Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 29, 2017

U.S. Wants Control Over Anbar And Beyond - Iraq and Syria Will Prevent It

The U.S. is casting its net over the desert between Iraq and Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to install military bases and power-structures that will guarantee major influence in the area for the foreseeable future. A part of that plan is to develop Sunni proxy forces that will keep the government forces of Damascus and Baghdad out of the area. Another part is to privatize important infrastructure to keep it under direct U.S. control.

To privatize the Iraqi Highway 1 between Baghdad and the Jordanian capital Amman, is a major point in these plans. According to the NYT:

As part of an American effort to promote economic development in Iraq and secure influence in the country after the fight against the Islamic State subsides, the American government has helped broker a deal between Iraq and Olive Group, a private security company, to establish and secure the country’s first toll highway.

Map by New York Times

The map shows Highway 1 from Baghdad to Amman. Notice the road junction east of the Jordan-Iraq border. There the road splits with one branch going north-west towards Damascus. The point where that road crosses from Iraq to Syria is the al-Tanf border station currently occupied by U.S. forces and their British and Norwegian auxiliaries as well some Syrian "rebels" under U.S. control. The U.S. recently bombed a convoy of Syrian and allied Iraqi forces which was moving towards that area.  The U.S. military dropped leaflets to Syrian troops to order them to stay away from their own border. Who the f*** do those U.S. troops think they are? What is there justification to be there in the first place? Large Iraq and Syrian government forces are now moving towards al-Tanf from the two sides of the border to evict the occupiers. Iraq, Syria, Iran and Russia have agreed that no U.S. position will be tolerated there. U.S. and other foreign troops will either move out voluntary from al-Tanf or they will be removed by force.

Highway 1 and its branch to Damascus is the most important economic lifeline between Syria and Jordan in the west and Iraq and beyond in the east. Whoever controls it, controls major parts of commerce between those countries. Iraq is a country with rich resources. While it is under economic strains after decades of U.S. sanctions and war against it by the U.S. and Takfiri proxy forces it has no long-term need to rent out such major real estate.

Nevertheless the current Iraqi government under Prime Minister al-Abadi signed a preliminary agreement for a 25 year contract with the U.S. company:

Mr. Abadi has awarded the development project to Olive Group, although the final details are still being worked out. The project would include repairing bridges in western Anbar Province; refurbishing the road, known as Highway 1; and building service stations, rest areas and roadside cafes. It would also include mobile security by private contractors for convoys traveling the highway.

Al Abeidi is now under pressure from the Shia majority who elected him into office to renounce the deal. It is obviously that the deal is not in their interest nor that of the country. According to U.S. diplomats one purpose of the deal is:

pushing back on the influence of Shiite Iran, whose growing power in Iraq has alarmed important Sunni allies of the United States like Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Iran has little to do with the road. It is the Shia majority of Iraq that would benefit most from free flowing traffic and commerce on it.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia have enabled the Sunni insurgency in Iraq of which ISIS is just the latest incarnation. To allow the U.S. to control the road and thereby Anbar province in the name of Turkey and Saudi Arabia would guarantee that future Sunni insurgencies could threaten Baghdad whenever "needed". Just remember how Obama said he used ISIS to throw then Prime Minster Maliki out of office:

The reason, the president added, “that we did not just start taking a bunch of airstrikes all across Iraq as soon as ISIL came in was because that would have taken the pressure off of [Prime Minister Nuri Kamal] al-Maliki.

A U.S. controlled west-Iraq and south-eastern Syria would be a highway for Saudi Arabian miscreants from their country up towards Baghdad and Damascus. It would be an incarnation of the "Salafist principality" the U.S. and other early ISIS supporters have wished for since at least 2012.

The U.S. is willing to obfuscate and to lie to further its imperial plans. The NYT is, as usual, complicit in that:

Playing on painful memories and fears of Iraqis, news outlets have also run false reports that Blackwater — the private security firm that acted with impunity in the early days of the American occupation and gunned down innocent Iraqis in Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007 — had taken on the project.

“The politics of this country are challenging,” said Christian Ronnow, executive vice president of Constellis, the parent company of Olive Group, a private security firm that has worked for years in Iraq.

What the NYT claims are "false reports" are in fact reasonable conclusions:

The [Constellis] Group combines the specialized skills and operational excellence of ACADEMI, Edinburgh International, Strategic Social and Triple Canopy,


is an American private military company founded in 1997 by former Navy SEAL officer Erik Prince as Blackwater, renamed as XE Services in 2009 and now known as Academi since 2011 after the company was acquired by a group of private investors.

Olive Group is Constellis Group is Academi is Blackwater - the "false reports" in Iraqi media are way more truthful on that than the NYT is.

The U.S. project in Anbar province and its potential control of Highway 1 through private U.S. forces threatens to put an economic stranglehold on Iraq, Syria and Jordan. I trust that nationalist forces in those countries as well as their allies will do their best to prevent it.

Posted by b on May 29, 2017 at 11:37 UTC | Permalink


Al Abeidi needs to be replaced by the iraqis. he's a traitorous mole of the tnc's ... note the trans-national corporate involvement in this plan. this is the new textbook of post tpp ttip tnc corporate control of other peoples' property. it needs to be stopped dead in its tracks.

Posted by: jfl | May 29 2017 12:00 utc | 1

It was advisable not to delay this article in this way.
It seemed possible to issue it on the start of military exercises in Jordan near the Syrian border..

Posted by: ALAN | May 29 2017 12:03 utc | 2

Just to correct appoint mentioned in the article. PM Abadi was NOT elected by the majority in Iraq. In fact, it is said that Abadi obtained approximately 5000 votes in the whole of Iraq. The majority elected Al-Maliki, having obtained nearly 800,000 votes in the Baghdad region alone, and having the largest number of MPs. There was a US backed "palace coup" that brought Abadi to power in Iraq- this involved those closest to Al-Maliki such as Abadi and Shahrestani, as well as the other Shia players. It was clear that the US did not want Al-Maliki as he did not serve their interests- in contrast Abadi as been the "yes man" of US policy in Iraq.

The PMU arrived at the Syrian border today (in Nineveh province). I'm not sure how significant this is at present as the territory they have linked with is controlled by SDF (US proxy) forces. For the link to Syria to be meaningful, it needs to link up with Syrian government forces- and at present there are none who control the Syria/ Iraq border.

Posted by: Hayder | May 29 2017 12:04 utc | 3

No doubt Syria, Russia, Iran & Iraq have their own 'innovative risk management solutions'. Things could get hot in Al Tanf.

Posted by: dh | May 29 2017 13:11 utc | 4

@b I posted the comment below on another thread. While I agree with you that the US had a priority of tryng to control the desert space between Iraq, Syria, Turkey and the Saudi's... perhaps things are changing.

significant shift in priorities?.. indicates that the US and Britain are removing their forces from the southern Syrian-Iraqi border crossing of Al Tanf. What is even more interesting is the alleged deployment of a Russian mountain brigade to secure the Jordanian-Syrian border which will effectively shut down any more attempts to carve out a a US dominated area in this part of the Syrian desert. Thinking in terms of pipelines, this effectively cuts the Saudi's out of the pipeline game and also reduces their influence in Turkey. It also preserves Russian oil dominance in Europe. A month or so ago I suggested that the US would not extend the Kurdish zone south of Raqqa, primarily because the long game in oil favors N Iraq over the Saudi’s. It also seems that this will keep Erdogan far more dependent on the US. Saudi oil would have given his economy a much needed boost and made him far more independent and unreliable for US interests

Posted by: les7 | May 29 2017 13:22 utc | 5

Plan A for regime change in Syria using Takfiri radicals, mostly imported from abroad is failing so it's on to Plan B to block an Iranian hydro carbon pipeline to Europe. Plan B would have to work in conjunction with the Kurdish held areas in order to put in place a geographic block. Plan B does not look too promising in the long run and a showdown at Al Tianf to oust the NWO Imperialists could leave Jordan playing host to the remnants of Plan A. In some ways this whole fuster cluck is beginning to sort itself out as the grip of the imperialists on this area is slowly being pried off a finger at a time as the Eurasian one belt one road looms on the horizon as an economic reality that meets the test of all logic.

