Mosul Falls to Insurgents, Threatening Iraqi Oil Sector

By Nick Cunningham, a Washington DC-based writer on energy and environmental issues. You can follow him on twitter at @nickcunningham1. Cross-posted from Oil Price

OPEC’s second largest oil producer is in severe disarray just as the world has come to rely upon Iraq for greater energy supplies.

Iraq is facing its biggest security threat in years following a surprise attack by Sunni militants on Mosul. In the June 10 attack on Iraq’s second largest city, members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) surprised Iraq’s security forces, driving them out and storming military bases, police stations and the provincial governor’s headquarters.

Government security forces shed their uniforms to avoid capture and abandoned their posts as Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki declared a state of emergency in the entire country. Eyewitness reports said civilians were streaming out of Mosul, fleeing the violence.

The attack by the militant Sunni group is not the first. In January, ISIS attacked Ramadi and Fallujah in Anbar province, briefly taking control of the cities entirely. Despite Maliki’s attempts to pacify the region, ISIS has retained control of some territory in Anbar.

Iraq has been deeply divided, with Maliki’s government becoming increasingly authoritarian. Sunni groups claim that Maliki discriminates and unfairly targets them. But the problem appears to be a cycle of fear and distrust; as Sunnis resist oppression and increasingly take to the streets, Maliki tries to strengthen his position by cracking down.

The January attacks by ISIS came after Maliki bulldozed a Sunni protest encampment in Ramadi, and intentionally conflated Sunni protestors with Al-Qaeda terrorists. Support for his government vanished in Anbar and Maliki’s security forces withdrew as a result, paving the way for an ISIS takeover. (For a detailed rundown of the events that led to the crisis, read Kirk Sowell’s exhaustive piece in Foreign Policy from earlier this year).

Now that the insurgency has spread to Mosul, the future of Iraq has again been thrown into question. Maliki’s emergency decree may not matter much. He already has consolidated enough power to act but has shown an inability to quell the violence.

The turmoil in Mosul threatens to upend some of Iraq’s oil production. Most of Iraq’s oil is located in the south near Basra, but there are significant oil fields near Mosul, as well as in nearby Kurdistan. Perhaps more importantly, the fighting in Mosul has brought to a standstill the repairs to Iraq’s main oil pipeline to Turkey.

Moreover, the violence could threaten future investment in the country, which has plans to triple its oil production by the end of the decade. The phenomenal level of investment required to achieve such a feat will not happen in a country suffering from severe violence. “Taking over Mosul will likely halt investment in oil and gas in that area,” Paul Sullivan, a Middle East expert at Georgetown University, told Bloomberg News. “Who wants to drop hundreds of millions or billions in a place where ISIL could attack at any moment?”

One additional development that is complicating Iraq’s oil picture is the central government’s relationship with Kurdistan. After a second ship full of Kurdish oil left from the Ceyhan port in Turkey on June 9, an Iraqi government representative said that it would bring a complaint to the United Nations.

The move comes even as uncertainty shrouds the ultimate destination of both tankers. The first ship still has not docked – it initially traveled towards the U.S. Gulf Coast, but reversed course and is near the shore of Morocco. While the violence in Mosul is an acute threat to Iraq’s oil industry, the lingering political conflict with Kurdistan is also holding back Iraq’s potential as an oil exporter.

As I mentioned in my June 9 piece, OPEC is currently meeting in Vienna to discuss its output quota, which is expected to remain unchanged. But the oil supply picture is becoming more strained than experts predicted only a few short months ago.

Iraq intended to lift its oil production to over 4 million barrels per day (bpd) this year, but that seems unlikely at this point, especially given what’s happened in Mosul. After hitting a 35-year high in February at 3.6 million bpd, production slipped the following month by almost 300,000 bpd. With other OPEC members also losing output, OPEC may need to rely upon Saudi Arabia to make up for any shortfall later this year if demand rises.


As oil markets have tightened, prices have climbed. WTI is up more than 10 percent since the beginning of the year, from $93 per barrel in January to over $103 in June. Brent prices are up a more modest 3 percent, from $106 per barrel to $109.

If Iraq’s security situation continues to deteriorate, it is not inconceivable that some of its production would be knocked offline. The world has come to take Iraqi oil for granted, and a significant loss of production would send prices skyrocketing.

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About David Dayen

David is a contributing writer to He has been writing about politics since 2004. He spent three years writing for the FireDogLake News Desk; he’s also written for The New Republic, The American Prospect, The Guardian (UK), The Huffington Post, The Washington Monthly, Alternet, Democracy Journal and Pacific Standard, as well as multiple well-trafficked progressive blogs and websites. His has been a guest on MSNBC, CNN, Aljazeera, Russia Today, NPR, Pacifica Radio and Air America Radio. He has contributed to two anthology books, one about the Wisconsin labor uprising and another on the fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act in Congress. Prior to writing about politics he worked for two decades as a television producer and editor. You can follow him on Twitter at @ddayen.


  1. John

    The area up in Mosul has been such a contested place for many years. It is ‘home’ to Kurds and has caused angst to Turks and to Iraqis. Turks have long feared Kurds could make it part of a larger Kurdistan backed up by petro dollars. Naturally the Iraqis fear the same outcome.

    A virtual state of war has existed in northern Iraq and southwestern Turkey for centuries.

  2. David Lentini

    Well, Obama has pulled off a real political feat: Running as a reformer who would close Guantanamo, reform and bring justice to Wall Street, and stop our idiotic wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he has managed to perpetuate all three and so drops the blame for their moral and practical failures on the steps of the Democratic party and all those who voted for him.

    He will now go down in history as “the president who lost Iraq to Al Qaeda”, despite the fact that the real blame lies squarely with Dick Cheney and George W. Bush.

    Heck ‘uva job, Barry! Heck ‘uva job!

