And not just Mosul, according to some reports, but the entire northern province of Nineveh has now fallen into al-Qaeda’s control. Parliamentarians from the region want a declaration of emergency and immediate government intervention, but the forces that had been in Mosul have fled — some of which abandoned their uniforms as well as their posts as the ISIS forces swarmed into the city:
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.
CBS reports from Iraqi and Arab media that the first goal of the attack may have been to free more than 2,000 prisoners held by Iraq in Mosul. Their next goal may bring ISIS a lot closer to Baghdad:
Iraqi Parliament speaker Usama al-Nujaifi said the terrorists are now setting their sight on Salahuddin, a province just north of Baghdad.
“They have already seized the Shergat air base in Salahuddin”, Nujaifi said, adding that terrorists laid their hands on weapon depots, heavy equipment and army helicopters from abandoned army bases in Mosul.
Nujaifi appealed to the US ambassador for an American military intervention:
Nujaifi said he spoke to US Ambassador Lukman Faily, requesting U.S. support to repel the terrorists’ attack by virtue of the Joint Cooperation agreement between the two countries. Ambassador Faily promised to promptly convey our request to the U.S. administration, Nujaifi said.
This will be almost impossible to do, and entirely impossible to do quickly. We pulled out all of our forces three years ago when the Obama administration failed to negotiate for a residual force for this exact scenario. In order to land an effective fighting force to defend Baghdad and retake Mosul, we would need to commit tens of thousands of troops and a large amount of materiel in a big hurry. Logistically speaking, that would be a feat worthy of George S. Patton and the Battle of the Bulge in order for us to get to Baghdad before ISIS does, especially with Iraqi security forces collapsing.
Politically speaking, it’s a dead letter. Obama just coughed up five prizes to the Taliban in his haste to get the US out of Afghanistan. Does Iraq really expect Obama to restart the Iraq War all over again after spending his entire national political career speaking out against it? Agreement or no, Obama almost certainly won’t send combat troops into Iraq, even if it’s to fight al-Qaeda, and very certainly not before the midterm elections.
This puts Iraq in a very dangerous position, though, and the entire region. The ISIS threat now stretches from Baghdad to the Mediterranean, engulfing both Syria and Iraq. The Kurds are in danger of being cut off (which is why they’re offering Peshmerga forces to relieve Mosul if possible), and the Iranians will eventually have to intervene if no one else does, on behalf of the Shi’ites in the eastern part of Iraq. This is the reason why it made sense to keep American forces in Iraq as a back-up to Iraqi security forces, but that option is all but dead now. Unless Iraq finds some deep well of nationalistic strength and repels ISIS on its own, the only democratic Arab republic may be very short-lived indeed.