— Domani Spero
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Embassy Baghdad issued this security message yesterday:
The U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens resident in Iraq of ongoing large-scale military action between insurgent and terrorist groups and Iraqi military forces in Mosul, the capital of Ninewah province. Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces have reportedly taken control of the city, including the airport. There have been recent large-scale actions taken in cities in Salahadin province as well and fighting continues in Anbar province. We strongly encourage all U.S. citizens to avoid these areas, to review the existing Travel Warning for Iraq, and take appropriate measures to ensure their safety if travel to Iraq is necessary.
The State Department also released a statement:
The United States is deeply concerned about the events that have transpired in Mosul over the last 48 hours where elements of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIL) have taken over significant parts of the city. The situation remains extremely serious. Senior U.S. officials in both Washington and Baghdad are tracking events closely in coordination with the Government of Iraq, as well as Iraqi leaders from across the political spectrum including the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and support a strong, coordinated response to push back against this aggression. We also commend efforts by the KRG to respond to the ongoing humanitarian crisis. The United States will provide all appropriate assistance to the Government of Iraq under the Strategic Framework Agreement to help ensure that these efforts succeed.
State Department DAS Brett McGurk @brett_mcgurk also tweeted:
The U.S. has a permanent Strategic Framework Agreement with #Iraq. We have suffered and bled together, and we will help in time of crisis.
— Brett McGurk (@brett_mcgurk) June 10, 2014
US Mission Iraq includes our posts in Erbil, Kirkuk and Basrah.
Meanwhile Al Jazeera is reporting that an estimated half a million people are fleeing Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, after fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an al-Qaeda splinter group, seized the city.
The Guardian reports that jihadists have seized the Turkish consulate in Mosul and kidnapped the Turkish Consul along with 24 staff members as residents fled the city. Yesterday, Isis fighters have reportedly also abducted 28 Turkish truck drivers.
Hurriyet Daily News says that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu who cut short his U.S. visit has defended Ankara’s decision to keep its consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul open despite the approach of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants.
“The risk of leaving was higher than the risk of staying in. Clashes were happening street by street. Taking such a sensitive convoy [the consulate staff and their families] out was a risk,” Davutoğlu told Turkish journalists at New York John F. Kennedy Airport before leaving for Turkey.
“All parties around the world should know that if something bad happens to our citizens, the perpetrators will be responded to strongly. Nobody should test Turkey,” Davutoğlu added.
According to Hurriyet, the Foreign Ministry also confirmed that at the time of the raid, 49 members of the consulate, including the consul general, and an unknown number of their family members were in the compound. Separately, 31Turkish truck drivers, not 28 as previously reported, are being kept by the same group at a power plant in Mosul.
In Kirkuk, Kurdish military leaders vow to defend the province’s Kurdish areas “with the last drop of our blood.”
* * *
- Thousands of Iraqis flee after Mosul seized (aljazeera.com)
- Iraq PM calls emergency after Mosul seized (aljazeera.com)
- Iraq PM seeks state of emergency after al-Qaida offshoot seizes Mosul (stripes.com)
- Militants seize Turkish consulate in Mosul (nation.com.pk)
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With rapid unraveling of the Maliki government’s forces in the face of ISIS advances, we are entering a new period of sectarian war in which Sunni, Shia and Kurd all square off against each other. This is Mesopotamia as it has been for centuries, and the brief, expensive American interlude will soon be a forgotten chapter in the tragic history of this land. I can already hear the GOP switching from cries of “Benghazi!” to “Who Lost Iraq?” For the Obama Administration, however, Republican sloganeering is the least of its worries. The United States still has several thousand contractors and diplomats in Iraq, mainly at Embassy Baghdad, but also in Kirkuk, Erbil, Basra and other places. Should Sunni insurgents overrun an American diplomatic installation, as they recently did with regard to the Turks in Mosul, the scandal over Benghazi will pale by comparison.