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Response to JDPriestly (Reply #28)

Sun Aug 16, 2015, 12:29 PM

39. State Dept. and CIA roles in Libyan arms/militia movements reported in Reuters, WSJ, NYT > year ago.

Here are some previous posts with those and related links:

Add one more essential but not sufficient precondition for ISIS: destabilization of Libya and Syria.
Here's a lesser-known set of facts leading to the creation of ISIS:

John Kerry was actively wooing Assad until early 2011 when the Petraeus-Clinton faction took control over MENA policy, and regime change was brought simultaneously to Syria, along with Libya and Tunisia. The project was most aggressively led on the ground by covert operators from France and Qatar, to a lesser extent involving the U.S., U.K., Saudi Arabia, UAE and Turkey in funding, coordination, propaganda, logistics and support. Ongoing programs run by CIA and State Dept. were ballooned, and there were a lot of meetings, but mostly we watched civil war unfold as third-force special forces units (mostly Qatari) led armed uprisings in Libya and Syria. In March 2011, President Obama signed a classified "finding" coordinating efforts with Qatar and several other countries to overthrow Qaddafi. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/30/us-libya-usa-order-idUSTRE72T6H220110330 A similar directive was signed ordering similar covert operations in Syria.

In April, 2011, Chris Stevens arrived in Eastern Libya where he took a lead role in organizing opposition militia. At the time of Stevens death on September 12, 2012, Ghadaffi had been killed the previous October after retreating to his tribal homeland in Sirte, and the Libyan army had dissolved. Opposition militia were in charge of the rest of the country and arms stocks. By that stage, there was an active pipeline set up for Islamic fighters and looted Libyan heavy arms -- along with shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles (MANPADs) -- flowing into Syria by way of Turkey. That movement of MANPADs was first confirmed in a Times of London article published two days after the attack on the US compound in Benghazi. See, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/09/28/1137620/-Times-of-London-Shipload-of-Looted-Missiles-From-Libya-Arrives-in-Turkey#

The death of Stevens and the spread across the region of heavy arms and Jihadist Libyan fighters armed and trained by Qataris using Saudi and Gulf money forced President Obama to reconsider the policy. CIA Director Petraeus, who was confirmed in September 2011 to succeed Leon Panetta, resisted winding down the operation. In a showdown White House meeting the following October, Petraeus was supported by Secretary of State Clinton and Defense Secretary Panetta. Obama's decision to wind down what has been referred to as "Operation Zero Footprint" came after discussions with national security advisor Tom Donilon. The rift within the Administration was first made public during Senate hearings the following February. See, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/08/us/politics/panetta-speaks-to-senate-panel-on-benghazi-attack.html?_r=0 Petraeus' ongoing affair with his biographer was exposed, and Secretary Clinton's resignation graciously accepted after the Inauguration. The rest, as they say, is history.
Posted by leveymg | Sat Mar 7, 2015, 12:15 PM (0 replies)


As UN Security Council Mulls ISIS Oil Sanctions, Most Funds Still Flow from Saudi and Gulf Donors

Proposed UN Sanctions Do Not Go To Most ISIS Funding from Wealthy Donors

There is broad agreement that "substantial" funds are still reaching ISIS from wealthy elites in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf states. As the Pentagon announced yesterday, oil exports now do not account for most of ISIS finances. ISIS is instead depending on donations, “a lot of donations,” according to Rear Admiral John Kirby, spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Further sanctions do not threaten the primary source of finance for the so-called Islamic State (IS), reported to be in excess of $2 billion last year. On Thursday, a UN measure was proposed by Russia that would sanction the trade in oil and stolen antiquities that partially funds ISIS funders. However, according to the NYT, it does not add to the existing list of individuals named for sanctions. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/07/world/middleeast/un-prepares-resolution-to-confront-islamic-state-on-oil-and-antiquities.html?_r=0

This spares the US and NATO the difficult task of having to immediately punish most of the same Sunni states with which it has been previously cooperating in prosecuting the war in Syria. The measure discussed on Friday would, however, specifically sanction parties engaged in smuggling oil from ISIS controlled areas, paying ransom, and the sale of stolen antiquities, the latter valued at $35 million last year.

Nobody seems to want to put a finger on exactly how much cash is still flowing to ISIS from wealthy ISIS funders, and who exactly they are. But, everyone agrees that support from the Saudis and Gulf elites continues to be substantial. See, http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/whos-funding-isis-wealthy-gulf-angel-investors-officials-say-n208006

In 2014, Saudi Arabia publicly agreed to clamp down on some donations from its citizens and religious foundations. As a result, most private funding now goes through Qatar. The UN Security Council Resolution 2170 passed last August 15 named only six individual ISIS leaders for direct sanctions. The new measure does not expand that list, but calls for a committee to nominate others for violation of existing UN resolutions.

