Archive for the ‘Iraq’ Category

David S. Cloud and Ned Parker
The Los Angeles Times
July 6, 2011

Keeping U.S. troops in Iraq after the departure deadline would require accord of Iraq’s deeply divided government. The Iraqis have not made a formal request for U.S. troops to stay.

Reporting from Washington and Baghdad—
The White House is prepared to keep as many as 10,000 U.S. troops in Iraq after the end of the year, amid growing concern that the planned pullout of virtually all remaining American forces would lead to intensified militant attacks, according to U.S. officials.

Keeping troops in Iraq after the deadline for their departure at the end of December would require agreement of Iraq’s deeply divided government, which is far from certain. The Iraqis so far have not made a formal request for U.S. troops to remain, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Some powerful Iraqi political forces are staunchly opposed to a continued U.S. presence.

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Paul Bignell
The Independent
April 18, 2011

Plans to exploit Iraq’s oil reserves were discussed by government ministers and the world’s largest oil companies the year before Britain took a leading role in invading Iraq, government documents show.
Iraq’s burgeoning oil industry: Click HERE to upload graphic (160k)

The papers, revealed here for the first time, raise new questions over Britain’s involvement in the war, which had divided Tony Blair’s cabinet and was voted through only after his claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

The minutes of a series of meetings between ministers and senior oil executives are at odds with the public denials of self-interest from oil companies and Western governments at the time.

The documents were not offered as evidence in the ongoing Chilcot Inquiry into the UK’s involvement in the Iraq war. In March 2003, just before Britain went to war, Shell denounced reports that it had held talks with Downing Street about Iraqi oil as “highly inaccurate”. BP denied that it had any “strategic interest” in Iraq, while Tony Blair described “the oil conspiracy theory” as “the most absurd”.

But documents from October and November the previous year paint a very different picture.

Five months before the March 2003 invasion, Baroness Symons, then the Trade Minister, told BP that the Government believed British energy firms should be given a share of Iraq’s enormous oil and gas reserves as a reward for Tony Blair’s military commitment to US plans for regime change.

The papers show that Lady Symons agreed to lobby the Bush administration on BP’s behalf because the oil giant feared it was being “locked out” of deals that Washington was quietly striking with US, French and Russian governments and their energy firms.

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CNBC
March 9, 2011

BAGHDAD – A government spokesman says a bomb has hit Iraq’s largest oil pipeline, halting exports to Turkey in an insurgent strike that could lead to millions of dollars in losses.

Oil Ministry spokesman Asim Jihad said gunmen planted the bomb on the Beiji pipeline Wednesday evening near the town of Shurqat, 155 miles (250 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad.

Jihad said the blast stopped the oil from being pumped, and the pipeline would be shut down for at least three days for repairs.

He said the pipeline generally pumps about 400,000 barrels of oil each day.

But Jihad downplayed concerns, saying there are enough Iraqi oil reserves stored in Turkey to prevent massive losses.

Cordula Meyer
Spiegel
December 9, 2010

Contrary to what many people believe, the Iraq war provided few advantages for the US oil industry. The diplomatic cables show that, in most cases, it was competitors to the Americans who often did better in the country. Only one US company truly profited: Halliburton.

During the first bidding rounds, the oil bosses were still laughing. When Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani issued the first drilling contracts for foreign multinational companies at Baghdad’s al-Rashid Hotel on June 30, 2009, he made clear that there would not be any sharing of profits, but rather a fixed price paid for each barrel of oil drilled.

But the companies still had great hopes. A consortium led by the US company Conoco Phillips wanted to get $26.70 per barrel in one difficult oil field. For the Rumaila area near the Kuwaiti border, ExxonMobil offered $4.80 per barrel. A consortium led by BP would have been happy with $3.99.

“There was buzz in the room” during these bids, noted US Ambassador Christopher Hill.

But when the minister announced what his government actually wanted to pay, there was “stunned silence.” Two dollars per barrel — and nothing more. In addition, the companies would have to replace the Iraqis’ ramshackle oil drills with new equipment. “Giggles were heard” when these figures were revealed, the ambassador wrote. Afterwards, Shahristani named the offer for other oil fields at prices that were even lower. Things grew silent.

