Thursday, November 26, 2015

ISIS, Turkey, oil -- and the NYT's outrageous hypocrisy

The NYT has published yet another story intended to give gullible, confused readers the impression that Assad and ISIS are pals rather than enemies. And they're bringing Russia into the mix as well...
The Treasury Department on Wednesday announced sanctions against a Syrian construction executive it said was helping President Bashar al-Assad buy oil from the Islamic State, as well as against a Russian businessman who leads the World Chess Federation and who is accused of having financial dealings with the Syrian leader.

The moves are the latest attempt by the administration to financially squeeze Mr. Assad, who President Obama has said must step down to bring an end to the four-year-old Syrian civil war, and to choke off the Islamic State’s cash flow. It is also the first time that the American government has issued sanctions against an individual for helping Mr. Assad do business with the militant group.
Where to start?

First: Assad is the legitimate leader of Syria, so this businessman -- his name is George Haswani -- should be free to do all the deals he wants with Assad. After all, we do business with the monsters who run Saudi Arabia.

Second: While it has indeed been widely alleged that Assad has been forced to buy oil from the very rebels who are trying to topple him, we should note that ISIS also sells to the Kurds. Like Assad, the Kurds are fierce enemies of ISIS. Unlike Assad, the Kurds are supposed to be our allies.

But the vast majority of ISIS oil goes elsewhere. Specifically: Turkey.

This is a huge scandal. But you're not going to hear about that in the NYT, because Turkey is an ally.

The man who is getting filthy rich handling all of that sweet, sweet ISIS-brand oil is Bilal Erdogan, the son of ultra-corrupt Turkish president Recep Erdogan. (Bilal is pictured on the right.) Here is a brilliant piece (by F. William Engdahl) which details the unholy alliance between the Erdogan family and ISIS.
More and more details are coming to light revealing that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, variously known as ISIS, IS or Daesh, is being fed and kept alive by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Turkish President and by his Turkish intelligence service, including MIT, the Turkish CIA. Turkey, as a result of Erdoğan’s pursuit of what some call a Neo-Ottoman Empire fantasies that stretch all the way to China, Syria and Iraq, threatens not only to destroy Turkey but much of the Middle East if he continues on his present path.

In October 2014 US Vice President Joe Biden told a Harvard gathering that Erdoğan’s regime was backing ISIS with “hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons…” Biden later apologized clearly for tactical reasons to get Erdoğan’s permission to use Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base for airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, but the dimensions of Erdoğan’s backing for ISIS since revealed is far, far more than Biden hinted.

ISIS militants were trained by US, Israeli and now it emerges, by Turkish special forces at secret bases in Konya Province inside the Turkish border to Syria, over the past three years. Erdoğan’s involvement in ISIS goes much deeper. At a time when Washington, Saudi Arabia and even Qatar appear to have cut off their support for ISIS, they remaining amazingly durable. The reason appears to be the scale of the backing from Erdoğan and his fellow neo-Ottoman Sunni Islam Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu.
In addition to son Bilal’s illegal and lucrative oil trading for ISIS, Sümeyye Erdoğan, the daughter of the Turkish President apparently runs a secret hospital camp inside Turkey just over the Syrian border where Turkish army trucks daily being in scores of wounded ISIS Jihadists to be patched up and sent back to wage the bloody Jihad in Syria, according to the testimony of a nurse who was recruited to work there until it was discovered she was a member of the Alawite branch of Islam, the same as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who Erdoğan seems hell-bent on toppling.

Turkish citizen Ramazan Başol, captured this month by Kurdish People’s Defence Units,YPG, as he attempted to join ISIS from Konya province, told his captors that said he was sent to ISIS by the ‘İsmail Ağa Sect,’ a strict Turkish Islam sect reported to be tied to Recep Erdoğan. Başol said the sect recruits members and provides logistic support to the radical Islamist organization. He added that the Sect gives jihad training in neighborhoods of Konya and sends those trained here to join ISIS gangs in Syria.
The story gets better. Guess where much of that ISIS oil in Turkey ends up? According to one source, it goes to Israel.

Will the NYT tell you these things? No, it will not. The NYT will never look into the allegation that ISIS-brand oil finds its way into Israeli bulldozers. Instead, the NYT prefers to publish misleading tripe intended to convey the idea that Russia and ISIS are somehow allied.

