through other Sunni cities in the Tigris valley north of Baghdad, including Saddam's hometown Tikrit, where they captured and apparently massacred troops stationed at Speicher air base, once one of the main U.S. troop headquarters.

A series of pictures distributed on a purported ISIL Twitter account appeared to show gunmen from the Islamist group shooting dozens of men, unarmed and lying prone on the ground.

Captions said the pictures showed hundreds of army deserters captured as they tried to flee the fighting. They were shown being transported in the backs of trucks, led to an open field, laid down in rows and shot by several masked gunmen. In several pictures, the black ISIL flag can be seen.

"This is the fate of the Shi'ites which Nuri brought to fight the Sunnis," a caption to one of the pictures reads.

ISIL said it executed 1,700 soldiers out of 2,500 it had captured in Tikrit. Although those numbers appear exaggerated, the total could still be in the hundreds. A former local official in Tikrit told Reuters ISIL had captured 450-500 troops at Speicher and another 100 elsewhere in Tikrit. Some 200 troops are still believed to be holding out in Speicher.

Power and running water were off in Tikrit, leaving residents dependent on water being brought in by tanker trucks.

With ISIL's advance halted on the Tigris an hour's drive north of the capital, fighters also hold most of the Euphrates valley to the west, which they captured at the start of the year, bringing them to the gates of the city of 7 million.

Shi'ites, who form the majority in Iraq and are based mainly in the south, have rallied to defend the country, with thousands of volunteers turning out to join the security forces after a mobilization call by the top Shi'ite cleric.

ISIL emerged after Saddam's fall, fought against the U.S. occupation as al Qaeda's Iraq branch and broke away from al Qaeda after joining the civil war in Syria. It says the movement founded by Osama bin Laden is no longer radical enough.


http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/16/us-iraq-security-idUSKBN0EP0KJ20140616


by on Jun. 16, 2014 at 11:02 AM
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VooDooB
by weird cheese on Jun. 16, 2014 at 11:08 AM

US sends aircraft carrier to Persian Gulf as Obama considers air strikes in Iraq

• Defence secretary deploys three ships and missiles
• US weighs options as Iran bolsters Baghdad against Isis

• Analysis: air strikes aim to 'break Isis momentum'

 aircraft carrier USS George HW BushThe US is sending an aircraft carrier and two guided missile ships into the Persian Gulf, bolstering sea and airpower before a possible US strike on the jihadist army in Iraq in the coming days.

Defense secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the USS George HW Bush into the Gulf on Saturday, a day after President Barack Obama indicated he would soon decide on air strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), whose seizure of Sunni Iraqi cities has violently upended the region.

The 103,000-tonne warship and its air wing, which had been patrolling the North Arabian Sea and earlier this year were used in the Mediterranean following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, gives Obamaairstrike options in addition to air force assets on land in bases used by the US, like Qatar's al-Udeid.

The Bush's air wing includes four squadrons flying F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets, one squadron flying EA-18 Growler jammer and electronic-attack planes, and other maritime helicopters and early-warning planes.

Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said the Bush would be accompanied by the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxton. The ships are expected to arrive in the Gulf this evening.

Kirby described the deployment as increasing Obama's martial flexibility"should military options be required to protect American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq", rather than signalling an imminent strike.

In a briefing on Friday, Kirby had played down the possibility of the Bush moving into the Gulf, saying only that it was ready for a potential tasking. "As we speak right now, there is no aircraft carrier zorching [speeding] into the Persian Gulf," he said.

While Iran has in the past harassed US ships moving into the Gulf, its president, Hassan Rouhani, on Saturday indicated openness to working alongside his country's decades-old adversary, signalling an alignment of interests in protecting their mutual Iraqi partner.

"If we see that the United States takes action against terrorist groups in Iraq, then one can think about it," Rouhani told reporters, according to Agence France Presse.

