Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & Raheem Salman / Reuters – 2014-08-14 21:15:57
Iraq Escalation: US Troops Headed Back to Fallujah *
Anbar Governor Confirms Deal for US Presence ‘Very Soon’
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(August 14, 2014) — Having ditched the Yazidi rescue pretext for the new US war in Iraq, after discovering there weren’t really many Yazidis to rescue in the first place, the US has reportedly set its sights on the Anbar Province, site of some of the bloodiest US battles during the previous occupation.
In an interview with Reuters [see below], Anbar Governor Ahmed Khalaf al-Dulaimi confirmed meetings with US diplomats and senior military officials, and secured a promise of not only air strikes against ISIS holdings in the province, but a military presence on the ground.
“No date was decided but it will be very soon and there will be a presence for the Americans in the western area,” Dulaimi confirmed. ISIS controls materially all of the Anbar Province at this point.
Anbar was the first major territorial gain for ISIS in Iraq, way back in January when they seized Fallujah and Ramadi, the main cities in the province. Since then, they’ve expanded, and were believed to have recently taken the Haditha Dam, one of the last sites outside their control in the province.
The US launched several major invasions of Fallujah during the last war, in both 2003 and in 2004, During Operation Phantom Fury, the last of the sieges, the US Marines invaded the city in a battle that left an estimated 1,500 insurgents and 800 civilians dead, along with 95 US troops.
Anbar is also the site of the city of Haditha, where in 2005 US Marines carried out the notorious Haditha Massacre, where they killed 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including women and children, in response to an IED explosion that killed a solider near the city.
In addition to being the ISIS heartland in Iraq, the checkered history of US military operations in the major cities suggest troops will not be particularly welcomed in this new invasion. The Pentagon has yet to confirm the details of the plan, but Governor Dulaimi’s comments suggest it is already a done deal, and will begin with airstrikes before expanding to a ground war.
Exclusive — Governor of Iraq’s Sunni Heartland
Secures US Support against Militants
Raheem Salman / Reuters
BAGHDAD (August 14, 2014) — The governor of Iraq’s Anbar province in the Sunni heartland said he has asked for and secured US support in the battle against Islamic State militants because opponents of the group may not have the stamina for a long fight.
Ahmed Khalaf al-Dulaimi told Reuters that his request, made during meetings with US diplomats and a senior military officer, included air support for battling the militants who have a tight grip on large parts of Anbar and the north. Dulaimi said the Americans had promised to help.
“Our first goal is the air support. Their technology capability will offer a lot of intelligence information and monitoring of the desert and many things which we are in need of,” he said in a telephone interview. “No date was decided but it will be very soon and there will be a presence for the Americans in the western area,” he said.
Asked whether Dulaimi was correct in saying the United States had made a commitment, US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said she had no details but that American officials had met with a range of people in Iraq to discuss their security needs. “We’re having conversations about what it (any security assistance) might look like in the future, but nothing concrete beyond that,” Harf told reporters in Washington.
A dramatic push by the Islamic State through northern Iraq to the border with the semi-autonomous Kurdish region alarmed Baghdad and drew the first US air strikes on Iraq since the withdrawal of American troops in 2011.
US involvement in Anbar is a far more sensitive matter. The region was deeply anti-American during the US occupation, with everyone from ordinary Iraqis to powerful Sunni tribes to al Qaeda taking up arms against US troops. The United States mounted its biggest offensive of the occupation against a staggering variety of Islamist militants in the city of Falluja in Anbar, with its soldiers experiencing some of the fiercest combat since the Vietnam War.
Eventually, the US military was able to persuade some of its most die-hard Sunni opponents to turn against al Qaeda, which is seen as less hardline than the Islamic State.
The strategy worked for some time, but the sectarian agenda of outgoing Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki alienated many Sunnis and the Islamic State capitalised on sectarian tensions to gain control of hardcore Sunni cities like Falluja and Ramadi.
“THEY GAVE A PR0MISE”
Iraq’s president has named a new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, who is seen as a moderate Shi’ite with a decent chance of improving ties with Sunnis, who dominated the country during Saddam Hussein’s decades of iron-fisted rule.
Dulaimi seemed especially concerned by the militants’ determination to seize control of Anbar’s Haditha dam — they recently seized Iraq’s biggest dam, a fifth oilfield, more towns and areas that are home to vital wheat crops in the north.
“The situation in Haditha, where the dam is, is controlled by security forces and tribes,” Dulaimi said. “But the problem is how long can they endure the pressure?”
“I held several meetings since one month ago with the American Embassy and the commander of the central troops all in this regard, and very soon there will be a joint coordination centre and operations in Anbar. They gave a promise,” he said.
Aside from strong momentum built up in the north and control of large parts of the west, the Islamic State has threatened to march on Baghdad. The group, which wants to redraw the map of the Middle East, has been using tunnels built in the 1990s by Saddam to move its fighters, weapons, ammunition and supplies to towns just south of Baghdad, Iraqi intelligence officials told Reuters. Rough terrain has enabled the militants to evade the army and security forces.
On Thursday, Islamic State militants massed near the Iraqi town of Qara Tappa, 122 km (73 miles) north of Baghdad, security sources and a local official said, in an apparent bid to broaden their front with Kurdish peshmerga fighters.
The movement around Qara Tappa suggests they are getting more confident and looking to grab more territory closer to the capital after stalling in that region. “The Islamic State is massing its militants near Qara Tappa,” one of the security sources said. “It seems they are going to broaden their front with the Kurdish fighters.”
Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed in Washington, writing by Michael Georgy; editing by Peter Millership and Gunna Dickson.
* Is this Report Credible? Consider This:
From an AntiWar.com fundraising note:
(August 14, 2014) — We were the first Western media outlet to report the imminent re-invasion of Iraq in a story written by News Editor Jason Ditz and published on August 4 — four days before the air strikes.
And this isn’t the first time we’ve scooped the rest of the media. We’ve been doing it for over 18 years:
â€¢ When George W. Bush went into Afghanistan, we said it was a quagmire — and while neocons insisted we were wrong (and traitors, to boot!), it turned out we were 100 percent right.
â€¢ When they said Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” we said it was a lie. Again, the usual suspects yelled “treason!” — but if telling the truth is treason, then we plead guilty.
â€¢ When the neocons claimed they were building Iraqi “democracy,” we said they were inviting chaos — and will deny the accuracy of our prediction?
â€¢ When NATO pushed eastward we warned of a new cold war was in the making. Hardly anyone else saw it — but we did.
â€¢ When we said Israel was turning into apartheid South Africa, Israel’s amen corner went ballistic — but we were right about that, too.
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