    1. Jim Haygood

      Pitiful to see how this is interpreted for America’s struggling masses. ‘War Gains Lost’ trumpets Drudge — as if there ever were any?

      ‘Iraq Drama Catches U.S. Off Guard’ headlines the WSJ — as if the U.S. is supposed to stay perpetually alert for trouble in the remotest corners of the earth.

      Isn’t the moment right to pack off G. W. Bush and Tony BLiar to the Hague to face capital charges of war crimes? If we can’t fix Iraq, we could at least fix ourselves.

    2. earnyermoney

      An article in today’s NY Times implied the Iraqi government had requested air support numerous times over the past several months but was rebuffed by the White House. If you look at a map, ISIS has established a nice Sunni controlled corridor for a natural gas pipeline to Turkey and on to Europe. IMO, ISIS is a US proxy army doing the dirty work of breaking Russia’s natural gas monopoly to Europe.

      1. vidimi

        obama would be quite happy to see the maliki government fall. it is widely regarded as too close with iran.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          A split Iraq means the oil reserves will be directly under Iran’s thumb. Admittedly, U.S. foreign policy is run by morons, but Maliki was a bulwark against a pan-Shiite movement.

          Maliki was carefully vetted, or his votes be given to a real pro-Iran character.

      2. Andy

        ISIS == “Friend of Syria”. This bunch was a blow back, from Obama’s regime change in Syria project, and now they are losing in Syria and decide to go the other side of border and start eating Iraq alive.

        So, this is an interesting question, will Obama start killing and bombing his “Friend of Syria” people? If So, Obama now is in direct war against people he financed, trained and armed. (But of course Obama and gangs are pretending ISIS is some sort of new group falling off from the sky that they know nothing about.)

        Once Obama starts bombing, then this new alqaeda group will declare full war against US and arab allies in the region. Jordan, Saudi, Kuwait, etc are all banana republics who has zero capability defending against this type of light mechanist guerilla infantry. Note that they are doing exactly the same strategy as in Libya.

        And no country in the world will shed a tear for Obama. ISIS is his creation. Why should anybody help clean up his mess?

      3. Fiver

        In part. But Saudi Arabia has been heavily involved in the losing war in Syria, the regime change in Libya, and the consolidation of all the ‘jihadis’ (who cannot be distinguished from mercenaries or mere thugs) into this new Sunni army with nothing better to do than terrorize Shia, and maybe forcing Iran, into making a mistake that brings the US back into the region militarily – Israel of course would like nothing better. The convergence of some rather ugly US/Saudi/Israeli interests at odds with the real interests and well-being of all the populations in the area has powered the dynamic of mass violence in the region for decades, the other Arab/Muslim States or militant sub-national entities being proxies or pawns or enemies – independent and neutral is not an option.

  3. steviefinn

    I wonder what would be happening now if the west had actually give a shit about those who have the misfortune to live on a petrol/gas station. As in investing in the place & it’s people – Democracy, freedom & liberty for real not just a bullshit catchphrase, a kind of Marshall plan to make the place worth living & believing in. It would not have cost that much relative to the amount spent on the war, but instead the place is looted & treated like a refuse dump for human garbage.

    They have created a running sore that will probably never heal with their hubris, it’s just a pity that the inevitable nemesis will not likely be visited on the turds that are responsible.

    1. MtnLife

      While the subject was Iraq, when reading your first paragraph I realized just how easily anywhere with hydrocarbons could be put its place and the truth of the statement remains whether you are talking about the Middle East, Canadian tar sands, or fracked shale formations in the US. The turds responsible are smart enough to keep those in their own countries just comfortable enough to tolerate their actions. I imagine if you removed running water, electricity, and security from those being poisoned by hydrocarbon extractors you’d see something similar no matter what the geographic location.

  4. EoinW

    Let’s see if I have this straight: the US and its allies arm ISIS(unofficially of course) and now we’ll see US air strikes against ISIS. Is this for real or a military/industry wet dream?

    I can’t help but admire the wisdom of Muqtada al-Sadr retiring from politics earlier this year. Don’t forget about him as he will be back.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      A stroke of genius: lets just bomb ourselves! Why bother having to gin up lame excuses about a “cause” or an “enemy”, it’s so much more efficient just to pay for bombs that you drop on yourself! We pay to arm and train ISIS, then we pay to bomb them to smithereens. Perfect.
      Goes well with the government issuing currency as bonds…that they buy from themselves. Hey this MMT/modern foreign policy stuff is easy!

  5. Kmurp

    It seems that the armed struggle to establish a Caliphate will never end until it’s created. Then what? Will they turn their weapons on us?

    1. Banger

      No, I don’t think they care about us at all. What would be the point of attacking the U.S. exactly? We are perfectly capable of destroying ourselves without anyone’s help.

      Having said that, if you do a little digging, you will find out that first the Brits and then the U.S. (and Israelis) have all supported Sunni extremists since the thirties. First, it was just the usual complicated game the Brits were playing, a leftover from the Great Game, second they were used as a counter to Nasserism and socialism which were seen as the greater threat to the West. Note, for example at the states of Iraq and Afghanistan in the 1970s–not ideal but they were the most developed countries in their respective regions particularly Iraq. Do you suppose their destruction is some kind of “bad luck”?

      What is always missing from discussions about the region is the history and, above all, the history of how plots and plots within plots are a key feature of politics in the region. Also remember that the goal of the neoconservatives was to create chaos in the region. They thought that this would encourage democracy of some kind (or so they said) but then they believe that if people get rid of their authoritarian governments they will want to become virtual Americans since, naturally, the American way of life is so superior that everyone wants it.

