Iraq – Whilst the Iraqi country is in disarray with the ISIS/ISIL still holding large swathes of ground and disarray in the south with rivalling Shia factions the first session of the new Council of Representatives (COR) on the 1Jul 14 was supposed to be devoted to the swearing-in ceremony for 255 deputies and other housekeeping details associated with leadership. However, candidates for the posts of COR speaker, president, and prime minister were not nominated. The session broke up in confusion and disarray. Lawmakers surfaced old grievances. Many were unfamiliar with the rules and the Constitution. Others insisted on threatening each other. After a break called to calm tempers, many Sunni and Kurdish deputies refused to return so that the session had to end for lack of a quorum. The presiding deputy said the Council would reconvene on 8 July, provided the deputies can agree on the three leadership positions. If the government/parliament of the country cannot sort out its past differences and arrange to have a government in power the terrorists will gain more ground and may at some point attack a very destabilised Baghdad. The Americans in country to assist once the intelligence review has been carried out may find themselves dusting off their evacuation plan.
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and other Sunni insurgents are reportedly planning an assault on Baghdad, with sleeper cells planted around the Iraqi capital set to rise at "Zero Hour" and strike from within it was reported on the 3 Jul 14. Senior Iraqi and US officials have confirmed that ISIS is planning an assault on the capital utilising co-ordinated suicide blasts, with estimates of 1,500 Sunni sleeper cell members already hiding in western Baghdad and 1,000 more on the outskirts of the city. The militants' aim is to breach the US-made "Green Zone" -- a heavily-fortified four square mile precinct in the city centre where the Iraqi government resides -- according to a high-level Iraqi security official.
Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki's regime said that it is rounding up as many sleeper cell members as it can detect before any such attack takes place and has spies strategically located. They claim to have ample security plans. The sleeper cells are not only in Baghdad but in all other provinces and they are waiting for any chance to carry out attacks, the prime minister's military spokesman, Lieutenant-General Qassim Atta, said.
Jihadists who overran Mosul last month have demolished ancient shrines and mosques in and around the historic northern Iraqi city it was reported on the 4 Jul 14 by residents and social media posts. At least four shrines to Sunni Arab or Sufi figures have been demolished, while six Shiite mosques, or husseiniyahs, have also been destroyed, across militant-held parts of northern Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital. Pictures posted on the Internet by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) showed the Sunni and Sufi shrines were demolished by bulldozers, while the Shiite mosques and shrines were all destroyed by explosives. The photographs were part of an online statement titled “Demolishing shrines and idols in the state of Nineveh.”
Iraq/United States – Islamist militants that have swept across Iraq pose a clear and “imminent” danger to the Middle East, Europe and the United States, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on the 9 Jul 14. The Pentagon chief described the rise of Sunni insurgents as a serious threat only days after suggesting Washington was not on the verge of any military action to help the Iraqi government in its fight with the extremists. “Make no mistake – and this country should not make any mistake on this, nor anyone in Congress – this is a threat to our country,” Hagel said of the militants. “This is a force that is sophisticated, it's dynamic, it's strong, it's organized, it's well-financed, it's competent,“ Hagel continued. “And it is a threat to our allies all over the Middle East. It's a threat to Europe,” he said at the base in King's Bay. The extremist group “may not appear to be an imminent threat to the United States,” but “it is a threat to the United States,” Hagel said. “It is a ... clear threat to our partners in that area, and it is imminent,” he said, without elaborating. U.S. officials and experts fear the extremists will carve out sanctuaries that could serve as training camps and launching pads for terror attacks on the West.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's (ISIL) acolytes have begun arresting former Iraqi army senior officers and Ba'athists in the Mosul area. The so-called Caliph sees his former allies as threats. Up to 60 prominent men have disappeared. ISIL's record of savagery against fellow jihadists in Syria apparently failed to impress the Iraqi Ba'athist and Sunni tribal leaders about ISIL's propensity to kill its allies while it is killing its foes. Their conviction that they can control ISIL appears based on hubris. It is an important point because the Sunni Vice President of Iraq, Tareq al-Hashimi, who is in exile, recently told a reporter that ISIL is part of the larger Sunni Arab tribal uprising against al-Maliki. He said that struggle would go on without ISIL. Al-Hashimi has it precisely backwards. ISIL is exploiting discontented Sunni Arab tribes and Ba'athists to advance the dominion of the Islamic State. The Sunni Arabs of Iraq are proving to be easy marks. If ISIL succeeds, there will be no struggle against al-Maliki's government and no Sunni tribal uprising. ISIL is acting quickly to eliminate rivals and malcontents, especially their leaders. The so-called Caliph is reported to have had 13 imams executed over the weekend in Mosul, where he preached. The Sunni tribes stand a better chance of changing al-Maliki's government than in resisting the onslaught of ISIL, once it turns on them. They have the manpower, but lack ISIL's will, speed and ruthlessness. An Iraqi spokesman said security forces have begun operations to regain control of Ramadi, west of Baghdad. "The crackdown aims to regain control of Ramadi city areas and secure the road linking the eastern regions of the city with Khaldiya and Habbaniya districts." Ramadi has been in jihadist control for months. This is the first attempt to try to recover parts of it since ISIL's invasion.
