Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Mass arrests and violence continue

Starting with violence, through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 34 dead from violence so far this month.  Al Mada reports that Rashid Flaih survived an assassination attempt outside Tikrit yesterday.  He is the Operations Commander in Samarra.  All Iraq News notes today 2 Mosul roadside bombings have left four police officers and two city workers injured.  The mass arrests continue as well.  Alsumaria counts 8 'terrorism' suspects arrested in Samarra.  And there's a new development in the mass arrests.  15 arrested in Kirkuk alone would be news all by itself (except to US and European 'news' outlets).  But, as Alsumaria notes, the 15 are "engineers and technicians" from Turkey.

Staying with the Turks, both AP and Reuters report that Turkey's conducting a two-day ground operation -- yesterday and today -- in which Turkish forces have entered northern Iraq.  AFP observes, "The rare cross-border strike hit targets some five kilometres (three miles) inside the border and came as part of an air-backed operation that has been going on for two days, according to NTV."  The Turkish war planes bombing northern Iraq have been going on for years now.  Xinhua notes of the latest, "Two Iraqi Kurds were killed and three wounded on Wednesday during an air strike on an Iraqi border area, as Turkish warplanes continue attacks against suspected Kurdish guerrilla targets inside Iraq, official Kurdish website reported."

In other news, Al Rafidayn reports that ExxonMobil has notified the Baghdad-based government in writing of their intent to sell their stake in the West Qurna oil field.  Their desire to sell has been public knowledge for some time.  The news value is that they have now put their intent in writing.  Dropping back to the October 18th snapshot:

Early this morning, Laura Rozen (The Back Channel) reported, "Oil giant Exxon Mobil is expected to soon announce that it is pulling out of non-Kurdish Iraq, an energy expert source told Al-Monitor Wednesday on condition of anonymity.  The decision would not apply to Exxon's contracts in Kurdish Iraq, which has been a source of on-going tension with Baghdad authorities for the company, the source said."  Ahmed Rasheed and Patricky Markey (Reuters) state the corporation didn't inform "Iraq of its interest in quitting the country's West Qurna oilfield project" according to unnamed sources.  Sometimes unnamed sources lie.  This may be one of those times.  This is very embarrassing for Nouri and his government and feigning surprise may be their effort to play it off.  'How could we have stopped it?  We didn't even know it was coming!'   That would explain why the 'big surprise' that isn't is being played like it is.  Derek Brower (Petroleum Economist) has been covering this story for over 48 hours (including a source that stated ExxonMobil had informed the Iraqi government) and he notes that ExxonMobil will be focusing all their "efforts on upstream projects in Kurdistan instead."  In addition to the claim in Rasheed and Markey's piece about  Iraq having had no meeting on this, Brower notes that a meeting took place today at the Ministry of Oil.  It would appear Nouri's spinning like crazy in an effort to save his faltering image.  (Nouri can certainly spend billions -- as he proved last week on his mad shopping spree for weapons, he just doesn't seem able to maintain releations with those who help Iraq generate large revenues.)
This Reuters story notes that unnamed US officials stated Iraq was informed and it adds the Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister for Energy, Hussain al-Shahristani, "told Reuters in an e-mail that Baghdad was sticking to its line that all contract signed with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) without the approval of Baghdad were illegal."  ExxonMobil has long had problems with their deal with Baghdad.  In March,  Emily Knapp (Wall St Cheat Sheet) explained, "Foreign oil companies involved in Iraq's oil expansion generally prefer to be compensated for capital expenditure and service fees in oil because cash payments are more complicated to arrange. Now the parties have reached an agreement in which they will be paid in crude. Exxon and Shell spent $910 million on West Qurna-1 last year, and were repaid $470 million in cash."  Hassan Hafidh (Wall St. Journal) adds today, "Exxon's 2010 deal with the Iraqi central government to improve production in the West Qurna-1 field was never expected to be lucrative under the best circumstances, the person said.  The government had agreed to pay Exxon Mobil and its partners $1.90 for each additional barrel of oil they pumped after refurbishing the already producing field.  The fees would barely be enough to cover the companies' costs."

Today Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) explains, "Iraq's cabinet also said on Wednesday it was expelling Turkey's state-owned TPAO from its exploration block 9 oilfield but denied that the measure was prompted by any proposed move by the Turkish company into Kurdistan.  The withdrawal of Exxon from a key project in Iraq's south, and doubts about who can replace the U.S. giant also raise questions about the country's plans to increase crude production to 5-6 million barrels per day from 3.4 million bpd by 2015."

In news on the continued political stalemate, Al Mada reports that the head of the National Alliance Ibrahim al-Jaafari is stating that there is conflict within Nouri's Cabinet and some ministers are not attending meetings or listening to other views and he notes that he is against dissolving Parliament and holding early elections.  In other Cabinet news,  Dar Addustour adds that the Minister of Trade Khairallah Babiker, is stating he will withdraw from the Cabinet if the federal budget does not make good on the Peshmerga budget.  The Peshmerga are Kurdish security forces.  The 2013 federal budget attempts to do away with payments for them.  This is similar to Nouri's attempts to do away with the Sahwa ("Sons of Iraq," "Awakenings").  He's already illegally amassed control over all security forces (military and police) outside of the KRG.

The following community sites -- plus Susan's On the Edge (while I miss Delilah Boyd's strong voice, I'm very happy Susan remains online, she's been a strong voice online for many, many years now and she tackles serious subjects -- thank you for all you do, Susan), Adam Kokesh, Dissident Voice,  -- updated last night and this morning:

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Second Term" went up early this morning.

This did not.  And there will be a second entry by Ava and I in an hour or so.

I'm giving six more months.  Had Mitt Romney been elected president last night, would I?

Probably not.  I would have been able to say, "With a Republican in the White House, the rest of the left will suddenly find their discarded scruples, they'll reach in the back of the closet and pull out their ethics, we'll have a lively left again!"

So I'm doing six more months.  Ideally, we'll go through the four year term.  Ideally.  I'm only agreeing to six months at a time.  We were supposed to go dark in 2008 after the election.  Instead, the left went nutso.  It truly was The Invasion.  Up was down, right was wrong.  And it has not killed off that virus yet.  It will die.  It's already dying.  But I can't walk off at a time when so many others have.  There are a lot of great sites that were killed off due to the 2008 battles.  Deliah Boyd, for example, is a strongly missed voice.  I do understand her walking away.  And wish I could now.  But (a) the left in the US is not all Cult of St. Barack and we'll continue for six more months to demonstrate that and (b) I believe Iraq sites are also dropping like flies.  As long as we're here, we cover Iraq. 

In terms of the next six months.  I've never missed a day in eight years.  But Im so tired of online life.  So we may do shorter entries.  Shorter snapshots.  There may be week day mornings when I just do one entry.

But I'm on board for six more months.  If I can do it, I will do the full four years.  But I'm not making any promises beyond six months.

Oh, and this late entry?  There will be week day entries that go up this late from time to time.  Especially if I am home and not on the road.

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