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morningfog

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Member since: Thu Jan 12, 2012, 04:24 PM
Number of posts: 18,115

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Israeli Ground Offensive in Gaza Increasingly Likely, Official Warns

Israeli ground forces are more likely to be sent into the Gaza Strip because of the refusal by Palestinian militants to halt their rocket attacks into Israel despite nine days of aerial bombardment, a senior Israeli military official said Wednesday.

"I think that every day that passes makes the possibility more evident,'' the official said during a briefing for reporters at Israeli military headquarters in Tel Aviv. His assessment, he said, was based on knowledge of Israeli cabinet deliberations.

Despite Israel's success in limiting the costs inflicted by rocket fire from Hamas and other Palestinian militant factions, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli authorities have repeatedly warned that they are prepared to escalate the war to end the rocket barrages, which have caused one death and disrupted daily life across the country.

While underscoring the increasing impatience of Israel's political and military establishment with Hamas and making plain that there were contingency plans for the re-occupation of the Gaza Strip, the senior military official said most Israeli policy makers still opposed any attempt to end Hamas rule in Gaza.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/palestinian-death-toll-rises-as-israel-threatens-broader-hamas-offensive-1405498640

Was Iraq's Top Terrorist Radicalized at a US-Run Prison?

In early July, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of the jihadist terror group now known as the Islamic State—formerly the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS—preached on high in Mosul and declared himself the "Caliph Ibrahim" of a new fundamentalist Sunni state stretching from western and northern Iraq to northern Syria. This announcement came after months of fighting over territory and skirmishes with Iraqi forces, as ISIS invaded and captured dozens of Iraqi cities including Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown.

In short order, Baghdadi has become Iraq's most prominent extremist leader. But for much of his adult life, Baghdadi did not have a reputations as a fiery, jihadist trailblazer. According to the Telegraph, members of his local mosque in Tobchi (a neighborhood in Baghdad) who knew him from around 1989 until 2004 (when he was between the ages of 18 and 33) considered Baghdadi a quiet, studious fellow and a talented soccer player. When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, Baghdadi was earning a degree in Islamic studies in Baghdad.

But within a couple years of the US invasion, Baghdadi was a prisoner in Camp Bucca, the US-run detainment facility in Umm Qasr, Iraq. And a US compound commander stationed at that prison—and other military officials—have in recent weeks wondered whether Baghdadi's stint there radicalized him and put him on the path to taking over ISIS in 2010 and guiding the movement to its recent military victories.

The details of Baghdadi's time in Camp Bucca are murky. Some media reports note that he was held as a "civilian internee" at the prison for 10 months in 2004. Others report that he was captured by US forces in 2005 and spent four years at Camp Bucca. The reason why he was apprehended is not publicly known; he could have been arrested on a specific charge or as part of a large sweep of insurgents or insurgent supporters. (A confidential Red Cross report leaked in May 2004 suggested than around 90 percent of detainees of Iraqi origin were arrested "by mistake." Army Colonel Kenneth King, the commanding US officer at Camp Bucca in 2009, recently told the Daily Beast that he distinctly remembered a man resembling Baghdadi: "He was a bad dude, but he wasn't the worst of the worst." King noted he was "not surprised" that such a radical figure emerged from the facility.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/07/was-camp-bucca-pressure-cooker-extremism

Israeli Ground Troops Enter Gaza in Raid

Israel sent ground forces into Gaza Saturday in what the military called a raid on a site used to fire rockets into the country. It appears to be the first time ground forces have been used in the five-day offensive that has seen more than 150 Palestinians killed.

The military announced the raid on Twitter, and said there was “an exchange of fire” that left four Israel Defense Forces soldiers with minor injuries. The military did not say whether there were casualties on the other side, but said the soldiers all returned safely to Israel and that the mission was accomplished. The operation was carried out by special forces and did not appear to be the beginning of a broad ground offensive.

Israel earlier ignored a United Nations call for a cease-fire Saturday and widened its range of Gaza bombing targets to civilian institutions with suspected Hamas ties and announced it would hit northern Gaza "with great force" to prevent rocket attacks from there on Israel. More than 156 Palestinians have been killed in five days of bombardment.

One of the Israeli strikes hit a center for the disabled where Palestinians said two patients were killed and four people seriously hurt. In a second attack, on Saturday evening, an Israeli warplane flattened the home of Gaza's police chief and damaged a nearby mosque as evening prayers ended, killing at least 18 people, officials said.

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/israeli-ground-troops-enter-gaza-raid-n154531

Kurds seize two oil fields in north; quit Iraqi government

Iraqi Kurds have taken over two oil fields amid a growing dispute with the government in Baghdad, Iraqi and Kurdish sources say.

Kurdish peshmerga forces seized control of production facilities at the Bai Hassan and Kirkuk oil fields in the north of the country on Friday.

Kurdish MPs have also withdrawn from Iraq's central government.


They did so after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki accused the Kurds of harbouring extremists.

Kurdish forces have moved into areas of north-western Iraq abandoned by the Iraqi army during the advance of Islamist insurgents led by the Isis (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) group over the past month.

The Kurds have since declared plans to hold a referendum on independence in the areas seized, escalating tensions with Iraq's central authorities.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-28265064

Question submitted by morningfog

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‘Low Grade’ Nuclear Material Is Seized by Rebels in Iraq, U.N. Says

LONDON — Iraq has notified the United Nations that Sunni militants seized nuclear material from a university in the northern city of Mosul last month as they advanced toward Baghdad, the nuclear regulatory body of the United Nations said on Thursday.

Gill Tudor, a spokeswoman for the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is based in Vienna, said in a statement that the organization’s experts believed that the material — thought to be uranium — was “low grade and would not present a significant safety, security or nuclear proliferation risk.”