The U.N. nuclear agency said on the 10 Jul 14 it believed materials that Iraq said had been seized by insurgents was “low grade” and did not pose a significant security risk. Iraq told the United Nations in an 8 Jul 14 letter that “terrorist groups” had seized nuclear materials used for scientific research at a university in the country's north. The International Atomic Energy Agency “is aware of the notification from Iraq and is in contact to seek further details,” IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor said. “On the basis of the initial information we believe the material involved is low-grade and would not present a significant safety, security or nuclear proliferation risk.”
Gunmen stormed two buildings in the Iraqi capital, killing at least 29 people it was reported on the 12 Jul 14 at least 20 of those killed were said to be women. The attack took place in the neighbourhood of Zayouna in east Baghdad. The motive for the killings was not clear and at the time of writing no group has said it carried out the attack. Reports indicated that the two buildings were suspected to be brothels. Writing left on the door of one of the buildings read: "This is the fate of any prostitution." Locals in Zayouna have accused Shia militias of killing women thought to be prostitutes. The neighbourhood is a mixed district of Sunni and Shia Muslims. A brothel in Zayouna was attacked in May 13, with seven women and five men shot dead. Prostitution is prohibited under Islam. Sadar city is not far from this district so it is possible that militia from this area carried out the attack.
Fighters from the newly established Islamic State ambushed and destroyed an Iraqi armoured column in the western province of Anbar it was reported in the Long War journal on the 12 Jul 14. Islamic State fighters also captured several American-made armoured personnel carriers. The ambush highlights the deteriorating state of the Iraqi security forces. The Islamic State's Anbar Wilayat (division or province) released a series of photographs on its Twitter account on the 10 Jul 14 that document the ambush of an Iraqi armoured column and the aftermath of the attack. According to the statements from the Anbar Wilayat, the Iraqi Army convoy was attacked in the Khalidiyah area in Anbar province. Although the exact date of the ambush was not provided, the Anbar Wilayat typically publishes photographs of attacks within days of carrying them out. Several photos show Islamic State fighters opening fire on the convoy as it drives on a dirt road in a rural area of Khalidiyah. The Islamic State fighters appear to detonate one or more IEDs, or roadside bombs, on the armoured column that includes US made and donated M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks and M113 armoured personnel carriers. At least three M1A1s and nine M113s can be identified in the photographs. At least one tank and two M113s are shown while on fire. One of the Abrams tanks appears to be half buried in a ditch. The Iraqi soldiers appear to have abandoned the convoy after it was ambushed. The Islamic State only displayed one body of an Iraqi soldier, who appears to have been burned. Islamic State fighters are photographed on top of the vehicles after the battle. At least two of the M113 armoured personnel carriers appear to be operational. An Islamic State fighter is shown driving one of them across a field and toward some homes in the area.
Israel – The Israeli government launched Operation Solid Rock it was reported on the 9 Jul 14, authorizing the calling up 40,000 reservists as it prepares for a long campaign against Hamas, a campaign which may include land incursions into the Gaza Strip. About 10,000 are being called right away, and they will be sent to Israel's borders in the east and north, allowing army units now stationed there to move south to engage Hamas in the south. The calling up of 10,000 reservists about four brigades indicates that, at this stage at least, Israel contemplates a relatively limited ground operation in Gaza. Militants in Gaza have been launching nearly 100 missiles and rockets a day at Israeli cities and towns in the south of Israel, for a total of 246 missiles and rockets up to this point. Most of these rockets fell in empty fields. Forty-six missiles (about 27 percent of the total) were heading toward populated areas, and the IDFs Iron Domes defence system intercepted forty of them, a 97 percent interception success rate. Six missiles managed to go through the defensive system and exploded in populated areas. During the 8 Jul 14 the night between the 8/9Jul and earlier on the 9 Jul the IDF had intensified its retaliatory strikes against Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets, attacking and destroying more than 450 targets across the Gaza Strip. The Israel Air Force (IAF) said that up to that point it had dropped more than 400 tons of explosives on targets in the Gaza Strip. The IAF says that the damage it had so far inflicted on the Gaza strip in the first two days of the current operation is greater than the damage inflicted in the eight days of Operation Pillar of Cloud (14-22 November 2012).
