Saturday, June 21, 2014

Price of Kalashnikov and ammunition in Baghdad

The price of a Kalashnikov rifle, long a ready-reckoner of tensions in Iraq, has increased by 50% in the past week, according to the city's gun dealers. And, even on the black market, the cost of ammunition has almost tripled. 

Ukrainian Rebel Commander Identified As Russian GRU Military Intelligence Colonel -Washington Free Beacon

A key figure in covert Russian efforts to destabilize eastern Ukraine is working for Russia’s GRU military intelligence service, according to U.S. officials.
Igor Vsevolodovich Girkin, who is currently using the nom de guerre Igor Strelkov, has identified himself in press reports as “defense minister” of the self-proclaimed, pro-Russian “Donetsk People’s Republic. This week he called for Russia to send military aid to rebels in eastern Ukraine.
U.S. officials said Strelkov is considered a leading pro-Russian rebel who is undermining stability as part of a major Russian covert action program in Ukraine.
Officials said Girkin is a GRU colonel who was first identified by the Ukrainian SBU intelligence service. Girkin traveled to the Crimea in February and traveled to Donetsk in April. While in the Crimea was a military adviser to Sergei Aksenov, the current head of Russian-occupied Crimea....

bth: Bill Getz is the reporter.  

Centres of Pro-Russian Insurcency - BBC


Putin's aide proposes anti-dollar alliance to force US to end Ukraine's civil war - Voice of Russia

Sergey Glazyev, the economic aide of Vladimir Putin, published an article outlining a plan for "undermining the economic strength of the US" in order to force Washington to stop the civil war in Ukraine. Glazyev believes that the only way of making the US give up its plans on starting a new cold war is to crash the dollar system.
Read more:

bth: this Russian propaganda piece is worth reading to understand the Russian perspective and to see that they intend to try to crush the US dollar as a means of thwarting what they see as US economic warfare. Note the commentary which essentially enlists the support to Russia of EU multinational corporations that would be adversely impacted. It is hard to understand if the Russians actually believe this BS but I don't see any refutations being espoused in the US or Europe. Odd and concerning.

US is militarizing Ukraine to invade Russia. Sergei Glazyev Putin Advisor

This Putin economic adviser essentially is saying that the US is using the Ukraine to draw Russia into a new war; that Ukraine is US occupied territory and that Nazis have taken over the government.  Further that the US would economically benefit somehow from such a conflict.  What is most disturbing to me is that either this is unchallenged propaganda from this Putin economic adviser for domestic (Russian) consumption or he in fact believes this bullshit which to me is the more dangerous scenario. In any event it would seem the Russians are laying in the intellectual justification for an invasion of the Ukraine.

Operation Barbarosa 1941 invasion of soviet union(colour)

73 years ago this Sunday

Russia Drill June 21

Russia's military districts

Friday, June 20, 2014

Thoughts on current day Iraq and US policy in the near future

Do any of the three main factions in Iraq have the wherewithal now to take and hold territory ethnically controlled by the other parties? No.

Attrition. These main three groups are going to push each other hard around the edges but none of them have the capacity to hold unfriendly ground. Iraq is going to bust up like it or not. Telling Maliki he has to step down to get our support was a non-starter. That said he doesn't have the votes in parliament to get a majority, much less a super majority or even a quorum. The Iraqi government is dead in the water.

Shiites and Baghdad. Perhaps the best way to protect our embassy is to assist the Iraqi government in defending Baghdad itself with coordinated air cover. Sunni bragging aside, we haven't seen any indication that the Sunnis have the forces or coordination to mount a city siege. This could buy the government time to rally. A mass embassy evacuation would be problematic.

Kurds. Two signals we could give in support of the Kurds might be to put advisers at that Kirkuk airbase, recently abandoned, and buy a couple of discounted oil tanker shipments from their fields letting the world know we recognize at least the economic reality of Kurdistan. I'm assuming we will back a Kurdish state or semi-state in the future along with the Turks and Europeans. Having the Kurds sell oil to the Arab Sunnis who likely will gain control of Baiji refinery - or at least veto control - would make for an economic relationship where all regional parties might have a positive stake.

