Middle East

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Irony: George H. W. Bush Is Heading Toward Iraq... The Aircraft Carrier, That Is





Yesterday, when we presented the latest US naval update, focusing on the distribution of US aircraft carriers around the world and particularly in the middle east, we summarized that "America, which historically has had a far greater naval presence in the middle east, is quite unprepared for the recent dramatic resurgence of Al Qaeda splinter groups. Expect at least one more aircraft carrier to depart in direction Iraq shortly." Turns out "shortly" meant less than one day.

 
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Iraq Update: Jihadists Seize 2 More Iraqi Towns; Close To 30 Miles Of Baghdad; Iran Rushes To Help





While the US scrambles to figure out what the least painful way is to admit yet another humiliating foreign policy defeat, things in Iraq continue to deteriorate as the relentless blitzkrieg unleashed by the ISIS/ISIL Al-Qaeda spin off, which has shocked everyone by its speed and scale, takes two more towns, as it rushes for its target: Baghdad itself.

 
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US Secretly Unleashed Drones Over Iraq But Admits "Not Like It Did Any Good"





Because drones have done so much for the "we love American exceptionalism" belief across the middle east, the US decided that since last year, secretly flying unmanned surveillance aircraft over Iraq - to collect intelligence of insurgents - would be good idea. The intelligence (and use the term loosely) was share with Iraqi forces but as WSJ reports, one secnior US official admitted "It's not like it did any good," as the rapid territorial gains by the Islamist forces loyal to Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, an al Qaeda offshoot, caught the U.S. by surprise.

 
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US Naval Map Update: Iraq vs Al-Qaeda Edition





Now that the middle east is once again about to become a hot bed of "kinetic action", the recurring question from 2011/2012 when Israel was seemingly knocking on Iran's door on a daily basis, returns: how are US naval assets positioned particularly those surrounding the Fifth fleet located in the Persian Gulf. The answer, as updated just earlier today, is shown below, and it shows that America, which historically has had a far greater naval presence in the middle east, is quite unprepared for the recent dramatic resurgence of Al Qaeda splinter groups. Expect at least one more aircraft carrier to depart in direction Iraq shortly.

 
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Map Of The Day: The Jihadist Resurgence Across Iraq





"Is it Al Qaeda? Is it not Al Qaeda?" When it comes to the most recent fighting in Iraq, nobody is quite sure how and what to brand the ISIS/ISIL spin off of Al Qaeda. Here are some thoughts from Stratfor on this issue, as part of their map of the day.

 
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'Now Is The Time To Prepare For Next Crisis' Says World Bank As IMF Warns Of Housing Crashes





Yesterday, the IMF and World Bank issued warnings about rising interest rates, housing crashes and the global economy. The World Bank’s chief economist is inadvertantly offering important advice to investors and savers when he said that "now is the time to prepare for the next crisis ..."

 
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Mapping Al Qaeda's Grand Ambitions In Iraq And Syria





As reported earlier, and as most know by now, as if out of nowehere the al-Qaeda faction Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has, over the past 24 hours, stormed across northern Iraq, taken over key northern cities and even taken control over countless modern US weapons and military equipment including Humvees and Blackhawk helicopters. As we further reported, after looting nearly half a billion from the Mosul central bank, ISIS is also the "world's richest terror force." So weapons? Check. Money? Check. What happens next? This map, from the Institute for the Study of War explains clearly what ISIS' ambitions in the middle east are: creating a grand nation-state that basically controls virtually all of Syria and most of Iraq.

 
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Al Qaeda Militants Capture US Black Hawk Helicopters In Iraq





Just when one thought US foreign policy couldn't sink any deeper into the hole of its embarrassment, it takes out a shovel and starts digging. Overnight, in what AP describes as a stunning assault that exposed Iraq's eroding central authority, Al Qaida-inspired militants from ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, overran much of Mosul on Tuesday, seizing government buildings, pushing out security forces and capturing military vehicles as thousands of residents fled the second-largest city. But the worst news by far for the US is that as a result of the takeover of Mosul by ISIS forces, an unknown number, and at least one, US ultramodern Blackhawk and Kiowa helicopters parked at the Mosul airport, are now in, you guessed it, Al Qaeda hands.

