Monday, November 21, 2011

All of Iraq's eggs in one basket?

The Mainichi Daily News reports Nouri al-Maliki, thug of the occupation and prime minister of Iraq, is scheduled to arrive in Japan today to discuss Japanese investment in the oil industry in Iraq. Nouri is quoted stating, "I hope Japanese companies will make inroads in Iraq before it's too late," implying all the good opportunities will quickly be gone. Meanwhile Nouri remains in conflict with the Kurdistan Regional Government over the Exxon deal.

Bashdar Pusho Ismaeel (Kurdish Globe) notes Baghdad's anger has grown with the increase on the part of oil companies in the Kurdish region, "The oil giants may have stepped aside and let the minors run the show in Kurdistan to date, but it has become increasingly evident that as time passes, and with little sign of a breakthrough in the ratification of a commonly accepted oil law, those who linger in the background will lose out greatly in the long run. As the widely acknowledged last frontier, oil companies must arrive first or arrive too late. The deal with Exxon Mobil may have been drawn on an economic basis but certainly the political ramifications echo a lot louder."

Nouri has proposed a new oil bill and attempted to ram it through the Parliament. He's been unsuccessful ramming it through thus far; however, it did lead the KRG to lodge a serious complaint and increase tensions between the central government out of Baghdad and the KRG. Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi (Daily Star) offers his take:

Only in 2008 did Baghdad sign its first deal with a foreign oil firm. It did so with China’s National Petroleum Corporation, to develop the Ahdab field in Wasit province. The contract was in fact a reworking of a 1997 agreement that Saddam Hussein’s regime had signed with the Chinese corporation. This deal, like all subsequent agreements (mostly joint ventures) with foreign firms to develop the oil fields in central and southern Iraq, was heavily tipped in the government’s favor.
Iraqi crude – like Saudi petroleum – is among the cheapest in the world to extract, at only a few U.S. dollars per barrel. Therefore, it is potentially highly lucrative for oil companies. However, the Iraqi government refused to shift from its position of offering a very low fee-per-barrel, equivalent to $2 per barrel, to oil companies, including ExxonMobil, that signed the most important contracts in 2009.

Sounding alarms over the focus/reliance on oil is Iraq's Sunni vice president. KUNA reports, "Iraqi Vice-President Tareq Al-Hashimi warned on Sunday his country might witness a major financial crisis if oil prices fall in 2012 to an expected USD 85 per barrel. The annual budget for Iraq depends entirely on oil sales and imports, Al-Hashimi said during his participation in the 5th political forum of the Renewal Movement, adding that next year's budget has been estimated at USD 112 billion." The Voice of Russia adds, "Speaking on Sunday, the minister argued for speedy economic reconstruction and diversification away from oil and natural gas."

On this week's Law and Disorder Radio -- a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) -- topics explored include the Michaels new book Who Killed Che/ How The CIA Got Away With Murder, Occupy Wall Street with attorney Danny Alterman and the global economy with professor Rick Woff. And we'll close with this from the Center for Constitutional Rights:

Santos Accuses Human Rights Lawyers in an Inter-American Court Case of Fraud

November 17, 2011, New York – Yesterday, The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued an open letter to Colombian President Manuel Santos condemning recent statements by the Colombian government intended to delegitimize an international legal case concerning the 1997 massacre in Mapiripán, Colombia. During the massacre, the government and paramilitary groups tortured, mutilated, dismembered, and threw civilians into the Guaviare River. A woman who had been previously recognized as a victim of the massacre recently testified in a separate hearing that the disappearance of her two sons and husband did not occur during the massacre. Despite the fact that it was the Colombian government that had provided the evidence now in question, President Santos took the opportunity to call into question the credibility of those seeking accountability for the massacre and accuse them of fraud.
In the letter, CCR urges President Santos to abstain from issuing statements that delegitimize the work of human rights defenders, including lawyers from the Colombia-based José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective, an organization already targeted because of its human rights activism. The Mapiripán massacre is undisputed and the Colombian government has acknowledged its role in the many atrocities committed by paramilitary forces. CCR concludes the letter by asking President Santos to recognize his administration’s obligation to investigate human rights violations, assume full responsibility for the identification of all victims of the crimes committed in Mapiripán, and publicly support the important role of the Inter-American Human Rights System.
The letter is available in English and Spanish below.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

The e-mail address for this site is

law and disorder radio
michael s. smith
heidi boghosian
michael ratner