Politics, Geopolitics & Conflict
• Iraq’s oil-rich Basra continues to struggle with a conflict among rival Shi’ite tribes that threatens to spiral out of control to the point that Baghdad sent in a strike force to quell the unrest. The bulk of the unrest is close to two major oilfields—West Qurna and Majnoon. If the foreign giants operating these fields were shrugging off the multiple threats to their assets before, they shouldn’t be so dismissive now, though they continue to be in denial. This is not an area close to the fighting with the Islamic State, but the conflicts feed off each other’s tensions. That fact that the central government sent in tanks and made some 30 arrests will not go down well with the locals who already have some autonomy sentiments—not happy with the distribution of their province’s oil wealth with the rest of the country.
• In a new twist to the struggle between the Iraqi central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, Israel has called for an independent Kurdish nation—one beholden neither to Iran or Turkey. One friendly to Israel, specifically. Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaken said that Kurds and Jews had ‘common interests’ in trying to fight back the Islamic State, and intimated that the Kurds were carrying most of the weight in this fight. The minister said Israel explicitly declares its support for “the aspirations of the Kurdish people in the autonomous territories in northern Syria and Iraq.”
• Somalia’s al-Shabaab, emboldened further by the Islamic State’s progress, has struck at popular beachfront restaurants in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. The attacks used car bombs and gunmen, and the death toll was not yet known at the time of writing.
• In Libya, where the Islamic State has already made bold inroads, ISIS has set fire to oil storage tanks on a second assault at the Ras lanuf terminal in the north. The fire was started on Thursday. A week ago, ISIS also targeted Ras Lanuf and Es Sider terminals—which have a combined capacity of 500,000 barrels per day. Ras Lanuf has been shut down for just over a year due to the ongoing conflict in the country between two rival governments. Libya does not have the political will or unity to fight off ISIS, which is eyeing Libyan oil and making progress in getting it.
• Russian Gazprom…