Friday, July 17, 2015

Russia plans to ship fuel from Crimea to Syria

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/7/16/russia-plans-to-ship-fuel-from-crimea-to-syria.html

Russia plans to supply Syria with 200,000 tons of liquefied petroleum gas per year via the Crimean port of Kerch, two trading sources told Reuters.
The plans are a further sign of cooperation between the two countries despite hopes in the West that Russia might stop shielding President Bashar al-Assad from pressure to step aside....
Bth this would presumably partially offset supplies to Syria cut off from Turkey in December. How does something like LNG get delivered ship to shore in Syria?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Islamic State Squeezes Iraq’s Food Supply - WSJ


.... Food already costs 58% more in Anbar than in Baghdad, according to a separate report last month by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. “In the end, you’re going to have prices going up,” said Forat al-Tamimi, the head of the Agriculture Committee in Iraq’s Parliament. “People will suffer because of this.” Many already are. Some 4.4 million Iraqis now require U.N. assistance and about 30% of the population of 35 million people live below the poverty line. An estimated 2 million are displaced within the country. That number is expected to rise as forces prepare to launch a counteroffensive in Anbar province. ... Islamic State shows no sign of relaxing its hold over the country’s primary farming region. And in a cruel twist for Iraqis, the northern provinces the group occupies enjoyed a bumper harvest this year thanks to a wet winter, while agricultural regions in the country’s south didn’t because of water shortages and their dependence on irrigation. In total, Iraq grew 4 million metric tons of wheat this season compared with 3.5 million last year. Hadi Fathallah, an economist and policy adviser who has studied the Iraqi food market, said he believes Islamic State transported at least some of the wheat from areas under its control to Syria ... Islamic State shows no sign of relaxing its hold over the country’s primary farming region. And in a cruel twist for Iraqis, the northern provinces the group occupies enjoyed a bumper harvest this year thanks to a wet winter, while agricultural regions in the country’s south didn’t because of water shortages and their dependence on irrigation.

Islamic State shows no sign of relaxing its hold over the country’s primary farming region. And in a cruel twist for Iraqis, the northern provinces the group occupies enjoyed a bumper harvest this year thanks to a wet winter, while agricultural regions in the country’s south didn’t because of water shortages and their dependence on irrigation.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/islamic-state-squeezes-iraqs-food-supply-1436737696
-bth: this article fails to mention much.  For example last  year ISIL seized the government grain silos when they were full so farmers didn't get paid.  Second, ISIL has cut water flow to the southern sections of Iraq in order to induce a food and water problem.  This was a tactic that went back all the way to Saddam.  Then there is terrorism of minority farmers by ISIS so many fields are not under production by their rightful owners and trucking has become a major problem.


 

IEDs remain insurgents' top gun - USA Today


... The IEDs used by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, have been cobbled together with homemade- and military-grade explosives and munitions seized from Iraqi and Syrian security forces. "They're using everything they can get their hands on," Johnson said. ISIL also has used chlorine as a chemical weapon, he said. ... Some of their adaptations, according to Johnson: • Drones. To date, the drones have been used to direct drivers of car bombs to their targets inside Iraqi-held territory, Johnson said. He noted that the unmanned aircraft "can deliver some sort of payload," meaning the drones could be turned into a new form of IED. "That's a question," he said. • Bigger bombs. Seized military vehicles have been jammed with explosives to produce huge explosions that can penetrate even fortified structures. ISIL's initial assault on Ramadi on May 17 included the use of 30 massive car bombs, prompting Iraqi security forces to flee despite outnumbering the militants. .... • Tunnels. In Syria, ISIL fighters have been burrowing beneath their targets to avoid detection before setting off IEDs. At the height of the U.S. war in Iraq in 2007, IEDs caused 70% of American casualties. The rapid, massive introduction of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, bolstered intelligence gathering on bomb networks and improved security brought about by the counterinsurgency strategy helped reduce deaths and injuries caused by IEDs. ... Beginning Monday, it will have a new name, the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency, or JIDA. -bth: a couple of notes. First changing the name to JIETD Agency vs JIEDDO means that the program is being downsized and reduced in importance to an agency from an organization. To bureaucrats that means the money is going elsewhere. The referenced use of drones as trigger men for IEDS is something novel that I haven't seen before. The number of massive car bombs used to take Ramadi and been variously reported initially at about 11 then to 20 now to 30. I think this number is simply being inflated to gather headlines, just like airstrikes along the Pak border most often kill in round numbers of 20 or 30. This is probably due to some bureaucratic minimum number to justify an air strike I'm guessing.