Thursday, December 10, 2015

Energy ties, anti-terror cooperation top Iraqi Kurdish leader's visit to Turkey - Daily Sabah

.... KRG officials have said that they are ready to meet Turkey's natural gas needs. The head of the KRG Parliamentary Committee for Industry and Energy, Sherko Jawdat, said on Sunday that Turkey and the KRG have a strategic agreement on the delivery of gas in 2017.

"Kurdish gas will reach Europe via Turkey. The Kurdish region can fill the gap created by Russia's gas cut-off to Europe," Jawdat said.

Gas reserves in Irbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah are estimated to be more than 1.7 trillion cubic meters, but will reach up to near 2.4 trillion cubic meters if the disputed areas between the KRG and central Iraqi government in Baghdad, including Kirkuk, are made available for use.

Additionally, the head of the Energy Committee of Sulaymaniyah, Galip Muhammed, said Sulaymaniyah is the richest province in the region in terms of gas reserves, holding 1.5 trillion cubic meters of natural gas alone."Sulaymaniyah has almost 80 percent of the natural gas reserves of the KRG," he said, adding that Sulaymaniyah's gas has the best quality in the region, but has not been evaluated yet.

-bth: the implication to all this is that Barzani and the Erdogan family have worked out a political and economic alliance.  Further it may mean that Kurdish natural gas would supply Turkey replacing Russian and Iranian sources in time and also that it would lead to an alternative gas source for Europe via Turkey.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Syrian refugees numbers higher than reported; ethnic cleansing rampant - Washington Times

The number of Syrian refugees is actually some 20 percent higher than the 4.2 million cited by the United Nations and is expected to "increase sharply" during the months ahead, according to a new analysis published this week.
The analysis by The Washington Institute for Near East Policy also says "ethnic cleansing" is rampant among various different factions fighting in the nation's multi-front civil war.
The U.N.'s refugee numbers are inaccurate because more than a million fleeing Syrians have refused to "register for fear of being arrested and taken back to Syria ... while many wealthy refugees do not see the point of registering," according to the analysis, which says a "more realistic estimate of total refugees is 5.3 million."...

-bth: refugee crisis from Syria larger by 20% than prior estimates and driven by ethnic cleansing.


Warplanes in Libyan skies may signal next major battle in fight to contain Islamic State - Guardian

Speculation about airstrikes heightened last week when the UN reported what intelligence agencies have been saying for months – that Libya has become Isis’s fallback position. More than 800 fighters sent from Libya to battle in Syria and Iraq have now made the journey the other way, as Isis expands its Libyan caliphate....

Sirte’s airbase, the biggest in Libya, is being readied by Isis to take suicide planes, while 85 of the town’s children have been paraded as “suicide cubs”, ready to detonate themselves for the cause....

But Sirte was the true prize, offering an airport, seaport and something Isis wanted more than anything else: oil. South of the town is the massive Sirte Basin, the centre of Libya’s oil industry. In a few months its units conquered the town and pushed south into the Sirte Basin, taking a 100-mile stretch of coastline. In January, it killed 22 Christians, 21 of them Egyptians, on the Sirte shore, triggering Egyptian airstrikes....

-bth: certainly looks like ISIS is building a secondary position in Libya.  Note how ISIS focuses on areas that have oil and gas resources presumably as a source of permanent funding.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Turkey Unilaterally Deploys a Battalion near Mosul - ISW Blog

Key Take-Away: Turkey deployed an armored battalion northeast of Mosul, ostensibly as part of a training mission for Kurdish Peshmerga and a local anti-ISIS militia. Turkey’s forces bolster Masoud Barzani and his Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), a primary rival to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) active in Syria, Turkey, and parts of Iraq. Turkey will also maintain influence over any future operation to recapture Mosul and Ninewa from ISIS. Turkish military forces have been present in northern Iraq since 1997, but the size and composition of the new force, reports that Barzani has granted the Turks a permanent base outside of Mosul, and the expected deployment of U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) to Iraq have made Iraqi politicians extremely sensitive to the arrival of any foreign forces. The deployment has sparked a rhetorical backlash from Iraqi politicians that will likely outweigh any impact the Turkish force will have on the battlefield. The Turkish deployment will generate greater resistance from Shi’a political parties against the involvement of any foreign military force in Iraq and will make it even harder for Iraq’s Prime Minister Abadi to publicly support any additional Coalition deployment, such as the U.S. Special Operations forces that Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced on December 1. The Iranian-backed militias have already threatened the Abadi government with a no-confidence vote if he accepts U.S. forces. ....