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Iran enters Iraqi fight for key oil refinery

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Iran has entered the fight to retake a major Iraqi oil refinery from Islamic State militants, contributing small numbers of troops — including some operating artillery and other heavy weapons — in support of advancing Iraqi ground forces, U.S. defense officials said Friday.

Two U.S. defense officials said Iranian forces have taken a significant offensive role in the Beiji operation in recent days, in conjunction with Iraqi Shiite militia. The officials were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

One official said Iranians are operating artillery, 122mm rocket systems and surveillance and reconnaissance drones to help the Iraqi counteroffensive.

The Iranian role was not mentioned in a new U.S. military statement asserting that Iraqi security forces, with U.S. help, had managed to establish a land route into the Beiji refinery compound. The statement Friday by the U.S. military headquarters in Kuwait said Iraqis have begun reinforcing and resupplying forces isolated inside the refinery compound.

Iran’s role in Iraq is a major complicating factor for the Obama administration as it searches for the most effective approach to countering the Islamic State group. U.S. officials have said they do not oppose contributions from Iran-supported Iraqi Shiite militias as long as they operate under the command and control of the Iraqi government.

Friday’s U.S. military statement quoted Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidley as saying that over the past three days Iraqi security forces and federal police have made “steady, measured progress” in regaining some areas leading to the Beiji refinery compound, in the face of suicide vehicle-borne bombs and rocket attacks. Weidley, chief of staff of the U.S.-led military headquarters in Kuwait, recently described the oil refinery as a “key infrastructure and critical crossroads.”

The U.S. statement said Iraqis, enabled by the U.S. and its coalition partners, have “successfully cleared and established a ground route” into the refinery to resupply Iraqi troops. It listed U.S. and coalition contributions as including airstrikes, reconnaissance and the use of “advise and assist elements.”

Asked about the newly emerging role of Iranian forces in Beiji, the U.S. command in Kuwait declined to comment directly, citing “operational security reasons.” It added that all forces involved in Beiji are “aligned with the government of Iraq” and under the control of Iraqi security forces.

Separately, the Pentagon said Friday that the cost of U.S. military operations in Iraq and Syria since U.S. airstrikes began in August is $2.44 billion as of May 7.

IS fighters recently gained substantial control over the Beiji oil refinery, a strategically important prize in the battle for Iraq’s future and a potential source of millions of dollars in income for the militants. They also control the nearby town of Beiji, on the main route from Baghdad to Mosul, along the Tigris River.

The militants’ move on Beiji largely coincided with its successful offensive in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, last week. Iraqi forces withdrew from Ramadi on Sunday, leaving behind large numbers of U.S.-supplied vehicles, including several tanks. The U.S. said Friday that its airstrikes in Ramadi overnight hit an IS fighting unit, destroying five armored vehicles, two tanks and other military vehicles, as well as nine abandoned tanks and other armored vehicles.

Together, the Ramadi and Beiji losses have fueled criticism of the Obama administration’s Iraq strategy and prompted the White House to authorize an acceleration of U.S. weapons transfers to Baghdad, including expedited shipments of 2,000 shoulder-fired missiles for use against armored suicide vehicles.

Iran had contributed advisers, training and arms to Iraqi Shiite militias in an attempt to retake the city of Tikrit in March, but that effort stalled. In April, after the U.S. joined the effort with airstrikes, Iraqi security forces and allied Shiite militias succeeded in regaining control of the city.

Tony Cordesman, a Middle East expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that while some in Tehran see the advantages of a Shiite-led Iraqi government that deals equitably with the Sunni and Kurdish populations in order to achieve national unity, Iranian hardliners do not.

“At best, they are still pursuing a policy of competing with the United States for military influence over the Iraqi military and police, Shiite militias, and even influence over Iraq’s Kurds,” Cordesman wrote in an analysis published Thursday. “At worst — and ‘at worst’ now seems more likely than ‘at best’ — Iran’s leaders are seeking an Iraq where Iran has dominant influence” after the Islamic State threat has been overcome.



11 Comments on "Iran enters Iraqi fight for key oil refinery"

  1. BobInget on Sat, 23rd May 2015 10:44 am 

    When a neighbor speaks the same language,
    has skin color similar to your own, shares the same general belief system, is threatened by the same
    enemies, should it be a shock when neighbors join forces to repel outsiders? Bees, ants, guerrillas, biker gangs do it why not Iraqis?

    Distant Future:

    Iran will be more then pleased accepting USD’s in exchange for Iranian Blood Free Crude .
    “No need to fight us for our oil, we’ll take your paper for it. Not only that you can buy Iraqi oil from us too”.

    Big battle rages today. Soon, we find out which direction wind blows. East or West?

    Until oil conflicts around exporting nations are labeled as such, we will never make progress toward peace. Keep pretending we are attempting to bring ‘democracy’ is not working.

    There are posters on this board who have yet to admit (openly) that Saudi Arabia teamed with Israel
    is at war with Iran, partnered with Russia. It’s time to understand, Israel’s foreign policy won’t get Americans oil.

