Tuesday, August 07, 2012

PKK, KRG, oil

In the latest news on the Kurdish rebels and the Turkish military, Brussels News Agency reports that 3 Turkish soldiers were kidnapped last night by Kurdish rebels according to a Turkish governor, Mustafa Toprak, who states they were taken off a bus and kidnapped.   AFP adds that Toprak states "ground and air operations were under way to find the kidnapped soldiers."  "Kurdish rebels" in these stories usually means PKK.  Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk."

Chris Marsden (WSWS)  notes, "In the past fortnight, up to 115 Kurdish fighters have been killed in a south eastern Turkey in military operations, including air strikes near the town of Semdinli. Sunday saw a counter-offensive in which Kurdish forces raided three military posts near the Iraq border that left at least six soldiers and 14 rebels dead. Turkish officials claim to be combating a 200-strong force of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. Kurds make up 17 percent of Iraq’s 31 million people, including the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, nine percent of Syria’s 21 million population, and seven to ten percent of Iran’s 75 million people."

Turkey is to the north of Iraq.  Below the mountains, where the PKK is said to be based, is the KRG, the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, which is experiencing a boom period currently.  Matteo Fagotto (alpha magazine) reports:

This place is growing faster than Dubai. In four or five years Kurdistan will achieve what the Emirates did in 20. You will not be able to recognise it,” says Cem Saffari. Looking down from the top floor of the 23-storey hotel where he works, overlooking a landscape dotted with construction cranes and new housing complexes, Saffari doesn’t hide his pride and satisfaction when asked why he moved from a comfortable life in London to a job in Kurdistan, in the north-eastern region of Iraq. “It’s a growing environment, which I like, and pioneers always win,” he says. “There is a certain amount of risk in investing here, but we believe the turnover will be higher.”
Saffari is the Turkish business development manager of the luxury Divan Hotel in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Open since May, the hotel is the Turkish group’s first investment abroad. With 228 rooms priced from $500 (Dh1,836) to $15,000 a night, the hotel aims to host the growing number of business travellers willing to invest in a region that is experiencing one of the fastest rates of economic growth on earth.
While the world was dealing with the global economic crisis, Kurdistan registered 8 per cent growth last year, driven by the exploitation of its gas and oil reserves estimated at 45 billion barrels. The region’s per-capita GDP, at around $6,000, is 50 per cent higher than in the rest of Iraq. Erbil is enjoying the lion’s share of a boom that has caused land prices to skyrocket. Housing complexes are springing up in the empty outskirts of the city, and some cost more than $1 million each. Shopping malls dot the city’s landscape and luxury brands like Porsche are finally coming in to town. The city’s stock exchange is scheduled to open in the coming months, together with a new business tower and several major hotels.

The KRG was long ago dubbed "the other Iraq" by Western media early in the Iraq War.

With a few good friends
And a stick or two
A house is built at a corner called Pooh
With a friend and a stick
Or three or four
A house is built where it wasn't before
-- "With A Few Good Friends," written by Carly Simon, first appears on the soundtrack to Disney's Piglet's Big Movie

Not only has violence been lower in the KRG than elsewhere in Iraq, its government has been more stable and demonstrated a desire to get along with and form ties with other surrounding countries while, in Baghdad, Nouri can't stop snarling one conspiracy theory after another about Saudi Arabia or Turkey or the UAE or Jordan or . . .  Hurriyet Daily News explains that the oil the KRG has is also part of the attraction:

With one-third of Iraq’s high-quality oil reserves buried under northern Iraqi soil, northern Iraq’s lucrative oilfields have driven both small and large oil companies to risk angering Iraq’s central government by entering into deals with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Closer ties with Western companies and the possibility of exporting oil to further markets via Turkey are encouraging the KRG to operate even more independently of the central government.
The 45 billion barrels of proven reserves, according to BP’s annual estimates, have enticed the world’s largest oil players, including Exxon Mobile, Total, Chevron and Gazprom, to make deals with the KRG despite the clear risks emerging from the lingering dispute between the autonomous administration in Arbil and the central Baghdad government, which has objected to being bypassed by recent deals.

