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Tuesday, October 07, 2014 2:21 PM

ISIS Waves Black Flags of Victory Over Kobani; US Strategy in Ruins; Where Does ISIS Get Funding?

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Those looking for proof that massive US bombing missions in Syria cannot stop ISIS now have it. Highlighting the complete failure of US containment policy, Isis Set to Take Syrian Town of Kobani.

Warplanes dropped huge payloads on their positions and determined, battle-hardened Kurdish fighters fiercely stood their ground. But the fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) still managed to win territory and hoist their signature black flag atop buildings and hills in the battle for the town of Kobani.

The city, which once had a population of 200,000 and was surrounded by villages inhabited by perhaps the same number, was all but deserted by Tuesday morning, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“There’s no co-ordination between the US and the Kurdish forces on the ground. The US air strikes are not helping that much,” he [Wladimir Van Wilgenburg, an analyst at the Jamestown Foundation think-tank, based in Iraqi Kurdistan] said.

Political disputes that plague the anti-Isis coalition have hampered the war effort in Kobani. The US listing of Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as a terrorist organisation has complicated communications between forces. Syrian Kurds affiliated with the PKK have pleaded with Turkey to allow them to move their military vehicles from their Rojava enclave through southern Turkey to Kobani but have been rebuffed.

“For us, the PKK is the same as Isil (Isis). It is wrong to consider them as different from each other,” Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said this week.
Kurds Fighting ISIS Same as ISIS

Supposedly, Kurds fighting ISIS are the same as ISIS. Meanwhile the US trains moderates that are ISIS or will hand their weapons over to ISIS.

Moreover, instead of bombing ISIS tanks or ISIS-held refineries the US Bombed the Wrong Syrian Refineries, owned by civilians.

US Strategy in Ruins

The Independent reports Isis on Verge of Victory in Kobani as US Strategy Lies in Ruins.
Kurdish militiamen are battling to stop Isis capturing Kobani, but a Kurdish spokesman in the city was quoted as saying that the town “will certainly fall soon”. Fighting has reached the eastern outskirts of Kobani where Isis fighters raised their black flag over one building at the entrance to the town.

The battle for Kobani has united Kurds across the region who see it as their version of the battle of Thermopylae, with their heroic soldiers fighting to the end against Isis forces superior in numbers and armed with heavier weapons.

Isis is using tanks and artillery it seized from the Iraqi and Syrian armies when it overran their bases during the summer.
Are Tanks Invisible?

Apparently tanks and artillery are invisible to US planes. No matter, bombing the wrong refineries is much easier.

Turkey Willing to Sacrifice Kurds

Moving right along, the politics of this war gets messier and messier.
President Bashar al-Assad withdrew his forces from these enclaves earlier in the war, leaving them in the hands of the Democratic Unity Party (PYD) whose militia is the YPG. Both are effectively the Syrian branch of the PKK that has been fighting for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984.

The long-running peace process between the PKK  and the Turkish government could be one casualty of  the fall of Kobani. Turkish forces have done nothing to help the Syrian Kurds hold the town and there is no sign of powerful Turkish military forces along the border intervening.

The leader of the PYD, Salih Muslim, is reported to have met officials from Turkish military intelligence to plead for aid but was told this would only be available if the Syrian Kurds abandoned their claim for self-determination, gave up their self-governing cantons, and agreed to a Turkish buffer zone inside Syria. Mr Muslim turned down the demands and returned to Kobani.
Vice President Biden Complains
[US Vice-President Joe Biden] told a meeting at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics on 2 October that the Turks, Saudis and UAE “poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons against anyone who would fight Assad, except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al-Qaeda and the extremist element of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”
Hmm. Didn't the US do the same?

Where Does Isis Get Its Money?

Let's wrap up the discussion with a look at ISIS funding. Initially ISIS received money from our alleged ally Saudi Arabia as well as Sunni religious groups.

Syrian president Assad receives aid from Iran. Assad and Iran are both enemies although both want to stop ISIS.

Currently, ISIS gets most of its money from refined oil that it controls.

The Oil Connection

In an interesting video-embedded article, The Guardian answers the question Where Does Isis Get Its Money?
Islamic State (Isis) is now the wealthiest militant group in the world, with a reported net worth of $2bn (£1.2bn). Where is all the cash coming from? The group has built up a fortune through a combination of oil resources and wheat production to hostage taking and extortion. Unless the international coalition can cut the flow of Isis funding, it is likely to remain a severe threat
Who's Buying ISIS Oil?

OilPrice asks Who Is Buying The Islamic State’s Illegal Oil?
In June 2014, computer files captured from a courier for the Islamic State shortly after the fall of Mosul revealed that the group had assets of $875 million, largely gained in the sacking and looting of Mosul and its central bank.

The size of the group’s bank account has now risen to an estimated $2 billion dollars, thanks in part to revenues from ransom paid for kidnapped foreigners and more pillaging. However, oil remains the group’s primary source of income.

Reports show that IS-controlled fields in Iraq produce between 25,000 and 40,000 barrels of oil per day, at an estimated value of approximately $1.2 million, before being smuggled out to Iran, Kurdistan, Turkey and Syria.

In an interview with CNN, Luay al-Khatteeb, the director of the Iraq Energy Institute, explained that “IS smuggles the crude oil and trades it for cash and refined products, at a refined price,” thanks to its own refineries in Syria.
Inane US Sanction Policy

A CNN Video explains How Iraq's black market in oil funds ISIS
“The crude is transported by tankers to Jordan via Anbar province, to Iran via Kurdistan, to Turkey via Mosul, to Syria's local market and to the Kurdistan region of Iraq, where most of it gets refined locally,” Khatteeb explained. “Turkey has turned a blind eye to this and may continue to do so until they come under pressure from the West to close down oil black markets in the country's south.”

  • Turkey turns a blind eye to ISIS-oil as well as Kurds fighting ISIS. 
  • The US will not cooperate with Assad to fight ISIS because Assad is our enemy.
  • The US Bombs the Wrong Refineries but not ISIS tanks.
  • Biden complains Turkey and Saudi Arabia backed the wrong moderates although the US also backed the wrong moderates.
  • To fight ISIS, US supports Iranian Revolutionary Guard and other terrorist groups (see Strange Bedfellows)
  • The US sponsored crippling sanctions on Iran, and inane sanctions on Russia.
  • Somehow there has been no discussion of sanctions on ISIS assets or day-to-day production of ISIS-controlled oil, from which ISIS profits $2 million a day. One has to wonder, are US oil interests getting a piece of that pie?

US foreign policy is well beyond FUBAR.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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