Saturday, October 11, 2014

Photos from Victoria Kennedy's visit to Bedford MA First Parish Oct 8, 2014

Vicki Kennedy and Alma Hart

Vicki Kennedy and Steve Kerrigan

Vicki Kennedy and Cathy Cordes

Alma Hart and Dorothy Smith

Alma Hart, Steve Kerrigan, Brian Hart

Alma Hart, Carlos Arredondo, Brian Hart

Alma Hart, Steve Kerrigan, Brian Hart, Sam Poulten, Carlos and Melida Arredondo

Alma Hart, Melida Arredondo, Victoria Kennedy, Brian Hart, Sam Poulten, Carlos Arredondo

Kobane Supply - Recent Assessments

Information from various sources listed.

Supplies to ISIS

Supplies to Kurds

  • "Turkey’s attitude toward the battle for Kobane has eliminated any remaining doubts about what Ankara sees as its priorities in Syria. The prospect of a Kurdish entity run by the PYD along Turkey’s border with Syria is too much for Ankara to accept. Instead, Turkey wishes to create its own buffer zones inside the Syrian border area to accommodate new refugee flows and deny the Syrian Kurds territorial self-rule. Despite U.S. and European pressure, Ankara has stiffly refused to permit Kurdish fighters from other areas to cross the Turkish border to assist in the defense of Kobane—effectively blocking off the only channel for outside reinforcements to reach exhausted defenders in the enclave." 
  • "In secret meetings last week between PYD leader Saleh Muslim and Turkish intelligence officials, Ankara reportedly demanded that the price for support to the YPG is that the PYD must dissolve its self-ruling local governments in northern Syria, join the Free Syrian Army—which has for the most part refused to recognize minority rights in Syria—distance itself from the PKK, and become part of Turkey’s ‘buffer zone project’ along the Syrian border. The Syrian Kurds were given a choice of full surrender to Ankara at the table or to the Islamic States on the battlefield. The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), outgunned and outnumbered, had been calling for air support for weeks as they fought a rearguard action through the countryside around Kobane.They also accuse Turkey of preventing them from resupplying their forces, which are reported to be running low on ammunition.Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he sees the Islamic State and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – a Turkish Kurdish rebel group closely linked to the YPG – in the same light." 
  • "The border and the main roads leading to the crossing at Mursitpinar, as well as the town of Suruç, are under firm control of the security forces, but the approximately eight kilometers of farmland, dotted with local farms and criss-crossed by dirt tracks and patikas (“goat-trails”) between the town and the frontier are the realm of the people’s resistance.Especially after dark, when the security is tightened and improvised checkpoints are manned by people from the Group of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK), it would be unsafe for any ill-willing figures (whether in uniform or sporting a big beard) to roam around these areas. While driving around these unlit roads, and after being stopped at yet another checkpoint, my friends point out that without them I would not have been able to make it for a single kilometer out of town." 
  • "The Turkish government has sent 634 vehicles of humanitarian aid to the Syrian town of Kobani since September 19, the prime ministrery said Friday. "The total amount of aid, including food, medicine, tents, clothes and cleaning supplies delivered to Kobani region cost around $10 million," the office said in a statement."
  • "The Kurds say they do not want Turkish intervention but do want Turkey to permit weapons, ammunition and food to flow across its border to the 3,000 or so fighters defending the town. Without fresh supplies, said Kurdish activist Ibrahim Kader, Kobane’s fall is only a matter of time. some estimates say tens of thousands of civilians are at risk in Kobane. A senior State Department official said that while exact numbers were difficult to obtain in a conflict zone, “our partners have indicated that the number of civilians in and around Kobane remains low” and that most needing protection had left for Turkey over the past several weeks."
  • "Turkey sent medical equipment to Kobane on Oct. 7 after talks with Turkish officials in Ankara, but Syrian Kurds desperately need Ankara to allow People’s Defense Forces (YPG) forces to cross Turkish territory to join the fight against jihadists, Democratic Union Party (PYD) leader Salih Muslim has said. “We have our armed fighters in Afrin and Cizre waiting to join the ranks of fighters in Kobane. But, we have to use Turkish territory in order to carry these fighters to Kobane. We asked Ankara to allow them cross the Turkish border,” Muslim told the Hurriyet Daily News on Oct. 7."