      1. Kmurp

        Well, what was the point of them attacking the US in the past? Are these guys different?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          9/11 and Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda were motivated officially by US troops in Saudi Arabia, and unofficially, they wanted revenge for being abandoned after the Soviets left Afghanistan. They thought like Hussein they could be our natural allies. The forgotten Saudi oil embargo was remembered by these guys, Hussein too. They just didn’t grasp the nature of the neocons, the Bush crime family, and neoliberalism complicity.

          ISIS is not connected to that generation. Americans may be targets in their areas, but they seem to be what Al Qaeda thought it would be except without the personal revenge factor. The governments that allow US drones are probably their main issue. ISIS may want part of Syria, but Assad is probably not on their shit list as opposed to Sunni defectors who had supported Assad for years. As to their views on the amount of angels dancing on pin heads, I don’t have a clue or care, but they clearly want a Sunni theocracy. Due to geography, I wouldn’t be surprised if they look South to the real goals, Mecca and Medina. If they have that, a billion Muslims will be in a tricky situation. Fighting makes the Hajj difficult. The key difference is Congressman Charlie Wilson didn’t stop taking their calls.

          9/11 required the CIA to not follow the law. If they had, the cells would have been rolled up, so infiltrating isn’t as easy as it seems at least for non-Americans. People call the police on their neighbors over little things. George Zimmermans are everywhere, so they could be grumpy, just not successful.

          1. Kmurp

            I hope that you are correct. If your opinion is factual, the US should stay out of this fight.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              I hope we stay out. The only real positive we could have made was an arbiter or running refugee camps when the spit hit after the break up, but that would have required a truth commission. Personally, I expected Sisi-types to run for office setting off a more traditional civil war, and for the Kurds to be more uppity in oil areas where they have people. I suppose the Turks may have cowed them. I thought the religious thing would burn itself out.

              Yes, prosecuting Bush and company was and still is a national security issue. As long as they are free, the U.S. has no credibility.

          2. Synopticist

            These people are hardcore sunni jihadis who aim to establish a g;lobal caliphate. They want an empire.
            It’s not all about reacting to what America or the west has done/is doing. They have AGENCY. They’re not puppets, even though our foreign policy elites have sometimes used them as such. They have their own, intoxicating, revolutionary, totalitarian ideology, which is their chief motivator.

            1. Fiver

              They are the US/Saudi/Jordanian/Qatari trained and supplied grab-bag of mercenaries, bandits and leftovers descended from the cascade of sectarian ‘fundamentalist’ wars quite deliberately initiated by the US beginning with the gigantic CIA-mujahadeen operation in Afghanistan (to oust a secular leadership and developing society) and Iraq’s US-backed attack on Iran in the ’80’s (to re-install a secular dictator) . The assemblage has most recently been aimed at Syria after a portion of them had featured big in knocking over Libya, to the complete ruin of that country. This army the Saudis/US aimed at Syria had largely been defeated, and pulled back into Iraq.

              The question is have these so-called ‘jihadists’ been abandoned by the Saudis, and now they’re acting on their own – banditry, violence, some few feeble efforts at providing ‘services’, or do they remain an army with a mission that has changed.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                There is a third alternative which is a recognition they don’t need the Saudis. Hurting Bagdhad’s government (they can’t hold it) to take Iraq is a goal. Assad has largely conceded ISIS areas which are Sunni, so where do they go next. Jordan and Saudi Arabia have populations that would possibly welcome them. Jordan would be a tougher media market.

                Palestine has beachfront property and a population yearning to breathe free.

                1. Fiver

                  Not a chance. This is not some ‘surprise’ out of nowhere, these are Saudi mercenaries and proxies doing what the Saudis and US direct them to do just as were so-called ‘Al Qaeda in Iraq’ during the Iraq War – the ones who started the sectarian horror by going after Shia, not US troops. You think that gigantic black building with 15,000 US ‘staff’ in Baghdad is a doily factory? The US would smash to bits anyone who threatened Saudi oil within 5 minutes of any hint of a threat. Don’t be sucked in yet again.

    1. Banger

      No, of course not. This group, as with all Sunni extremists groups are aided and funded by the U.S. (covertly) and its allies in the region–why would policy makers want to destroy them. Look at Libya–those that benefited from that war were international terrorists–I say it is deliberate U.S. policy to create and support terrorists so they can maintain the phony war against “terrorists” within the U.S. Don’t forget we no longer have a Bill of Rights, habeas corpus or rule-of-law and that the Wall Street coup of 2008 happened because most of the investigators at the FBI and other agencies were busy chasing phantom terrorists.

      1. Kmurp

        I wouldn’t be surprised if Saudi Arabia gives them money. They sound rather brutal though. I would be worried that these guys would eventually be a base for Islamic jihad against other countries. This is a preview, I suspect, of Afghanistan in a few years.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          If ISIS isn’t rolled up shortly, Saudi Arabia will be the target. The ruling class is old without a succession class to take over. ISIS isn’t interested in non Sunni areas which explains their Syrian actions. They may want a port and oil, but they will look South to the Wahabbiists with the message of getting rid of the partying and sinful Saudi clan. The Ottomans tried to exterminate the Saud tribe 150 or so years ago. Neo-caliph types don’t necessarily have any love for the Sauds.

          Mecca and Medina are the Jerusalem for Muslim religious types. They are the real prize.

          1. Banger

            I don’t think the Saudi Kingdom is in danger. It was set up by British intelligence and maintained by the CIA for generations and will continue to be propped up. BTW, its method of stayin in power is bribery. It will bribe all forces out of taking any action on the monarchy and all forces are bribe-able particularly this version of Sunni radicalism. It has the full support of the West and most of the support of the Islamic radicals. Both of these are focused on fighting Shia Islam–the U.S. because Iran and Syria have drawn closer to Russia/China.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              The sun will never set on the British Empire either. ISIS isnt moving through Shia areas. They ended their Syria intervention. If anything, they dramatically increased Iran’s power n the region, made As sad legitimate overnight, embarrassed the Turks, and likely given the tribes in Libya new inspiration.

