****************** EDITORIALS FROM RUDAW NEWS FOR THE LAST SEVERAL DAYS *************
IS IT SAFE TO SELL WEAPONS TO IRAQ ?
29/11/2012 09:02:00By YEREVAN SAEED
In the last two years, the U.S. has shown its willingness to sell high tech weapons -- including advanced F-16 fighter jets -- to the Shia-dominated government in Iraq in order to strengthen the country’s defense against potential dangers from neighboring countries.
In December 2011, President Obama declared that the U.S. would work with the Iraqi government in various fields, including the military, saying that they would “set up effective military-to-military ties that are no different from the ties we have with countries throughout the region and around the world.”
Obama added that the Iraqi government had already purchased the F-16s and that the U.S. would “train their pilots and make sure they're up and running and have an effective Iraqi air force.”
According to an Iraqi official, the first batch of F-16 jets will arrive in Iraq in early 2014; some other reports suggest that the jets will arrive as early as December 2013. The arms deal includes 36 F-16 aircraft, M1 Abrams tanks and armored personnel carriers.
On July 12, Al-Monitor reported that the U.S. had also agreed to sell at least six drones to Iraq to protect its oil facilities and pipelines, allegedly despite Iran’s concern over the drones. All this would bring the total value of the arms deal to $15 billion.
While Washington policymakers are looking to restore the balance of power in the Middle East to block Iran’s expansion in the region, they need to consider if arming Iraq will restore the balance in the Middle East or further disturb it.
U.S. policymakers need to understand that Iran has enormous intelligence, political, economical and military influence in Iraq, and especially on Maiki’s government. These advanced, high tech weapons that they are selling could potentially end up in the hands of the Iranians.
Since coming to power in 2006, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has spared no effort in consolidating his power by controlling the key governmental, military and intelligence posts. Currently, Maliki is the prime minister, the defense minister, the minister of national security and the minister of interior. In addition, the anti-terror forces and rapid forces take direct orders from him, and he has made some ill-fated attempts at putting the central bank under his control.
In addition, many of his military and intelligence officers are former Shia militants who were trained in Iran and spent years in the country. Thus, control by Maliki and his loyalists has made the Iraqi government, army and intelligence accountable to no one. Except for few people close to the prime minister, it’s not clear what is really going on inside his government and what sort of relations and cooperation exist between Maliki and Iran, or whether such relations have endangered Iraq and put U.S. national security at risk.
The Shia-dominated government led by Prime Minister Maliki has clearly chosen Iran as its best friend and shown its defiance to the West, while following Iran’s instructions in conducting its internal and foreign policy that could jeopardize U.S. interests in the region.
On foreign policy, the Maliki government has sided with Iran in supporting the oppressive regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his actions have undermined the U.S. effort to topple Assad. Iraq has opened its space and land to Iran so that it has been able to deliver weapons and other military assistance to Assad’s regime.
According to a Western intelligence report, “planes are flying from Iran to Syria via Iraq on an almost daily basis, carrying IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) personnel and dozens of tons of weapons to arm the Syrian security forces and militias fighting against the rebels, and trucks are being sent overland via Iraq to Syria.”
Furthermore, the recent actions by Maliki’s government have made it clear that Iran is the real power and decision-maker within the Iraqi government. Despite American diplomatic pressure and requests, Iraqi authorities released Ali Mussa Daqduq al-Musawi, a Hezbollah senior commander who was involved in multiple coordinated terrorist attacks on the coalition forces and whose hands were stained by the blood of the American soldiers that liberated Iraq. Musawi was escorted and safely returned to Lebanon.
In another development, in the wake of the Gaza-Israel conflict, Iraq’s permanent representative to the Arab League, Qais Al Azzawi, demanded that Arab countries use oil as a weapon “to exert real pressure on the U.S. and those who support Israel.”
Internally, Iraq has slipped into deeper crisis due to Maliki’s actions since the U.S. withdrawal in December 2011. Just days after the troops left, Maliki suddenly moved against Tariq al-Hashimi, Iraq’s Sunni vice president, by arresting his bodyguards and accusing Hashmi of terrorism. Furthermore, he asked for the withdrawal of trust from his Sunni deputy, Saleh al-Mutlaq.
The Maliki government has ignored the Kurds and sidelined them in the decision-making process. Maliki has thrown away the 2010 Erbil Accord in which he agreed to a real national partnership government in return for serving a second tenure as prime minister.
