Monday, February 13, 2012

Nouri's Cabinet hopes ExxonMobil does the right thing (and other jokes)

Today's chuckle is Nouri al-Maliki's interactions with corporations. For those who've forgotten, back in October, ExxonMobil entered an agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government which ticked Nouri off and his and his appointees insisted the contract between the corporation and the KRG wouldn't be honored. 'Whatever' was the response from the oil giant and the KRG. Hassan Hafidh (Wall St. Journal) reports today that Hussein al-Shahristani, Deputy Prime Minster for Energy, declared today that ExxonMobil may be barred -- may -- from the round of bidding scheduled to take place in May. They've been whining about this contract for how many months now? And their punishment is that they 'may' bar someone from an auction? An auction that Big Oil sees as one worth skipping? Supposedly it's the dregs of what's available in Iraq and major oil companies aren't interested. Total went public with their lack of interest last week. They're only one of many oil giants to sneer at the upcoming auction. But best of all may be al-Shahristani's statement, "We are still waiting for Exxon to answer our letters in which we warned that it has to choose between contracts in Kurdistan and those in southern Iraq." The only thing worse than whining about the deal for four months now has to be still publicly whining about your strongly worded letters to ExxonMobil which the corporation has repeatedly refused to respond to. Kadhim Ajrash (Bloomberg News) adds to the humor by quoting al-Shahristani declaring the Baghdad government is on a wait-and-see, hoping that ExxonMobil will "take the right decision." Is he really that stupid? Can anyone be that stupid? You're over oil for your country and you're waiting on ExxonMobil to do the right thing?

1989 is not ancient history, especially if you're supposed to have expertise in the area of oil. Exxon Valdez. If you've even got a vague conception of that huge oil spill, you know ExxonMobil is not anyone to have noble hopes for. Possibly the reason Iraq still has a lack of potable water in many areas is because Nouri's Cabinet has pinned their hopes on a letter to Santa requesting that he fix that? It's about on the same level as believing ExxonMobil will do the right thing.

Is it any surprise that the country's in such a political crisis? The Jordan Times explains:

Today, the country is deeply divided along sectarian lines. The government of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki remains hostage to its own ambition to reign unchallenged. Maliki, a Shiite, has centralised decisive power in himself and is now pursuing a campaign to stamp out all Sunni challenges to his reign.
His orders that saw hundreds of Sunnis belonging to the now defunct Baathist Party being detained and his push to have the vice president, Tareg Al Hashim, tried on "terrorism" charges and Saleh Al Mutlaq, the deputy prime minister, expelled from the Cabinet for criticising him are all part of that campaign.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Hashimi, and 16 of his bodyguards have been arrested.

Over the weekend, another meet-up for the much anticipated national conference took place. Since December, President Jalal Talabani and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi have been calling for a national conference to address the political crisis. All that has taken place thus far is a handful of planning sessions. Omar Abdel-Latif (Al Sabaah) reports that Talabani and al-Nujaifi meet with Nouri and representatives for the National Alliance, Iraqiya and the Kurdish Alliance. The meeting is supposed to address various proposals put forward in written format by various political blocs. This prep meeting will be followed by . . . another prep meeting currently scheduled for Wednesday. Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports that al-Nujaifi declared of yesterday's meeting that the proposals from Iraqiya and the Kurdish Alliance were discussed. In Iraqiya's written proposals, they address the issues of Tareq al-Hashemi and Saleh al-Mutlaq -- issues Nouri's State of Law has insisted will not be addressed at the national conference. Dar Addustour notes that the issues are pretty much tabled with agreement from the majority that al-Hashemi and al-Mutlaq will not be addressed at the national conference. Nevzat Hmedin (Al Mada) focuses on the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq's Ammar al-Hakim who is stating that the paper his bloc (part of the National Alliance and, along with Nouri and Moqtada al-Sadr, one of the major players in the National Alliance slate) presented addresses the issues of provincial powers and rights, specifically that it calls for increased powers for the provincial councils and for the provinces to receive a larger slice of the national budget. al-Hakim also states that Ninveh Province council members should end their ongoing boycott of local government.

Iraqi women led a protest for their rights and that was significant. You know it was significant because the New York Times never said a word about it. Not one word. And that protest may kick off this month's protests in Baghdad. Dar Addustour reports that Iraqi intellectuals are calling for a protest on the first anniversary of protests led by Iraqi youths in Baghdad's Tahrir Square. This kicked off Friday protests which do continue. A very small number currently because Nouri al-Maliki's hired thugs swarm Tahrir Square and shout down Iraqi citizens.

By the way, why is Iraq suffering from so much violence? Because the police are idiots. There's no other conclusion when you read this Al Rafidayn article. The greatest threat to Iraqis, the Baghdad police believe, is Emo kids. Yes, Emo has made it to Iraq. And there is no concept or understanding of it on the part of the police who are connecting it to Satanism, to same-sex sex, and a hundred other things including autism. Autism has been a very popular 'cause' in Iraq so far this month. Last week, numerous stories at numerous outlets insisted that cigarette smoking by the mother causes children to born autistic. (No, it doesn't. Nor does Emo cause autism.) Of course, these anti-smoking pieces only began appearing after the government voted to ban smoking in public places. Autism is not caused by smoking, it's not caused by Emo.

For those late to the party on Emo, it's a type of music, early Dashboard Confessional (Chris Carrabba's "Screaming Infidelities" remains a benchmark for the genre), My Chemical Romance, it's a fashion which includes long bangs covering an eye or both, it's many things. Here's a little tip for the Baghdad police, Emo is a solid genre of music and, most importantly, Emo could take root in Iraq. Iraq could be the MidEast center for Emo music. It has all that's needed, all the elements. Instead of trying to stamp it out, the government should be realizing that this could be a calling card for the country and part of a revitalization of the Iraqi cultural scene.

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