Israel/Egypt – Egyptian security thwarted on the 13 Jul 14 an attempt to launch two rockets from Sinai at Israel it was reported as the Jewish state came under rocket fire from both its northern neighbours Syria and Lebanon. The security operation in Sinai came shortly after at least one rocket was fired from Syria at the Israeli occupied Golan Heights in the north. The attacks from Lebanon and Syria have coincided with an Israeli offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. 361 COMMENT: This maybe the Sinai group joining in supporting HAMAS or with encouragement from those that are responsible for firing rockets into Israel to widen the conflict. If the conflict was widened then HAMAS would then turn the propaganda war back towards Israel claiming how it has been wronged even though the group claims to have no responsibility and control over those who fire the rockets. This may well be out of convenience. On the other side of the coin with Egypt thwarting an attack, this may well bring them under the spotlight for supporting Israel’s stance against HAMAS, either way Egypt cannot win. COMMENT ENDS
Israel has accepted an Egyptian truce proposal for the conflict with Gaza it was reported on the 15 Jul 14. Hamas, which controls Gaza, is still discussing the plan, but its armed wing has rejected it as a "surrender". Under the terms, the ceasefire should begin immediately, followed by a series of meetings in Cairo with high-level delegations from both sides. There had been no Israeli air strikes into Gaza since the 0900 hrs (0600 hrs GMT 15 Jul 14) truce, but Israel says more than 20 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel after the deadline. Israel's security cabinet, convened by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, approved the truce on the 15 Jun minutes before the proposed time for it to come into effect. "We agreed to the Egyptian proposal in order to give an opportunity for the demilitarisation of the [Gaza] Strip - from missiles, from rockets and from tunnels - through diplomatic means," Mr Netanyahu stated. But he added: "If Hamas does not accept the ceasefire proposal, as would now seem to be the case, Israel would have all international legitimacy to broaden the military operation to achieve the required quiet." 361 COMMENT: This is a very clever ploy by the Israeli government. Numerous countries have said that the military action should cease and called for a ceasefire so that peaceful negotiations could be conducted. HAMAS are now clearly on the back foot, for to reject the terms given by Egypt, will then state how series or not HAMAS are about Israel not escalating the conflict. If they reject the terms offered by Egypt then Israel will escalate the conflict and send in ground troops. However, if they do accept the terms and conditions of the ceasefire then they will have to control those groups responsible for firing rockets into Israel. If HAMAS fails on both accounts then Israel will, and can, claim that they abided by the terms of conditions of the Egyptian ceasefire and that HAMAS were not series and continue military action. It is doubtful that HAMAS will accept as they have no way of controlling various elements inside its own territory which will prove to the world that as a government and political party it is and will fail. The outcome may take a few days whilst HAMAS frantically attempts to stop rouge elements firing rockets into Israel but in the meantime those elements may use the time to rearm and equip themselves. However, after writing the comment the open source network stated that HAMAS would not accept the terms as laid down by Egypt as it was a tantamount to surrender. COMMENT ENDS
Lebanon – The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has named an emir for Lebanon and established a camp to train suicide bombers and send them to Lebanon claimed a report on the 1 Jul 14. This report might be propaganda at this point, but it reinforces ISIL's intention to include Lebanon and Jordan within the Islamic State.
A Lebanese military prosecutor on the 7 Jul 14 charged 28 people with planning bombing attacks in the country and belonging to the extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS). The country has increased its alert state recently after the country was struck by three suicide attacks within a week in Jun14. One of the attacks was claimed by the Islamic State group, which has vowed to conquer Lebanon as part of its plans for a transnational militant empire. The detainees were captured in several raids around the country, including some at Beirut hotels. A source stated that they had planned “terrorist suicide attacks with explosive belts and car bombs.”
Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia has deployed 30,000 troops to its border with Iraq it was reported on the 3 Jul 14. The move follows the withdrawal of Iraqi soldiers from the area. A Dubai-based satellite channel posted a video on its website which it said showed some 2,500 Iraqi soldiers in the desert area east of the Iraqi city of Karbala after they abandoned their posts, leaving the border area with Saudi Arabia and Syria unguarded. An Iraqi officer in the video said the Iraqi soldiers had been ordered to quit their posts for no apparent reason. The authenticity of the recording had not been independently verified. Saudi's King Abdullah has ordered "all necessary measures" to protect the kingdom against potential "terrorist threats. Sky News had earlier reported that "Six (27 Jun 14) days ago, the Saudis put their armed forces on the highest alert. "And that's because they were getting reports that, along the border between the two countries, the Iraqi army was beginning to drift away, which obviously means that ISIS can advance towards the Saudi border. "Today, it's become apparent to them (the Saudis) that it's almost unguarded and therefore someone's got to guard it and it's going to be them." The Iraqi troops appeared to have left the areas in the Sunni-controlled Anbar province because they just thought: "We can't hold this, we're going to die," he said. The Iraqis denied that their soldiers had withdrawn from the border.
Saudi Arabia/Yemen – At least six people, including a suicide bomber and two security personnel, were killed at a Saudi-Yemeni border crossing on the 4 Jul 14 in attacks that highlighted the threat posed by militants to the security of both nations. Gunmen killed the commander of a border patrol on the Saudi side of the Wadia border post and security forces then killed three of the attackers in an ensuing fire fight. Separately, Yemen's state agency Saba reported that a suicide bomber had driven a car laden with explosives into the Yemeni side of the Wadia border crossing, killing himself and one soldier and wounding another. After the attack, Yemeni security forces chased militants who fled from the scene in two cars into the desert. Earlier, in comments suggesting it was the same group of militants involved in the attacks on both sides of the border the gunmen had escaped into Saudi Arabia after attacking the Yemeni border post. The attack was believed to have been conducted by terrorists belonging to al-Qaeda. The Wadia crossing is in the south-eastern Yemeni province of Hadramout, which stretches from the port of Mukalla in the south to the Saudi border, through arid valleys and empty desert, landscape that al Qaeda militants use to their advantage across the Middle East.
Three mortar bombs landed inside Saudi Arabia on the 7 Jul 14 close to its northern border with Iraq, where Islamist militants have captured territory belonging to Iraq. The mortars caused no casualties but will stoke security fears in Saudi Arabia, which is also facing militants on its southern border with Yemen, where at least 10 people died in an al Qaeda raid into the kingdom on the 4/5 Jul 14. Authorities in Saudi Arabia said they were still looking into who fired the mortar rounds which landed near a block of flats outside the northern town of Arar. Bringing down the al-Saud ruling family is one of the main goals of al Qaeda, which wants to establish a cross-border caliphate in Islam's holy city of Mecca, located in western Saudi Arabia. 361 COMMENT: This maybe the start of a testing period for the defences of the Saudi border. To be able to send ISIS/ISIL terrorists into Saudi would create a huge propaganda coup for the militant group. One of the targets of AQ is to bring about the fall of the house of Saud. If the terrorists manage to send their terrorists into the country it will serve them well for gaining much needed resources and recruits. COMMENT ENDS.
Six Saudi members of al Qaeda launched an attack on the town of al-Sharurah, close to the southern border with Yemen on the 4 Jul14. Two of the terrorists grabbed 10 hostages and fought their way into a government building where they blew themselves up on the 5 Jul. In all, five of the attackers were killed and one captured during fighting with security forces. On the 7 Jul 14 Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemeni branch of the militant organisation, released photographs it said were of the attack on the 4 Jul, showing the launch of Grad rockets and the detonation of a truck bomb at the Wadia border post near Sharurah. In Nov 13 a Shi'ite militia in Iraq claimed it fired six mortar bombs in the kingdom, into a barren patch of desert on another area along 800-kilometre (500-mile) border. In May 14 Saudi authorities said they had uncovered a militant group with links to both AQAP and ISIL that was planning attacks inside the kingdom.
On the 13 Jul 14 it was announced that Saudi authorities had tightened security at airports and border crossings following the recent terrorist attacks in Jazan. The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) is following up the new search measures for all passengers. A Dammam airport source explained that airport officers have been asked to refer any suspicious passengers for investigation. Reports also indicated that a request to impose stricter search measures on female passengers and travelers because terrorists may use women to carry out their operations.