Friday, December 11, 2009

No one can figure it out







As the violence continues in Iraq and people are wounded and dying, it's not all about oil, Ayla Jean Yackley (Reuters) helpfully explains, it's about the "drilling rigs" which will need "thousands of tonnes of cement and steel, many miles of pipeline and tens of thousands of trained and qualified workers." PFC Energy's Raad Alkadiri crows, "Iraq will place a massive call on the service sector. It will start to be a black hole, sucking a lot of the sector in from the region and beyond." Hassan Hafidh and Guy Chazan (Wall St. Journal) report on the running of the bores, foreign oil execs who "are flocking to Iraq" in the hopes of landing some of the winning bids in the Friday and Saturday rounds of bidding. Remember, if you're going to Baghdad Green Zone, be sure to wear the blood of many dead, if you're going to Baghdad Green Zone . . . Sinan Salaheddin and Brian Murphy (AP) report 15 fields are up for bid and 44 companies are competing to be the big winner (the people of Iraq have already been cast as the big losers in the continued filming of The Theft Of Iraqi Oil). Reuter's Simon Webb has apparently been hired to do the soundtrack and performs a modified Elvis classic "It's now or never . . for Big Oil in Iraq." During a spoken rap at the bridge, Webb explains, "It is one of the largest auctions ever held, with around the same reserves on offer as all the oil in OPEC-member Libya." The Iraq War, the illegal war, is big business. Iran's Press TV today reports on the $2.4 billion, BILLION, weapons deal Iraq entered into with the Ukraine. If you're missing the point, Bellamny Pailthorp (KPLU -- link has audio and text) quotes Iraq Ambassador to the US sami Sumaida'ie in Seattle declaring, "Iraq is open for business." On the visit, Chris Grygiel (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) adds: "The purpose of Samir Sumaida'ie's two-day visit to the region was to meet with Boeing, Microsoft and others as Iraq continues to rebuild after the Saddam Hussein regime was toppled and the United States scales back its military presence in the country."

Scaling back the military presence? Before the tag sale? Not hardly. In fact, some might consider the US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, landing in Baghdad today increasing the US military presence. Kevin Baron (Stars and Stripes) reports Gates met with President Jalal Talabani. Remember the supposed 'improved' 'security' in Iraq? Even now, nearly seven years after the Iraq War started (March, 2003), Robert Gates still has to sneak into the country on what Baron terms an "unannounced stop". Iran's Press TV terms it "a surprise visit" which sort of makes you picture Gates arriving with a bag of presents. Gates may have wante to be in and out on the same day; however, Nouri put him off and now Gates has a layover as he waits for Nouri to find the time to meet with him. Elisabeth Bumiller and Marc Santora (New York Times) explain, "American defense officials insisted that Mr. Maliki had not rebuffed the defense secretary, but it was not until late Thursday, hours after Mr. Gates landed in Baghdad, that they said that Mr. Maliki had agreed to see him on Friday morning. Mr. Gates' aides scrambled to rearrange his schedule." CNN adds that Gates "called off a planned news briefing as a result" of the postponement.

Nouri was busy with a number of things today including facing Parliament. Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) quotes Nouri insisting: "It is hard for us to appoint the chief of intelligence since each political bloc demands that this man should be from their blocs." Al Jazeera quotes from this melodramatic Nouri moment: "All of the recent crime is because of political and sectarian differences. I call on parliament to issue a decision to purify the security services from anyone who belongs to any political party, including my party." BBC News explains that quotes from Nouri "were relayed to reporters after the closed door-meeting on Thursday." Which only makes it more confusing because Nouri's talking out of every side of his mouth. Tuesday he did what he always does, insist it's former Ba'athists in Syria. David Kenner (Foreign Policy) notes Nouri did that in August and October as well (on "Bloody Wednesday" and "Bloody Sunday") and that, "Maliki raised eyebrows for previously pointing the finger at Syria, when the released evidence looked less than definitive. However, the fact that he is repeating his claims now shows he has on intention of backing down -- and is an important data point on where Iraq will stand on intra-Arab disputes in the future. Saudi Arabia, for example, has remained intensely skeptical of the Shia-dominated government, and has so far refused to send an ambassador to Baghdad." Meanwhile Lara Jakes (AP) explores Rabiya, on the border Iraq and Syira share, and finds little to support a claims of Syrian foreign fighters or Ba'athists entering from Syira and "Iraqi and American security forces alike [. . .] say they've neither seen nore heard of Baathists illegally crossing the border in recent months." In Syria, Andrew England (Financial Times of London) speaks with former Ba'athists, "Syria has rejected all those claims. Mr [Abdul Nasser al-] Jenabi, who represents a Sunni insurgent group aligned with Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, a Baathist who served as deputy head of Saddam Hussein's Revolutionary Command Council, said his group did not target Iraqis and had no role in the bombings. He said that he and others like him in Syria were involved in media relations and political issues. Some observers also say Mr Maliki may have decided to point the finger of blame because of the damage the attacks have caused to his own credibility."

