• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

zaterdag 14 juni 2014

Paul Craig Roberts 16

Washington’s Iraq “Victory” — Paul Craig Roberts

Washington’s Iraq “Victory”
Paul Craig Roberts
The citizens of the United States still do not know why their government destroyed Iraq. “National Security” will prevent them from ever knowing. “National Security” is the cloak behind which hides the crimes of the US government.
George Herbert Walker Bush, a former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency who became President courtesy of being picked as Ronald Reagan’s Vice President, was the last restrained US President. When Bush the First attacked Iraq it was a limited operation, the goal of which was to evict Saddam Hussein from his annexation of Kuwait.
Kuwait was once a part of Iraq, but a Western colonial power created new political boundaries, as the Soviet Communist Party did in Ukraine. Kuwait emerged from Iraq as a small, independent oil kingdom. http://www.csun.edu/~vcmth00m/iraqkuwait.html
According to reports, Kuwait was drilling at an angle across the Iraq/Kuwait border into Iraqi oil fields. On July 25, 1990, Saddam Hussein, with Iraqi troops massed on the border with Kuwait, asked President George H. W. Bush’s ambassador, April Glaspie, if the Bush administration had an opinion on the situation. Here is Ambassador Glaspie’s reply:

“We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary [of State James] Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960’s that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America.”
According to this transcript, Saddam Hussein is further assured by high US government officials that Washington does not stand in his way in reunifying Iraq and putting a halt to a gangster family’s theft of Iraqi oil:
“At a Washington press conference called the next day, State Department spokesperson Margaret Tutweiler was asked by journalists:
‘Has the United States sent any type of diplomatic message to the Iraqis about putting 30,000 troops on the border with Kuwait? Has there been any type of protest communicated from the United States government?’
“to which she responded: ‘I’m entirely unaware of any such protest.’
“On July 31st, two days before the Iraqi invasion [of Kuwait], John Kelly, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs, testified to Congress that the ‘United States has no commitment to defend Kuwait and the U.S. has no intention of defending Kuwait if it is attacked by Iraq’.”
Was this an intentional a set-up of Saddam Hussein, or did the Iraqi takeover of Kuwait produce frantic calls from the Bush family’s Middle Eastern business associates?
Whatever explains the dramatic, sudden, total change of position of the US government, the result produced military action that fell short of war on Iraq itself.
From 1990 until 2003 Iraq was acceptable to the US government.
Suddenly, in 2003 Iraq was no longer acceptable. We don’t know why. We were told a passel of lies: Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that were a threat to America. The spectre of a “mushroom cloud over an American city” was raised by the National Security Advisor. The Secretary of State was sent to the UN with a collection of lies with which to build acceptance of US naked aggression against Iraq. The icing on the cake was the claim that Saddam Hussein’s secular government “had al Qaeda connections,” al Qaeda bearing the blame for 9/11.
As neither Congress nor the US media have any interest to know the reason for Washington’s about face on Iraq, the “Iraq Threat” will remain a mystery for Americans.
But the consequences of Washington’s destruction of the secular government of Saddam Hussein, a government that managed to hold Iraq together without the American-induced violence that has made the country a permanent war zone, has been ongoing years of violence on a level equal to, or in excess of, the violence associated with the US occupation of Iraq.
Washington is devoid of humanitarian concerns. Hegemony is Washington’s only concern. As in Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan,Yemen, Ukraine, Syria, and Iraq, Washington brings only death, and death is ongoing in Iraq.
On June 12, 500,000 residents of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, benefactors of Washington’s “freedom and democracy” liberation, fled the city as the American trained army collapsed and fled under al Qaeda attack. The Washington-installed government, fearing Baghdad is next, has asked Washington for air strikes against the al Qaeda troops. Tikrit and Kirkuk have also fallen. Iran has sent two battalions of Revolutionary Guards to protect the Washington-installed government in Baghdad.
(After this article was published, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani dismissed the widespread news reports–Wall Street Journal, World Tribune, The Guardian, Telegraph, CNBC, Daily Mail, Times of Israel, etc.–that Iran has sent troops to help the Iraqi government. Once again the Western media has created a false reality with false reports.)
Does anyone remember the propaganda that Washington had to overthrow Saddam Hussein in order to bring “freedom and democracy and women’s rights to Iraqis”? We had to defeat al Qaeda, which at the time was not present in Iraq, “over there before they came over here.”
Do you remember the neoconservative promises of a “cakewalk war” lasting only a few weeks, of the war only costing $70 billion to be paid out of Iraqi oil revenues, of George W. Bush’s economic advisor being fired for saying that the war would cost $200 billion? The true cost of the war was calculated by economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard University budget expert Linda Bilmes who showed that the Iraqi war cost US taxpayers $3 trillion dollars, an expenditure that threatens the US social safety net.
Do you remember Washington’s promises that Iraq would be put on its feet by America as a democracy in which everyone would be safe and women would have rights?
What is the situation today?
Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, has just been overrun by al Qaeda forces. These are the forces that Washington has claimed a number of times to have completely defeated.
These “defeated” forces now control Iraq’s second largest city and a number of provinces. The person Washington left in charge of Iraq is on his knees begging Washington for military help and air support against the Jihadist forces that the incompetent Bush regime unleashed in the Muslim world.
What Washington has done in Iraq and Libya, and is trying to do in Syria, is to destroy governments that kept Jihadists under control. Washington faces the prospect of a Jihadist government encompassing Iraq and Syria. The Neoconservative conquest of the Middle East is becoming an al Qaeda conquest.
Washington has opened Pandora’s Box. This is Washington’s accomplishment in the Middle East.
Even as Iraq falls to al Qaeda , Washington is supplying the al Qaeda forces attacking Syria with heavy weapons. It is demonized Iran that has sent troops to defend the Washington-installed regime in Baghdad! Is it possible for a country to look more foolish than Washington looks?
One conclusion that we can reach is that the arrogance and hubris that defines the US government has rendered Washington incapable of making a rational, logical decision. Megalomania rules in Washington.
This article is published jointly with the Strategic Culture Foundation http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2014/06/14/washington-iraq-victory.html
 
