Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Turkey arrests over 50 senior police officers in new swoop - ahramonline

Turkish authorities on Tuesday arrested 55 senior police officers in a criminal probe over alleged corruption and abuse of office, the latest apparent crackdown on opponents of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of presidential polls.
Forty serving and former top police officers were arrested in Istanbul, including the former head of the anti-terrorism unit of Istanbul police, Omer Kose, television reports said.
Fifteen others were arrested elsewhere, in what the reports said was a new sweep against the movement of Erdogan's former ally Fethullah Gulen in the wake of a vast corruption scandal implicating the prime minister and his inner circle.
In the huge operation conducted in the early morning, police in Istanbul alone raided almost 200 addresses.
Television pictures showed the senior police officers being led outside in handcuffs with some raising their handcuffed hands above their heads in a show of defiance.
The Hurriyet daily said on its website that simultaneous raids were conducted in 22 cities across Turkey....

-bth: worth a read in full. From a foreign perspective, it is very difficult to understand the political situation in Turkey.

Sa-11 on MH15 - 2010 Digital Globe

Monday, July 21, 2014

Can Lebanon Side Step being Pulled into the Caliphate?

Lebanese security sources have reported that the terrorist cells intercepted at the Napoleon and Duroy hotels in Beirut had been dispatched by DAASH as part of its strategy to overwhelm Lebanon with a formidable wave of suicide bombings. The security services apparently base this reading on the previous modus operandi and strategy of the terrorist cells, and also on information relayed by U.S. and European sources, indicating that the many suicide bombers had been dispatched by ISIS/Nusra Front to Lebanon.
It is fairly clear as of 7/12/14 that jihadi factions are racing to declare war on Lebanon, this occurring simultaneous to a Lebanese Army crackdown on individuals suspected of involvement with these groups. Analysts in Washington and Europe suggest that the jihadi expansion into Lebanon will be a developing new phase, ushering in a paradigm shift in terror attacks in the country. Some even suggest that halting this forward progress will require the Lebanese Resistance taking a lead role along with the Lebanese Army and security agencies....

-bth: article worth reading in full from Franklin Lamb http://www.almanar.com.lb/english/adetails.php?eid=161148&frid=41&seccatid=101&cid=41&fromval=1

War is not declared, it simply begins

“War in general is not declared. It simply begins with already developed military forces. Mobilization and concentration is not part of the period after the onset of the state of war as was the case in 1914 but rather, unnoticed, proceeds long before that.” 

-Georgy Isserson, 1930s Soviet military theoretician.

Rep. Massie speaks at Press Conference Regarding 9/11 Documents

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Excerpt from "The Value of Science in Prediction" by Gen. Gerasimov

mirrored link to this blog

...Excerpt from


General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Federation

The Lessons of the ‘Arab Spring’
Of course, it would be easiest of all to say that the events of the “Arab Spring” are not war and so there are no lessons for us — military men — to learn. But maybe the opposite is true — that precisely these events are typical of warfare in the 21st century.
In terms of the scale of the casualties and destruction, the catastrophic social, economic, and political consequences, such new-type conflicts are comparable with the consequences of any real war.
The very “rules of war” have changed. The role of nonmilitary means of achieving political and strategic goals has grown, and, in many cases, they have exceeded the power of force of weapons in their effectiveness....

The focus of applied methods of conflict has altered in the direction of the broad use of political, economic, informational, humanitarian, and other nonmilitary measures — applied in coordination with the protest potential of the population.
All this is supplemented by military means of a concealed character, including carrying out actions of informational conflict and the actions of special-operations forces. The open use of forces — often under the guise of peacekeeping and crisis regulation — is resorted to only at a certain stage, primarily for the achievement of final success in the conflict....

Asymmetrical actions have come into widespread use, enabling the nullification of an enemy’s advantages in armed conflict. Among such actions are the use of special-operations forces and internal opposition to create a permanently operating front through the entire territory of the enemy state, as well as informational actions, devices, and means that are constantly being perfected....

 bth: this article further analyzed at the original linked source is worth reading in full in the context of the evolving Ukrainian crisis. We are observing the evolving 21st century face of warfare.

