Daesh (ISIL) Loses Refinery City in Iraq to Iraqi Army, Shiite Militias

By Juan Cole | —

Iraqi army and police joined forces with Shiite militias and US close air support to expel Daesh (ISIL) from the city of Beiji, north of Baghdad beyond Tikrit. The Iraqi military claim has not been independently verified. The army is now only 1 kilometer (less than a mile) away from Beiji’s oil installations.

It is perhaps the most significant military loss for Daesh since it took 40% of Iraq in early June, 2014.

Daesh is estimated to make $30 million a month from petroleum sales. It isn’t actually that much in the larger scheme of things. Contrary to the somewhat breathless US reporting, Daesh is not the most wealthy terrorist group ever. At the height of the Iraq War a decade ago, Shiite militias probably siphoned off some $5 billion annually from the national oil production.

Crude oil can’t easily be smuggled since it is not worth much until it is refined. Gasoline or kerosene, in contrast– i.e. refined crude– is easily sold or transferred to others. The significance of the refinery at Beiji: it produces gasoline from crude oil. By capturing it and the nearby town, Daesh hoped to deny the government of then prime minister Nouri al-Maliki the revenues. It further hoped to reap the oil money itself. Some analysts thought the gasoline smuggling had began replacing donations from the Gulf as the organization’s chief income. Daesh still holds the refinery at Beiji but now is in a poor position to keep it.

Daesh had also captured 12 small refineries built for Syria by the Turks before the revolution. These refineries have been targeted by US air strikes.

With the defeat in Beiji, Daesh looks rather less than 10 feet high. Expecting Washington to rethink its Iraq project in this light? Apparently unreasonable.

Related video:

CNN: ” Secret video of ISIS smuggled out of Iraq ”

18 Responses

  1. Daesh is losing ground on different fronts so Gen. Dempsey’s comment about the U.S. considering sending ground troops to Iraq doesn’t quite add up. Perhaps, the general will let the public know more when he gets back from Baghdad. Will he recommend Obama IMMEDIATELY send 10,000-20,000 combat troops to keep Baghdad from being overrun?

    • It almost sounds like Gen. Dempsey might be setting the stage for a BIG BATTLE of Mosul like the BIG BATTLE of Kandahar Gen. McChrystal tried to pull of in Obama’s “war of necessity.”

  2. New Babylonia

    The force that took over Bayji including Sunni fighters as well and it’s not only Shiite militias and national army! #justsaying

  3. A reminder that our big war productions can come up short against indy performances: “The Iraq War’s pricy ticket: For American taxpayers, the Iraq War is a gift that keeps on taking, with new plans to spend tens of billions of dollars to retrain the Iraqi army whose initial training cost tens of billions before the army collapsed against a few thousand militants, a pricy dilemma” cited by ex-U.S. diplomat William R. Polk. – link to consortiumnews.com

    • One would really like to hope that SOMEone on “our” side is getting a good deal out of all this, and not all the brass and bosses on “our” side are just incompetent schmucks and “freiers,” just being taken and shaken down by the more seasoned players in the Game over there. With, of course, us complaisant idiots in the Homeland wearing the boots, and footing the bill…

  4. This from the very well-informed Patrick Cockburn is reminiscent of the early years of the Vietnam War when news reports pegged the Viet Cong at !00K. After 20K or 30K were killed during the following week, the VC count was raised to 200K. Subsequent reports followed the same pattern with the VC count eventually passing the half-million mark. “War with Isis: Islamic militants have army of 200,000, claims Kurdish leader: Exclusive: CIA has hugely underestimated the number of jihadis, who now rule an area the size of Britain” by Patrick Cockburn – link to independent.co.uk

  5. Barzani’s Chief of Staff said ISIS was able to mobilize “hundreds of thousands” of young Arab fighters and he said that right after Gen. Dempsey made the comment about sending US combat troops to Iraq. Wonder if Barzani will stop the Kurds from breaking away if he can talk Dempsey into sending troops and heavy weapons to Kurdistan?

    If ISIS has so many men, why aren’t they making big gains or any gains at all? How does ISIS plan to pay all these troops?

    Why is Gen. Dempsey talking about sending troops when bombing oil facilities would be the easiest way to cut their revenue and limit ISIS expansion?

    • If ISIS has so many men, why aren’t they making big gains or any gains at all? How does ISIS plan to pay all these troops?

      If ISIS has managed to dominate an area similar in size to Britain that should qualify as a big gain. It certainly has the attention of many observers. How do they plan to pay all these troops? Presumably by selling more oil on the black market and whatever else it takes. They presumably have a low armaments budget given how they have accumulated so much with “Made in USA” labels for free or close to it.

  6. Not sure if the then Shiite militias were ever put on a terrorist list or described as such in the classical terrorist term such as the Mehdi army or Badr brigade, considering they were also tied into the government fabric and more paramilitary. The current ones are clearly not considered terrorist organizations either, though if we’re going by official named terrorist groups, regardless of how they see themselves as a resistance or political entity, Shia Hezbollah could be considered quite rich….

  7. In Baghdad, Gen. Dempsey speaks the truth. He called ISIS “midgets” and said they were on their “back foot” meaning momentum was already turning against them. It’s only a matter of time before U.S. air power along with the Iraqi army and Shiite militias slowly strangled ISIS.By the end of next summer, there won’t be much of ISIS left in Iraq and the Republicans won’t have a reason to call for combat troops and start a much bigger war.

    Iran will be their next target.

    • In Baghdad, Gen. Dempsey speaks the truth.

