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25 April 2016


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Babak Makkinejad

I seriously doubt that Russia would do anything untoward in South Caucasus to discomfit Turkey.

That would pose a major security problem for them in Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan etc.

Turks are Sunnis and regardless of their political orientation - Kemalist or Islamist - they retain significant antipathy to the Shia Muslims - be they Azeri Turks or Persians or anyone else for that matter.

They will make noises but will never aide Azerbaijan.

A prolong war between Armenia and Azerbaijan will suck in Catholic Christians, Orthodox Christians, Jihadists, Sunni Muslims, and Shia Muslims.

Sky is the limit.


Just to concur with you, LeaNder,

My experience even a decade ago is that most people in France, if approached in English, say they cannot speak english, but if you then demonstrate reasonable fluency in French, are more than willing to use either language. Personally, il me plait de parler in Francais, its a beautiful language.


That was really funny:

MDEA is also used as short form of 3,4-Methylendioxy-N-ethylamphetamin, a recrational drug, for which I did some NMR assignments last week. So you could imagine my puzzlement why one would use it for the purification of oil or as part of an explosive. :-)

However, methyldiethanolamin makes much much more sense. :-)
As part of an explosive it would react like an long chain alkane IMHO.


TTG's thinking about Air Force spotters seems right.

The entire exercise seems like propaganda as per Bill Herschel. They strike many propaganda points:

1) reinforcing narratives (Assad 'funding' ISIS via oil purchases, US anti-ISIS bonafides);

2) sympathetic viewpoint: women warriors; diversity of SDF forces; liberators feed/comfort the liberated;

3) lack of journalistic merit: few hard questions/little attempt to address/pursue larger issues:

> authoritarianism of Kurds mentioned, but not pursued;

> Sunni Sheik who is not fighting against the Syrian regime - mentioned but not pursued;

> Christians said to be part of the SDF Coalition - but none are interviewed? (Despite France being overwhelmingly Catholic.)

> ISIS briefly explained away as a recurring scourge (like swatting mosquitoes in summer) - no context or blame to source? (Saudi Arabia)

> NOTE: There *IS* a mention of ISIS relations with Turkey (oil for arms) but it is, by now, common knowledge and is not pursued any further.

So, while you view the ground war, don't forget about the propaganda war.


Madame Goldman Sachs wants to be America's Margaret Thatcher. God help us all.

Medicine Man

Fred: It is pretty ballsy for those refinery workers to leverage the economic importance of their jobs to avoid having to flee their homes in the midst of a war zone. I guess they have to get by somehow. Were I in their shoes I would be most worried about the point when the jihadis become convinced they are going to lose control of the region. The position of those refinery workers starts to look dicey the moment the headchoppers start thinking about scorched earth tactics.

Medicine Man

Ironic in this context, but English has become the lingua franca in Europe.

 Ishmael Zechariah

"Turks are Sunnis and regardless of their political orientation - Kemalist or Islamist - they retain significant antipathy to the Shia Muslims - be they Azeri Turks or Persians or anyone else for that matter."

Any proof for this statement? In reality those secular Turks who value the work of Ataturk dislike ALL religious bigots, irrespective of their creed or sect.

Personally I see no real difference between the Iranian (Shia) bigots and the (Sunni) bigots of the KSA. IMO, the world would be a better place if both groups hurried to their respective heavens and let us be. (For fairness the Haredim, the ultra-zealous born-again Christians, etc... should also join this celestial exodus).

Ishmael Zechariah

alba etie

My working hypothesis since the CW left Syria under Russian & Chinese naval escort is that all talk of removing Assad , safe zone etc has been kabuki theater coming from the BHO administration . I am convinced so far to date that the USG is still course correcting away from supporting the failed Mideast neocon agenda. That very same agenda that actively engaged when BushCheney begin bombing Baghdad way back when in 2003 ;even though the UN Inspectors were still in Iraq. We shall see.