Posted by: BRF | May 29 2017 13:34 utc | 6

Correction to Hayder's correction: Maliki and Abadi were members of the same party, Dawa, and thus, the same voting list. In open list system parties can create lists (they can create common lists for a number of parties) and the votes are cast for a list and a name on the list. The list gets the number of seats as a function of all votes cast on the list. The list participants who get parliamentary seats are decided by the number of votes cast on them. Therefore the leaders of a party cannot pre-determine who will be actually elected, and it is particularly interesting when several parties form a joint list -- which party would gain most from the arrangement is determined by the popular vote.

Maliki have run as a prime minister, so he automatically had a huge name recognition. The average number of votes per seat was 100,000, so his "personal vote" was sufficient to elect 7 more deputies, but it was not up to him to decide who they would be. Abadi lacked his personal political "sub-machine" (of Dawa's party political machine) so he was near the tail of Dawa's list. That said, the position of PM and the membership of the cabinet is not decided by the popular vote but by the parliament that can replace PM at any time. After the spectacular debacle of ISIS taking over huge swath of Iraq, there was a natural public and parliamentary sentiment "anybody but Maliki".

Abadi was a compromise figure. He is from the same party as Maliki, which is natural (even if not automatic) as this party was the largest in the parliament. It is a bit unfortunate that politics in Iraq is wide open to external pressures, but he was "acceptable" to USA and Iran (as was the case with Maliki). Unlike Hadi of Yemen who also was supposed to be a compromise figure, until today Abadi seems to stick to a compromise course, e.g. the military gets weapons from USA and Russia, among many suppliers (while Hadi turned to be a Saudi puppet). It is an interesting question how a compromise between Iran and USA can work in practice.

A Sunni politician was nominated for Defense Minister, and however sensible, one can see American influence here. The government also allows Popular Mobilization Units to operate, and one can see Iranian influence there. Obama spent enormous effort to sideline PMU from the fight against ISIS, and that manifestly failed, e.g. just today PMU got control of the point on Euphrates (and the highway along Euphrates) on Iraqi-Syrian border, while a number of PMU units operate in Syria, and were active participants in the recent advances against ISIS and FSA in the deserts of south-east Syria. The plan is clearly to create a cordon line from Damascus to Iraqi territory under the joint control of SAA and PMU. Trump made a token gesture to derail that plan by bombing "a little" SAA and PMU as they were approaching the point of contact, and dropping leaflets that proclaimed Tanf (the juncture of borders of Iraq, Syria and Jordan) and 50 km/35 miles around a "free fire zone" in respect to SAA and allies. It seems that the latter decided to protest that verbally, and on the ground, complete the cordon line to the north of Tanf and to the south of Euphrates. That would temporarily leave a swath of barren desert to FSA.

Iraq politics are more Byzantine than anywhere, but it is clear that the Defense Ministry is the locus of American influence that styles itself to protect human rights, of Sunnis in particular, and PMU are the locus of Iranian influence, as Iran supplied them with weapon and training, while Shia political movements were most active in recruiting. Obama maneuvers failed, and Trump seems to be doing a bare minimum to appease lucrative allies in the Gulf.

Concerning the contracts for Baghdad-Jordan highways, the strategic implications may be small. The contract may be less corrupt than Iraqi average, perhaps more than 50% will be spend on the actual road work etc. The contractor may manipulate the speed of roadwork according to American wishes (but hard to tell if American would wish the work to be faster or slower). And providing security for convoys, can you imagine a convoy of several thousands of PMU members with some heavy military hardware requesting the security or obeying the "STOP" signs or instructions? Of course, American can bomb such convoys, but if that would be more than a token action, they would have a hell heck to pay.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 29 2017 14:06 utc | 7

A work on pipeline games. Crude oil, unlike natural gas, can be very efficiently transported by sea. Unlike crude oil, liquified natural gas is explosive, so terminals and tankers are much more expensive, giving the priority to pipelines.

The same explosive nature of the natural gas rears its ugly head for the pipelines in so-called conflict zones where they explode quite regularly. Observe the pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan that was "pencilled" but never attempted, as it would have to cross very active conflict zones. Somewhat less obviously, the pipeline from Turkmenistan to Black Sea, through Russia, develop explosive properties too, which may reflect second thought of Russians about hugely overpriced contract for Turkmen gas. Thus Turkmenistan was forced to use a pipeline to China that has a very good safety record. Additional arguments nixed the project of an independent connection of Turkmenistan with Europe through Caspian Sea. One can observe that the pipelines from Azerbaijan to Turkey have to cross very close to Armenia, Armenia being at war with Azerbaijan, and the potential of closing those pipeline is Armenia's equivalent of a nuclear weapon (damn effective, but it can be used as the last resort only).

With those observations, a pipeline from the Gulf to the Mediterranean would have very poor security, unless one would route it through KSA to Jordan, then to Israel and then, under sea, to Turkey or Greece. But KSA rulers are loath to cooperate with Israel that openly, and benefits would accrue for Qatar that has 200 year old conflicts (al Thanis and banu Saud have sour relations for about that long, they started as two neighboring desert clans in central Arabia).

Another pipeline with good commercial sense would follow the northern shores of the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea to the energy-thirsty Indian subcontinent. This was somehow nixed by Americans. One could imagine a grand compromise allowing Iran and Qatar to collectively bribe Pakistan to submission and completing the Pakistani segment of that pipelines, with sales to both Pakistan and India. Economically, it would be a boon for everybody involved, Qatar and Iran would get cash outside quotes for oil production and electricity starved subcontinent would get a huge economic boost. But it would create the dreaded "Iranian influence" and Pakistanis are bribed, blackmailed or whatever to be uncooperative.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 29 2017 14:33 utc | 8

Erik Prince is the brother of Betsy DeVos. When you simply need to get rid of pallets of hundred dollar bills, load them up on c-130's and Prince's crew will happily unload them for you, post haste. He's your man in the Middle East. For eight years the Dubya admin dumped money on him, then Obama for eight more years and now Trump follows suit - AND MORE! - employing Erik's sister to also pig-out at the buffet.

Name Changes for each set of administrations - but still the same guy. Blackwater, XE, Academi.

What a skill set this guy has! Super Dooper. Go USA!

Posted by: fast freddy | May 29 2017 14:48 utc | 9

thanks b.. excellent coverage of all of this..

@ piotr.. thanks for the history lesson/overview.

@9 ff.. lol... nailed that!

Posted by: james | May 29 2017 14:49 utc | 10

For a complete understanding of Trump's policies we need to consider this and b's May 27 post in tandem. Trump was never a "peace" candidate. His agenda has always been support of war on Iran to satisfy Israeli/Saudi needs, and that's OK because the US would be rewarded with a share of the Golan hydrocarbons. He just thinks it will be easier if we can neutralize Russia. This is evident in his relationship with Erik Prince and Betsy DeVos. Getting Prince to control Anbar would be ideal because mercenary casualties will not be publicized.

