Getting it Right! by Hussein Al-Alak

September 30, 2008 at 3:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Hussein Al-alak, The Iraq Solidarity Campaign
It is a great relief to know that we are getting something right, that someone has been so impressed by Iraqi Solidarity News (Al-Thawra) that they have left a comment which is meant to be abusive by calling us “Baathists!”, but I think the fact that the majority of people in Iraq, who only have a couple of hours of electricity per day, indicates that the comment may have been left by one of those former members of the “Iraqi Opposition”.

Lets also remember who these “lets call everyone Baathists” are. For our readers who are British and American, they are the ones who still reside in your countries, with some going over to Iraq occasionally and are protected by foreign citizens, they also carry passports for other countries but more importantly, if you want to know why there are so many dead British and American troops, let’s start by looking at them!

After all, it was the “Iraqi opposition” who provided the British and Americans with the information which said that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and contributed to the illegal invasion in 2003, that an occupation of Iraq would be welcomed by the Iraqi people because it would free them from Saddam and it has also been these people, who have encouraged both occupying governments to keep their troops in Iraq.

And what about the famous speeches about Saddams weapons of torture, his “weapons of mass destruction”, where is the evidence and where are the weapons because the regime of the dictator Nouri Al-Maliki sees it fit to be turning Abu Ghraib into a Museum, where the “crimes of Saddam” are apparently going to be put on public display and will probably have British MP and INDICT member Ann Clwyd as curator.

The need for a museum to exhibit the “crimes of Saddam” will be useful only in the weak attempt to pour more oil onto the amnesia, to forget that one million people have died since 2003, that in Iraq there lives over 5 million orphans, one million widows, four million displaced people, that over 400,000 infant children suffer from wasting, that illiteracy is higher than in previous generations and to forget the thousands who are being left to rot “without charge” in Iraqi government prisons.

So, in other words, the person who left that comment on Iraqi Solidarity News (Al-Thawra) is so brave that he/she needs the armies of the British and Americans to protect them, to kill for them, to make sure that the Green Zone is protected and to act, as one serving British soldier once told me, as a “private taxi service” for the Maliki/Talabani regime.

 
 

Kuwait Losing Money on Wall Street, by Khalil Bendib

September 30, 2008 at 11:53 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Kuwait Losing Money on Wall Street, by Khalil Bendib

A Political Coup Against Iraq’s Minorities

September 29, 2008 at 8:38 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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GMT 9-28-2008 22:58:50
Assyrian International News Agency

Brussels — Despite talks about the importance of securing rights of its minorities, Iraq is moving in the direction of minimizing the minorities’ role in the political process.

The new provincial elections law passed on the 24 September saw the elimination of the quota seats designated for minorities in the provincial councils in what could be best described as a political coup.

The former provincial elections law, adopted on the 22 July this year, guaranteed Assyrians 13 seats in six provinces, as well as seats for other minorities. The elimination of these quotas means the Assyrians can never attain 13 seats in elections because the mass exodus of Assyrians due to the war has been proportionally bigger than the other groups. The lawmakers of the majority groups cannot pretend not to know this fact.

Assyrians and other minorities see the passing of the new provincial elections law as a serious threat to their future presence in Iraq. The Assyrian representative in Iraq’s parliament, Mr. Yonadam Kanna, gave the following comment to the International Herald Tribune: “We are really disappointed. It seems they are confiscating the free will of the minorities and trying to impose their own puppets to represent them”

This action by the Council of Representatives amounts to political oppression against Iraq’s indigenous minorities who now find themselves excluded from any meaningful political representation on the provincial level.

It is especially regrettable to note that the actions of the Kurdish lawmakers in the Iraqi parliament run contrary to the Kurdish leadership’s proclaimed care for the rights of minorities

The Assyria Council of Europe calls on the European Union to pay attention to the dangerous and gradual exclusion of Iraq’s minorities from the political process and reiterate to its Iraqi partner that minority rights must be strengthened in deeds, not words.

The European Union must call on Iraq to reinstate the quotas of the minorities.

Assyria Council of Europe

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IRAQIS WANT THE U.S. OUT!

