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23 June 2014


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One shoe dropping.

Here is piece written by one of the engineers who helped build this refinery. He gives a break down on the types of POL produced along with an overall view of how the loss of the refinery affects Iraq as a whole. He goes into the history of it as well.


The Iranians probably can help make up with some of the short fall.

The other shoe yet to drop is the loss of the hydroelectric dam at Haditha. The Ba'ath/ISIS are quite close to it. The loss would have a major impact of electricity production and give them a means to threaten Baghdad by opening up the penstocks and letting a mass of water flow downstream.

From what I've read I wouldn't put it pass the ISIS to sell Maliki all the electricity he wants prior to taking such a drastic measure.


Adam me Laddie,

Good to hear your learned views as always.( No Adam, I am serious as a heart attack, you 've probably forgotten more about the "sand pile" than most of us will ever know.)

What I'd be interested in,is your and the Colonel's opinions on what is the real end game here. Sunnis slaughtering Shittes,slaughtering Kurds, slaughtering Shittes, slaughtering Baathists is a very old story line at this point. And I don't think it is the end game in this situation.

My personal opinion is,it is about the Saudi oil at the end of the day, and wether the oil is paid for in petro dollars or some made up Russian, Chinese, and Hindu medium. With a little bit of later on,we'll get those prick Israeli's as a kicker. And speaking of the tribe,where if any where are those nasty Israelis stirring this cauldron?

And whose side are we really on? How could we ever go against the Saudis, and put the dollar at mortal risk? Or are this entire lot of participants just caught up in tribal bloodlusts with no real strategic plan, including the dear old USA?

Adam L. Silverman


Thanks for the link. Seems like they had been able to increase the light product over the heavy product they'd been producing during the time I was in Iraq. Regardless, this is going to have a nasty and negative effect.

The Iranian ability to make up the deficit is limited. Here's a dirty, open, but nonetheless not well know secret: OPEC has limited the amounts of oil that Iran and Iraq can extract and refine for years. OPEC has done this for two reasons. The official one is always that they are historic rivals, therefore letting one outpace the other would create an unnecessary provocation. The other goes back to a man referred to as Mr. Five Percent. He was an Armenian who was originally from Turkey, but was tasked with handling Iraq's oil system. Essentially he was a fixer. When he set up the leases that emerged from the Turkish Petroleum company for Anglo-Persian, Royal Dutch Shell, etc he got a five percent concession. He's also the originator of the official Red Line map that delineated how and where oil could be extracted in the Middle East and Asia Minor. OPEC, building on this, eventually came to view Iraq as its strategic petroleum reserve. A second red line map was produced - I did a post about this a while back here at SST and posted the map. This map, which was kicked lose with a Judicial Watch (score one for the crazy guy who runs that outfit) FOIA request of VP Cheney's energy task force shows exactly where the oil is in Iraq. There's a link below, but the spoiler is: its not where everyone says it is. My teammates and I were able to verify the map's authenticity and accuracy with an expatriate Iraqi who was a high level Saddam Hussein era official with both a petroleum and agricultural engineering doctorates. After being arrested and then rehabilitated by Saddam, who was the guy who arrested him to begin with, he took his family and fled to the US, which is where one of my research managers found him. He agreed to do an interview with us before we deployed.

Anyhow, when you view the map, you'll notice all the oil parcels, listed as blocks, to the West and South, along the border with Saudi. The agreement regarding Iraq's oil from the early days of the creation of OPEC was that that oil would stay in the ground, which explains why Iraq has fewer oil wells than Texas, many are shallow drilled, and they are all in places that are not where the map shows the majority of the oil is. The Seven Sisters oil companies that ultimately gave way to OPEC made this arrangement via Mr. Five Percent and OPEC seems to have maintained it.

Here's the link, the map is about 1/2 way down the page:

Lee A. Arnold

Col., (and Mr. Silverman) thank you so much for all the great information. I just linked to you at Crooked Timber, maybe the leading academic social science blog in the English language. I apologize if you are inundated with a bunch of snotty comments, but just shitcan them. A lot of very smart people also read that blog.

I have a question: Is Iraq going to be partitioned? If the Iranians go in to protect the Shi'ites, countries like Saudi will go in to protect the Sunnis. The world price of oil is going to skyrocket. I predict the G8 (including Russia) is going to say something shortly.

Sports Announcer Mark :-)


Adam L. Silverman


No worries - I lived in Scotland for three years and know when some one is taking the piss, so to speak.

I've been lurking, rather than posting, as I've been swamped over the past year to year and a half work wise - long story - and a lot of what I'd post about is directly related to the culture operations and operational support work I do at the strategic (national to theater) levels. So while almost everything I do is unclassified, I've been uncomfortable posting on stuff I'm working on.

