As Iraqi government forces crumbled in disarray before the assault, there was speculation that they may have been ordered by their superiors to give up without a fight. One local commander in Salahuddin Province, where Tikrit is located, said in an interview Wednesday: “We received phone calls from high-ranking commanders asking us to give up. I questioned them on this, and they said, ‘This is an order.’ ”
The above from this morning New York Times paints, to say the least, a landscape of civil unrest of mind-boggling proportions; as hundreds of thousands once again flee for their lives.

In published reports, as few as 800 militants overcame 30,000 Iraqi troupes, who apparently fled.
So what's really up? Should we ask our great trillion dollar intelligence agencies? What do you hear NSA?

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki apparently wants us back in the game, calling for airstrikes. Fuck that, call George Bush or Dick Cheney al Maliki.

Sunni militants consolidated and extended their control over northern Iraq on Wednesday, seizing Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein, threatening the strategic oil refining town of Baiji and pushing south toward Baghdad, their ultimate target, Iraqi sources said.

As the dimensions of the assault began to become clear, it was evident that a number of militant groups had joined forces, including Baathist military commanders from the Hussein era, whose goal is to rout the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. One of the Baathists, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, was a top military commander and a vice president in the Hussein government and one of the few prominent Baathists to evade capture by the Americans throughout the occupation.

“These groups were unified by the same goal, which is getting rid of this sectarian government, ending this corrupt army and negotiating to form the Sunni Region,” said Abu Karam, a senior Baathist leader and a former high-ranking army officer, who said planning for the offensive had begun two years ago. “The decisive battle will be in northern Baghdad. These groups will not stop in Tikrit and will keep moving toward Baghdad.”



Isis has never launched an offensive this expansive in Iraq. It is very possible that it could fall prey to the over-exuberance normal for a military seeing success beyond its dreams. ISIS could be over-extending itself, in that case, making it vulnerable to rapid counter-offensives or even to the rise of angry citizenry in its rear areas—a phenomenon that we have already begun to see to some extent in Mosul and that is well-known in Isis’s main Syrian base in ar-Raqqa. But ISIS has also conducted sophisticated, multi-phased maneuver campaigns in Deir ez-Zour, Syria, showing its capability of integrating deception operations with movement in order to seize its objectives.

    Reflections from the ground indicate that Isis attacked Mosul with 150 vehicles armed with mounted crew-served weapons and between 500 and 800 troops. It is unclear if elements of this same force moved on to take Sharqat, Qaiyara, Baiji, and Tikrit, or if separate forces already proximate to these locations simply moved in to take their respective targets in sequence. ISW [the Institute for the Study of War] is actively searching for indicators of how Isis attacked and seized control of these cities in order to answer this question. If Isis had pre-positioned forces, then these forces likely now occupy their current target zones, which would allow the ISIS advance to continue.

    If instead Isis is seizing a city and establishing a leave-behind force while the assault force manoeuvres, then the offensive is likely to culminate before it reaches Baghdad, depending on the nature of the force left behind. Is Isis forming relationships with local tribes to help hold their newly acquired cities? Are recently released prisoners with little training part of that force? To what extent has Isis made common cause with the Ba‘athist forces under former Saddam General Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri and theJaysh Rijal al-Tariqa al-Naqshabandia (JRTN)? Reports indicate that JRTN forces and al-Douri supporters are active in Mosul and Tikrit, but we are not able to assess the extent of this activity with any confidence at this point.

    It should be possible to assess in the next 24-48 hours whether the current Isis offensive will continue uninterrupted or whether there will instead be a pause while ISIS regroups and consolidates. The level of activity in the areas northwest and southwest of Baghdad will likely be the most important indicator to watch. http://iswiraq.blogspot.co.uk/...

Who's to blame for the fall of Mosul? Middle East analyst Juan Cole has a long charge sheet including: the Bush administration, Saudi Arabia, the Iraqi army, and Nouri al-Maliki. But he says the roots of the problem go right back to the "shameful European imperial scramble for the Middle East during and after WWI". http://www.juancole.com/...
Live blog coverage: http://www.theguardian.com/...

This nightmare playing out today in Iraq was forecast by many before "Shock and Awe."

I for one want no more blood on my American hands. Let the Iraqis fight it out or resolve their fates at a table of peace. Please don't engage us again Mr. President.

Again, why did 30,000 troupes give up to 800 ISIS warriors?

Perhaps, it time to split up the countries of Iraq and Syria.

Allow the people of the region to work it out. Historically, our propped up governments have hardly ever worked anyway, most becoming dictatorships.

Think I'll read some Conrad today, seems appropriate.

7:16 AM PT: The situation in Mosul now is stable and quiet. There are no armed indications in the city at all, you might see two or four fighters at the main entrances of the city but not inside. Life is so normal in Mosul. Our fighters are advancing towards Baghdad without any significant resistance by the military forces. All we are doing is negotiating with the army and police commanders, as well as tribes leaders, and they are coming over to our side.

The fight now is in the Baghdad suburbs, near the Al Taji district. We have prepared enough men and arms and been waiting for this day for more then 10 years now. All the fighters are Iraqis from different parts of Iraq, in addition to senior military leaders who are lading the battles and setting up our successful plans. This is the reason why we are advancing further day by day. ~the Guardian blog

Interesting developments on the blog...

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