"IMO, the world would be a better place if both groups hurried to their respective heavens and let us be. (For fairness the Haredim, the ultra-zealous born-again Christians, etc... should also join this celestial exodus)."

How about a little Divine Intervention by sounding of Abraham's Ram's horn?

Then those of us left to clean up this "Creative Reality" mess can have a lasting image of the childlike puzzlement on the faces of the Smug Sectarians as they come to understand their question "What, I am one of the guilty ones?"

alba etie

Bill Herschel
What really made the hegemonist nuts was that Crimea actually voted to rejoin Russia , -ah democracy !


Interesting article, makes me wonder if Glass own recent book may not be worth it too.


Granted, but most of those were to be filled with a gas and you can pack explosives into anything including the oil drums.
I have no military experience but find it very difficult to believe that any commander, IS or otherwise, put in charge of an oil refinery who decided it was a good idea to build an explosives and bomb making factory in the middle of it would retain his post for very long.


Yes I noticed the two links for MDEA but took a wild guess that it was probably not the IS's main drug production site. Given the quantities, if I was wrong, they seemed to have enough for quite a party.



"... find it very difficult to believe ... would retain his post for very long."

I can't speak to the capabilities of IS leadership but it seems the middle of that refinery would not be on any air forces target list so it might actually be the best place, baring accidents, to build the things. I believe on of those car bomb trucks was in the facility's garage.


Thanks, I am tempted to order both plus Patrick Cockburn's latest.

Babak Makkinejad

Who are the people called "Caferi" in Turkey?

Ishmael Zechariah

They are Twelver Shia. Here is a link to their web-site:


It's worth considering the present situation from the Kurdish perspective.

The Kurds undoubtedly have a very keen recollection of the times that they have been used then hung out to dry by the external interests. I would guess that they are very aware that western support will evaporate once they cease to be useful to the USA. They will find themselves again at the tender mercies of the Turks and other regional governments.

Therefore no benefit accrues from giving the USA what it most wants up front. Rather, I suspect that the Kurds would prefer to maintain US support while they lock in ambit claims for their Rojava project in preparation for whatever negotiations may eventuate.

For this reason alone, I suspect that they would be reluctant to advance on Raqqa until they have achieved their other objectives. Taking Raqqa would give the US the appearance of defeating ISIS in Syria, and an opportunity to 'declare victory and leave'. IIRC, Raqqa is beyond the southern limit of the claimed Rojava territory. At best, it would only be a bargaining chip.


Do Iraqi Kurds really have a desire to take Mosul? Same with Raqqa in Syria? I don't see the incentive? Do they want the Americans to leave? I doubt it.

Babak Makkinejad


"Heretics", they are called by others.

When commemorating the Martyrdom of Imam Hussein, they carry the flag of Azerbaijan Republic lest they be attacked by other Turks.

"We are not Iranians," they state.

 Ishmael Zechariah


You are using faulty rhetoric. Please identify the "others" who are calling the Caferis heretics? "How many secular Turks have strong antipathy against them because of their creed?", is the question you should ask, and answer, given your postulate in your first message.

Tayyip's (current) supporters and other Sunni bigots attack the Shia, and the Alawites, and the atheists, and the agnostics, and the Zoroastrians, and the shamanists, and the Christians, and the Jews, and the Bhais....They also hate us, secular Turks. Accusing secular Turks -the ones you call Kemalists- of "strong antipathy" to the Shia solely because of their creed is nonsense.

Ishmael Zechariah

different clue

Ishmael Zechariah,

What percent of Turks would be or remain strict Kemalist Secularists under pressure? What percent of Turks would be or would revert to being
default Sunni loyalists under pressure?

different clue


I think I remember the actual on-camera organ-eater as being a local commander in the Free Syrian Army. If I remember correctly, that raises the question of how different, if different at all: the FSAists are from the ISIStas and the alphabet jihadis . . . at least in psycho-behavioral terms.



I think they were already between the rock and the hard place. Every person in ISIS controlled territory is whether they admit it to themselves or not.

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