About Dr. Paul Craig RobertsPaul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West and How America Was Lost.

Militants race toward Baghdad 7

The Battle for Iraq Is a Saudi War on Iran

Is the ISIS invasion of Iraq really a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran for control of the Middle East?

By Simon Henderson

June 12, 2014 "ICH" - "FP" -  Be careful what you wish for could have been, and perhaps should have been, Washington's advice to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states which have been supporting Sunni jihadists against Bashar al-Assad's regime in Damascus. The warning is even more appropriate today as the bloodthirsty fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) sweep through northwest Iraq, prompting hundreds of thousands of their Sunni coreligionists to flee and creating panic in Iraq's Shiite heartland around Baghdad, whose population senses, correctly, that it will be shown no mercy if the ISIS motorcades are not stopped.


Such a setback for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been the dream of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah for years. He has regarded Maliki as little more than an Iranian stooge, refusing to send an ambassador to Baghdad and instead encouraging his fellow rulers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) -- Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman -- to take a similar standoff-ish approach. Although vulnerable to al Qaeda-types at home, these countries (particularly Kuwait and Qatar) have often turned a blind eye to their citizens funding radical groups like Jabhat al-Nusra, one of the most active Islamist groups opposed to Bashar al-Assad in Syria. 

Currently on vacation in Morocco, King Abdullah has so far been silent on these developments. At 90-plus years old, he has shown no wish to join the Twitter generation, but the developments on the ground could well prompt him to cut short his stay and return home. He has no doubt realized that -- with his policy of delivering a strategic setback to Iran by orchestrating the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus showing little sign of any imminent success -- events in Iraq offer a new opportunity.

This perspective may well confuse many observers. In recent weeks, there has been a flurry of reports of an emerging -- albeit reluctant -- diplomatic rapprochement between the Saudi-led GCC and Iran, bolstered by the apparently drunken visit to Tehran by the emir of Kuwait, and visits by trade delegations and commerce ministers in one direction or the other. This is despite evidence supporting the contrary view, including Saudi Arabia's first public display of Chinese missiles capable of hitting Tehran and the UAE's announcement of the introduction of military conscription for the country's youth.

The merit, if such a word can be used, of the carnage in Iraq is that at least it offers clarity. There are tribal overlays and rival national identities at play, but the dominant tension is the religious difference between majority Sunni and minority Shiite Islam. This region-wide phenomenon is taken to extremes by the likes of ISIS, which also likely sees its action in Iraq as countering Maliki's support for Assad.

