Monday, June 30, 2014

ISIL Declares Formation of ‘Islamic State’

And Its Leader as ‘Emir al-Momineen’
On Sunday, the first day of Ramadan, ISIL declared the creation of an Islamic caliphate on the territories it controls in Iraq and Syria. The group said the flag of its caliphate flied from Aleppo in northern Syria to Diayal province in eastern Iraq. (Reuters/Washington Post, 30 June)

ISIL spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani announced in an audio statement posted on the Internet that the 7th-century Islamic caliphate has been restored, and ISIL will simply be known as the Islamic State. The group also declared that its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and Iraqi, will be the new “Emir al-Momineen,” (Commander or Leader of the Faith), and all Muslims worldwide will be required to pay allegiance to him. The title is meant to endow al-Baghdadi with the legacy of the leadership of Prophet Mohammad, the founder of Islam.

The “Islamic State” also announced on Sunday that it had repelled a massive Iraqi military counteroffensive against the city of Tikrit, which fell under its control on 11 June as its militants swept large parts of northern Iraq.

Photo: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIL, which declared him the new “Emir al-Momineen.” (BBC)

RuAF delivery of Su-25 combat aircraft to IqAF

RuAF delivery of Sukhoi Su-25 "Frogfoot" close air support aircraft to IqAF on 29JUN14

IqAF Su-25 combat aircraft presently undergoing assembly at Imam Ali bin Abi Talib Air Force Base (ICAO: ORTL / LID: TAL), located 20 kilometers southwest of Nasiriyah

Russian sources claim initial five Su-25s rushed through ‘routine maintenance’ at ARZ 121 / Kubinka before shipment to IqAF. Also it's rumored Iraq's previous request for Iran to return Su-25 aircraft now in IRGC-AF inventory was declined, presumably based on Iranian defense needs and possibly operational condition.

It's said current IqAF pilot roster includes four individuals with experience flying the Sukhoi Su-25, however it's also said IqAF currently lacks trained ground crew personnel for this type.

Claim indicates number of Su-25 aircraft to be delivered to IqAF at twelve. Above 29 RED prior to delivery at ARZ 121 / Kubinka. Russian sources claim above aircraft of Su-25K specification.

Iraqi sources are also claiming a forthcoming delivery of two Sukhoi Su-24 "Fencer" all-weather attack aircraft.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Iraq claims it has taken delivery of Su-25 combat aircraft

According to the BBC:
Lieutenant General Anwar Hama Amin: ''We are in dire need of these aircraft during this difficult time''
Iraq says it has received the first batch of fighter jets it ordered from Russia to help it as it fights an offensive by Sunni rebels.
The defence ministry said five Sukhoi Su-25 attack aircraft would enter service in "three to four days".
COMMENTARY: Criteria for selection of this combat aircraft type for rushed service to IqAF likely includes:

- Urgent need for close air support fixed-wing aircraft.

- Iraq's past combat experience with this aircraft type during the 1980s and 1990s.

- Russia's more neutral stance towards the composition of Iraq's next government.

- Russia's support for Iraq's current ally Syria in the war against ISIL

- Aircraft type commonality of servce with ally Iran, among which a number of former IqAF Su-25s escaped to during the Gulf War in 1991.

Within Iraq's time frame for claimed service of this type, nationality of air and ground crews is open to speculation, with IRGC-AF among the possibilities.

Whether this has any effect on Maliki's ability to remain in power as prime minister of Iraq is yet to be seen. However among reasons cited above, choice of this aircraft type for IqAF service signals a further political and diplomatic entrenchment by current Baghdad government.

Below, in Iranian service: IRGC-AF Sukhoi Su-25UBK "Frogfoot" close air support aircraft

Battle for Tikrit Rages On

Iraqi security forces today continued the campaign against ISIL-led insurgents to retake Tikrit, which was overran by the insurgents on 11 June as they swept large parts of northern Iraq. Iraqi ground troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships launched a three-pronged pre-dawn attack on Tikrit on Saturday. The heavy fighting has resulted in many casualties on both sides, eyewitnesses and journalists reported from the scene. The troops were reportedly meeting stiff resistance and a provincial official told the Associated Press on Sunday that the insurgents have retained control of the most of the city.

Photo: Iraqi security forces launched a campaign to retake Tikrit. (The New York Times)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Iran Criticize Barzani’s Call on Kurdish Independence

Iranian Foreign Ministry today criticized Kurdish President Massoud Barzani for calling for the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan. Marzieh Afkham, the foreign ministry spokeswoman, did not say however what Iran would do if Erbil seeks independence.

The Kurds took full control of the oil-rich Kirkuk during the current Iraqi crisis, making a future Kurdish state economically viable and independent from Baghdad.

