The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (Isis) has imposed a strict set of Sharia laws on the citizens of Nineveh province just days after capturing the provincial capital of Mosul.
In a document circulating on social media attributed to the group, Isis warned tribal leaders and sheikhs not to "work with [the Iraqi] government and be traitors" while proclaiming that women should only go outside if absolutely necessary.
"For women, dress decently and wear wide clothes. Only go out if needed," read the document as translated by Al Aan TV reporter Jenan Moussa.
Further rules included bans on drugs, alcohol and cigarettes while public gatherings, the possession of guns and the carrying of flags not of the Islamic state were outlawed.
The document added that Isis wish to destroy all shrines and graves, in reference to Shia shrines in towns such as Samarra where fighting is continuing.
"For those asking who are you? We are soldiers of Islam and took on our responsiblity to bring back glory of the Islamic Caliphate.
"Money we took from [the] Safavid government is now public. Only Imam of Muslims can spend it. Anyone who steals [will have their] hands cut," the document translation read.
Isis have continued their push towards Baghdad, seizing a town only 56 miles (90km) north of the Iraq's capital, according to reports.
The flashpoint town of Dhuluiyah and the area of Muatassam have been overrun by militants following a three-day offensive the Iraqi government has failed to stop, according to AFP.
The group has become the richest terror force in the world after looting $429m and large amounts of gold bullion from Mosul's central bank following the city's capture.
[Note: There was some trouble with the links today for some reason - will try to fix this later today]
Militants Try To Install Vast Islamic State
The crisis in Iraq is largely a war between the two main branches of Islam-- the Sunnis and the Shia -- which split nearly hundreds of years ago, roughly similar to how Catholics and Protestants divided Christianity.
The governments of Syria and Iraq are largely Shia. The attacking force is Sunni. That force calls itself the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS.
Along with territory, the ISIS fighters took prisoners as they swept through northern Iraq this week.
The group has an especially brutal reputation.
Online pictures appear to show the bodies of the Iraqi police and soldiers they murdered along the way.
In an online message on Thursday, the ISIS spokesman warned its fighters would march onward to Baghdad, and beyond to the Muslim holy cities of Kerbala and Najaf.
For 10 years, ISIS has had ambitions to set up a vast Islamic state.
Its fighters moved back and forth over the Iraq-Syria border, exploiting the chaos and brutality to become one of the most powerful groups on the battlefield.In areas of Syria where they ruled, there were public executions and a code of strict Islamic law.
No one knows how many ISIS fighters there are, but they come from across the Arab world to join up with a group that's well funded with revenue from oil smuggling and extortion and steadily adding to its arsenal with weapons looted after every victory.
Many Islamic militants believe ISIS is now setting the extremist agenda, no longer al Qaeda, and they see the ISIS leader, al Baghdadi, as the new bin Laden.
Iraq has become an important swing player with big promise in the global energy market, and the widening conflict has experts worried any supply disruptions could lead to a sharp oil price spike.
That worry and concern about a wider sectarian conflict drove oil prices higher Thursday, weighed on stocks and sent buyers into bonds.
Brent futures rallied more than 3 percent, to $113.02 a barrel, the highest price since Sept. 9. WTI rose $2.13, to $106.53 per barrel. Gasoline futures jumped $0.8, to $3.08 per gallon.
Sunni militants this week seized two cities—Mosul and Tikrit—and threatened to march on the capital of Baghdad while vowing to take over two other cities spiritually important to Shiite Muslims. In the northern oil hub of Kirkuk Thursday, Kurdish military units, or Pershmerga, assumed control of key government installations when Iraqi Army forces abandoned their posts.
"This is a huge regional threat and the collapse of the Iraqi Army shows the mistakes of the Maliki government in terms of the country and obviously the fact everybody now is going to scramble. This is unexpected," said Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of IHS.
Iraq produces about 3.3 million barrels a day, and so far the only reported disruption is the flow of oil through the 600,000 barrel Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline, which runs from Kirkuk to Turkey. The Kirkuk fields produce about 400,000 to 500,000 barrels a day, while the major fields in the Basra area produce about 2.6 to 2.7 million barrels a day, according to IHS.
Evacuations In Iraq As Caos Spreads
A growing sense of panic was gripping Iraq last night as the al-Qaeda uprising in the country’s north led to US contractors being evacuated from the region and European countries ordering their citizens to leave Baghdad.
With militants threatening to advance on the capital, signs emerged of diplomats making preparations to leave the country in the event of civil war erupting.
Three planes carrying American diplomats and contractors stationed at a training mission at an Iraqi airbase in Balad, north of Baghdad, flew out amid fears that the base could be surrounded by the militants. Germany ordered all its citizens to leave the Iraqi capital, as did Turkey, which has already had 80 people kidnapped by the militants, including the consul to the northern city of Mosul.
U.S. Airstrikes To Support Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Offensive In Iraq?
