Tuesday, November 17, 2015

November 17, 2015--ISIS's Oil

I haven't been paying enough attention to how ISIS funds itself.

Mainly by stealing Iraqi oil I am embarrassed to admit I recently leaned. To the tune of at least $50 million a month's worth. About half-a-billion a year.

The oil comes from wells in northern Iraq, territory that ISIS now controls, and then is trucked overland into Syria and, after that, who knows.

But it has been working well for ISIS and up to now has not been interdicted by Syrian rebels, Western powers, or--and here's my rub--the United States.

One would think that with drones, satellite technology, and smart weapons easily deployed by fighter planes safely plying the skies looking for targets of opportunity, that given the go-ahead by allied forces' commanders in chief--particularly ours--it wouldn't require more than a few days to take out the oil trucks that go back and forth, east and west, through wide-open desert, at 45 miles per hour, without a place to hide.

Why then didn't we begin to bomb these facilities and trucks until two or three days ago? Why for years have we allowed this illicit commerce to take place in plain sight? Commerce that generates enough money to fund much of ISIS's evil business?

As best as I can learn the United States and it allies (such as they are) didn't want to do any permanent damage to Iraq's petroleum infrastructure. We have had the belief that ISIS would quickly be rolled up and things in the Iraqi oil fields would return to "normal." Very much in quotes.

Also, there was concern about killing civilians, mainly the drivers.

But now it appears that we feel battling ISIS will take a long time and concluding that drivers of these rigs are hardly civilians, we have turned attention to destroying the tanker trucks.

There appear to be 1,000 of them. One thousand! All easily spotted on Google Earth and of course, in even greater detail, through whatever the U.S. has in its surveillance arsenal.

In just a few days of bombing and strafing runs, according to reports in the New York Times, we have destroyed up to a quarter of them. Perhaps 250. In another few days most will have been blown up and it will no longer be easy for ISIS to remain in the oil business.

This previous hands-off approach to the ISIS oil trade also was based on the assertion that ISIS was effectively "contained" in Iraq and Syria, as claimed incredibly by President Obama just days before the uncontained attacks in Beirut and Paris.

All sorts of gears are being shifted as the result of these massive intelligence failures.

While I am ranting, I have two more questions for the Obama administration. An administration that has been ignoring reality as it attempts to "polish" its legacy. With only 15 months left in office, Obama wants to repaint reality--to claim that he ended two wars begun by George W. Bush and thus has no intention of getting in a new one against ISIS. This in spite of the fact that we are in reality half-heartedly fighting a war against ISIS.

But since we are in a version of war with ISIS why not fight smarter? Two things might help--

First, why not take down all jihadist Websites? The ones ISIS uses to promote itself and recruit young people from the Western democracies? And the ones they used to communicate among themselves, including using them to coordinate terrorist activities.

And why don't we through cyber-warfare tools disable the tanks and armored vehicles ISIS has stolen from Iraqi security forces? Vehicles and weapon systems that we manufactured and turned over to Iraqi soldiers which in turn were captured and are now being used against us by ISIS fighters?

I was just reading in Wired magazine how it is relatively easy to hack into people's Fords and Toyotas, to in effect disable them. So why not do the same thing to our Humvees and tanks that are now (see below) in ISIS's hands? I assume they are just as hackable.

If they aren't we should immediately reconfigure any weapons we sell or give to allies which inevitably get into the hands of very bad guys. As in Afghanistan where we covertly supplied the Mujahideen with weapons to use when fighting off Soviet invaders which in turn were used against us after the Mujahideen morphed into the Taliban.

I am wondering if anyone in our government and military is paying attention to these obvious things.

If not, it will be to our everlasting regret.

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