Maliki’s recent move to form a new operations command under the Dijla forces in Kirkuk has caused serious security fallouts in the disputed areas and has increased the possibility of Kurd-Arab conflict in the region. Currently, there has been a small armed conflict between the Arabs and Kurds, while military buildup by both sides is mounting.
It is self-evident that the Shia-dominated government in Baghdad is more in line with the Iranian regime than the U.S. government. With such an Iranian influenced government in Baghdad, it would be easy for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to steal the technology and knowhow from the most advanced American weapons to make their own weapons and jets. This puts U.S. interests and its alliances in the region in serious danger.
In the meantime, Iraq's support for Assad has slowed the death of the Syrian regime and put the U.S. in an awkward position in the region. Internally, Maliki's actions have polarized Iraqi sects and tensions are high between the Kurdish troops and Iraqi army in the most sensitive area of the country -- Kirkuk. Should a conflict occur between the Kurds and Arabs, then the U.S. achievements in Iraq -- which cost thousands of Americans lives and billions of taxpayer dollars in an effort to bring peace, security and prosperity to the people -- will be wasted.
Thus, it’s important for the U.S. administration and policymakers in Washington to realize that selling weapons to the Maliki government will have dangerous consequences to U.S. interests and that it’s time to put a hold on any efforts that could move Iraq toward another dictatorship.
On the other hand, it’s equally important for the Kurdish, Israeli, Turkish and Arab Sunni state lobbies in the U.S. to make every effort to ensure Congress will stop the sale of the weapons to the Maliki government. The sale of such weapons should be based on the current and future behavior of Maliki and his government towards his people and his neighbors. The Middle East cannot afford to be the hostage of a powerful, authoritarian Shia government in the region.
*Master Candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
TALABANI SHOULD VISIT ANKARA
30/11/2012 03:32:00By REBWAR KARIM WALI
The parties who opposed the non-confidence motion against Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki earlier this year – including the Kurdish Front, the Change Movement (Gorran) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) -- have now realized that there is no other solution but to remove Maliki from his post.
Now it is too late for that. I said last June that an attempt to remove Maliki from office would be successful, but if no attempt was made, it wouldn’t be possible to remove him even with an election. He will win elections until Iran stops supporting him.
But Maliki is not entirely dependent on Iran. If we take a look back at his record of alliances, we can see that Maliki has played on many different teams. In the past, Maliki uprooted the Sadr Movement with the American forces; he secretly made plans with Turkey against the Kurds; with a command from Iran, he uprooted the Sunnis; and now he is conspiring with the Baathist Sunnis against the Kurds, among others.
Those who liked the idea of Maliki being removed from office but did not support the effort to do so knew well that they would regret their inaction. But stubbornness and a miscalculation of the future led them to this mistake.
I want to say openly that the PUK -- along with what is now Gorran -- has not had a clear strategy since its formation. All their actions have been reactions, based on politics and the moment. For this reason, they have always made errors and paid heavily for them throughout their history, up to this current crisis of removing Maliki from office.
What is happening today is the same story. Look at the markets of Sulaimani; they are paying the price for PUK policies and having strong ties with Iran. Their policies have been dictated by economic and business ties with Iran, and evidently are demonstrating their failure.
This wrong course of PUK policy was also observed by Barham Salih, deputy secretary general of the PUK, who suggested the party should change its strategic course away from that of Iran. Salih came under heavy fire from the PUK leadership for this statement.
Disunity among Kurds in Baghdad brought them to the current crisis. Powerful Baghdad does not want to become a mediator, solving the domestic issues of Kurdistan. It does not support the economic and social growth of Kurdistan, and it treats the Kurdistan Region like a lost territory and dreams of the day it can bring it back to the center.
This means that both the PUK and Gorran need to reconsider their policies and strategic perspective. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has already chosen its political course by refusing to surrender to either Iran or to Turkey. It was capable of reading the reality of the region and knows how to take the proper steps.
The PUK and Gorran should not consider the situation today as a victory for Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Region, or as a surrender to the KDP. No one has won, and the biggest loser is the Kurdish nation which is about to face an even greater loss.
The Kurdish leadership must realize that it is no longer just a homeless revolutionary movement, and that the Kurdistan Region is not bound by the status quo that existed in the region -- which some groups would defend fiercely.
A continuation of the status quo which has divided the Kurds throughout their history is the biggest threat facing the future of the Kurds.
Now, after the change in opinion some Kurdish political parties have had in reaction to Maliki, it is necessary for Gorran and the PUK -- especially Jalal Talabani -- to demonstrate that they have more than one option on the regional level.