In the absence of Russian support, it's likely FUKZUS could have maintained control of all the Syrian Desert (in all 3 countries) and perhaps even successfully partitioned Syria. This is what the internal fight within the Deep State has been about since even before the November election. The Trump-Flynn-Pentagon realist faction thought we could succeed in Syraq by playing nice with Russia, but the PNAC (Project for a New American Century) crowd wants brinkmanship in the absence of immediate, unquestioned world-wide hegemony. People like Steve Pieczenik and Robert Steele think Clinton-PNAC crowd was defeated in the last moments of the campaign by scuttling a planned hack of the election in key states with vulnerable machines, but since then they have been fighting back with considerable success.

All this may be turning out to be the best possible outcome for the rest of the world, because it reinforces what the Saker reported is the Russian view that the US is “недоговороспособны" or “not-agreement-capable.” Because the US can not be trusted, Russia has put its full backing on President Assad, and so far the realists in the Pentagon appear to be backing down, as there have been no further air attacks on Syrian forces in southern Syria after the boundary test of May 17, the RuAF having thrice run off Western jets.

So the RuAF is one fly in Trump's ointment, the other being the Iraqi PMU. It doesn't look like Americans will be rid of Betsy DeVos any time soon, but we should all hope the PMU unite with Syria to kick Olive-Constellis-Academi-Blackwater-ISIS mercenaries out of the Syrian Desert and the Shia force Abadi to renounce the contract.

Posted by: William Rood | May 29 2017 15:20 utc | 11

Regarding my post (11), my reference to "Russian support" was of course support for the SAA, not support for FUKZUS.

Posted by: William Rood | May 29 2017 15:30 utc | 12

Highway 1 'toll road'? This is the route of the old Blood-for-Oil pipeline to Israel. There have been persistent rumors that 'someone' was still guarding the pumping stations all along, even though the pipeline was inactive. In fact, the ONLY reason people figured it would never happen is because it wouldn't survive long running through Anbar. There were plans to bury it 10m deep along most of the route, but that was considered too costly. I guess not anymore if you can con the Iraqis to paying for it by building a toll road above the thing.

That Kurdish oil is going to Haifa, Israel no matter how many people have to die. And the Iraqis are going to pay for that pipeline.

America's Memorial Day to honor fallen soldiers must be a day of celebration in Tel Aviv. Nattanyahu: "Thanks for your sacrifice, chumps! Now hurry up and build that pipeline - I want some cheap oil."

Posted by: PavewayIV | May 29 2017 16:17 utc | 13

b, I have a feeling Iraqi Shia PMU and IRG's Quds General Suleimani don't really agree with that kind of a "happy end" Hollywood script...

Posted by: LXV | May 29 2017 16:18 utc | 14

Perhaps the moniker "Olive Group" was derived from the name of Popeye's girlfriend, Olive Oyl.

Any case, "Olive Oyl Group" is a better name. Great acronym too - OOG.

Posted by: fast freddy | May 29 2017 16:21 utc | 15

Cheif strategic advisor for constellis is Israeli Roy Shaposhnik, past IDF officer and Kadima Youth leader. Makes perfect sense, Memorial Day indeed

Posted by: Flyod | May 29 2017 17:38 utc | 16

This idea of building a toll road through that area run by a US corporation has to be a joke. Who in their right mind would agree to man any of the toll booths? What rational investor would put up the money? It is exactly the same problem with the gas pipeline linking the Gulf states to Israel. Again what rational investor would sink money into a project like that through an area that has been in continuous war going back 30 years. Maybe if oil reaches $1000 per barrel maybe the insurance premiums could be paid.

Posted by: ToivoS | May 29 2017 17:59 utc | 17

>>>> William Rood | May 29, 2017 11:20:12 AM | 11

Deep state?

a body of people, typically influential members of government agencies or the military, believed to be involved in the secret manipulation or control of government policy.

Can there now be any doubt that the manipulation is secret? No, so the "deep state" is the state.
As for Wikipedia:
The concept of a deep state suggests that there exists a coordinated effort by career government employees and others to influence state policy without regard for democratically elected leadership.

It's no longer a concept or a matter for suggestion, it's right out in the open. The "deep state" is the state.
Do the liberals care? Certainly not the Clintonists, and why should they with their complete lack of ethics and morals. It's the same with the New York Times and the Washington Post who are now the propaganda arm of the state that is no longer deep.

Posted by: Ghostship | May 29 2017 18:25 utc | 18

Posted by: ToivoS | May 29, 2017 1:59:12 PM | 19

The investment is Iraqi state, the kick backs are Iraqi and American. No one intends to build or secure a toll road.

Iraq is run by militias. To get rid of them in Iraq (and Syria) is a tall order.

Posted by: somebody | May 29 2017 18:32 utc | 19

The tolls will be baksheesh. That's what Prince and his sister work for.

Posted by: fast freddy | May 29 2017 18:55 utc | 20

Some very interesting comments guys.
Its very difficult to know what to make of anything regarding the US at the moment.
Trumps trip abroad has clearly been a disaster and he is a laughing stock.
Iran is jibing Saudi saying that it is nothing more than US sacrificial cow - when it stops yielding milk it will be slaughtered as was Saddam.
France has stated in no uncertain terms that it wants closer cooperation with Russia on the Syrian front and on economic and trade fronts (- remember this no doubt includes access to Iran markets as well!!)
Merkels comments are now well known. But what I had not seen before was that according to DiHaber today, Turkey has been given a two week deadline to resolve the Incirlik situation or Germany will go elsewhere. This is in effect Germany leaving a NATO base! Turkey playing its destabilisimg role well maybe, as it is doing with Austria's partnership to NATO..?
Italy has long been in favour of re-establishing ties with Russia.
Stances seem to be hardening is what I think. The opportunity to re-gauge the European - US relationship has been affirmed by Trumps tour!

@les7 | 5 - I read similar. Confusing to say the least.

@PavewayIV | 13 "That Kurdish oil is going to Haifa, Israel no matter how many people have to die. And the Iraqis are going to pay for that pipeline."
Kerkuk and Erbil oil are currently going to Israel via Turkey - pipeline to Ceyhan and by sea - seems a far safer route I think. As long as Erdogan can maintain his influence over Barzani's Iraqi Kurdistan.

Posted by: AtaBrit | May 29 2017 19:13 utc | 21

MKUltra, Northwoods and Mockingbird.
It's no longer a concept or a matter for suggestion, it's right out in the open. (Ghostship)

Posted by: From The Hague | May 29 2017 20:01 utc | 22

For some comic-relief rolled inside a realistic analysis of the recent To-Do in Headchopper land, we have at the link video and transcript of Hassan Nasrallah's explanation of what actually occurred there,

As for who to venerate on Memorial Day, I only do so for those who actually took/take their Oath of Service seriously and fought/fight for Peace and Justice against the Oligarchical Cabal bent on controlling the planet and enslaving people everywhere.

Posted by: karlof1 | May 29 2017 20:10 utc | 23


There are lots of speculation and conspiracy theories, dunno who to believe.

One man holds the keys - president Vladimir Putin. Is he willing to go to war with USA or partition Syria with US as kingpin?

In the East, China will never allow US to promote their Democracy and human right. China president Xi Jinping will go to war as she has stated clearly to the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

Posted by: OJS | May 29 2017 20:31 utc | 24

Paveway is onto it imo. The CIACADEMI securing the highway will also will be securing the Kurdish pipeline to Israel.

The good news is that The East Syria Jihadistan plans might be abandoned eventually, especially if Russians don't relent.

The bad news is that the Iraq occupation will likely be doubled down on.

Imo again, it will be up to the Syrians to provide Iraq the kind of fraternal support that Iraqis have been providing Syria so far to break the shackles of the Ziomerican occupation.