Epic of Gilgamesh --- "...the face of one who has made a long journey"

...Gilgamesh answered her,
'And why should not my cheeks be starved
and my face drawn?
Despair is in my heart
and my face is the face of one who has made a long journey....
She [Siduri] answered,
'Gilgamesh, where are you hurrying to?
You will never find the life for which you are looking.
When the gods created man
they allotted to him death,
but life they retained in their own keeping.
As for you, Gilgamesh,
fill your belly with good things;
day and night, night and day, dance and be merry,
feast and rejoice.
Let your clothes be fresh,
bathe yourself in water,
cherish the little child that holds your hand,
and make your wife happy in your embrace;
for this too is the lot of man.'



Saturday, July 19, 2014

ISIS burns 1,800-year-old church in Mosul - Al Arabiya

...Earlier, Mosul’s Christians fled the city en masse before a Saturday deadline issued by the al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) for them to either convert to Islam, pay tax, leave or be killed.

Al Arabiya correspondent in Iraq Majid Hamid said the deadline set by the jihadist group was 12 p.m. Iraqi time (10 a.m. GMT). Hamid reported that many Christians fled the city on Friday. It is not clear if any remained after the deadline.

Patriarch Louis Sako told AFP on Friday: “Christian families are on their way to Dohuk and Arbil,” in the neighboring autonomous region of Kurdistan. “For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians,” he said.

Witnesses said messages telling Christians to leave the city by Saturday were blared through loudspeakers from the city’s mosques Friday....


Friday, July 11, 2014

Quick Review of Regional Relations for an emerging Kurdistan

As today the Kurds have announced their withdrawal from the Iraq government, the relations with the Maliki government will be strained in the extreme as new appointments have been made and the economic impact to civil employees will be immediately felt. Also there is the seizure of related oil fields and small refineries.

But how will Kurdistan evolve with the likes of Turkey and Iran?


Iran announced today that if the Kurds break off from the central Iraqi (Maliki) government that it will close its border crossing with the Kurds to commerce. This will have negative economic impacts on all involved, but it might also have the unexpected consequence of pushing the Kurds toward ISIL and Turkey if for no other reason than it is fully landlocked and must have exits for oil and the most basic economic trade routes; ancient and modern.

So where does this leave relations between the Kurds and ISIL.  There are continuing car bombings and low grade skirmishes immediately south of Kirkuk and presumed IS forces.  But the fact is if the Kurds are going to keep their oil fields they will either have to fight to keep them or they will have to reach a trade accommodation with Sunni Arabs to the west for gasoline refinement, basic security and economic trade.  So is Maliki blowing smoke when he says that there are ISIL being sheltered in Kurdish territories or is it an indication of emerging diplomatic relations and new alliances?

- This article is quantifying the economic damage of ISIL to Iraq at about $25 billion so far.

- This article quotes Iranian officials as threatening not to recognize a Kurdish break with the Maliki government and threatens as follows. "Iranian Ambassador Danie has told PUK and Gorran leaders that,

Iran won’t recognize any Kurdish independent state. In the event of a declaration of independence, Iran will close all border crossings with Kurdistan and will help all Iraqi officials and parties stand against this attempt [Kurdish independence].”

Iran refuses any negotiation for Maliki’s replacement with the possibility of his rise as PM for a third term. Until the Iraqi Army regains the controlled areas by ISIS insurgents, Iran will have no discussions about replacing Maiki.  Finally, the Iranian  Ambassador emphasized attempts to bring all Iraqi parties together again." 


Impact of ISIL hostage taking and Turkish relations.

ISIL seized and is holding hostage the Turkish consulate staff from Mosul.  Also it ransomed out the Turkish truckers earlier this month.  An obvious consequence is a breakdown in commerce between the ISIL areas.  Turkish truckers don't want to travel through Mosul and are traveling east through Kurdish controlled areas even though supply runs south are now at least 20% longer and delayed at border crossing by about 5 days.  Routes even further east through Iran appear to be unfavorable due to fees and duties imposed by Iran and crossings.  So in short, Turkey needs to export to Iraq and it needs to import gasoline and oil.  All of these factors now favor an emerging relationship and perhaps recognition between Turkey and the Kurds.

