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More Jihadist Training Camps Identified in Iraq and Syria

By , November 23, 2014 8:14 am

Most recently, another jihadist training camp has been identified in Syria, in the province of Latakia. It is operated by Jamaat Jund al Qawkaz (Caucasus), a group composed of Circassians, Chechens, Dagestanis, and other Caucasian ethnic groups. The group is independent and probably small, but is more than likely affiliated with the Al Nusrah Front, which is al Qaeda’s Syrian branch, and the Caucasus Emirate. It might also be affiliated to Junud al Sham, a predominantly Chechen group led by Muslim Shishani, a specially designated global terrorist. While Jamaat Jund al Qawkaz has officially taken an anti-fitna stance, the group has promoted Al Nusrah propaganda, according to Aymenn al Tamimi. Video has also been uploaded to YouTube showing the Jamaat Jund al Qawkaz unit in training.

In addition to the four camps identified above, more evidence has emerged about another training camp identified by The Long War Journal two months ago. Photos were recently disseminated on Twitter showing a training camp that was run by Abu Yusuf al Turki. As The Long War Journal reported on Sept. 23, online jihadists described al Turki as a commander in the Al Nusrah Front who trained fighters how to become snipers. Al Turki was killed in initial US airstrikes in Syria against the so-called Khorasan Group, a name used by the US government to describe al Qaeda veterans embedded within Al Nusrah. After al Turki was confirmed killed, supporters released a video of his training camp, which is located in or near Aleppo.

Jihadist camps in Iraq and Syria

Since the beginning of 2012, a total of 46 camps have been identified as being operational at some point in time, according to data compiled by The Long War Journal. Information on the camps has been obtained from jihadist videos, news accounts, and US military press releases that note airstrikes against the training facilities. It is unclear if all of the training camps are currently operational. In addition, this analysis is compiled using publicly-available evidence. It is likely that some training camps are not advertised.

Of those cam

Assyrian International News Agency

More Than a Battle, Kobani Is a Publicity War

By , November 20, 2014 11:50 am

[unable to retrieve full-text content]SURUC, Turkey — Two months after the United States began bombing militants attacking Kobani in northern Syria, the fate of the obscure border town has become the defining battle of the broader contest with the Islamic State — to solidify, or roll back, its borders and ambitions.
Assyrian International News Agency

More Humiliation: China Furious At “Disrespectful” Nicorette-Chewing Obama

By , November 13, 2014 7:05 am






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More Humiliation: China Furious At “Disrespectful” Nicorette-Chewing Obama

By , November 13, 2014 1:39 am

More Humiliation: China Furious At “Disrespectful” Nicorette-Chewing Obama
By: Zerohedge on: 13.11.2014 [06:52 ] (62 reads)

More Humiliation: China Furious At “Disrespectful” Nicorette-Chewing Obama

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/12/2014 17:40 -0500

“The chew seen around the world,” as President Obama chomped on Nicorette gum during the recent APEC summit ceremonies, has sparked outrage in China, describing his behavior as “rude” and “inappropriate.”

Not the first time…


Which all explains this…

While we are sure Khin Khin Win, wife of Myanmar President Thein Sein, is a wonderfully entertaining host, we suspect President Obama was not expecting – once again – to be relegated to the ‘old wives club’…

Source: @MarkKnoller

And here is Medvedev holding hands with Xi… (en) RSS feed for articles and news

For Unemployed Young Men, the Islamic State Provides More Than Just Jobs and Purpose

By , November 10, 2014 6:45 am
A government building in Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital. (Photo: Beshr O / Flickr)

A government building in Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital. (Photo: Beshr O / Flickr)

It’s often written that the Islamic State fills a need for young men adrift on the stagnant sea of the Middle-Eastern ― and world ― economy. It not only provides a paying job (and purpose in life), it offers a benefit that may be central to recruiting.

On October 28, Frontline ran a useful overview of the Islamic State titled The Rise of ISIS. It shows how the Islamic State developed as a reaction to oppression of the Sunnis by Nouri al-Maliki’s Shia government in Iraq. Or, shall we say, in the time-dishonored tradition of many revolutions, an over-reaction ― a descent into an orgy of revenge that threatens the new government itself.

