Showing posts from February, 2007

Time Mag on the new Iraq oil law

This is not a bad article considering it comes from Time, but it contrasts with the Escobar article that goes into detail about the secrecy and the actual involvement of foreign oil executives and IMF and US and UK governments. Time is not just mum about this but quotes as saying that the oil companies are laying low! So low that Time cant even see them!

Barely two days have passed since Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki hailed the country's new petroleum law as a "solid base for unity of all Iraqis" — a rare boast these days. President Bush has also trumpeted it as proof that Iraq has a viable future. But parliamentarians and Iraq's oil unions have already begun mobilizing against the draft legislation, arguing that it is a desperate attempt by al-Maliki's government to satisfy Western demands, which could damage Iraq's economic future and speed the country's ultimate disintegration.

The law is a dramatic break from the past. Foreign oil compani…

New Iraq Oil Law: Cover for Privatization?

Imagine before even the parliament or Iraqi press saw the new draft law it was shown to international oil executives, the govts of the UK and US, and the International Monetary Fund. It is clear who runs Irag. It certainly isnt the Iraqis and there is nothing democratic about it.

New Oil Law Seen as Cover for Privatisation
Emad Mekay

WASHINGTON, Feb 27 (IPS) - The U.S.-backed Iraqi cabinet approved a new oil law Monday that is set to give foreign companies the long-term contracts and safe legal framework they have been waiting for, but which has rattled labour unions and international campaigners who say oil production should remain in the hands of Iraqis.

Independent analysts and labour groups have also criticised the process of drafting the law and warned that that the bill is so skewed in favour of foreign firms that it could end up heightening political tensions in the Arab nation and spreading instability.

For example, it specifies that up to two-thirds of Iraq's known res…

Pepe Escobar: On the New Iraq Oil Law

From Asia Times
As usual with Escobar a hard hitting article, quite different both in tone and substance from most of the main line press reports--when the press even notices.

Middle East
Feb 28, 2007

US's Iraq oil grab is a done deal
By Pepe Escobar

"By 2010 we will need [a further] 50 million barrels a day. The Middle East, with two-thirds of the oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize lies." - US Vice President Dick Cheney, then Halliburton chief executive officer, London, autumn 1999

US President George W Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney might as well declare the Iraq war over and out. As far as they - and the humongous energy interests they defend - are concerned,

only now is the mission really accomplished. More than half a trillion dollars spent and perhaps half a million Iraqis killed have come down to this.

On Monday, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's cabinet in Baghdad approved the draft of the new Iraqi oil law. The government re…

Kucinich: Collision Course with Iran

It is interesting to see all the times that there could have been a negotiated settlement with Iran. At least it seems that there will be an upcoming meeting with the US and other countries with Iran and also Syria on the situation in Iraq. This is the first sign of US willingness to sit down and talk with either country.

This article can be found on the web at
Collision Course With Iran


[posted online on February 26, 2007]

President Bush has claimed the Iranian government is supplying deadly
weapons to fighters in Iraq and that those weapons are being used to
kill US troops in Iraq. This sounds horrific and frightening--and that
is the point. The Administration is preparing for a military strike
against Iran. The justification chosen by the Administration is the
one circumstance in which a President could bypass Congress and still
wage a military conflict.

The intelligence backing up these assertions is questionable. The

UK court allows deportation of Islamic cleric to Jordan.

One can't help thinking that this is just a new form of rendition using the courts. No doubt it will be appealed. Perhaps these steps are being taken in cahoots with Washington who would like nothing better than to see what can be extracted through torture. With the evidence against this cleric it would seem that the government would have a good case for a trial that could send him to prison but obviously that is not what is wanted.

U.K. court allows deportation of Islamic cleric
By Jane Perlez Published: February 26, 2007 LONDON: A British court ruled Monday that the government could deport a radical Islamic cleric to Jordan, setting the stage for the deportation of other foreign terror suspects in Britain to countries with poor human rights records.

The case of Abu Qatada, which has been watched closely in Washington, is the first involving foreigners in Britain accused of posing threats to national security whom the government wants to deport rather than put on trial.