Geographic Significance of Kobane

  • "The fate of the Syrian Kurdish experiment in self-rule—the so-called July 19 revolution, which began when Assad withdrew his forces from much of the Turkish border area in July 2012—will likely be determined in Kobane. The Kurdish-run areas, known to Kurds as Rojava, include three geographically isolated border enclaves along an east-west axis, with Kobane located in the center. Kobane therefore serves as a geographic linchpin of the Rojava region. Even while embattled, it has helped tie down hostile Islamist forces that could otherwise have moved on the Kurdish areas to the east and west, the so-called Jazeera and Efrin enclaves. Without Kobane it becomes much more difficult for the two remaining enclaves to withstand the threats posed by the Islamic State and other groups to their security. Kobane’s fall could therefore set off a domino effect of Kurdish reversals in primarily the Jazeera region but also free Islamic State forces to move west toward the Arab countryside north of Aleppo and the border crossing at Bab al-Salama, which is crucial to rebel logistics."
  • "The Syrian town of Kobani, despite not being an energy-abundant region, is a vital oil transit route both for ISIL and Kurdish groups in conflict, say experts. Having taken major oil fields in the north of Syria - Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor and al Omar - ISIL is rumored to be earning millions of dollars and to have created a local market in which they produce between 300-500 barrels of refined petroleum per day.  If they seize Kobani, ISIL will be controlling approximately 100 kilometers from its de facto headquarters in Raqqa - the largest oil field in Syria to Turkish border. Speaking to Anadolu Agency, experts drew attention to Kobani's geographical, economic and logistical position and said the region might serve as a vital link for short-term oil trade for ISIL. An Iraqi energy expert Ali Semin from Istanbul based think tank BILGESAM said one of the main aims of ISIL from the beginning is controlling energy resources and routes in Syria. Claiming that ISIL had earned around $90 million monthly in Syria, Semin said "If ISIL seizes Kobani, it will have free place for further progress, it will have a long border with Turkey and its leverage of maneuver will enlarge." Tugce Varol Sevim, an associate professor at Istanbul's Uskudar University International Relations Department  said, "Kobani doesn't have energy resources but it is a very important transit route linking Syria's north with Iraqi Kurdish region."She added, "Kobani is such a significant region that when ISIL is cleared out, a potential pipeline carrying Iraqi Kurdish oil might be transferred through Kobani, and sold to international markets over there.""



Oil prices and government budget breakeven points

Russian Finance Minister Says Country Can't Afford Current Military Spending

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said the country's military spending plans need to be "more realistic" and take into consideration forecasts for economic growth and budget revenue.
Siluanov addressed Russia's Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, on October 7 and said his ministry wanted to reconsider the amount to be spent from the state budget on Russia's multibillion dollar program to rearm and modernize the military.
Siluanov said currently Russian simply could not afford such spending and added the finance and defense ministries have already started talks on which programs could be financed from state coffers.
The current plan calls for spending some $576 billion on defense in the next six years....

BBC map of bombing targets

Russia Deploying Tactical Nuclear Arms in Crimea - Washington Beacon

Russia is moving tactical nuclear weapons systems into recently-annexed Crimea while the Obama administration is backing informal talks aimed at cutting U.S. tactical nuclear deployments in Europe.
Three senior House Republican leaders wrote to President Obama two weeks ago warning that Moscow will deploy nuclear missiles and bombers armed with long-range air launched cruise missiles into occupied Ukrainian territory.
“Locating nuclear weapons on the sovereign territory of another state without its permission is a devious and cynical action,” states the letter signed by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R., Calif.) and two subcommittee chairmen.
“It further positions Russian nuclear weapons closer to the heart of NATO, and it allows Russia to gain a military benefit from its seizure of Crimea, allowing Russia to profit from its action.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin in recent months “has escalated his use of nuclear threats to a level not seen since the Cold War,” they wrote....

Russia government estimates of global oil prices to stabilize at $90 in 2015-2017 - Turkish weekly

The Russian Finance Ministry expects global oil prices to stabilize at $90 per barrel in the medium-term perspective, although they could suffer a short-term setback in 2015, the ministry’s strategic planning department chief said Friday.

“We will see no sharp decline, but a fast recovery is not to be expected either,” Maksim Oreshkin told journalists in Washington.

Oreshkin ruled out as unlikely the Russian central bank’s disaster scenario in which crude oil prices plunge to a mere $60 per barrel.

“I don’t quite believe in 60 [dollars per barrel]. Ninety [dollars per barrel] seems more likely to me. It’s clear that [oil prices] could suffer a short-term decline to 80-85 [dollars per barrel], but the medium-term trend will be that of 90 [dollars],” the Russian finance strategy chief said.