September 28, 2008 at 3:51 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Iraqi Hopes for US Troop Withdrawal by Juan Cole

http://www.juancole.com/

 

One of the things that struck me about Friday night’s debate on the time line for troop withdrawal was that McCain appeared to believe that how long US troops remain in Iraq and at what strength is a unilateral matter dictated by Washington. The government of prime minister Nuri al-Maliki is already trying to negotiate a timetable for US withdrawal as part of the proposed security agreement. A majority of parliament certainly supports a timetable. 
Indeed, the Iraqi government wanted a 2010 deadline for withdrawal. Bush pushed for a delay until 2015 in part because he was afraid that agreeing to 2010 would make McCain look bad.

Indeed, the Iraqi government wanted a 2010 deadline for withdrawal. Bush pushed for a delay until 2015 in part because he was afraid that agreeing to 2010 would make McCain look bad.
 

 

The Iraqis were forced to accept 2011.

There is even less tolerance for a long term foreign troop presence among ordinary Iraqis, thousands of whom have lost relatives to US military operations.
Aljazeera English reports on the death of a respected Iraqi academic in Baquba, shot at a US checkpoint.

Watch the video on:

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2008/09/2008927131758344448.html

 

 
 

 

One exception to this yearning to see the Americans go is the some of the Kurds, who as a minority trying to remain independent of Baghdad and able to confront Turkey. Some Kurds would very much like to keep US troops in Iraq. This Kurdish aspiration explains Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari’s continual announcements about there being no timetable in the security agreement. Clearly, the Shiite Arabs do want a timetable.

Neocon Zionist anti-Islamic smearing campaigns

September 27, 2008 at 9:38 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Obsession: NeoCon Zionist Incitement and Justification for Killing Millions of Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine
Hassan El-Najjar
ccun.org, September 26, 2008

In a desperate attempt to distract the public opinion in the US and Europe away from the horrors of the Zionist-planned wars around the world, particularly in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine, US neo-con Zionists have continued producing anti-Islamic smearing campaigns. The main goal is neutralizing the average persons in the US and Europe, so they would not protest the killing of millions of Iraqis and thousands of Afghanis.

Basically, the neocon Zionist campaigns such as “Islamofascism” in the media and college campuses, and the most recent attempt, a film called Obsession, aim at saying to Americans and Europeans that these Muslims out there are dangerous and bad, which justifies invading them, occupying their countries, and usurping their resources.

What these neocon Zionists forget every time is that Americans and Europeans are not that stupid. People everywhere know that US-EU invasions of Muslim countries happened FIRST, then all these announcements or actions from Muslims happened after as a reaction to the Zionist-led US-EU policies and invasions.

The US-UK invasion of the Middle East started in 1990, with the pretext of expelling Iraqis from Kuwait. But when this happened in 1991, US-EU forces did not leave, which triggered resistance to the US-EU military presence there. There was no hostility or bad blood until 1991, when US-EU forces killed about 150,000 Iraqis, in an unwarranted war. Iraq was destroyed as a strong Arab state standing in the face of the Israeli hegemony in the oil-rich Middle East.

About one and a half million Iraqis were killed by the US-EU imposed embargo and sanctions from 1990 to 2003, then more than one million Iraqis have been killed as a result of the 2003 US-EU invasion and occupation of that beleaguered country.

What did the Iraqis do to the US and Europe to deserve what has been happening to them? They have never posed any threats to Americans or Europeans. Why is this destruction to their country?

The unequivocal answer comes from the neocon Zionist document, called “Clean Break,” which was written in 1996, by the same people who planned and executed the US-EU invasion of Iraq, namely Wolfowitz, Pearle, and Feith. It’s part of a grand Zionist plan to dominate the oil-rich Middle East after destroying Arab and Muslim states one after the other, with Iran next on their menu.

Palestinians have never posed any threat to Europeans or Americans, including Jews. Before the Zionist invasion of their homeland between the two world wars, they have never participated in harming Jews. Why were they invaded and subjected to the longest and most brutal occupation in human history, with continuous sadistic practices on daily basis since 1948?

Neocon Zionists want to distract people in Europe and America from the horrors of the Israeli occupation practices. Thus doing, they give an example of how neocon Zionists (referred to in the academia as Israel Lobby) use enormous amounts of money to keep their tight grip on the information fed to the minds of Americans and Europeans, who are bombarded with the same smearing messages from the Zionist-owned and controlled mass media (major corporate TV stations, newspapers, and magazines).