      Just like Westmoreland did in Saigon before our military proceeded to whip the Viet Cong.

      • This isn’t Vietnam. ISIS can’t hide in the jungle. They just had a real bad week. Not only did ISIS lose this refinery town, but several ISIS commanders were also killed by a U.S. bombing attack.From the article…”It is perhaps the most significant military loss since Daesh took 40% of Iraq in early June, 2014.”Not being able to defend this town means ISIS is weaker than I thought.

        Domestic politics are a huge concern. If Obama backs away from ISIS in Iraq the Republicans would have a field day claiming he was weak on national security. They would not only blame Obama but the whole democratic party the same way it happened in 1980 with The Raygun and Jimmy Carter.There is nothing worse for a president or a party than being labeled weak on national security—NOTHING. ISIS just beheaded another American. If Obama backs off, the Republicans will CRUCIFY him and claim he’s being just as weak with Iran on nuclear negotiations. The Lobby will jump in and attack Obama like a buncha sharks.

        He’ll take a beating like Jimmy Carter did. The dems better be very careful.

        • This isn’t Vietnam. ISIS can’t hide in the jungle.

          Afghanistan isn’t a jungle either, but the US and its NATO puppets look like they are on a losing cause there with the puppets getting out of there as soon as they can.

          The US helped to create ISIS with its abuse and killings of Arabs. The unconscionable conduct of our military and mercenaries in Iraq – Abu Ghraib, Blackwater, Collateral Murder, Fallujah and its legacy of depleted uranium – created enemies with long memories.

          Prior to our unprovoked invasion of Iraq among the few probable truths told to Congressional committees was there would be a need for one soldier on the ground for every 25 Iraqis to maintain control. (If I recall correctly, that truth is what got General Shinseki fired). The Kurds and some other Iraqis may like the idea of US soldiers returning to Iraq, but a sizable portion of them don’t. Guess how many that would be and divide by 25 for how many “boots” will be needed on the ground.

        • There’s a lot of ways for “insurgents” to take cover, besides jungle canopy, which even all those millions of gallons of Agent Orange did not do away with by the way. Even the “Phoenix Program” in all its evil didn’t do the job.

          What is with this drumbeat of “Obama gots to fear the Republican Backlash if he does not beat them to the punch of releasing more 1,500-Troop packs of the Dogs of War and then Hold tough On Iran on accounta The Lobby!”? As for the fairly desolate terrain that’s the current site of War, American Style where “we” fund and arm the parties and are just sure, SURE, that it will go according to The Plan, have you looked at “our” success in routing a not quite as horrible a bunch of tribespeople in what was the name of that place again, oh yeah, “Notagainistan…” In case you are too young to remember, and your reading and education did not cover the whole long idiocy of the Vietnam thing, there were endless breathless announcements of how Our Huge Undefeatable Military Machine had dealt one death blow after another to the “gooks.” run up huge body counts, won all the big battles by making the “slants” say Uncle and still had those memorable moments of a last few “allies” scrambling to get aboard that last Huey from the Embassy roof.

          Sun Tzu says you ought to have some sensible agreed goal in mind if you want to do successful war, defeating the other guy and taking his stuff. That, and don’t impoverish your peasants if you want to win. The whole play in the Mideast ans elsewhere is an illegitimate stripping of wealth and arm-twisting, and until the Rulers get around to playing a different sort of POSITIVE SUM game where that myth about the Virtues of Trading versus the simple theft of resources and spewing of externalities/horrors actually gets actualized, short of the use of nuclear and other really serious weapons there will be nothing but more of the same profit-a-few, beggar-the-world same. Go read or re-read that little Karnow book, “Vietnam: A History,” and stuff…

        • I don’t think the U.S. is on the losing end at all. Daesh looks weaker and weaker even in Anbar province. Why did they murder all those young Sunni men in broad daylight and leave their bodies in the middle of the street? If they had real control of Anbar, ISIS would not need to take such extreme and RISKY measures against SUNNIS. They don’t have control because ISIS is overextended and losing on several fronts.

          Locals know the culture and the language, so I’ll be surprised if Obama sends any combat troops. They won’t be needed to route these ragmuffin buncha “midgets.” By the end of next summer ISIS will be history in Iraq and Baghdadi will be dead.

          And no big war for those evil, war luvin’ Republicans. Man, they are such a nasty tribe.

        • p.s. Gen. Shinseki said “several hundred thousand troops” would be needed for long term occupation–300.000-400,000 or so. Rummy and Wolfowitz thought 150,000 would be enough. A lot of military people had no doubt Rummy’s “unknown, unknown” lowball estimate would turn into a disaster. They were right.

          “Our iddy-biddy imperial army” was the name a military friend used to describe Rummy’s invasion-lite force.

          Same country, but a much different situation with Daesh.

      • “How many Islamic State fighters are there?: Exclusive: As the United States slides back into war in the Middle East, the specter of Vietnam hovers over the endeavor with some observers wondering if wishful thinking will again replace hardheaded analysis about the risks and the costs,” writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern. – link to consortiumnews.com

        • These extremely high estimates of Daesh fighters are just propaganda aimed at keeping the public scared about terrorism. The Vietnam scenario is far fetched because sending tens of thousands of U.S. troops back to Iran would mean a war against the Shittes, not ISIS.

          Muqtada al-Sadr would cut loose with the Mahdi army one more time. American troops would be sitting ducks for IEDs and other surprise attacks. Did you see the parade of Mahdi army fighters? They looked like the Ferguson Police Dept. Weapons out the kazoo and they LOVE to fight Americans.

Comments are closed.