Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's not all about oil . . .

It's not all about oil, Ayla Jean Yackley (Reuters) helpfully explains, it's about the "drilling rigs" which will need "thousands of tonnes of cement and steel, many miles of pipeline and tens of thousands of trained and qualified workers." PFC Energy's Raad Alkadiri crows, "Iraq will place a massive call on the service sector. It will start to be a black hole, sucking a lot of the sector in from the region and beyond." Hassan Hafidh and Guy Chazan (Wall St. Journal) report on the running of the bores, foreign oil execs who "are flocking to Iraq" in the hopes of landing some of the winning bids in the Friday and Saturday rounds of bidding. Remember, if you're going to Baghdad Green Zone, be sure to wear the blood of many dead, if you're going to Baghdad Green Zone . . . Sinan Salaheddin and Brian Murphy (AP) report 15 fields are up for bid and 44 companies are competing to be the big winner (the people of Iraq have already been cast as the big losers in the continued filming of The Theft Of Iraqi Oil). Reuter's Simon Webb has apparently been hired to do the soundtrack and performs a modified Elvis classic "It's now or never . . for Big Oil in Iraq." During a spoken rap at the bridge, Webb explains, "It is one of the largest auctions ever held, with around the same reserves on offer as all the oil in OPEC-member Libya." The Iraq War, the illegal war, is big business. Iran's Press TV today reports on the $2.4 billion, BILLION, weapons deal Iraq entered into with the Ukraine. If you're missing the point, Bellamny Pailthorp (KPLU -- link has audio and text) quotes Iraq Ambassador to the US sami Sumaida'ie in Seattle declaring, "Iraq is open for business." On the visit, Chris Grygiel (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) adds: "The purpose of Samir Sumaida'ie's two-day visit to the region was to meet with Boeing, Microsoft and others as Iraq continues to rebuild after the Saddam Hussein regime was toppled and the United States scales back its military presence in the country."

In London, the Iraq Inquiry continues hearing public testimony today. The Telegraph of London reports M16 head John Sawyers is testifying today and has told the commitee that discussion on Iraq began in 2001:

He said that the approach adopted was based on the methods which had led to the ousting of Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia the previous year.
Among the proposals considered was support for opposition groups and indicting Saddam for war crimes during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

BBC quotes him stating of January 2001 (when he visited with the incoming Bush administration): "There was no discussion a military invasion or anything like that. That was not raised and not suggested. There was obviously a concern on the American side that they should retain the right to use military force if their planes were threatened or brought down or if the weapons controls exercised through the UN proved ineffective."

James Meikle (Guardian) picks up there:

Sawers added there was recognition that even the new approach to "supporting a change of leadership by political means" might mean a continuing stand-off with the Baghdad regime, since it would take more time to displace Saddam than it had Milosevic.
Sawers insisted: "We didn't feel that our [containment] policy was failing. We felt the policy ... was having a significant effect." But Arab anger over the impact of sanctions on Iraqi civilians was an important factor in moving towards a "better targeted" policy concentrating on an arms embargo and on sanctions for equipment that could have a military use, including developing chemical and biological weapons.

Yesterday, the Inquiry heard from many witnesses. The Daily Mirror emphasizes Lt Gen Frederick Viggers and his statements that "amateurs" were without direction and that this led to lives lost. Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) also highlights that aspect from yesterday:

Viggers said the operation had suffered from a lack of direction from the beginning. Speaking of the need for training about how to rebuild an occupied country, he said: "We've got huge experience in this country – we're not using it and we're putting amateurs into really, really important positions and people are getting killed as a result of some of these decisions."
He added: "It's a huge responsibility and I just don't sense we're living up to it." He said it was those at the highest levels of the government who did not seem to have a clear idea of the operation's direction.

Channel 4's Iraq Inquiry Blogger continues offers a daily look. From yesterday's summary post:

Close of play on Day 11 and some familiar themes. The Department for International Development's nigh-daily beating from the soldiers, with relations described as "a sad and sorry tale"; the failure of planners to anticipate Iraq's post-war slide into what Lt Gen Lamb called "insurgency on steroids"; a sense that London wasn't grasping the "vibes" that Lt Gen Viggers says he was sending back about the wheels coming off.