This new desperate attempt, called “Obsession,” is truly a Zionist obsession to smear the victims of wars of the Zionist Empire.

It’s a Zionist obsession with aggression, distortion, and hate of mankind.

For peace activists:
The best way to deal with latest neocon Zionist ploy is uncovering it as such.
peace activists can show documentaries about the evil Israeli occupation practices during the Infifada and about the horrors of the US-EU wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

People should know that Muslims have been FIRST subjected to invasions and occupation by Israelis and their Zionist-controlled governments in Europe and America.

Speak out in your places of worship, write letters to newspapers, organize protests against any entity which participates in spreading this neocon Zionist smearing campaign.

Promoting peace is patriotic.
Promoting hate justifies oppression of victims, aggression, hostilities, and wars.

References:1. “Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid,” By Jimmy Carter:
youtube.com/watch?v=wBJgaBe5NgM
2. The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy By John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt (TEXT)
3. Findley, Paul. A. Lincoln, “Deliberate Deceptions: Facing the Facts about the US-Israeli Relationship.” (1990), They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel�s Lobby. (1985). Video: Findley Dares to Speak Again: opposingdigits.com/vlog/?p=478

4. The Gaza Holocaust: Israeli Attacks on Jabalia February 27-March 3, 2008
5. The Gulf War: Overreaction & Excessiveness By Hassan El-Najjar

6. Zionism, the highest stage of imperialism
7. “Terrorism” & “Islamo-Fascism” Propaganda Campaigns A Lecture, photos, references

http://www.ccun.org/Opinion%20Editorials/2008/September/26%20o/Obsession%20NeoCon%20Zio
nist%20Incitement%20and%20Justification%20for%20Killing%20Million
s%20of%20Muslims%20in%20Iraq,%20Afghanistan,%20and%20Palestine%20
By%20Hassan%20El-Najjar.htm …

Turkish warplanes hit 16 PKK positions in northern Iraq

September 26, 2008 at 2:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Turkish warplanes hit 16 PKK positions in northern Iraq, army says

Turkish war jets bombed PKK positions in northern Iraq late on Thursday and hit 16 locations belonging to the terrorist organization, the army said in a briefing held on Friday. (UPDATED)

In the operation only PKK positions were targeted, the army said in a bid to end speculation that civilian targets may have been hit. It also said intelligence efforts are underway to determine the losses suffered by the organization.

The military has not revealed any casualty figures. It said all warplanes returned safely to bases in Turkey.
Previous media reports suggest Thursday’s air strikes began after 1900 GMT in two separate regions in northern Iraq. “Last night two separate regions were bombed where the PKK was believed to be taking shelter,” a high-ranking Turkish security official told Reuters.

The mayor of the town of Jarawa in Iraq, Azad Wassu, said there were Turkish air strikes on the Qandil Mountains from 10 p.m. on Thursday until 12:30 a.m. The PKK confirmed the attack and said one of its members was wounded, Reuters added.

The army also said 47 terrorists were killed in operations held in between Sept. 1-26, while Turkey lost 14 Turkish soldiers, NTV reported, citing a Turkish general as telling a press briefing.

Two terrorists were captured and eight surrendered to the Turkish security forces after attempting to flee their positions in northern Iraq, the army also said. Besides 14 soldiers, three village guards were also killed during this period, it added.

A total of 127 attacks took place in southeastern and eastern Turkey, said the army, adding that 40 percent of those were conducted with landmines and explosives, while 28 percent were armed attacks.
Six outlawed PKK separatists were killed Thursday in a clash between Turkish security forces in the southeastern province of Siirt, the army also said.

In a separate operation at Mount Cudi, one Turkish soldier was killed by outlawed PKK separatists, it added.

Turkey, provided with intelligence by the United States, has stepped up military action against the PKK since December.
The government has asked parliament to extend a mandate, which expires next month, to launch further military operations against the PKK in Iraq.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist group by much of the international community including the United States and the EU.