The KRG’s Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani met with senior Iranian officials on 16 June in Tehran. The Iranian urged the Kurds to support the central government in Baghdad. On 25 June, however, the Kurdish president made the now-famous statement on Kurdish self-determination. On 26 June, Nechirvan Barzani led a senior Kurdish delegation on a visit to Turkey. The delegation, including the governor of Kirkuk, held talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“We expect to be able to export 1 million bpd by the end of next year, including crude from Kirkuk,” said Kurdish minister of natural resource Ashti Hawrami. (Reuters/ekurd, 25 June)

File photo: Kurdish flag

'Crushing Response' if ISIL Approaches Iran - Gen. Jazayeri

Iranian armed forces spokesman, Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri said in an interview today that Iran will give “a crushing response” to ISIL insurgents if they approach the country’s borders.

“Certainly the terrorist groups and even their supporters will be confronted seriously (if they threaten the Iranian borders)," Jazayeri said told Iranian state-run Arabic-language Al-Alam TV. “Our confrontation (with the terrorists) is certain and serious; we don’t have any little ambiguity and uncertainty in this regard and we certainly won't allow them to approach our borders or enter them,” he added. (Fars News Agency, 28 June)

On Wednesday, the commander of Iranian border guards had said that the ISIL had not approached Iran’s border with Iraq.

“Security is in place along the Northwestern borders and no aggression has been made by the ISIL Takfiri terrorist group,” Brig. Gen. Hossein Zolfaqari said.

Fars News Agency reported that Iranian military has gone on alert in the South and Southeast borders due to the unrests in Iraq.

Photo credit: Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri (FNA)

Mashhad Urban Railway Line 2 tunnel boring, under construction

Iranian construction workers pose before tunnel boring machine's successfil subteranean breach for Mashhad Urban Railway Line 2.

Mashhad Urban Railway Line 2 tunnel access immediately pror to successful boring

Mashhad Urban Railway Line 2 will be a conventional heavy metro, running north-south for 14 km between Koohsangi and Tabarsi with 12 stations.  [source: Wikipedia]

Photos: Moshen Esmaeil Zaheh at Iranian Students' News Agency

Friday, June 27, 2014

UN Panel Finds Klos C. Weapons Originated from Iran

The UN Security Council’s Iran Sanctions Committee said in a confidential report obtained by Reuters on Friday that a shipment of rockets and other weapons that were concealed in containers on Klos C. vessel, which were seized by Israeli Navy in tin he Red Sea March, came from Iran. The finding puts the country in direct violation of the U.N. embargo on arms exports by Iran.
The UN panel of experts, part of the Security Council's Iran Sanctions Committee, which was established by the Security Council to monitor member states’ compliance with sanctions, reached their conclusions   after investigating the case and inspecting the seized cargo and documentation related to the shipment, which traveled from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas to the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, and from there in the direction of Port Sudan.
“The Panel finds that the manner of concealment in this case is consistent with several other cases reported to the (Security Council's Iran Sanctions) Committee and investigated by the Panel,” the panel of experts said.
“The Panel concludes that the shipment of arms and related materiel found aboard the Klos C is a violation of Iran's obligations under paragraph 5 of resolution 1747.” (Reuters, 27 June)
The report includes details on the arms, which were concealed in a shipment of cement: 40 M302 rockets and fuses, including four different variations of the rockets; 181 120 mm mortar shells; roughly 400,000 pieces of 7.62 caliber ammunition.
File photo: Klos C. being intercepted by Israeli marines, march 2014. (

Not Impossible to ‘Act Collaboratively with Iran’

Gen. Dempsey on Iraqi Crisis
In an interview today with All Things Considered, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Iranian goals in Iraq are not going to be “completely aligned” with those of the U.S., and “we're very clear about that.”

“We will look at Iran with a cold eye on where and when we may need to operate in the same space and toward what is potentially the same goal of countering the ISIL.
“I'm not predicting that it's entirely impossible that we would at any point act collaboratively with Iran...But there's a long way to go between here and there, in my judgment,” Gen. Dempsey said. (NPR, 27 June)
Dempsey also said the primary goal of the U.S. assessment team sent to Iraq was to determine if the Iraqi security forces “can be a credible partner moving forward.” He added that the team of advisors needs to “get a look under the hood” of the Iraqi security forces to determine if they “remain committed to national unity, [what is] the sectarian makeup ... and the morale of the force, as well as understanding what capabilities, weapon systems, ammunition, etc., they have.”
“We're flying a great deal [of] manned and unmanned ... intelligence and reconnaissance assets, and we're building a picture so that if the decision were made to support the Iraqi security forces as they confront [ISIL], we could do so," Dempsey added.
He nonetheless expressed concern that the U.S. not operating in a way as “taking one side or another,” referring to Shia and Sunni adversaries.
“Then ... with Iraq, if it chooses to establish this national unity government," he said, "we will be deliberating on how to push back [ISIL] and take steps to lead to its eventual defeat.” Dempsey said.
File photo: Joint Chief of Staff General Martin Dempsey at a news conference at the Pentagon, December 2013. (NPR)