              As for the Sauds, dynasties fall all the time. The age of the king doesn’t matter. It’s the age of his support staff, and they are old too without fresh blood which is best replaced through elections they don’t hold. Being bought is nice, but Lucky Lucianos are out there and want to be the buyers, not the bought. It’s why the Romans werent able to keep Attila out of Italia. More than shadowy syndicates are capable of agency. Those Japanese devils can think on their own without an American/Israeli agent to dress them in the morning. ISIS has their own weapons and oil now. Why do they need the Saudis? There are always young Turks who will grab the top spot despite being on the payroll.

              Legacy and legitimacy are next.

              I guess it could be a pre-CIA, CIA plot, but…

                1. NotTimothyGeithner

                  There are only 15,000 male Sauds, and 5,000 are rich princes which leaves 10,000 who can’t necessarily escape across all ages. How many are in fighting shape against an Islamic movement or a labor strike? There are enough Alawites to protect Assad, and they voted for him.

                  The Gaddafis relied on tribes they didn’t belong, and only had a small force when the going got rough. The Baathists miscalculated in Iraq, thinking we would beg them back after they did us the favor of not fighting. The House of Saud doesn’t have a Jannisary or Pre
                  aetorian with positions dependent on them and a counter force capable of keeping them from outright seizing power. Their guards can slip away or just be hired by the new guys.

                  Of that Saudi non-rich number, how many care if the king isn’t some price cousin especially if they are religious? Let’s be generous, the Sauds can field 6,000 legit guys for anything more than a local police force in a NATO country could handle. Locals are shooting ISIS thugs at the moment which increases their manpower. Their 800 can be counted on. Iraq’s million is…anyone trained by the U.S. occupiers is almost by definition disloyal no matter the exquisite nature of the weapon or snappiness of the uniform.

          2. Fiver

            Saudi Arabia has nothing to fear from anything other than when their fields go into serious decline. Surely knowing for certain how much false information has been propagated by the US State and its friendly corporate media you cannot just accept without question the Official Version of current events. The US/Saudis and Israel have driven events in the region for 40 years. These ‘fundamentalists’ are the ones the Saudis and US and others collected from around the region and set upon Assad – but it turns out Assad was stronger than thought, certainly stronger than a wide-open, undefended western Iraq where a Sunni-based ‘rebellion’ would be easy to stir-up against Shia PM al-Maliki, who has endeared himself to nobody.

        2. mainmata

          Saudi Arabia financed Al-Qaeda for a long time as well as the promotion of Salafist doctrine through radical madrassahs. Most of the 9/11 terrorists were also Saudi. The Saudis are definitely financing the Salafist insurgents in Iraq while Iran is financing Hizbullah to shore up. al-Assad;s government. Since the ISIS people most recently were part of the fighting group in Syria, there is not much doubt that Saudi is, in fact, funding ISIS, at least indirectly. Yesterday, I believe, Iran offered to help Iraq’s government directly with its army. And the neo-cons seriously think we should go back into that mess? Al-Maliki has been a terrible leader of Iraq and it is largely his policies and actions that have caused the Sunni insurgency to re-bloom.

    2. Ignim Brites

      We may not have a choice. If the ISIL begin to attack Turkey, then NATO collective security agreements might be triggered. We could kick Turkey out of NATO but that is unlikely. A better route would be for the US to withdraw from NATO. As we saw in the 9/11 incident, even an attack on a major NATO city, London for example, could trigger collective defense agreements. Time to start thinking about the long run on this.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          ISIS left the reservation. If they can launch strikes on Bagdhad, who knows what they might do? The Kurds might be the biggest threat to them right now, but the Kurds won’t like Turkey operating nearby especially if they want an independent state. There is a Kurdish enclave which has semi-seceeded while not joining the conflict.

          These are religious types. Pope Urban cooked up the first crusade while stranded in a snow storm in the Alps instead of merely asking the European princes to put out ads for mercs for Byzantium which was why he was traveling to France. The President of the U.S. knows ISIS now. Divisions broke in front of them. Muhammed smashed forces of the old Persia empire and Roman legions in under 10 years. After all, it’s Islam, not the Roman imperial religion of Constantine. By being part of NATO, they can easily be heretics. The devil can cite scripture for his own purposes, so the problem is solved from ISIS’ end as to why they might attack Turkey given its current problems.

      1. Fiver

        Turkey is in no danger whatever. ISIS was the creation of US/Saudis to overthrow Assad. Now they are an army looking for a place to stay. The US or Saudis would just as easily kill they all, or let them get close enough to Iran to spark a war. Erdogan was an absolute fool for getting on the wrong side in Syria early on.

    3. Jim Haygood

      Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.):

      “Our worst fears about Iraq are being realized today. The black flags of Al-Qaeda are flying over Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, just as they do over Fallujah. Al-Qaeda affiliated militants are now pressing their offensive into other parts of western Iraq and possibly beyond. This growing threat to our national security interests is the cost of President Obama’s decision to withdraw all of our troops from Iraq in 2011, against the advice of our commanders and regardless of conditions on the ground. […]

      “[W]e call on the president to explain to Congress and the American people how he plans to address the growing threat to our homeland and our national security interests posed by the rapidly expanding Al-Qaeda safe haven in Iraq and Syria.”


      Nazis favored the word ”heimat,” or ”homeland,” and homeland defense forces were known as Heimwehr or Heimatschutz in Austria and Germany from the late 1920’s.

      ”Homeland” has far older origins in the Hebrew language — back to the book of Genesis. It is part of the political vocabulary in Israel. ”One of the right-wing parties has chosen that name — the Moledet, or Homeland, Party,” Mark Regev of the Israeli embassy said.