The New World War – By John Pilger

September 26, 2008 at 9:29 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The New World War

The Silence Is A Lie

ICH” — – Britain‘s political conference season of 2008 will be remembered as The Great Silence. Politicians have come and gone and their mouths have moved in front of large images of themselves, and they often wave at someone. There has been lots of news about each other. Adam Boulton, the political editor of Sky News, and billed as “the husband of Blair aide Anji Hunter”, has published a book of gossip derived from his “unrivalled access to No 10”. His revelation is that Tony Blair’s mouthpiece told lies. The war criminal himself has been absent, but the former mouthpiece has been signing his own book of gossip, and waving. The club is celebrating itself, including all those, Labour and Tory, who gave the war criminal a standing ovation on his last day in parliament and who have yet to vote on, let alone condemn, Britain’s part in the wanton human, social and physical destruction of an entire nation. Instead, there are happy debates such as, “Can hope win?” and, my favourite, “Can foreign policy be a Labour strength?” As Harold Pinter said of unmentionable crimes: “Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening, it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.”

 

In an article for the New Statesman, John Pilger describes the ‘great silence’ over the annual British party conferences as politicians and their club of commentators say nothing about a war provoked and waged across the world the responsibility for which lies close at hand. 

 

By John Pilger

25/09/08 “

 

 

The Guardian’s economics editor, Larry Elliott, has written that the Prime Minister “resembles a tragic hero in a Hardy novel: an essentially good man brought down by one error of judgement”. What is this one error of judgement? The bank- rolling of two murderous colonial adventures? No. The unprecedented growth of the British arms industry and the sale of weapons to the poorest countries? No. The replacement of manufacturing and public service by an arcane cult serving the ultra-rich? No. The Prime Minister’s “folly” is “postponing the election last year”. This is the March Hare Factor.Reality can be detected, however, by applying the Orwell Rule and inverting public pronouncements and headlines, such as “Aggressor Russia facing pariah status, US warns”, thereby identifying the correct pariah; or by crossing the invisible boundaries that fix the boundaries of political and media discussion. “When truth is replaced by silence,” said the Soviet dissident Yevgeny Yevtushenko, “the silence is a lie.”

Understanding this silence is critical in a society in which news has become noise. Silence covers the truth that Britain’s political parties have converged and now follow the single-ideology model of the United States. This is different from the political consensus of half a century ago that produced what was known as social democracy. Today’s political union has no principled social democratic premises. Debate has become just another weasel word and principle, like the language of Chaucer, is bygone. That the poor and the state fund the rich is a given, along with the theft of public services, known as privatisation. This was spelt out by Margaret Thatcher but, more importantly, by new Labour’s engineers. In The Blair Revolution: Can New Labour Deliver? Peter Mandelson and Roger Liddle declared Britain’s new “economic strengths” to be its transnational corporations, the “aerospace” industry (weapons) and “the pre-eminence of the City of London”. The rest was to be asset-stripped, including the peculiar British pursuit of selfless public service. Overlaying this was a new social authoritarianism guided by a hypocrisy based on “values”. Mandelson and Liddle demanded “a tough discipline” and a “hardworking majority” and the “proper bringing-up [sic] of children”. And in formally launching his Murdochracy, Blair used “moral” and “morality” 18 times in a speech he gave in Australia as a guest of Rupert Murdoch, who had recently found God.

A “think tank” called Demos exemplified this new order. A founder of Demos, Geoff Mulgan, himself rewarded with a job in one of Blair’s “policy units”, wrote a book called Connexity. “In much of the world today,” he offered, “the most pressing problems on the public agenda are not poverty or material shortage . . . but rather the disorders of freedom: the troubles that result from having too many freedoms that are abused rather than constructively used.” As if celebrating life in another solar system, he wrote: “For the first time ever, most of the world’s most powerful nations do not want to conquer territory.”

That reads, now as it ought to have read then, as dark parody in a world where more than 24,000 children die every day from the effects of poverty and at least a million people lie dead in just one territory conquered by the most powerful nations. However, it serves to remind us of the political “culture” that has so successfully fused traditional liberalism with the lunar branch of western political life and allowed our “too many freedoms” to be taken away as ruthlessly and anonymously as wedding parties in Afghanistan have been obliterated by our bombs.

