Tuesday, January 22, 2013

ExxonMobil, Nouri's ongoing problem

Domain-b.com reports, "In a sign of a possible end to its dispute with America's largest oil company, Iraq's prime minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki met with the head of Exxon Mobil yesterday to discuss the oil giant's plans in the country."  AP adds, "The statement says Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Exxon Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson discussed the company's activities and working conditions in Iraq."

For background, dropping back to the November 11, 2011 snapshot:

In Iraq, things are heating up over an oil deal. Hassan Hafidh and James Herron (Wall St. Journal) report, "ExxonMobil Corp. could lose its current contract to develop the West Qurna oil field in Iraq if it proceeds with an agreement to explore for oil in the Kurdistan region of the country, an Iraqi official said. The spat highlights the political challenges for foreign companies operating in Iraq" as Nouri's Baghdad-based 'national' government attempts to rewrite the oil law over the objection of the Kurdistan Regional Government. Tom Bergin and Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) offer, "Exxon declined to comment, and experts speculated the move could indicate Baghdad and the Kurdish leaders are nearing agreement on new rules for oil companies seeking to tap into Iraq's vast oil reserves." UPI declares, "The breakaway move into Kurdistan, the first by any of the oil majors operating in Iraq under 20-year production contract signed in 2009, could cost Exxon Mobil its stake in the giant West Qurna Phase One mega-oil field in southern Iraq." Salam Faraj (AFP) speaks with Abdelmahdi al-Amidi (in Iraq's Ministry of Oil) declares that the Exxon contract means that Exxon would lose a contract it had previously signed with Baghdad for the West Qurna-1 field.  Faraj sketches out the deal with the KRG beginning last month with Exxon being notified that they had "48 hours to make a decision on investing in an oil field in the region."  Exxon was interested but sought an okay from the Baghdad government only to be denied.

That was November 11, 2011.  In the long space between then and now?  Nouri's whined like a helpless puppy, whimpered for the US government to force ExxonMobil to stop doing business with the KRG.  July 19th, when Chevron followed ExxonMobil's lead, Nouri was declaring that the US government was going to side with him on cancelling the ExxonMobil deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government.  From that day's snapshot:

A little over three hours later, Nouri al-Maliki was issuing a statement claiming he had the US backing on ExxonMobil.  He's such a damn liar and you really have to wonder about the reporters that print his crap without challenge.  It wasn't two weeks ago, that these same outlets were running with Nouri met with the UN and UN says Camp Ashraf must  -- no, the United Nations didn't say it but did we ever get a retraction from the press?  Of course [not].  So Aseel Kami and Braden Reddall (Reuters) take stenography today and want you to know that Nouri has the US backing on ending that deal the KRG and ExxonMobile signed back in October. 
Now high likely is it that the US government, via Blinken, conveyed anything of meaning regarding ExxonMobil?  Not at all likely.  In the United States, there is no state control of the oil companies.  (Some would argue there is control of the government by the oil companies and certainly the Iraqi press have had stories where the White House has conveyed to Nouri that he needs to work things out with ExxonMobil.)  So it's a non-story but watch how it gets parroted over and over by news outlets that make Hedda Hopper look like Bob Woodward. 

Credit to Kristin Deasy (Global Post) who was basically alone in questioning Nouri's claims:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki claimed late Thursday to have received a message from US President Barack Obama indicating that the US sided with Baghdad in its deepening row with Kurdistan over the management of the northern region's oil resources, reported Reuters.
The message from Baghdad -- which did not quote the alleged Obama letter directly or provide any copy of it -- welcomed the "positive" US position on the matter, which it said was "in the same manner as the Iraqi government is seeking," said Reuters.

Along with whimpering for the US government to help him, Nouri also authorized the sending of strongly worded letters to ExxonMobil.  That passed for leadership.  Wishin' and hopin' -- it's not just a song written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach and sung by Dusty Springfield, it's how Nouri al-Maliki governs. This was most obvious in February when Kadhim Ajrash (Bloomberg News) reported  that Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussein al-Shahristani was declaring that  ExxonMobil will "take the right decision."

Repeating, this has been going on since November 11, 2011.  Leadership is lacking in Iraq.

