Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 21, 2007

Iraq Roundup

The Washington Post sees the Iraqi government falling apart:

Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi, a senior Shiite politician often mentioned as a potential prime minister, tendered his resignation last week in a move that reflects deepening frustration inside the Iraqi government with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Other senior Iraqi officials have considered resigning in recent weeks over the failures of their government to make progress after more than a year in power, according to Iraqi and U.S. officials.
Maliki's government has failed so far to push through major laws demanded by the U.S. government as a means of promoting national reconciliation.

As the current puppets don't agree to U.S. demands, one wonders if this report is the awaited coup announcement.

But hold out on that. The Guardian reports that the problem is now solved:

Iraq's Kurdish leaders said last night they had struck an important deal with the central government in Baghdad over a law to divide up Iraq's oil revenues, which is seen by the Bush administration as one of the benchmarks in attempts to foster national reconciliation.

Ashti Hawrami, the minister for natural resources in the Kurdistan regional government, told the Guardian the text had been finalised late last night after 48 hours of "tough bargaining" with Baghdad. The deal represented "a genuine revenue sharing agreement" that was transparent and would benefit all the people of Iraq and help pull the country together, he said.

It is not immediately clear, what law Hawrami is talking about.

The draft oil law (pdf) does not say much about revenue sharing at all:

Article 11: Petroleum Revenues

A- According to the Constitution of Iraq (Articles 106, 111, 112 and 121(3)) regarding the ownership of Oil and Gas resources, the distribution of its revenues, and the monitoring of federal revenue allocation, the Council of Ministers must submit a draft federal revenue law to the Council of Representatives regulating these matters in adherence to the sections of this Article.

The oil law more or less only declares who will get the biggest chunk (87.5%) of the booty: the foreign oil companies running the business. But the part relevant in the logic of the U.S.  reconciliation propaganda, is the revenue sharing of the 12.5% the Iraqis are allowed to keep. This is in separate legislation, not within the oil law, and this may be what Hawrami is talking about.

Not that it has currently much relevance.

Live in Baghdad is getting worse each day. The insurgency attacks on the supply lines have now led to severe fuel and chlorine shortages in Baghdad. Without fuel, no generators, no electricity, no waterpumps, no water. Already some cases of cholera have appeared and this is only the start of the Iraqi summer heat.

Even the Green Zone is effected:

The water shortage has even reached inside the Green Zone, where most government offices and foreign organizations are located. Tayseer al-Mashhadani, a member of the national assembly, said the water supply there has been shut off for several hours a day.

So nice that it is often raining in the Green Zone. But unfortunatly those drops ain't water:

A series of mortars or rockets slammed into the U.S.-controlled Green Zone on Thursday, and an official said at least one round struck a parking lot used by the Iraqi prime minister and his security detail.
A June 5 U.N. report said insurgents had bombarded the Green Zone with rockets and mortar fire more than 80 times since March, reportedly killing at least 26 people.

No wonder that the Iraqi parliamentarians are mostly outside the country. As al-Sadr followers also again boycott it, the parliament is not able to reach a quorum and to make any law - be it about oil or revenue sharing.

Then there is also this ominous paragraph in the Guardian story:

Iraq's finance minister, Bayan Jabr, and the oil minister, Hussein Sharistani, were accompanying the president, Jalal Talabani, on a state a visit to China and could not be contacted for comment.

Two points:

  • How can Hawrami reach a revenue/oil deal without the finance and the oil minister and without the Iraqi president in town? Who did he deal with at all?
  • What kind of back-deal are these guys making with the Chinese? What does Washington know/say about this?

Another interesting WaPo tidbit that will immensely complicate the matters for the U.S.:

The turmoil within Shiite political circles is exacerbated by the deteriorating health of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Council. He has sought treatment in Houston, and now Tehran, for lung cancer, and several U.S. and Iraqi officials said his condition is grave.

In true democratic fashion, al-Hakim's son is said to take over his role. But that may not go over easily with others in his party, guaranteeing further political turmoil.

Meanwhile Petraeus is back at whacking the mole:

A U.S. military spokesman, Lt. Col. Christopher C. Garver, said the military was investigating the mistaken bombing of a house in the Khatoon neighborhood of Baqubah on Wednesday. The incident occurred when soldiers decided to destroy a heavily booby-trapped residence with an aircraft bomb, but the bomb hit the wrong house, Garver said.

Idiots. Intensive bombing is not counterinsurgency, but insurgency creation.