Ankara is an important option to pressure Maliki, and will also make Iran reconsider its support of him. It will be unpleasant for Tehran to hear that the deep ties it has with Talabani have been harmed by someone like Maliki. Today is the day for Talabani to play a role in solving the Kurdish issue, even if it’s in Turkey, before he loses the role he has in Baghdad.
In the wake of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s growing authoritarian rule and his order to deploy the Dijla forces to the disputed areas, it is imperative for the Kurdish parties to unite unconditionally. Moreover, it is critical to support the elected president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Massoud Barzani, as his ability to foresee the looming threats and intuition to remove Maliki from power illuminates remarkable judgment.
Observing other nations, it is common for the opposition parties to debate and challenge the incumbent leaders’ policies, especially during elections. However, when the nation is under a threat, political groups and citizens always unite behind their leader. For instance, the Democrat and Republican parties in the United States have conflicting views on domestic and foreign policy, but when national security is endangered, they take a united stance and support their president’s decisions.
To better understand the power of unity, Kurds ought to look a few years back. Following the U.S. liberation of Iraq in 2003, they became a major political force and were able to make tremendous achievements by ensuring greater rights in the new Iraqi constitution, often becoming the kingmakers. Undeniably, unity became the nucleus of their power.
Ironically, Kurdish power began to erode, as some of the groups exited the Kurdistan Alliance, especially during the elections. For instance, the Change Movement (Gorran) and the Islamic parties’ decision to run independently in the provincial elections in 2009 resulted in the loss of two seats in Kirkuk’s city council, which weakened the Kurdish position.
Most importantly, last April, a coalition of Kurdish political parties, led by President Barzani – as well as the Sunni dominated Iraqiya List and the Shia Sadrist Movement -- attempted to impeach Maliki out of power through a vote of non-confidence. But Gorran’s chief, Nawshirwan Mustafa, did not support Barzani’s initiative, and Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president, remained neutral and refused to send the MPs’ signatures to parliament, which foiled their attempt to withdraw confidence from Maliki.
The outcome caused division among the Kurdish ranks, while empowering Maliki. It made Maliki feel indispensable, and it served as a catalyst for him to exploit the Kurdish division, while playing the Arab nationalist card to rally support from the Sunnis in the disputed areas.
In face of his political victory, Maliki did not hesitate to strengthen the Iraqi Army. He signed arms deals worth billions of dollars with Russia. Furthermore, he ordered the Dijla forces to be dispatched to the disputed areas, which confirms his disregard of the Iraqi constitution and highlights his intention of undermining Kurdish achievements.
Without a doubt, had Nawshirwan Mustafa and Jalal Talabani supported Barzani, the Kurds could have gained control of the political sphere in Baghdad again, as the eight additional votes from Gorran’s MPs, plus the 176 signatures that had already been gathered, would have strengthened their motion, even if some of the Arab MPs decided not to vote at the last minute.
Following Talabani’s grave blunder, and the recent standoff between the Peshmerga and Dijla forces, Barzani and Talabani have started discussing how to revive the non-confidence option. However, the possibility of success is not what it was before, as the dynamics and political atmosphere have changed. With that in mind, it is imperative for the KRG to formulate a policy to prevent parties from dealing with Baghdad independently or taking actions that threaten national security.
The moral of these recent developments is the fact that division has been the Kurds’ worst enemy and unity is the source of their power. In the words of Woodrow Wilson, “We cannot be separated in interest or divided in purpose. We stand together until the end.”
INTERNATIONAL FORCES FOR KIRKUK WOULD BE A BIG MISTAKE
01/12/2012 11:03:00By AYUB NURI
It would be a big mistake for the Kurds to invite international forces to patrol the disputed territories. International forces not only would not solve the problem, but would complicate and prolong it further.
All we need to do is to take a look at the history of international peacekeeping forces in other countries to know what might be expected by having them here.
The most recent example is the Congo. The M23 rebel group based on the border of Rwanda overran the Congolese army and took the city of Goma. From there, they attacked several other towns, and their leaders intend to continue until they capture the capital, Kinshasa.
In Goma, there are international troops. But these troops didn’t stop the rebels. They said they would not interfere in the domestic affairs of the country.
In 1994, there were peacekeeping forces in Rwanda when 800,000 people were massacred. The entire genocide took place before the very eyes of the blue-helmeted soldiers.
On the border of Lebanon and Israel, there were international forces when some of the heaviest fighting and bombardment was going on.