The effects of the additional sanctions on oil exports proposed would have its primary impact on crude oil smuggling in and out of Turkey. The majority of ISIS oil revenues are derived through the black market in that country. Last June, at its height, a Turkish opposition MP and other sources estimated the annual oil revenues at $800 million. http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/221272-report-isis-oil-production-worth-800m-per-year

If accurate, oil sales was about 40% of the total ISIS operating budget as stated by the group. However, even at its height, petroleum accounted for only a fraction of ISIS funding. Some western estimates placed the IS annual total budget as high as $3 billion. See, http://thehill.com/policy/defense/228465-isis-puts-payments-to-poor-disabled-in-2-billion-budget; http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/isis-news-caliphate-unveils-first-annual-budget-2bn-250m-surplus-war-chest-1481931

The $800 million figure is actually at the top end of the estimates. US sources quoted by CNN last October stated that ISIS oil income was more likely half that figure: http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/06/world/meast/isis-funding/

The U.S. Treasury Department does not have hard figures that it can make public on the group's wealth but says it believes ISIS takes in millions of dollars a month.

Sources familiar with the subject say that ISIS' "burn' rate" -- how much the group spends -- is huge, including salaries, weapons and other expenses. For ISIS' oil sales, sources told CNN, the group probably makes between $1 million and $2 million per day, but probably on the lower end.

Along with everyone else, the returns on ISIS oil are probably a fraction of what they were at the height of world oil prices a year ago. Plus, the US and allies are bombing the group's oil platforms and vehicles. That has cut production and export to the point where US commanders now acknowledged that oil sales aren't the source of most ISIS funds, and that they are coming from donations, "a lot of donations":

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is no longer relying on oil as its main source of revenue to fund its terrorist activity, according to the Pentagon.

“We know that oil revenue is no longer the lead source of their income in dollars,” Pentagon spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters during a press briefing on Tuesday.

ISIS’ loss of income is compounded by its losses on the battlefield as the group has “lost literally hundreds and hundreds of vehicles that they can’t replace,” Kirby said.

“They’ve got to steal whatever they want to get, and there’s a finite number.”

ISIS is instead depending on “a lot of donations” as one of the main sources of income. “They also have a significant black market program going on,” Kirby said.

That leaves a big hole in the Caliphate's budget - that gets filled by someone.

Imposition of expanded UN sanctions would entail difficulties and costs for the US, particularly with Saudi Arabia. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that the Security Counsel measure is limited, and does not yet show if the world is truly serious about eradicating ISIS.


Stevens was no ordinary Ambassador - he was a career spook diplomat. The DOS and CIA overlap in
many ways as far as the execution of covert action is concerned. You are right, probably more so under Secretary Clinton than in the past. You only need to look at Steven's background -- he attended UC Berkeley, UC Hastings Law and the National War College -- to see that he is a melding of the martial and intellectual in the tradition of Teddy Roosevelt or T.E. Lawrence. He has worked in every significant center of foreign policy-making and every posting in the Mideast where the US has intense covert activities and strategic relationships during the past two decades:

Stevens joined the United States Foreign Service in 1991. His early overseas assignments included: deputy principal officer and political section chief in Jerusalem; political officer in Damascus; consular/political officer in Cairo; and consular/economic officer in Riyadh. In Washington, Stevens served as Director of the Office of Multilateral Nuclear and Security Affairs; Pearson Fellow with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; special assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs; Iran desk officer; and staff assistant in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.

He had served in Libya twice previously: as the Deputy Chief of Mission (from 2007 to 2009) and as Special Representative to the National Transitional Council (from March 2011 to November 2011) during the Libyan revolution. He arrived in Tripoli in May 2012 as the U.S. Ambassador to Libya.[4]

There were actually over 50 CIA people based in the nearby compound who showed up at the airport for evacuation. That's the "Annex" group of buildings next to the 14 large storage units in the adjacent warehouses where some have speculated the CIA actually stored the missiles and other sophisticated armaments that had been seized and purchased during the previous year. So, Stevens probably thought he was reasonably safe, as help or refuge was less than 1/2 a mile away from his unfortified diplomatic compound. He was comfortable with the militant groups he worked with in Eastern Libya - after all, he had handed them independence.

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kpete Aug 2015 OP
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