      1. Banger

        It is enough for these martinets to say “homeland” and they expect everybody to scream for war. I don’t think the American people are buying this nonsense anymore. If not intellectually, they sense in their gut that this is a con. There is no danger to the “homeland” from these forces other than whatever the USG wants it to be in terms of false flag events. The danger we face comes from the USG not from people fighting for power in Iraq and Syria.

  6. Banger

    You know, in the end, I don’t care about the oil–oil has become a catastrophe for countries that produce it and for us that consume it as we descent into, quite literally into Hell both physically and spiritually.

    My initial reaction to this has been anger. Anger at the mainstream media that clearly knew what was going on but chose not to report it–all of a sudden we have the term “ISIS” on front pages as being a threat to the state of Iraq that we created. I know U.S. intel probably knew this (since they are supporting ISIS at least indirectly). I suggest to you that something smells funny here.

    Then I felt anger because so many people died and lost limbs and psychological peace because we sent people to Iraq to fight in what appears to me, increasingly, as a war that was fought just to fight a war so that military contractors and political cronies of Bush/Cheney could get very, very, very rich and to maintain the fiction that we were “at war” when the whole GWOT was a fraud from start to finish. Does each generation have to have a Vietnam? Do we spend 2 trillion for this? Do we spend 14 billion to “train” Iraqis to drop their weapons at the sight of committed warriors? Doesn’t this follow the exact pattern of “Vietnamization” when the military claims it understood the lessons of Vietnam? They understood nothing! Vietnam was fought because the MIC needed something to do–this is now obvious in retrospect. Do the Iraquis know something we don’t? Do they see a fix here? Maliki seems to think so. I don’t know but again something smells very funny here.

    Fuck the oil! This is about the militantly false reporting by the media and the militant skullduggery of U.S. covert operatives in their insane wars against Iran, Russia, Syria, and (ultimately) China that are being fought just to fight them I’m beginning to believe so that the military and intel people have something to do. That is what we ought to be thinking about not oil or natural gas in Ukraine. We got to stop this merry-go-round and see that we are being taken for a ride.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘Isis is a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs. Isis is often depicted as the mother of Horus, the hawk-headed god of war and protection.’

      Ha ha ha, those wacky ‘seeing eye pyramid’ dudes again. Like a puppy fetching a stick, they never get tired of this shit.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      We’re very used to a historical narrative that says that war is to gain land and resources and spoils. These days it’s the warmaking itself that is the spoils. KFC gets a contract to supply 145 bases across Iraq and Afghanistan. Federal Express gets a no-bid contract to ship pallettes of bottled water from Seattle to the MidEast. Once you see it through this lens then all becomes crystal clear. Blowing the arms off a five-year old is unimportant, what really matters is that a billionaire shareholder gets another zero added to his bank balance

      1. ian

        You left out the part about making money off of rebuilding what we blew up. Its a great business model when you think about it.

  7. Crazy Horse

    Time for a retrenchment of our oil for peace foreign policy now that we have “lost” Iraq. Why didn’t we just supply Saddam with newer supplies of nerve gas to use against the Kurds and Iranians and extra money for his sons to buy Lamborghinis and prostitutes and everybody would have been happy? But that is water under the bridge.

    We should now look to the North. Instead of spending 5 billion dollars to destabilize the Ukraine, knowing very well that Russia couldn’t afford to allow Nato missile bases to be established there, why not destabilize the Canadian federation? The cracks are already there, with an unbridgeable language barrier to the east and British Columbia well on its way to becoming Chinese Columbia. By fomenting a coup in Alberta, we stand a good chance of gaining possession of “our” oil in the tar sands— the largest remaining supply of quasi-oil in North America. The exploitative mentality is already well established in that province, and there is every reason to expect, with the help of Diebold voting machines field tested in Ohio, that a movement for statehood could be successfully orchestrated. And any resistance could be easily quelled by drones based just across the border in North Dakota—-.

    1. susan the other

      Not as sarcastic as it sounds. Something weird is going on. First Obama poses as the great anti-Russian and tells Putin to stop invading Ukraine; but on the other hand he allows Russia to annex Crimea because of their referendum and to emphasize this stance he gets on the stand at the G7 meeting with David Cameron and says it’s all a question of choice and that if Scotland wants to leave the UK so be it. I couldn’t tell if Cameron was speechless or drunk.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        It wasn’t a case of allowing Crimea to be annexed. The Russians had two divisions and a fleet there.

        I think it’s a case of lousy right wing leaders just being exposed and not able to react, and the other issue is both men have ignored the forces that brought them to power and no longer have their old mandates. In some ways, their actions are ways to stay relevant. Whatever else Obama is, he is a narcissist first, he ran for President after all. O’s ego has to be catered to.

    2. Jim Haygood

      ‘By fomenting a coup in Alberta, we stand a good chance of gaining possession of “our” oil in the tar sands.’

      Good thinking, Crazy Horse.

      Project Alta Montana: it could be led by Ted Cruz (born in Calgary).

      What is the color code for this democratic revolution?

      1. Synopticist

        Surely the Maple Revolution, that sounds good. It would start out as a move to liberate Canada from it’s socialist medicine, and then we move on from there. Use the Quebec separatists to cause trouble, a bunch of NED funded NGOs would do the PR, send in the “mystery” snipers (as is standard), then escalate.
        It’s a tough nut to crack, but worth a punt.

