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PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
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OFFICIAL: INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS READY TO SPEAK TO ISLAMIC STATE (IS) TO GET AID IN
[The organization needs above all to focus on Syrians inside the war-torn country, where more than 250,000 have been killed and at least a million wounded since the uprising began over four years ago, Daccord said. That means reaching out to all possible sides in the conflict — including IS.]


DECEMBER 9 -Delegates speak together in the assembly hall, prior the opening ceremony of the 20 Session of The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies IFRC, in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, Dec. 4, 2015. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)
 GENEVA — The International Committee of the Red Cross is trying to reach out to the Islamic State group to get humanitarian aid to people in areas under its control, the organization's director-general said Monday.
Yves Daccord made the comments to The Associated Press on Monday's start to a major gathering of the Red Cross and Red Crescent held every four years. The conference in Geneva aims partly to reinforce international humanitarian law that has come under threat in conflict zones like Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Yemen. The Red Cross is a "radically neutral" organization trying to have "a relationship where we can do it" with the Islamic State group, Daccord said. He said it's very difficult in Syria because some IS-controlled areas "are pretty off-limits for any humanitarian." READ MORE.. RELATED, ICRC Director General Yves Daccord: "We have a very clear humanitarian vision".....

ALSO a beautiful reply: Muhammad Ali defends Muslims in response to Donald Trump's ban plan
[Ali condemns ‘Islamic jihadists’ in 132-word statement on Wednesday]


DECEMBER 10 -Muhammad Ali poses with Shaquille O’Neal at a function in Louisville in October. Photograph: Timothy D. Easley/AP
Ali condemns ‘Islamic jihadists’ in 132-word statement on Wednesday. The Heavyweight Champ calls on political leaders to promote understanding. Muhammad Ali hit out against Islamic extremists and Donald Trump’s plan to bar Muslims from entering the United States on Wednesday.
“I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world,” the three-time world heavyweight champion said in a statement. “True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion.”  The Louisville-born boxer, who converted to Sunni Islam in 1975, called on Muslims to “stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda”. He added: “They have alienated many from learning about Islam. True Muslims know or should know that it goes against our religion to try and force Islam on anybody.” The 132-word statement, issued under the headline ‘Presidential Candidates Proposing to Ban Muslim Immigration to the United States’, also took a thinly veiled swipe at Trump’s sweeping proposal for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”, made on Monday in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting. “Speaking as someone who has never been accused of political correctness, I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people’s views on what Islam really is,” Ali said. READ MORE...RELATED, Here are those Muslim ‘sports heroes’ President Obama is talking about, Mr Trump...FRM THE WASHINGTON POST...

ALSO The Isis papers: leaked documents show how Isis is building its own state


DECEMBER 7 -The leaked Islamic State document sets out a blueprint for a building a state. THE GUARDIAN - Blueprint lays bare new contours of Islamic state, complete with civil service, regional government and Soviet levels of economic control. A leaked internal Islamic State manual shows how the terrorist group has set about building a state in Iraq and Syria complete with government departments, a treasury and an economic programme for self-sufficiency, the Guardian can reveal. The 24-page document, obtained by the Guardian, sets out a blueprint for establishing foreign relations, a fully fledged propaganda operation, and centralised control over oil, gas and the other vital parts of the economy. Analysis: The Isis papers: behind 'death cult' image lies a methodical bureaucracy The manual, written last year and entitled Principles in the administration of the Islamic State, lays bare Isis’s state-building aspirations and the ways in which it has managed to set itself apart as the richest and most destabilising jihadi group of the past 50 years.Together with other documents obtained by the Guardian, it builds up a picture of a group that, although sworn to a founding principle of brutal violence, is equally set on more mundane matters such as health, education, commerce, communications and jobs. In short, it is building a state. As western aircraft step up their aerial war on Isis targets in Syria, the implication is that the military task is not simply one of battlefield arithmetic. Isis is already far more than the sum of its fighters. The document – written as a foundation text to train “cadres of administrators” in the months after Isis’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared a “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria on 28 June 2014 – sketches out how to organise government departments including education, natural resources, industry, foreign relations, public relations and military camps. READ MORE...

ALSO: In War Against ISIS, China Cooperating with Russia; US Denies Bombing Syrian Military


A Chinese Su-27 Flanker fighter. (Photo: Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen / public domain / Wiki Commons)
China is cooperating with both Russia and the United States in the fight against international terrorism in Syria, Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Chen Gopin said on Tuesday. “Talking about the fight against the Islamic State in Syria, several countries are coordinating their efforts in the fight against this terrorist organization Gopin said, adding that “concerning China’s participation in coordinating international efforts on fighting against international terrorism, China is also involved in this process. Comprehensive cooperation with US and Russia has been established.”  TASS reported on Tuesday that Moscow is concerned with reports about a coalition airstrike at Syrian government forces which killed civilians in Al-Hasakah, in the far north-eastern corner of Syria. The Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday that “Moscow is seriously concerned with new reports about the US-led coalition’s airstrike at Syrian government forces positions near Deir ez-Zor on December 6, as well as with consequences of the airstrike at wrong targets near the Al-khan settlement in the Syrian province of Hasaka that led to considerable losses among peaceful civilians.” READ MORE... RELATED, ISIS is obsessed with gold currency ...

ALSO: Why the US, France and Britain are destroying Syria


DECEMBER 5 -© Darren Staples © Darren Staples / Reuters Since Russia stepped up to the plate, suddenly western countries can’t wait to bomb ISIS. Are they now there to get the job done? Or are they there to stop Russia increasing its influence, and to make sure it doesn’t succeed where they failed? The world is falling over itself to bomb Syria. The following statement from Reuters summarizes the situation: “Most of the world's powers are now flying combat missions over Iraq and Syria against Islamic State. But any consensus on how to proceed has been thwarted by opposing policies over the 4-year-old civil war in Syria, which has killed 250,000 people, driven 11 million from their homes, left swathes of territory in the hands of jihadist fighters and defied all diplomatic efforts at a solution.” Read more: © Loubna MrieWill the real terrorists in Syria please stand up? While it may seem to the outside observer that this catalogue of mayhem is the result of incompetence, to me – on the contrary – it is evidence of things going to plan. I have never, thus far, seen a war the ruling elite clearly wanted to happen not happen. Here, as in all other cases, there has been a bit of hand-wringing, some crying, some protests, some moving speeches. But like the morality plays of medieval times, after enjoying the sermon dressed as entertainment, life has inevitably carried on as normal with the barons raping and pillaging and everyone else having to put up with that reality. Destruction of Syria is the plan This time the plan – at least judging from the outcomes – is to destroy Syria. Syria has been anathema to the self-appointed arbiters of righteousness: the ‘international community’, that coterie of hypocrites which arrogates to itself the monopoly on meting out death to those who won’t get with the program. This group dislikes Syria which has had an uncompromising stance towards Israel and an independent financial system, and is using the chance to destroy it to flood Europe with refugees, thus further debasing the makeup of its constituent nations, and simultaneously justifying a lockdown in those countries. Enter Putin Everything was going swimmingly until Putin stepped in. READ MORE... RELATED, U.S., Allies Struggle to Cut Out ISIS' Tangled Financial Roots...ALSO, To Combat ISIS, Target its Oil Business in Syria...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Official: Red Cross ready to speak with IS to get aid in