    Like most published observers, some here prefer to ignore the obvious, Saudi Arabia is pushing limits both politically and geologically not because they need money. When the US and USSR were at ideological loggerheads, few questioned sanity of ‘Cold War’. In an absolute monarchy, Islamic or Jewish State, few are brave enough to openly question ideologically, politically, insecure authority.

  2. joe on Sat, 23rd May 2015 10:48 am 

    I can’t figure this one out, the US is fight both sides in a war where whoever wins, the US loses. IS just bombed a shiite mosque in Saudi and they are fighting shiites in Yemen. One good arms shipment from Iran into Saudi and 10mbpd is off the market if Saudi shiites would rise up. The neoconservatives are forcing the US into crisis where it must pick a side and stick with it. It’s clear they want to Palestinise the whole middle east but eternal war against IS and Iran at the same time is not a good idea.

  3. GregT on Sat, 23rd May 2015 11:06 am 

    The New Great Game

    This is why the US can’t win joe.

  4. justeunperdant on Sat, 23rd May 2015 11:38 am 

    IF ISIS has indeed take ownership of a oil refinery, it indicates that they are well organized and understand international trade, how the financial system works and what is the role of energy in today world.

    Iran is just ring to stop them to become more powerful by selling the oil in the back market in exchange for money and arms.

    This is about stopping a well structure organization (ISIS) to take over big part of the middle eat land and installing a new power structure and governance.

    I would be interesting to seem how old are the people at the top of the hierarchy. If they are young, if could mean the younger generation is pushing out the older generation out

  5. rockman on Sat, 23rd May 2015 8:01 pm 

    “The neoconservatives are forcing the US into crisis…”. So President Obama is a neoconservative? Just as I suspected all along. Don’t nobody tell Lore. LOL.

  6. Ted Wilson on Sat, 23rd May 2015 9:24 pm 

    Islamic State is not a joke. They are dangerous force and have already started killing Shiites everywhere including Saudi Arabia.

    If they capture Syria, then Lebanon or Israel could be the next target.

    If US cannot defeat them, at least Iran should be allowed to defeat them.

  7. theedrich on Sun, 24th May 2015 3:58 am 

    In global politics, the idiot at the U.S. helm has been all over the map in the past six years.  The only thing he knows how to do is win domestic elections by playing on White guilt and having his controlled media stir up Black hatred against cowering Whites.  Internationally, he and his court are utterly incompetent, whether one considers our relationships with the Mohammedan world or the Third World invading us in general.  As regards ISIL, the only realistic thing possible is to let Iran take over Iraq and become the dominant Levantine power.  Of course that will give Israel and the KSA the heebie jeebies, but America, with its increasingly homosexualized and effeminate population, can no longer dominate everything.  Naturally the Jews want Ø to nuke Iran and do their dirty work for them, just as England and France dragged us in to save them in the past two world wars.  But if the U.S. tries to repeat those idiocies in the Middle East today, the global economy and its Ponzi schemes will collapse within 24 hours, taking Yankeeland down with it.  The American century has been over for a decade and a half.  No one seems to recognize that.

  8. Davy on Sun, 24th May 2015 7:12 am 

    Ted, the ISIS is not going to be the marauding hordes of Arab Islamic fighters conquering the Muslim world. The geopolitical realities will only allow them conquest of some unprotected and vulnerable Sunni areas. It is unlikely they will overthrow any state. They do not have a conventional army with the kind of logistical support necessary to overrun the Muslim world. They do not have the broad based popular support to snowball into a movement of revolution.

    The world is too full of people for such a scenario. ISIS will not have traction in unfriendly areas hence Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq will only see Sunni regional conquest. They will not be able to form a coherent state that can gain the traction to rise to the next level of power.

    It is likely they will just remain a moment of violence and destruction destroying their region they desire to control. The Kurds, Shia, and other Sunni Nations have the wherewithal to prevent ISIS from gaining too much. That said it is unlikely they will be destroyed as a fighting force just as the Taliban was not destroyed. ISIS is a movement within an ethnic and religious group. These are the most difficult movements to eradicate. The world will just have to learn to live with them.

  9. Davy on Sun, 24th May 2015 7:36 am 

    Thee, I have often said the American Empire ended the day we rolled into Iraq. We are in a multi-polar world of dependent nations in a global system. No nation or region can become a dominant power in such a scenario because no nation can survive without the global system. We are all now too interconnected to allow a Chinese century or Bric century.

    We also have little time left as a global system now that the financial system is decaying and our foundational commodity oil is in depletion. The financial and oil situation is within the greater issues of population and consumption overshoot. Ecosystems are in decline or collapse. Food productivity is stagnating and could go into a violent decline very quickly. In that context all areas will be faced with a contraction event none are prepared for. The ME is in the worst possible position with food and water vulnerabilities.

