"The Minstrel Boy to the war is gone
In the ranks of death you will find him;
His father's sword he hath girded on,
And his wild harp slung behind him;
"Land of Song!" said the warrior bard,
"Tho' all the world betrays thee,
One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee!"
-- Verse from the Minstrel Boy
Saturday, September 20, 2014
“For death remembered should be like a mirror, Who tells us life’s but breath, to trust it error.”
ISIL has already adapted to air attacks by dispersing and going to ground.
"... Facing US air strikes in Iraq, Islamic State fighters abandoned heavy weaponry that made them easy targets and tried to blend into civilian areas. In anticipation of similar raids in Syria, the group may already be doing the same.In Raqqa, the group has evacuated buildings it was using as offices, redeployed its heavy weaponry, and moved fighters' families out of the city."They are trying to keep on the move," said one Raqqa resident, communicating via the internet and speaking on condition of anonymity because of safety fears. "They have sleeper cells everywhere," he added.
"They only meet in very limited gatherings."...
This would present some opportunities as ISIL will be unable to concentrate forces to repel attacks without exposing themselves to air assault.
Thus stationary targets will be vulnerable to recapture such as refineries, oil fields, damns, power substations.
The key would be to take the initiative to force the concentration on our terms. If ISIL is not pressed then they will continue to be able to concentrate their own forces quickly in light vehicles and overwhelm defenders.
Equally if Iraqi, Kurd or Syrian government forces can coordinate their movements then it would be possible to spread ISIL out very thinly and geographically. One might see a scenario whereby targets were selected that required ISIL tactical vehicles to race over open roads place to place exposing them to air attack on open ground.
As noted 35,000 ISIL fighters is stretched over a very long geographic border.
"... He said Russia's 2015 budget deficit was expected to be 0.5
percent of gross domestic product (GDP) - higher than a
previously expected 0.4 percent - while budget deficits for 2016
and 2017 are expected to reach around 0.6 percent of GDP.
He said previous expectations were based on an expected oil
barrel price of $96.
"(The oil price) has been clarified and because of that the
deficit has risen. It was 0.4 percent of GDP and is now 0.5
percent," he said, speaking to journalists.
Russia's Economy Ministry also raised its expectations for
2015 growth to 1.2 percent from a previous 1 percent forecast,
Oil prices have fallen recently on demand worries and
Russia's Urals URL-E has fallen to $94.50 per barrel.
Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said Russia may divert
funds from its separate National Wealth Fund or from pensions.
Russia relies on oil and gas for around two-thirds of
exports and half of federal budget revenues. Over the course of
a year, each $1 fall in the oil price wipes around $1.4 billion
off federal tax revenues. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/14/russia-budget-deficit-idUSL6N0RF0K120140914
US Fracking Breakeven Points
" ...LEVI: On the flipside, no one expects Vladimir Putin to cut his own
oil exports in order to inflict harm because he can't sustain his
spending - his state - his budget without the revenues from oil cells.
Fadel Gheit, managing partner and head of oil and gas research at
Oppenheimer and Company, says oil prices will spike higher when severe
disruptions occur. But he thinks global supply will continue to grow and
keep prices in check. He says that will happen as fracking technology
improves, reducing the costs of production.
FADEL GHEIT: The
break-even point continues to decline. I mean, yes, we needed $80 oil
for the North Dakota bargain oil development to continue. Now it's about
65. Five years from now, it could be 50 or even 40.: http://wmuk.org/post/turmoil-roiling-abroad-why-arent-oil-prices-bubbling
-bth: if this is correct then global economic weakness in demand, surging production from almost all sources in the ME and US will keep prices low. As it happens breakeven for the Russian budget is in the $80s and US fracking breakevens are falling below those levels. One might expect oil prices to stay surpressed for some time.
"... Perkins said it is difficult to tell how much oil the ISIS-controlled
wells are actually producing, or how much of the oil the militants are
smuggling throughout the region. The illicit oil operations are thought
to earn the group more than $1 million a day, according to Platts
estimates, and ISIS is showing no signs of relenting its campaign of
terror across Iraq.
ISIS now fully controls about 18 cities and surrounding areas in northern Iraq, according to a recent New York Times map.
The region holds about 17 percent of Iraq’s oil reserves, part of which
is simultaneously being taken over by the separatist Kurdistan Regional
Government in the north...." http://www.ibtimes.com/isis-grip-iraqi-oil-infrastructure-could-be-slipping-amid-us-air-strikes-kurdish-attacks-1686238
bth: these stationary targets would lend themselves to systematic reduction from the air. Plus oil must be refined to useful end products or sold for cash and should be made far more difficult. Also if ISIL is squeezing out the middlemen then one might believe this offers a fertile field for recruitment of intelligence assets by the Iraqi, Syrian and Kurdish governments.
"... ISIS militants pushed past Baiji toward Tikrit, where they captured
at least four oil fields, including Ajeel, one of the area’s most
productive. In early August, the extremists captured two more oil fields -- Ain Zalah and West Batma -- in the predominately Kurdish region of northern Iraq.
