11:45 The Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has confirmed that air strikes have been carried out by Syrian forces, according to the BBC. The fighter jets on Tuesday dropped bombs on Isis militants occupying the Iraqi border town Qaim. Maliki was quoted as saying that while the attack had not been requested, he "welcomed" the assistance.
-- Thursday June 26th --
1458: Iraq's Prime Minister is refusing to bend to appeals from the US and other nations to form a less sectarian government.
0900: Reports cite US intelligence as indicating that the Islamist radicals which just two weeks ago took over Mosul are now consolidating their hold over large swathes of the country.
In parallel, and in what amounts to a worrisome development, according to The Wall Street Journal Syrian air raids inside the country's borders have killed at least 50 people. Furthermore, militants are said to have attacked one of Iraq's largest air bases, located just 100 kilometres from Baghdad.
-- Wednesday June 25th --
1630: The United Nations (UN) said at least 1,075 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Iraq this month. At least 757 civilians died in Nineveh, Diyala and Salahuddin provinces between June 5th and 22nd, the UN human rights team in Iraq revealed.
1400:US Secretary of State John Kerry has promised "intense and sustained" support to Iraq during his visit to the Kurdish region.
1101: US Secretary of State John Kerry has urged Iraq's Kurdish region to stand with Baghdad in the battle against Sunni militants which have overtaken cities across Iraq. He has arrived in Kurdistan today to talk to leaders as Iraqi security forces fought Sunni armed factions for control of the country's biggest oil refinery 200 km north of Baghdad.
1017: US Secretary of State John Kerry is travelling today to Kurdistan in a bid to convince Kurdish leaders not to abandon the political process in Baghdad, despite the lure of significant oil wealth should they manage to hold on to Kirkuk while going it alone. If Kerry is unsuccessful some of the recent negative political trends could become all the stronger, some observers hold.
0751: Iraqi parties have raised the pressure on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to step down. The US has obtained pledges from the embattled leader and other top Iraqi politicians to begin forming a new government by July 1st.
0748: FX traders tell Sharecast they see a soft break-up of Iraq as the most likely end game. They are not excessively worried about the potential impact of the crisis on international energy prices and the world economy. They simply do not believe that the situation will be allowed to get out of hand.
0746: Tony Blair is looking to open an office in Abu Dhabi in what may be an attempt to increase his role as a business and political broker in the region.
-- Tuesday June 24th --
1600:US Secretary of State John Kerry said the country will provide "intense, sustained" support to Iraqi security forces in their fight against an extremist-led Sunni insurgency. He said Iraq faced an "existential threat" from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). "The support will be intense, sustained, and if Iraq's leaders take the steps needed to bring the country together it will be effective," he said during a visit to Baghdad.
1240: The UK government said YouTube is being asked to take down a film featuring two British Muslims urging other young men to fight in Syria, according to the Press Association. The government has already succeeded in removing 15,000 pieces of extremist material from the internet since December when it started a campaign to block jihadi terrorists from using the internet to recruit Muslims in Britain to their cause. The news comes as Sunni militants captured four towns and three border crossings in Iraq.
1150: A new app for chatting called Firechat is being rapidly adopted across Iraq as users look to avoid government censure of the Internet, the FT writes. The app allows users' messages to travel from different users' phones, in effect creating intranets that circumvent the standard internet.
1055: Airline and travel stocks, including easyJet, TUI Travel and International Consolidated Airlines, have fallen amid the Iraq crisis. Concerns that the turmoil will disrupt oil supplies have pushed prices higher which are expected to filter down to airlines, analysts say. Fuel costs as a percentage of total operating costs were highest for RyanAir and IAG in 2013, at 46% and 33%, respectively, the FT points out.
0928: US Secretary of State John Kerry, who has today travelled to Baghdad, said that the rebels' "ideology of violence and repression is a threat not only to Iraq but to the entire region".
0814: In an interview that will be aired today US President Barack Obama told CBS the conflict could spread to other countries, including Jordan. The militants "are engaged in wars in Syria where - in that vacuum that's been created - they could amass more arms, more resources," Obama said, according to a transcript cited by Bloomberg. Front month West Texas crude futures rose by 0.503% to $115.39 on the NYMEX.
0800: The recovery in the British economy could be derailed by an oil price
spike which would drive up government borrowing, put household finances back under duress, and hit global growth. After Islamist fighters took new ground on the border between Iraq and Syria on Saturday, oil analysts warn that prices could rise by up to 30% if the conflict worsens. A rise of the magnitude might knock half a percentage point off GDP growth and tack on over a quarter of a percentage point to inflation, according to the government's own forecaster, according to The Times.
-- Monday June 23rd --
1903: The US may send up to 300 military advisers, but not combat troops, to Iraq. Targeted strikes are not off the table.
1730: The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) is probably training and directing foreign fighters to carry out attacks in Europe and elsewhere, the European Union's counter-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove said on Thursday, Reuters reported. The Islamist group has seized parts of Syria and Iraq and is now looking a more attacks in Europe, he said.