Foreign peacekeeping forces have their own mandate and stick to it no matter what country they are stationed in or what the local fight is about. They don’t care who is right and who is wrong. They emphasize one point, and that is to “protect civilians.” But it has happened in the past that these troops cannot even protect themselves.
Therefore, the disputed territories that Kurds claim as their own and want to annex to Kurdistan should never be put under the mandate of any international forces. Even if the Iraqi government makes such a suggestion, the Kurds must reject it.
It would be very easy for the Iraqi Army to come and occupy the entire area under the nose of international forces. In that case, the Kurds would be in an awkward situation with their hands tied behind their back. They wouldn’t be able to attack or defend themselves because of the foreign troops in between, and Kurds don’t kill foreigners.
The whole idea of sending peacekeeping forces to other countries has become some sort of business and money making scheme. Retired officers and soldiers get employed and make a living out of it. If this is the case, the Iraqi government could even openly or secretly provide funding for these troops and buy their allegiance.
Only local forces can solve the problem of Kirkuk and other territories. One extra Peshmerga sent to the area can make a difference as to who the province belongs to in the future.
The Kurdish government should keep sending Peshmergas to those areas in times of peace and war. In fact, the formation of the Dijla forces has brought with it a golden opportunity. What one day of fighting can gain may not be gained from Article 140 in 50 years.
Kurdistan Says Its Gas Can Quench Nabucco Pipeline for 100 Years 27/03/2011 11:35:00By HAWAR ABDUL-RAZAQ
ERBIL, Iraqi Kurdistan: The newly contracted director of Iraqi Kurdistan’s Shekhan oil field says it is set to become the largest oil field in the whole of Iraq, and the minister of natural resources says the semiautonomous region has massive natural gas reserves, which could supply the needs of the projected Nabucco pipeline for at least 100 years.
“[The Shekhan] oil field is expected to have around 1.9 to 7.4 billion barrels of oil,” said Tod Cozel, managing director of Gulf Keystone Petroleum, a company from the United Kingdom, which has won the contract for oil production at the Shekhan field.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has now signed a total of 37 oil and gas production contracts with 41 foreign companies from 17 countries, and has begun to promote Kurdistan’s oil industry to the international market through a two-volume publication entitled “The Oil and Gas Year.”
The second volume was launched on March 3rd at a ceremony at the Rotana Hotel in the region’s capital, Erbil, attended by Kurdistan’s prime minister. At the ceremony, Mehmet Sepil, owner of Genel Enerji, which has been working in oil extraction and production in Kurdistan since 2002, was awarded the Person of the Year title by the KRG. His company now works in various Iraqi Kurdistan oil fields, including the Taq Taq field near Kirkuk.
The new publication evaluates the last 12 months’ activities in Kurdistan’s oil and gas industry, and includes an interview with Iraqi Kurdistan’s minister of natural resources, Ashty Hawrami, in which he talks about the importance of the oil and gas industry for Kurdistan’s economy.
“This industry…provides thousands of jobs for people in Kurdistan. We have built two refineries so far, and the third is under construction,” says Hawrami in the interview.
The book lists the 41 foreign companies that have signed oil and gas contracts with the KRG, and the line-up includes some big international names, such as Canadian firm Aspect Energy, the United States’ Murphy Oil Corporation, Turkey’s Genel Enerji, Norway’s DNO, and Gulf Keystone Petroleum.
Among other facts, the publication states that oil reserves in Iraqi Kurdistan are estimated at 45 billion barrels, and that, since 2003, 49 new oil wells have been dug within the Kurdistan region, including Tawke, Taq Taq, Baziyan, Shekhan, Sarseng, Bardarash, Miran, Chamchamal, and Akre.
Sepil was recognized as Person of the Year due to his outstanding achievements in the field, which include his company being given the tenders for six oil production projects in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Interviewed in the publication, Sepil says it is expected that the combined oil production of Iraq Kurdistan’s Tawke and Taq Taq fields will reach 170,000 barrels per day (bpd) by the end of this year, although his company is eventually aiming for each field to reach 100,000 bpd.
Sepil also confirmed that his company was working on a project to install an oil pipeline to Kurdistan’s border, which would serve as an alternative to the Kirkuk pipelines, as this would increase Kurdistan’s oil exportation, and he called on the KRG to assist with the completion of this project as soon as possible.
In the publication, Ahmed Saeed, director of Forbes Energy Group, praises the suitability of Kurdistan’s land for the oil industry.
