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Civil war in Iraq, ISIL Islamists are 80 miles from Baghdad

Mark Piazzalunga

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What is ISIL? It stands for Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, also called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. It's an unrecognized state established in 2004 by different Islamist religious groups, including Al-Qaeda in Iraq, professing Sunni Islam. It's still operative, actually more than ever, and they are intentioned to occupy the entire territory of Levant arriving to Lebanon. The military group of this state is composed by some tens of thousands of men and on 6 June attacked Mosul from the northwest and quickly entered the western part of the city. On the night of 9 June, Iraqi Army soldiers fled the city as it was under attack, with the militants in control of much of Mosul by midday on 10 June. The militants claimed to have released at least 2,400 prisoners, after seizing police stations and prisons across the city.

“This can’t be looked at as anything other than a comprehensive failure by the Iraqi army,” Crispin Hawes, managing director of the research firm Teneo Intelligence in London, said in a phone interview. “If the army can’t protect Mosul, how are they going to protect other cities?” he said. “Moving southward would be the logical thing to do for ISIL.” A total failure, the Iraqi army can count on 300,000 soldiers and left the city by itself and so all the people who lived in it. Right now a half million people is leaving the city because of the attack of ISIL.

More bad news for the entire world: the largest refinery of Iraq (second producer of oil in the OPEC), Baiji, were attacked and occupied by ISIL. Output at the 310,000 barrel a day plant stopped after militants seized the facility overnight, according to a police statement today. The advance of ISIL fighters has rattled oil futures and markets in both Iraq and Turkey. Brent crude oil rose to the highest since the start of March.

This is the most important challenge for U.S. since President Obama stated many times that the war in Iraq is over but he recently added that something must be done. He considered the possibility to send drones and airstrikes to weaken the defenses of ISIL and let the Iraqi army to do the rest. But why the Iraqi army failed? Why 300,000 soldiers couldn't stop 10,000 men of ISIL? Will Iraqi army now regain all the cities? Apparently the army wasn't well organized and ISIL offensive was unexpected and mlre violent than they thought. According to the International Business Times ISIL loot $429 million from Mosul Central Bank becoming the richest group in the world.

It's hard to say if Iraqi army will regain the cities, everything will depend on the decisions of the U.S. President. An eight years war ended three years ago and now another one is going to start. The economy of many countries depends on Iraq and its refineries so the interests of U.S. in the area are high and if the situation doesn't get better the will certainly send drones and airstrikes, like Lybia three years ago.

Final question: how can we obtain a long-term stability in this area of the world? Sending armies and drones represents a temporary solution but can the people who live in these countries know what peace means for more than some years? The cause isn't oil but what we, occidental countries, made of it. It became a target, a goal to reach, at any cost. The invasions that came after are the proofs.

In the photo, Associated Press, ISIL fighters in Syria.

References from Bloomberg.


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