Saturday, December 19, 2009

So Iran seized an oil field . . . or maybe it didn't

The Iranian government said Saturday that an oil field that its troops occupied a day earlier was on its side of the border with Iraq, despite Iraqi claims to the contrary.
A group of about 11 Iranian soldiers seized a portion of the remote Fakka oil field in Maysan Province in southeastern Iraq early Friday, according to Iraq.

The above is from Timothy Williams and Sa'ad al-Izzi's "Iran Claims an Oil Field It Seized" (New York Times) and this was in the news cycle yesterday and isn't a lot clearer at the end of Saturday's news cycle. RTT News reports that Iran is still denying they seized an Iraqi oil field. Iran's Press TV is reporting Iran's official line that the coverage is overblown and an attempt to drive a wedge between Iran and Iraq while also noting that, "Iran and Iraq have decided to establish an arbitration commission to clear up the misunderstanding between the two countries over an oil well in the border region." Muhanad Mohammed,Suadad al-Salhy, Mohammed Abbas, Parisa Hafezi, Missy Ryan and Andrew Dobbie (Reuters) add, "The Iranian flag was flying over the disputed oil well in a remote desert area southeast of Baghdad early on Saturday and an Iranian military tent was pitched nearby." The Telegraph of London observes the reported skirmish has resulted in a higher price for oil and they add, "An official in Maysan, who asked to go unnamed, said the Iranian troops were still present at Fakka on Saturday, and that the local government would send a delegation out to the remote desert area on Sunday."

Meanwhile, Andy Bloxham (Telegraph of London) reports on the plea from the families of two British men:

Peter Moore and Alan McMenemy were kidnapped by 40 armed men in police uniforms at the finance ministry in Baghdad in 2007.
Their colleagues, Jason Swindlehurst, Jason Creswell and Alec MacLachlan, were killed and their bodies returned to the UK earlier this year.
Mr McMenemy's wife, Rosalyn, said her son wanted his father home for Christmas.

For over half a year now, the leader of the League of Righteous and his brother have walked freely through Iraq, having been freed by the US military despite the fact that 'the League' claims credit for the US base invasion in which 5 US service members were killed. There was some thought that releasing them might allow the 5 British hostages to be freed. Instead, the only ones 'freed' were corpses. But it hasn't all been looking to the past for 'the League,' they've gotten face time with Nouri and have a regular dialogue with his chief of staff. It's wonderful . . . unless you're the family of one of the victims of 'the League.' James Robbins (BBC News) has a video report on the familes' pleas.

In other violence, Reuters notes 1 man shot dead in Mosul and 2 corpses discovered in Kirkuk.

E-mails, quickly. Why didn't I note CNN's Thursday night report in Friday's snapshot? I hadn't seen it. All day Thursday I was speaking to various groups about the Iraq War. My 'dinner' was used to do the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin. After which, I had to speak to another group. Arriving back at the hotel late Thursday night, I had to do the Thursday night post here and the columns for the gina & krista round-robin and Polly's Brew. I didn't see it and only one friend left a message about it Friday. I'll watch it at some point tonight/this morning and, if there's something worth including in a snapshot next week, we will. Other big question, if Chilcot's statements didn't strike me as the biggest moment, why did I cover them as such? As I explained (again) Thursday night, I'm getting input from friends in England (journalists and attorneys) and if they are adament that something is the story, then that's what we're going with. I'm asking their input and it is taking place in their country (the Iraq Inquiry is taking place in London) and examining their officials. I suffer under no delusions that I'm always right. (I'm not always right. I'm not even always right half of the time.) I asked for input and it's kindly being given and it would show sheer stupidity on my part to then ignore the input. And, it's worth noting, they were right. By the news cycle, they were right. (And I was wrong. I'll put it in all caps: I WAS WRONG.) Their take that Chilcot's self-referential passage was the big news is proven correct by the fact that it went on to dominate Friday's news cycle in England (and Scotland) and that, even today, it's still big news. Probably tomorrow's news cycle will still be referencing it.

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