Qatada, 45, …

Another article on the Iraq Oil Law

Note that Khalilzad brokered the deal. Apparently the US has made reaching a deal a condition of aid. Notice that no details are available only the spoon feeding of the press by officials of the Iraqi govt. A crucial bill was not available to the press nor even to the parliamentarians. Of course the bill was leaked over a week ago to deafening silence from the world mainstream press with nary a single commentary as far as I can find. Only in the blogosphere you say. A pity! I suggested to the CBC that they make the law a story. No answer. Of course now that the world press is abuzz with the story they may chime in with something.

Christian Berthelsen and Tina Susman in Baghdad
February 28, 2007

AFTER months of negotiations over the postwar spoils of Iraq's most valuable natural resource, the Government has approved a draft plan to increase oil production and share the proceeds.

The agreement on the terms by Iraq's cabinet, announced on Monday, was touted as a breakthrough. It mus…

More on the Iraq Oil Law

This is from the Age an Australian newspaper. It does not give very much detail either but does mention some of the pitfalls of the law.

Cabinet endorses new oil law.

The endorsement reflected a major agreement among the country's ethnic and sectarian political blocs on one of Iraq's most divisive issues.

The draft law approved by the cabinet allows the central Government to distribute oil revenues to the provinces or regions based on population, which could lessen the economic concerns of the rebellious Sunni Arabs, who fear being cut out of Iraq's vast potential oil wealth by the dominant Shiites and Kurds.

Most of Iraq's crude oil reserves lie in the Shiite south and Kurdish north.

The law also grants regional oil companies or governments the power to sign contracts with foreign companies for exploration and development of fields, opening the door for investment by foreign companies in a country whose oil reserves rank among the world's three largest.

Iraqi officials …

Sadr still supports surge---sort of!

Sadr is not at all averse to cracking down on Al Qaeda and Sunni insurgents but he wants Iraqi control and the US out. He is probably wise to stay in Iran for the duration of the surge since there is little doubt he would be arrested by the US or even killed if he were in Baghdad.
It is not surprising but rather misguided to claim that the surge is a success because there has been relatively less violence except for some spectacular suicide bombings. The classic tactic of guerrilla warfare is to lay low when faced by superior force.

Sadr still supports Baghdad crackdown-aides
26 Feb 2007 09:00:24 GMT
Source: Reuters
More BAGHDAD, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Powerful Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has not withdrawn his support from a U.S.-backed crackdown in Baghdad, his aides said on Monday.

Salih al-Ugeyli, a spokesman for Sadr's political movement, said Sunday's strongly worded statement from the Shi'ite cleric was meant to encourage Iraqi forces to act independently from the U.S.…

New Iran Oil Law approved by Cabinet

This article is noteworthy by what it does not say. After ignoring the translation of the draft bill that has been in the blogosphere for over a week while the cabinet considered the law out of the public eye now we get an optimistic report that glosses over any of the details of foreign involvement! That is a free press for you!
The section on revenue sharing is certainly essential to ensure Sunni support. The section about maximising revenues for the Iraqi people also sounds good but there is nothing about how in practice the foreign contracts are to work.

Iraq cabinet endorses landmark draft oil law

2/26/2007 Reuters - By Claudia Parsons and Mariam Karouny
BAGHDAD/BEIRUT - Iraq's cabinet on Monday endorsed a draft oil law crucial to regulating how wealth from the country's vast oil reserves will be shared by its ethnic and sectarian groups, a move hailed as a major political milestone.

Passing a law to help settle potentially explosive disputes over the world's third …

War on Poverty in the US

This is from the Information Clearing House. The war on poverty in the US is not going any better than the war in Iraq. Perhaps the war on poverty needs a bigger budget!

U.S. Severe poverty rate at highest in three decades

Plight of poorest of poor extends to suburban areas


02/26/07 "Huston Chronicle" -- -- WASHINGTON — The percentage of poor Americans who are living in severe poverty has reached a 32-year high as the gulf between the nation's "haves" and "have-nots" continues to widen.

A McClatchy Newspapers analysis of the 2005 census figures, the latest available, found that nearly 16 million Americans are living in deep or severe poverty. A family of four with two children and an annual income of less than $9,903 — half the federal poverty line — was considered severely poor in 2005. So were individuals who made less than $5,080 a year.

The McClatchy analysis found that the number of severely poor Americans grew by 26 perc…

Cheney preaches to Pakistan

I imagine Musharraf did not invite Cheney to go hunting with him!