Economic Impact of disrupted trade routes and Turkish exports
- This article from Daily Star discusses the shift in Turkish relations with Kurdistan and quantifies some of the economics of that changing relationship. "

“The main reason behind the change of Turkey’s stance toward the Iraqi Kurds and Barzani lies in its commercial interests,” Nihat Ali Ozcan, an analyst at the Economic Policy Research Foundation in Ankara, said by phone July 9. “The Turkish government has stopped viewing Kurds both at home and in Iraq as a threat to its unity. It’s now seeking to exert economic and political influence over them.”
Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Business/Regional/2014/Jul-12/263565-turkey-embracing-iraqs-kurds-as-trade-erodes-old-enmity.ashx#ixzz37DP6JzgE
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

Trade with the Kurdish region of 4 million people accounts for a growing share of Turkey’s exports to Iraq, which reached $12 billion last year, making it the second-biggest market after Germany. About 1,300 Turkish companies are working in the Kurdish region. And the Kurds’ estimated 45 billion barrels of oil reserves offer an alternative supply for Turkey’s $800 billion economy, which is dependent on energy imports.

- Referenced here is an excellent Turkish article on the extreme impact ISIL is having on the Turkish-Iraqi trade or now lack thereof, the new supply routes, the collapse in trucking prices - ironically as the lack of demand is far greater than the collapse in export volume. "

"The trade has almost stopped," said logistics company owner Kemal Palta, who runs a fleet of 67 trucks from his office in Silopi, close to the Iraqi border crossing at Habur. "There is no demand. There are no cargoes for our trucks to carry. I saw some experts saying there's been a fall of 20 percent. If only that was the case," said Palta, who is also a senior official in the local chamber of commerce. "I'd say there's a fall of at least 60 percent and it will get worse in July," Palta said, a view echoed by the truckers at Habur, so congested just a month ago that they routinely waited in line for up to five days for paperwork to cross into Iraq.

Turkish exports to Iraq fell 21 percent to $727 million in June, according to data from the Turkish Exporters Association (TIM), but the full extent of the drop-off in trade is only likely to be reflected in the figures over the coming months. Iraq has risen to become Turkey's second biggest export market after Germany in recent years as the country rebuilds its economy after decades of war and sanctions and Ankara has sought to diversify its trade away from a dependence on Europe. Exports to Iraq, mostly to the autonomous Kurdish enclave in the north of the country, had been growing in the double digits since 2005, at times in excess of 30 percent, helping to narrow a trade gap partly responsible for Turkey's big current account deficit, its main economic weakness. More than $5 billion worth of exports were shipped to Iraq in the first five months, broadly in line with volumes in the same period a year earlier, before the insurgency flared. Food, building materials and refined fuel are among the main products going across the border by road."

This article discusses the negative impact on Turkish exports caused by ISIL and the impact it is having on trade corridors for Turkey. "Of the $30 billion Iraqi imports, a third is from Turkey. Gaziantep alone provides around a fifth of Iraq’s imports. So Iraq by itself is important for Turkey. Now two things are happening at once. First of all, it is getting increasingly harder to send trucks down to Iraq. Secondly, Iraqi import demand is declining rather rapidly as Iraq transforms into a war zone. The decline in Iraqi orders has now reached 40 percent, and doesn’t seem like it will stop there, declining orders and a lack of transport corridor to send the goods. That’s bad for Turkey and especially bad for provinces neighboring Iraq and Syria."
Kurds as a Swing Vote in Upcoming Turkish Elections
- This article points out that the Kurds in Turkey may be the swing vote in upcoming elections and that this weighs in on the favorable response Turkey is giving toward Kurdish independence in Iraq. 

Kurds withdraw support, leaving Iraq without a president - The Guardian

The Kurds have ended participation in the Iraqi government, demonstrating a deepening rift between the group and Nouri al-Maliki after the prime minister accused them of harbouring terrorists in the Kurdish capital of Irbil.
Hoshyar Zebari, the foreign minister and a Kurd, told Reuters on Friday that Kurdish ministers were suspending their day-to-day running of his ministry and other posts, leaving Iraq without a president and several ministers. This follows Thursday's announcement by the Kurds that they would boycott all cabinet meetings....http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/11/kurds-withdraw-support-iraqi-government-without-president

-bth: I can understand the Kurdish push for independence.  But what happens when ISIS decides to go get the oil fields south or Kirkuk.  Can the Kurds hold this ground or will they need assistance from the Iraqi government that they are dissecting?