Friday, September 21, 2007

Jane Swann's Iraq Report

There have been several significant developments in Iraq recently. General Petraeus has been reporting on the progress of the 'surge', which he alleges is achieving its objects, despite headlines in publications such as Private Eye, which announce that the US is merely consolidating its previous failures. Bush supports his general in a speech defending the US's attempts to bring democracy to the Middle East. Within Iraq, Maliki manages to cling on to power, despite the further withdrawal of Muqtada's support. How long this can continue is unsure, especially in the light of Oil Laws, which appear in all but name to be selling off Iraqi soil to foreign contractors. On what can only be seen as a positive note, the secretive security firm, Blackwater has been refused a further licence for operation in Iraq. The article below outlines Blackwater's recent history and operations in Iraq. Sadr Group Says No Plans to Unseat Iraq PM

Agence France Presse

Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's political movement said on Sunday its defection was not aimed at toppling Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki despite having dealt another blow to Iraq's embattled premier."We have absolutely no intention of pushing Prime Minister Maliki out," Liwa Sumaysim, head of the political committee of the Sadr group, told AFP in the holy city of Najaf.Sumaysim late Saturday announced at Sadr's headquarters in Najaf that the movement was withdrawing its 32 MPs from the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), leaving Maliki's coalition in control of only about half the seats in parliament.

To view the full article please click on this link

Sadr Bloc Pulls Out of Iraq Alliance

The political movement loyal to anti-American cleric Muqtada Al Sadr withdrew from Iraq’s ruling Shi’ite Alliance yesterday, leaving Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki’s coalition in a precarious position in parliament. The move further weakens Maliki’s coalition in parliament, which even before the defection had failed to press through key laws aimed at reconciling Iraq’s warring majority Shi’ite and minority Sunni Arabs. His coalition now has around half the seats in the 275-seat parliament, although it could survive with the support of a handful of independent lawmakers.

To view the full article please click on this link

Mideast Conference Should Not aim to Help US in Iraq: GCC
Agence France Presse

Pro-Western Gulf Arab states do not want the Middle East peace conference called by Washington to be aimed at helping get it out of "the Iraqi impasse," the oil-rich bloc's chief said on Tuesday.Gulf Cooperation Council member states "welcome any attempt to reach a just and comprehensive solution of the Palestinian issue and settle the Arab-Israeli conflict," Abdulrahman al-Attiyah said in remarks released at GCC headquarters in Riyadh.He said he hoped the proposed conference will address core issues and will "not be aimed at linking movement in the Middle East peace process to developments in Iraq in a bid to attract Arab states to a conference whose real goal is to help (the US) get out of the Iraqi impasse."

To view the full article please click on this link


Kurdistan Regional Government signs oil and gas contract with US-based Hunt Oil

Erbil, Kurdistan - Iraq ( - The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) together with Hunt Oil Company of the Kurdistan Region, a subsidiary of Hunt Oil Company of Dallas, Texas, and Impulse Energy Corporation (IEC) announced today that they have signed a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) covering petroleum exploration activities in the Duhok area of the Kurdistan Region. Under the terms of the agreement, Hunt Oil Company of the Kurdistan Region will serve as operator. This is the first PSC to be signed by the KRG since the Oil and Gas Law of the Kurdistan Region was issued by the Kurdistan National Assembly (parliament) in early August, 2007.

Hunt Oil Company of the Kurdistan Region will begin geological survey and seismic work by the end of 2007 and plans to be in a position to drill an exploration well in 2008.

Dr Ashti Hawrami, the KRG Minister for Natural Resources, commented, “The signing of this PSC by Hunt is evidence that the KRG's enactment of a modern and balanced oil and gas law has created a supportive and transparent business environment which promotes investment by international oil companies in our Region for the benefit of all. Revenues from this Kurdistan petroleum development will be shared by the KRG throughout Iraq, consistent with the Iraq constitution and the new Oil and Gas Law of the Kurdistan Region.”

Mr Ray L. Hunt, CEO of Hunt Oil Company in Dallas, Texas, said, “We are very pleased to have the opportunity to be a part of these landmark events by actively participating in the establishment of the petroleum industry in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.”

Mr Mathew Heysel, an IEC representative, added, “We are pleased to partner with Hunt Oil on this important project to develop the oil and gas resources in the Kurdistan Region.”

Hunt Oil Company of the Kurdistan Region is a wholly-owned affiliate of the Hunt Oil Company, Dallas, Texas, USA, which is a part of the Hunt family of companies directed by Ray L. Hunt. Hunt Oil Company is one of the largest privately held independent oil companies and conducts a variety of petroleum related operations in several regions of the world, including a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Peru which is considered the largest project ever built in that country. In addition to oil and gas interests, the Hunt family of companies is engaged in real estate; private investments; refining; electrical power, ranching and farming interests.

Impulse Energy Corporation is a private company that invests in the energy sector in developing economies targeting oil, gas and power.

General Petraeus: US ‘Surge’ in Iraq is Working
Daily Telegraph

Gen David Petraeus, the US Commander in Iraq, told Congress that the military objectives of the current troop surge “are in large measure being met” and that force levels in the country should be reduced by 30,000 by next summer.

Surge brings stability but murders continue
US ‘delayed’ UK pull-out from Basra

His long-awaited verdict was received with thinly disguised hostility by Democrats demanding an immediate drawdown while Republicans offered him a warm embrace even before he delivered a report that will buoy President George W. Bush.

To see view the full article please click on this link

Bush’s Speech on Iraq
Daily Telegraph
We are now at such a moment.
In Iraq, an ally of the United States is fighting for its survival. Terrorists and extremists who are at war with us around the world are seeking to topple Iraq's government, dominate the region, and attack us here at home. If Iraq's young democracy can turn back these enemies, it will mean a more hopeful Middle East and a more secure America. This ally has placed its trust in the United States. And tonight, our moral and strategic imperatives are one: We must help Iraq defeat those who threaten its future and also threaten ours.
Eight months ago, we adopted a new strategy to meet that objective, including a surge in U.S. forces that reached full strength in June. This week, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker testified before Congress about how that strategy is progressing. In their testimony, these men made clear that our challenge in Iraq is formidable. Yet they concluded that conditions in Iraq are improving, that we are seizing the initiative from the enemy and that the troop surge is working.
To view the full article please click on this link

Blackwater USA - ProfileBBC
The Iraqi government's decision to suspend the licence of private security contractor Blackwater USA has thrust the secretive firm into the spotlight.
Blackwater is at the very centre of the controversy surrounding the "outsourcing" of war, where private contractors are taking on tasks usually carried out by government soldiers.
Based at a vast ranch complex in North Carolina and calling itself "the most comprehensive professional military... company in the world", the firm is under investigation after a gunfight in Baghdad in which eight civilians were killed.
To view the full article please click on this link
From Jane Swann, Co-ordinator, Iraq Working Group,Next Century Foundation

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