Delegates speak together in the assembly hall, prior the opening ceremony of the 20 Session of The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies IFRC, in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, Dec. 4, 2015. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

GENEVA, DECEMBER 14, 2015 (PHILSTAR)  By Jamey Keaten (Associated Press) | Updated December 9, 2015 - GENEVA — The International Committee of the Red Cross is trying to reach out to the Islamic State group to get humanitarian aid to people in areas under its control, the organization's director-general said Monday.

Yves Daccord made the comments to The Associated Press on Monday's start to a major gathering of the Red Cross and Red Crescent held every four years. The conference in Geneva aims partly to reinforce international humanitarian law that has come under threat in conflict zones like Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Yemen.

The Red Cross is a "radically neutral" organization trying to have "a relationship where we can do it" with the Islamic State group, Daccord said. He said it's very difficult in Syria because some IS-controlled areas "are pretty off-limits for any humanitarian."

READ MORE...

The organization needs above all to focus on Syrians inside the war-torn country, where more than 250,000 have been killed and at least a million wounded since the uprising began over four years ago, Daccord said. That means reaching out to all possible sides in the conflict — including IS.

"We try to have some connections in Iraq, with maybe what I would call 'medium-level' people — people who are supporting Islamic State group," Daccord said. "We are trying to find some solutions" on a "pragmatic" basis, he added.

The reputation of the Red Cross as independent and impartial could help it achieve its end of getting through to the most vulnerable, Daccord said, noting that as many as 8 million people have been internally displaced in Syria — mostly the poorest people in the country who aren't able to flee.

"We are just a humanitarian organization. Not more than that, not less than that," he said.

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RELATED FROM REUTERS

ICRC Director General Yves Daccord. Reuters Lynn Barrett | 08 December, 2015, 05:19


ICRC Director General Yves Daccord. Reuters

"We have a very clear humanitarian vision".

He also expressed concern regarding the fate of the 10 million people living under ISIS, saying, "We are interested in these 10 million people".

"We try to have some connections in Iraq, with maybe what I would call "medium-level" people - people who are supporting Islamic State group", Daccord said.

The meeting, in which thousands of ICRC employees gather together to discuss obstacles faced by the humanitarian aid community, is held every four years. "Not more than that, not less than that", he said.

"You can not just come from Geneva" and expect armed groups to let you operate. "It takes a lot of time and you have to have the right people".

"An actor like the ICRC, what we have to do is we really have to be absolutely, deeply humanitarian. No social agenda, no change agenda...You might have an opinion, but that's not the problem", Daccord further said.

To operate in Boko Haram or Daesh areas, an organization must be seen as totally "non-partisan", the ICRC official added.

From air strikes on hospitals, to kidnappings targeting aid workers, the ICRC has warned of the shrinking space for relief agencies in conflict.

Sudan's foreign ministry under-secretary Abdel-Ghani al-Naem will lead his country's delegation to the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in Geneva.

The organization needs above all to focus on Syrians inside the war-torn country, where more than 250,000 have been killed and at least a million wounded since the uprising began over four years ago, Daccord said.

Red Cross workers are also being held hostage in Syria and Yemen, where several other members of the organisation have also been killed.


THE GUARDIAN.COM UK

Muhammad Ali defends Muslims in response to Donald Trump's ban plan Bryan Armen Graham @bryanagraham:  Thursday 10 December 2015 07.27 GMT Last modified on Thursday 10 December 2015 17.24 GMT


Muhammad Ali poses with Shaquille O’Neal at a function in Louisville in October. Photograph: Timothy D. Easley/AP

Ali condemns ‘Islamic jihadists’ in 132-word statement on Wednesday. The Heavyweight Champ calls on political leaders to promote understanding.

Muhammad Ali hit out against Islamic extremists and Donald Trump’s plan to bar Muslims from entering the United States on Wednesday.


ALI AND TRUMP

“I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world,” the three-time world heavyweight champion said in a statement. “True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion.”

The Louisville-born boxer, who converted to Sunni Islam in 1975, called on Muslims to “stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda”.

He added: “They have alienated many from learning about Islam. True Muslims know or should know that it goes against our religion to try and force Islam on anybody.”

The 132-word statement, issued under the headline ‘Presidential Candidates Proposing to Ban Muslim Immigration to the United States’, also took a thinly veiled swipe at Trump’s sweeping proposal for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”, made on Monday in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting.

“Speaking as someone who has never been accused of political correctness, I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people’s views on what Islam really is,” Ali said.

READ MORE...


Friend to foe: Trump’s ugly descent into anti-Muslim rhetoric

Trump had unwittingly invoked Ali earlier this week in the Republican presidential candidate’s response to President Barack Obama’s address to the nation on Sunday night, tweeting: “Obama said in his speech that Muslims are our sports heroes. What sport is he talking about, and who? Is Obama profiling?”


President Obama said Muslim-Americans are our sports heroes (see Washington Post report below)

Many were quick to mention the two had crossed paths many times over the years, with Trump himself referring to Ali as “my friend” in a Facebook post only seven months prior.

Even with advanced Parkinson’s disease having severely limited his speech and mobility, the 73-year-old icon continues to lend his global clout to a number of humanitarian causes.

In March, the Olympic gold medalist called on the Iranian government to release an imprisoned Washington Post journalist, calling the detained Jason Rezaian a “man of peace and great faith” who used his “gift of writing and intimate knowledge of the country to share the stories of the people and culture of Iran to the world”.

In 2011, Ali headed a group of prominent US Muslims in calling on Iranian leaders to release a pair of American hikers who had been detained near the Iran-Iraq border two years prior.

Known simply as The Greatest, he is renowned today as much for his principled stances on religious freedom and racial justice as his epochal victories over Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier and George Foreman.