“Geologically in Kurdistan, there are fewer threats compared to in other countries, and when the political situation stabilizes in Kurdistan, the market for natural resource industries will flourish as well,” says Saeed.
In addition, the natural resources minister states that Iraqi Kurdistan is ready to supply the unfinished Nabucco pipeline with gas for the long term.
“According to the estimates of the government and some other parties, Kurdistan has about 106 to 212 trillion cubic meters of gas,” says Hawrami in the publication. “As we all know, it is planned that the Nabucco pipeline will import gas from the Caucasus and Central Asia to Europe, and it will require 31 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year. If we have [only] 106 trillion cubic meters of natural gas in Kurdistan, then we can supply Nabucco with natural gas for 100 years.”
Deputy: political views behind the delay oil and gas law
Author: The future of Iraq
12/02/2012 12:00 am
BAGHDAD / future Iraqi
A member of the Commission on oil and energy parliamentary Fatima Hamidi said that "some of the blocks trying, through delay in approving the law of oil and gas to keep the oil wealth in Iraq without a law that defines the path of export and buying and selling," pointing out that "there are political parties taking advantage of keeping the oil and gas without law , for reasons known to all. " She said in a press statement yesterday that "despite the importance of oil and gas law, but Iraq still does not have a law regulating this vital sector," asserting that "the law was passed will many of the problems highlighted differences between the KRG and the federal government on oil investments in the region." It is said that a lot of important laws are still pending in parliament has not been voted on, such as oil and gas law, the parties and the media, communications and municipal law and telecommunications law who passed it more than 7 years has not been prescribed until now because of political differences and incompatibility blocs among them.
Maliki: highest voice in the Integrity Commission to pay $ 5 million and another 10 million to disrupt the investigation into suspicions of corruption central
Author: The future of Iraq
12/02/2012 12:00 am
BAGHDAD / future Iraqi
Accused Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki yesterday as members of the Parliamentary Integrity Committee of being behind the corruption, stressing that "the highest votes in the Committee" pay five million dollars to disrupt the work of the Commission of Inquiry into suspicions of corruption swirling around the Central Bank of Iraq, while paying another member $ 10 million for the same purpose. Maliki said at a press conference, held yesterday, building Council of Ministers, said that "from behind corruption are people working in the Parliamentary Integrity Committee originally," asserting that "the highest votes in the Committee to pay $ 5 million in order to disrupt the work of the Commission of Inquiry into corruption Bank Central. " He explained that "there is another member pay $ 10 million for this purpose," adding, "We do not deal with people according to referents in the files of corruption, but we deal with spoilers are equal," stressing that "there is no immunity for spoiler." The Iraqi Central Bank Governor Sinan al-Shabibi issued an arrest warrant, it was considered, in the (November 6, 2012), accused Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's central bank corruption "inaccurate", and with him to detect those files, he stressed that is assigned the bank official and issued since 2003.
Negotiations between Iraqi Kurdistan and to revive the project to dissolve the government!!
Author: The future of Iraq
12/02/2012 12:00 am
The future of Iraq / special
A source in the House of Representatives for negotiations between the Iraqi List and the Kurdistan Alliance in order to activate Project dissolve the current government ahead of the elections, pointing out that this entails serious risks.
The president had declined on June 10 last for sending a request to withdraw confidence from the Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to parliament for lack of a quorum after 11 deputies withdrew their signatures from the project, which resulted in meetings of the Kurdistan Alliance and the Iraqi and the Sadrists in a timely manner.
A member of the House of Representatives, who preferred anonymity, said that "the existing Iraqi President Iyad Allawi pressed strongly for change the political landscape," but he also said, "but does not know that more than a third of his list انضوى now with Maliki in new political coalition undisclosed" , pointing out that this coalition "will run local councils." He pointed out that House Speaker Osama Nujaifi very close alliance with the rule of law, noting that "the most prominent new electoral component will be Maliki's coalition because it will feature the most powerful political forces almost," he says.
Nujaifi confirms the possibility of a confrontation because of the crisis with Kurdistan.
BAGHDAD / NINA / The head of the House of Representatives, Osama al-Nujaifi confirmed the presence of high risk and the likelihood of armed confrontation because of the crisis with the Kurdistan region.
He said in his press conference today 2, Dec "I do not hide the presence of great danger and the possibility of a confrontation, and there is a third party wants to ignite fire to burn the country."
Nujaifi warned any party acts militarily and threatens the country and lead to major disasters, calling for all parties to stay away from provocative statements.