Monday, October 22, 2007

Kurdish Systems Disruption Limited?

The new report of a PKK ambush of a Turkish Army column resulting in at least twelve dead Turkish soldiers and seven or eight prisoners is showing that the PKK is not willing to let the Turkish Army conduct a set piece, mechanized attack against their base camps in northern Iraqi Kurdistan. Instead cross border raids, ambushes and strikes are the preferred PKK tactic. However, I do not think that the PKK will conduct signficant energy transportation infrastructure destruction and sabotage despite the threat that they would consider this action in August.

Here is the problem from my perspective --- Turkey produces very little oil and in the grand scheme of accounting, receives little moeny from the major pipelines that run through its territory. Knocking out the pipelines, either the Kirkuk-Ceyhan or the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline does not significantly disrupt the Turkish economy, or more importantly, the government's ability to mobilize funds. There will be mild price increases on all petroleum products worldwide due to marginally decreased supply, but this is a second and third order impact on the Turkish government's ability to exercise force or mobilize its population.

We have seen successful oil interdiction and system sabotage in Iraq and Nigeria that have been successful as the governments heavily rely on oil export revenue to produce an overwhelming majority of both hard currency and government funds. Without either, people do not get paid, services do not get provided, and the incentive structure towards more bunkering, destruction and fragmentation strengthens. This is one of the worse case scenarios for Mexico also. Turkey really does not have this networked system/financial stability center of gravity that can be successfully hammered.

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