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Iraq fight comes down to oil

In most places in the Middle East, economies are supported by oil. Take that away and you have people living in unsustainable environments. Today, oil resources help mitigate natural deficiencies, providing governments and people the means to live a meager existence. Kings and dictators live in wealth while masses of people must be convinced that poverty is good for them.

ISIL terrorists in Iraq
Photo: Getty

With populations there greatly exceeding the capacity to support them in the absence of oil, there is an impending human catastrophe. What we are witnessing now are people groping for control of the most powerful asset while it is running out. Time is against them.

ISIL terrorist insurgents attacked a large Iraq oil refinery. That will get a military response like nothing else could do. The ISIL attackers have made themselves a well defined target.

Add to the attack on oil the probability that ISIL attackers will strike Shia holy shrines, and the Iraqi military will likely find the resolve to fight, where last week they became lily livered cowards.

“Isis fighters attack Iraq's biggest oil refinery

Islamist militants launch assault in Baiji as Iran raises prospect of military intervention

Mark Tran, Wednesday 18 June 2014 06.19 EDT

Islamist militants have attacked Iraq's largest oil refinery in the city of Baiji, 155 miles north of Baghdad, as Iran raised the prospect of direct military intervention to protect Shia holy sites.

A top security official told the Associated Press that fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) had begun their attack on the refinery late on Tuesday night. The attack continued into Wednesday morning, with militants targeting it with mortar shells, starting a small fire on the periphery.

The refinery accounts for more than a quarter of the country's entire refining capacity, all of which goes toward domestic consumption – petrol, cooking oil and fuel for power stations. At the height of the insurgency from 2004 to late 2007, the Baiji refinery was under the control of Sunni militants who used to siphon off crude and petroleum products to finance their operations. Isis has used its control of oilfields in Syria to boost its coffers.

Any lengthy disruption at Baiji risks long lines at the petrol pump and electricity shortages, putting further pressure on the Shia-led government of the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. Iraq's beleaguered prime minister has fired several top security commanders after Iraqi troops melted away before Isis militants as they captured the Mosul in the north, Iraq's second largest city.

Jihadi rebel forces have reached Baquba, less than 40 miles north of Baghdad, while fighting continues to rage further north in the city of Tal Afar. State television late on Tuesday aired footage of army troops and armed volunteers disembarking from a transport C-130 aircraft at an airstrip near the city.

Isis and disaffected Sunnis have threatened to march to Baghdad, the capital, and the Shia holy cities of Kerbala and Najaf in the worst threat to Iraq's stability since US troops left. The three cities are home to some of the most revered Shia sites. Isis has tried to capture Samarra, north of Baghdad, home to another major Shia shrine.

Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, warned that Iran would do whatever it took to protect the shrines.

"Dear Kerbala, Dear Najaf, Dear Kadhimiya and Dear Samarra, we warn the great powers and their lackeys and the terrorists, the great Iranian people will do everything to protect them," he said, in a speech on Wednesday in Khoramabad, near the Iraqi border.

On Tuesday Rouhani mentioned petitions signed by Iranians who said they were willing to fight in Iraq "to destroy the terrorists and protect the holy sites", which are visited by hundreds of thousands of Iranian pilgrims annually.”

"Thank God there are enough volunteer Shias, Sunnis and Kurds in Iraq to fight the terrorists," he added.”

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