The World Tribune notes, "The Kurdish Regional Government has rejected efforts by Baghdad to
explore for energy in areas claimed by the Kurds. The Iraqi Oil Ministry has signed an agreement for British Petroleum to develop an oil field near the disputed city of Kirkuk."

Kirkuk provides the set-up for Nouri's latest joke.  AFP repeats, "Iraq’s premier yesterday called on ExxonMobil to respect the country’s constitution in rare talks with the US firm’s chief, an apparent reference to a deal with the Kurdish region Baghdad says is illegal."  As Alsumaria notes, that assertion comes from a press release Nouri issued after the meeting.

Nouri wants to cite the Constituion?

How about citing Article 140, Nouri?

Article 140 is still not implemented.  It determines who gets control of disputed regions.  Instead of following the Constitution, Nouri tried to take over those regions last fall with his newly created and extra-Constitutional Tigris Operation Command.  Though any military leaders are supposed to be confirmed by the Parliment, Nouri wasn't concerned about getting approval then or concerned with following the Constitution.

There is no national oil and gas law.  That's also on Nouri.  When the Bush White House proposed the benchmarks for success in Iraq, Nouri signed off on them (2007).  One of those was the passage of an oil and gas law.  It never happened.  There is no national oil and gas law.  His failure to get one passed shouldn't paralyze the semi-autonmous Kurdistan Regional Government.  Or are they supposed to wait another six years for Nouri to try to pass one?  The only one even noting that failure is World Bulletin, "Attempts to resolve the dispute have failed in part because of disagreements over a long-delayed oil and gas law meant to set a clearer framework for managing the country's vast oil reserves, the world's fourth largest."

Nouri's inability to lead has hurt Iraq repeatedly in every area.  The issue of the oil and gas is only one example.  He's a failure and now that Russia has grown tired of waiting for him to figure out what he's going to do and they've axed the $4 billion arms deal, Nouri's a laughingstock on the world stage.

AFP also repeats that 400 prisoners and detainees have been released.  That 'report' is based on what Nouri's government says.  Missing from the AFP repeat is the fact that provincial governors are stating the Ministry of Justice refuses to hand over a list of the names of people allegedy released. 

Yesterday, Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Barry O and the Dronettes," Kat's "Kat's Korner: Taylor Swift glows on Red" and Ruth's "Ruth's Radio Report."  Next month, international law expert Francis A. Boyle has a new book coming out entitled Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Reverse the Qaddafi Revolution:

It took three decades for the United States government-spanning and working assiduously over five different presidential administrations (Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama)-to overthrow and reverse the 1969 Qaddafi Revolution in order to resubjugate Libya, seize control over its oil fields, and dismantle its Jamahiriya system. This book tells the story of what happened, why it happened, and what was both wrong and illegal with what happened from the perspective of an international law professor and lawyer who tried for over three decades to stop it. Francis Boyle provides a comprehensive history and critique of American foreign policy toward Libya from when the Reagan administration came to power in January of 1981 up to the 2011 NATO war on Libya that ultimately achieved the US goal of regime change. He deals with the repeated series of military conflicts and crises between the United States and Libya over the Gulf of Sidra and the fraudulent US claims of Libyan instigation of international terrorism during the eight years of the neoconservative Reagan administration. This book sets forth the inside story behind the Lockerbie bombing cases against the United States and the United Kingdom that he filed at the World Court for Colonel Qaddafi acting upon his advice--and the unjust resolution of those disputes. In 2011, under the guise of the UN R2P "responsibility to protect” doctrine newly-contrived to provide legal cover for Western intervention into third world countries, and override the UN Charter commitment to prevention of aggression and state sovereignty, the NATO assault led to 50,000 Libyan casualties and the complete breakdown of law and order. Boyle analyzes and debunks the doctrines of R2P and its immediate predecessor, "humanitarian intervention”, in accordance with the standard recognized criteria of international law. This book provides an excellent case study of the conduct of US foreign policy as it relates to international law. The concluding chapter explains how the US/NATO war against Libya has destabilized the Maghreb and Sahel, including the French military intervention into Mali.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.


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