----------------------------------------------

RELATED FROM THE WASHINGTON POST

 Here are those Muslim ‘sports heroes’ President Obama is talking about The Fix By Callum Borchers Callum (Borchers covers the intersection of politics and media) .December 7, 2015


Challenger Muhammad Ali watches as defending world champion George Foreman goes down to the canvas in the eighth round of their WBA/WBC championship match in Kinshasa, Zaire, on Oct. 30, 1974. Foreman is counted out by the referee and Ali regains the world heavyweight crown by KO in the bout dubbed "Rumble in the Jungle." (AP)

When President Obama said during his Oval Office address Sunday that “Muslim-Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes,” Donald Trump — as he so often does — fired off a tweet that captured what many were thinking.

(Trump’s knack for saying what people are thinking is as big a reason as any for his steady perch atop the polls, by the way.)

Um, how about Muhammad Ali, the legendary boxer whom Sports Illustrated named its Sportsman of the Century at the close of the 20th Century?

I think Trump is familiar with him.


CASSIUS CLAY BECAME Muhammad Ali... addresses a gathering at a Black Muslim convention in Chicago in 1968 in “The Trials of Muhammad Ali.”  By Mark Feeney of the BOSTON GLOBE OCTOBER 17, 2013

Then there’s the NBA’s all-time scoring leader, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Just down the list, at No. 6, is Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq might not be the most devout Muslim, but he might literally be the biggest Muslim ever. Four spots lower is Hakeem Olajuwon, whom Shaq has called a “Muslim brother” and the greatest center ever.

Yes, three of the top 10 scorers in NBA history are Muslims.


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was actually Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr. before he converted to Islam before the 1971-72 seasons.

There are more but, in Trump’s defense, not a ton — especially among famous current pro athletes.

Mike Tyson and Bernard Hopkins join Ali as some of the greatest boxers of all time who are Muslims.

But Muslims are still not highly represented in American professional sports; most people would be hard-pressed to name the best — or any — active Muslim athlete.


1988 PHOTO: Donald Trump with Mike Tyson - NEWS: Trump Pays $11 Million for Tyson vs. Spinks Bout February 25, 1988|EARL GUSTKEY | Times Staff Writer

There are several Muslims currently in the NFL, including Pro Bowl defensive back Aqib Talib of the Denver Broncos and top defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson of the New York Jets. In the NHL, there's Nazem Kadri, a young rising star on the Toronto Maple Leafs (who is Canadian). Casual fans might not recognize any of them, though.

But look again where the president mentioned Muslim-American sports heroes — he placed them among friends, neighbors and co-workers, suggesting we should think about the people we encounter every day, not only superstars.

I’m reminded of a high school cross country runner I covered while working at a small newspaper in Connecticut. This kid, Mohamed Hrezi, was hardly famous, but he remains one of the most compelling athletes I’ve ever written about. Here’s an excerpt from a 2010 article I wrote in the Citizen’s News of Naugatuck, Conn.:

It was 2007, and Mohamed Hrezi, then a junior, was explaining to [coach Bill] Hanley that throughout the month of Ramadan he would fast from sun-up to sun-down, in keeping with Islamic tradition.

“No water, no gum. Nothing,” Hrezi put it to me later.

That’s not exactly what Hanley means when he talks about runners giving up certain foods. But the coach applied his scientific knowledge to manage Hrezi’s unique circumstances: He pushed Hrezi, who wasn’t a big breakfast guy, to eat sizeable meals before dawn, so he’d “get a long burn.”

“It was hard to wake up, eat, then go back to sleep, and I didn’t always do it,” Hrezi admits now. “But it definitely made sense and helped a lot.”

On hot days, Hanley knew enough to scratch Hrezi from races or to let him work out on a belt in the high school pool.

“One thing we see is on a hot day, Mo, maybe on some days his blood was like sludge because there wasn’t a whole lot of water in it,” Hanley says. “There might have been the hemoglobin, but his heart had to pump faster to pump his thick blood around on those hot days.”

By Hrezi’s senior season, the combination of deft planning and cooperative weather allowed him compete at all seven of Naugatuck’s meets during Ramadan. Even more impressive, he broke the school record on each course.

Hrezi went on to win the 2008 Class L state championship and is now a scholarship runner at Central Connecticut State University. He recently broke the school’s 800-meter record.

Mohamed Hrezi, in the small town of Naugatuck, was a Muslim-American sports hero. And he’s exactly the kind of athlete Obama asked the country to watch and admire Sunday.


THE GUARDIAN.COM UK

The Isis papers: leaked documents show how Isis is building its state Shiv Malik @shivmalik Monday 7 December 2015 11.08 GMT Last modified on Monday 7 December 2015 22.39 GMT Share on Pinterest Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+ Shares 11k Comments 3,083

THE GUARDIAN - Blueprint lays bare new contours of Islamic state, complete with civil service, regional government and Soviet levels of economic control


The leaked Islamic State document sets out a blueprint for a building a state.

A leaked internal Islamic State manual shows how the terrorist group has set about building a state in Iraq and Syria complete with government departments, a treasury and an economic programme for self-sufficiency, the Guardian can reveal.

The 24-page document, obtained by the Guardian, sets out a blueprint for establishing foreign relations, a fully fledged propaganda operation, and centralised control over oil, gas and the other vital parts of the economy.

Analysis: The Isis papers: behind 'death cult' image lies a methodical bureaucracy

The manual, written last year and entitled Principles in the administration of the Islamic State, lays bare Isis’s state-building aspirations and the ways in which it has managed to set itself apart as the richest and most destabilising jihadi group of the past 50 years.


ISLAMIC STATE BLUEPRINT

Together with other documents obtained by the Guardian, it builds up a picture of a group that, although sworn to a founding principle of brutal violence, is equally set on more mundane matters such as health, education, commerce, communications and jobs. In short, it is building a state.

As western aircraft step up their aerial war on Isis targets in Syria, the implication is that the military task is not simply one of battlefield arithmetic. Isis is already far more than the sum of its fighters.

The document – written as a foundation text to train “cadres of administrators” in the months after Isis’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared a “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria on 28 June 2014 – sketches out how to organise government departments including education, natural resources, industry, foreign relations, public relations and military camps.

READ MORE...


READ: The Isis papers: a masterplan for consolidating power
The Isis papers: a masterplan for consolidating power 24-page document, translated here, outlines principles for governing territory under the group’s control and strategy for becoming a viable state Islamic State exercise training camp, northern Iraq. Boys known as the ‘caliphate cubs’ hold rifles and Islamic State flags as they exercise at a training camp in Tal Afar, near Mosul, northern Iraq. Photograph: AP

Dated some time between July and October 2014, it details how Isis will build separate training camps for regular troops and veteran fighters. Veterans, it says, should go on a fortnight’s refresher course each year to receive instruction in the “latest arts of using weapons, military planning and military technologies”.