        1. gepay

          When you have Canadians voting Harper as PM, the US doesn’t need to invade – although back in Daddy Bush days, when he said he wanted a kindler, gentler country, some Canadians were worried. They needn’t have as it was just Peggy Noonan trying to write a good speech for the language impaired Bushes.
          As for Iraq, this does fit in with the plan of some Americans of making Iraq into three easier to manipulate mini-states. If the develop-able oil is in the Shiite state rather than the Kurdistan part, then this would not suit without regime change in Iran.
          One sees how the initial double cross of the Sunnis has come full turn after buying them off to make the surge a success (allowing for the withdrawal of regular US military).
          Was the killing of the US ambassador in Libya because he was sending the good weapons to the “moderate” rebels attacking Syria?
          The Saudis lately (since 911 – with the cynicism and hypocrisy we all see in US foreign policy why is it so hard for liberals to admit that 911 was an inside job necessary for this “war on terror” and the 2003 invasion of Iraq – even though Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with it) – have been aligning with Israel as they both want regime change in Iran. The US will definitely go into Saudi Arabia to keep control of that oil – there’s still a lot of oil there whether the reserve number is inflated or not.
          My initial uniformed (I only know what I read about the area) reaction is that the ISIS is becoming competent enough to be its own player – rather than what Prince Bandar said about the Chechnyan jihadists who didn’t disturb Sochi. This is just from the timing as the part of US foreign policy that manipulates is busy with the Ukraine.

  8. shinola

    I can’t help but feel there is something strangely detached about the framing of this discussion.
    It’s all about who gets to control the oil. It’s as if the suffering of the Iraqi people caught up in the middle of this tragedy means nothing.
    Have we all succumbed to the neocon/neolib disease of creeping sociopathy?

    I mean, sure it’s terrible for those poor people but what’s really important is how this may affect the cost of gas for my car.

  9. Working Class Nero

    The big question is who is supporting the ISIS? The world is currently broken into two power camps and so we would expect only one of them to be supporting the ISIS. On one side we have the US-led Anglo/EU/Zionist/Sunni Empire and on the other we also now have the nascent Russo/Shia Bloc. Most people think that Saudi Arabia / Qatar are supporting the ISIS. If true, this means what is happening has to have the tacit approval of the US.

    There was always a fundamentally puzzling aspect to the US invasion of Iraq. Regionally the US was much more Sunni-oriented but in Iraq they placed Shia in power. Given that at the time the Anglo/EU/Zionist/Sunni Empire was getting exceedingly close to becoming a global empire; one of the last pieces of the puzzle was Iran. The Empire realized that a military invasion of Iran would be too costly so they tried to get the Mullahs to voluntarily accept the supremacy of the Empire by gifting them Iraq. Why would the US care which satrap is running which territory as long as they are all sending tribute to Washington? So a Shia government was empowered in Baghdad but it wasn’t going to last forever if the Mullahs didn’t in the end get on their knees and kiss the ring.

    Given the rather restrained US reaction to the ISIS’ sweeping victories, and given the fact that the Shia government in Iraq has for months been demanding military aid, I don’t think these developments are totally unwelcome in Washington. And the US has a long and twisted history with what some people call Al-CIAda. The endgame may be that if Iran doesn’t accept the US’ authority, then Shia Iraq will fall and a hostile terrorist Sunni entity could be on the Iranian border (if they can finish off the Iraqi Shia rump).

    The other big question is whether the ISIS will move immediately towards Baghdad. It is clear that some deals were made with the Iraqi Army’s 3rd and 4th divisions to stand down in the face of the relatively weak incursion by the ISIS. But in Baghdad it will be a different story — the Shia there will fight for their lives.

    But the ISIS could also just move in close and lay siege to the city. They now control the flow of water into Baghdad and in previous engagements they have used the tactic of diverting rivers (in Falluja). The Shia can probably keep the highway to Basra open but if the ISIS can disrupt the flow of water then Baghdad will be in serious trouble. Would Iran dare intervene in Iraq and what would the Anglo/EU/Zionist/Sunni Empire’s response be then?

    There is also some speculation that Syria is backing the ISIS. It is true that by the ISIS attacking Iraq it relieves some pressure from the Syrians. But looking at the map we see shades of Germany in WW2 with the ISIS fighting a two front war with Syria / Hezbollah to the west and Iran / Shia Iraq to the east. So I have a hard time getting my head around how Syria is manipulating this especially if the ISIS attack Baghdad.

    In terms of Israeli interests, the Zionists have to be happy to have a huge Sunni caliphate between Iran and Syria/Hezbollah. It is doubtful that any of the land routes that connect these two enemies of Israel could be used any more. The Israeli propaganda sites (no, not the NYT, I mean Debka) don’t seem to be too worried about the latest developments in Iraq.

    Also puzzling was the ISIS decision to take hostages from the Turkish embassy. Obviously if the ISIS want to export oil they will have to pass through Turkey. Were the hostages taken to give the ISIS a little leverage in the coming negotiations with Turkey?

    Well anyway for the first time in a long time Iraq is interesting again. It will also be interesting to see how many of these ISIS jihadis have European passports and what is going to happen if and when they finally return to the old continent. Just a couple weeks ago a Jewish Museum in Brussels was shot up by a jihadi verteran of the Syrian conflict.

    1. Synopticist

      Syria is definately not backing ISIS, and the Saudis stopped a while back, especially since Prince Bandar left the scene. It’s mostly rich gulf arabs and protection money/tax these days.

      The whole thing is a massive cluster-f*ck, but it’s this present generation of politicians who are at fault, not the last lot. Blair and Bush, for all their sins, were at least smart enough to realise al qeada are enemies of the west. This situation has come about because our present rulers thought they could manipulate jihadism and use it to overthrow rulers they didn’t like.
      That it it so clearly went tits-up in Libya somehow wasn’t enough to prevent them from trying to pull the same stunt in Syria.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Thank you. Susan Frigging Rice and her “humanitarian bombing”. This crowd believes they are cleverer, can triangulate, can “manage the optics”…what a bunch of utter and complete crap. No street smarts or awareness of realpolitik whatsoever. Kind of like Pelosi and Feinstein trying to “finesse” the NSA billions to their Silicon Valley clientele, who in turn think they can “finesse’ their clients into believing they are not evil.