 
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The World’s Five Most Important Oil Fields





Much has been made about the role that hydraulic fracturing – or fracking -- has played in revolutionizing the energy landscape, unlocking vast new reserves of oil trapped in shale rock. This “tight oil” is pouring into the global pool of oil supplies at a crucial time, preventing oil prices from spiking in an age of high demand and geopolitical turmoil. But the world still relies overwhelmingly on conventional oil production from existing fields, many of which are in decline. The Middle East has dominated the world of oil for half a century and as the list below shows, it remains king. Here are the top five most important oil fields in the world.

 
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How The West Spies On The Middle East: The Location Of The GCHQ's Top Secret Internet Spy Base Revealed





Until yesterday, a piece of the global spying puzzle was missing: not because it did not exist, but because certain of Snowden's preferred outlets had refused to reveal it. That piece, as Duncan Campbell of The Register (incidentally Campbell has been breaking exclusives for more than three decades: he was the first journalist to reveal the existence of GCHQ in 1976) revealed yesterday, is the GCHQ's (and thus indirectly the NSA's) top secret middle eastern Internet spy base located in Seeb, Oman (officially known as Oman Comms Link Site 1), smack in the middle of the middle east, located southwest of the Straits of Hormuz, and in close proximity to America's closest petroleum-exporting "friends": Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

 
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Hilsenrath Confirms Fed Angry At Itself For Making "Market" Too Risk-Free





While the last 2 weeks have seen numerous Fed heads, most vociferously Bill Dudley, warning of 'complacency' in markets, fearsome of low volatility and worried about low risk spreads. Of course, investors don't care - don't fight the fed unless the fed tells you to sell, appears the mantra-du-jour. Fed communications are not working... and so they have left it to their mouthpiece - WSJ's Jon Hilsenrath - to explain that they are indeed concerned at just how risk-free markets have become..."Federal Reserve officials, looking out at mostly calm financial markets, are starting to wonder whether tranquility itself is something to worry about."

 
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Saudi Arabia Reveals Surge In MERS Deaths: One Third Of Infected Patients Die





Now that all the scapegoats have been terminated, it is time for Saudi Arabia to pull a GM (where so far the new/old CEO is still in her position), and reveal just how serious the problem truly is. Moments ago AP reported that according to the latest Saudi data a whopping 282 deaths have been confirmed as a result of 688 infections: a fatality rate of 40%! Circa says that Saudi Arabia's Health Ministry reported on June 3 that "after reviewing its records, it discovered 113 confirmed cases of MERS not previously included in nationwide totals. The discovery brings the country's total cases to 688; the death toll was raised to 282 from 190." It just "discovered" that today? Was the previous number of fatalities calculated using a wrong ISM seasonal adjustment factor?

 
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Frontrunning: June 3





  • At least 74 dead in crashes similar to those GM linked to faulty switches (Reuters)
  • Obama Calls for $1 Billion Europe Security Fund; Will Increase U.S. Military Presence in Eastern Europe (WSJ)
  • Euro Inflation Slowing More Than Forecast Pressures ECB (BBG)
  • China accelerates as euro zone stumbles (Reuters)
  • Russia says Ukraine situation worsening, submits U.N. resolution (Reuters)
  • Secondary Sales Squeeze Investors (WSJ)
  • Barclays Said to Start Cutting Jobs in Investment Banking Unit (Bloomberg)
  • Backlash Grows on Release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in Taliban Prisoner Swap (WSJ)
  • For fallen soldiers' families, Bergdahl release stirs resentment (Reuters)
  • PIMCO's Gross stares at record outflow (Reuters)
 
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Does The US Negotiate With Terrorists?





It was a good weekend for the friends and family of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl: after five years of being held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan, on Saturday morning it was reported that the 28-year-old native of Hailey, Idaho was finally freed. In exchange for his freedom, the US agreed to also set free five Taliban militants held at Guantanamo. In other words, this was a pre-negotiated settlement or, stated otherwise, a negotiation.  Adding fuel to the fire is the realization that Obama was transacting largely alone: instead of abiding by a legal requirement to give Congress advance notice when prisoners are released from the detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay, Obama once again took unilateral action. Actually it wasn't completely unilateral: it was revealed that the deal was bartered by America's new middle east BFFs (courtesy of the false flagged Syria conflict): officials from Qatar who agreed to keep the detainees in their country for a year.

And then the media circus took over.

 
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