A half a year later, in December 2009, Hill wrote a long report about the next bidding round. This time, Shahristani made even lower offers than during the first round. But that didn’t stop companies for making bids at prices they would have laughed at only months earlier. In the end, bidder consortiums led by France’s Total and China’s CNPC secured contracts. Other companies awarded contracts were from Malaysia, Vietnam, Angola, Norway, Britain and Russia.

But there were no US companies.

Outside of the formal bidding process, only two US oil giants managed to secure contracts for other oil fields — Exxon and Occidental.

“No Blood for Oil” had been a slogan used by protesters against George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq. A SPIEGEL cover story in January 2003 even carried the title “Blood for Oil” and analyzed Iraq’s role as an oil power. Neoconservatives in Washington had always said that the money from Iraq’s oil would be used to pay for the war and the reconstruction.

Few Oil Profits from $700 Billion Investment

But the opposite came true. A lot of blood was spilled, but very little oil flowed for the US. With production of 2.5 million barrels of crude oil daily, production in Iraq has returned to close to its prewar levels. Forecasts now suggest it will take 20 years before that production is doubled or tripled, however. The US spent more than $700 billion on Iraq, but now Iraq’s oil profits are going to other countries.

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Washington’s Blog
October 27, 2010

In his recently published memoir, “Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior,” General Hugh Shelton, who served as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1997 to 2001, called the Iraq war “unnecessary” and said that the Bush team went to war “based on a series of lies.”

Shelton also said that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of State Paul Wolfowitz and other Pentagon officials pushed for war in Iraq “almost to the point of insubordination.”

This is not some voice from the peanut gallery.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is – by law – the highest ranking military officer in the United States armed forces, and the principal military adviser to the President of the United States. The Chairman outranks all respective heads of each service branch, including the heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

Thank you, General Shelton, for confirming what Seymour Hersh and many others have been saying since 2003 (and see this).

Thousands held without trial in Iraq

Posted: September 13, 2010 in Iraq

The Raw Story
September 13, 2010

Tens of thousands of detainees are being held without trial in Iraqi prisons and face violent and psychological abuse as well as other forms of mistreatment, Amnesty International said on Monday.

The London-based human rights watchdog estimates 30,000 people are held in Iraqi jails, noting several are known to have died in custody, while cataloguing physical and psychological abuses against others.

However, the deputy justice minister dismissed the report as “baseless” and a US military spokesman insisted Iraqi detention facilities met international standards.

“Iraq’s security forces have been responsible for systematically violating detainees’ rights and they have been permitted to do so with impunity,” said Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director Malcolm Smart.

“The Iraqi authorities must take the firm and decisive action now… to show that they have the political will to uphold the human rights of all Iraqis.”

Amnesty’s 59-page report, entitled “New Order, Same Abuses: Unlawful detentions and torture in Iraq,” lists several men it says were subjected to torture or who died in prison.

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Kate Brannen
Army Times
August 23, 2010

As the final convoy of the Army’s 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, based at Fort Lewis, Wash., entered Kuwait early Thursday, a different Stryker brigade remained in Iraq.

Soldiers from the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division are deployed in Iraq as members of an Advise and Assist Brigade, the Army’s designation for brigades selected to conduct security force assistance.

So while the “last full U.S. combat brigade” have left Iraq, just under 50,000 soldiers from specially trained heavy, infantry and Stryker brigades will stay, as well as two combat aviation brigades.

Compared with the 49,000 soldiers in Iraq, there are close to 67,000 in Afghanistan and another 9,700 in Kuwait, according to the latest Army chart on global commitments dated Aug. 17. Under an agreement with the Iraqi government, all U.S. troops must be out of Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011.

There are seven Advise and Assist Brigades in Iraq, as well as two additional National Guard infantry brigades “for security,” said Army spokesman Lt. Col. Craig Ratcliff.

Last year, the Army decided that rather than devote permanent force structure to the growing security force assistance mission, it would modify and augment existing brigades.

The Army has three different standard brigade combat teams: infantry, Stryker and heavy. To build an Advise and Assist Brigade, the Army selects one of these three and puts it through special training before deploying.

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