ISIS is a ruthless killing machine, taking Sunni contempt for Shiites to its logical, and bloody, extreme. The Saudi monarch may be more careful to avoid direct religious insults than many other of his brethren, but contempt for Shiites no doubt underpinned his Wikileaked comment about "cutting off the head of the snake," meaning the clerical regime in Tehran. (Prejudice is an equal opportunity avocation in the Middle East: Iraqi government officials have been known to ask Iraqis whether they are Sunni or Shiite before deciding how to treat them.)

Despite the attempts of many, especially in Washington, to write him off, King Abdullah remains feisty, though helped occasionally by gasps of oxygen -- as when President Barack Obama met him in March and photos emerged of breathing tubes inserted in his nostrils. When Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi -- and, after his elder brother's recent stroke, the effective ruler of the UAE -- visited King Abdullah on June 4, the Saudi monarch was shown gesticulating with both hands. The subject under discussion was not revealed, but since Zayed was on his way to Cairo it was probably the election success of Egypt's new president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, considered a stabilizing force by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. Of course, Sisi gets extra points for being anti-Muslim Brotherhood, a group whose Islamist credentials are at odds with the inherited privileges of Arab monarchies. For the moment, Abdullah, Zayed, and Sisi are the three main leaders of the Arab world. Indeed, the future path of the Arab countries could well depend on these men (and whomever succeeds King Abdullah).

For those confused by the divisions in the Arab world and who find the metric of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" to be of limited utility, it is important to note that the Sunni/Shiite divide coincides, at least approximately, with the division between the Arab and Persian worlds. In geopolitical terms, Iraq is at the nexus of these worlds -- majority Shiite but ethnically Arab. There is an additional and often confusing dimension, although one that's historically central to Saudi policy: A willingness to support radical Sunnis abroad while containing their activities at home. Hence Riyadh's arms-length support for Osama bin Laden when he was leading jihadists in Soviet-controlled Afghanistan, and tolerance for jihadists in Chechnya, Bosnia, and Syria.

When the revolt against Bashar al-Assad grew in 2011 -- and Riyadh's concern at Iran's nuclear program mounted -- Saudi intelligence re-opened its playbook and started supporting the Sunni opposition, particularly its more radical elements, a strategy guided by its intelligence chief, former ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar bin Sultan. The operation's leadership changed in April, when Bandar resigned in apparent frustration over dealing with the cautious approach of the Obama administration, but Saudi support for jihadi fighters appears to be continuing. (The ISIS operation in Iraq almost seems the sort of tactical surprise that Bandar could have dreamt up, but there is no actual evidence.)

In the fast-moving battle that is now consuming northern Iraq, there are many variables. For Washington, the option of inaction has to be balanced by the fate of the estimated 20,000 American civilians still left in the country (even though the U.S. military is long-departed). Qatar, the region's opportunist, is likely balancing its options of irritating its regional rival, Saudi Arabia, while trying not to poke the Iranian bear. There are no overt Qatari fingerprints yet visible and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, just celebrating his first full year in power after his father's abdication in 2013, may be chastened by the public scolding he received from the rest of the GCC after he was accused of interference in the domestic affairs of his brother rulers. Additionally, Doha may be cautious in risking Iran's ire by an adventure in Iraq. Having just given five Taliban leaders refuge as part of the Bowe Bergdahl swap, Qatar has effectively clearly stated where it lies in the Sunni-Shiite divide.

There is a potentially important historical precedent to Saudi Arabia's current dilemma of rooting for ISIS but not wanting its advances to threaten the kingdom. In the 1920s, the religious fanatic Ikhwan fighters who were helping Ibn Saud to conquer Arabia were also threatening the British protectorates of Iraq and Transjordan. Ibn Saud, the father of the current Saudi king, gave carte blanche to the British to massacre the Ikhwan with machine-gun equipped biplanes, personally leading his own forces to finish the job, when the Ikhwan threatened him at the battle of Sabilla in 1929.

It's hard to imagine such a neat ending to the chaos evolving in the Euphrates river valley. At this stage, a direct confrontation between Saudi and Iranian forces seems very unlikely, even though, as in Syria, the direct involvement of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps cannot be ruled out.  What is clear that the Syrian civil war looks like it will be joined by an Iraq civil war. ISIS already has a name for the territory, the al-Sham caliphate. Washington may need to find its own name for the new area, as well as a policy.


