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By John Hughes
The various sectarian groups from Syria, the highlands west of Mosul and wherever else have invaded, or have been invited in, to the northern part of the country not controlled by Kurdish groups. As of this writing they are shelling the Beiji refinery which refines about 25% of the petroleum produced in Iraq, most of which is used domestically. As a result of this closed refinery, there are extreme shortages of energy in this part of the country right now.
The government of the Republic of Iraq (the government formed after
As a note, the group the Western press is calling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant last week was called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
In any event, the place has been a total mess since the American military force formally left, at the request of the current Republic of Iraq government, in 2011. This same government is requesting aid now, given the fact that less than 2,000 of these ISIS troops overwhelmed over 30,000 Republic of Iraq US trained forces, to the point the military surrendered arms, vehicles, communications equipment and intelligence. Now as they converge on Bagdad, we refer to them as ISIL.
There are reports of insurgents in the capital of Baghdad proper, though this is no surprise as car bombings and kidnappings have been rather routine occurrences since 2003 and more so after the American military left in 2011. If the remainder of the military capitulates to ISIL, Baghdad will probably fall within two months. That seems less likely this week as the military and Shiite militias called on by Shia Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani last week to fight back. The Shia are incentivized to fight the Sunni insurgents, as Shia are the largest victims of the current atrocities and Sunni and Shia have been feuding for 13 centuries.
Regardless, the internet and television visuals of the conflict tend to be of men in civilian clothing, often barefoot, riding on the backs of dirty 10 to 20 year old Toyota, Mazda and Nissan pickup trucks wielding automatic rifles. Every now and then you see them riding camouflaged Hummers and in military fatigues. They are tipping the balance of stability of a ‘nation’ that holds the second largest known oil reserves.
This is the new normal of the failed Republic of Iraq. Last week a central bank in Mosul was robbed of $425M+, making ISIL the richest terrorist organization on earth. The Kurdish region in the north has for the past twelve years enjoyed a measure of autonomy from the Republic of Iraq. However last week, while ISIS was robbing banks and making land grabs, the Kurdish were grabbing the city of Kirkuk, the fourth largest oil filed in the country and fortifying their border with Iran. They are doing this with forces called the Peshmergas, the seemingly only reliable military group in the conflict. They seem to be trained and are seen in military fatigues while riding in their cleaner dirty 10 to 20 year old Toyota and Nissan pickup trucks wielding automatic rifles.
The story that is getting much press is the fact that after the American military pullout, petroleum giants Exxon Mobil, BP, Chevron, and smaller Hess, HKN, Hunt, Marathon, and Murphy as well as and over 40 companies from Canada, China, Norway, Russia, and various Arab and Asian countries in tapping into a Kurdish bonanza estimated by industry experts to amount to 45 billion barrels of oil and 99 trillion to 201 trillion cubic feet of gas. This done outside of the prevue of the ‘nation’ called the Republic of Iraq, of which the Kurdish regions owe allegiance as far as international matters are concerned.
The Kurds even have a pipeline deal (this one is built, not like the one between Russia and China) that has delivered oil through Turkey. They even have two oil tankers ready to sell discounted petroleum (half price of the WTI or Brent prices) for any willing buyer. Once there is a buyer for the oil, the fledgling Kurdish autonomous region will be one step closer to an independent state. They even have a bank separate from the Iraqi bank in Turkey that would handle the oil revenue.
Meanwhile, only about 2,000 oil wells have been drilled in Iraq, compared with about 1 million wells in Texas alone, and despite improved security and billions of dollars in oil revenue, Iraq still generates about half the electricity that customers demand, leading to protests during the hot summer months. , Al Jazeera reported $13 billion of Iraqi oil revenues in U.S. care was improperly accounted for, of which $2.6 billion is totally unaccounted for. Some reports that the government has reduced corruption in public procurement of oil; however, reliable reports of bribery and kickbacks to government officials continue to persist.
All of this is in jeopardy because of lax security and corruption.
Expect to see a refugee crisis, more shortages, diseases, beheadings in addition to the run of the mill car bombings, killing outside mosques and desecration of holy sites in the failed state of Iraq.