Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Iraq and its interactions with others

Amidst consensus among internal Iraqi parties regardless of their political and party backgrounds that talks with Syria have reached a deadlock, hopes are high today on the quartet meeting in New York joining Baghdad, Damascus and Ankara under Arab sponsorship.
Cabinet spokesman Ali Al Dabbagh affirmed that Iraq is determined on forming an international commission. Yet, he noted that Iraq wants to pursue talks with Syria calling on Damascus to deal positively with Iraqi demands and hand wanted implicated in last month bombings. Al Dabbagh asked Syria not to stall and not to reject Iraq’s evidence.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani will represent Iraq in the United Nations General Assembly meetings, Cabinet spokesman told Al Hayat Newspaper denying reports on rows between President Talabani and Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki in this concern.

The above is from Alsumaria's "Iraq has hopes high on New York meeting" and the reports of rows go beyond Al Hayat Newspaper. AP reports Nouri's created "a backlash over a bitter fight he picked with Syria" -- a backlash within the Iraqi government. Nouri insists that Ba'athist in Syria (a secular group) teamed up with al Qaeda in Mesopotamia (a fundamentalist group) to carry ou the bombings of Bloody Wednesday aka Black Wednesday on August 19th. Nouri has been fortunate in that the Western press has largely been happy to spin for him and indicate that he's requesting two people be turned over. But it's not just the US, here's Robert Fisk (Independent of London) reporting earlier this month, "Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, demands an international tribunal because Syria won't hand over a couple of Iraqi Baathists whom he blames for the suicide bombing deaths of at least 100 civilians in Baghdad." A couple?
Nouri's asking Syria to hand over 179 people. And because of the August 19th bombings? No. Nouri was demanding those 179 people be turned over to Iraq in his face-to-face August 18th meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. A day before the bombings. Nouri's been very lucky, very lucky, that the Western press has been so eager to run with his morsels and refused to explore the public reality. (Most of which was reported in the Arab press well before the bombs of August 19th began exploding.) AFP also reports on Talabani's intention to call for an investigation. (Left unstated is that Talabani's trip to the US is only in part due to the UN, he's also having medical treatment while he's here.) As Talabani gears up for his US trip, Iyad Al Samarraie, Speaker of Parliament, is visiting France. Alsumaria reports his trip is "to promote bilateral releations and cooperations between both countries' parliaments."

Meanwhile Iran's Fars News Agency reports that Yasin al-Mamouri who heads Iraq's Red Crescent Society began his visit to Iran yesterday. The Tehran Times adds, "Al-Mamouri is scheduled to inspect Iran's Red Crescent Society's different organizations and sectors in his one-week travel." Iran continues to hold US citizens Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal and Sarah Shourd. The three were visiting in Iraq and hiking in northern Iraq when they allegedly crossed into Iran July 31st. They have been prisoners ever since. Kiersten Throndsen (KBCI CBS 2 -- link has text and video) reports on efforts by family members to have the three released.

Last Tuesday, Muntadhar al-Zeidi was released from Iraq prison. December 14th, Bully Boy Bush (still occupying the White House at that time) held a press conference in Baghdad with Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and US-installed thug, where they lied and smiled and signed the treaties Bush pushed through (Strategic Framework Agreement and the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement.). Muntadhar was a journalist attending the press conference. He hurled two shoes at Bush while denouncing him ("This is a gift from the Iraqis. This is the farewell kiss you dog!" and "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.") World Radio Switzerland reports he wants to move to Switzerland and that he spoke of being tortured. RIA Novosti quotes him stating, "I do want to move to Switzerland, because this is a neutral country which did not support the occupation of Iraq."