    This is an unknown of possible collapse scenarios we have no historic basis for. This will be an industrial global event. We have never been in this situation with such a large population, with ecosystem destruction, and global resource depletion. This will be a systematic collapse confronting each and every one of our locals. Some areas in the southern hemisphere will probably fare better but no region will be left untouched.

    We have no idea if we will see a NUK winter or a poisoned earth from industrial collapse. The probabilities are good we will go into catastrophic collapse because of population and consumption overshoot. All areas have one or the other issues or both. Areas with sustainable population have consumption requirements to sustain themselves. Places like China and India are toast with both issues.

    For me the issue is not if it is when. How much time do I have to enjoy my enjoyable life? I am hoping 5 years but that may be optimistic. It will be a fascinating time watching the collapse unfold especially because I will know what is happening. So many sheeples have no clue about collapse because they have never considered it.

    I have no illusions I will be exposed and vulnerable. I have no illusions that pain, suffering, and death does not faces me. If you think I will not be scared when I am faced with an armed confrontation with bandits you are mistaken. The difference is I am preparing mentally. I understand and realize I will be facing death when this starts. That is the difference between me and a sheeple. A sheeple has no clue what is unfolding. Who knows maybe it is better to have no clue. That is another good debate. I personally would rather know because that is just the way I am.

  10. BobInget on Sun, 24th May 2015 11:10 am 

    Iraq’s US trained armed forces are ineffective.
    Without Iranian trained, backed militias, ISIL
    overruns all Iraq as they’re doing in Syria.
    Currently, US provides air cover to Iranian
    backed militias. Unless we continue to support
    Iranian backed fighters, all is lost.
    Neither the US or Iran dare permit IS from dominating, destabilizing, an entire Middle East.

    Where are our (US) great allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia when we so desperately need them to fight their fight?
    Israel is busy, almost daily, threatening Iran with nuclear war. (bombing nuclear infrastructure
    uncontrollably spreads radio active materials)

    Saudi Arabia, while IS attacks Saudi citizens in holy places, KSA with no obvious provocation, continues to destroy Yemeni lives and property. Saudi Royals continue to support AQ by bombing
    Yemenis, now being overrun by al-Qaeda
    on the ground.

    In Syria, ISIL is making serious advances on the capitol, Damascus. To slow or reverse these advances the US needs to support Iranian backed
    forces in Syria. Instead, the US backs Saudi Arabia. Russia backs President Assad. It’s safe to say, no battlefield deserves “Clusterfuck” more.

    If anyone today is foolish enough to pile on to a clusterfuck they will almost certainly get an STD.

  11. BobInget on Sun, 24th May 2015 12:56 pm


    As the chances of a nuclear deal between the six world powers (known as P5+1: the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China) and the Islamic Republic become higher, the potential normalization of the relationship between the two long-standing enemies- the U.S. and Iran- has attracted international spotlight.

    The US and Iran are being drawn closer over IS. Saudi Arabia and Israel pursue their own agendas
    and choose not to join a US led, forty nation joint anti IS force.

    Poster’s note: My question to board:
    How much longer can KSA continue to pump ten million+ barrels (in April)?

    Question: Can land based fields hold up to this
    abuse? For how much longer? Is it abuse?

    Question: BS explanation given by Saudis:
    “production was a sign of strong demand from Asia”

    In the same article: “The news comes after a Wall Street Journal report Monday on an OPEC draft report that forecasts oil will not climb above $100 per barrel in the next decade”.

    Question: Who believes that $100 figure when
    KSA, the only OPEC member with increased production, states: Asian demand is reason enough to increase to record production?
    (stress wells beyond safe limits)?

    Read more:

    Are we (US) shifting alliances toward Iran/Iraq
    for their oil or because we deeply admire ME cooking?

    It all gets back to Iraq and Syria and Oil and IS.
    The US CANNOT permit IS ME dominance
    over the world’s oil supply, full stop

    KSA’s Jet Fuel consumption must also be a factor.
    Waging a 24/7 air war is w/o doubt eating away at exports. So, what DID KSA’s April exports look like?

    Saudi Arabia’s recent push to maintain international oil market share saw its oil exports surging in March, but the kingdom may find itself unable to maintain much upward momentum in the coming months.

    The latest official data from the Riyadh-headquartered Joint Organizations Data Initiative or JODI, published Monday, May 18 showed that Saudi crude exports rose by 548,000 b/d in March to 7.898 million — their highest level in over a decade.

    However, March is the last month of the Arabian Peninsula’s cooler season, with maximum daytime temperatures in Riyadh still averaging below 30 degrees Celsius.

    Temperatures start to rise rapidly thereafter, with the daytime maximum typically averaging 45 degrees Celsius by July, the hottest month of the year.

    Poster’s take-away:
    KSA exports fewer then 8 million B p/d while pumping 10. Domestic consumption, including air-war will eat into storage, something farce.
    IOW’s Are Saudis dipping into storage and perhaps NOT pumping 10.3 M B after-all?

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