According to NBC, the United States and Arab partner nations launched massive airstrikes in Syria against ISIS targets for the first time Monday, the Pentagon said. In a major escalation of the U.S. war against ISIS, the U.S. military plans to strike up to 20 targets in and around Raqqa, Syria — logistics, fuel and weapons depots; training sites; troop encampments; command and control sites; and headquarters for the Sunni fighters. The bombing began at approximately 8:30 p.m. ET Monday, a senior U.S. defense official told NBC News.
WTF? How can the EU call for air strikes against ISIS when they’re backing them financially by buying their oil?
From Press TV :
In a briefing to the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee, EU Ambassador to Iraq Jana Hybas-kova said some European countries have purchased crude from the ISIL.
She, however, refused to disclose any names despite pressure by some Parliament members to do so.
The EU official also warned against any support by the West for separatist Kurdish groups who, she said, would destabilize the Middle East.
Earlier reports accused Turkey of buying and transporting oil from both the ISIL and Qaeda-linked Nusra Front. According to the reports, Western intelligence agencies could track ISIL oil shipments as they moved across Iraq and Turkey.
ISIL reportedly controls eleven oil fields in northern Iraq as well as Syria’s Raqqa province.
US intelligence officials estimate that the Takfiri militants earn more than USD 3 million a day from oil profit, theft, human trafficking and ransom. They say the militants sell oil and other products via established networks in Turkey, Jordan and Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Turkey has denied reports of involvement in ISIL’s oil smuggling operations.
US Court Orders Kurdish Oil Seized
While the world is distracted with Israeli atrocities in Gaza, the US and Israel are quietly breaking up Iraq. According to Reuters UK, a federal court in Texas has ordered US Marshals to seize a $100 million cargo of Kurdish oil on a tanker off the coast of Galveston, Texas – but only if the tanker enters US territorial waters.
Attorneys for the government of Iraq laid claim to the oil in a lawsuit they filed on July 28. Since May, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has shipped five million-barrel tankers of oil from the Turkish port of Ceyhan in defiance of Iraqi law, which mandates that Baghdad has sole authority over Iraq’s natural resources. One cargo of Kurdish crude was delivered to the United States in May to an unidentified buyer.
Four other tanker loads of Kurdish oil have been delivered to Israel.
The recent inability of the Iraqi government to defend its northern territories from the Islamic State (aka ISIS aka ISIL) has emboldened the KRG to assert control over the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. With the complicity of the Turkish government, they have been marketing the oil on their own behalf. Because Kurdistan is land-locked the oil must be shipped via pipeline to Turkey.
Obama’s Contradictory Position on Kurdish Autonomy
This is one rare instance in which the US and Israel appear to be on opposite sides (or do they?). According to the Wall Street Journal, the Obama administration publicly opposes direct oil sales by Kurdistan, fearing this could contribute to the break-up of Iraq.
Yet, repeating a common pattern, the official position contradicts growing evidence that the CIA is training and arming ISIS militants.
Israel, meanwhile, is eager to expand trade with Kurdistan. According to unnamed Israeli officials, they see it as an opportunity to expand Israel’s limited diplomatic network in the Middle East, while simultaneously shoring up the country’s energy security.
US Suspends Non-lethal Aid to Syrian Rebels
According to the BBC, both the US and Britain have suspended “non-lethal” aid to northern Syria. The decision follows the seizure of Western-backed Free Syrian Army bases by Islamist rebels.
Last week, fighters from the Islamic Front ousted FSA-aligned fighters from the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey. The Islamic Front is a new alliance of rebel fighters dedicated to creating an Islamic state in Syria. The front does not include al-Qaeda affiliates like the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and the al-Nusra Front, but its charter welcomes “muhajirin”, or foreign fighters and expresses willingness to co-operate with them.
During the raid, the Islamic Front took over FSA warehouses believed to contain vehicles, communications equipment, and night-vision goggles donated by the US and Britain.
In the past few months, the foreign fighters in ISIS have also been making news by shooting and beheading FSA fighters and civilians linked to the Syrian opposition.
The US and European countries have been reluctant to supply weapons and ammunition directly to Syrian rebel groups, out of concern they might end up in the possession of foreign jihadists affiliated to al-Qaeda.
However, according to numerous sources, the CIA is still facilitating secret arms shipments via Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
The suspension of “non-lethal” support for rebels in northern Syria doesn’t include humanitarian aid distributed through the UN and non-governmental organizations. Moreover US deliveries of non-lethal aid to southern Syria (via Jordan) will continue.
Your tax dollars at work – creating a new Islamic state in the Middle East.
Originally published in Veterans Today
Rebels Decide to Fight Each Other
While the major powers behind the proxy civil war in Syria go through the motions of working out a diplomatic solution, rebel forces have begun fighting each other, rather than the Assad regime. The al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants from Iraq and Libya have been fighting the Free Syrian Army in northern and eastern Syria. According to RT, the Islamists are winning.
The split became headline news last week when the Free Syrian Army (FSA) lost Azaz, a city on the Turkish border, to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The latter is sometimes referred to as Al-Nusra, the name for the Syrian branch of ISIS, or the Islamic State of Levant (ISIL). Levant is a historic name applied to the Eastern Mediterranean region comprising Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Amman before it was divided up by the Europeans.
The Daily Mail reports that officers from the FSA are defecting to join ISIS because they are better resourced and “more effective.” Until recently, the ISIS mainly received funding and arms from Qatar and Saudi Arabia. However the Washington Post reveals they also receive “private donations” from “sympathetic Muslims.” According to the Post, the sums donated far exceed what the US and NATO supply the FSA.
With more than a dozen competing factions fighting the Assad regime, I find it an enormous challenge to keep all the names straight. Thanks to the Christian Science Monitor, the Economist and the Long War Journal, I have cobbled together the following scorecard to help make sense of the latest reports:
- Supreme Military Command – armed wing of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) and supported by the US and NATO. The SNC grew out of an exile group originally based in Turkey, though its headquarters moved to Qatar in 2012 when the US and NATO intervened to try to reduce infighting among member groups. The Free Syrian Army (a group of defected Syrian military officers) fights under the SMC umbrella.
- Syrian Islamic Front – “moderate” Syrian Islamic fighters consisting of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Salafist (Sunni) groups. Cooperates with SMC (at least most of the time).
- Syrian Liberation Front – coalition of Islamic fighting groups, with Saqour al Sham the largest. Fights independently of SMC but sometimes cooperates with them.
- Democratic Union Party – Syrian offshoot of Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Its mainly pro-Assad militias control Kurdish areas in north-east Syria and support Kurdish autonomy. In July, a Kurdish guerrilla group with links to the al-Assad regime and the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party ( PKK) forcefully expelled Al-Nusra from the Syrian border town of Ras Al-Ayn.
- Anti-Assad free speech Alawites (a branch of Shiite Islam) led by Bassam al Youssef. A a political group with no organized military wing.
- Al Qaeda linked groups:
- Al-Nusra Front or Jabhat al-Nusra (the Syrian branch of the al Qaeda linked ISIS (ISIL). Controls Aleppo and has established Sharia law there.
- Ahrar al Sham – a Syrian Islamic group sympathetic to al Qaeda groups, which the Economist has mistakenly labled as sympathetic to the FMC.
- Ahfad al Rasoud Brigade.
- The Islamic Kurdish Front
Reprinted from Veterans Today