The product of these organised delusions is rarely acknowledged. The current economic crisis, with its threat to jobs and savings and public services, is the direct consequence of a rampant militarism comparable, in large part, with that of the first half of the last century, when Europe’s most advanced and cultured nation committed genocide. Since the 1990s, America’s military budget has doubled. Like the national debt, it is currently the largest ever. The true figure is not known, because up to 40 per cent is classified “black” – it is hidden. Britain, with a weapons industry second only to the US, has also been militarised. The Iraq invasion has cost $5trn, at least. The 4,500 British troops in Basra almost never leave their base. They are there because the Americans demand it. On 19 September, Robert Gates, the American defence secretary, was in London demanding $20bn from allies like Britain so that the US invasion force in Afghanistan could be increased to 44,000. He said the British force would be increased. It was an order.

In the meantime, an American invasion of Pakistan is under way, secretly authorised by President Bush. The “change” candidate for president, Barack Obama, had already called for an invasion and more aircraft and bombs. The ironies are searing. A Pakistani religious school attacked by American drone missiles, killing 23 people, was set up in the 1980s with CIA backing. It was part of Operation Cyclone, in which the US armed and funded mujahedin groups that became al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The aim was to bring down the Soviet Union. This was achieved; it also brought down the Twin Towers.

On 20 September the inevitable response to the latest invasion came with the bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad. For me, it is reminiscent of President Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia in 1970, which was planned as a diversion from the coming defeat in Vietnam. The result was the rise to power of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge. Today, with Taliban guerrillas closing on Kabul and Nato refusing to conduct serious negotiations, defeat in Afghanistan is also coming.

It is a war of the world. In Latin America, the Bush administration is fomenting incipient military coups in Venezuela, Bolivia, and possibly Paraguay, democracies whose governments have opposed Washington’s historic rapacious intervention in its “backyard”. Washington’s “Plan Colombia” is the model for a mostly unreported assault on Mexico. This is the Merida Initiative, which will allow the United States to fund “the war on drugs and organised crime” in Mexico – a cover, as in Colombia, for militarising its closest neighbour and ensuring its “business stability”.
Britain is tied to all these adventures – a British “School of the Americas” is to be built in Wales, where British soldiers will train killers from all corners of the American empire in the name of “global security”.

None of this is as potentially dangerous, or more distorted in permitted public discussion, than the war on Russia. Two years ago, Stephen Cohen, professor of Russian Studies at New York University, wrote a landmark essay in the Nation which has now been reprinted in Britain.* He warns of “the gravest threats [posed] by the undeclared Cold War Washington has waged, under both parties, against post-communist Russia during the past 15 years”. He describes a catastrophic “relentless winner-take-all of Russia’s post-1991 weakness”, with two-thirds of the population forced into poverty and life expectancy barely at 59. With most of us in the West unaware, Russia is being encircled by US and Nato bases and missiles in violation of a pledge by the United States not to expand Nato “one inch to the east”. The result, writes Cohen, “is a US-built reverse iron curtain [and] a US denial that Russia has any legitimate national interests outside its own territory, even in ethnically akin former republics such as Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia. [There is even] a presumption that Russia does not have fully sovereignty within its own borders, as expressed by constant US interventions in Moscow’s internal affairs since 1992 . . . the United States is attempting to acquire the nuclear responsibility it could not achieve during the Soviet era.”

This danger has grown rapidly as the American media again presents US-Russian relations as “a duel to the death – perhaps literally”. The liberal Washington Post, says Cohen, “reads like a bygone Pravda on the Potomac”. The same is true in Britain, with the regurgitation of propaganda that Russia was wholly responsible for the war in the Caucasus and must therefore be a “pariah”. Sarah Palin, who may end up US president, says she is ready to attack Russia. The steady beat of this drum has seen Moscow return to its old nuclear alerts. Remember the 1980s, writes Cohen, “when the world faced exceedingly grave Cold War perils, and Mikhail Gorbachev unexpectedly emerged to offer a heretical way out. Is there an American leader today ready to retrieve that missed opportunity?” It is an urgent question that must be asked all over the world by those of us still unafraid to break the lethal silence.

