Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Oil, drones and other issues

Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reports on Osama al-Nujaifi's trip to Turkey. The Speaker of Parliament declared that he will also visit Tehran and Riyadh to address regional issues with the hopes of bringing Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to the table for discussions. While MP Abdul Salam al-Maliki expresses hopes for the visit, he also makes clear that he and State of Law see the trip as "vague" and not promising.

As noted Monday, the US has moved 4 drones to Turkey. Al Mada reports on the issue from an Iraqi point of view and, someone wake Leon Panetta, it's not all joy and smiles. Among the objections? That Turkey, "under the pretext of attacking the PKK," has launched one of the most dangerous assaults on civilians and the transfer of drones is called "extremely dangerous" and attempt by the US government to curry favor with Turkey. If you're missing it, Iraqis are not dancing in the streets with joy over the use of drones to monitor their country and provide the results to Turkey. While the US-Turkish alliance is receiving condemnation, another joint effort -- Iraq and the US -- appears less controversial at present. Al Sabaah reports that a team from the University of Stony Brook is working with Iraqi counterparts with the General Authority for Antiquities in Dhi Qar for an excavation with any antiquities discovered to be housed in Iraq's National Museum.

Forbes reports oil giant Chevron is demonstrating interest in oil exploration in the KRG. This comes on the heels of Exxon's deal with the KRG over the developing the West Qurna oil field last week which outraged the centeral-government out of Baghdad. Chevron would be the second oil giant dealing with the KRG and the Forbes article notes rumors that Italy's Eni may also be in talks with the KRG. Meanwhile Reuters reports that the Baghdad government is attempting to cancel the Exxon contract. The KRG issued the following today:

KRG confirms ExxonMobil contract at Erbil oil and gas conference

Erbil, Kurdistan Region - Iraq ( - The Kurdistan-Iraq Oil and Gas Conference in Erbil heard confirmation that the Kurdistan Regional Government has signed an oil exploration contract with ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil company.

Ashti Hawrami, the minister for natural resources, told the conference that the KRG had signed a contract with ExxonMobil and that the federal government was kept informed throughout the negotiations. He said, "This will make a dynamic change in the region and will lead to mergers and acquisitions." He said that Kurdistan had initially signed contracts with "small and beautiful" companies and was now working with "the giant and magnificent".

In answer to questions from the audience, Dr Hawrami said the ExxonMobil contract was signed on October 18 and involves six exploration areas. "This agreement is good news not just for us but for all Iraq. This is also good news for the industry. It adds more value in terms of expertise and investment," he said.

Dr Hawrami was speaking at the two-day conference which attracted hundreds of industry executives from around the world, including representatives from major oil companies not currently working in the region

The conference was opened by Prime Minister Barham Salih on Sunday and was attended by Kamal Kirkuki, the Speaker of the Kurdistan Parliament, Selahattin Cimen, Turkey's deputy energy minister, and Britain's ambassador to Iraq Michael Aron.
"Not long ago holding such a conference in Kurdistan was beyond a dream," said Dr Salih in his opening speech. He set out the economic deprivation and genocide in Kurdistan over several decades, in contrast with today's economic boom. "The economy today is moving on and moving forward." He said Kurdistan has a major stake in a successful and strong Iraq and that Kurdistan is exercising its constitutional right to develop its resources. "I dare dream that from the devastation and destruction of the genocide we can have a future that's democratic and prosperous."
The prime minister said the KRG and the federal government had agreed that the 2007 draft hydrocarbons law would be used as the basis for discussions on a federal law. He added that it was agreed a draft would be presented to the parliament by the year's end.

Kurdistan's oil and gas sector has taken off in the past few years from a standing start, which has put Kurdistan on the global energy map. The KRG has signed 45 contracts with companies from 17 countries. In 2012, Kurdistan will export 175,000 barrels of oil a day. It will provide electricity to neighbouring provinces in the near future thanks to several gas-powered energy plants.

Dr Hawrami told the conference that the KRG would continue publishing its contracts for the sake of transparency and said he hoped this would become a model for the region.

Dr Hawrami also spoke about pipelines, gas and the important role of Turkey as an energy transportation route to Europe with the possibility of Kurdistan joining the Nabucco pipeline or using an LNG terminal in Ceyhan in Turkey to export gas to Europe. He said the KRG has a target of 1million barrels a day of oil exports via the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline and to increase Kurdistan's oil refining capacity to 300,000 barrels a day.

The conference also heard from Dr Cimen who spoke about Turkey's position in the energy world. Turkey's Genel Enerji was among the first oil companies to enter Kurdistan and is now merging with Vallares, former BP chief executive Tony Hayward's company.

British MP Nadhim Zahawi delivered a message of congratulations to the conference from Britain's energy minister Charles Hendry.

The conference heard discussions on oil and gas services, finance, pipeline and infrastructure plans, the need to hire local labour, projects to support local communities, and plans to export electricity.

And the Kurdish Globe has the speech Barham Salih, KRG Prime Minister, delivered at the oil conference.

Meanwhile Mark Pattison (Catholic News Service) reports Youngstown, Ohio's Bishop George V. Murry, just returned from Iraq, is calling for an increase in US financial aid to Iraq, what he terms a "modern-day version of the Marshall Plan, which helped to rebuild Europe after the Second World War. [. ..] Iraq is suffering from the results of the war. The United States and the nations that joined with it in the war can help Iraq rebuild their infrastructure and rebuild their country." Joan Frawley Desmond (National Catholic Register) quotes the bishop stating, "We visited the Church of Our Lady of Salvation, where the militants entered and killed the faithful, including two priests. One still sees bloodstained walls." Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad was attacked October 31, 2010. An Iraqi Christian told the bishops on their visit, "We used to live in the Garden of Eden, and now we live in hell."