Peg Mackey and Andrew Callus (Reuters) add, "Executives say the move north by the big companies sends a message to Baghdad that its commercial terms on southern oilfield projects are unattractive, and that institutional chaos and the slow pace of postwar redevelopment are problems.John C.K. Daily (Oliprice.com) attempts to offer an analysis but I believe he undermines any argument by including statements like this: "So, in the meantime, the government that backed 'Operation Iraqi Freedom' allow their energy firms to weaken Baghdad's central authority . . ."  First, Total is only one of over forty foreign players in the KRG and Total is considered a French oil company.  France, for those who have forgotten, did not back the war on Iraq.  Second, that statement reeks of ignorance.  We have gone over this repeatedly.  The US government, for example, does not control ExxonMobil.  Nouri al-Maliki thought they did because he's an uneducated idiot.  John CK Daily is supposed to have some intelligence.  When he says governments "allow" and, in fact, what's going on is the legal system allows these actions, he undermines every strong point he might otherwise have.  If you're unhappy that the US government does not control business then you may need to advocate for a Socialist or Fascist state where government owns the industry.  But unless such a transformation takes place in the US, you just look stupid lamenting that the government "allows" business to run their own business.  Really stupid.

The following community sites -- plus Adam Kokesh, World Can't Wait, The Diane Rehm Show, The Pacifica Evening News, Antiwar.com and Susan's On The Ege  -- updated last night and this morning:

Plus Marcia's "Comic, video and J-Lo" and  Ann's "5 men, 1 woman" and Stan's "Come November . . ." which aren't showing up on the links currently.

We'll close with this from law professor, international law expert Francis A. Boyle's "The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence" (Centre for Research on Globalization):

The human race stands on the verge of nuclear self-extinction as a species, and with it will die most, if not all, forms of intelligent life on the planet earth. Any attempt to dispel the ideology of nuclearism and its attendant myth propounding the legality of nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence must directly come to grips with the fact that the nuclear age was conceived in the original sins of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945.
The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki constituted crimes against humanity and war crimes as defined by the Nuremberg Charter of August 8, 1945, and violated several basic provisions of the Regulations annexed to Hague Convention No. 4 Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land (1907), the rules of customary international law set forth in the Draft Hague Rules of Air Warfare (1923), and the United States War Department Field Manual 27-10, Rules of Land Warfare (1940).

According to this Field Manual and the Nuremberg Principles, all civilian government officials and military officers who ordered or knowingly participated in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki could have been lawfully punished as war criminals. The start of any progress toward resolving humankind's nuclear predicament must come from the realization that nuclear weapons have never been legitimate instruments of state policy, but rather have always constituted illegitimate instrumentalities of internationally lawless and criminal behavior.
The use of nuclear weapons in combat was, and still is, absolutely prohibited under all circumstances by both conventional and customary international law: e.g., the Nuremberg Principles, the Hague Regulations of 1907, the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948, the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocol I of 1977, etc. In addition, the use of nuclear weapons would also specifically violate several fundamental resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly that have repeatedly condemned the use of nuclear weapons as an international crime.
Consequently, according to the Nuremberg Judgment, soldiers would be obliged to disobey egregiously illegal orders with respect to launching and waging a nuclear war. Second, all government officials and military officers who might nevertheless launch or wage a nuclear war would be personally responsible for the commission of Nuremberg crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, war crimes, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and Protocol 1, and genocide, among other international crimes. Third, such individuals would not be entitled to the defenses of superior orders, act of state, tu quoque, self-defense, presidential authority, etc. Fourth, such individuals could thus be quite legitimately and most severely punished as war criminals, up to and including the imposition of the death penalty, without limitation of time.

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