But U.S. casualties have dropped from 4 per day in May to 3 per day in June. Did someone order Petraeus to change style from ground to air-war to avoid casualties?

As Anthony Cordesman notes in his latest analysis:

More honesty, objective self-criticism, serious effort to develop credible strategies and operational plans might well have prevented all of Iraq’s current civil conflicts and problems from reaching anything like their current scale. In fact, if the US loses in Iraq – as seems all too possible – its primary enemy will not have been Al Qa’ida, but the US government.

This is right in a way, but it is incomplete too as it misses any mentioning of genuine national resistance to the colonial attempt on Iraq. There was likely never a chance to win to begin with.

Posted by b on June 21, 2007 at 12:01 UTC | Permalink


Just found this on Global Policy Forum, the site Bernard linked to in the previous post:

Iraqi Union Leader Urges Opposition to Oil Law

A proposed law regulating Iraq's oil industry would foster U.S. "hegemony" over the world's third largest oil reserves and Iraqi oil workers are determined to oppose it, an Iraqi union leader said on Monday. Faleh Abood Umara, general secretary of the Southern Oil Company Union and the Iraqi Federation of Oil Workers' Unions, was speaking in New York as part of a U.S. tour to press for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq.

Washington has been pressing Iraq's government to enact the law which the U.S. administration sees as a benchmark of progress toward national reconciliation more than four years after the invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein. Umara said the proposed law amounted to "a raid by the international oil cartel" and he said unions representing thousands of workers in the industry would take strong measures to oppose it, including strikes if necessary.

International firms are waiting for an energy law to regulate how the oil wealth would be distributed before they start pumping money into the country, where the oil industry was crippled by a decade of sanctions even before the war. "We think the proposed oil law doesn't serve the interests of the Iraqi people at all," Umara told a news conference in New York. "It emphasizes or confirms American hegemony over Iraqi oil fields." He said the proposed law favored foreign oil companies at the expense of Iraqi workers and would not guarantee enough of a share of the revenues to the Iraqi state.

The law was endorsed by the cabinet in February and was due to be passed by the parliament in May, but political wrangling has continued. Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said in late May he expected it to be passed in the coming two months.

Umara said a key demand that sparked a strike earlier this month by oil workers in southern Iraq was to delay adoption of the oil law and renegotiate its terms. He described the strike as a "success" and said the government had agreed to form a committee including union leaders to resolve the problems with the law. "If this law is legislated, I'm sure that our union and other unions in Iraq will take a very strong position against it," Umara said. "We will take strong measures, even including stopping the flow of oil." "We are the ones who run the pumps to the ports and we also control the ports," he said. The strike by around 600 pipeline workers earlier this month did not effect crude oil exports. Basra, Iraq's second largest city and its gateway to the Gulf, has been the scene of a power struggle among Shi'ite factions seeking control of its oil wealth. Umara said the union was independent of any political faction.

Posted by: Bea | Jun 21 2007 12:21 utc | 1

The US destroyed the Unions (such as they were). Can’t quite figure out why they give this new one some space. Maybe they need the workers, maybe it just looks good, maybe they are giving some a little temporary leeway, maybe the whole thing is corrupt, maybe they are just counting on more strife and more bloodshed, maybe all that together.

Posted by: Noirette | Jun 21 2007 16:55 utc | 2

McClatchy: Mortars hit Green Zone on near-daily basis

Almost everyday this week, mortars and rockets have slammed into this 3.5 square-mile fortress in central Baghdad, home to Iraqi government offices and the U.S. and British embassies. About 1,000 U.S. State Department staffers work and live in the Green Zone.

McClatchy Newspapers has reported that many of the U.S. personnel, housed in trailers or containerized housing units there, worry for their safety, yet are afraid to leave for fear of derailing their careers.
The Green Zone has become pocked with mortar blasts, some along heavily trafficked pedestrian paths.

Mortar or rocket fire need not be accurate to achieve terror, underscored Thursday when panicked government officials sprinted to bunkers, even as other Iraqi civilians walked to the shelters.

There will be panic spreading especially across the U.S. staff. It will paralyse any political initiative.

Posted by: b | Jun 21 2007 19:44 utc | 3

The Green Zone will begin to look like Gaza....see how well we can take it. How are we going to get out?? They are getting locked in.

Posted by: mattes | Jun 24 2007 0:47 utc | 4

The comments to this entry are closed.