Cheney warns Pak on terror

NDTV Correspondent

Monday, February 26, 2007 (Islamabad):

Paying a surprise visit to Pakistan, US Vice President Dick Cheney on Monday voiced apprehensions over regrouping of al-Qaeda in its border areas with Afghanistan at a meeting with President Pervez Musharraf.

Cheney held two-hour-long talks with Musharraf in the backdrop of reports in the US that President George W Bush has decided to send a tough message to the Pakistani president that aid would cut to Islamabad if al-Qaeda militants were not hunted down.

"Cheney expressed US apprehensions of regrouping of al-Qaeda in the tribal areas and called for concerted efforts in countering the threat," according to a Pakistan government statement issued after the meeting.

He expressed serious US concerns on the intelligence being picked up of an impending Taliba…

Pakistan Fed Up with US and Allies on Afghanistan

I suppose the point of all the negative articles on Pakistan is to force it to do even more against the border rebels. Musharraf as the article notes has lost more troops in his battles within Pakistan than any of the allies in Afghanistan. He also has turned over many suspects to the US--often victims of the rewards offered though. Any co-operation with the US is anathema to many Pakistanis. Perhaps the US and its allies would think differently if Musharraf were overthrown and a genuine pro-Taliban government were installed in Pakistan. This is not to deny that many in the Pakistani intelligence service had and probably still have links to the Taliban.
Musharraf even though a dictator has to play a difficult balancing act to stay in power. Misquided brickbats from the US and others hardly helps.

, February 25 2007 @ 10:44 AM MST

Pakistan Fed Up With U.S. And Allies On Afghanistan
Contributed by: 4Canada

Pakistan tired of hearing it's not doing enough on Taliban and Al Qaeda, says H…

US helping terrorists, meddling in Iran

This terrorism is of course OK because it is meddling by the good guy against the bad guys. The moralistic claptrap about Iran meddling in Iraq mouthed by US officials is rather ironic given actions such as these.

US funds terror groups to sow chaos in Iran
By William Lowther in Washington DC and Colin Freeman, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 12:30am GMT 25/02/2007

America is secretly funding militant ethnic separatist groups in Iran in an attempt to pile pressure on the Islamic regime to give up its nuclear programme.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime is accused of repressing minority rights and culture
In a move that reflects Washington's growing concern with the failure of diplomatic initiatives, CIA officials are understood to be helping opposition militias among the numerous ethnic minority groups clustered in Iran's border regions.

The operations are controversial because they involve dealing with movements that resort to terrorist methods in pursuit of their grievance…

US bombs part of Baghdad

This bombing will no doubt be almost completely ignored while every paper will report the suicide bombing at the university. The bombing is bound to produce a lot of civilian casualties and will hardly endear the population to the US occupiers.

US bombing 'terror targets'
24/02/2007 22:38 - (SA)

Baghdad - US forces launched air strikes in southeast Baghdad on Saturday, Iraqi officials said, as a series of massive explosions rocked the war-torn city.

"American aircraft are bombarding terrorist targets that have been chosen by US and Iraqi forces, as part of our Baghdad security plan," said Brigadier-General Qasim al-Mussawi, spokesperson for the operation.

There was no immediate comment from the US, but AFP reporters in downtown Baghdad heard the rumble of more than three dozen powerful blasts in rapid succession at around 22:00pm (19:00 GMT).

Shortly after the first blasts, electricity was cut in part of central Baghdad, but it was not clear if these events were lin…

Iraq Syndicate of Journalist raided by US soldiers

Ironic that just after being recognised the offices of the ISJ are raided. Press freedom in Iraq has declined even more since Hussein was overthrown according to international rankings of countries.Iraq has gone from 130 to 154. No doubt this raid will be below the radar of most of the western press.

Another U.S. Military Assault on Media
Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily

BAGHDAD, Feb 23 (IPS) - Iraqi journalists are outraged over yet another U.S. military raid on the media.

U.S. soldiers raided and ransacked the offices of the Iraq Syndicate of Journalists (ISJ) in central Baghdad Tuesday this week. Ten armed guards were arrested, and 10 computers and 15 small electricity generators kept for donation to families of killed journalists were seized.

This is not the first time U.S. troops have attacked the media in Iraq, but this time the raid was against the very symbol of it. Many Iraqis believe the U.S. soldiers did all they could to deliver the message of their leadership to Iraqi jou…

More on the Iraq Oil Law from the UK

Finally the Observer in the UK has taken notice of the new oil law in Iraq.

