Cheney Tells New York’s G.O.P. He Sees Success in Iraq War
At a Midtown hotel ballroom, the vice president declared that the U.S. was “succeeding brilliantly” in Iraq and assailed Democrats on taxes, gas prices and national security.
Published: May 30, 2008
Source: The New York Times
– Insurgents seize Iraqi city of Mosul as troops flee (Washington Post, June 10, 2014):
Insurgents seized control early Tuesday of most of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, including the provincial government headquarters, offering a powerful demonstration of the mounting threat posed by extremists to Iraq’s teetering stability.
Fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an al-Qaeda offshoot, overran the entire western bank of the city overnight after Iraqi soldiers and police apparently fled their posts, in some instances discarding their uniforms as they sought to escape the advance of the militants.
Iraq’s speaker of parliament, Osama Nujaifi, said the city that ranks as the capital of northern Iraq is now entirely in insurgent hands.
“When the battle got tough in the city of Mosul, the troops dropped their weapons and abandoned their posts, making it an easy prey for the terrorists,” he told a televised news conference in Baghdad.
All key facilities are now controlled by the insurgents, including the airport and the prisons, said Nujaifi, who is from Mosul.
“Everything is fallen. It’s a crisis,” he said, appealing for international and government help to retake the city. “Having these terrorist groups control a city in the heart of Iraq threatens not only Iraq but the entire region.”
The speed with which one of Iraq’s biggest cities has fallen under militant control is striking and suggests the U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces are even more vulnerable than had previously been thought.
The collapse of government forces in Mosul echoed the takeover earlier this year of the town of Fallujah in western Anbar province, where U.S. troops fought some of their fiercest battles of the Iraq war in an effort to quell the insurgents.
Mosul, however, is a far more important city, the capital of northern Iraq and a key commercial and trading center. It had also been an important focus of the U.S. military’s effort to stabilize Iraq.
The capture of the airport, which had served as a major hub for the U.S. military, could not be independently confirmed, but Nujaifi said it had been seized and that all of the aircraft there also were captured.
Thousands of civilians had already fled Mosul after an initial assault Friday in which ISIS fighters captured a number of neighborhoods. But the government appeared to be holding its ground in the rest of the city, until late Monday.
Thousands more fled overnight, most of them seeking refuge in the nearby autonomous region of Kurdistan. Among them was the governor of Nineveh province, Atheel Nujaifi, who is the brother of the speaker of parliament. In a telephone call with the Al Jazeera television network, he described a “massive collapse” of the Iraqi security forces.
As the Iraqi security forces unraveled, the insurgents advanced and rapidly seized control of key facilities in the city, including two television stations, two prisons and several police headquarters, according to Iraqi news reports. The Twitter account of the Nineveh province branch of ISIS claimed that the group had seized large quantities of arms and ammunition from the fleeing security forces. It also said the prisoners at the facilities had been freed.
It was unclear whether ISIS fighters had managed to cross the Tigris River, which bisects the city, and were also threatening the eastern bank, which is mostly Kurdish. But it appeared clear that the western bank, which represents the original heart and commercial center of Mosul, was in insurgent hands.
There was no immediate response from the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, but Nujaifi said he had appealed to the government in Baghdad as well as the international community for support to retake the city.
“This will reach every corner of Iraq if it doesn’t stop,” he said. “We need a fast reaction to stop this terrorism.”
The capture of Iraq’s third-largest city demonstrates that the insurgents now have the capacity to seize strategically vital territory, positioning them to threaten other important areas of Iraq, said Charles Lister of the Doha Brookings Center based in Qatar.
It also raises questions about the continued utility of sending U.S. military support to Maliki, whose security forces seem simply to have crumbled. Maliki is urging the United States to deliver more advanced weaponry, but ISIS fighters have already been seen riding round in U.S.-supplied Humvees in other areas they control, and much of the weaponry captured in this latest battle is likely to be American, Lister said.
“Washington will be questioning how to move forward in terms of supporting the Iraqi army in its fight against terrorism,” he said. “Every time ISIS captures territory, it’s a reminder that it does so using weapons that have fallen into the hands of the forces the U.S. is trying to counter in the first place.”
ISIS is an expanded and rebranded version of the al-Qaeda in Iraq organization that the U.S. military claimed it had tamed, though not defeated, ahead of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011.
ISIS has since significantly rebounded, aided in part by the rebellion in neighboring Syria, which created a vacuum of authority and enabled the militants to gain a foothold beyond Iraq’s borders.
It is now channeling its efforts toward the creation of an Islamic state modeled on the 7th century Islamic caliphate, the system of governance that prevailed after the death of the prophet Muhammad. Over the past year, ISIS has consolidated its hold on a swath of territory in Iraq and Syria that stretches from the eastern outskirts of the Syrian city of Aleppo to Fallujah west of Baghdad, where it has asserted authority by imposing a harsh version of Islamic law.
Mosul, located on the northeastern edge of the territory, is the group’s biggest prize to date, underscoring the extent to which its expansion has gone unchecked since the U.S. military left.
Earlier this year, the leader of ISIS, known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, publicly fell out with al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was harshly critical of some of the group’s extreme methods. Though no longer directly affiliated with al-Qaeda, however, the group shares essentially the same goal of establishing a global Islamic state.