To answer your question, and this answer ultimately defers to COL Lang whose experience is far greater than mine, I think there are four dynamics (games to be played to the end) going on:
1) The ongoing attempts by the Maliki government to manipulate the electoral system, electoral outcomes, and utilize and direct the power of the government for his, his allies, and his patron's advantage against the Sunnis and the non-expatriate Shi'a Iraqis who they are both related to and often allied with. The question has always been whether Maliki could coup proof himself. He appeared to have done so, but coup proofing and revolution proofing are two different things.
2) Directly related to and derived from one is that the dynamics in item 1 have recreated an Iraqi Civil War. Not official yet as the International Committee of the Red Cross hasn't certified it, but a civil war nonetheless. This conflict pits Maliki and his governing allies, as well as support from their patrons in Iran against the Sunnis and non-expatriot Shi'a - usually the more rural, tribal Shi'a. These two groups should be thought of, to use Mark Lynch's phrasing from 2007 as the powers that aren't. They've been locked out of the process, feel betrayed by us, and warned us repeatedly that this would happen. Moreover, they have explicitly told us since 2006, let alone implicitly doing so through actions, that if the dynamic in item 1 continued they would take matters into their own hands. And now they are.
3) The Levant is destabilizing. A little discussed, or perhaps just a not discussed enough, aspect of the drivers of the Syrian Civil War is the destabilizing effect of over a million Iraqi refugees. Not only did they overwhelm a number of areas, but the refugees were ripe for exploitation by groups like ISIL. The flow has now reversed back into Iraq. In this way a more holistic understanding needs to be taken of the conflict. This is the people of the Levant actually organizing their societies by and for themselves for the first time in essentially forever. This is a long, violent, and often iterative process. Just look up the long list of local/localized, small scale rebellions in American history. Couple this with anti-immigrant violence and violence between labor and management, not to mention the activities of extremist movements of any given era, and you realize that this is what happens when societies and states form, consolidate, go through change, etc. We tend not to discuss our own history of this, but it doesn't mean it didn't happen. Back to the Levant - the policy issue should be one of containment. We can't remake these societies, they have to do it for themselves. The strategy should be to support our friends and allies, like Jordan and Turkey, as well as sort of friends like Lebanon, so that they can withstand the turmoil and they are themselves not destabilized by either refugee flows overwhelming their capacity or attempts to exploit their own internal divisions. This can include humanitarian aid, foreign internal defense support, as well as a variety of civilian and military (civ-mil) build partner capacity. The domino theory of Communism spreading turned out not to be a very good one, a domino explanation for a destabilized Levant may be a more apt use of the analogy. Personally, I would not like to see it put to the test!
4) Proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. As COL Lang has written about repeatedly, what we've seen in Syria is interwoven with a proxy fight between Saudi and Iran for regional hegemony, as well as to check each the other's aspirations. Iraq now needs to be seen in the same light. Any attempt to formulate policy to deal with what is going on needs to keep this in mind. It also needs to keep in mind that our allies, clients, competitors, and enemies in the region, as well as outside of it, all have their own interests. Failure to recognize this, let alone them, means we're making policy and setting strategy in a vacuum. Without paying attention to the context all we'll do is make the same or similar mistakes as we've made over the past ten to thirteen years.


Lee A Arnold

"countries like Saudi will go in to protect the Sunnis." The Saudis have no real military capability, only a lot of equipment. The SANG could not deploy to Iraq. pl

Lee A. Arnold

Are any Sunni countries capable?


You're welcome, Adam.

I have a historical interest in oil, so I try to follow the industry and its effect on the economy and the military.

I agree, this is going to not only be nasty, but demoralizing as well to the Maliki govt.

Yes, I knew that OPEC had quotas and any POL the Iranians might divert comes at the expense of their economy. Iran, as you know, can't produce enough POL for its own needs, much less supply enough to Iraq to meet military and economic needs.

Mr. Five Percent. I haven't heard that name in years and vaguely remember it. You reminded me.

I do remember Larry Klayman of J.W. going after Cheney about this map that everyone at the time didn't exist.

Thanks for the map and the background information on that map and everything else. It is informative.


Lee A Arnold

Jordan, Pakistan, Turkey, Morocco. pl



I notice in the linked article that the rebels say they have turned the refinery over to a local tribal sheikh for administration. This seems to be a pattern. The rebels are reported to have turned governance of Mosul over to another tribal sheikh. i was asked today how it is that a relatively small group like ISIS can spread itself so thinly and operate so effectively. Simple. ISIS is not one thing. It is s coalition of groups. pl


http://www.france24.com/en/20140623-video-iraq-oil-baiji-refinery-shortages-kurdish-isis/ This article with video is worth watching/reading with regard to gasoline and also the electricity in Mosul area.