Credibility? Nouri? Tuesday, Dar Al Hayat reported (translation is mine and my Arabic is very poor) that there is a possiblity Sahwa ("Awakenings," "Sons Of Iraq") will stop receiving payment from the Iraqi government at the end of December and that this comes as Sahwas continue to be targeted (gives an example of recent violence that claimed 6 lives). The article notes that the Sahwa were supposed to have been incorporated into Iraqi jobs by the end of this year "according to an agreement between US forces and the Iraqi government". A Sahwa leader (from western Baghdad), Naji, speaks of concerns about a security vacuum should Sahwa be taken off the payrolls and he notes the possiblity that they could return to their older ways (the US military paid them off originally so they would stop attacking US military personnel and equipment) -- he terms this "a big problem." He speaks of announcements by the National Reconciliation Commission (a body in Parliament headed by Zuhair al-Jalabi) that they will be closing out the Sahwa at the end of the year. A Diyala Province Sahwa leader, Sheikh Hussam, issued a call on the Iraqi government to live up to the promises it made to Sahwa and refers to the need for the government to compensate the families and children of Sahwa who have been killed. Again, that's my translation and it's very poor.

Nouri's credibility? Today wasn't all melodrama, Nouri also played bully. Iran's Al-Alam News reports that he stated (at his website) that the Mujahedin-e Khlaq Organization (MKO -- also known as the MEK) would be "quarantined in a far-fetched region south of Iraq before leaving the country." The residents of Camp Ashraf are Iranian dissidents who were welcomed into Iraq by Saddam Hussein. When the US invaded in 2003, they took over the protection of Camp Ashraf. An agreement was reached between Nouri and the previous administration at the end of last year whereby Nouri promised not to attack or harm the residents. Nouri never lived up to that promise and -- pay attention, KRG -- the US didn't do a damn thing. Not a damn thing. [Pay attention, KRG? The KRG's been promised a lengthy list of items by the Obama administration. A great many of those things will require the consent of Nouri or the next prime minister. And if they don't consent? The US government doesn't exactly have a record they can point to.] July 28th, Nouri ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf, at least 11 residents were killed. Nouri's announcement today of moving them (possibly as soon as next Tuesday) is certainly beneficial . . . for him. Sarah Cosgrove (Edgware Times) reports British "MPs and Peers from across the political spectrum have welcomed a Spanish court's deicison to investigate claims Iraqi troops killed refugees at Camp Ashraf." Since the attack, Nouri's barred most journalists and aid organizations from visiting Camp Ashraf. Now, as Spain's going to investigate, he wants to ship all the residents to "a far-fetched region"? The Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance on Iran states Nouri is taking orders from Iran and:

The Iranian Resistance denounced remarks by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, concerning "Transfer of Camp Ashraf residents to Nuqrat al-Salman" which was described by him as a "step towards expelling them (from Iraq)," as unlawful and disgraceful kowtowing to orders of the religious fascism ruling Iran in the midst of nationwide uprising in Iran. The Iranian regime has set the suppression of Ashraf residents in Iraq as a precondition to its support for al-Maliki in the upcoming parliamentary elections in Iraq.
Simultaneous with the nationwide uprising during the past few days that people have been chanting "Down with Khamenei" and "Down with the principle of velayat-e faqih (absolute rule of clergy)" that has sounded the death knell of the regime;
While the international community has condemned suppression of uprising in the strongest terms and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stressed that "The suppression of protests is escalating, it is much more serious," and has been "calling for respect for the right to protest that is also a fundamental freedom," and Amnesty International described "Human rights violations in Iran are now as bad as at any time in the past 20 years";

"Iraq snapshot"
"It's not all about oil . . ."
"The US military announces another death"
"The House On Boo Corner"
"They always knew"
"Year-in-review pieces"
"That basic"
"Didn't they have diplomacy and manners in Chicago?"
"Hillary Is 44 as well as the dope"
"Look who's applauding"
"Martha Wins, Massachusetts Wins!"
"barry disappoints"
"martha's a winner"
"Connect the Dots? Lila leaves us waiting"
"Polls and the embarrassing Atul Gawande"
"F**k Copenhagen and the Environmental movement"
"Who's hurting our LGBT rights?"
"Interesting . . ."
"Barack and his man boobs"
"Noam Chomsky is not happy"
"Non-reform and movies"
"A win, a loss and a blow"
"He's not winning them over"

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