Iran deployed its Revolutionary Guard to help Iraq battle insurgents from a group inspired by Al-Qaeda, according to a recent report. In the meantime, the US is mulling airstrikes to support the Iraqi government.
On Wednesday, Al-Qaeda affiliate insurgents from the armed group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) conquered former dictator Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, marking the second major loss for the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Earlier this week, insurgents captured Mosul, the second-largest city in the country. With jihadists threatening Baghdad and security forces unable resist the Sunni Islamists' assault, Maliki turned to foreign powers for help, getting responses from two unlikely allies, Iran and the US.
Two battalions of the Quds Forces, which is the overseas branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, moved to Iraq on Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported. There they worked jointly with Iraqi troops to retake control of 85 percent of Tikrit, security forces from both countries told the Journal. Iranian forces are also helping guard the Iraqi capital of Bagdhad, as well as two Shiite holy cities that the Sunni jihadists are threatening.
Meanwhile, on Thursday morning, US President Barack Obama declared that he doesn't rule out any options with regards to the ISIS takeover of cities in the northern region of Iraq. The administration and its national security team are discussing military options.
“We do have a stake in ensuring these jihadists don't get foothold in either Iraq or Syria,” Obama said.
Later in the day, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney clarified that US will not send ground troops to Iraq, but is seriously considering airstrikes that would help to drive jihadist militants out of their strongholds.
Iraq has privately indicated to the Obama administration that it would welcome airstrikes with either drones or manned aircraft that target ISIS militants in Iraqi territory, US officials said Wednesday.
If so, US may find itself assisting its archnemesis in the Middle East to fight against Sunni militias that enjoy support from one of America's closest allies in the region, Saudi Arabia. The ruling family of the kingdom has long been accused of supplying jihadists all over the region with arms and financial support, the New York Times reported.
Below is a fascinating article...In one sense I hate to bury it down at the bottom of today's post because it seems so significant. However, it seems so implausible and hard to believe and perhaps so sensational - it is hard to make this a headline. These are strange days, so perhaps we should take everything seriously. Prophetically, this scenario is impossible to believe, as we know that Russia will be a significant force in the Gog-Magog war, and this certainly doesn't seem to include a "post-nuclear" Russia. This article is interesting simply because of the fact that something this outrageous is being discussed in public forums and in that regard it is worth reporting here. Either way, here it is - from "Washington's Blog
Obama clearly means business here, and so the government that we have installed in Kiev is bombing throughout southeastern Ukraine, in order to convince the residents there that resistance will be futile. Part of the short-term goal here is to get Russia to absorb the losses of all of Ukraine’s unpaid debts to Russia, so that far of Ukraine’s unpaid debts , will unpaid. It’s basically an international bankruptcy proceeding, but without an international bankruptcy court, using instead military means. It’s like creditors going to a bankrupt for repayment, and the one with the most gunmen gets paid, while the others do not. This is the reason why the IMF ordered the leaders in Kiev to put down the rebellion in Ukraine’s southeast. What’s important to the IMF is not land, it’s the Kiev government’s continued control over the assets in the rebelling part of Ukraine — assets that will be worth something in a privatization or sell-off to repay that debt. However, for Obama, what is even more important than repaid debts is the continued dominance of the U.S. dollar. Wall Street needs that.
Among other indications that the U.S. is now preparing a nuclear attack against Russia is an article on May 23rd, “U.S. Tests Advanced Missile For NATO Interceptor System,” and also a June 10th reportfrom a website with good sources in Russian intelligence, which alleges that Ukrainian President Petro “Poroshenko secretly met with … [an] American delegation headed by the Director of … the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, Frank Archibald, which also included former CIA chief in Ukraine Jeffrey Egan, the current – Raymond Mark Davidson, Mark Buggy (CIA, Istanbul), Andrzej Derlatka, a CIA agent in the Polish intelligence Agency, and member of CIA Kevin Duffin who is working as senior Vice President of the insurance company Brower. Poroshenko and Archibald signed a paper entitled an ‘Agreement on Military Cooperation between the U.S. and Ukraine’”
The two likeliest things that can stop him, at this stage, would be either NATO’s breaking up, or else Putin’s deciding to take a political beating among his own public for simply not responding to our increasing provocations. Perhaps Putin will decide that a temporary embarrassment for him at home (for being “wimpy”) will be better, even for just himself, than the annihilation of his entire country would be. And maybe, if Obama pushes his indubitable Superpower card too hard, he’ll be even more embarrassed by this conflict than Putin will be. After all, things like this and this aren’t going to burnish Obama’s reputation in the history books, if he cares about that. But maybe he’s satisfied to be considered to have been George W. Bush II, just a far better-spoken version: a more charming liar than the original. However, if things come to a nuclear invasion, even a U.S. “victory” won’t do much more for Obama’s reputation than Bush’s “victory” in Iraq did for his. In fact, perhaps Americans will then come to feel that George W. Bush wasn’t America’s worst President, after all. Maybe the second half of the Bush-Obama Presidency will be even worse than the first.