Iraq poised to hand control of oil fields to foreign firms

Baghdad under pressure from Britain to pass a law giving multinationals rights to the country's reserves

Heather Stewart, economics correspondent
Sunday February 25, 2007
The Observer

Baghdad is under pressure from Britain and the US to pass an oil law which would hand long-term control of Iraq's energy assets to foreign multinationals, according to campaigners.
Iraqi trades unions have called for the country's oil reserves - the second-largest in the world - to be kept in public hands. But a leaked draft of the oil law, seen by The Observer, would see the government sign away the right to exploit its untapped fields in so-called exploration contracts, which could then be extended for more than 30 years.

Foreign Office minister Kim Howells has admitted that the government has discussed the wording of the Iraqi law with Britain's oil giants.

Kurds accept new Oil Law in Iraq

This is from Al Jazeera. There is still virtually no discussion of this bill in the mainstream press over a week after the first translation appeared in the blogosphere.The only free press it seems is in the blogosphere. Eventually no doubt the world free press will feel shamed enough to insert a few columns in back pages.
It seems that the International Monetary Fund is already starting to determine prices in Iraq as it insists that gas is too cheap and so lo and behold the price rises.

Kurds 'back' new draft Iraq oil law

Barzani's Kurdistan government wants to have
a bigger say in Iraq's economic decisions [AP]

Kurdish authorities have agreed to back a draft law to manage and share Iraq's oil wealth, removing the last major obstacle to approving the measure.

Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish government in the north, announced this at a joint news conference on Saturday in Baghdad with Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president, and the US ambassador.

Barzani sa…

US worried about blowback from renditions

Another obvious reason why the US will not admit Arar's innocence is that Arar still has an appeal in place of the rejection of an earlier suit against the US government.
This is from the Globe and Mail.

A world of Maher Arars
Why won't the U.S. admit Maher Arar's innocence? It may be fear of precedent. Tales of other suspects seized and sent abroad to face torture are beginning to come to light in Europe. This week, those stories helped bring down the Italian government. And as Doug Saunders reports, this could be just the beginning.

From Saturday's Globe and Mail

E-mail Doug Saunders | Read Bio | Latest Columns
On an October evening five years ago, a Gulfstream III executive jet appeared in the sky above Rome and requested a landing at Ciampino Airport, a small military and tourist-flight destination on the ancient Via Appia. On board the 14-seat plane were two pilots, a steward, five CIA agents and a tall, elegant Canadian wearing a green sweater, a pair o…

More on the New Iraq Oil Law

There still seems to be absolutely no discussion of this law in the mainstream press. It seems pending bills in the Iraqi parliament are not made public. The oil law draft was leaked.

Oil Grab in Iraq
Antonia Juhasz and Raed Jarrar | February 22, 2007

Editor: John Feffer, IRC and Erik Leaver, IPS

Foreign Policy In Focus

While debate rages in the United States about the military in Iraq, an equally important decision is being made inside of Iraq--the future of Iraq’s oil. A new Iraqi law proposes to open the country’s currently nationalized oil system to foreign corporate control. But emblematic of the flawed promotion of “democracy” by the Bush administration, this new law is news to most Iraqi politicians.

A leaked copy of the proposed hydrocarbon law appeared on the Internet last week at the same time that it was introduced to the Iraqi Council of Ministers. The law is expected to go to the Iraqi Council of Representatives within weeks. Yet the Internet version was the firs…

Naomi Klein on Padilla trial

From information clearing house. It is disheartening that practices such as this are allowed to continue and none of the perpretrators are brought to justice because they are protected by anti-terror laws. In the name of fighting terrorism it is quite legal to terrorise suspects and even drive them insane.

A Trial for Thousands Denied Trial

By Naomi Klein

02/23/07 "The Nation" -- [from the March 12, 2007 issue] -- Something remarkable is going on in a Miami courtroom. The cruel methods US interrogators have used since September 11 to "break" prisoners are finally being put on trial.

This was not supposed to happen. The Bush Administration's plan was to put José Padilla on trial for allegedly being part of a network linked to international terrorists. But Padilla's lawyers are arguing that he is not fit to stand trial because he has been driven insane by the government.

Arrested in May 2002 at Chicago's O'Hare airport, Padilla, a Brooklyn-born former g…