June 22, 2014

Updates On Iraq [6.22]: To Defeat Terrorism In Iraq, Baghdad Should Take The Fight To Saudi Arabia; KRG Would Be Better Off Selling No Oil Than Selling It Only To Israel; Shiites Should Be More Interested In Protecting Strategic Border Towns Than Useless Religious Shrines

1. To Defeat Terrorism In Iraq, Baghdad Should Take The Fight To Saudi Arabia.

Last week, the Iraqi government accused the leadership of Saudi Arabia of sponsoring genocidal crimes in their country. The accusation is exaggerated because so far ISIS terrorists and other Sunni militants have only mass killed Shiite soldiers who fled away in civilian clothes and have not committed the same crimes against Shiite civilians, but the Iraqi leaders were right to direct their anger at the negative role that Saudi Arabia is playing in their country.

But words of anger are meaningless. As a leader of a self-respecting country you can't accuse a neighbouring state of bankrolling genocide in your country and then just sit on your ass. Action must follow. Those are fighting words, and if Baghdad is planning to go to war against Saudi Arabia for its support for terrorism in Iraq then it should first retake Mosul before even imagining of heading to Riyadh.

But, again, this is a good first step because if Iraqi leaders want to end terrorism in their country for good instead of letting it fester for years, or relying on the double-dealing U.S. forever and ever, then at some point you have to take the offensive against the regional countries that are bankrolling terrorism in your country. Playing whac-a-mole with terrorists is a circus exercise, not a credible way to defend your country. Regime change in Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf monarchies is the only real solution moving forward for Baghdad.

It is madness that countries as tiny as Qatar and Kuwait believe they can direct the political course of large Arab nations such as Egypt and Iraq. They need to be checked if the terrorism problem in the Middle East is to end anytime soon. If Baghdad were to invade Kuwait a second time it won't be greeted as an act of aggressive invasion as the first time when Saddam did it (or didn't do, there is evidence that Saddam fell into the trap set up by Washington in that affair), but a rightful response to aggression from Gulf states.

2. KRG Would Be Better Off Selling No Oil Than Selling It Only To Israel.

Last month, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) transported its oil through an independent pipeline to the Mediterranean port in Ceyhan, Turkey. For over a month there were no international buyers due to legal pressure from Baghdad and Washington. Earlier this month, a KRG oil shipment was stranded in a Moroccan port. But lo and behold, look who comes to the rescue, none other than the government of Israel, always in need of cheap oil. The Israelis, it should be remembered, bought Egyptian gas at below market price. It's actually funny how low they got it for. Amelia Smith of Middle East Monitor reported:
The most contentious part of the deal is the price, which was way below market value – in 2008 EMG were paying $1.5 million per unit of natural gas. In the same year gas was being exported to Japan for $12.5 and Germany was receiving piped gas from Russia for between $8 and $10 per unit.
The corrupt Egyptian officials who signed off on those outrageous deals are now in hiding. A similar arrangement could be made between the Israelis and the leadership of the KRG, who are also known for their corruption. Plus, the way the Israelis see it, there is no other buyer so they're doing them a favour by even accepting their shipment. It is a sign of political recognition, but very little money will be made in the deal. The KRG is getting screwed on both ends, because political recognition of and/or from Israel is still regarded as the kiss of death, and the little money that Israel will offer for the oil is not worth the trouble.

That's why it is total stupidity for the KRG to sell their oil to Israel. They would make better use of it for domestic consumption. Erbil, their capital, is suffering from fuel shortages due to fighting over Iraq's largest oil refinery in Baiji between the Iraqi army and the ISIS. Chances are that the Iraqi army will lose control over the refinery, and the Jihadist terrorists will then use it to blackmail Iraqi cities and towns into submission. So it's not a good idea for the KRG to sell its oil cheaply to Israel when their people need it more right now.

3. Shiites Should Be More Interested In Protecting Strategic Border Towns Than Useless Religious Shrines.

Shiite youths have been recruited and mobilized by their clerics to fight against ISIS in Iraq. This is perfectly reasonable and rational. But, where will they be deployed, and for what purpose? Will their lives be wasted? Will their sacrifice be for nothing?

A senior official in the Shiite Sadrist movement said that their fighters will only enter the fray to protect sacred Shiite shrines, mosques, and churches. That's all well and good, but you do not win a war by only defending shrines.

While the Shiites are focused on protecting religious symbols and sacred spaces, the leadership of ISIS is making use of their precious men and time more wisely, to take more strategic prizes such as border towns that connect Iraq to Syria and Jordan. Their battlefield mentality is the right one, even if they are vicious and barbaric terrorists with no concern for human life or respect for religion. The way things look now on the ground they will have total control over Iraq's western provinces by the end of summer. Jordan Schachtel writes in his article, "Iraqi Military Runs Out of Ammo as Strategic Border Towns Fall to ISIS" Breitbart, June 22, 2014:
Late Saturday, a strategically important border-crossing town between Syria and Iraq, along with three other towns, fell into the possession of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), according to a senior Iraqi official. The official said that ISIS was still making huge gains in its territorial expansion, acquiring much of the space in Anbar, the largest province in Iraq.

The official said the towns of Al-Qaim, Rawa, Ana, and Husaybah were all taken in the Saturday offensive. Al-Qaim is strategically important because ISIS can now more easily regulate the cross-border environment, choosing who and what crosses into Syria and Iraq.