As noted in yesterday's snapshot, the Kurdistan Regional Government published a letter they sent to Oslo's DNO International (oil company) objecting to "the recent misleading and incomplete publications by the Oslo Stock Exchange ('OSO') in relation to its internal arguments and disputes with DNO." The KRG feels it was caught in the crossfire "between DNO and OSE" and that the KRG Minister was targeted in the battle with "misleading information." The letter notes these decisions by the KRG:

1) Suspend all DNO's operation and its involvement in the Kurdistan Region with immediate effect, and appoint the other PSC [Production Sharing Contract] Contractor Entities to manage the day to day operations instead. All oil exports will cease and DNO shall not be entitled to any economic interest in the PSCs during the suspension period.
2) The suspension period shall be for a maxium period of 6 weeks, and during which DNO must find ways to remedy, and to our full satisfaction, the damage done to KRG reputation, and once and for all to sort its internal problems with OSE and any other disputes that they may have with any other third parties with respect to any claims related to the PSCs ("Claims").
3) If within this suspension period, DNO satisifes KRG's requirements; all its PSC rights will be reinstated with our continuous support to its operations. However, if DNO fails to remedy the damages caused and fails to remove any other Claims the KRG may consider termination of DNO's involvement in the Kurdistan Region with or without compensation. Any compensation, if offered, will factor in the magnitude of the damages caused to the KRG.

Marianne Stigset and Meera Bhatia (Bloomberg News) report, "The exchange disclosed that the Kurdish authority acted as a middleman in a transaction of 43 million shares of DNO in October last year. DNO had sought to keep the authorities’ role undisclosed after a probe discovered contacts between Natural Resource Minister Ashti Hawrami and DNO Chief Executive Officer Helge Eide. DNO is delivering 45,000 barrels a day from its Tawke field through a pipeline to Ceyhan, Turkey. It owns 55 percent of the field, which has reserves of 150 million to 370 million barrels. Other companies in the region are Heritage Oil Plc, which is combining with Turkey’s Genel Energy International Ltd. and Addax, bought by China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., or Sinopec. Gulf Keystone Petroleum Ltd. also explores in the area." Hassan Hafidh (Dow Jones) reveals that the source of tension began when KRG Minister of Natural Resources Ashti "Hawrami was annoyed by a document released Friday by the Oslo Stock Exchange that showed him involved in the sale of DNO's shares to Genel Enerji in October 2008. The document named him holder for the U.K. nominee account into which 175.50 million kronor ($30.04 million), or 4.8%, of the Oslo-listed oil exploration company's shares were sold and where Genel Enerji was the beneficiary." AP's Sinan Salaheddin adds, "Oslo-based DNO was the first independent Western oil company to secure an oil deal in post-Saddam Iraq, signing a production sharing contract with the Kurds in June 2004 to develop the Tawke field. DNO also has stakes in two other oil fields in the region, which are both still at the exploration level."

In other resource news, Muhanad Mohammed, Tim Cocks and David Stamp (Reuters) explain $85 million contracts for the installation of gas turbines have been awarded by the Baghdad government to Iraq's URUK Engineering Services (for a Taji power plant) and Canada's SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. (for a Hilla power plant).

Independent reporter David Bacon knows a country's greatest natural resource is always the people. In "A Factory Like A City" (Political Affairs), he combines text and photos to tell the story:

Last month Toyota announced it would close the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) plant in Fremont, California, after General Motors annnounced it was withdrawing from the partnership under which the plant has operated for over two decades. The plant employs 4500 workers directly, and the jobs of another 30,000 throughout northern California are dependent on its continued operation. Taking families into account, the threatened closure will eliminate the income of over 100,000 people.
People have spent their lives in the NUMMI plant in Fremont, probably more time with the compressed-air tools at their workstations than with their families at home. The plant is like a city, thousands of jobs and thousands of people working in a complicated dance where each one's contribution makes possible that of the next person down the line. And like a city, it supports the people who work in it.

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which just won the CLR James Award. Bacon can be heard on KPFA's The Morning Show (over the airwaves in the Bay Area, streaming online) each Wednesday morning (begins airing at 7:00 am PST).

As Barack continues pushing what Trina, Ava and I have dubbed ObamaBigBusinessCare, PBS Special Report: Health Care Reform airs this Thursday on most PBS stations. It is a 90 minute special (that should start at 9:00 p.m. EST on most PBS stations) which is pools the talents of NOW on PBS, Tavis Smiley and Nightly Business Report.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.