IRAQ TRACKER 8 JUL: CoR reconvened; IS suicide bomber in S Samarra; IS executes tribal forces in Azwya;

BLUF: Parliament set a new date–July 12th–for its second session, after delaying it until August 12th yesterday. The speaker pro tem still does not expect quorum. An IS suicide car bomber struck south of Samarra at a security checkpoint/recruitment center. IS overran the town of Azwya and reportedly executed 50 tribal fighters who had attempted to resist their advance. That movement may have prompted the bombing of the Azwya Bridge by IQAF Su-25s yesterday.

In Salah ad-Din, an IS suicide car bomber targeted a security checkpoint, killing two ISF members and two civilians. The checkpoint may have been near a recruitment center in Raqqa village, just south of Samarra.  Masalah claims that fighting between IS and Jubour tribe members took place in Baiji late last night, while Shafaq claims that IS overran Azwya and executed 50 tribal fighters upon taking the town, later continuing their DDR campaign that began right after their gains in northern Salah ad-Din.

In Diyala, a local official in Udhaim said that self-defense forces continue to organize in the city, both against insurgent elements and to tamp down looting. He oddly added that IS elements had established a cemetery in Salman Beg. A similar report, this time from a provincial National Reconcilation official, claims that IS had appropriated 20,000 sheep from areas in Salah ad-Din and Ninewa to sell in outlying areas in Diyala. The same source stated that IS had demanded fees from Udahim wheat farmers in exchange for marketing their product, a tactic that may have factored into the town’s decision to turn against the organization and collaborate with ISF and AAH elements.

In Baghdad, an executed body was found in the Fahama area north of the city. Ghazaliyah continues to experience high levels of violence relative to the rest of the city, with gunmen killing a policeman and detonating an IED in the area today.

In Anbar, clashes between a joint SWAT/Sahwa force and insurgents took place near the Albu Farraj Bridge north of the city, indicating that Anbar Operations Command remains effectively under siege. Masalah claims that Jaysh al-Mujahideen and others left Fallujah following a demand for allegiance by IS in the city. I’ll wait for confirmation on that one, but IS has always preferred the city proper, while other armed groups are more comfortable among the suburbs and outlying villages.

In Babil, the first reported Su-25 strike took place in Jurf al-Sakhar, killing 24 militants. The addition of more capable close air support is unlikely to rate a decisive factor in the COIN campaign there.

Politically, DPM Shaways, FM Zebari, and ISCI leader Hakim met, presumably to discuss a non-Maliki future for the country. Sadr met with Saraya al-Salam’s military leadership; he likely wants to telegraph, if not exert, control over his militia, which had in past years eluded him. Chalabi’s INC met and demanded parliament’s meeting take place ASAP.

Pressure from various political parties, not least of which the SLC, factored into Hafez’s decision to move the second CoR session to July 12th instead of August 12th. Still, Hafez has already distanced himself from the session, stating that it won’t reach quorum. The AFP report cites no mainline of evidence of Hafez’s decisionmaking, but I suspect that pressure from individual parties coalesced; the SLC has a political interest in speeding up formation, while others do not want to be tarred as anti-constitutional or stray from the clerical line, which has been in lockstep with adherence to the constitution so far.

Maliki surrogates continue to stress the INA’s adherence to the constitutional “largest bloc, first try at formation” formula.

The notoriously unreliable Bas News cites sources stating that an Iranian delegation asked Gorran to cede the post of Sulaymaniyah governor to PUK to avoid PUK’s losing power relative to KDP in the wider intra-KRG fight; Iran reportedly wants a united KRG front against ISIS, complete with cooperation with Maliki on a third term and outright military operations with the ISF. More reliably, Shafaq reports that the latest negotiations over whether Gorran’s Haval Abu Bakr or PUK’s Aso Mohammed would take the governorship had failed; in Sulaymaniyah Gorran won 12 seats in the provincial elections, while PUK won 11–one will get the governorship, the other the provincial council chairmanship.

Elsewhere in the KRG, Barzani will reportedly name leading PUK figure Barham Salih as KRG’s nominee for the post of Iraqi president; Salih served as DPM in the Iraqi Interim Government at the onset of the Iraq War and has more recently battled the Talabani family and Kosrat Rasul Ali for control of the PUK. From KDP’s standpoint, the choice could reflect either the desire for a powerful consensus pick or the desire to split off PUK factions more sympathetic to wider KDP aims for Iraqi Kurdistan.

In his BBC interview, Qaiz al-Khazali sounded many familiar themes–distrust of the US and West, accusations of Gulf support for ISIS, and most simple aggrandizement for AAH, which he said had prevented IS from taking Baghdad since it had gained critical experience in Syria. Khazali’s comments about Iran hew to the nationalistic side, which allows him to tap into more Iraq-focused Shi’a while simultaneously downplaying the outsized role of Iran in Baghdad.

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National Journal’s Clara Ritger writes about the frankly embarrassing continued support for Ahmed Chalabi among former Bush administration officials, namely Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz here.

McClatchy’s John Zarocostas reports that IS executed 13 Sunni imams upon taking control of Mosul to stifle moderate dissent immediately; residents say IS now dictates the content of Friday prayers.

Reuters reports that IS rounded up 25-60 fmr. IA officers and Baathists [JRTN, likely] to head off challenges; in other news, Mosul governor-in-exile Athil al-Nujaifi estimates that IS gained 2,000 recruits from Mosul so far. Those arrested included fmr Iraqi SOF commander GEN Waad Hannoush and Baath party leader Saifeddin al-Mashhadani.

