Friday, July 04, 2014

Water supply key to outcome of conflicts in Iraq and Syria, experts warn - Guardian

... Control of water supplies gives strategic control over both cities and countryside. We are seeing a battle for control of water. Water is now the major strategic objective of all groups in Iraq. It’s life or death. If you control water in Iraq you have a grip on Baghdad, and you can cause major problems. Water is essential in this conflict,” he said....

...The Euphrates River, the Middle East’s second longest river, and the Tigris, have historically been at the centre of conflict. In the 1980s, Saddam Hussein drained 90% of the vast Mesopotamian marshes that were fed by the two rivers to punish the Shias who rose up against his regime. Since 1975, Turkey’s dam and hydropower constructions on the two rivers have cut water flow to Iraq by 80% and to Syria by 40%. Both Syria and Iraq have accused Turkey of hoarding water and threatening their water supply.
“There has never been an outright war over water but water has played extremely important role in many Middle East conflicts. Control of water supply is crucial”, said Stephen.
It could also be an insurmountable problem should the country split into three, he said. “Water is one of the most dangerous problems in Iraq. If the country was split there would definitely be a war over water. Nobody wants to talk about that,” he said.
Some academics have suggested that Tigris and Euphrates will not reach the sea by 2040 if rainfall continues to decrease at its present rate.

MLB: 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig's speech

Guinness Commercial: Empty Chair

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Putin unveils new Russian foreign policy (live recorded feed)

Religious Map of Baghdad - Not sure of date

My Immortal-Evanescence(lyrics)

More than 53,000 civilians killed or injured by IEDs in three years - Guardian

...The number of civilian casualties from improvised explosive devices (IEDs), including car bombs and suicide attacks, has increased by 70% over the past three years, according to new research.
More than 53,000 civilians were killed or injured by IEDs between 2011 and 2013. Civilian casualties from suicide bombings went up by more than a third and attacks by car bombs increased by more than 200%. Civilians accounted for more than 80% of those killed or injured.
The figures were released on Thursday by Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), a London-based research and advocacy group funded by governments, the UN, and human rights organisations...

AOAV recorded IED attacks in 66 countries and territories, though nearly half of all civilian casualties were victims of attacks in Iraq, where 70% of all car bomb explosions took place last year.
Of particular concern was that each car bomb attack caused an average of 25 civilian casualties compared to roadside bombs, which caused an average of four.

Suicide bombings – reported in 26 countries – accounted for about a third, or 18,233, of civilian casualties from IEDs – with attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Somalia, Syria, Turkey and Yemen.

There was also an increase of IED incidents in populated areas, which rose to 62% in 2013. This trend was significant as IED casualties are much more likely to be civilians when attacks occured in populated areas, AOAV said.

The number of civilian casualties from all explosive weapons in Iraq increased by more than 90% in 2013 compared to the previous year, the group said in a report published in April. Some 37,809 people were killed or injured by explosive weapons in 2013 in more than 2,700 incidents....

bth: there is just an extraordinary rise in suicide bombings and vehicle IEDs.  It is only a matter of time before these spread to N. America. VBIED average 25 civilian casualties per incident. One could see Mexican drug cartels using these weapons more for example to spread terror.

Estimate of Sunni sleeper cells around Baghdad - IB Times

Senior Iraqi and US officials have confirmed that Isis is planning an assault on the capital utilising co-ordinated suicide blasts, with estimates of 1,500 Sunni sleeper cell members already hiding in western Baghdad and 1,000 more on the outskirts of the city.
"We are ready. It can come any minute," a Sunni sleeper cell member told Reuters. "We will have some surprises."
The man, known only as Abu Ahmed, said that he had been working as a labourer in the city while sending intelligence to his group of Sunni militants and that the attack would come soon.
Abu Sa'da, an Isis fighter based in Mosul, told Reuters by phone that he and his comrades "will receive orders about Zero Hour" with the group in contact with cells in the city by email.
The militants' aim is to breach the US-made "Green Zone" -- a heavily-fortified four square mile precinct in the city centre where the Iraqi government resides -- according to a high-level Iraqi security official....