On October 13 I had posted: Islamic State Offers Beheading as a Perk to Recruits, in which I wrote:

… a team at Politico magazine writes that while “these shocking actions have challenged average sensibilities and consciences, this violence has also led to assumptions about the motives for beheadings, and the group’s strategy as a whole, that are simply not true.” In fact, “The common misperception is that these beheadings are meant only to intimidate the West.”

To the contrary, the team members write:

… beheadings are a deliberate strategy—one successfully employed in 2004 by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, founder of al Qaeda in Iraq, ISIL’s predecessor organization, with the beheading of American Nick Berg—to improve recruitment efforts and build military strength to fight its enemies in Iraq and Syria.

… In a word, publicity: They increase the group’s profile as the biggest challenger to the supposed greatest enemy of Islam. This allows ISIL to draw from a significantly larger pool of recruits, many with strong anti-American sentiment, which ISIL desperately needs to fight local battles as the group tries to carve out a de facto state. Yes, the beheadings are meant to challenge and intimidate the Western public, but that is only a secondary benefit for ISIL, whose focus remains on defeating enemies in immediate proximity.

Continuing with that earlier post:

At the Daily Beast, Dean Obeidallah writes:

I wish the media would give more coverage to ISIS’ crimes against Muslims. The publicity would hurt the group’s cause tremendously, and it could also make the case to my fellow Americas [sic] that this fight is not Islam versus the West. Rather, it’s everyone who doesn’t want to live under ISIS’ brutal dictatorship versus ISIS.

Frontline’s The Rise of ISIS is replete with mass shootings that recall nothing less than the Nazi in World War II. At one point a Western voice (maybe Filkins) says of members of the Islamic State: “They are not Muslims and they are barely human beings.” Later Filkins call the Islamic State a  “psychosis” and, most damning:

“Killing is as important to ISIS as securing the Caliphate.”

As I wrote in my earlier post:

The Islamic State is like a gangbanger’s Pleasure Island, where torturing and killing are not only permitted, but encouraged. But, as I’ve previously noted, there’s a kind of planned obsolescence to this strategy. In other words, this death cult seems to have a death wish. Or as the Politico magazine team writes: “Ironically, the publicity ISIL is gaining from beheadings may have also planted the seeds of its own destruction.”

Foreign Policy In Focus

Obama Approves Sending Up to 1,500 More US Troops to Iraq

By , November 7, 2014 4:00 pm

Obama Approves Sending Up to 1,500 More US Troops to Iraq

Posted 2014-11-07 21:21 GMT

WASHINGTON — President Obama has approved sending up to 1,500 additional U.S. troops to Iraq, more than doubling the number being deployed to help Iraqi forces fight the Islamic State.

The president also requested an additional $ 5.6 billion on Friday for the war against the Islamic State, in part to cover the additional deployments.

The decisions reflect a deepening U.S. involvement in the region, though the White House again stressed that U.S. personnel “will not be in combat,” but rather training, advising and assisting Iraqi forces near Baghdad and Irbil.

Currently, there are about 1,400 U.S. troops in Iraq.

The White House troop request comes with a $ 3.7 billion price tag. Of that, $ 3.2 billion will go to the Department of Defense while $ 500 million will go to the State Department.

CENTCOM Commander Gen. Lloyd Austin and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel were at the White House on Friday briefing a bipartisan congressional group invited by the president.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey hinted at the announcement during an Oct. 30 briefing at the Pentagon.

The increased number of troops will allow the U.S. to spread its forces to additional locations across Iraq.

Fox News’ Justin Fishel and Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report.