As of Aug. 15, ISIS still controlled the Quyarrah, Ajeel, Ain Zalah,
West Batma, Sufiyah and Himrin wells in the Nineveh and Salahuddin
provinces, according to Platts.
Recent reports indicate that ISIS has since lost its grip on the
Ajeel oil field after a Kurdish-led advance in Nineveh in late August." http://www.ibtimes.com/isis-grip-iraqi-oil-infrastructure-could-be-slipping-amid-us-air-strikes-kurdish-attacks-1686238 ISIL Oil to Turkey
key gateway through that black market is the southern corridor of
Turkey,” Mr. Khatteeb said. “Turkey is becoming part of this black
economy” that funds ISIS.
targeting the smuggling network has proved a major challenge, and so
far the Turkish authorities have been unwilling to cooperate.
been turning a blind eye to it, because they benefit from the lower
price of smuggled black-market oil,” Mr. Phillips said, “and I’m sure
there are substantial numbers of Turks that are also profiting from
this, maybe even government officials.”.
What NYT is dancing around is that key Turkish government officials
are involved in tremendous scams regarding oil and natural gas. This was most tellingly reported about a year ago with regard
to Iranian sanctioned energy buys. But when this was reported there
were enormous crackdowns on journalists and anti-corruption police. Low grade gasoline and diesel fuels can be found easily enough and it doesn't require the US Treasury to dig too deep to ferret these sources out. Local bus drivers, taxi operators and local merchants will know where to get bootleg low grade refined products. The key problem is that these intermediaries are likely well connected. The
capture of Turkish diplomats, truck drivers and then their gasoline
truck fleet all factored into the funding cycle for ISIL. Probably the
only way to reverse this trend is to make the cost of buying
petrochemical products from ISIL cost prohibitive. To do this will require
destruction of Iraq and Syrian roads used by tankers, destruction of bootleg oil
pipelines, and infliction of pain on middlemen of all nationalities. This
might be offset by increases in Kurdish oil flows to Turkey and the
reduction of sanctions against Iran as it relates to Turkey
which has extremely high gasoline prices.
"... ISIS first began capturing oil infrastructure in Syria. In June,
extremists made their first major Iraqi oil grab near the north-central
city of Mosul, an area flush with oil fields and the small Qayyarah
(also known as Qaiarah) refinery. Iraq Army fighter jets reportedly shelled the refinery in mid-July, though the facility appear to remain in the militant’s control.
The extremists continued south to Baiji, where they targeted Iraq’s
biggest oil refinery. Witnesses reported that Sunni extremists seized
the 310,000-barrel a day facility in June, but Iraqi Army officials have
disputed those claims. In any case, workers were evacuated and
operations stopped in July. The Iraqi government now purportedly
controls the facility, though pockets of militants continue to
sporadically attack Baiji. It could take more than a year to repair the refinery when fighting subsides...." http://www.ibtimes.com/isis-grip-iraqi-oil-infrastructure-could-be-slipping-amid-us-air-strikes-kurdish-attacks-1686238
"... Islamic State militants set fire to an oil storage tank at
Iraq’s largest refinery as the US prepares to escalate
the campaign against the extremist group.Militants fired mortar rounds at the Baiji refinery, 130 miles north of
Baghdad, causing a crude storage tank to catch fire and emit
a plume of smoke visible from miles away, the police said in
a statement read over the phone by an officer.
“The fire could go on for two or three days as there is
no civil defense to put it out,” police said in the
statement, without indicating how much oil the tank
contained. “The situation in the refinery’s perimeter is quiet
bth: refined gasoline is a critical weak spot for ISIL worthy of exploitation. Better to take the refineries like Baiji out of commission than let ISIL benefit from the refinery itself or the extortion racket built up around protection money and similar ISIL activities. Without a doubt there will be shortages of gasoline in the region for the foreseeable future. What strikes me as intersting is that if ISIL did in fact mortar the Baiji refinery which would be a great cash cow for them, it must be because they do not feel they can secure it for themselves.
Adding it all up one has to wonder if ISIL is going to be cash starved once their bank robbery loot is used up. And we know that ISIL seized farmer harvests and government granaries and that without money from the Iraqi government, many farmers in the Sunni areas did not set aside funds for 2015 plantings. One has to believe that basic food stables will cost more in 2015.
By ways remote and distant waters sped, Brother, to thy sad grave-side am I come, That I may give the last gifts to the dead, And vainly parley with thine ashes dumb: Since she who now bestows and now denies Hath taken thee, hapless brother, from mine eyes. But lo! these gifts, the heirlooms of past years, Are made sad things to grace thy coffin shell, Take them, all drenchèd with a brother’s tears, And, brother, for all time, hail and farewell!
--Gaius Valerius Catullus (ca 85-ca 54 B.C.),
translated by Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898)