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New ISIS Leader Sends Recruitment Message While ISIS Takes Syrian Border Town

I'm going to continue using ISIS instead of IS, at least for now.

The new leader of the caliphate Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Husayni al-Qurashi al-Baghdadi, has sent out “A Message to the Mujahidin and the Muslim Ummah in the Month of Ramadan” from Amirul-Mu’minin Abu Bakr al-Husayni al-Qurashi al-Baghdadi." The English version is here.

Here's a news article describing it. It makes no reference to specific imminent attacks. It reads more like a recruiting announcement. It says the state is particularly looking for "“judges and those who have military and managerial and service skills, and doctors and engineers in all fields.”

Today there are reports ISIS has now taken the Syrian side of the Qaim border, Albu Kamal, also called Al-Bukamal. More news articles here and here. [More...]

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Who Killed the Prisoners in the Military Convoy in Babil Province?

Bump and Update: We have the answer. As I suggested below on June 23, it was the police and army forces, not ISIS, who killed the inmates being transferred from one prison in Hillah to another. Will the Wall St. Journal and others issue a correction? As of now, the WSJ article still headlines "At Least 81 Iraqis Killed in Sunni Rebel Attack on Convoy" and begins:
Sunni militants brought their campaign against the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki closer to Baghdad on Monday, attacking a police convoy just 20 miles from the center of the capital and triggering a shootout that left at least 81 people dead.

Original Post 6/23

Did major media, in a rush to get out breaking news, publish unreliable reports from one-sided sources and get it backwards? [More...]

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Obama Asks Congress for $500 Million to Arm and Train Syrian Militants

President Obama is asking Congress for $500 million to arm and train "moderate" rebels in Syria.

An Obama national security aide said the $500 million should be used to help Syrian rebels topple Assad, while at the same time defeating militants who call themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

“As we have said many times before, Assad has lost all legitimacy to rule Syria and must go,” Bernadette Meehan, a National Security Council spokeswoman, told McClatchy. “The request to Congress reflects our assessment of the time needed to launch such a program and our view that building the capacity of Syrians for stabilization and counterterrorism operations will be necessary both during the (current) conflict and after a negotiated settlement.”

This is just throwing money down the drain. [More...]

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ISIS Makes New Friends, Gives Hints of What's to Come

ISIS supporters say they now have the support of other al Qaida groups in the region, including Ansar al-Islam in Kirkuk and Ramadi, and at least some members of Jabhat al-Nusra. It's holding another celebratory parade in Haweija.

Syria, on the other hand, is not making friends with its air strikes. More than 50 civilians, including children were killed. Nor is Malaki, who says he supports Syria's efforts. At least the U.S. has expressed its displeasure.

ISIS/al-Qaida supporters hint the group won't be targeting Jordan or Saudi Arabia. It's next move will be in Lebanon. [More...]

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ISIS Holds Parade in Mosul, Encircles Baghdad

ISIS held a victory parade in Mosul today. You can view all the photos here. It was a big turnout, and lasted into the evening. Noticeably absent from the photos: women. I saw one figure that looked like a female in all of them (to the right of the headlights) and given her trench coat and purse and black head scarf, I'm wondering if she wasn't a reporter.

ISIS got whacked by Syrian jets near Al-Qa'im and Rutbah today. They lost some men, including Sheikh Abdul Majeed al Otaibi (@OT_48 on Twitter). They also were able to take two towns south of Baghdad, Iskandariya and Mahmoudiya.

The U.S. has sent its first group of advisors to Iraq. Here's the transcript of the Defense Department briefing.[More...]

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CBS Poll: 75% Say War in Iraq Wasn't Worth the Cost


A new CBS poll finds 75% percent of Americans do not think the Iraq War was worth the cost in lives and money. This is 8% more than in 2011 when the U.S. withdrew from Iraq, and 30% higher than in August 2003.

Republicans, Democrats and independents alike view the Iraq war as not worth the costs.

A whopping 77% oppose sending troops back in now.

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ISIS Now Heads East Towards Haditha Dam

ISIS has taken over two more border crossings in Western Iraq, Turaibil (with Jordan) and al-Waleed (with Syria).

It now moves on to Haditha and its dam, which has a major hydroelectric power plant. It may also try to take Al-Asad, a large Iraqi air force base and the nearby town of Hit, before moving on to Baghdad.

Obama, in an interview Friday with Face the Nation that was aired today, says the U.S. military can't play "whack a mole" with every new terrorist threat that pops up. [More...]

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ISIS, Inc.

The Financial Times reports that for two years, ISIS has been publishing annual reports (al-Naba) with detailed accounts of its operations -- just like General Motors or any other huge corporation.

It is not a corporation and does not have shareholders, but the military success and brutality of the jihadi group surging through Iraq have been recorded with the level of precision often reserved for company accounts.

ISIS' 400 page 2013 report is filled with statistics of the number and type of attacks it carried out and even the number of people it has converted to its cause. [More....]

