The Independent: “The Isis militant group has seized enough radioactive material from government facilities to suggest it has the capacity to build a large and devastating “dirty” bomb, according to Australian intelligence reports.
Newsmax: “U.S. President Barack Obama is considering expanding the number of training sites for Iraqi forces to bolster the battle against Islamic State, U.S. military officials said on Tuesday, which could mean deploying hundreds more U.S. forces in Iraq.
The proposed build-up follows only sporadic successes in the months-long U.S.-backed Iraqi drive to push back Islamic State, a drive that suffered a severe setback with the fall of the Anbar provincial capital Ramadi last month.
Opinion: Perhaps the expanded training could include keeping on their uniforms and not running away.
The Telegraph: “Thick black smoke rising from the Baiji oil refinery could be seen as a dirty smudge on the horizon as far away as Baghdad after fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) set fire to the enormous processing plant just over 100 miles north of the capital last week.
The decision to torch the refinery, which once produced around a third of Iraq’s domestic fuel supplies, was made as the insurgents prepared to pull out of Baiji, which they captured last June in a victory that sent shock waves across world oil markets.
A year on from the start of the siege and a shaky alliance of the Middle East’s major Arab powers, with the limited support of the reluctant US government, has failed to contain the expansion of Isil.”
Opinion: The London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported Sunday that Russia is pulling away from its relationship with embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad and withdrawing key personnel from Damascus apparently as a deal to get the US and EU to end sanctions.
Add to that, the Turkish news agency Anatolia reports: “After four years of war, the (Assad) regime controls less than 8% percent of the country’s oil and gas fields, while Islamic State controls more than 80% percent.”
Enter pipeline geopolitics:
1. Assad has been helping Russia to block the flow of natural gas out of the Persian Gulf (Qatari pipeline) into Europe, thus ensuring higher profits for Gazprom.
2. The EU wants access to the Qatari natural gas which will eventually reduce the dependency of Europe on Russian hydrocarbon companies.
3. The US wants its closest allies Qatar and Saudi Arabia (which are also the largest exporter of liquid natural gas in the world) to supply its natural gas to Europe through Syria.
4, Russia’s removal of support for Assad, if true, could be an interesting strategy: With the West’s reluctance to intervene against ISIS, the political chaos that threatens to engulf the Middle East could send oil prices parabolic thereby strengthening Russia’s economy.
Factor in Climate Change politics:
President Obama’s disengagement form Middle East politics, and in particular his blind eye towards the advance of ISIS was articulated in last week’s speech: “Climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security.”
In addition, allowing the US/Saudi invention called ISIS to gain control of the Syrian oil fields accomplishes three objectives:
- Payback to Assad over the red line embarrassment
- Payback to Russia over Ukraine
- Payback to Israel over the Netanyahu re-election
Hell hath no fury …
Bas News: Influential Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Wednesday criticised the codename given to the operation to retake Anbar Province in western Iraq, warning that it risked fanning the flames of sectarianism. Hashd al-Shaabi, an umbrella organisation of mostly Shi’ite militias and volunteers, on Tuesday launched an operation aimed at severing Islamic State’s (IS)[...]
Breitbart: “Tuesday on MSNBC’s “NewsNation,” NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel discussed the new strategy of the Obama administration’s coalition against ISIS to take back the city of Ramadi and called it “almost laughable.” Opinion: Richard Engel must have forgotten the men, women and families who paid the tab.[...]
Investors Business Daily Op-Ed: “After Ramadi fell to the Islamic State over the weekend, the Obama administration called its anti-terror strategy a success. If that’s hard to fathom, consider what else the president thinks is going well.”[...]
The Daily Beast: “Nine years after Marc Alan Lee became the first Navy SEAL killed in the Iraq War, his mother sat watching TV images of the black flag of ISIS flying over the city where her son died. “Gut wrenching,” Debbie Lee said on Monday. “The sacrifices that were made, the blood that’s been[...]