Heads-up, moving to live blog II:
A handful of us have been conversing about the ISIS offensive going on in Iraq today.
I'm concerned and have a couple of hours to spare this morning. So if you desire, please join in with comments, feelings and information.
I'm following the Guardian's liveblog here:http://www.theguardian.com/...
I say no to any unilateral military response. PM al Maliki has apparently asked the U.S. for air support, yet not enough Iraqi parliamentarians showed up this morning to act on his request for and emergency resolution; the government is failing and troops are apparently
deserting by the thousands.
And on cue, John McCain is calling for war.
"The president should get rid of his entire national security team, including the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and bring the team in who won the conflict in Iraq in to turn this situation around, but it's going to be extremely difficult to do so."Join in...what should we do?
8:51 AM PT: And...
Speaker of the House John Boehner has pinned some blame on the Obama administration for events in Iraq, saying his "foreign policy failures [have had] a direct impact on the situation in Iraq." Boehner continued:
"The US has and will continue to have a vital interest in Iraq, and progress made there is in jeopardy. The president celebrated [withdrawal] as a major foreign policy achievement … Our focus should be completing this mission, and I would urge the president to do so before it's too late.
"I think what we should do is provide the equipment and technical assistance that the Iraqis are requesting … It's not like we haven't seen this problem coming for over a year, and it's not like we haven't seen … these terrorists moving in and taking control. they're 100 miles from Baghdad, and where's the president? Taking a nap!"
9:12 AM PT: And Lindsey:
Senator Lindsey Graham, briefed by the Pentagon on Iraq, has said "What I heard today scared the hell out of me. The briefing was chilling … Iraq is falling apart," the Guardian's Dan Roberts reports.
9:17 AM PT: Iraqi rebels from Falluja, Tarmiyia, Abu Ghraib and Latifiyia towns are advancing towards Baghdad quickly. There is a significant morale collapse among the so-called Iraqi army which is merely made up of sectarian militias. All the rebels now who are massing up at the surrounding of the capital are waiting for the final signal to get inside the city. We are looking forward to get in Baghdad soon.
We have plans to fight in Kirkuk, the rebels believe that [Kurdish] peshmerga won't fight as they have no doctrine. … We want to mass up our forces in all these areas and launch a unified attack to liberate Baghdad. So far, we have not faced up any resistance by Maliki's forces. … All the Sunni districts in Baghdad who have suffered a lot of the militias and military forces are waiting for our call to raise up against Maliki in Baghdad.
9:32 AM PT: Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, warned in a televised address on Thursday that Iran would combat the "violence and terrorism" of Sunni extremists in Iraq. The foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, offered Iran's support for Iraq's "fight against terrorism" during a phone call with his Iraqi counterpart, Iranian state TV reported.
9:55 AM PT: AP reporting:
The militant group that has taken control of some key cities in Iraq says it will start implementing its strict version of Islamic law in Mosul and other areas it now controls. It says women should stay in their homes for reasons of modesty, and that thieves will have their hands cut off. And it's telling Sunni members of the military and police to abandon their posts and "repent" -- or else "face only death."
9:58 AM PT: President Obama has said "I don't rule anything out" for US responses to the crisis in Iraq, Reuters reports. He said he is " looking at all options in helping the Iraqi government face the growing insurgency".
The presdient was asked whether the US would consider drone strikes or any other direct or indirect action to counter Isis and jihadist groups. Reuters continues:
He said there will be short-term immediate actions that need to be done militarily in Iraq, and that his national security team is looking at all options. He said the United States is prepared to take military action when its national security interests are threatened.
10:28 AM PT: France has called for swift international action said on the crisis, with foreign minister Laurent Fabius saying Isis "poses a serious threat to the stability of the region", Reuters reports. Fabius' statement read:
"The advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant seriously puts into danger the unity and sovereignty of Iraq and … it poses a serious threat to the stability of the region … The international community must imperatively deal with the situation." H/T DRo
10:33 AM PT: Iran Deploys Forces to Fight al Qaeda-Inspired Militants in Iraq
Iranian Revolutionary Guard Forces Helped Iraqi Troops Win Back Control of Most of Tikrit, the Sources Said
Behind paywall WSJ
10:50 AM PT: BBC… Pelosi:
Some disquiet among Democrats at the prospect of another chapter for US involvement in Iraq. "War begets war. It's just not a good idea," said Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader.
11:00 AM PT: Hillary Clinton makes a powerful point that Afghan leadership is watching Iraq today. I think the Taliban is observing #ISIS closely + planning.
11:13 AM PT: The State Department could not confirm the presence of Iranian forces in Iraq, as was reported by the Wall Street Journal, quoting Iranian security sources.
The Journal reports: "Iran has deployed Revolutionary Guard forces to fight militants", that it "has helped Iraqi troops win back control of 85% of Tikrit", that it has massed troops along the border, and that it has "promised to bomb rebel forces if they close within 100 kilometers, or 62 miles, from Iran's border, according to an Iranian army general."
11:31 AM PT: Iraq has no real air power to bolster its cowed army; US Apache helicopters and F-16 fighter jets are not scheduled to arrive for months. The result is that the US is stuck with the worst of both worlds: a sectarian authoritarian in Maliki whose ultimate military weakness is on display.
A far more decisive response has come from Iran, which is said to be streaming forces into Iraq to bolster their existing networks there. Carney on Thursday declined to urge Iran to stay out of the crisis.
The only note of caution came from the panel's Democratic chairman, Carl Levin: "It’s unclear how air strikes on our part can succeed unless the Iraqi army is willing to fight, and that’s uncertain given the fact that several Iraqi army divisions have melted away."