It says they will also be given a “detailed commentary on the technologies” of the enemy and “how the soldiers of the state can take advantage of them”.


Isis fighters in Raqqa, Syria. The document details how the group will build separate training camps for regular troops and veteran fighters. Photograph: AP

The statecraft manual recommends a department for administering the military camps, a complex arrangement that, as described, goes well beyond the capabilities of al-Qaida in Afghanistan during the time it plotted the 9/11 attacks.

The document reveals for the first time that Isis always intended to train children in the arts of war. Isis propaganda from this year has clearly shown children being drilled, and even made to shoot captives.

But the text, authored by an Egyptian called Abu Abdullah, is explicit about the intention to do so from mid- to late 2014. Children, it says, will be receive “training on bearing light arms” and “outstanding individuals” will be “selected from them for security portfolio assignments, including checkpoints, patrols”.

The text highlights the need for Isis to achieve a unified culture encompassing foreigners and natives and sets out the need for self-sufficiency by establishing its own independent “factories for local military and food production” and creating “isolated safe zones” for providing for local needs.

The document came from a businessman working within Isis via the academic researcher Aymenn al-Tamimi, who has worked over the past year to compile the most thorough log of Isis documents available to the public.

For safety reasons, the Guardian cannot reveal further information about the businessman but he has leaked nearly 30 documents in all, including a financial statement from one of Isis’s largest provinces.

Isis is a project that strives to govern. It's not just a case of their sole end being endless battle by Aymenn al-Tamimi

Isis has suffered military setbacks in recent weeks, and some Sunni Arabs from Raqqa have indicated that its statecraft might be better on paper than it is in practice.

But Tamimi said the playbook, along with a further 300 Isis documents he has obtained over the past year, showed that building a viable country rooted in fundamentalist theology was the central aim. “[Isis] is a project that strives to govern. It’s not just a case of their sole end being endless battle.”

Gen Stanley McChrystal (retired), who led the military units that helped destroy Isis’s predecessor organisation (ISI) in Iraq from 2006 to 2008, said: “If it is indeed genuine, it is fascinating and should be read by everyone – particularly policymakers in the west.


McChrystal

Gen Stanley McChrystal: ‘If the west sees Isis as an almost stereotypical band of psychopathic killers, we risk dramatically underestimating them.’ Photograph: Jerry Lampen/Reuters
“If the west sees Isis as an almost stereotypical band of psychopathic killers, we risk dramatically underestimating them.

“In the Principles in the administration of the Islamic State, you see a focus on education (really indoctrination) beginning with children but progressing through their ranks, a recognition that effective governance is essential, thoughts on their use of technology to master information (propaganda), and a willingness to learn from the mistakes of earlier movements.

“It’s not a big departure from the works of Mao, the practices of the Viet Minh in Indochina, or other movements for whom high-profile actions were really just the tip of a far more nuanced iceberg of organising activity.

Charlie Winter, a senior researcher for Georgia State University who has seen the document, said it demonstrated Isis’s high capacity for premeditation.

“Far from being an army of irrational, bloodthirsty fanatics, IS [Isis] is a deeply calculating political organisation with an extremely complex, well-planned infrastructure behind it.”

Lt Gen Graeme Lamb, former head of UK special forces, said the playbook carried a warning for current military strategy.

Referring to sections of the statecraft text in which Isis repeatedly claims it is the only true representatives of Sunni Arab Muslims in the region, Lamb said it was all the more important to ensure wider Sunni leadership in the fight with Isis, or risk “fuelling this monster”.

“Seeing Daesh [Isis] and the caliphate as simply a target to be systematically broken by forces other than Middle Eastern Sunnis … is to fail to understand this fight.

“It must be led by the Sunni Arab leadership and its many tribes across the region, with us in the west and the other religious factions in the Middle East acting in support.

“It is not currently how we are shaping the present counter-Isis campaign, thereby setting ourselves up for potential failure.”


BREAKINGISRAELNEWS.COM

In War Against ISIS, China Cooperating with Russia; US Denies Bombing Syrian Military By JNI Media December 10, 2015 , 9:30 am


A Chinese Su-27 Flanker fighter. (Photo: Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen / public domain / Wiki Commons)

“And you shall keep [them] and do [them], for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the eyes of the peoples, who will hear all these statutes and say, “Only this great nation is a wise and understanding people. ” (Deuteronomy Chapter 4:06)

China is cooperating with both Russia and the United States in the fight against international terrorism in Syria, Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Chen Gopin said on Tuesday. “Talking about the fight against the Islamic State in Syria, several countries are coordinating their efforts in the fight against this terrorist organization Gopin said, adding that “concerning China’s participation in coordinating international efforts on fighting against international terrorism, China is also involved in this process. Comprehensive cooperation with US and Russia has been established.”

TASS reported on Tuesday that Moscow is concerned with reports about a coalition airstrike at Syrian government forces which killed civilians in Al-Hasakah, in the far north-eastern corner of Syria. The Russian Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday that “Moscow is seriously concerned with new reports about the US-led coalition’s airstrike at Syrian government forces positions near Deir ez-Zor on December 6, as well as with consequences of the airstrike at wrong targets near the Al-khan settlement in the Syrian province of Hasaka that led to considerable losses among peaceful civilians.”

READ MORE...

But the US military insisted on Monday that Russian warplanes were responsible for the attack on the Syrian army position. A US military official told The Washington Post that the Pentagon is “certain” that a Russian warplane carried out the attack. There was no response to that calim from either Syria or Russia.

Meanwhile, according to Xinhua, Russia has been in touch with the government of Cyprus to discuss the use of military facilities as part of its campaign against the Islamic State. Russian ambassador to Cyprus Stanislav Osadchiy said on Monday Cyprus has offered similar facilities to France and Germany. “We are discussing the issue with the [Cypriot] foreign ministry,” Osadchiy said, “I think that we’ll find a way to get these facilities.”

Russia currently carries out its attacks against ISIS from an air base near Latakia in Syria. It needs military facilities in Cyprus as backup. Cyprus’ military cooperation agreement with France grants French planes use of an air base near the southwestern city of Paphos for refueling and maintenance.

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RELATED FROM CNN MONEY

ISIS is obsessed with gold currency By Jose Pagliery @Jose_Pagliery December 4, 2015: 11:34 AM ET


This image, taken from an ISIS propaganda video, allegedly shows the terrorist group's newly minted coins.

The Islamic State is hellbent on world domination -- and a return to real gold coins.

