Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

Iraq crisis: Warning of a 'thousand Bin Ladens' in SOS plea to world for help stopping Isis advance

Image posted on a militant website appears to show militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leading away captured Iraqi soldiers dressed in plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq. (AP Photo via militant website)
Image posted on a militant website appears to show militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leading away captured Iraqi soldiers dressed in plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq. (AP Photo via militant website)
Image posted on a militant website, verified and consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) taking aim at captured Iraqi soldiers wearing plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq.
Image posted on a militant website appears to show militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) with captured Iraqi soldiers wearing plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq.
Image posted on a militant website, verified and consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) with truckloads of captured Iraqi soldiers after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq.
This image posted on a militant website on Saturday, June 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) with captured Iraqi soldiers wearing plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq. The Islamic militant group that seized much of northern Iraq has posted photos that appear to show its fighters shooting dead dozens of captured Iraqi soldiers in a province north of the capital Baghdad. Iraq's top military spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi confirmed the photos authenticity on Sunday and said he was aware of cases of mass murder of Iraqi soldiers. (AP Photo via militant website)
This image posted on a militant website on Saturday, June 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leading captured Iraqi soldiers wearing plain clothes to an open field moments before shooting them in Tikrit, Iraq. The Islamic militant group that seized much of northern Iraq has posted photos that appear to show its fighters shooting dead dozens of captured Iraqi soldiers in a province north of the capital Baghdad. Iraq's top military spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi confirmed the photos authenticity on Sunday and said he was aware of cases of mass murder of Iraqi soldiers. (AP Photo via militant website)
Iraqi refugees from Mosul at Khazir refugee camp outside Irbil, 217 miles north of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, June 13, 2014. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the al-Qaida breakaway group, on Monday and Tuesday took over much of Mosul in Iraq and then swept into the city of Tikrit further south. An estimated half a million residents fled Mosul, the economically important city. (AP Photo)
Shiite tribal fighters raise their weapons and chant slogans against the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, June 15, 2014. Emboldened by a call to arms by the top Shiite cleric, Iranian-backed militias have moved quickly to the center of Iraqs political landscape, spearheading what its Shiite majority sees as a fight for survival against Sunni militants who control of large swaths of territory north of Baghdad. (AP Photo/ Nabil Al-Jurani)
FILE - This still image from black and white gun camera video made by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense on Wednesday, June 11, 2014, shows what the ministry says are airstrikes on fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in an area near Mosul in Nineveh province, Iraq. The militants' capture of Iraqs cities of Mosul and Tikrit makes their dream of a new Islamic state look more realistic. It already controlled a swath of eastern Syria along the Euphrates River, with a spottier presence extending further west nearly to Aleppo, Syrias largest city. In Raqqa, the biggest city it holds in Syria, it imposes taxes, rebuilds bridges and enforces the law _ its strict version of Shariah. (AP Photo/Iraqi Ministry of Defense)
In this photo taken on Friday, June 13, 2014, Ammar al-Hakim, leader of Iraq's largest Shiite party, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, speaks to volunteers at the main army recruiting center in Baghdad, Iraq. Thousands of Shiites from Baghdad and across southern Iraq answered an urgent call to arms Saturday, joining security forces to fight the Islamic militants who have captured large swaths of territory north of the capital and now imperil a city with a much-revered religious shrine. (AP Photo)
In this photo taken on Friday, June 13, 2014, Ammar al-Hakim, leader of Iraq's largest Shiite party, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, exercises a shooting drill in the main army recruiting center in Baghdad, Iraq. Thousands of Shiites from Baghdad and across southern Iraq answered an urgent call to arms Saturday, joining security forces to fight the Islamic militants who have captured large swaths of territory north of the capital and now imperil a city with a much-revered religious shrine. (AP Photo)
Iraqi refugee children from Mosul sits at Khazir refugee camp outside Irbil, 217 miles (350 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, June 13, 2014. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the al-Qaida breakaway group, on Monday and Tuesday took over much of Mosul in Iraq and then swept into the city of Tikrit further south. An estimated half a million residents fled Mosul, an economically important city. (AP Photo)
This image posted on a militant news Twitter account on Thursday, June 12, 2014 shows militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) people raising their flag at the entrance of an army base in Ninevah Province. Iraq. Fresh gains by insurgents, spearheaded by fighters from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, come as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-led government struggles to form a coherent response after militants overran the country's second-largest city of Mosul, Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit and smaller communities, as well as military and police bases often after meeting little resistance from state security forces.(AP Photo/albaraka_news)
This image made from video posted by Iraqi0Revolution, a group supporting the al-Qaida breakaway Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Wednesday, June 11, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows a militant standing in front of a burning Iraqi Army Humvee in Tikrit, Iraq. The al-Qaida-inspired group that led the charge in capturing two key Sunni-dominated cities in Iraq this week has vowed to march on to Baghdad, raising fears about the Shiite-led governments ability to slow the assault following lightening gains. Fighters from ISIL on Wednesday took Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, as soldiers and security forces abandoned their posts and yielded ground once controlled by U.S. forces. (AP Photo/Iraqi0Revolution via AP video)
This image made from video posted by Iraqi0Revolution, a group supporting the al-Qaida breakaway Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Wednesday, June 12, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows militants on Al-Sharqat base north of Tikrit, Iraq. The al-Qaida-inspired group that led the charge in capturing two key Sunni-dominated cities in Iraq this week has vowed to march on to Baghdad, raising fears about the Shiite-led governments ability to slow the assault following lightening gains. Fighters from ISIL on Wednesday took Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, as soldiers and security forces abandoned their posts and yielded ground once controlled by U.S. forces. (AP Photo/Iraqi0Revolution via AP video)
ERBIL, IRAQ - JUNE 15: A man makes wooden sieves in the Qaysari Market on June 15, 2014 in Erbil, Iraq. In Iraq's capital city of Baghdad and other towns and cities effected by the recent conflict, people who can afford to do so have begun to stockpile essential items of food, which has increased prices dramatically. The US dollar which is normally a relatively stable currency in Iraq, rose about 5 percent in one day making many household items more expensive. Potatoes increased approximately sixfold, to about $4.50 USD a pound. People continue to leave Iraq's second city of Mosul after it was overrun by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) militants. Many have been temporarily housed at various IDP (internally displaced persons) camps around the region including the area close to Erbil, as they hope to enter the safety of the nearby Kurdish region. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
ERBIL, IRAQ - JUNE 15: Currency is exchanged in the Qaysari Market on June 15, 2014 in Erbil, Iraq. In Iraq's capital city of Baghdad and other towns and cities effected by the recent conflict, people who can afford to do so have begun to stockpile essential items of food, which has increased prices dramatically. The US dollar which is normally a relatively stable currency in Iraq, rose about 5 percent in one day making many household items more expensive. Potatoes increased approximately sixfold, to about $4.50 USD a pound. People continue to leave Iraq's second city of Mosul after it was overrun by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) militants. Many have been temporarily housed at various IDP (internally displaced persons) camps around the region including the area close to Erbil, as they hope to enter the safety of the nearby Kurdish region. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
KALAK, IRAQ - JUNE 14: Families arrive at a Kurdish checkpoint next to a temporary displacement camp on June 14, 2014 in Kalak, Iraq. Thousands of people have fled Iraq's second city of Mosul after it was overrun by ISAS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) militants. Many have been temporarily housed at various IDP (internally displaced persons) camps around the region including the area close to Erbil, as they hope to enter the safety of the nearby Kurdish region. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The Iraqi ambassador to the US has issued a desperate plea for international assistance dealing with the rise of Sunni militants across his country, warning that a failure to do so will lead to the emergence of “a thousand [Osama] bin Ladens”.