        1. Fiver

          Yes, Susan Rice and Samantha Power ought to be dismissed – their only defense is that the entire senior echelons of both Bush and Obama Admins, being war criminals who should’ve been impeached then flown to The Hague, set the bar so absurdly low their infantile version of ‘R2P’ to provide cover for naked US aggression against Syria, Libya, Egypt and soon in Iraq Redux 1 was actually put out as the answer to what happened in Rwanda – circumstances governing the tragic horrors of the Rwandan and Congo genocides of course being in no way comparable to these ‘humanitarian’ wars in Libya, Syria etc.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Bush was better, at least you knew what you were getting: pure, unadulterated ignorance, bigotry, stupidity, and corporo-fascism. This Vichy Left crowd, straight outta Berkeley, thinks they can out-clever the world, Jay Carney turning word tricks, naive rubes, feelgood Michele photo ops and meantime it’s just the same globalist corporatist fascism but this time with a dish of duplicity and hypocrisy on the side. Disgusting. As Travis Bickle said “someday a real rain is gonna come and wash this scum away…”

      2. Fiver

        You apparently missed his explicit reference to Al CIAda, with which I concur. ISIS or ISIL are creatures of the Saudis and US, the targets being Libya, Syria and ultimately Iran. The gambit failed (for now) in Syria, so the question posed was what to do with this army. It just turns out to be pretty darn useful for at minimum scaring the shit out of al-Maliki, who just wasn’t playing the kind of ball the US was looking for, and possibly even to lure Iran into making a huge error should ISIS be allowed to start shooting east of Baghdad.

        There are only 2 versions that are possible here – view this as a sort of ‘blowback’ to the effort to overthrow Libya and Syria, hearkening back to the ‘blowback’ theory of bin Laden and 9/11 emerging from CIA/mujahadeen in Afghanistan, or the strategic plan remains to re-draw the map of the region and the ‘pivot’ to Iraq away from Syria is merely tactical. Works wonders for oil prices, as well, as always near and dear to the Saudis, US oil, and Wall Street.

  10. Jackrabbit

    The Redirection – Sy Hersh, 2007

    I probably would’ve given Hersh’s story little credence at the time (I wasn’t as cynical as I am now) but a lot of what he wrote about appears to have been validated by what has happened since 2007.

    Hersh basically writes that to counter Iran, Israel + Saudia Arabia + US planned to promote and develop Sunni extremists that would lead to a Sunni-Shia sectarian War. It seems likely that after Assad is toppled and Baghdad is sacked, ISIS will attack Hezbola and the Shia in southern Iraq – both having close ties with Iran. One could imagine that Taliban in Afghanistan might also join in a Sunni war with Shia Iran.

    If you believe Hersh, the extremism that we are seeing now is NOT because we (US+allies):

    – failed to complete the job of ‘nation-building’ in Iraq;
    – failed to eliminating Al-Queda;
    – failed to foresee increased Sunni militancy;
    – want to spend more money on MIC (we would sell arms either way),

    rather, it is due to a deliberate policy, sanctioned at the highest levels, of developing extremists as a weapon.

    Although the potential for unintended consequences seems unacceptable high to most ordinary people, Hersh’s reporting and other associated facts and events indicate that Nobel peace prize winner Obama and his Administration (including Hillary) have condoned and pursued this Bush-era neocon plan (see Hersh’s The Redline and the Rat Line). Thus, all the above excuses and wringing of hands, regarding the Mosul news is really misdirection and obfuscation.

    For many who believe Hersh and have been paying attention, ‘plausible deny-ability’ was lost long ago. Stymied by an American public that was tired and disgusted with trumped up war, it appears that neocons made a politically expedient but very dangerous choice. And, as usual, we ALL suffer as neocons advance their exceptional! agenda.

      1. Vatch

        Proxy wars have a long history. An example is the First Macedonian War, fought by Macedonia on behalf of Carthage against the Aetolian League of Greece on behalf of Rome. More recently, the Spanish Civil War was fought by one Spanish faction on behalf of the Soviet Union against another Spanish faction on behalf of Germany and Italy.

        Even the American Revolution was partially a proxy war. The American colonists fought on behalf of France against the British. France didn’t provide assistance to the colonists because the absolutist royal government of Louis XVI supported the anti-royal ideals of the American colonists!

    1. Jim Haygood

      Hersh’s hypothesis also would help explain how, with a surveillance dragnet so sensitive that it can track individual militants, the U.S. could be totally blindsided by the fall of an Iraqi city.

      Good thing the NSA’s diligent monitoring of Americans’ communications allowed them to so totally predict this event. A round of medals for the heroes!

    2. Synopticist

      “I probably would’ve given Hersh’s story little credence at the time (I wasn’t as cynical as I am now)”

      Amen to that.

      1. gepay

        Lily Tomlin – “The older I get, the more cynical I get, but I just can’t keep up.”

    3. VietnamVet

      It is clear that the USA supports Jihadists in Syria and Neo-Nazis in Ukraine and to date have not hindered their rampages. The questions that will be answered the next week is Right Sector and ISIS off the ranch or are they still under operative control of their handlers.

      I think ISIS is on a jihad; the more beheaded infidels the better. The Green Zone is undefended right now with the collapse of the Iraqi Army. If the Green Zone is not evacuated and Americans are not harmed and ISIS only attacks Shiites and the Baathist Party is reinstalled as the rulers; we will have the answer, this is another American sponsored Regime Change. I think it is blow back and American lives are at risk in the Green Zone. We shall see.

