Forces Battle Over Oil Refinery as Iraqi Government Requests U.S. Airstrikes

Iraqi government forces battled militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and allied fighters over control of Iraq’s largest oil refinery in Baiji. ISIL-led militants launched an attack on the Baiji refinery early on Wednesday and some workers said the militants had seized control of most of the facility. On Thursday, ...

HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images
HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images
HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images

Iraqi government forces battled militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and allied fighters over control of Iraq's largest oil refinery in Baiji. ISIL-led militants launched an attack on the Baiji refinery early on Wednesday and some workers said the militants had seized control of most of the facility. On Thursday, a government spokesman said its forces were in "complete control" of the refinery, however a witness noted ISIL fighters were still in the area and that clashes were continuing. On Wednesday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshya Zebari appealed to the United States "to launch air strikes against militants." General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said incomplete intelligence in Iraq would make "an air campaign more difficult" meanwhile Gen. David Petraeus, who served as the top commander in Iraq, said, "This cannot be the United States being the air force of Shia militias or a Shia on Sunni Arab fight." Washington is indicating that it wants Iraq to form a new inclusive government without Maliki, however a spokesman for the prime minister said he would not resign as a condition for U.S. airstrikes.

Syria

Human Rights Watch has reported Kurds in parts of northern Syria have committed rights abuses. According to the activist group, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has maintained authority over three Kurdish enclaves in northern Syrian since 2012, has carried out arbitrary arrests and unfair trails, and allegedly abused detainees. Human Rights Watch said, while the abuses are "far less egregious and widespread" than those it has attributed to the Syrian government and other opposition groups, "they are nonetheless serious." Meanwhile, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay announced on Thursday that the number of Syrians in Turkey has reached 1.05 million. Turkey has more than 20 refugee camps along the border with Syria hosting over 220,000 people, though the majority have moved to Turkey's cities.

Iraqi government forces battled militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and allied fighters over control of Iraq’s largest oil refinery in Baiji. ISIL-led militants launched an attack on the Baiji refinery early on Wednesday and some workers said the militants had seized control of most of the facility. On Thursday, a government spokesman said its forces were in "complete control" of the refinery, however a witness noted ISIL fighters were still in the area and that clashes were continuing. On Wednesday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshya Zebari appealed to the United States "to launch air strikes against militants." General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said incomplete intelligence in Iraq would make "an air campaign more difficult" meanwhile Gen. David Petraeus, who served as the top commander in Iraq, said, "This cannot be the United States being the air force of Shia militias or a Shia on Sunni Arab fight." Washington is indicating that it wants Iraq to form a new inclusive government without Maliki, however a spokesman for the prime minister said he would not resign as a condition for U.S. airstrikes.

Syria

Human Rights Watch has reported Kurds in parts of northern Syria have committed rights abuses. According to the activist group, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has maintained authority over three Kurdish enclaves in northern Syrian since 2012, has carried out arbitrary arrests and unfair trails, and allegedly abused detainees. Human Rights Watch said, while the abuses are "far less egregious and widespread" than those it has attributed to the Syrian government and other opposition groups, "they are nonetheless serious." Meanwhile, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay announced on Thursday that the number of Syrians in Turkey has reached 1.05 million. Turkey has more than 20 refugee camps along the border with Syria hosting over 220,000 people, though the majority have moved to Turkey’s cities.

Headlines

  • Clashes erupted overnight in the West Bank as Palestinians increasingly resist an Israeli search for three missing teenagers meanwhile soldiers arrested 30 more Palestinians.
  • Libya has condemned a U.S. operation to capture Ahmed Abu Khattala, a suspect in the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, while the U.S. claims Abu Khattala was planning more attacks.
  • Turkey sentenced 97-year-old former President Kenan Evren to life in prison as well as General Tahsin Sahinkaya for a 1980 coup.

Arguments and Analysis

ISIS advance in Iraq forces Gulf donors to rethink their patronage‘ (Elizabeth Dickinson, The Christian Science Monitor)

"The official position of governments like Saudi Arabia is one thing. But some of the same donors who once decried ISIS in Syria are celebrating their Iraqi victory.

‘What is happening in Iraq is a people’s revolution against oppression and tyranny,’ Kuwaiti donor Hajjaj Al Ajmi, wrote on Twitter on June 16. A young Sunni cleric, Mr. Ajmi has spent much of the last two years traveling in and out of Syria to visit the brigades he has funded.

One reason why donors are reconsidering is the success ISIS has had in Iraq. They see the group’s rapid advance in northern and western Iraq as a broader and legitimate Sunni revolt against Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki’s Shiite Islamist ruling circle. Numerous tribal groups and other militias have joined ISIS to drive out Iraqi government troops from Mosul, Tikrit, and other cities."

The law is failing the women of Libya‘ (Hanan Salah, Los Angeles Times)

"It’s been well over two years since the end of the uprising against Moammar Kadafi, and Libya’s security landscape is as fragmented as its politics are polarized and its elected legislature is dysfunctional. More than two years of militias operating with impunity have left their mark, and violence continues to spiral out of control.

These increasingly worrying restrictions interfere with a woman’s right to freedom of education and movement. They also come on top of existing discriminatory laws and practices that Libyan women face. Libyan authorities need to make clear to educational institutions and their own state officials, as well as non-state actors, that discrimination against women will not be tolerated. And they need to reform discriminatory laws and practices."

— Mary Casey

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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