Assyrian International News Agency

Putin Just Made the Most Important Speech of His Career. The West Should Listen More Closely

By , October 30, 2014 12:13 am

Putin Just Made the Most Important Speech of His Career. The West Should Listen More Closely
By: Alexander Mercouris on: 29.10.2014 [12:31 ] (388 reads)

Putin Just Made the Most Important Speech of His Career. The West Should Listen More Closely

What he really wants are stability, rules, and a global balance of power – traditional conservative ideas. He thinks the rest of the world needs to rein-in out-of-control US global activism.

opinion 4 hours ago
Alexander Mercouris |

He showed his true colors – as a traditional, old-school, European conservative

Last Friday, Vladimir Putin delivered the single most important speech on foreign policy since he became President of Russia in 2000. Mikhail Gorbachev said he thought it was the best, and most significant speech Putin has ever made.

In it he charted a clear course for Russia, defining its place in international affairs and setting out the principles and objectives of its foreign policy.

The response of the western political and media elite has been pitifully inadequate. The speech has attracted surprisingly little attention. The emphasis has been not on what Putin said about Russia or international relations in general but on what he specifically said about the US.

Western commentary wrongly but overwhelmingly treats the speech as simply a critique of US foreign policy (a “diatribe”) with Putin hypocritically condemning a US foreign policy he feels is targeted against him. Behind this is the assumption that the speech is Putin’s defiant response to the US sanctions policy imposed on Russia since the start of the Ukrainian crisis even though the actual speech barely touches on this question.

Putin did have a lot to say about US foreign policy and what he said was very critical. However to focus purely on that part of the speech is to fail to do it justice and to ignore its very coherent intellectual framework.

Putin came across a very different person from the aggressive expansionist and nationalist demagogue and gambler of western commentary. It is also different from the Putin some other people want him to be. Anyone looking to Putin to lead some great crusade against the US is on the evidence of this speech going to be disappointed. As some have noticed, what he actually wants from the US is not conflict but cooperation.

Putin’s vision of the international system is a profoundly conservative one – a fact he actually admitted himself after the speech in answer to a question. Running like a thread throughout the speech is a typical conservative’s yearning for stability and mistrust of change, a wish for a predictable rule based system in which the sovereign rights of nations are respected and in which change when it happens is contained and managed and never encouraged.

Since Putin’s concern is for stability, an aspect of his vision, which would be instantly familiar to an old style European conservative but which is totally alien to a modern western liberal, is that it is totally value neutral. Where westerners today habitually divide nations into democracies and dictatorships and decide their attitudes to them on that basis, Putin treats them all the same, considering their domestic arrangements to be something for them to worry about.

Underpinning everything is a belief in the need for an orderly system preserved by a balance of power. For Putin, the USSR’s greatest contribution was precisely in that by providing a counter weight to the US it secured international stability. Much of the speech is a lament for the loss of the counterweight provided by the USSR.

The part of the speech that criticises US foreign policy draws on these assumptions: the US became intoxicated by the unexpected position it achieved as a result of the USSR’s collapse and rather than acting to preserve the stability of the international system went instead on a rampage through a sequence of violent unilateral actions designed to reshape the world according to its image and interests and in order to perpetuate its dominance.

In the process order and stability have been thrown away and the result is violence and chaos. Putin recites the list: Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan (where he traces the story back to US support for jihadism against the Soviet army in the 1980s), Libya, Syria and now Ukraine, pointing out that none of these places is better off than it was before the US began to take an interest in them.

In a striking phrase that may cause offence in the US Putin compares the US to a nouveaux riche fecklessly squandering away the windfall.

The speech also shows where Putin wants to position Russia. In another striking phrase Putin says that he wants Russia to assume leadership of nothing save possibly the defence of international law.

Running like a thread through the speech is a deep commitment to international law interpreted in the most conservative way on the basis of legal documents, treaty texts and Court decisions. The creative efforts of (as Putin would put it) self-interested western reinterpretation of international law (such as R2P) are spurned as rationalisations for violating it.

By contrast Putin’s response to Western criticism of his Crimean policy is to defend it in the most traditional way by citing the UN Charter and the International Court of Justice’s Advisory Opinion on Kosovo.

Putin’s training as a lawyer is an aspect of his background that few in the west are aware of. Judging from his words, it is at least as formative as was his service in the KGB.

This is a vision of Russia as the sheet anchor of the international system, acting together with its allies China and the other BRICS states to restrain the US where possible, rescuing the US from its follies whilst upholding international law, world order and stability.