See also -



Iran vows to combat 'terrorism' in Iraq: Predominantly Shia Muslim Iran will combat the "violence and terrorism" of Sunni armed groups who have launched an anti-government offensive in neighbouring Iraq, President Hassan Rouhani has warned. "This is an extremist, terrorist group that is acting savagely," Rouhani said live on state television.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38780.htm

Irak 428

Despite Disastrous Iraq War, Obama "Considering" Airstrikes

As sectarian civil war takes hold in nation shattered by US invasion, the president reportedly weighs bombing campaign

- Jon Queally, staff writer
President Barack Obama delivered a statement on the situation in Iraq from the White House lawn. (Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)As its citizens brace for all-out civil war in Iraq, President Obama at noon on Friday updated his administration's assessment of the highly volatile situation in Iraq by confirming he was not contemplating putting U.S. troops back on the ground in Iraq, but that his national security team is considering various military and political options which could include airstrikes.
The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been increasingly public in its request for additional U.S. assistance in the fight against the Sunni militia known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that has claimed large swaths of territory in the country in recent days.
"We will not be sending US troops back into combat but I have asked my national security team to arrange a number of options," said Obama on the south lawn of the White House. "I will be reviewing those options in the days ahead."
According to reporting earlier in the day by the Guardian's Spencer Ackerman and Paul Lewis:
Options under discussion [by Obaman's national security team] include an air campaign, using either or both air force or navy warplanes, whose duration has yet to be determined. Drone strikes remain under consideration, but manned aircraft are said to the preferred option, owing to their superiority against moving and manoeuvrable targets.
Two officials said that a strike at Isis in Iraq and Syria was under consideration.
Isis "is now across the border," said a Pentagon official, who requested anonymity. "It is possible to take out the head, you've got to take out the heart … Everything is being looked at."
In Iraq meanwhile, military units—on both sides of what looks increasingly like a sectarian war drawn along distinct sectarian Sunni and Shiite lines—are reportedly on the move as tensions mount over an assault on Baghdad by ISIL fighters.
According to CNN:
Emboldened Sunni militants, backed by local tribal leaders, pushed toward Baghdad on Friday as Iran sent troops to fight alongside government forces. In Washington, increasingly nervous U.S. officials mulled their limited options to help slow the militants' advance.
In recent days, Iran has sent about 500 Revolutionary Guard troops to fight alongside Iraqi government security forces in Diyala province, a senior security official in Baghdad told CNN.
Meanwhile, Sunni tribal leaders have lined up behind radical Islamists from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, making their push toward Baghdad easier, a Saudi intelligence official told CNN's Nic Robertson.
And as part of its live coverageThe Guardian offered a rundown of recent developments as of early Friday afternoon, including:
 Isis has advanced toward Baghdad, seizing Saadiyah and fighting Iraqi army and Kurdish forces in Jalawla and Baquba, which is 30 miles from the capital.
 The US is considering an air assault on Isis in Iraq and Syria, of either drones or manned aircraft. Obama said he will consider "a range of options" presented by his national security team.

 Shia Iraqis are rallying to militias after Iraq's most senior Shia cleric, cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called for Iraqis to take up arms against "terrorists". Speaking at Friday prayers, he said: "He who sacrifices for the cause of defending his country and his family and his honour will be a martyr."
 Sunni insurgents have clashed with Shia militia in two towns as the two sides appear to be preparing for a battle in Samarra. Convoys of Shia militias were seen heading to the city to defend Shia shrines reportedly surrounded by Isis insurgents.
 The UN says it has verified reports of summary executions by Isis militants in Mosul. Human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said his office had reports the killings included the execution of 17 civilians.
Offering contextual background at Vox.com, Zach Beauchamps lists an array of dynamics that help "explain the escalating crisis in Iraq."
At The Nation, journalist Greg Miller catalogs the troubling landscape of the mainstream and corporate media that is proving itself again incapable of adequately interpreting events in the Middle East as a U.S. president considers military action in Iraq.
And countering the rush to war and the false narrative that it was the withdrawl of U.S. troops in 2011—as opposed to the 2003 invasion launched by Obama's predecessor George W. Bush—an essay by John Tirnman, who directs the Center for International Studies at MIT, explains how the disaster now unfolding in Iraq is a direct result of the dominant U.S. foreign policy of the modern era in which administrations from both parties have tried to impose their authority or solve complex crises with the same blunt and bloody instrument of armed intervention. When it comes to the new developments in Iraq, writes Tirnman:
The discourse in Washington, as always, will be superficial, partisan, and knowledge-free. The blaming of Obama for leaving Iraq in 2011 will be the Fox News mantra of coming days and weeks (and, judging from the Benghazi flap, for years). Even the New York Times on Wednesday morning -- reporting that the forces of the extremists, the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq, or ISIS, had overrun Mosul and were headed toward Baghdad -- mentioned that this wasanother blow to the White House's faltering foreign policy. But while Obama has his share of missteps, the responsibility for this catastrophe rests with the neocons of the George W. Bush years and the liberal hawks who can't help but propose war when they see a wrong that needs righting.
He concludes:
The fundamental lesson here—though much more needs to be explored—is that the root of our blunders is the heavy reliance on military solutions, whether invading countries, imposing sanctions, arming proxies, or propping up authoritarians. The authors of these "solutions" have not all retreated to right-wing think tanks; many are in powerful posts at the UN, the White House, and the presidential campaigns of the future. If we and they don't grapple with this failure of common sense, the catastrophe will continue to unfold.
___________________________________