Iraqi officials told the Guardian on Saturday that Iran had sent 2,000 advance troops across the border to help the Shiite government of Iraq defend itself after the Iraqi army ran from Isis in Mosul this week. In a move unthinkable during the Saddam Hussein era, Iran has sent the commander of its feared Qods Force, General Qassem Suleimani, tocoordinate the defense of Baghdad.

US intelligence and defense officials consider Suleimani to have American blood on his hands, as the Qods Force and the Revolutionary Guards Corps to which it belongs are suspected of attacks on US troops during the Iraq war, including the placement of sophisticated and deadly bombs.

Obama's contemplation of air strikes against Isis creates the prospect of US air power bolstering Iranian ground operations, an awkward one given the animosity the militaries of the two nations, which are currently engaged in negotiations over Iran's nuclear program, have long felt for each other.

The State Department did not immediately respond to queries about US and Iranian forces possibly fighting alongside one another by default in Iraq.

On Friday, Kirby urged Iran to "play a constructive role" in Iraq.


http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/14/aircraft-carrier-iraq-isis-strike-persian-gulf


sweet-a-kins
by Emerald Member on Jun. 16, 2014 at 11:22 AM
1 mom liked this

 That's great!

We can't take care of our VETS seeking medical care from the war that just ended and the one still going...we should TOTES get involved in more WAR devil mini

mehamil1
by Platinum Member on Jun. 16, 2014 at 11:40 AM

The enemey of my enemey is my friend right? 

meriana
by Platinum Member on Jun. 16, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Here we go again. Wonder how long it will be before it's decided that air strikes aren't enough and we must send troops in. It appears that these groups have no intention of ever getting along let alone sharing Government since both the shi"ites and the sunnis seem to want complete control and most of it has to do with religious beliefs. It's looking more and more like we'll end up being permantly involved in never-ending fighting in that region. While I feel sorry for the innocent people living there, I don't want to see more of our men and women sacrificed to the inability of the shi"ites and sunnie's to respect one another

Momtoone07
by Member on Jun. 16, 2014 at 12:07 PM
1 mom liked this
How you know the shit and the fan have hit. Iran and America team up.
12hellokitty
by Platinum Member on Jun. 16, 2014 at 12:20 PM
2 moms liked this

It would be better for Obama to do nothing then to attempt to work with Iran.  Obama is in way over his head and Iran will do everything they can to take advantage of this.  

VooDooB
by weird cheese on Jun. 16, 2014 at 12:22 PM

Agree.

But yet again, Obama is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't.

Quoting 12hellokitty:

It would be better for Obama to do nothing then to attempt to work with Iran.  Obama is in way over his head and Iran will do everything they can to take advantage of this.  


12hellokitty
by Platinum Member on Jun. 16, 2014 at 12:32 PM

He put himself in that situation.  From the beginning of his presidency he thought Muslims in the Middle East would be mesmerized by an American POTUS with the name Barack Hussein Obama.  

Quoting VooDooB:

Agree.

But yet again, Obama is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't.

Quoting 12hellokitty:

It would be better for Obama to do nothing then to attempt to work with Iran.  Obama is in way over his head and Iran will do everything they can to take advantage of this.  


VooDooB
by weird cheese on Jun. 16, 2014 at 12:34 PM

Heh! Well I don't know about that but maybe he should of stuck with his Barry Soetoto alias. :p

Quoting 12hellokitty:

He put himself in that situation.  From the beginning of his presidency he thought Muslims in the Middle East would be mesmerized by an American POTUS with the name Barack Hussein Obama.  

Quoting VooDooB:

Agree.

But yet again, Obama is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn't.

Quoting 12hellokitty:

It would be better for Obama to do nothing then to attempt to work with Iran.  Obama is in way over his head and Iran will do everything they can to take advantage of this.  



mikiemom
by Ruby Member on Jun. 16, 2014 at 12:35 PM

We are in this mess in the first place because we sided with Iraq in the conflict between Iraq and Iran in the 70's and 80s - Ya'll should read about the iran Embassy hostage incident. Very interesting history. We supported Saddam until he got out of hand and attacked Kuwait. I don't really know what he did to the bush family but I bet he regretted it.

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