It is a vision European statesmen of the nineteenth century would have instantly recognised but which political leaders in the US and Europe today barely understand, which is one reason why his speech is little understood.

It is a vision that is very popular in Russia, a country with a history of turmoil where order and stability are highly prized. It is also arguably a vision that corresponds with Russia’s interests. As an emerging economy Russia needs a stable and orderly international environment to allow space for its economy to develop.

Importantly throughout the speech Putin made it repeatedly clear that economic development remains for Russia an overriding priority and that the government would take no retaliatory action that might get in the way.

It is also a vision that is likely to be very popular around the world outside the Western camp, where governments and people have become increasingly wary of western interference in their affairs.

In the west, and in the US especially, it will inevitably be seen as a challenge. (en) RSS feed for articles and news

More Chinese Trains Delivered

By , October 27, 2014 5:37 pm

More Chinese Trains Delivered

By John Lee.

Iraq has received a second shipment of two new trains from China.

Of the ten units ordered, this brings the total delivered to four, with the balance to be delivered by the end of the year.

The total value of the contract is $ 138 million (161 billion Iraqi dinars).

Chairman of the Ports Committee of Basra Council, Murtaza Shahmani, told the National Iraqi News Agency the trains will join the fleet servicing the Baghdad- Basra route, and will be ready for the start within days.

(Sources: NINA, Basra Council)

Iraq Business News

More Detailed Testing planned for Mishrif

By , October 11, 2014 2:34 am

More Detailed Testing planned for Mishrif

By John Lee.

In its Drilling and Production Update issued today (Friday), Dragon Oil has said that it plans more detailed testing at its Mishrif site:

On 10 September 2014, the consortium comprised of Kuwait Energy (70% and operator) and Dragon Oil (30%) reported its first oil discovery at Block 9, Iraq.

“The successful discovery was at the consortium’s first target, the Mishrif formation at 2,700 metres, in its Block 9 exploration well, Faihaa-1.

“Preliminary tests of the Faihaa-1 Mishrif formation resulted in a flow rate of circa 2,000 bopd of 20 API oil on 32/64″ choke.

“The consortium will conduct more detailed testing on Mishrif towards the end of the year.

“The consortium’s strategy is to continue drilling activities, exploring deeper horizons and collecting further data, to evaluate the discovery and to define an appraisal plan.”

(Source: Dragon Oil)

Iraq Business News

Oil: More About Supply than the Dollar

By , October 10, 2014 9:30 am

Oil: More About Supply than the Dollar
By: Zerohedge on: 10.10.2014 [11:11 ] (102 reads)

Oil: More About Supply than the Dollar

Submitted by Marc To Market on 10/10/2014 06:20 -0400

The US dollar’s upside momentum has faded, but oil prices remain depressed. Many observers try, too hard perhaps, to link the decline in commodity prices in general, and oil in particular, to the appreciation of the dollar. Yet the situation is considerably more complicated.

There is a case that can be made that the decline in commodity prices reflects slower world growth prospects in general. Demand in China, the key consumer of commodities, has softened, and its crackdown on using commodities to disguise capital flows, or use as collateral for loans, may also be weighing on demand. This weakness in the global economy stands in contrasts to the US economy, which grew 4.6% in Q2, and appears to have been around 3% in Q3. This contrast, or divergence, has helped bolster the dollar.

However, this conventional narrative does not do justice to the supply side. From a high level, more often than not, dramatic moves in commodities seem to be a reflection of supply shocks more than demand shocks. For example, record harvests in the US explain the decline in grain prices more than the dollar or a slowing of the world economy can.

Oil prices have fallen by 17-20% since mid/late June. There may be some role for the global slowdown and the appreciation of the dollar, but these are not the main drivers. We see two main forces. The first is Saudi Arabia. It usually acts as the swing producer, cutting output when prices are low and increasing output when prices are high. It is not cutting output presently. To the contrary it looks to have stepped up its output. The key question is why?