Egyptian President Sisi’s somewhat surprising support for Iraqi unity earned him congratulations from PM Maliki today.

Former ambassador Robert Ford pens a Foreign Policy piece that essentially calls for either hard partition or some form of enticing the Sunni community with such talk. Rather a non-starter, both because Baghdad can’t imagine such a plan; oh, and, this “Sunni region” has not economy to speak of. Iraqi Sunni political leaders have made very specific demands, none of which Ford includes.

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IRAQ TRACKER 1 JULY: Parliament adjourns til 8 JUL following Kurdish walkout; backlash against ISIS in Mosul and Hajjaj;

BLUF: Parliament convened, but failed to make any progress after a Sunni and Kurdish walkout. JRTN attacked the Islamic State (IS) in two provinces. Russian pilots will soon arrive to fly the Su-25s in combat; 3 are already airborne. IS moved into a village south of Baiji, but was expelled by the Jibouri tribe.

255 out of 328 MPs attended today’s parliamentary session, but the meeting–intended to see discussion of possible leadership candidates–quickly devolved into bickering and was postponed for a week after Allawi’s bloc and then the Kurdish contingent walked out. The Kurdish boycott was prompted by State of Law Coalition MP Kadhim al-Sayadi interrupting a Kurd who had the floor to accuse the Kurds as a whole of collaborating with the Islamic State.

In parliament, the Shi’a MPs present did not make an attempt to maintain quorum by themselves, and the entirety of the parliament essentially ignored Sistani’s call for adherence to the constitutional schedule last week. KRG President Masoud Barzani has announced a press conference for Thursday, where he intends to set a date for a Kurdish referendum on independence, another tactic to push parliament toward swift resolution of the government formation process. In an interview with BBC, Barzani put the timeline at “months” for a referendum, but threw the initiative to Kurdish parliament.

In Ninewa, unidentified gunmen attacked and killed three ISIS members–including a foreign fighter–in the Mosul al-Jadida (New Mosul) neighborhood in the city’s western sector. As Mosul had previously not experienced overt tension between insurgent groups, this activity could represent the initiation of pushback by the Baathist group JRTN or others against the announcement of a caliphate by the Islamic State. The Iraqi Air Force claimed to have struck an IS gathering at the University of Mosul.

An overt JRTN mortar attack on IS positions took place in the IS-controlled town Sadiyah in northern Diyala province; subsequent clashes left 1 JRTN and 3 IS members dead. This area, with its insurgent redoubts in the Hamrin Mountains to the west, has seen fighting between insurgent groups before, including months-long run of tit-for-tat kidnappings and assassination between IS and JRTN recently. Additionally, reports claimed that IS members were burning cigarettes in the town center of Sadiyah, an IS stronghold just northeast of Muqdadiyah. Recent similar behavior–flogging citizens in Sadiyah and other enforcement measures in Qara Tapah–were not seen as often prior to the caliphate announcement. IS continues to exert control over Qara Tapah, today detonating IEDs to destroy 3 houses belonging to Turkmen policemen.

In Salah ad-Din, Islamic State (IS) elements took over a school in Hajjaj village, just south of Baiji, before being expelled from the area by Jubouri tribal elements. This expulsion follows the mediated withdrawal of IS men from Alam just a few days ago, a second sign of wider Jubouri tribal distaste for Caliph Ibrahim. Fighting continues in Tikrit, with 100 vehicles of reinforcements for ISF and associated Shi’a militias rolling through Samarra on their way north today.

In Anbar, IA artillery continued indiscriminate shelling on Fallujah, killing another 9 civilians and destroying the electricity station to the northwest of the city. The ISF can no longer be considered to have operational direction in the Fallujah theater. Anonymous reports claim that the attacking alliance, which contains IS, JRTN, IAI, and Jaish al-Rashideen, is negotiating with Jughaifi and Albu Salman tribal leaders for the safe exit of remaining ISF units in the city.

In Baghdad, low-level sectarian activities continued, with a Ministry of Commerce employee shot and killed in western Baghdad’s Iskan neighborhood and two more people were killed in a home attack in the NW Baghdad area of Rahminiyah. Police found two executed bodies in W Baghdad’s Hurriya area, with another two executed men found in Sadr City’s northernmost reaches.  A clash erupted between Iraqi Army “volunteers” and IS elements in Mashadah, just north of the city, indicating further IS presence in the area following yesterday’s raid on an IA convoy just north in Tarmiyah.

Babil province continues to see massive bouts of recruitment for the ISF, with Governor Sadiq al-Madloul today announcing two new brigades: the 1st Lion of Babil Brigade and the 2nd Aquilah Brigade; the naming of the latter suggests that the brigade is at least comprised of Shi’a partisans, if not militiamembers themselves. Maliki replaced the Babil Operations Command leader [BabOC] for the fourth time in six months. New commander MGEN Abdul Hussein al-Baidhani was fired in 2006 for allowing widespread looting when his unit took over from the British at Camp Abu Naji in Amara, Maysan.

Outside of Iraq, President Obama sent 300 more U.S. troops to the country, ostensibly for further embassy defense, while the Saudi king announced $500m in “aid” for Iraq, which will likely flow to Iraqi Sunnis exclusively.

–writing on iraq—-

Rod Nordland writes another bizarre piece for the NYT on Chalabi’s path to prime minister. I continue to refuse to take this suggestion seriously.