When ISIS took over Iraq's second largest city last year, it stole nearly $450 million from Mosul's central bank. That included unknown, vast quantities of gold bullion, according the International Business Times and several military experts keeping track of ISIS.

ISIS believes the global economy's current system of paper money is a disaster. A video produced by the ISIS propaganda media unit explains this in a five minute video online called "Dark Rise of Banknotes and The Return of the Gold Dinar."

In the video, they condemn the rise of bank notes like the U.S. dollar, which started as "a mere claim to gold" and are now "a worthless piece of paper."

For ISIS, only pure gold currency will do -- even though economists say an ISIS gold currency is doomed because the population would most likely want to hoard gold rather than use it as currency.

Look back to medieval times, ISIS explains in the video. While the Islamic empire that stretched across the Middle East and Africa used gold and silver, "the rest of Europe... lay witness to the dark rise of banknotes, born out of the satanic conception of banks, which mutated into a fraudulent... financial system of enslavement orchestrated by the Federal Reserve in America," the video says.

READ MORE...


This is a still image from the ISIS propaganda video, which blames the Federal Reserve for destroying the world's currency system.

ISIS leaders have been identified by law enforcement and sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury, so they're essentially blocked from using the world's legal financial system. But gold offers a way for them to buy weapons and equipment, because metal isn't tracked like paper cash and electronic wire transfers.

"It's accepted all over the world. No one's going to argue with you or question how you're going to pay for something if you offer gold," said Daniel Karson, the chairman of private investigative firm Kroll.

Karson, who previously investigated financial fraud cases in New York and hunted down Saddam Hussein's hidden assets, said banks typically lower their identification standards for customers if they offer gold.

Then again, ISIS claims it is minting its own gold coins with recognizable logos, so that would get tracked anyway.

Gold does have drawbacks. It's extremely heavy. Consider what it takes to carry $1 million. A duffel bag stuffed with $100 bills weighs 22 pounds. It would weigh 58 pounds with gold.

"They're better off using the existing Iraqi and Syrian currency they have," said Martin Reardon, a former FBI agent who specialized in counter-terrorism missions. He's now an executive at The Soufan Group, a private intelligence firm.

In short: Gold is just not very convenient for quickly making a lot of transactions.

"These are mere fantasies of returning to a 7th Century point in history when the gold-based economy of the Arab world was at its peak," Reardon said. "It's a real attempt to make ISIS appear as something it is not now -- nor will ever be: a global economic power."

The ISIS fixation with gold is also a recruiting tool. It offers a departure from corrupted, modern Western ways, according to Andreas Krieg, a military scholar who teaches at King's College London in Qatar.

For example, ISIS blasts the "petrodollar" system that made dollars the global reserve currency. There's been constant demand for American bills ever since the Nixon administration struck deals with Saudi Arabia and other OPEC nations so that all oil exports are priced in U.S. dollars.

Krieg explained why this resonates.

"The narrative is unsurprisingly anti-imperialist, suggesting that the U.S. has conspired to control the world... to deprive Muslims from their own oil money," he said. "All of this is quite common propaganda that Muslims in the region are susceptible to."

The hypocrisy here is that ISIS is accepting U.S. dollars to sell oil and using them to buy equipment, Krieg said.
CNNMoney (New York) December 4, 2015: 11:34 AM ET


RT ONLINE (RUSSIA TODAY WORLD NEWS)

COMMENTARY: Why the US, France and Britain are destroying Syria By Sam Gerrans Published time: 5 Dec, 2015 13:24


THE WRITER: Sam Gerrans is an English writer, translator, support counselor and activist. He also has professional backgrounds in media, strategic communications and technology. He is driven by commitment to ultimate meaning, and focused on authentic approaches to revelation and realpolitik. He is the founder of Quranite.com – where the Qur’an is explored on the basis of reason rather than tradition – and offers both individual language training and personal support and counseling online at SkypeTalking.com.


© Darren Staples © Darren Staples / Reuters

Since Russia stepped up to the plate, suddenly western countries can’t wait to bomb ISIS. Are they now there to get the job done? Or are they there to stop Russia increasing its influence, and to make sure it doesn’t succeed where they failed?
The world is falling over itself to bomb Syria.

The following statement from Reuters summarizes the situation:

 “Most of the world's powers are now flying combat missions over Iraq and Syria against Islamic State. But any consensus on how to proceed has been thwarted by opposing policies over the 4-year-old civil war in Syria, which has killed 250,000 people, driven 11 million from their homes, left swathes of territory in the hands of jihadist fighters and defied all diplomatic efforts at a solution.”

Read more: © Loubna MrieWill the real terrorists in Syria please stand up?

While it may seem to the outside observer that this catalogue of mayhem is the result of incompetence, to me – on the contrary – it is evidence of things going to plan.

I have never, thus far, seen a war the ruling elite clearly wanted to happen not happen.

Here, as in all other cases, there has been a bit of hand-wringing, some crying, some protests, some moving speeches. But like the morality plays of medieval times, after enjoying the sermon dressed as entertainment, life has inevitably carried on as normal with the barons raping and pillaging and everyone else having to put up with that reality.

Destruction of Syria is the plan

This time the plan – at least judging from the outcomes – is to destroy Syria.

Syria has been anathema to the self-appointed arbiters of righteousness: the ‘international community’, that coterie of hypocrites which arrogates to itself the monopoly on meting out death to those who won’t get with the program.

This group dislikes Syria which has had an uncompromising stance towards Israel and an independent financial system, and is using the chance to destroy it to flood Europe with refugees, thus further debasing the makeup of its constituent nations, and simultaneously justifying a lockdown in those countries.

Enter Putin

Everything was going swimmingly until Putin stepped in.

READ MORE...

While many in the West who have grown jaundiced at the obvious usurpation of our governments by outside interests ascribe almost saint-like motivations to Putin, I do not. He is a superb strategist. Exactly what he is strategizing for is not clear yet.


‘Hopefully, no nukes will be needed’ against ISIS – Putin; © Aleksey Nikolskyi / Sputnik 9.5K

What is clear is that his move into Syria threw a spanner in the works of a status quo the US was quite happy with: growing terrorism and mayhem in Syria and spreading nicely to Europe.

Assad himself said a few days ago to the BBC (courtesy of Czech Television) that ISIS was growing smaller after Russian bombing intervention whereas moves by other countries served only to strengthen ISIS and increase their recruitment.

He added: "The facts are telling."

So what do the facts tell?

They tell us that Russia is the only country involved to date which has the removal of ISIS as an actual goal.

Russia is also the only country with a legitimate mandate under international law.

READ MORE...

In addition, ISIS was most eloquently outed by author and journalist Gearóid Ó Colmáin on Russia Today as a US creation.