The Twisted Genius

Was this another intelligence failure? The Telegraph reports that Kurdish Intelligence was telling MI6 and CIA five months ago about a formal alliance to be signed between ISIS and the ex-Baathists (al-Douri) and the impending fall of Mosul. Did our IC fail to turn this information into intelligence or did the Administration just ignore the warnings? The casualties have been in the hundreds and fighting has been escalating in western Iraq for months. Wasn't that an indicator of future trouble? Was that POS Alexander too busy "collecting it all" to pay attention to the important stuff?

After the Warsaw Treaty Organization disbanded, we were told to drop all our East European sources, including our Yugoslavian sources. A few years later NATO was fighting a war in the Balkans and we had to start from scratch to get the required sources. Did we do the same thing in Iraq?

The Twisted Genius

Here's a link to the Telegraph article about Kurdish intelligence warnings.



In reply to Lee A. Arnold 23 June 2014 at 10:38 PM




You pesky insiders ...




Colonel, If I've misread Lee A Arnold's question my apologies but my reading of his question is "are there any Sunni countries with an army capable of intervening in Iraq?" rather than "are there any Sunni countries with capable armed forces?" Assuming the question is the first of these:

Jordan used to have a good army but I'm told that's no longer the case and in any case they've now got their own country to worry about.

Turkey does have a good army and did intervene at the start of the American invasion. They could intervene but for how long? Are they up to a long term occupation of parts of the country and taking on both Kurdish and Arabic forces?

Pakistan and Morocco? How would they organise the logistics of even getting there? Are you thinking of some sort of stabilisation force under the aegis of the UN or Organisation of the Islamic Conference ( OIC )? But even then surely the logistics are such that they'd have to ask the US or perhaps NATO countries for help with that?




One topic that does not yet seem to have been discussed is the dam.

Wikipedia article is here:


Middle East Seismological Forum report is here:

http://www.meseisforum.net/mosul_dam.pdf (PDF 32 pages)

Do the ISIS/Ba'ath coalition now control it or access to it? Is grouting continuing?
If faced with being forced to retreat from the area would the ISIS/Ba'ath coalition blow the dam in a "apres nous la deluge"?

As a general point there's relatively little discussion (so far) of water but it's the key issue in the Middle East. You can't drink oil. And the up-river countries Iran and Turkey are not shy about damming rivers and sharply reducing the water available to the down-river countries such as Syria (Turkey has just done this) or Iraq (Iran has also done this with the Alwand River).

The Inventory of Shared Water Resources in Western Asia is here:


their key findings are here:


If you draw a line on a map of the region's shared water resources with a map of regional "hot spots" the results do not encourage optimism.



Turning over control after conquest or liberation, your pick, is a way to keep together the strike force and prevent overextension.

I wonder if there is a deal, a sort of quid pro quo, between the Iraqi Sunni tribes, Baathists and ISIS to conquer or liberate as much of Iraq as posible and then allow ISIS to use that territory as a jump pad to march on against Damascus and/or Amman or Riad.

The Jihadis overstayed their welcome once, and probably the tribes and Baathists haven't forgotten and will be just happy to bid them farewell again.

Or maybe the Jihadis didn't learn a thing and will try to take over from the Baathists and the tribes once they feel strong enough and an opportunity arises?



I would be very surprised if the rebel coalition destroyed the haditha dam. They want to capture a big piece of Iraq, not make it uninhabitable. My point concerning the armed forces of Sunni majority countries was that there really are no forces in such countries that could intervene in Iraq to prevent the insurgency from spreading to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, etc. Politics, incapacity and logistical difficulties prevent such intervention. I think that the rebel coalition will consolidate its hold over the territory it holds, there will be more fighting in the course of which the present Iraqi army will be largely destroyed and then the rebel coalition will break up. pl



Thanks for the link. Interesting and very well connected person.


I wouldn't think they would either, unless they felt forced, sir. If anything, instead of releasing water the ISIS could withhold it. I understand that the agricultural sector downstream is vulnerable to this. Shoot, I can even see ISIS selling Maliki the electricity. Supposedly, Assad is buying some of the oil from the eastern Syrian oil fields from al-Nusra. If this is the case it reminds me of folks selling cotton across the lines during the WBTS.



IMO it is quite possible that core ISIS will try to continue its jihad into Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. I do not think that the Sunni tribesmen allies or the "Baathi" military forces will be willing to participate in that. the core ISIS jihadis would likely be destroyed in that process. Good. pl


Agreed, sir.

What was that expression Tyler coined? Something involving meat? It's a good one.

I can see the Ba'athists and the others wishing to see this as it eliminates a future problem for them.

different clue

Tyler's expression was Meat Shield. Since I have zero military knowledge I didn't know if this
was partway meanable as a play on Heat Shield, such as what the spaceflight re-entry vehicles had for sacrificial ablation on traveling back home through the atmosphere . . . to protect the people behind the Heat Shield.

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