Word of the seizure first emerged in a letter to the United Nations dated Tuesday and seen by reporters from Reuters, which quoted it as saying that “terrorists” from the insurgent Islamic State in Iraq and Syria had taken control of the materials.

The letter said that almost 90 pounds of uranium compounds had been kept at the university and that the materials “can be used in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction,” Reuters said.

The mention of such weapons has a resonance in Iraq, where the American-led invasion of 2003 was justified in Washington and London by assertions that Saddam Hussein, the leader at the time, had acquired weapons of mass destruction. None were ever found by the invading forces.

In her statement on Thursday, Ms. Tudor said the atomic energy agency “is aware of the notification from Iraq and is in contact to seek further details.”

She said experts did not believe that the material could be fashioned into a weapon. “Nevertheless,” the statement said, “any loss of regulatory control over nuclear and other radioactive materials is a cause for concern.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/11/world/middleeast/iraq.html?_r=0

Oh FFS.

Iraq Says 'Terrorists' Seize Chemical Weapons Site

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Islamic State extremist group has taken control of a vast former chemical weapons facility northwest of Baghdad, where remnants of 2,500 degraded chemical rockets filled decades ago with the deadly nerve agent sarin are stored along with other chemical warfare agents, Iraq said in a letter circulated Tuesday at the United Nations.

The U.S. government played down the threat from the takeover, saying there are no intact chemical weapons and it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to use the material for military purposes.

Iraq’s U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a letter that ‘‘armed terrorist groups’’ entered the Muthanna site on June 11, detained officers and soldiers from the protection force guarding the facilities and seized their weapons. The following morning, the project manager spotted the looting of some equipment via the camera surveillance system before the ‘‘terrorists’’ disabled it, he said.

The Islamic State group, which controls parts of Syria, sent its fighters into neighboring Iraq last month and quickly captured a vast stretch of territory straddling the border between the two countries. Last week, its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared the establishment of an Islamic state, or caliphate, in the land the extremists control.

Alhakim said as a result of the takeover of Muthanna, Iraq is unable ‘‘to fulfil its obligations to destroy chemical weapons’’ because of the deteriorating security situation. He said it would resume its obligations ‘‘as soon as the security situation has improved and control of the facility has been regained.’’

http://www.boston.com/news/world/united-nations/2014/07/08/iraq-says-terrorists-seize-chemical-weapons-site/dL6fACTU88PHBLp4FK6c9I/story.html

Iraq parliament delayed for five weeks, general killed near Baghdad

Iraq's new parliament put off its next session for five weeks on Monday, extending the country's political paralysis amid a Sunni Islamist insurgency which claimed the life of an army general near Baghdad.

Citing the politicians' failure to reach "understanding and agreement" on nominations for the top three posts in government, the office of acting speaker Mehdi al-Hafidh said parliament would not meet again until Aug. 12.

Putting off the work of reaching consensus is a slap in the face to efforts by Iraq's Shi'ite clergy, the United States, the United Nations and Iran, who have all urged the swift formation of an inclusive government to hold the country together.

"We're looking at a dire situation on the ground, which is why it's so important that things move forward urgently on the ground,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington in reaction to the delay.

With no signs that Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will abandon his bid for a third term, his Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurdish opponents warn there is a risk that Iraq will fragment along ethnic and sectarian lines.

"Things are moving faster than the politicians can make decisions," a senior Shi'ite member of parliament told Reuters.

(snip)

A senior Iraqi general was killed in fighting with insurgents near Baghdad on Monday, as the army fights to hold militants back from the capital.

Major General Negm Abdullah Ali, commander of the army's sixth division responsible for defending part of Baghdad, was killed just 16 km (10 miles) northwest of the capital.

A few hours later, four policemen and three civilians were killed by a suicide bomber at a checkpoint in the mainly Shi'ite Kadhimiya district of northern Baghdad.

A bomb exploding at a roadside outdoor cafe killed four people late on Monday in the Nahrawan area just south of the capital, a police officer and a medic said.

Top U.S. defence officials said last week the security forces could defend the capital but would have difficulty going on the offensive to recapture lost territory, mainly because of logistic weaknesses.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/07/us-iraq-security-idUSKBN0FC1Q820140707?utm_source=twitter

Who carried out the aristrikes in Mosul?

BAGHDAD — Warplanes carried out multiple bombing raids in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Sunday, a day after the leader of a powerful al-Qaeda-inspired militant group appeared online in a video from the city’s main mosque.

Residents of the city, reached by phone, said airstrikes shook the city at least three times Sunday, starting at dawn. It remains unclear what force carried out the airstrikes. The U.S. Defense Department said that it had no knowledge of the airstrikes and that U.S. forces were not involved. An Iraqi government official in Baghdad said he had no information about any airstrikes near Mosul.

On Friday, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, which declared a revival of the medieval Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria last week, delivered a sermon to worshipers from Mosul’s Great Mosque.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/in-iraq-airstrikes-slam-into-mosul-city-held-by-al-qaeda-inspired-militants/2014/07/06/432e7d52-0515-11e4-a0dd-f2b22a257353_story.html

Petition: Nominate former President Bush to be named the next U.S. Ambassador to Iraq

We petition the Obama administration to:

Nominate former President George W. Bush respectfully be named the next U.S. Ambassador to the country of Iraq.

In the best interest of both Nations, we the undersigned, respectfully request that Former President George W. Bush be nominated for the position of U.S. Ambassador to the Nation of Iraq. Said position should include all rights and responsibilities of the Ambassador, including residence in the country in which they are representing the interests of the United States.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/nominate-former-president-george-w-bush-respectfully-be-named-next-us-ambassador-country-iraq/YlRXWJ2N
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