As in many important developments, this too could be over-determined (meaning more than one cause or consideration). First would be Saudi Arabia’s domestic considerations. It depends on oil revenues to finance the government’s activities, including a generous welfare program. By boosting output, it can maintain overall revenues in a soft oil price environment.

Second, some suggest may also be a favor to the US in that a fall in oil prices adds to the pressure on Russia. I am sympathetic to arguments that it was the collapse in oil prices more than the Reagan-inspired arms race that ultimately led to the fall of the Soviet Union. While it is possible that Saudi Arabia changed tactics are part of some kind of pact with the US, it does not seem compelling and is contradicted by a third consideration. A decline in oil prices, especially if a move below $ 80-$ 85 a barrel can be sustained, it could change the dynamics of the US shale projects.

Fourth, the Saudi oil stance may be a warning shot to OPEC, which meets early next month. By boosting output, it may enhance its effort to reinstate discipline within OPEC. Its internal battle within OPEC means that if it does not pick-up market share, its rival Iran would. Some observers think there is a proxy war of sorts being fought between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Libya and Venezuela domestic considerations do not favor cuts in output. Separately, Russia may also be inclined to step up production to limit the decline in revenues.

The sharp drop in oil prices is also being linked by most to weaker demand. While there may be some role here, we encourage investors to give supply factors their due. As the low cost producer, it will make up in volume the revenue lost by the decline in price. Last week Saudi Arabia reduced the price of Arab Light crude to Asia to six year lows.

Many pundits thought the US was the main loser in the mega-energy deal between China and Russia earlier this year. They are reducing the role for the dollar, was a common assessment. That is a side show and of little consequence as the dollar’s appreciation in recent months has demonstrated. Instead, the deal may have opened a new front of competition for OPEC.

Saudi Arabia’s decision that leads to increasing its market share intensifies the competition within OPEC. Today, Iran announced it will cut the price of its oil exported to Asia, apparently matching the Saudi’s move. This is what a price war would look like and it is squeezing some producers, like Nigeria, already. Next week, Kuwait and Iraq will announce their prices. Not to cut prices, would see them lose market share, but to cut prices feeds the price spiral.

The drop in oil prices can only exacerbate the deflationary risk in the euro area. If sustained, it may also hamper the BOJ’s effort to drive core inflation (core means excluding fresh food, not energy) to 2%. In the US, the drop in oil prices, if translated into gasoline and heating oil prices, will help boost disposable income, which may be noteworthy given the lack of real wage increases, and therefore consumption. The Fed targets core inflation (for which core excludes food and energy). Rather than focus on the impact on prices, policy makers would likely focus more on the positive impact on demand.

US output is another supply side shock. In the week through October 3, US crude output was 8.88 mln barrels a day, and for the 48 continental states, it was highest weekly figure since 2010. Since 2008, the EIA estimates that US oil output is up more than 70%. Its 2014 forecast of average daily output in the US this year of 8.53 mln barrels can be surpassed. During that same week, US oil imports were 7.71 mln barrels a day. This is about 1.5 mln barrels a day than the average in the 2011-2013 period. The EIA expects imports to fall to 6 mln barrels a day next year.

Through the week of October 3, US crude inventories rose by five mln barrels. The consensus had forecast a build of a little more than one million barrels. Crude inventories are about 2% above the five year average, and refinery utilization has fallen to the lowest since June.

Talk of peak oil and the demise of the dollar spurred fantastic talk of a return to $ 150 a barrel and higher. It was supposed to support the shift in the world economic order, leaving aside the fact that China is a larger importer of oil, or that the world economy does better (at least in the short and medium term) with cheaper energy. While scenarios are high oil prices have been gamed out, we suspect not sufficient attention has been given to the opposite, and just as plausible a scenario of a further material drop in oil prices.

The 10-year average (120-month) of WTI is about $ 82.00 a barrel. In 2011 and 2012, it hit $ 75-$ 77. These do not seem like unreasonable medium-term targets. Technically, a break of $ 73 a barrel could send WTI toward $ 64, which corresponds with the 2010 low. A break of that would indeed be significant. (en) RSS feed for articles and news