Comparing the threat to Iraq from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) with that to Afghanistan from al-Qa’ida, Lukman Faily has told a number of US media outlets that he wants to issue “an SOS, not just for us, but for the whole globe”.

The ambassador’s comments come as President Barack Obama considers the intervention options available to the US, from drone strikes to providing Special Forces training.

And while Mr Faily agreed that Iraq does not need to see the US put “boots on the ground”, the immediacy of the threat means there is not time for “long discussions” as to which measures will be taken.

Speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, the ambassador said: “What you had in Afghanistan, with one bin Laden – you will have a thousand of them. There will be no prisoners of war, and no rule of engagement but destruction.

“That’s the situation in Iraq, and that’s the size of the adverse impact on the whole of geopolitics.”

Mr Faily described the rise of Isis, which yesterday claimed its latest victory in the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar, as a “global tumour”.

He welcomed the prospect of international cooperation between the US and Iran, mooted yesterday by Secretary of State John Kerry, but added: “What we are saying is we cannot wait until tomorrow. A decision has to be made; it should have been made yesterday.”

Last night Mr Obama announced that up to 275 US soldiers have been sent to bolster security at the American Embassy in Baghdad, and White House officials said there are discussions over sending around 100 military personnel to offer the Iraqi army training and advice.

Discussing the level of international support needed in Iraq, Mr Faily told the radio station NPR: “We have said the fight is ours. We are, we have, we will, do this fight.

“But we need support and training. We need support and logistics. We need support and air supremacy. We definitely do not need two combat forces. We definitely do not need boots on the ground from the US. So that's the level of the support we have requested.”

Fears of an all-out war in Iraq have sparked a potential renewal in relations between the US and Iran, with both sides hinting at the value of cooperation to restore relative order to the country.

And while the White House continues to review its options, Iran's military leaders are beginning to act on the ground.

A displaced Iraqi woman shouts as she queues with others
A displaced Iraqi woman shouts as she queues with others

On Monday the commander of Iran's elite Quds Force, General Ghasem Soleimani, was in Iraq to consult with the government on how to bring a stop to the insurgents’ territorial gains.

Iraqi security officials said the US government was notified in advance of the visit by Soleimani, whose forces are a secretive branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guard that in the past has organised Shia militia attacks on US troops in Iraq and, more recently, was involved in helping Syria's President Bashar Assad in his fight against Sunni rebels.

The need for a response on Iraq has also led to talks between the British Foreign Secretary and his Iranian counterparty Mohammad Javad Zarif, and today William Hague announced that the UK will be reopening its embassy in Tehran.

Mr Hague said he and Mr Zarif had discussed the “case for a further step forward in our bilateral relations”, and said Britain was looking at offering assistance with the Iraq crisis in a number of ways.

But he told the Commons yesterday: “We have made it clear this does not involve planning a military intervention by the United Kingdom.”

Source: Independent

Further reading

Obama deploying US troops to Iraq

Militants 'shoot down helicopter'

Price of oil could spike sharply as Iraq unrest soars 

Assad’s enemies in Syria, whom Tony Blair’s bombing of Damascus would have helped, now threaten Iraq 

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