FROM TOU TUBE:
Uploaded on May 22, 2011 Full Story: http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2011... General Wesley Clark reveals the US plan to invade and take over 7 countries, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Lybia, Somalia, Sudan, And Iran, before we even invaded Afghanistan. The first part of the plan was revealed 10 days after 9/11 and was expanded to included the other nations. Clark is quoted as saying the invasion wasn't based on links to Al-Queda or any other intelligence reports but just because the US has an army that is great at taking over other nations. Category Nonprofits & Activism License Standard YouTube License https://youtu.be/9LTdx1nPu3k

In this scenario, the reason for further western efforts in the region is looking increasingly like an attempt to prevent Russia from routing its assets or achieving the informational coup that would follow.

France and Britain milking the crises

The propaganda war is hotting up, with western press issuing unsubstantiated and emotional surmise as news.

Meanwhile, the French and the British are now, of course, bombing Syria.

At home, the French government not only voted to bomb but enacted ‘emergency’ powers at the same time. And Holland wants to change the constitution to extend these powers.

The Telegraph states: “The draft “Protection of the Nation” bill […] would extend the right to strip French citizenship from dual nationals convicted of terrorism offences by also including people born in France.

It would also prolong certain powers after a state of emergency was lifted.

No time limit will be inscribed in the constitution under the new proposals. As is currently the case, parliament will decide how long a given state of emergency should last.”

This all looks so like a dictator’s wet dream, it takes an effort of will to believe it has not been planned this way.


2014 PHOTO COURTESY OF THE INTERPRETER

And a man no less respected than Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, formerly Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, has raised legitimate questions about the official line on the Paris attacks.

He says: “European peoples want to be French, German, Dutch, Italian, Hungarian, Czech, British. They do not want their countries to be a diverse Tower of Babel created by millions of refugees from Washington’s wars.

To remain a nationality unto themselves is what Pegida, Farage, and Le Pen offer the voters.

Realizing its vulnerability, it is entirely possible that the French Establishment made a decision to protect its hold on power with a false flag attack that would allow the Establishment to close France’s borders and, thereby, deprive Marine Le Pen of her main political issue.”

The same event, of course, justifies France’s bombing of Syria.

The British government for its part – despite some theatrical hand-wringing – has got on the bandwagon and opted to join in whatever further criminality the US has planned in Syria.

As though to justify the decision, the Telegraph breathlessly informs us that ISIS (or ISIL as it calls it) is planning to attack the UK “next”.

It says: “There are unconfirmed reports that Isil has decided that the next target of an attack will be Britain.

European security agencies, citing specific intelligence that had been obtained, stated that British Isil operatives in Syria and Iraq were being tasked to return home to launch an attack, CNN reported.”

This is the level of the propaganda now: CNN reports security agencies who say that a terrorist group whose name changes every five minutes might be sending members to Britain to do harm.

But this is unconfirmed.

The real reason for this war

I’m going to simplify things: the Plan for a New American Century – a document which was created by neoconservative warmongers in or close to power under George Bush Jr. – listed countries which it wanted the US to attack, namely: North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria.

The journal-neo.org site states: “[all were] pinpointed as enemies of the U.S. well before the illegal war in Iraq in 2003, as well as the illegal 2011 war in Libya and the ongoing proxy war in Syria.”

Retired US General Wesley Clarke went on record in 2007 stating that the fix was in: the U.S. had unilaterally decided to destroy Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.


Retired US Army General Wesley Clark--- PHOTO Published on July 21, 2015 in Wesley Clark Calls for Modern Day Incarceration Camps Styled After Those Used During WWIIFull resolution (970 × 632) FROM REappropriate.com

This is not some wild-eyed conspiracy theorist. Clarke was a four-star general, and the man who commanded Operation Allied Force in the Kosovo War during his term as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe of NATO from 1997 to 2000.

The pretense of choice

Any objective assessment of who benefits from attacks upon the countries Clarke mentioned would not include any European country – or even the U.S. for that matter.

But the subtext is clear: if Europeans don’t want to take part, terrorist attacks will be allowed or contrived until they acquiesce.

In short: the ruling elite wants this war. Our pretend governments voted it through on the nod. And we the people will have to deal with the fallout and put up with random terrorist acts if we wake up and speak out about how this charade is rigged.

At the same time, the people of Syria are subject to bombing raids by the US, France and the UK – none of which have any invitation from the legitimate government of that country – actions which, properly speaking, are acts of war against the country the perpetrators claim to want to help.

My prediction: the clean-up operation Russia initiated and Assad approves of will be made to fail; terrorism will increase and spread into Europe; and mass immigration from Syria and that area to Europe will continue; and acts of terrorism on European soil will magically justify endless war, internal lock-down, wholesale surveillance, detention without trial, and troops on the street.

And this – in the absence of hard evidence based in action to the contrary – I can only see as the actual plan.

Do you remember voting for that?

No, nor do I.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT. 12.6K37

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RELATED FROM CNBC ONLINE

U.S., Allies Struggle to Cut Out ISIS' Tangled Financial Roots
by JOHN W. SCHOEN, CNBC SHARE Facebook Twitter Google Plus Embed NOVEMBER 15, 2015


Even before last week's Paris attacks, U.S. officials had opened up a new front in the war on ISIS: cutting off its cash flow.

The self-proclaimed Islamic state has "revenue streams (that) are, to be sure, diverse and deep," David Cohen, a senior Treasury official, said during a Washington speech last year, making it "probably the best-funded terrorist organization we have confronted."

While funding for the jihadists' global terror operations and ongoing control of Iraqi and Syria territories come from a variety of sources, an accurate accounting is problematic.

A large portion of the group's war chest comes from cash that has been stolen from Iraqi banks, along with other valuable assets seized during its invasion of Mosul last year, according to various analysts, who estimate the group made off with hundreds of millions of dollars.


DAVID COHEN PHOTO COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST

This summer, concerned that cash flowing through the Iraqi banking system might still be ending up in ISIS accounts, the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve temporarily suspended transfers to Iraq's central banks, according to The Wall Street Journal. Payments were resumed after Iraqi central bankers warned that they were running out of cash, the newspaper reported.

The suspension came as U.S. officials seek to track down the financial footprints of the terrorist group and coalition forces step up military strikes to turn back territorial gains by ISIS.

"It's a matter of developing the names of the individuals who control these accounts and working your way back thorough there," Kroll Associates Chairman Dan Karson told CNBC.

"Once you have the control of the account and the cooperation of the exchange, or the control of the network, then you can work your way back and find out who these people are who are contributing to the network itself."