De Oekraïne 70

In recent days the US-NATO puppet project in Kiev has been using white phosphorus bombs against their own citizens in the east of Ukraine. The reason? They will not submit to full corporate fascist authority. Simple as that.....and Russia is next on the list.

I'm reading a very good book called 
Gladio: NATO's Dagger at the Heart of Europe, The Pentagon-Nazi-Mafia Terror Axis by Richard Cottrell. I highly recommend it.

In the book Cottrell shares this important insight while discussing the dangerously expanding role of NATO:
A military pact ostensibly grounded on the principle of common deterrence, but turning instead to aggressive belligerence, was foreseen with astonishing clarity by the American political and social visionary James Burnham. His seminal work The Struggle for the World appeared in 1947. In this he glimpsed an American empire exercising 'decisive world control,' and a US-sponsored European Federation, with the Marshall Plan as the warm-up act. The English-speaking powers and the Euro federation would eventually fuse as a Universal State, with the US occupying the central role of 'semi-barbarian, unifying power.' For easy consumption the arrangement would be sugar-coated as 'the policy of democratic world order,' an early insight of the emerging mercantile-military globalism we recognise all around us today. Burnham viewed this splendid project favourably. His pulse quickened at the sound of war drums. He imagined a planetary NATO, the prospect of 'winged soldier, air cavalry, able to raid two thousand miles behind the lines tonight and be gone before the defence arrives tomorrow.' In short, the promised land of perpetual war.


As you would expect the Russians and the Chinese are hyper-vigilant as they see the NATO war machine grind its way onto their doorstep.
Russia submitted a draft resolution on Ukraine at the Security Council Thursday demanding that the United Nations play a greater role in resolving the crisis, and accused Kiev of using white phosphorus.

Russia Today reported:
Much of the village of Semyonovka, located in the Slavyansk suburbs, was set ablaze. Local residents told RT that the ground didn't stop burning for some time.

"We all saw what happened here yesterday. They used rocket launchers as well as incendiary bombs against us. The ground was on fire. How can the ground burn by itself. It burned for about forty minutes," resident Roman Litvinov told RT over the phone.
"Starting from 2 a.m. everyone I've met has a sore throat and is coughing all the time. I think this is because of the burning. I think we'll feel the true consequences later. There are still a lot of people here, a lot of children we haven't managed to get out yet," resident Tatyana told RT.


Cottrell also writes in Gladio, "Such collective punishment of civilians is against all established laws of war, and expressly forbidden by the Geneva and Hague Conventions. "

Indeed Cottrell is right that US-NATO are now barbarically doing anything they can to provoke Russia to take a military step forward to defend Ukraine. Not only is there a serious muscle pumping game going on but a global war for propaganda control is also underway. The US-NATO are directing, and likely supplying, Kiev with this illegal and immoral toxic assault on the citizens of the east.

When the people in the east defend themselves against this military attack they are called terrorists. But the US-NATO are the terrorists. Anyone who doubts that idea ought to read Cottrell's book Gladio. It spells out the whole story - in great detail.