  11. Crazy Horse

    Operation Alta Montana? Make that Operation Chief Joseph and sell prison-manufactured T shirts printed with an image of the chief astride his Appaloosa war pony. That is the American genius—turn a chieftain who tried to lead his people to freedom in Canada into a brand symbolizing the opposite and make a buck selling T shirts along the way a la the Che Guevara.

  12. kimsarah

    Who is financing ISIS now?
    Are banksters pulling any strings?
    Many questions abound as to who is behind this Middle East chess game.

  13. kimsarah

    Thanks Banger for answering my first question:
    “This group, as with all Sunni extremists groups are aided and funded by the U.S. (covertly) and its allies in the region–why would policy makers want to destroy them. “

  14. Roland

    Al-Qaeda’s main support has always come from disgruntled Saudi and Gulf aristocrats. Note that the aristocrats actually in government in those countries do not support Al-Qaeda, but there are many aristocrats in a country like Saudi Arabia who are unhappy with the policy orientation of those in power and wish to restore and purify their nation. Those aristocrats are appalled by policy line of the mass export of petroleum, mass import of labour, and total religious hypocrisy of the governing faction. The disgruntled aristocrats aren’t willing to be bribed into quiescence. They want something better and more meaningful than to spend their lives cruising the Riviera like a bunch of idiots. Instead, they plot revolution. But the regime is pretty strong, which means they need to organize outside Saudi Arabia.

    Al-Qaeda has always been focused on Saudi Arabia. During the Iraq War, the reason that there was a falling out between Al-Qaeda and other Sunni guerrillas is that Al-Qaeda was only interested in carving out a Sunni rump state in Western Iraq. Al-Qaeda was uninterested in restoring Iraqi sovereignty or nationhood. But from a rump state in Anbar, they would have a base from which to destabilize the current Saudi regime.

    ISIS, similarly, does not place its highest priority on the overthrow of the Syrian government. Of course they wish to destroy the apostate Ba’athist government there, but frankly the existence of a sovereign entity of “Syria” isn’t all that important to ISIS anyway. Saudi Arabia is the prize. That’s the biggest oil exporter in the region, and that’s the country with the holiest shrines of Islam.

    Topple the current Saudi regime, rock the whole world.

    The USA was not trying to appease Iranian Shi’ites by invading Iraq. The US gov’t had been first disappointed, and then dismayed, that Saddam’s Kuwait fiasco, followed by a decade-long blockade, had not resulted in the downfall of his government. Instead, Saddam had shown considerable ingenuity in distributing power within Iraq and in finding ways to ecnomically adapt to the blockade.

    With a modernizing Asia needing more and more petroleum, there was no way that the 1990’s sanctions against Iraq could be maintained for much longer. In a few more years, the Iraqi Ba’ath regime was once again going to be flush with export revenue. Moreover, Saddam’s regime would be politically vindicated for its stalwart endurance of Western hostility. Saddam would presumably start to remodernize Iraq’s armed forces. Old line Arab nationalism would receive both a moral and material boost, at a time when the Western Bloc was trying to get everyone to fall in line with its globalization project.

    From such a perspective, it’s not surprising that the US gov’t decided to militarily crush Iraq before global energy demand reopened world markets to Iraqi oil. Nor is it hard understand the haste in the US drive for war against Iraq.

    In the face of invasion by the USA and UK, the Iraqi forces as they stood in 2003 had no prospect of success. The only hope for Iraq was to cache arms in many locations throughout the country, and put together in advance a complicated cell system to organize protracted guerrilla resistance. Certain Iraqi units put up a symbolic resistance in a few pitched actions to satisfy national pride and international legality, and to lull the enemy into thinking that the regular warfare would constitute the entire campaign. Saddam also hoped that the enemy might depart after a brief occupation.

    When it became apparent that the enemy was intent upon an indefinite occupation of Iraq, the resistance went into action in the latter part of 2003. However, Saddam was betrayed and captured, in a turn of events not uncommon in resistance struggles. The cell network he had authorized, however, continued to function and adapt in the years which followed. Note that as one would expect in a cellular resistance system, Saddam himself, when under torture at the hands of the enemy, could not reveal much of its workings. Cellular resistance systems can be quite resilient, but as time passes and losses mount, they are hard to coordinate and tend to fracture politically.

    The enemy, meanwhile, was doing everything it could to foster internecine conflict in Iraq, as part of the SOP of all occupying powers in wartime. By that time, disgruntled Saudi and other Gulf aristocrats were funneling cash into various Sunni guerrilla factions in Iraq (AQI, parent of today’s ISIS), as I described above. The mounting AQ influence, bought by the money of disgruntled aristocrats, contributed to the fatal split in early 2006 between the Sunni guerrillas and Moqtada’s Shi’ite nationalist guerrillas. That was the main turning point of the war, in favour of the invading powers.

    From mid-2007 on, from the invaders’ perspective, the Iraq War was manageable, if still far most costly and far more lengthy than they first thought. The minimum aim, to wreck the modern Iraqi state, had been achieved, if inefficiently. The maximal aim–to establish a pro-US regime in Iraq–of course had to be written off.

  15. Fiver

    What the US has done to Iraq was and is the most disgusting thing since Vietnam – and nobody ever held to account for it. Or anything, really.

  16. Crazy Horse

    Not Twitchy Timmy,
    The problem with bribery as a means of maintaining control is that eventually the 10,000 not-princes want a Lamborghini as well, and the factory can’t produce them fast enough.

    Let us not forget that the USA & the Bush Dynasty owe a big favor to the Saudi royal family for recruiting 20 sacrificial lambs to fly planes into the WTC on Sept. 11th as cover for the nano-thermite charges that brought the three buildings down and made Homeland Security palatable. So we will continue to everything possible to keep the royal family in power.

  17. Crazy Horse

    Lambert, could you investigate why comments no longer post to the linked item? Thanks

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