Saturday, November 01, 2014

Ukraine War - MASSIVE Grad Strikes In Eastern Ukraine

Pipeline upgrade to boost Kurdish oil exports

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - A new pipeline upgrade will significantly boost Kurdish oil exports by the end of the year, according to Kurdistan Region officials.  

On Tuesday the Kurdistan Regional Government confirmed that Kurdish exports of crude to Turkey are expected to reach 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) by the end of the year, up from current levels of more than 290,000bpd.

They added that this number should rise to 500,000bpd by the end of the first quarter of 2015.

Once technical upgrades in both Turkey and the Kurdistan region are fully complete, the Ministry of Natural Resources says the pipeline will reach a capacity of 700,000bpd. The KRG aims to reach one million bpd by the end of 2015.  

But these figures are contingent on a number of simultaneous developments.

Norwegian oil and gas firm DNO working on a new 24-inch pipeline for the Tawke field, which will help it meet a 200,000bpd deliverability target this year.  Anglo-Turkish firm Genel hopes to increase its production by 80,000bpd before 2015, according to its website....

-bth: so if one took a cynical view, the Turks and the Iraqi government are satisfied more or less with the current situation as the Kurds are about to export a new source of oil to Turkey in increased volume, refine it to gasoline and the Iraqi Shia have tapped into the Kurdish supplies as well.  So in sum the Kurds have now two outlets, one to the north via Turkey and one to the Iraqi national pipelines.  Next we will likely see refineries being built in the Kurdish areas.

Political situation around Baghdad - source Counterpunch

Isis forces are today very close to the Sunni enclaves in west Baghdad: until now these have remained quiet, though every other Sunni area in the country has been in turmoil. According to Isis prisoners, the Isis cells in the city are waiting for orders to rise up in co-ordination with an attack from outside the capital. Isis might not be able to seize all of Baghdad, a city of seven million people (the majority Shia), but it could take the Sunni areas and cause panic throughout the capital. In wealthy mixed districts like al-Mansour in west Baghdad half the inhabitants have left for Jordan or the Gulf because they expect an Isis assault. ‘I think Isis will attack Baghdad, if only to take the Sunni enclaves,’ one resident said. ‘If they hold even part of the capital they will add credibility to their claim to have established a state.’ Meanwhile, the government and the local media doggedly play down the seriousness of the threat of an Isis invasion in order to prevent mass flight to safer Shia areas in the south.
The replacement of Nouri al-Maliki’s corrupt and dysfunctional government by Haider al-Abadi hasn’t made as much difference as its foreign backers would like. Because the army is performing no better than before, the main fighting forces facing Isis are the Shia militias. Highly sectarian and often criminalised, they are fighting hard around Baghdad to drive back Isis and cleanse mixed areas of the Sunni population. Sunnis are often picked up at checkpoints, held for ransoms of tens of thousands of dollars and usually murdered even when the money is paid. Amnesty International says that the militias, including the Badr Brigade and Asaib Ahl al Haq, operate with total immunity; it has accused the Shia-dominated government of ‘sanctioning war crimes’. With the Iraqi government and the US paying out big sums of money to businessmen, tribal leaders and anybody else who says they will fight Isis, local warlords are on the rise again: between twenty and thirty new militias have been created since June. This means that Iraqi Sunnis have no choice but to stick with Isis. The only alternative is the return of ferocious Shia militiamen who suspect all Sunnis of supporting the Islamic State. ...

-bth: this referenced with an increase in weapons prices in the area of Baghdad would indicate the locals anticipate open hostilities are imminent.

Kalashnikov price trends in Baghdad Oct 2014

,,, Karim al-Karadi, who works as a security guard in Baghdad and has extensive experience in the arms market, told Al-Monitor, “The prices of arms have surged in the past few months. For instance, the Kalashnikov rifle now sells at $1,000. But prices in Baghdad are at an entirely different level with new rifles costing around $2,600 and new guns around $1,200.”...

Read more:

-bth: often weapons prices on the black market are a ground truth indicator of local sentiment and security trends.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Only 1/2 of 1% of “Patriot” Act Secret Warrants Used against Terrorism - Juan Cole

By Mark Jaycox via Electronic Frontier Foundation
The Patriot Act continues to wreak its havoc on civil liberties. Section 213 was included in the Patriot Act over the protests of privacy advocates and granted law enforcement the power to conduct a search while delaying notice to the suspect of the search. Known as a “sneak and peek” warrant, law enforcement was adamant Section 213 was needed to protect against terrorism. But the latest government report detailing the numbers of “sneak and peek” warrants reveals that out of a total of over 11,000 sneak and peek requests, only 51 were used for terrorism. Yet again, terrorism concerns appear to be trampling our civil liberties.
Throughout the Patriot Act debate the Department of Justice urged Congress to pass Section 213 because it needed the sneak and peak power to help investigate and prosecute terrorism crimes “without tipping off terrorists.” In 2005, FBI Director Robert Mueller continued the same exact talking point, emphasizing sneak and peek warrants were “an invaluable tool in the war on terror and our efforts to combat serious criminal conduct.”
A closer look at the number of sneak and peek warrants issued (a reporting requirement imposed by Congress) shows this is simply not the case. The last publicly available report about sneak and peek warrants was released in 2010; however, the Administrative Office of the US Courts has finally released reports from 2011, 2012, and 2013.
What do the reports reveal? Two things: 1) there has been an enormous increase in the use of sneak and peek warrants and 2) they are rarely used for terrorism cases....

-bth: so every year the use of the Patriot Act by law enforcement for non-terrorist related activities continues to skyrocket.  Its actual intent, which was against terrorism, is lost in the process.  Section 213 has made it very easy for the government to avoid the basic provisions of the 4th amendment.

'Nobody can blame Turkey over Kobane' says PM Ahmet Davutoglu -

Every Country Will Have Armed Drones Within 10 Years - Defense One

Virtually every country on Earth will be able to build or acquire drones capable of firing missiles within the next ten years. Armed aerial drones will be used for targeted killings, terrorism and the government suppression of civil unrest. What’s worse, say experts, it’s too late for the United States to do anything about it.

After the past decade’s explosive growth, it may seem that the U.S. is the only country with missile-carrying drones. In fact, the U.S. is losing interest in further developing armed drone technology. The military plans to spend $2.4 billion on unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, in 2015. That’s down considerably from the $5.7 billion that the military requested in the 2013 budget. Other countries, conversely, have shown growing interest in making unmanned robot technology as deadly as possible. Only a handful of countries have armed flying drones today, including the U.S., United Kingdom, Israel, China and (possibly) Iran, Pakistan and Russia. Other countries want them, including South Africa and India. So far, 23 countries have developed or are developing armed drones, according to a recent report from the RAND organization.  It’s only a matter of time before the lethal technology spreads, several experts say.
“Once countries like China start exporting these, they’re going to be everywhere really quickly. Within the next 10 years, every country will have these,” Noel Sharkey, a robotics and artificial intelligence professor from the University of Sheffield, told Defense One. “There’s nothing illegal about these unless you use them to attack other countries.  Anything you can [legally] do with a fighter jet, you can do with a drone.”..

-bth: full length article at original source is worth reading in full and is consistent with my observations in the field.  US policy on drones will be eclipsed by reality in the international marketplace.