On Thursday, crude oil prices dipped below $90 dollars for the first time in the past couple of years amid forecasts that global supplies would continue to surpass demand....
Targets hit by US-led air strikes in Iraq and Syria

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Four arrested in London in plot to behead people on London Streets - HLS Newswire

Officers from the Metropolitan Police counterterrorism unit early yesterday arrested four young men in London over a suspected terrorist plot to grab people on the streets of London and behead them. One of the four arrested was said to have links to Syria and Islamic State (ISIS). Security analysts have said that ISIS would likely seek to retaliate against the United Kingdom in response to British fighter planes joining the U.S. and Arab states in bombing raids on ISIS targets in Iraq....

Russia Buys Rubles 3rd Day to Stem Slide While Shifting Band - Bloomberg

"...“The ruble is coming under pressure due to the falling oil price and geopolitical uncertainty,” Anvar Gilyazitdinov, who manages $10 million at Rye, Man & Gor in Moscow, said by phone. The currency’s drop below 40 per dollar “is an important psychological threshold for the Russians, so the central bank is forced to intervene at this level.”

Debt Sale

The slide in the ruble, which crossed 40 per dollar today before recovering, is exacerbating the nation’s struggle with inflation. Price growth soared to a three-year high of 8 percent last month amid a surge in the food costs linked to an import ban Putin instituted in August to retaliate against sanctions.
Appetite for Russian debt is dwindling, with the government failing to get bids for the entire 10 billion rubles it sought at an auction today. It sold 4.5 billion rubles ($112 million) of the notes due in August 2023 as yields climbed 26 basis points from a sale two weeks ago.
The interventions have so far failed to stop the ruble’s retreat, with the currency falling 0.1 percent against the basket to 44.7672 by 4:10 p.m. in Moscow. The Bank of Russia will probably need to spend as much as $30 billion in the currency market by year-end, according to Uralsib Capital.
Brent oil fell as much as 1.5 percent to $90.76 per barrel in London today, the lowest level in more than two years. Russia derives about half of budget revenue from oil and gas...."\

 -bth: So Ruble weakness has broken through psychological barriers of 40:1 and is now 44:1 versus around 33:10 a year or so ago.   Also oil which budget set for government planning at $100/bbl is now $90.76 and likely to go a few dollars lower.  Already defense spending plans are being curtailed.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Islamic State reportedly on Baghdad’s outskirts after week of victories - McClatchy

... diplomat in Irbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan region, said an Islamic State presence in Abu Ghraib would put Baghdad International Airport within artillery range of the militants.
“We know they have captured substantial numbers of 155 mm howitzers,” said the diplomat, whose country is participating in the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition. The diplomat spoke only on the condition of anonymity, lacking permission to brief the news media. “These have a range of about (20 miles) and if they are able to hold territory in Abu Ghraib then the concern they can shell and ultimately close BIAP becomes a grave concern.”
The airport is a key lifeline for Western embassies and holds a joint operations center staffed by U.S. military advisers....

Read more here:

Nalyvaichenko: Four high-ranking SBU officers in custody over EuroMaidan sniper shootings - Kiev Post

Four officers of Ukraine’s KGB-successor agency, the State Security Service (SBU), have been arrested for their involvement in the killing of some 100 protesters in Kyiv’s Independence Square in the waning days of the EuroMaidan Revolution in late February, said the nation’s top spy Valentyn Nalyvchaichenko on Espresso TV on Oct. 4.
“Dozens (of SBU men) planned the shooting on the Maidan, foremost they were heads of departments and agencies. Criminal cases were opened against them back in March. There are (officers) who have been dismissed, detained and arrested,” said SBU chief Nalyvaichenko. “As of today there are four traitors, officers of the highest rank. Two more heads of key departments have fled before our appointment and they are wanted (men).”
Number one on his list is his predecessor, Oleksandr Yakymenko, whose official biography never listed when he received Ukrainian citizenship having been born in Mongolia and served in the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea in the 1990s. He is presumed to be hiding out in Russia having given numerous interviews to Russian media there.
Nalyvaichenko didn’t name the other suspects that are either wanted or in custody. ...

Jon Stewart Reacts To Narendra Modi Visit To USA - America's Top Modi

Lightweight Laser Designator Rangefinder (LLDR), AN/PED-1, 1A, 1B