Posted by: Quadriad | May 29 2017 21:34 utc | 25

As for the Anbar Road scheme, Iraq's PMU is putting that pipe dream to bed based on info from SyrPers's reports of 5/26 & 5/29, Daraa seems like it will become the next big urban battle zone. SAA and SDF forces will soon meet later this week outside of al-Tabaqah, and I'm curious to see what transpires and if SAA forces will be allowed to move onward so they can attack Raqqa or will the SDF's Outlaw US Empire masters not allow it.

Posted by: karlof1 | May 29 2017 21:35 utc | 26

@25 karlof1

Thanks for the link. Apparently we can link to Saker now. Yes, Nasrallah, the most sane man in the Middle East, with 20/20 clear vision. He gives a beautiful analysis of the balance of power, and the extraordinary bribe by Saudi Arabia to the US, a desperate act of historic scale. And it will all come to nothing, for all the reasons Nasrallah enumerates...

O my brothers and sisters, there is nothing new that we can fear from them. There is nothing new that we can fear from them. They are just repeating everything they have been doing over and over again for decades.

How droll - a toll road - the true face of the Yanqui gangsters. The US will play its mafia deals in Iraq until the day that it gets thrown out of there also - which will be fairly soon if you take Nasrallah's sense of the region's consensus. The US will never project meaningful force into Syria again. State soldiers are leaving. And the commercial soldiers of fortune will be killed or run away as soon as the easy money dries up.

Posted by: Grieved | May 29 2017 21:38 utc | 27

This plan is outlandish if we consider the Iraq majority
Will never allow any foreign force to dictate their agenda.
Indeed USA did remove Al Maliki and indeed Abadi is a yes
Iran Russia Syria and tacit Iraqi Shia power will never allow
for such born to die plan.

Posted by: Kiaf ressan | May 29 2017 21:57 utc | 28

Besides John Ashcroft being on Constellis's Board of Directors, look who is one of their International Advisors, Mr. Jose A. Rodriguez, Jr., CIA torturer extraordinaire!

Guess we know what they have in store in Iraq/iSyria. IOW, more of,the same killing and torture, and CIA overseership.

Posted by: Jeff Kaye | May 29 2017 23:08 utc | 29

@28, k @29 g

yes indeed that is a wonderful speech and analysis of the magic show in riyadh. a pleasure to read. thanks for the link and the quote ... 'There is nothing new that we can fear from them.' they are running on fumes ... and projections and holograms. nothing substantial ... and ...

And I’m telling you more than that. We are today, we Resistance movements and within the Resistance Axis, we are today stronger than we have ever been. We are really stronger than we have ever been, absolutely ever. We are more numerous, more experienced, more determined, our faith, hopes and aspirations are higher than ever. Indeed.

that's the truth. all the news is of the resistance's victories ... and of the smoke, the mirrors, the seances and apparitions of the usofa and its droogies in the mena.

Posted by: jfl | May 30 2017 1:08 utc | 30

Despite the above consensus about foolishness of carving out portions of Iraq and Syria, Western rhetoric and planning appears to be proceeding toward that end:

1. Sec. of Defense Mattis said yesterday that USA will accelerate the campaign against ISIS (more "boots on the ground"?).

2. Macron's statements about Syria/Russia.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | May 30 2017 2:15 utc | 31

What are they going to do? Shoot at embedded Spetsnaz or Sukhoi SU-30? The US has lost the initiative..

Posted by: Lozion | May 30 2017 3:15 utc | 32

Kerkuk and Erbil oil are currently going to Israel via Turkey - pipeline to Ceyhan and by sea - seems a far safer route I think. As long as Erdogan can maintain his influence over Barzani's Iraqi Kurdistan.

Posted by: AtaBrit | May 29, 2017 3:13:26 PM | 23

The irony is that Turkey has "influence over Barzanis", but that also gives PKK an influence over Barzanis as well. PKK keeps a "safe heaven" in Qandil mountains at Kurdish-Iranian border that is periodically bombed by Turkey, but presumably, PKK knows how to handle it (warning system and tunnels?). Importantly, Qandil is safe from a ground attack by Barzanis' Peshmerga, because PKK right at the start of renewed civil war in Turkey blew up the pipelines from KRG to Turkey. (Note an example of explosive aspects of pipeline politics.) So Barzanis could remove PKK from Qandil and perhaps Sinjar, but then they kiss good buy to the largest reliable income, and without at least moribund budget they would not be able to maintain Peshmerga, reportedly, these fighters are basically mercenaries, and Barzanis seem to lack popular support (judging from postponing the elections in KRG by about four years from the last extended deadline).

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 30 2017 3:21 utc | 33

No doubt Syria, Russia, Iran & Iraq have their own 'innovative risk management solutions'. Things could get hot in Al Tanf.

Posted by: dh | May 29, 2017 9:11:05 AM

Yeah, dh. Just another example how what should be a move toward economic development is trumped by need to establish imperial control, or failing that conflict/chaos which seems

Posted by: fairleft | May 30 2017 3:47 utc | 34

inevitable if 'Blackwater renamed' carries this Sunni/US imperial move forward.

End result: no road/security improvement and so no economic development

Posted by: fairleft | May 30 2017 3:49 utc | 35

Piotr Berman | 35
If the referendum goes ahead there will be a far clearer legitimate power in Iraqi Kurdistan. Erdogan is banking on this - hence having engineered it. He will not give up the income.from this cheap oil easily, that is for sure.

Posted by: AtaBrit | May 30 2017 4:19 utc | 36

@25 Karlof1

Amen. Those who died fighting on the side of liberty and against empire, anywhere, deserve our solemn thanks. I also glance over the Funeral Oration of Pericles around Memorial Day. It is the non-bullshitting go-to patriotic address. Nothing in my mind comes close.

Posted by: NemesisCalling | May 30 2017 4:54 utc | 37

I think some of you are getting it wrong about the road question. The road exists already; indeed it was made into a double highway under Saddam into the 1980s, supposedly of interstate/Autobahn standard. They don't need a new road, from the quantity of traffic, so this plan must be to privatise an already existing road, and perhaps upgrade it, while turning it into a toll road. With a 25-year contract. Typical Trumpian business plan, you might say.

It sounds to me much like the contracts put forward under Cheyney and Bush around 2008 for the oil industry, which if you remember were 30 year unbreakable contracts for US oil companies. And the Iraqi parliament refused to vote the oil law, multiple times, even under severe US pressure. That's the shadow behind all this. The US is trying to do the same, but they've "learnt" from the last time, and haven't chosen the oil industry.

But it seems to me a useless idea. Truck drivers will just drive in the desert round the toll booths (flat terrain). Or go on the old road (pre-Highway). Security can't be provided, because it is 400 km of open desert without settlements, unless they run traffic in armed convoys.

But it does seem to me to give us an idea of what Trumpian foreign policy is really going to be about. It will be building on the business plans of Bush-Cheyney times. With the same success, I should think.

By the way, for Paveway, the road follows the line of the old Kirkuk-Haifa pipeline, but that dates back to the 1930s. Some of the old pumping stations could still be seen quite recently. Nothing has been built since, as far as I could detect from Google Earth. It wouldn't work today, because it passes through the territory belonging to Baghdad, and there's a limit to which the US can push Abbadi (the shadows of 2008 again).

Posted by: Laguerre | May 30 2017 6:46 utc | 38


thanks laguerre. hope you're right about chances of the usofa getting this through. i agree that it's rumpian ... just like the tpp/ttip, but 'negotiated' bilaterally. i'll be glad when the last us soldier/merc has left iraq ... and i'm very sure the iraqis will be much happier than i am. i hope that day is not long off now.