 

 

WWW.JOHNPILGER.COM

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Bagdad adopte une loi électorale cruciale pour l’avenir de l’Irak

September 25, 2008 at 8:58 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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25/09 07:25 CET

VIDEO

http://www.euronews.net/fr/article/25/09/2008/a-sign-of-national-reconciliation-iraqs-parliament-agrees-a-compromise-over-provincial-elections/

for English please click on :

http://www.euronews.net/en/article/25/09/2008/a-sign-of-national-reconciliation-iraqs-parliament-agrees-a-compromise-over-provincial-elections/

  La majorité des 191 députés irakiens présents ce mercredi à Bagdad ont prévu la tenue d‘élections législatives au plus tard le 31 janvier prochain. Mais le texte, qui doit encore être approuvé par le conseil présidentiel, n’est valable que pour 14 des 18 provinces irakiennes.

Les députés n’ont en effet pu trouver de consensus pour 3 provinces du nord et celle de Kirkouk. Une région riche en pétrole où les Kurdes affirment être majoritaires. Ces derniers réclament le rattachement de Kirkouk au Kurdistan irakien autonome. Inacceptable pour les Arabes et les Turkmènes qui vivent dans ces provinces.

Les législatives ne devraient donc pas s’y tenir avant le 31 mars. D’ici là les trois communautés devront élaborer une liste électorale actualisée.

 

After Compromise on Kerkuk, Finally an Elections Law for Iraq’s Governorates

September 24, 2008 at 6:53 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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By Reidar Visser (www.historiae.org)

24 September 2008

Iraq’s parliament today approved the remaining article 24 of the provincial elections law that was partially approved on 22 July except for the provisions relating to elections in Kirkuk.

The new article, which has been crafted in cooperation with the United Nations special representative in Iraq, Staffan de Mistura, delays the elections in the disputed Kirkuk province, but also establishes a committee which will deal with power-sharing issues in local government there. The committee will consist of 7 parliamentary representatives from Kirkuk – 2 Kurds, 2 Turkmens, 2 Arabs and 1 Christian – and will have until 31 March 2009 to prepare its report. The Iraqi parliament will then proceed to create a special elections law for Kirkuk. (Or, if it fails to do so, the prime minister, the president and the speaker of the parliament will decree a suitable system for elections in cooperation with the United Nations!)

The new law is a compromise between federalists (in particular the Kurds) and nationalist centralists (now increasingly referred to as the “forces of 22 July”). Back in May this year, Kurdish politicians spoke in favour of postponing local elections in all disputed areas such as Kirkuk, arguing that their strong position in these areas – based on the heavily-boycotted January 2005 elections – would play to their advantage and could perhaps be a negotiating card towards a rapid settlement of territorial issues. The forces of 22 July, on the other hand, demanded more equitable power-sharing in the interim, thereby seeking to shake up Kurdish dominance in the local council and to challenge what they consider to be a number of pro-Kurdish placemen and figureheads that have been anointed by the Kurds to serve as “Arab” and “Turkmen” representatives in Kirkuk despite having little support in the communities they purport to represent.

The compromise is more than a mere postponement: it keeps Kirkuk and the issue of power sharing on the agenda, even if these issues are now lifted to the abstract realm of a parliamentary committee and with a timeline that stretches well into 2009. Also, it is noteworthy that the forces of 22 July scored at least a symbolic victory by gaining an explicit assurance that the central government would play an equally important role alongside the local authorities in facilitating the work of the parliamentary committee. The language on this disputed “fourth point” of article 24 is what held up the passage of the law for the last week or so, and in a testament to the lingering conflict between centralisers and decentralisers in the Iraqi parliament, both Kurds and ISCI (Jalal al-Din al-Saghir) had criticised the nationalists for insisting on a reference to the central government.

In the end, the role of the central government was confirmed, thus in some ways also confirming the diminishing parliamentary clout of the federalists in Iraq. This has apparently enabled many of the component elements of the 22 July forces – including MPs from Iraqiyya, Fadila and the Sadrists – to feel satisfaction about the passage of the law, as seen in a number of positive statements in the wake of the adoption of the law. Perhaps the more important result of the process – in addition to the fact that provincial elections may now actually be held in late 2008 or early 2009 – is the increased awareness, both inside and outside the Iraqi parliament, of this cross-sectarian bloc and the potential it represents. The big question now is whether the Maliki government is prepared to go ahead with free and fair elections given the increasing signs of a cohesive challenge from the opposition.

