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U.S.-Supported ISIS Conquers 4 More Iraqi Cities

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Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) — A strategic border crossing and three other towns in western Iraq fell Saturday to the control of ISIS militants, a senior Iraqi security official said.

In addition to their offensives in northern Iraq, the militants have strengthened their hand in the western province of Anbar, the country’s largest geographically, and were controlling Qaim, Rawa, Ana and Husaybah, said the senior official, who’s based in Anbar.

In all, the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, or ISIS, controlled more than 70% of Anbar province, two security officials in the province told CNN.

Most importantly, ISIS controlled the strategic town of Qaim on the border with Syria, where the enemy fighters enjoy a stronghold, Iraqi security officials said Saturday.

Together, the four towns are situated along a highway from Syria to Baghdad, heightening possibilities that the militants could now march from the west to lay siege to the Iraqi capital. One of the four towns, Husaybah, is just 100 kilometers (60 miles) outside Baghdad.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/22/world/meast/iraq-crisis/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

Bush’s toxic legacy in Iraq

By Peter Bergen
updated 11:37 AM EDT, Mon June 16, 2014

(CNN) — ISIS, the brutal insurgent/terrorist group formerly known as al Qaeda in Iraq, has seized much of western and northern Iraq and even threatens towns not far from Baghdad.

From where did ISIS spring? One of George W. Bush’s most toxic legacies is the introduction of al Qaeda into Iraq, which is the ISIS mother ship.

If this wasn’t so tragic it would be supremely ironic, because before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, top Bush officials were insisting that there was an al Qaeda-Iraq axis of evil. Their claims that Saddam Hussein’s men were training members of al Qaeda how to make weapons of mass destruction seemed to be one of the most compelling rationales for the impending war.

After the fall of Hussein’s regime, no documents were unearthed in Iraq proving the Hussein-al Qaeda axis despite the fact that, like other totalitarian regimes, Hussein’s government kept massive and meticulous records.

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency had by 2006 translated 34 million pages of documents from Hussein’s Iraq and found there was nothing to substantiate a “partnership” between Hussein and al Qaeda.

Two years later the Pentagon’s own internal think tank, the Institute for Defense Analyses, concluded after examining 600,000 Hussein-era documents and several thousand hours of his regime’s audio- and videotapes that there was no “smoking gun (i.e. direct connection between Hussein’s Iraq and al Qaeda.)”

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concluded in 2008, as every other investigation had before, that there was no “cooperative relationship” between Hussein and al Qaeda. The committee also found that “most of the contacts cited between Iraq and al Qaeda before the war by the intelligence community and policy makers have been determined not to have occurred.”

Instead of interrupting a budding relationship between Hussein and al Qaeda, the Iraq War precipitated the arrival of al Qaeda into Iraq. Although the Bush administration tended to gloss over the fact, al Qaeda only formally established itself in Iraq a year and a half after the U.S. invasion.

Three years into the Iraq War, AQI seemed all but unstoppable. A classified Marine intelligence assessment dated August 17, 2006, found that AQI had become the de facto government of the western Iraqi province of Anbar, which is strategically important because it borders Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia and makes up about a third of the landmass of Iraq.

In addition, AQI controlled a good chunk of the exurban belts around Baghdad, the “Triangle of Death” to the south of the capital and many of the towns north of it, up the Tigris River to the Syrian border.

Thus AQI controlled territory larger than New England and maintained an iron grip on much of the Sunni population.

In other words, the Bush administration had presided over the rise of precisely what it had said was one of the key goals of the Iraq War to destroy: a safe haven for al Qaeda in the heart of the Arab world.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/13/opinion/bergen-iraq-isis-bush/index.html?iid=article_sidebar

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Written by voiceoftruthusa

June 22, 2014 at 2:27 pm

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