Posted by: jfl | May 30 2017 6:57 utc | 39

Saudi Arabistan is completely unimportant. Saudi Arabistan is just a pawn on the chessboard. Kurdistan is important because Israel wants to establish a Kurdish state in the ME. This project is very advanced. ISrael and Al -Pentagon are working hard to destroy Syria and Iraq, they also act as ethnic cleansing squads. The EU opens its border for Syrian refugees because Israel wants to clean the Northern Syria from Arabs. What's more Erdogan is an agent who works for Israel. Yes, this fake Turkish nationalist seems to be an agent. It is only a matter of time before Turkey is destroyed by the same forces that wreak havoc in Syria and Iraq.

btw Al Tanf looks like an evacuation point for jihadi commanders hired by the US and Israel.

Posted by: conspiracy theorist | May 30 2017 7:28 utc | 40

@Laguerre 37

"It will be building on the business plans of Bush-Cheyney times."

One of the most appalling actions of the US after "shock and awe" was how they immediately set up biometric scanners over all the zones they controlled, scanned all the population, and started developing this technology for their world control grid. Face and eye scanning technology is already here.

At this moment the transhumanists believe that we are on the threshold of singularity. I am certain Brezinski and Rockefeller were very disappointed when instead of receiving a shiny new robotic body they found themselves partying with Satan in hell.

The point I am making is that this stretch of highway could be used as a model Darpa/DoD project in an area where they can drone with impunity and have no worries about 4th amendment rights or other constitutional issues.

We also know that they are busy building their 5th generation cellphone/wifi grid. Soft bank is investing $100 Billion in this new internet global brain. Throw in some specialized Spacex launches of new satellites to run their Tesla/Google robotic police cars, mix in some modern robotic drone technology, perhaps with stationary blimps, plug it into the biometric database, force all humans in the traffic to be biometrically scanned, plug it all into the massive NSA datacenter in Utah. Finance it all through billions in US treasury guaranteed loans made through GS and JPM, funnel all that cash to Israeli and US technology firms, and what you have is a win/win/win for the "borg". It would be a real let down for them if they reached their sacred singularity and still couldn't stop a few thousand jihadis driving around on Technicals.

I am certainly not expert enough to say whether it could work, but I do know enough about human nature, the MIC, and our ruling elites to believe that they would try it.

Posted by: Heros | May 30 2017 7:46 utc | 41

Laguerre@38 - "...It wouldn't work today, because it passes through the territory belonging to Baghdad, and there's a limit to which the US can push Abbadi (the shadows of 2008 again)."

Well, that's kind of why the 'interests' of a certain small Middle Eastern country, via their U.S. stooges and U.S. taxpayers, had to send pallets of bribe money to Baghdad a few years back (all tin-foil hat nonsense - you wouldn't have heard about this scheme). It was sold to the Iraqis as 'energy security', even though it's utterly useless to them. They already had export routes through the Persian Gulf and north through Turkey, and would have rebuilt a much larger, several million barrel-per-day Syrian/Lebanese export pipeline by now.

Something that benefits Syria and Lebanon? That simply could not be allowed to happen by certain powers that be. Haifa WILL be the only other Mediterranean oil/gas terminal after Ceyhan - no matter how many people have to die. The Iraqis needed to be convinced to run their westward pipeline through Amman, Jardan and then south to Aqaba and NOT through Syria and Lebanon. You can probably guess why.

Israel doesn't care who builds it or why, as long as some of it IS built from the Haditha Hub through Amman (on it's way to Aqaba). Israel hasn't announced anything yet, but plans to tap into it in Amman. The Golan is needed for the old TAPLINE route from there to Haifa. Despite any Israeli schemes, the pipeline itself is being sold to the Iraqis as a strategic, alternative export route for their (Rumaila) oil. Nothing is ever mentioned about the inevitable Kurd oil going to Israel through much of the same pipeline - the Iraqis would riot if they knew that.

Some of us tin-foil-hat types are pretty sure Cheney and Genie Oil are not drilling for oil in the Golan, but solution-mining out some rather large salt domes there for a massive Israeli strategic reserve. And that will be paid for by the U.S. taxpayers - it's some weird secret deal we have with Israel made by some U.S. traitor.

Now the Iraqis have never been keen on selling oil to Israel. Pushing Kurdish production through the Haditha Hub means Israel doesn't 'need' Iraqi Rumaila Oil field production. Forcing an odd contract structure on the pipeline ownership means once it's built, the owner can pretty much decide who's oil it will transport at any given time.

The pipeline is an on-again, off-again fiasco, but the wheels are certainly in motion. The first segment from Rumaila oil fields to the Haditha Hub is being built now.

Iraq details crude oil pipeline project to Jordan Red Sea
Note - that article is four years old regarding engineering studies.

Ongoing contract negotiations for the second segment - the Haditha to Aquaba piece - are probably what's generating weird rumors about Olive's (Blackwater, Academi, etc.) involvement. I think one can sat that the second segment has pretty clearly move out of tin-foil-hat land if they're actually negotiating the Buy-Own-Operate-Transport part. The engineering studies are done and I believe a contract was awarded.

The second segment of the Iraq-Jordan pipeline will have to have an eternal military guard in Anbar, and the commercial nature means Iraq does not intend to use their military for that purpose. I don't think Olive will own/operate it - they will just supply the mercs/toll guards. The owners will be some huge joint venture, but I'm sure Cheney and Clinton's names will pop up somewhere in the mix.

Israel has already been bragging about their sophisticated technology to detect people trying to dig up or tamper with major oil pipelines, so I'm sure they'll make money off of that part, too. And throw in a few 'listening rocks' along the way for assorted intel. Everyone knows the pipeline will be a security nightmare - they are apparently planning for that.

Here's the last few years of The Iraqi Business News articles tagged with Iraqi-Jordan Pipeline

The MSM says little about this - many of us here in the U.S. remember the accusations of the Iraqi War being about the Blood-for-Oil pipeline. They (U.S. gov. and MSM) don't want to have to deal with that again. But this is a huge engineering project and it's hardly a secret to people in the business.

Interesting that China is involved in the pipeline joint venture. They are also looking for an alternative sea export route in case the Persian Gulf is closed. MOST of the oil leaving the Persian Gulf (70% as of late) goes to China.

The pipeline will be huge at one million barrels per day. That's almost a quarter of Iraq's production last year. Iraqi's state oil company was pushing for two parallel pipelines a while back.

Posted by: PavewayIV | May 30 2017 9:21 utc | 42

@42 pw, 'Interesting that China is involved in the pipeline joint venture.'

yeah. interesting. none of us should be surprised. some things come 'first' and petrocarbons are still at the top of the list. i guess it's all the wars they engender ... and of course the environmental destruction. can't be a real psychopath without real psychopathic acts to demonstrate one's bona fides.

thanks for the background from the tin-foil patch. the salt-dome storage in the golan is great.

maybe its all true.

Posted by: jfl | May 30 2017 10:17 utc | 43

"We Will Not Allow Americans to Split up Iraq" - Al Amiri

Hadi Al Amiri, leader of Badr Organisation, an Iraqi political party, associated with Al Hashd Al Sha'abi, Iraqi's largest paramilitary group, said he will not allow the American side to take control of the Iraqi border with Syria.

Regarding the operation, Al Amiri said he already discussed the matter with commander of the Iraqi armed forces, the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi, with the main subject of discussion being the situation on the border with Syria, noting the prime minister himself asked Al Hashd AlSha'abi for help in order to provide considerably more sufficient back-up for the Iraqi forces operating in the vicinity of the border area.

“Regardless of what Washington has in mind, we will not allow a division of Iraq. We will simply not allow any country to interfere itself in our territorial integrity”, Al Amiri was heard saying.

He stressed there is a great chance the US would exploit the control of the border as an opportunity to make divisions and interference in Iraq and its sovereignty.