Sunni Arabs. Can the US start a dialogue with the Sunni Arab tribal leaders and simultaneously facilitate a few well placed airstrikes on ISIL targets to make it clear what and moreover who would be acceptable to us in the long run? A gasoline shortage, no cigarettes or booze, some prickly religious fanatics guests and an electrical outage would make for a long hot summer in Anbar and points north.

Breaking up is hard to do. The downside of an overt American policy of transitioning Iraq into three separate entities is that the Russians will use it as an excuse to further divide the Ukraine. Therefore I think the US will need to approach this outcome in a round about manner as outlined above.

Очередной эшелон с танками Т-80У, гвоздиками и БМП-2 в Миллерово, Ростов...

Religious composition of Baghdad 2003 and 2009

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Baiji Refinery - Current Developments and Impact as of June 19 2014 from open sources

This post relates to the Baiji Refinery and current open source reporting.

Who Controls the Refinery
  • It appears that the government controls about 3/4 of the refinery.
  • Entrances to the refinery appear to be manned by the rebels.
  • Sunni rebels talk about destroying the Shiite shrines but it appears they are putting their manpower and taking casualties to gain control of an intact Baiji refinery.
Gasoline and Electrical Shortages
  • Gasoline shortages are reported in Anbar, Nineva spilling over to Kurdish regions
  • People are going to Kurdish areas for gasoline and that has created its own shortage.  Mile long lines. Gasoline stations closed. Population of Mosul is going to Irbil.  Some rioting.  Irbil refinery remains open.
  • Baiji refinery is off line regardless of who controls it.  Kurdish pipeline supplying to the refinery has been turned off probably as a precaution.  The foreign nationals have been evacuated.
  • Figures seem to vary but Baiji accounts for between 25-50% of domestic production of gasoline.  Iraq has 3 large refineries, Baiji being the largest, and 11 small ones.
  • Iraq already imports 100,000 BPD of gasoline and it is hard to figure out but Baiji might have up to 300K BPD capacity(?) so gasoline shortages in the Sunni areas that the Baiji refinery supplied electricty and gasoline to will be severally constrained.
  • Recently local homegrown refineries in Syria were smuggling gasoline into Turkey where prices are $2.10 per liter.  Smuggled prices of low grade fuel were $1.5-0.32 per liter.  Likely the prices will go up and supply grow shorter in coming weeks.
Baiji Refinery and the Caliphate
  • Noted that rebels are trying to take, not destroy the refinery. Heavy weapons are not being used by the rebels. Burning tank farm may have been caused by government helicopter.
  • Refinery is key to sustained cash flow for a Sunni breakaway state. 
  • This facility is not only a main supplier of gasoline and diesel but also of electricity to northern Iraq.
Iran, Iraq and Gasoline
  • On Wednesday an Iranian delegation agreed signed an agreement with the Iraqi government to export gasoline to Iraq though to my knowledge Iran is a net importer of gasoline so I'm not sure how that will work.  Additionally the Iranian delegation was attacked in Baghdad on its way to the Ministry of Electricity but was unharmed. 
  • Iran itself imports 50,000 BPD of gasoline.  So if Iraq is a gasoline importer of around 100k BPT and their main refinery is offline and Iran has promised to supply Iraq while it imports itself, what is going to happen? Regardless of pricing, there are going to be regional shortages of gasoline.

  • Iraqi government information related to the refinery appears to be doubtful.
  • Western news agencies have multiple witness accounts that seem to be more credible.
  • The situation is very fluid.

Middle East Petroleum Deposits with Ethnic Overlay - Columbia Univ.

Broadsword: Predictable patterns in calls for raising FDI in d...

Broadsword: Predictable patterns in calls for raising FDI in d...: By Ajai Shukla Business Standard, 19th June 14 A day after this newspaper reported that the Confederation of I...

-bth: excellent review of interest group perspectives in Indian FDI debate. Worth a full read.