We are up against the wall and the gun is pointed at us. Hope Mr. Big has got your attention.
Bruce K. Gagnon
Coordinator
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502
globalnet@mindspring.com 
www.space4peace.org 
http://space4peace.blogspot.com/ (blog)


http://www.amazon.com/Gladio-NATOs-Dagger-Heart-Europe/dp/1615776877

Militants race toward Baghdad 6

Let op Iran, het land dat op het NAVO-lijstje staat om te worden aangevallen, en nu het Westen zal moeten helpen de chaos in Irak en Syrie te bestrijden die NAVO-landen hebben aangericht.


Sheik Abdul-Mahdi al-Karbalaie Calls On Iraqis To Defend Country

Posted: Updated: 
Print Article
BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's Shiite clerical leadership Friday called on all Iraqis to defend their country from Sunni militants who have seized large swaths of territory, and a U.N. official expressed "extreme alarm" at reprisal killings in the offensive, citing reports of hundreds of dead and wounded.
U.S. President Barack Obama said he is weighing options for countering the insurgency, but warned Iraqi leaders that he would not take military action unless they moved to address the country's political divisions.
Fighters from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant made fresh gains, driving government forces at least temporarily from two towns in an ethnically mixed province northeast of Baghdad. The assault threatens to embroil Iraq more deeply in a wider regional conflict feeding off the chaos caused by the civil war in neighboring Syria.
The fast-moving rebellion, which also draws support from former Saddam Hussein-era figures and other disaffected Sunnis, has emerged as the biggest threat to Iraq's stability since the U.S. withdrawal in 2011. It has pushed the nation closer to a precipice that could partition it into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish zones.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose Shiite-led government is struggling to form a coherent response to the crisis, traveled to the city of Samarra to meet with military commanders late Friday, according to state TV.
Militants earlier in the week overran military bases and several communities including the second-largest city of Mosul and Saddam's hometown of Tikrit. Samarra, the site of a prominent Shiite shrine 60 miles (95 kilometers) north of Baghdad, sits between Tikrit and the capital.
A representative for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most revered Shiite spiritual leader in Iraq, told worshippers at Friday prayers that it was their civic duty to confront the threat.
"Citizens who can carry weapons and fight the terrorists in defense of their country, its people and its holy sites should volunteer and join the security forces," said Sheik Abdul-Mahdi al-Karbalaie, whose comments are thought to reflect al-Sistani's thinking.
He warned that Iraq faced "great danger," and that fighting the militants "is everybody's responsibility, and is not limited to one specific sect or group."
In Geneva, U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay warned of "murder of all kinds" and other war crimes in Iraq, and said the number killed in recent days may run into the hundreds, while the wounded could approach 1,000.
Pillay said her office has received reports that militants rounded up and killed Iraqi army soldiers as well as 17 civilians in a single street in Mosul.
Her office heard of "summary executions and extrajudicial killings" as ISIL militants overran Iraqi cities and towns this week, the statement said.
"I am extremely concerned about the acute vulnerability of civilians caught in the cross-fire, or targeted in direct attacks by armed groups, or trapped in areas under the control of ISIL and their allies," Pillay said. "And I am especially concerned about the risk to vulnerable groups, minorities, women and children."
Obama did not specify what options he was considering, but he ruled out sending American troops back into combat in Iraq.
"We're not going to allow ourselves to be dragged back into a situation in which, while we're there we're keeping a lid on things, and after enormous sacrifices by us, after we're not there, people start acting in ways that are not conducive to the long-term stability and prosperity of the country," Obama said on the South Lawn of the White House.
Administration officials said Obama is weighing airstrikes using drones or manned aircraft. Other short-term options include an increase in surveillance and intelligence-gathering. The U.S. also is likely to increase aid to Iraq, including funding, training and both lethal and non-lethal equipment.
Al-Maliki and other Iraqi leaders have pleaded with Washington for more than a year for additional help to combat the growing insurgency.
Neighboring Shiite powerhouse Iran signaled its willingness to confront the growing threat from the militant blitz.
Former members of Tehran's powerful Revolutionary Guard have announced their readiness to fight in Iraq against the Islamic State, the official IRNA news agency reported. Iranian state TV quoted President Hassan Rouhani as saying his country will do all it can to battle terrorism next door.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran will apply all its efforts on the international and regional levels to confront terrorism," the report said Rouhani told al-Maliki by phone.
Iranian officials denied their forces were actively operating in Iraq, however.
Mansour Haghighatpour, who sits on an influential Iranian parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, told The Associated Press that Baghdad is capable of fighting the militants, but Tehran would consider other options if asked.