Before concluding his speech, Al Amiri pointed to the existence of a newly-established Russian-Iraqi-Iranian-Syrian joint coordination committee, dedicated to destroy ISIS, adding that this is what will ultimately destroy ISIS, not the “efforts” recently made at the US-Saudi summit in the Saudi Arabian capital city of Riyadh which are, according to himself, doomed to fail.

“We're at the center of resisting terrorism and we are the ones who will win this battle, not those who recently met in Riyadh and are secretly supporting terrorism”, said Al Amiri, adding that liberation process of Mosul would have gone much faster, if it wasn’t for ISIS terrorist still hiding in the right coast of the connector in Mosul and who frequently use civilians as human shields.

sounds like a man and an organization that will not allow the tin-foil-hats' dreams to come true. i certainly hope so. it seems to me that the real power in iraq is not held by abadi.

Posted by: jfl | May 30 2017 11:33 utc | 44

Trump might be forced to seek a war with Iran in order to avoid an even bigger confrontation in Eastern Europe.

His administration is the outward manifestation of a deep struggle/conflict within the Pentagon/CIA, which began in 1978-1979.

There are several secret societies whose members are among the highest ranking representatives in the US army/intelligence community, and which have competing views as to how to achieve a one world government.

Only the people at the very top (much higher than Trump) know that there will be an astronomical/geological cataclysm which will change everything; knowing full well the approximate date of this event, they are working to set up the premises/conditions for a very large war which will begin in full once that event takes place. (my comment earlier today)

Posted by: sandokhan | May 30 2017 14:59 utc | 45

jfl @44--

Thanks for posting the al-Amiri article. Abadi's recent behavior signals he's no longer an Outlaw US Empire puppet and instead is being driven by Iraq's nationalist forces. What the article doesn't mention re, territorial integrity is the Kurd situation and their Outlaw US Empire empowered attempt to secede. The new "Quartet" organization of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Russia likely has the Kurdish issue and the related Outlaw US Empire interference issues toward the top of its agenda. I very much doubt the Quartet will allow the construction of any Zionist-bound pipeline. Meanwhile, facts on the ground await the meeting of PMU and SAA forces with SDF when we'll finally see which side SDF is on.

Posted by: karlof1 | May 30 2017 15:00 utc | 46

Maybe I'm confused, but I don't see
1) How Turkey could possibly support Kurds selling oil. They've already got their hands full with their own Kurdish minority (in not so secret rebellion), how does funneling millions of dollars/euros help?
2) Pipelines are just about the most vulnerable strategic asset you can think of. I could think of no better way to screw over Israel by having it become dependent on energy piped through Muslim nations.
3) Geography: even setting aside the vulnerability and Kurds/Turkey issue, geography is a factor. How does a pipeline going through what is now Iraq and Syria happen? Would Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria agree to have a pipeline go from Kurdistan to Israel? Seems far fetched, especially now that "Bashar must go" has clearly failed.
At the end of the day, follow the money. I don't see any going into construction so far. American pipeline plans abroad have a dismal record.

Posted by: c1ue | May 30 2017 15:17 utc | 47

re 42

Well, that's kind of why the 'interests' of a certain small Middle Eastern country, via their U.S. stooges and U.S. taxpayers, had to send pallets of bribe money to Baghdad a few years back (all tin-foil hat nonsense - you wouldn't have heard about this scheme).
Why wouldn't I have heard about it? I was personally involved in a tangential sort of way. But it wasn't American money; it was Iraqi oil money, which had been seized by the US during the period of sanctions, and supposedly released for reconstruction projects in Iraq. That's why the US didn't bother about the accounting, and I think nearly all ended up in US officials' or contractors' pockets.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 30 2017 15:19 utc | 48

re 44 and ""We Will Not Allow Americans to Split up Iraq" - Al Amiri". I'm really getting déjà-vu with what happened in 2008. My guess is the Iraqi reaction will be the same, and that the Trumpians are going to make the same mistakes all over again.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 30 2017 15:25 utc | 49

@23 karlif1.. thanks for nasrallah comments.. the guy is very clear headed... i never see that in western political types...

@42 paveway... thanks.. interesting conjecture and speculation..

Posted by: james | May 30 2017 17:38 utc | 50


The pipeline will be huge at one million barrels per day.
The problem with this is there aren't a million bpd to transport. The million a day is in Rumaila, and that doesn't need a pipeline to Aqaba. Kirkuk produces a small trickle of that, 65K bpd. They're talking about their imaginings, the new oil-fields that have been supposedly discovered by the Kurds, and their foreign contractors. There are a few small difficulties here. Like, they haven't been developed yet, and they're not actually under KRG territory. We have to imagine that the Kurds are going to retain territory they've conquered by military force. Territory conquered by force by the Kurds, of which there is a lot at the moment, is never going to be legitimately accepted, by the UN for example, if it is not inhabited by Kurds. It's always going remain uncertain.

So why bother with a project for a massive pipeline whose need is questionable?

Posted by: Laguerre | May 30 2017 17:56 utc | 51

>c1ue @47

Domestic US pipelines don't have a much better track record either, considering that the new, highly contested DAPL already has 3 leaks

Posted by: xLemming | May 30 2017 18:03 utc | 52

Laguerre@48 - We're talking $40 billion USD physical here, Laguerre. You heard about money going back on pallets (conveniently in USD) supposedly back to the Iraqi Central Bank. What you didn't hear about was that the central bank was reconstituted under the CIA and U.S. Federal Bank for the Iraqi Provisional Government, and the chain of custody went from American aircraft to a nobody CIA translator, who then promised to get the money to the Central Bank. A billion dollars is about five or six shipping pallets, depending on denomination. The largest bills were $100, but most were $50 or $20 bills. He supposedly kept track of this very carefully on Microsoft Word.

Depending on what tin-foil-hat story you believe, just under $12B actually made it back to the Iraqi government. The rest went to fund other CIA or off-book U.S. Department of State projects - that's $28B physical, maybe 200+ pallets over ten years.

One of those project was buying up the emerging elected government of Iraq, especially the State Oil Company. Israel was pushing that effort - they wanted Iraqi oil that Saddam refused to sell them. That was no secret. Everyone was trying to bribe those guys - they were not cheap. All the bases were covered, though. The CIA made sure plenty of cash went down to the very low-level provisional government employees. Everyone in the Iraqi Government was a snitch for the CIA, and well-paid because of it.

So you may have heard about pallets of cash going back to the Central Bank and head about massive quantities 'stolen'. What you didn't hear about was the U.S. military-controlled facilities that received much of what was unloaded from the aircraft. That wasn't suppose to happen. The U.S. insisted that ALL $40B went directly to the Iraqi Central Bank after it was pulled off the C-17s and signed for by the translator flunkee. Yet there were plenty of military and spooks working the airport and Baghdad that knew that was a lie.

The provisional authority supposedly signed for it off the aircraft, but it was alwyas in U.S. custody and went directly to U.S. controlled warehouses under U.S. (or Blackwater) guard, to be doled out by the CIA as they saw fit. A few convoys went directly to the central bank. Most did not.

Much of that money was used to get the Iraqi SOC to vote for and approve a massively expensive and unneeded Basra-Aqaba pipeline at a time when there were still hundreds of cholera and dysentery deaths a day in Iraq because of filthy water. To this day, nobody can explain the rationale behind this, and everyone who voted for it lives in a mansion (or was whacked by the CIA).

Even without the Amman 'T' in the pipeline, Israel can still take delivery of oil in Aqaba. This was always in part about Israel's demand from the U.S. for a guaranteed oil supply given Arab nation's refusal to sell Israel any. Personally, I don't care where Israel gets oil from - someone is going to sell it to them. This whole pipeline deal has stuck out like a sore thumb since 2001 to anyone looking though. I won't go as far as to say the Iraqi war was solely for that pipeline, but events just keep happening that benefit it's construction. There are simply not that many coincidences.