 

Postscript: After having blown hot and cold – mostly cold – with regard to Kurdish participation in the elections, Kurdish leaders according to press reports now say that local elections will not be held anywhere in the Kurdistan region, as the right to legislate on those elections is seen as falling within the domain of the regional government. While the Kurds are the most pro-federal force in Iraq, Kurdistan itself is quite centralised (with two competing centres in Arbil and Sulaymaniyya), with the local governorates having considerably less power vis-à-vis the Kurdistan Regional Government than their counterparts elsewhere in Iraq have towards Baghdad. This stance does throw into question the heavy Kurdish involvement in drafting the law, where they dominated parliamentary debates in long periods with their insistent demands that closed lists be used due to the supposed illiteracy of the Iraqi electorate – no such qualms when it came to the constitution back in 2005, apparently!

Leaders of Occupied Iraq introduce oil policy favourable to Western Oil Companies

September 24, 2008 at 10:11 am | Posted in LNG | Leave a comment
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Shell’s $4bn Iraq

breakthrough could boost

 

Britain’s natural gas supplies

· Critics question secrecy surrounding joint venture
· Oil firm says cheaper fuel will aid local economy

Shell has become the first western oil company to win significant access to the energy sector in Iraq since the 1970s, in a $4bn move which could bring liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Britain.

The deal has angered anti-war campaigners and senior Iraqi figures who complained yesterday that there was no competitive tendering for the contract.

The Anglo-Dutch company said it had signed an agreement with the oil ministry in Baghdad to establish a joint venture with the South Gas Company in the Basra district of southern Iraq to process and market natural gas extracted on 19,000 sq km (7,300 sq miles) of land.

“Iraq has one of the world’s largest natural gas resource bases and I am delighted that the Iraqi government, including the ministry of oil, have supported Shell as the partner for joint venture with the South Gas Company,” said Linda Cook, executive director of Shell.

The company will own 49% of the new Iraqi business which will collect some of the 700m cubic feet a day of gas produced by oil suppliers and “flared off” into the atmosphere – a practice condemned by environmentalists as contributing to global warming.

Shell said its actions in Iraq would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create value for the economy by providing the gas as a domestic power source.

The combined operation, which will make use of the South Gas Company’s 3,500 staff, would initially focus on local markets but Shell added that “in the future the [joint venture] could develop a liquefied natural gas facility to export natural gas not needed for local domestic use”.

LNG would be shipped to markets in the Mediterranean and further west, possibly Britain, according to well placed sources. Shell will not put a value on the deal but industry experts believe it could be worth $4bn in the short term at least.

The first big contract signed by a western oil company since the invasion of Iraq was condemned by Platform, a British-based organisation which monitors oil companies and Iraq in particular.

“The big issue here is that the whole thing has been done in secret. We are not being told what the terms of the deal are – such as are there extension rights [for Shell to gain Iraqi reserves] and why has there been no competitive bidding process,” said Greg Muttitt of Platform.

“What has definitely happened here is that a country under occupation has introduced an oil policy that is favourable to western oil companies. The [US] state department has already admitted that it has advisers working on oil policy and there is a likelihood they may have drafted the Shell contract.”

His views were reinforced by Issam al-Chalabi, Iraq’s oil minister between 1987 and 1990, who questioned the lack of competitive tendering for the gas gathering contract and claimed it had gone to Shell as the spoils of war.

“Why choose Shell when you could have chosen ExxonMobil, Chevron, BG or Gazprom? Shell appears to be paying $4bn to get hold of assets that in 20 years could be worth $40bn. Iraq is giving away half its gas wealth and yet this work could have been done by Iraq itself,” Chalabi said.

He claims that his country spent $2bn in the 1980s putting a South Gas gathering project in place which was fully operational by 1990. A British vessel was loaded with LPG, he said, but the infrastructure was damaged in the first Gulf war and sanctions made it difficult to mend.

“Since 2003 nothing has been done to repair or replace compressor stations that were damaged. There were studies financed by Japan that showed how it could be done for a few hundred million dollars,” Chalabi argued.

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