Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has made the decision to cede much of Iraq’s sovereign territory to ISIS temporarily in order to send his best troops to defend the capital city of Baghdad against what are increasing attacks by the terrorist organization. Meanwhile, battles between ISIS militants and Iraqi troops continue to rage over the possession of Iraq’s oil fields.
The Ajeel oil fields produce 28,000 barrels a day and are connected to two pipelines, one of which runs to the oil refinery in Beiji, the largest in Iraq.
In fighting Wednesday, Sunni militants launched a dawn raid on the Beiji refinery they have been trying to take for days, but security forces fought them back, said Col. Ali al-Quraishi, the commander of the Iraqi forces on the scene.
Along with a nearby power plant, the refinery supplies Iraq with a third of its refined fuel and nearly a tenth of its electricity, according to Barclays analysts.
And ISIS has expanded their operations to just south of Baghdad and the Western border of Iran.
In the Mahmoudiya area 20 miles south of Baghdad, Iraqi police and hospital officials told The Associated Press that a suicide bomber has blown himself up at an outdoor market, killing 13 people and wounding 25.
Also Wednesday, a report by Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency said an attack near Iran’s western border with Iraq has killed three Iranian border guards. They were killed Tuesday night while patrolling along the border in western Kermanshah province. A border outpost commander was among the three killed, Fars quoted a local security official, Shahriar Heidari, as saying.
Everyone continues to agree that the best way ahead for Iraq is for the countries three main factions to unite however it doesn’t appear that anyone has confidence that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is actually interested in or capable of delivering that unity.
“Al-Maliki is tense. He is up working until 4 a.m. every day. He angrily ordered staff at his office to stop watching TV news channels hostile to his government,” one of the officials said.
In his weekly address to the nation, Nouri al-Maliki gave only a vague call for “all political forces to reconcile” with the principles of Iraq’s constitutional democracy.
But several politicians, including Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite who has been named as a possible contender to replace al-Maliki, have called on him to step down and form a so-called national salvation government that could provide leadership until a more permanent solution can be found.
Things are getting worse, not better.