Posted by: PavewayIV | May 30 2017 18:16 utc | 53

amazing what one can do with paper money that means something until it doesn't...i am looking forward to the 'doesn't' part..

Posted by: james | May 30 2017 18:23 utc | 54

The MSM (aka Pentagon stovepipe) puts a totally different spin on this.

Syrian rebels say U.S., allies sending more arms to fend off Iran threat

Posted by: librul | May 30 2017 18:49 utc | 55

Sorry, extra character on URL

try again

Syrian rebels say U.S., allies sending more arms to fend off Iran threat

Posted by: librul | May 30 2017 18:52 utc | 56

Who will protect the brave men building the Iron Horse from the Red Indian? Come one, come all!

Posted by: sejomoje | May 30 2017 18:59 utc | 57

scary - those iranians, lol.... nothing like being in bed with a bunch of whackjob wahabbis and zionists to think the iranians are the threat... talk about sick...

Posted by: james | May 30 2017 19:24 utc | 58

@56 So the pesky 'regime forces' are violating the de-confliction zone are they....some conflict will soon fix that. Then the next logical step will be to help ISIS protect Syria from Iran.

Posted by: dh | May 30 2017 19:26 utc | 59

This isn't the only thing the Outlaw US Empire wants to control. Posted this essay's link at end of current Open Thread that does have contextual connectivity with this thread's topic,

Posted by: karlof1 | May 30 2017 23:34 utc | 60

How Turkey could possibly support Kurds selling oil. They've already got their hands full with their own Kurdish minority... Posted by: c1ue | May 30, 2017 11:17:38 AM | 47

This is rather simple. If you know the history of Erdogan, he is not a Kurd hater. He started his rule by "democratic reforms" that included giving Kurds some limited cultural rights, singing Kurdish songs in public or running a radio station in Kurdish was allowed. Then he started a "peace process" with PKK. And as expected, AKP gained votes of the more conservative Turkish Kurds. Turkish Kurds are numerous and not monolithic at all. For example, there is a Turkish province with Kurdish majority where Islamists are very popular. Many ethnic Kurds got assimilated, and can be found in every strand of Turkish culture and politics. Interestingly, one theologian of Kurdish ethnicity got rather wide following, and is venerated by Hizmet movement headed by Fetullah Gülen. However, Erdogan is obsessed with his own personal greatness that requires dictatorial powers de iure, not just de facto, and proper accouterments of such great personage, like enormous palace etc. That requires a change of the constitution which requires a parliamentary supermajority.

PKK leaders may have limited horizons, but what they should know well is the history of Soviet Communist Party, and what is the fate of fellow travelers of a dictator if their loyalty can be questioned. Some are exterminated as the right deviationists, some as Bonapartists, some as left deviationists, there are plenty of possibilities but none of them is appealing. Kurdish political movement with close ties to PKK got 16% of the vote, jumping over 10% threshold that Turkish law has specifically to thwart the minorities (i.e. Kurds) under the slogan "we will not let you be a President" (with super-powers). Since then, Erdogan is wrath personified, and being intelligent, he figured that if Kurds are not helping him, he can use a splendid civil war to get where he wants. He got the votes of fascist-nationalists and arrested enough Kurdish deputies to get proper majority (plus a referendum which was almost hilariously fraudulent but which approved the constitution reform with ca. 52% majority, Erdogan has some vestigial sense of modesty).

In other words, this is not a conflict of Turkey with Kurds, as it could be under the rule of Kemalist nationalists, but rather personal conflict of Erdogan with PKK + HDP. Syrian Kurds live mostly along Turkish border, speak the same dialect as in Turkey, and during the years of Kemalists repression, many Turkish Kurds fled to Syria, including some cadres of PKK that organized Kurds in Syria. Thus Erdogan "automatically" is in conflict with PYD. But the situation in Iraq is quite different. While the past generation of leftist leaders of Turkish and Iraqi Kurds was quite close to each other, movements of that nature must "shop" for external help, and Barzanis got very generous deal from Americans, starting from the first Gulf war. Under the protection of "northern no-fly zone", Iraqi Kurdistan was de-facto independent from Baghdad, and split into to fiefs, Barzanis and Talabanis (I am a bit lazy to check about Talabanis, but Barzanis were at some point Stalinists, the bio entry of Mustafa Barzani describes how he got into a big, big trouble during his exile to Soviet Union, but he successfully saved his life, and the lives of his followers, by writing a very convincing letter to Stalin himself). But as his father had to rely on Stalin's help, his son Massoud relies on American and Turkish help. There is a good chance that without such help, the combined efforts of Talabanis and other opponents would pry him away from power, and in the aftermath, he could be stripped of all properties in Kurdistan and the family would taste bitterness of exile (in Boca Raton? Provence?)

One can easily explain why Massoud Barzani needs Erdogan, but why Erdogan needs Barzanis? As I have mentioned, he needs accoutrements of a great person, and a zone of influence abroad is one of them. And KRG is the largest foreign piece that Erdogan could find, not for the lack of trying, but the projects in Libya, Egypt and Syria were less rewarding than planned. And there are few bucks that can be made in that fashion. From the perspective of Turkish state the amounts can be paltry, but from the perspective of Erdogan family, nothing to sneer about.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | May 31 2017 2:52 utc | 61

re 53

We're talking $40 billion USD physical here,
The story keeps growing, doesn't it? Like the fish. Well, the fish I caught was this big, and the next time I tell the story, it was thiiiis big, at least twice the size, and the next time....

The basic story was told years ago, though I don't suppose it was everything, as too soon after the events.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 31 2017 2:53 utc | 62

@62 laguerre

james risen, Pay any price - greed, power and endless war, chapter 1, Pallets of cash

Between $12 and $14 billion, mostly in $100 bills, was taken from East Rutherford and flown into the war zone of Iraq in 2003 and 2004, with virtually no supervision or safeguards. Another $5.8 billion was sent from the New York Federal Reserve to Baghdad by electronic funds transfers. All told, approximately $20 billion was sent to Iraq without any clear orders or direction on how the money was to be used. The controls on the money were so lax that few credible records exist of exactly how much cash there was or where the cash went once it arrived in Baghdad.

that's nytimes/cia approved reporting. i have no trouble with double those figures. 10 billion here, 10 billion there ... pretty soon you're talking real money.

Posted by: jfl | May 31 2017 4:12 utc | 63

re 63 That's what I was saying, isn't it? You're just repeating the same thing. The point that Paveway failed to understand is that it was Iraqi money, not US. That's why there was no accounting. If it had been US money, they couldn't have got away with no accounting. That's Harriman's point in the article I linked to, but which seems to have got lost in the newer, bigger and better, versions of the story, well recounted round a bar.

And Paveway fails to note that it all ended up (probably) in US pockets, and no doubt funded some nice spreads in Virginia.

As to quantity, it was said to be between $11 and $18 billion. Sounds about right to me. 40 is too much. There wasn't that much in the frozen Iraqi accounts.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 31 2017 5:07 utc | 64

Laguerre@62 - That was one event at Erbil during the time of the provisional authority. Here's another 'event' during that time: $1.2B to 1.6B cash moved to a bunker in Lebanon. Then there was the $5B to Baghdad in June of 2004. They add up.

The Guardian article (I know...) says $12B to $14B in cash sent for the Iraqi Redevelopment Fund through 2004 - I think the Food-for-Oil program was separate, but I don't know. Those, AFIK, were different from the seized Iraqi assets repatriated to the Coalition Provisional Authority government in Baghdad between 2003-2005.