The following community sites -- plus -- updated last night:

We'll close with this from ETAN:

Open Letter to President Obama from West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT) and East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)

For Immediate Release

Contact: John M. Miller, +1-718-596-7668; mobile: +1-917-690-4391,>

Ed McWilliams, +1-575-648-2078,

President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500

November 15, 2011

Dear President Obama,

President Obama meets with President Yudhoyono at the Istana Merdeka State Palace Complex in Jakarta, Nov. 9, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

We urge you to seize the opportunity of your imminent return to Indonesia to consider the challenges and opportunities posed by the U.S.-Indonesia relationship more realistically than you have up to now. Your Administration urgently needs a policy that addresses the problems created by the Indonesian security forces' escalating violations of human rights and criminality and its failure to submit to civilian control. The recent <>20th anniversary of the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre in Dili. East Timor (Timor-Leste), when hundreds of peaceful protesters were massacred by Indonesian troops wielding U.S. supplied weapons, reminds us that a lack of accountability for past crimes -- in Timor-Leste and throughout the archipelago -- keeps those affected from moving on with their lives, while contributing to impunity in the present.

Indonesian military and police forces continue to operate without any accountability before the law. Only in rare instances are individual personnel brought before military tribunals for crimes against civilians, often because of international pressure. Prosecution is woefully inadequate and sentencing, in the rare instance of conviction, is not commensurate with the crime.

Indonesia's security forces, including the <>Kopassus special forces and U.S.-funded and -trained <>Detachment (Densus) 88, continue to employ against civilians weaponry supplied by the U.S. and to use tactics developed as result of U.S. training. In West Papua, these security forces have repeatedly attacked civilians, most recently participants in the <>October 16-19 Congress and striking workers at the<>Freeport<> McMoRan mine. Those assaulted were peacefully asserting their right to assemble and freedom of speech. At the Congress, combined forces, including regular military units, Kopassus, the militarized police (Brimob) and Detachment 88, killed at least five civilians, beat scores more, and were responsible for the disappearance of others.

Moreover, in the central highlands of West Papua, these same forces regularly conduct so called "sweeping operations," purportedly in search of the very small armed Papuan resistance. These operations have led to the deaths of many innocent civilians and driven thousands from their village into forests where they face life threatening conditions due to inadequate access to shelter, food and medical care.

Indonesian military and police forces continue to operate without any accountability before the law. Only in rare instances are individual personnel brought before military tribunals for crimes against civilians, often because of international pressure. Prosecution is woefully inadequate and sentencing, in the rare instance of conviction, is not commensurate with the crime. Several <>videoed incidents of military torture of civilians -- widely discussed during your November 2010 visit to Indonesia -- concluded in just such failures of justice. The concept of command responsibility is rarely considered in the military tribunals.

International monitoring of these developments in West Papua is severely hampered by Indonesian government restrictions on access to and travel within West Papua by foreign journalists, diplomats, researchers, and human rights and humanitarian officials. The International Committee of the Red Cross remains barred from operating an office in West Papua. Indonesian journalists and human rights officials face threats and worse when they try to monitor developments there.

Elsewhere in Indonesia, too many times security forces have stood by or actively assisted in attacks on minority religions, including deadly attacks on Ahmadiyah followers.

The Indonesian security forces -- especially the military -- are largely unreformed: it has failed to fully divest itself of its business empire, its remains unaccountable before the law, and continues to violate human rights. These forces constitute a grave threat to the continued development of Indonesian democracy. The upcoming national elections in Indonesia present a particularly urgent challenge. The Indonesian military is in position to pervert the democratic process as it has in the past. The military has frequently provoked violence at politically sensitive times, such as in 1998 when it kidnapped tortured and murdered democratic activists. For many years it has relied on its unit commanders, active at the District, sub-District and even village level to influence the selection of party candidates and the elections themselves. The territorial command system is still in place.
In the past, U.S. restrictions and conditions on security assistance have resulted in real rights improvements in Indonesia. Your Administration should learn from this history.

Given this threat to democracy and to individuals posed by Indonesian forces, it is essential that the U.S. employ the significant leverage that comes from Indonesia's desire for U.S. security assistance and training to insist on real reforms of Indonesian security forces. Rhetorical calls for reforms are clearly insufficient. These exhortations have manifestly not worked and readily brushed aside. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's recent expression of "concerns about the violence and the abuse of human rights" in Papua were <>dismissed by a spokesperson for Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono , who called the escalating rights violations "only isolated incidents."

In the past, U.S. restrictions and conditions on security assistance have resulted in real rights improvements in Indonesia. Your Administration should learn from this history and quickly suspend training for those units whose human rights records and impunity are especially egregious, as required by the Leahy law. We specifically urge you to end plans to re-engage with Kopassus and to end assistance to Detachment 88. These actions would demonstrate U.S. Government seriousness in pursuit of real reforms of the security forces in Indonesia.


Ed McWilliams for WPAT

John M. Miller for ETAN

see also
* <>On 20th Anniversary of Timor Massacre, Rights Network Urges Justice, ETAN Says U.S. and UN Must Act (November 12, 2011)
* <>Statement of East Timor and Indonesia Action<> Network on President Obama's Visit to Indonesia (November 5, 2010)
* West Papua Advocacy Team: <>Open Letter to President Obama on The Eve of His Visit to Indonesia (November 4)
* ETAN: <>Open Letter to President Barack Obama on His 2010 Visit to Indonesia (March 18, 2010)

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John M. Miller, National Coordinator
East Timor & Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
PO Box 21873, Brooklyn, NY 11202-1873 USA
Phone: +1-718-596-7668 Mobile phone: +1-917-690-4391
Email: Skype: john.m.miller


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