Interest groups pitching
for various FDI levels


Defence companies run
by professional managers, CEOs, who want better emoluments, but control in
Indian hands


Companies like L&T with managers holding
equity, want foreign funds, technology, but while retaining control (Ficci

FDI up to 49%


like Bharat Forge, with strong capabilities in single field, but wanting
foreign technology in order to expand capabilities and repertoire (CII

FDI above 51%, up to 74%


like Tatas, uncomfortable in defence field, would like to shelter behind
foreigner, have previous experience of divesting for huge profits

Incremental rise in FDI up to 100%


Established small-to-medium defence companies,
now looking to encash position by selling out to foreign OEM

FDI to 100%


Defence companies set up after 2001, who are mostly
“build-to-print” manufacturers of foreign defence equipment

FDI to 100%


Home-grown, successful, committed companies
who plan to stay in business and would like to protect their own markets. entrepreneurs

FDI restricted to 26%

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

ISIL territorial ambitions

Territory within Syria and Iraq, ISIL’s Planned Islamic State

Qatari: U.S. intervention in Iraq would be seen as war on Sunni Arabs - McClatchy

— A former Qatari ambassador to the United States offered up a warning to the Obama administration Monday that any military intervention on behalf of the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki would be seen as an act of “war” on the entire community of Sunni Arabs.
Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al Khalifa also warned against the United States working with Iran to repulse the advance by the radical Sunni group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, something that Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday the United States would be willing to consider.
“For the West or Iran or the two working together to fight beside Maliki against Sunni Arabs will be seen as another conspiracy against Sunni,” Khalifa tweeted....*Morning%20Brief&utm_campaign=2014_MorningBrief6.17.2014

bth: big talk for a little country.

Read more here:

Capture of Ahmed Abu Khatallah who led Benghazi attack

June 17, 2014

Statement from Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby

I can confirm that on Sunday, June 15 the U.S. Military -- in cooperation with law enforcement personnel -- captured Ahmed Abu Khatallah, a key figure in the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012. He is in U.S. custody in a secure location outside of Libya. There were no civilian casualties related to this operation, and all U.S. personnel involved in the operation have safely departed Libya.

Iraq Deputy Premier: Maliki Did Not Want To Work With Kurds on Security -

Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Rowsch Nuri Shaways spoke to Rudaw at this critical juncture when the Iraqi Army has collapsed, Islamic militants who have captured large parts of Sunni territories are near Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region has moved in to Kurdish territories outside its borders and is in control of all of the so-called “disputed territories” over which Baghdad and Erbil have both laid claim. Shaways, a Kurd, blamed the security collapse and advance by the militants on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s refusal to work with the Kurds on security. Saying that “the threat of terrorism is very real,” he said the Iraqi government “will be making a great mistake if it is not fully prepared” for defending Baghdad. Shaways also said that Peshmerga forces what have moved into the disputed territories are likely to stay there for a very long time... 


‘Pakistan, India, China expanding nuclear arsenals’ - PakDaily

STOCKHOLM: China, India and Pakistan are the only nuclear weapon states that are expanding their nuclear arsenals, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said Monday.

According to the report, China held 250 warheads, India between 90 and 110, Pakistan between 100 and 120 and Israel 80, at the beginning of 2014, the think tank said in its yearly report on world nuclear forces.

North Korea appeared on the list with six to eight warheards, while Israel appears to be waiting to see how the situation in Iran develops, SIPRI said. The United States and Russia still held some 7,300 and 8,000 warheads respectively at the beginning of this year, it said.

The think tank said number of nuclear weapons in the world continue to decline, but at a slower pace than in previous years. “Over the past five years there has been a steady decline in the overall number of nuclear warheads in the world. The decrease is due mainly to Russia and the US, which together still account for more than 93 percent of all nuclear weapons.”

The number of nuclear warheads in the world has dropped by 930 from 2013 to 16,300 this year, whereas in 2011 the figure fell by 2,070 to 20,530 compared with a year earlier.

The think tank warned that the decline does not imply a real commitment by the nuclear powers to give up their arsenals.... 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Never let the future disturb you

Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.