Much of the cash raised by ISIS, though, doesn't flow through conventional financial channels.

The Islamic State raises millions of dollars a week from "taxation" and outright extortion of businesses and local government and civilian workers, according to Howard Shatz, a senior economist at the Rand Corp.

"ISIS raises much of its money just as a well-organized criminal gang would do; it smuggles, it extorts, it skims, it fences, it kidnaps and it shakes down," he wrote in a blog post.

Last year, ISIS raised as much as $20 million from kidnapping alone, according to Cohen at the Treasury Department.

The group is also generating millions of dollars a week from the sale of stolen oil from oilfields and makeshift refineries in territory it controls. Those facilities have recently become fresh targets for a stepped-up round of air strikes for coalition forces.

In one of the latest strikes, coalition aircraft hit the Qayyarah oil refinery in Iraq just after midnight local time Oct. 16, according to U.S. Central Command. The attack — captured in a video released by CentCom — was aimed at cutting off ISIS funding from the sale of "oil stolen from the people of Iraq," according to a statement from military officials.

In addition to training camps and armories, coalition forces have identified a half-dozen Syrian oilfields under ISIS control as potential targets, according to The New York Times.

READ: ISIS Makes Three Times as Much From Oil Smuggling as Previously Thought

Syrian oil production had been falling even before civil war. Since peaking in the mid-1990s, Syria's oil output has steadily declined as its aging oilfields have become depleted.

Once a major source of revenue for the Syrian government, proceeds from oil sales were sharply curtailed in 2011 following the imposition of sanction by its European customers. Sales of Syrian crude oil to those European countries amounted to some $3.6 billion a year, according the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Since then, the ongoing Syrian civil war has severely curtailed output as the government has lost control of major oil facilities.

READ MORE...

As of last year, ISIS controlled as much as 350,000 barrels per day production capacity in Iraq and Syria, but was only able to produce 50,000 to 60,000 barrels a day, according to estimates from IHS.

The oil is sold on the black market, mostly via trucks smuggling it over the border to Turkey, a route first established more than a decade ago by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who used the black market to evade sanctions on oil sales.

That supply chain, created to evade the U.N.'s oil-for-food program, still provides a ready market for oil and diesel fuel produced at facilities seized by ISIS.

The group has set up what amounts to its own oil company, recruiting trained engineers and managers through a human resources department and offering competitive salaries; some formerly worked at the oilfields now under ISIS control, according to the Financial Times.

By targeting a cluster of ISIS-controlled oilfields, the U.S.-led coalition is hoping to put a serious crimp in the group's oil production and cut off an important source of cash.

ISIS Is the World's Richest Terror Group, But Spending Money Fast

The loss of oil revenue would further strain the terrorist group's ambition to establish a true state and deliver basic services to the people it is trying to conquer. By way of comparison, the Iraqi government budgeted more than $2 billion to provide services in the provinces where ISIS operated last year, Treasury's Cohen noted, far more cash than ISIS is generating.

No matter how well the rest of the world is able to isolate ISIS financially, however, efforts to curb ISIS's terrorist ambitions by restricting its cash flow can only go so far, according to Kroll's Karson.

"Money is only part of it," he said. "You don't need a lot of money to move across borders and you don't need a lot of money to buy explosive devices. So it's a part of the puzzle, but it's by no means the entire thing."

-----------------------------------------------

RELATED FROM FORTUNE MAG ONLINE

To Combat ISIS, Target its Oil Business in Syria COMMENTARY by Cyrus Sanati @beyondblunt NOVEMBER 17, 2015, 3:19 PM ESTE-mail Tweet Facebook Linkedin Share icons


A member of the Syrian government forces stands next to a well at Jazel oil field, near the ancient city of Palmyra in the east of Homs province after they retook the area from Islamic State (IS) group fighters on March 9, 2015 Photograph by AFP/Getty Images

The less oil money ISIS has in the bank, the less damage it can do.

The Paris terror attacks came from a place of desperation, not strength, on the part of Islamic State (ISIS). Coalition forces, led by the United States, together with Kurdish militias, have scored a number of key military victories against the radical jihadists over the last few months, putting the so-called caliphate and its legions on the defensive for the first time since bursting on to the global scene last year.

Key to this turn of events is the ongoing and systematic destruction of the caliphate’s ability to produce and sell oil from fields it captured in eastern Syria last year. This is the source of its wealth and power. If the coalition wants to prevent more attacks like what took place in Paris, it will need to put an end to the sale and distribution of the oil enriching ISIS and its proxies.

While that might seem simple enough, (No, Mr. Trump, you can’t just “bomb the shit out of them”), it is actually fraught with complications and will require unprecedented commitment and cooperation.

The Paris attacks sent shock waves through the Western world. It wasn’t just because of the sheer number of people killed in the mayhem, which at last count stood at 129, but also because it was the first major terrorist attack by ISIS outside the Muslim world.

What does ISIS gain from slaughtering a bunch of Parisians far away from the battlefield? Was it simply to spread fear in the hearts of Westerners? Or was it to end the heretical practices of dining al fresco or attending rock concerts?

ISIS said the Bataclan Theater was targeted for its “hundreds of pagans gathered for a concert of prostitution and vice.” But while many think of terror groups as unpredictable and irrational, that usually isn’t the case. Attacks aren’t just random acts of violence; they are supposed to have meaning.


An airliner explodes in a fireball as it hits the south tower of the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001 Photo: GETTY

For example, in Al-Qaeda’s attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 and the IRA’s bombing of Canary Wharf in 1996, both groups set about to destroy symbols of wealth and prosperity, the funding engines that their enemies use to “oppress” them. It was more than just killing people. It was about sending a clear message that they are strong and capable of carrying out a rather sophisticated terror plot with symbolic importance.

It would have been one thing if ISIS planted a bomb outside of the Élysée Palace or set fire to the La Défense business district. But a drive-by shooting at a Cambodian restaurant on a Friday evening? That makes ISIS look like a bunch of thugs, not righteous warriors engaged in a moral crusade to “cleanse” Muslim lands of infidels.

So this all seems very desperate on the part of ISIS. This idea that they can terrorize the West to make them withdraw from ISIS-controlled territory isn’t the strategy of a winner but of a desperate soldier who knows that defeat is inevitable.

This spring, coalition forces led by the United States, in coordination with Kurdish armed forces and the Iraqi army, successfully pushed ISIS back and put them on the defensive. Islamic State lost much of the territory it gained in Iraq during the devastating campaigns of 2014, including the Ajil and Allas oil fields located in northeastern Iraq.