Iraq Inquiry Blogger has already began posting this morning. And you can follow the Iraq Inquiry Blogger on Twitter as well. Independent journalist John Pilger weighs in on the Inquiry with "Normalising the Crime of the Century" (Information Clearing House):

More than anyone, it was Sir Jeremy who tried every trick to find a UN cover for the bloodbath to come. Indeed, this was his boast to the Chilcot enquiry on 27 November, where he described the invasion as "legal but of questionable legitimacy". How clever. In the picture he wore a smirk.
Under international law, "questionable legitimacy" does not exist. An attack on a sovereign state is a crime. This was made clear by Britain's chief law officer, Attorney General Peter Goldsmith, before his arm was twisted, and by the Foreign Office's own legal advisers and subsequently by the secretary-general of the United Nations. The invasion is the crime of the 21st century. During 17 years of assault on a defenceless civilian population, veiled with weasel monikers like "sanctions" and "no fly zones" and “building democracy”, more people have died in Iraq than during the peak years of the slave trade. Set that against Sir Jeremy's skin-saving revisionism about American "noises" that were "decidedly unhelpful to what I was trying to do [at the UN] in New York". Moreover, "I myself warned the Foreign Office … that I might have to consider my own position ...".
It wasn't me, guv.
The purpose of the Chilcot inquiry is to normalise an epic crime by providing enough of a theatre of guilt to satisfy the media so that the only issue that matters, that of prosecution, is never raised. When he appears in January, Blair will play this part to odious perfection, dutifully absorbing the hisses and boos. All "inquiries" into state crimes are neutered in this way. In 1996, Lord Justice Scott's arms-to-Iraq report obfuscated the crimes his investigations and voluminous evidence had revealed.

Lin Zhi (Xinhua) reports the Islamic State in Iraq (ISI) has issued a statement in which they claim credit for Tuesday's Baghdad bombings. Lin Zhi reports. Others can't make the same claim. For example, those claiming credit aren't always the ones responsible. Apparently reporters for CNN, to name but one outlet, never worked the police beat and aren't aware of all the people who crawl out of the woodwork to claim credit for actions they aren't responsible for.
BBC News notes it is "linked to al-Qaeda" in Mesopotamia (the homegrown Iraq group which did not exist prior to the 2003 start of the illegal war). Again, CNN fumbles and insists it's al Qaeda, in fact, it's an "umbrella group." It fumbles so repeatedly and so badly, one begins to wonder how honest of a 'mistake' it is as opposed to an intentional error.

Following the death of his father in September, Ammar Hakim became the leader of the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq (SICI). He's highly popular with a number of beltway journalists who have taken to vouching for him in conversations throughout DC (social and governmental conversations). The reality is that few of the vouchers have spent any significant time with Ammar Hakim. He may be what they want him to be, he may not. Eli Lake isn't one of the beltway journalists I'm talking about, FYI (I don't know Lake). Today he files (at the Washington Times) a report on Ammar Hakim:

In one of his first interviews with an American newspaper, Mr. Hakim spoke of the delicate balance between civilian rule and respect for religious authority laid out in Iraq's constitution.
"Iraq is run as a civilian country but respects the Islamic identity of the country," he said, drawing a contrast with the formalized rule of religious leaders in Iran. He also said that the Shi'ite majority coalition in parliament was "proud of Iraq's Arab heritage" and could be a bridge between predominantly Sunni Muslim Arab states and Shi'ite Iran.
Mr. Hakim's remarks have implications for the entire region because Iran has a history of using allied forces, including Hezbollah and Hamas, to influence events in other countries.
His comments also represent a growing desire by his party to address fears of minority Sunni Arabs as Iraq prepares for national elections in early March. His party is expected to win enough seats to play a key role in choosing the next prime minister.

Finally, Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Sunset Campaign" deserves noting this morning.


Princess Tiny Meat had another big day. Mr. Vanity accepted the Nobel 'Peace' Prize while most Americans were asleep. They missed nothing but the continued display of Barry O's enormous ego. In an attempt to sound humble, he declared, "I have no doubt that there are others who may be more deserving." Apparently, he didn't study English in this country. "I have no doubt" "there may be" do not go together. The wording is, "I have no doubt that there are other who are more deserving." When he says that "there may be"? That indicates doubt. As per usual, Barry O's ego trumped grammar. See who catches it and watch how many look the other way. Last night, Cedric's "He's not winning them over" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! THE REVIEWS WERE BRUTAL!" (joint-post for Cedric and Wally) and Ann's "Didn't they have diplomacy and manners in Chicago?" addressed the topic of Barry O's latest award. And earlier this week, World Can't Wait noted "Barack Obama Deserves the Nobel War = Peace Prize!:"

The U.S. organization "The World Can't Wait," having organized weeks of protest against President Barack Obama’s escalation of troops to Afghanistan, announced today that it accepts the wisdom of the Nobel Committee's choice of Obama as winner of its most famous prize. We find no irony in December 10 being International Human Rights Day.
We hope the Nobel Committee is satisfied that Barack Obama's increase of US troops to occupy Afghanistan is enough to merit the prize. The speech he delivered at West Point on December 1 echoed 8 successful years of George Bush justifications, and Obama's commitment to "win" certainly should have removed any reservation that he deserves the prize.

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