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The New World Disorder

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  • Dozens killed in Kenya where Islamic militants set fire to a hotel.
  • Pakistan launches air strikes in North Waziristan, killing 10 militants.
  • Israel conducts air strikes in Gaza on military sites used by Hamas
  • Syria intensifies airstrikes on ISIS bases
  • ISIS takes another Iraqi town, Tal Afar, not far from Mosul.

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US Sends Warships and Airship Carrier to Arabian Gulf

Secretary of defense Chuck Hagel today ordered the aircraft carrier U.S. Bush to the Arabian Gulf, along with a guided-missile cruiser and guided-missile destroyer.

The Bush will be accompanied by the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun. The ships are expected to complete their transit into the Gulf later this evening.

ISIS is conducting mass executions of soldiers. Today they posted photos of truckloads of captured Shia soldiers in Tikrit. Here's a website with all the photos depicting the mass killings. (Not for the squeamish.) This Twitter account also has graphic photos released by ISIS. Here's one photo that gives you a pretty good idea of the horror, and another, but again, don't click if the graphic nature will upset you. Here's a photo of the Iraqis being rounded up at gunpoint. The accompanying text tweets by ISIS are not in English, but some on Twitter say ISIS is claiming to have rounded up and killed 1,700 soldiers.

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ISIS Rising: Obama Says It's Iraq's Problem

As ISIS continues to storm its way through Iraq, President Obama today ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq. (Transcript here.) Sounding like a stern parent, he said whatever other aid we provide will depend on the Iraqi Government getting its act together, and the U.S. will not be making any hasty decisions.

Over the past decade, American troops have made extraordinary sacrifices to give Iraqis and opportunity to claim their own future. Unfortunately, Iraqi leaders have been unable to overcome, too often, the mistrust and sectarian differences that have long been simmering there. And that's created vulnerabilities within the Iraqi government, as well as their security forces.

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Iran Sends Quds to Help Iraqi Military Fight ISIS

The Wall St. Journal reported earlier today Iran has sent its Quds soldiers to Iraq to battle ISIS:

At least three battalions of the Quds Forces, the elite overseas branch of the Guards, were deployed support the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, an offshoot of al Qaeda that is swiftly conquering territory across Iraq, they said.

One Guards unit that was already in Iraq fought alongside the Iraqi army, offering guerrilla warfare advice and tactics that helped reclaim most of the city of Tikrit on Thursday. Two Guards’ units, deployed from Iran’s western border provinces on Wednesday, were tasked with protecting Baghdad and the holy Shiite cities of Karbala and Najaf, these security sources said.

The QUDS are the overseas branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. ISIS has reportedly seized a huge cache of U.S. military equipment. The Washington Post reports Iraq is falling apart, splintering into three factions: Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish. The Kurds have taken Kirkuk, ISIS is moving south towards Baghdad, and the Shiite-led government of Nouri al-Maliki is reduced to calling for volunteers and some help from Iran.

Has Obama's position changed? The Post quotes him as saying, “It’s fair to say . . . there will be some short-term things that need to be done militarily."

Foreign Policy says ISIS blindsided U.S. intelligence. [More...]

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Bush to Increase Troops to Afghanistan

The media headlines are all about Bush reducing troops in Iraq. Of course troop reduction in Iraq is a good thing.

But, he also announced that he's increasing troops to Afghanistan due to "renewed resistance from the Taliban."

....the president says that a Marine battalion will be on its way there in November -- instead of going to Iraq. And an Army combat brigade will follow in January.

....Bush's plan to instead shift forces to Afghanistan may give ammunition to the argument of his critics: that while focusing on Iraq, the president paid too little attention to the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.

Moving troops from one country to another is neither an end to war nor a success. Bringing all our troops home is what's needed.

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The Nation: Obama's Position on Mercenaries in Iraq

Just out at The Nation:

A senior foreign policy adviser to leading Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has told The Nation that if elected Obama will not "rule out" using private security companies like Blackwater Worldwide in Iraq. The adviser also said that Obama does not plan to sign on to legislation that seeks to ban the use of these forces in US war zones by January 2009, when a new President will be sworn in.

Obama's campaign says that instead he will focus on bringing accountability to these forces while increasing funding for the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the agency that employs Blackwater and other private security contractors. (Hillary Clinton's staff did not respond to repeated requests for an interview or a statement on this issue.)

Bottom line, according to Obama's senior advisor:

. "I can't rule out, I won't rule out, private security contractors." He added, "I will rule out private security contractors that are not accountable to US law."

More...

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223 House Democrats Vote Against "Clean" Funding

As Kagro X often explains, there is a split between those who believe that motions to recommit are purely procedural and those who believe that they carry all of the meaning of a proper amendment. In this Congress, they have mostly been given the latter meaning.

In that context, the vote on the motion to recommit on tonight's Iraq supplemental funding appropriation seems especially important to me. 223 Democrats voted no on that motion, which would have given the President $50B, no questions asked. They were joined by 8 Republicans.

To me it seems obvious that the Presidednt could be in dangerous territory: the House could actually have the votes to defeat ANY clean funding bill. We might, against all odds and predictions, actually be able to end the war during this Congress.

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