Iraqi Development Funds continued to be sent to Iraq after the end of the CPA in 2004 through 2010, but it wasn't the coalition's 'problem' who stole it after the Iraqi government was formed.

Is $40B in cash high for the ten years after the war? Possibly. But $20B would certainly be low.

Posted by: PavewayIV | May 31 2017 5:47 utc | 65

It was never the Coalition's problem, who stole it, as it was Iraqi money. Who would worry about that? No we are not talking about an event in Erbil. That was not what I was involved in. In any case, the Lebanese bunker is about where the money went to, not about what money is in question. The stories you mention are just different ways of looking at the same thing, not cumulative. There was x amount of Iraqi frozen assets that went into Iraq, much or most in cash, and some by transfer. Nobody could be bothered to account for it as it was Iraqi money, and consequently it all departed into coalition official or contractors' pockets (e.g. Lebanese bunker).

The total amount of Iraqi frozen assets was $18 billion, I seem to remember, though I don't have time to check it. The idea that US taxpayers' money was spent in cash in billions without accounting, I find improbable, but you know your country better than I do.

It's a shocking story of corruption, at any level. You'll be interested to know, by the way, I was subsequently involved in an Iraqi project in 2015. It came out that under Saddam you could imagine that 15% of the budget would disappear in corruption. Now since the occupation, it is commonly 95%. They learnt well from the coalition, the Iraqis did.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 31 2017 6:22 utc | 66

The point is not whose money it was, it's who doled it out to whom after it hit Iraqi soil.

The only reason I brought it up was to support the admittedly tin-foil-hat theory that the CIA and Israel/Cheney cabal used it to bribe Iraqi State Oil Company officials and members of the Iraqi Parliament to push through the insane Basra-Aquaba pipeline. The instigators is the tin-foil hat part - the officials and parliament were certainly bribed to do this. Nobody else with any power in Iraq had any incentive to spend hundreds of millions in bribes to get it built. Nobody simply lobbied (sans bags of cash) to get it built. Iraq has thousands of other more pressing internal issues than building this stupid, non-sensical pipeline. They would never have cooked up the scheme on their own for 'energy security'. THAT is a decidedly Israeli-inspired, U.S. promoted buzzword and explains WHY someone (anyone) would want it built.

The second section is in the process of being contracted out right now. It's not a question of if it makes sense, and it's not a question if it will ever be built. I agree with all your reasons why it's not feasible, Laguerre, but very well-monied backers don't see it that way. The Toll Road nonsense is - to me - obviously related to the security of the pipeline and control/surveillance of the region. Olive/Blackwater's involvement isn't a surprise at all. I would have expected as much if someone was stupid enough to build it.

If you have a better explanation as to why this project was rammed down the Iraqi's throats and who is stupid enough to build it, then I would love to hear it (even if it's a conspiracy theory). Or are you just dismissing all of my arguments because you don't believe there was ever any intent to build it and nobody will because it makes no sense?

Posted by: PavewayIV | May 31 2017 6:34 utc | 67

@64 laguerre quote... "If it had been US money, they couldn't have got away with no accounting." that was a joke right? where have you been when all the LTCM, 2008 financial meltdowns, accounting firms caught lying, moodys and etc. etc. - all working for the establishment and i am talking a very corrupt establishment.. and you think these folks are legit?

Posted by: james | May 31 2017 6:37 utc | 68

call it creative accounting if you want...

Posted by: james | May 31 2017 6:39 utc | 69

re 67. Frankly, Paveway, I'm not convinced it is a real project at all. It's what they call in the computing business vapourware. I presume someone's going to make money out of it, I presume, but whose money is going in to finance the project? Is it supposed to be Iraqi money, if contracts are being signed - Trump getting Iraq to pay protection money like he did the Saudis? In that case it is definitely vapourware, cos the Iraqis haven't got two dinars to rub together (and I think it is currently around 1200 dinars to the dollar). The war and decline in the oil price has cleaned them out. You can take it that any contract signed will be a dead letter, but no doubt somebody will profit personally. The only question is who?

Posted by: Laguerre | May 31 2017 6:58 utc | 70

@66 laguerre, 'The idea that US taxpayers' money was spent in cash in billions without accounting, I find improbable ...'

the money was simply stolen from iraq, beginning in 1991, and, starting in 2003, after the destruction of the iraqi government, used by the us for its own nefarious purposes as though it were its own.

nations which invest in the usofa are asking to be robbed. its happened so often in the past.

what other nation simply steals - 'freezes' - other peoples' property on the scale of the usofa? and then spends it on its own 'pet projects', most often in direct opposition to the interests of the nation from which they've been stolen?

the 'leader of the free world' is the world's biggest thief. in addition to being its greatest terrorist and destroyer of worlds.

Posted by: jfl | May 31 2017 7:09 utc | 71

@66 laguerre, 'The idea that US taxpayers' money was spent in cash in billions without accounting, I find improbable ...'

the money was simply stolen from iraq, beginning in 1991, and, starting in 2003, after the destruction of the iraqi government, used by the us for its own nefarious purposes as though it were its own.

nations which invest in the usofa are asking to be robbed. its happened so often in the past.

what other nation simply steals - 'freezes' - other peoples' property on the scale of the usofa? and then spends it on its own 'pet projects', most often in direct opposition to the interests of the nation from which they've been stolen?

the 'leader of the free world' is the world's biggest thief. in addition to being its greatest terrorist and destroyer of worlds.

Posted by: jfl | May 31 2017 7:09 utc | 72

Laguerre says:

If it had been US money, they couldn't have got away with no accounting

oh, really?

Posted by: john | May 31 2017 7:18 utc | 73

re 72

nations which invest in the usofa are asking to be robbed.
They don't get a choice. Dollar denominated oil money has to be held in the States in bank accounts, I think. It's that kind of thing which makes the US so powerful, not the trillions spent on weapons.

Posted by: Laguerre | May 31 2017 7:29 utc | 74

john@73 - Last time the Pentagon couldn't account for (then) $3.5T in 2001, they put a cruise missile into the Pentagon auditor's office killing the auditors assigned to the investigation. That was the end of that.

$6.5T unaccounted for? If I was a Pentagon auditor today and Congress called for an internal investigation, I wouldn't even bother quitting. I would just run away from the Pentagon in erratic, ziz-zag patterns until I was several miles away and never look back.

Posted by: PavewayIV | May 31 2017 7:34 utc | 75

Posted by: Laguerre | May 31, 2017 3:29:29 AM | 74

Every country has foreign currency reserves. But you don't want to "keep money in a bank account" you want to make it "work" i.e. invest it.

Investing in the US treasury goes with an immense power over US policy - see eg China. Investing in US arms - as Saudi does - is stupid.

Posted by: somebody | May 31 2017 7:51 utc | 76

PavewayIV says:

Last time the Pentagon couldn't account for (then) $3.5T in 2001, they put a cruise missile into the Pentagon auditor's office killing the auditors assigned to the investigation. That was the end of that

indeed. the psychotic metaphysics of necromancy, from the bowels of the death star.

Posted by: john | May 31 2017 8:33 utc | 77

@74 laguerre, 'Dollar denominated oil money has to be held in the States in bank accounts, I think.'

yeah. excellent reason to sell oil for yuan, or euros, or yen.

Posted by: jfl | May 31 2017 10:32 utc | 78

- And how many cars & trucks are using that road between Amman & Baghdad every day ?

Posted by: Willy2 | Jun 1 2017 0:29 utc | 79

- And in order to protect those investments the US military must protect that road, right ? In other words, more military bases paid for by the US taxpayer. Socialize the costs and privatize the profits, right ?

Posted by: Willy2 | Jun 1 2017 0:31 utc | 80

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