Since then, ISIS has basically been on the run. Kurdish militias finally united and took back more territory from Islamic State in the summer. And the fall of Sinjar this past weekend to the Kurdish alliance is quite significant as it splits the caliphate into two parts, severing communication and transportation links between forces in Iraq and Syria. The fall of Mosul, the largest town under ISIS control in Iraq, now seems inevitable. While ISIS and its affiliates will continue to terrorize the Middle East for years to come, the group’s dream of ruling over the Islamic world seems like a long shot at this point.

But things weren’t always so gloomy for the radical jihadists. Last year, ISIS was flourishing, taking territory in both Iraq and Syria. A band of no more than 800 ISIS soldiers caused an entire battalion of the Iraqi military, some 120,000 men, to flee in horror. They left behind plenty of brand new equipment and weapons given to them by the United States, including 2,300 armored Humvees and scores small arms.

ISIS has funded its ventures through various means, including extortion, donations, the selling of ancient artifacts, as well as by plain-old pillaging. But the bulk of its cash has come from exploiting captured oil fields, most of which are located in the sparsely populated Deir ez-Zor province in eastern Syria.

ISIS EARNINGS

Estimates of ISIS’ earnings from selling oil and refined products, such as gasoline and cooking gas, varies wildly, ranging from $1 million a day to $5 million a day. Indeed, ISIS most likely brings in far less than that, reaping somewhere in the hundreds of thousands every day, especially after losing control of its major oil assets in Iraq, a person with knowledge of the situation told Fortune. Nevertheless, the money, whatever the amount, has helped solidify the group’s control in Syria and needs to be eliminated as quickly as possible.

Last summer, when the coalition launched “Operation Inherent Resolve“, the U.S. military said it would target Syria’s energy infrastructure in a bid to cut the flow of money to ISIS. It set its sights on the infrastructure required to refine, or convert, crude oil into gasoline and other products. By the end of September, the Pentagon said it had effectively destroyed all the major refineries in eastern Syria.

ISIS CRUDE OIL CONDUIT

While this was a good first step, it didn’t fully cut off the flow of money to ISIS, as the group was still able to sell crude oil, with the proceeds going straight to its war fund. The biggest conduit of ISIS crude are independent truckers, who either sell the crude off to other middle men or refine the oil themselves in a makeshift “mobile” refinery. Not exactly the most efficient or the safest way to refine oil, but it works, albeit on a small scale. Coalition forces say they are targeting the makeshift refineries but, given their small size, it is unlikely that they can destroy them all.

The crudely refined gasoline is later sold to independent gas stations across the caliphate, from which ISIS collects a tax. The rest is either smuggled across the Turkish border, where it is sold at local markets, or into the parts of Syria and Iraq that ISIS doesn’t control. So, yes, ISIS gasoline is probably flowing through the engines of its enemies, of which it has many.

Targeting the refining part of the oil value chain made sense, but it wasn’t enough to halt the flow of oil and refined products from eastern Syria. The coalition wanted to avoid totally destroying the infrastructure around the oil fields to minimize the amount of reconstruction that would need to be carried out after ISIS was taken out of the picture. This has worked in Iraq, as coalition forces have successfully liberated oil fields from ISIS virtually intact.


RAF TORNADO IN OPERATION TIDAL WAVE RAF warplanes have launched their first bombing raids against so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria just an hour after MPs voted overwhelmingly for military action. pixit british

But the strategy hasn’t played out as successfully in Syria. Last month, the coalition changed tactics, launching Operation Tidal Wave II, which aims to cripple the ISIS oil industry. The goal is to bomb the Syrian oil fields hard enough that they can no longer be used by ISIS, but also soft enough that whatever damage is inflicted can later be easily repaired by professional oil companies. Sounds reasonable, but it may not be totally successful. While many of Syria’s oil professionals and engineers have fled the country, ISIS has somehow managed to keep the oil flowing. They have likely acquired the experts they need. With the right parts smuggled in, those experts could easily repair or contain the damage and have the field up in running in a matter of a few days.

The only way to wipe out the ISIS oil trade would be to take away all of its customers. This requires force and a lot of cooperation between the several factions combatting ISIS. Attaining this level of coordination will be the hardest part of the operation, but it’s possible, if the U.S. leads the way.

The coalition must first destroy Syria’s oil transportation network. If ISIS can’t get oil to its customers, then the crude might as well stay in the ground. Pipelines are the most obvious targets here, but chances are that most, if not all, of Syria’s pipelines are out of order. With a limited rail network to move crude, that leaves just one major target: tanker trucks.

ISIS has commandeered a number of tankers over the last year, which it uses to move its oil in and around its territory. Destroy the trucks, and you cripple ISIS’ oil business. On Monday, the U.S.-led coalition attacked a convoy of some 100 tanker trucks across Syria.

There’s a catch, though. The bulk of the oil being moved in and out of ISIS-occupied territory is by private truckers, most of whom have no affiliation with ISIS and are one-man shops. These truckers normally pay cash at the wellhead for the oil, so ISIS is usually the first paid in the oil value chain.

Attacking a few trucks as soon as they drive away from an oilfield would send a clear message to the truckers that it is no longer safe to fill up with ISIS. But killing civilians is never a good thing and runs counter to the U.S. military’s Rules of Engagement.

A viable alternative might be to invite the truckers to purchase oil, gasoline, and diesel at discounted prices from coalition-controlled oilfields and refineries in Iraq. They would then be encouraged to reenter (with air escorts) ISIS territory, putting them in direct competition with the group. All this cheap oil and gasoline would cause energy prices to fall rapidly across the caliphate, effectively destroying the local market for ISIS crude.

TURKEY

For this plan to be successful, Turkey needs to agree to seal its borders with Syria and Iraq and allow fellow NATO troops to be deployed to prevent smuggling. This would not only deliver a significant blow to the illicit oil trade but it would also serve as a way to limit the flow of migrants into Europe. The NATO presence would also create a temporary buffer between the Turkish military and Iraqi Kurds. This would help diffuse tensions between the two sides so that they can each focus their attacks on ISIS and not each other.

But this effort will fail in the absence of agreement from the foreign forces fighting in Syria that are not part of the U.S.-led coalition, particularly those of Russia and Iran. The political outcome of the Syrian revolution needs to take a backseat so long as ISIS remains a threat.

Coordinated action will hasten the fall of ISIS and its proxies in the region. While ISIS isn’t receiving market prices for its oil at the moment, it is still collecting enough money to fuel its violent efforts in Syria, Iraq, and the West, while engaging in terrorist attacks such as those seen in Paris last week. The oil trade in Syria needs to be shut down completely. The less money ISIS has in the bank, the less damage it can do.


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