Current small arms pricing in Kirkuk

Open Source interviews from Kirkuk gun market in Daily News and CS Monitor.

...Kalashnikovs that once retailed for a little over $2,000 are now selling for close to $5,000. Higher up in the market, Glock pistols have more than doubled in price: $4,000 before the conflict, now more than $11,000 and in short supply.

The only guns whose prices haven’t changed dramatically, weapons dealers at this market say, are arms used by the Iraqi army. The market was flooded with them when soldiers deserted en masse. The peshmerga, or Kurdish security forces, and the Iraqi military estimate a minimum of 10,000 assault rifles were looted from military positions in Kirkuk alone...

...Mr. Karuk proudly shows off a shiny gun that he recently added to his personal collection. "When we arrived, there were thousands of looters loading up their vehicles with weapons. All the weapons that belonged to the army in Kirkuk are now on sale."

Next to him, fellow officer Ismail Jamal, also a Kurd, carries an AK-47 that he just purchased for $600. “I bought this weapon from a regular civilian. You can find dozens of weapons in the arms market now but they are not openly displayed,” he says....

In Chamchamal, Kurdish men dressed in billowing, low-inseam pants sashay through stalls stacked tall with ammunition, rifle butts, harnesses and military gear. Bullets cost $1 a piece, while pistols and AK-47s fetch up to $1,000.
“People are arming themselves for their protection because if you don’t kill them (ISIS), they will kill you,” says a Kurdish arms dealer. He claims that weapons looted from military bases are either in the hands of ISIS or of the Peshmerga....


In Besieged Kirkuk, It's Time To Buy A Gun from GlobalPost on Vimeo.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Iraqi Kurdistan Map - National Geographic

Map of IRAQ

Peace map sketched by TE Lawrence 1918 - Still Relevant

T.E. Lawrence's Middle East map

T. E. Lawrence photos and portrait

shows a black and white portrait photograph of a man with short hair wearing a sweater and jacket

shows a pencil head and shoulder drawing of a man wearing an Arab headdress

shows a black and white photograph of a man in Arab headdress and robes stood in a desert landscape
shows a black and white photograph of Arab horsemen in desert landscape

These images are copyrighted by the Imperial War Museum.

Bill Moyers Essay on Lawrence of Arabia

ISIL surrounds air base scheduled to house Iraq’s F-16 fleet - WorldTribune

...The officials said the biggest threat by ISIL was to the Iraq Air Force base at Balad, which contains the largest airfield in the country and slated to house Baghdad’s new fleet of F-16 fighter-jets.

“We assess the group continues to threaten the air base and Iraqi security force control of the air base as it moves south towards Baghdad,” a senior intelligence official said.

In a briefing on June 24, the official said ISIL’s capture of Balad would result in a significant victory for the movement. The official acknowledged that Balad had been designated as a launching pad for air
strikes on ISIL positions throughout northern Iraq.

[On June 26, the Iraqi military sent three helicopters filled with
commandos for an attack on Tikrit, which contains a major base. At least one
of the helicopters was shot down and heavy fighting was reported around the
city's university.]

Congress has also been warned of the imminent fall of Balad. Senior
officials of the administration of President Barack Obama, however, did not
outline a U.S. plan to save Balad or other military bases.

“This is an urgent counterterrorism situation that our country faces,”
Sen. Marco Rubio said after the administration briefing. “It grows more dire
by the moment.”

Balad was said to contain a huge amount of U.S.- and Russian-origin
equipment. They were said to include Mi-17 utility helicopters, Cessna light
reconnaissance aircraft and combat ground vehicles.

The U.S. military had been planning a major upgrade of Balad and poured
hundreds of millions of dollars to prepare for the arrival of the F-16s in
late 2014. Officials said all U.S. military personnel and contractors were
flown out of the facility on June 13 as ISIL forces approached....

-bth: the guards at this base ran away a few weeks ago.  The facility was guarded by Americans who picked up the guns and then later evacuated.  Loss of this airbase and all that comes with it would be hugely significant.  The utter incompetence of the Iraqi Army in holding territory even with equipment and numerical advantages is just astonishing.