1632: "As we have noted before, the south of the country is not beyond the geographic reach of extremist groups seeking to undermine the government," Barclays Research points out. Hence, there is some margin for activity in the oil sector, the bulk of which is located in the south, to be affected. In the same research note to clients the bank also notes a Bloomberg report that the country's Northern Oil Company has reduced its daily oil production from 650,000 to 30,000 barrels, although no exact time frame is provided.
1628: President Obama to deliver speech on Iraq at 17:30.
1627: Sunni extremists have occupied Saddam Hussein-era chemical weapons facility, The Wall Street Journal reports. US does not believe they will be able to create a functional chemical weapon from the materials there.
1546: The New York Times writes about how ISIS' lighting gains in northern Iraq have been made easier by the support of a deeply rooted network of former Baathist loyalists to Saddam Hussein.
1156 Some workers at Iraq's Baiji oil refinery said Sunni militants had seized most of it and that government troops were concentrated around the control room, according to the BBC.
0945: There are conflicting reports regarding who has control of the Baiji refinery in Iraq.
0901: US President Barack Obama has told Congressional leaders he does not need lawmakers' approval for any action in Iraq, the BBC reported top Republican Senator Mitch McConnell as saying.
0845: As Kurdish oil exports are set to double to 250,000 barrels of oil a day this month all eyes are on the fate of a vessel in the Mediterranean carrying a cargo of 1m barrels of oil. A spat between Erbil and Baghdad over the rights to the revenues accruing from its sale kept it from offloading in Morocco. Some analysts believe that if the Kurdish regional government is able to successfully start selling those supplies it will mark an important step in its aspirations for independence, Bloomberg reports.
0800: The White House has signaled that a new administration in Iraq, without Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, would be better able to reconcile the warring factions in Iraq.
-- Thursday June 19th --
1849: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has indicated his country is prepared to intervene to protect Iraq's main religious sites.
1751: According to some reports the insurgents have occupied a part of the Baiji oil refinery, with two fuel storage tanks said to be in flames. Baiji's output is estimated at about 170,000 barrels a day of gasoline and other oil products. The loss of the refinery's output would entail a greater need for fuel imports and a possible source of financing for the radicals, who also seek to control the fuel stockpiled there to meet their own needs. The Iraqui soldiers defending the plant had threatened to destroy it if there was a risk of losing control of it.
1654: Iraq asks US to launch air strikes against militants, the BBC reports. Overnight it was reported that
1650: OPEC could bring forward the date of its next meeting, scheduled for November 27th, if Iraq's exports, which currently stand at 2.5m barrels per day by some estimates, are affected, Marketwatch reports.
1420: Oil majors BP and ExxonMobil have continued to evacuate staff from Iraq. BP evacuated 20% of its staff, while ExxonMobil has has carried out a major evacuation of staff from Iraq, according to Reuters. The head of Iraq's state-run South Oil, Dhiya Jaffar, said other companies ENI, Schlumberger, Weatherford, and Baker Hughes had no plans to evacuate staff from the country following the major incursions advance of Sunni militants through the country. "This message is not satisfactory for us," said Jaffar. "They should be here on the ground."
1400: Iraq's military says it has repelled the attack on the biggest oil refinery in Baghdad, according to AP reports. Military spokesman Qassim al-Moussawi said government forces have repelled the attack on the Beiji oil refinery, although there was no independent confirmation of his claims, AP noted.
The FT writes that about 300 government soldiers are defending the refinery's installations; although they are surrounded ammunition and supplies are being airlifted to them by helicopter.
1230: British Prime Minister David Cameron has said Sunni Arab militants fighting in Iraq were planning to attack Britain. "I ... disagree with those people who think this is nothing to do with us and if they want to have some sort of extreme Islamist regime in the middle of Iraq it won't affect us. It will," Cameron told parliament. "The people in that regime as well as trying to take territory are also planning to attack us here at home in the United Kingdom." But he said that he said the "hard attack" of direct military intervention by the West was not the only option as that could create its own problems, as shown before. "So the right answer is to be long term, hard-headed, patient and intelligent with the interventions that we make, and the most important intervention of all is to make sure that these governments are fully representative of the people who live in their countries, that they close down the ungoverned space, and they remove the support for the extremists. If we do that, not just in Syria, but we have to help in Iraq, in Somalia, in Nigeria, in Mali, because these problems will come back and hit us at home if we don't."
1050:Iran President Hassan Rouhani has promised to defend Shi'ite holy sites in Iraq, where Sunni militants battled attacked the nation's biggest oil refinery.
0930: Islamist-led militants have attacked Iraq's biggest oil refinery in Baghdad with machine guns and mortars, according to reports. The militants destroyed some stores of oil early this morning after entering the complex, refinery staff told AFP news agency. The news comes as the government fights against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant ISIS and its Sunni Muslim allies in Diyala and Salahuddin provinces, after they took over the second city, Mosul, last week. Concerns that the crisis will disrupt oil supplies has pushed prices higher. Brent crude futures increased $0.106 to $113.570 per barrel in morning trading, according to the ICE.