It's not true. Russia is the very worst enemy that ISIS has ever had.

Funding ISIS. If you followed the links given above, you'll see that one of them goes to this NBC story, which quotes Treasury undersecretary David Cohen. Near as I can tell, Cohen is the main source for the claim that Assad buys oil from ISIS. Is this claim credible? Is Cohen credible?

Nota bene:
Unlike al Qaeda, he said, ISIS gets only a small share of its money from deep-pocketed donors. It relies mostly on black-market oil sales, extortion and ransom payments, Cohen said.
Cohen is lying. This investigation by Daniel Lazare proves that he's lying.

Although the oil trade has become increasingly lucrative, ISIS gets most of its walking-around money from Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States. The Obama administration does not care to admit that fact, so it has been forced to come up with a series of unlikely alternative scenarios.

The most ridiculous of these claims held that ISIS has been selling stolen antiquities on the art market. If you know anything about the recent history of that market, you'll laugh at this assertion. The Getty scandal left buyers scared. Now factor in the movement to repatriate both the Elgin marble and the art stolen by the Nazis, and what do you have? You have an atmosphere in which no museum director in his right mind would pay big bucks for any piece with an iffy provenance. If the piece was burgled by ISIS, the day may soon come when the work will have to be repatriated, leaving the buyers SOL.
The same goes for bank heists. Although ISIS was widely credited with making off with $400 million when it took Mosul, in northern Iraq, in July 2014, The Financial Times described the seizure as the biggest heist that “never happened.”
Kidnapping for ransom also seems less than lucrative in an economy inside ISIS-controlled territory that is going increasingly downhill. Ditto local taxation.
And what about all of that oil? Here, matters become murky, because we have wildly differing estimates of the amounts involved. The United States, ever protective of the Saudis, has every motive to exaggerate the numbers.
While illicit oil sales may play an important role, they are also probably not as profitable as believed. Assuming they were filled to the brim, the 116 tanker trucks that U.S. planes destroyed on Monday may have contained a hundred barrels of crude each, oil that, at today’s prices, ISIS would be lucky to sell for around $30 a barrel. Thus, the damage to the Islamic State’s “treasury” weighs in at a relatively minor $350,000 or so.
Roughly 100,000 ISIS fighters get $300 to $800 a month, which means that the monthly bill is pretty damned high. The money is coming from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as has always been the case.
Evidence of broad regional support is abundant even if news outlets like The New York Times have done their best to ignore it. Some of the highlights of this money trail:

–In a 2009 diplomatic memo made public by Wikileaks, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”
So Cohen is just flinging bullshit. Check very carefully before you believe anything that guy says about Assad. Or ISIS. Or George Haswani. Or anything having to do with Russia.
Great stuff as usual, Joe. You may also find the Kirsan Ilyumzhinov strand interesting. He's the guy who's head of the World Chess Federation and who the US has just slapped sanctions on. He's also the ex-dictator of Kalmykia in the Russian Caucasus. And, typical for down in the Caucasus, he was once a boxing champion. He believes he was in contact with aliens (that link shows him talking about it) - and in alignments that go through Notre Dame in Paris. (Well, don't we all? The source is his autobiography, memorably named The President's Crown of Thorns). I've read his autobiography. It's like Hitler's Mein Kampf, maybe filtered through Trevor Ravenscroft, but without the racism. Hard to imagine, maybe, but I'm serious. He has a fanatical belief in himself as a man of destiny.

Kalmykia was where those Tibetan-flavour Buddhists found dead in Berlin in 1945 came from. (Originally, anyway. I am told they first went to Yugoslavia for a couple of decades.)

I wonder whether Ilyumzhinov could get himself viewed by Daesh (ISIS) as the Dajjal, in their eschatology. Or will that title go to Putin?

Because it's going to go to somebody, we can be sure. We underestimate Daesh's apocalypticism at our peril. It's beginning to get talked about in some western periodicals (here and here), but I still don't think they've got their heads round the role of either the Dajjal or Khorasan in the eschatology. (I'm saying this because I'm aware of the equation of Khorasan with a region of Iran and believe it to be simplistic.)