Iran has built close political and economic ties with postwar Iraq, and many influential Iraqi Shiites have spent time in the Islamic Republic. Iran this week halted flights to Baghdad because of security concerns and said it was intensifying security on its borders.
Police said Sunni militants driving machine gun-mounted pickups entered the two newly conquered Iraqi towns in Diyala province late Thursday — Jalula, 125 kilometers (80 miles) northeast of Baghdad, and Sadiyah, 95 kilometers (60 miles) north of the capital. Iraqi soldiers abandoned their posts there without any resistance, they said.
Jalula residents said the gunmen issued an ultimatum to the soldiers not to resist and give up their weapons in exchange for safe passage. After seizing the town, the gunmen announced on loudspeakers that they have come to rescue residents from injustice and that none would be hurt.
The gunmen later disappeared from Jalula, only to be replaced with the Kurdish security forces known as peshmerga. They raised the Kurdish flag over government buildings and transferred abandoned Iraqi military equipment back to the Kurds' self-ruled northern region, according to two police officials. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to journalists, and the residents declined to give their names out of fears for their safety.
The Islamic State has vowed to march on Baghdad, but the capital would be a far more difficult target with its large Shiite population. The militants would face far stronger resistance from government forces and Shiite militias.
So far, they have stuck to the Sunni heartland and former Sunni insurgent strongholds where people are alienated by al-Maliki's government over allegations of discrimination and mistreatment.
Iraq's former Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi, told the AP in Istanbul that while the Islamic State was one player in the uprising, they are not the driving force.
"They are not involved in the decision-making," he said, adding that the Sunni tribes in Mosul and Anbar are "behind this Iraqi spring."
Baghdad considers al-Hashemi a fugitive after he was found guilty in absentia in terrorism-related cases — charges he dismisses as politically motivated.
Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and the Asaib Ahl al-Haq Shiite militia have vowed to defend Shiite holy sites, raising the specter of street clashes and sectarian killings.
Still, authorities have tightened security around the capital and residents stocked up on supplies.
Hundreds of young men volunteered for military service at a recruiting center Thursday, and more were being urged to join by cars playing Shiite religious songs that roamed Shiite neighborhoods Friday after the cleric's call.
The Islamic militants in Mosul declared they would impose Shariah law and trumpeted their success in a parade of seized armored vehicles that was captured on online video.
A fighter with a loudspeaker urged the people to join the militants "to liberate Baghdad and Jerusalem." The Islamic State's black banners adorned many of the captured vehicles. Some in the crowd shouted "God is with you" to the fighters.
The video appeared authentic and consistent with AP reporting of the events depicted.
The U.N. refugee agency reported that local authorities say 300,000 people fleeing from Mosul have sought safety in the Erbil and Duhok governorates in the Kurdistan region. UNHCR monitoring teams report many arrived with little more than what they were wearing, although some are staying with relatives and in hotels, the agency said.
Kurdish security forces filled the power vacuum caused by the retreating Iraqi forces, taking control of the ethnically mixed oil hub of Kirkuk in northern Iraq.
The advances by the Sunni militants are a heavy defeat for al-Maliki. His Shiite-dominated political bloc came first in April parliamentary elections — the first since the U.S. military withdrawal — but failed to get a majority, forcing him to try to build a governing coalition.
The U.N. envoy in Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, urged the Federal Court to certify the election results before the current parliament's mandate expires Saturday.
"There is a need to guarantee the continuity of the parliament, representing all Iraqis, is in place and will continue to address urgent decisions of national importance," Mladenov said.
Iraq's government began blocking access to websites like Facebook and Twitter, according to Renesys, a New Hampshire-based Internet analysis firm. The outages, reported Thursday and Friday, appeared to coincide with government efforts to disrupt the militants' offensive and mirrored other past efforts by Middle East countries to block Internet access.
Internet access routed through Kurdistan into neighboring Turkey appeared to continue functioning, said Jim Cowie, the head of research and development at Renesys. Iraq also accesses the Internet through providers in Jordan and via submarine cables.
"There can always be battle damage but in this particular case it's government directed," Cowie told the AP.
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Schreck reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writers Julie Pace in Washington, John Heilprin in Geneva, Jon Gambrell in Cairo, Edith Lederer at the United Nations, Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Baghdad, Desmond Butler in Istanbul and Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.
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Follow Adam Schreck on Twitter at www.twitter.com/adamschreck .