Another about the freak weather conditions in Saudi and Qatar, front-paged by Russia Today?

"Cars floating in rivers that were once streets, water gushing through ceilings and people sailing to work on boats – that’s the current picture in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, both desert countries, which should be dry and sunny for the whole year."

Russian weather weapon? Just askin'.
Excellent work, Joseph. The war on terrorism seems to be at least partially about the money, as most wars have been. The Turks have been profiting hugely from stolen oil marketed by ISIS, and thanks for introducing Erdogan's son into the mix. Don't discount the quantities of oil involved; Bilal Erdogan reputedly just bought an oil tanker vessel for $35 million, but that was just before the Russians claimed to have destroyed over 1000 tank trucks hauling oil from Syria to Turkey. They had videos which showed at least hundreds of trucks amassed on the ground and in the process of being destroyed, along with videos of oil storage tanks being systematically bombed. (Fort Rus? Sputnik? Moon of Alabama?) It is my belief that this was the direct cause of the Turk shootdown of the Russian aircraft.

Where will the Turks get stolen oil at discounted rates now that the Russians are cutting off their source? Maybe they will have to go back to buying oil from Iran at the going rate instead, and that's a bitter pill to swallow, not to mention the loss of income for the Erdogan family with enough money left on the table for Israel to make a few shekels out of it.

b: Yeah, damaging floods in Saudi and Qatar? What are the odds at this particular moment? I thought about weather warfare also.
Daesh (ISIS) is receiving money not just from Saudi and Qatar, but also from the US. (The money is "routed through" the US, in the euphemism.) This has been stated by captured Daesh commander Yousaf al Salafi.

Lest anyone be accused of whitewashing Russia, it's worth pointing out that Russia isn't quite the monolith it presents itself as. True, the head of the Chechen republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, has asked for Chechen infantry to be sent to Syria to fight Daesh. But other Chechens are already there, fighting for Al Qaeda's Al Nusra Front and in some cases for Daesh. Chechens have also fought on both sides in the Ukraine, a country where Daesh is said to have a presence.

A key concept here, so little mentioned in the mainstream media but widely understood throughout the Middle East to explain important features of Daesh's strength, is the concept of the mercenary soldier.
Guys, let me just say that I've tried before to research the amount of money ISIS makes from oil. The published estimates vary so widely that I soon gave up the task. We often hear that ISIS makes a million dollars a day from that trade, but this seems a questionable figure. Right now, I see no way to be certain.

Well, we can be certain of this: If we can trust the estimate of how much ISIS spends monthly, then oil revenue covers less than half, even if we accept the one million a day figure. One million a day equals 30 million a month, right? 100,000 soldiers receiving an average of 500 bucks a month equals 50 million, just to pay their wages. There are lots of other expenses beyond that, of course.

So if my very rough estimates are anywhere close to reality, then Bilal Erdogan is making a nice bundle from his oil deal, but ISIS still needs help from the Saudis.

The Obama administration's selective prosecution of Haswani but not Erdogan means that the US is simply making sure that ISIS has no choice but to sell to our Turkish friends.
What's the heroin angle? Bashar Assad's uncle Rifaat used to be among the biggest heroin traffickers in the world. Have Daesh and Erdogan taken over some of that trade?
I too read the story and was shocked by the boldness of the NY-Times propaganda piece, but since the staff at the NY-Times would be brought up for War-Crimes [aiding and abetting] "Wars of Aggression" in Iraq/Libya/Syria, if we were to use Nuremberg criteria, it's hard to see this as anything more than compulsive criminality*. But I am grateful when somebody writes out all the flagrant deceits.

I read the NY-Time to understand what today's "intellectuals" are being told to's easier to listen to them blather when you know what they are going to say...and where they got their "independent" thoughts from. It's a surreal world where people who think of themselves as intelligentsia and yet mutter what they're told with all the thought of cows chewing cud.

*Free speech does not include inciting other to commit/support the murder on innocents.
In a couple of hours I will be dining with family. We always go around the table and say the things for which we are thankful. These days, I am quite cynical and desperate for this world we continue to F up.
I do not know what i will say today, but I want to tell Joseph and you all - Thanks for for all you do. For that i am truly thankful.
I've found that about these five israelis guys :
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