Friday :: Dec 23, 2005

Start The Fan, The Offal Arrives!

by pessimist

Today's news is going to lead to a situation that will severely test the viability of the BFEE/PNAC Petroleum Pirate Posse which is masquerading as the Iraqi government.

But before I get to it - a short background:

What to Expect in Iraq after the December 15 Elections

[T]he political class is preparing for the regionalization, and potential fracturing, of the state. Sectarian violence, a constitution that favors federalism over the functioning of the state, and pressures on the U.S. to begin withdrawing military forces are colluding together to ensure Iraq's fragmented future will not come without violent dispute.

All that is needed is a lit fuse ...

The prime minister of the Kurdish northern region, Nechirvan Barzani, clearly stated the Kurdish position on the subject: "There is no way Kurdistan would accept that the central government will control our resources."

What's that burning smell?

The semi-autonomous Kurdish region moved one step closer toward removing the prefix on its autonomy when it began an oil-drilling project with a Norwegian energy company without federal approval. Last year, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (K.D.P.), which controls a portion of the Kurdish region in the north, signed a deal with Norway's DNO ASA to drill for oil near Zakho. This oil project is the latest example of how the Kurdish region is preparing to distance, and possibly separate, itself from the central government.

Just like their hero George W. Bu$h, however, consulting with the government seems to be off their priority list:

On uncertain legal ground, drilling for the project began on December 9, 2005. The central government reacted with surprise and indignation as it claimed the K.D.P. did not consult with Baghdad before signing the deal.

Enough background. Time for the pay dirt:

Norway Oil Company Strikes Oil in Iraq

A small Norwegian oil company said Thursday it struck oil with its first well in a Kurdish area of Iraq...

The well was drilled under a deal between the Kurdish provincial government and oil company Det Norske Oljeselskap AS, usually called DNO, signed in 2004.

Less than a month after drilling of the first well started, DNO announced that it had struck oil at a well depth of about 1,150 feet and that drilling would continue to possible deeper reservoirs. The company did not estimate the size of the find, because more testing was needed, but said the reservoir could be 2,600 feet thick.

Iraqi officials have said the field near Zakho, 250 miles northeast of Baghdad, could have about 100 million barrels of oil reserves.
Iraq's new constitution allows provinces to make their own deals with oil companies for existing reserves, but no regulations for new reserves have yet been written.

Now that the Kurds have fresh oil wealth, they aren't likely to agree to any. This new find means that they now have the means to establish their own nation, Kurdistan, and they aren't going to let go of that dream easily. they will become even more intrasigent regarding the Iraqi government, and fragmentation is almost a certainty now, especially considering that the Sunnis are feeling a bit berift oil-wise.

But not all of the discontent is coming from the Sunnis. The Turks can't be very pleased about this news:

[P]retending there’s a democracy that has nothing to do with all the oil in Kirkuk is preposterous. The Kurds are moving the Arabs out of town forcibly so that they could have more Kurdish votes in town to accommodate that “democracy.”
They are structuring the democracy around the oil rather than vice versa.

Senator Richard Lugar understands: [subscription]

Richard Lugar, influential chairman of the U.S. Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, said that gaining the control of vast oil assets near northern Iraq's key city of Kirkuk might prompt Kurds to seek to create a "greater Kurdistan" in the Middle East, including Turkey's Kurdish population.

This is bad, because ...

Turkey’s nightmare

Out of the blue, it reawakened Turkey's worst nightmare: that the war between the state and Kurdish separatists that killed at least 35,000 people and disfigured the country's political, economic and moral life from 1984 to 1999 may not, after all, be over.

Inside the country are perhaps 18m citizens - there is no official census data - who do not consider themselves Turkish but Kurdish and who, to a greater or lesser degree, refuse to be assimilated. Soli Ozel, a political scientist at Istanbul Bilgi University, says republican Turkey had four demons: liberalism, communism, Islamism and Kurdish separatism. Now, he says, "the liberals are irrelevant, the communists are dead and the Islamists have been co-opted. The Kurdish issue is the last and final hurdle we have to get over. It is different from the others in that it is very violent, and has been met by violence."

The explosion of rage across southeastern Turkey in recent weeks is partly a response to what locals believe is a deliberate campaign of harassment by elements of the security forces. But Kurdish political leaders say it also reflects a profound sense of alienation and frustration at their continued poverty and exclusion from the economic success people elsewhere in Turkey are enjoying.

Turkey's Kurds have undoubtedly suffered much since the republic was founded in 1923. In the late stages of the 1984-99 conflict the politicians in Ankara gave a carte blanche to the military. The army forced thousands of peasant families into the cities and destroyed their villages and farms. Many of these people still live in appalling conditions on the edges of Diyarbakir, Hakkari, Sirnak and other cities in the region, in spite of half-hearted attempts to resettle them.

Kind of like Katrina's victims, but I digress.

As Kurds in Turkey simmer with resentment, those across the border have started to prosper. Northern Iraq, which is mainly Kurdish, is autonomous, relatively well-off and has huge oil reserves. Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president, is a Kurd. Cengiz Aktar, head of the European Studies programme at Bahcesehir University in Istanbul, observed in his newspaper column last week that "the rapid growth and the pull of northern Iraq's Kurdish region is quickly turning the area into a reference" for Turkey's Kurds.

And that is not going to sit well in Ankara - or in Baghdad:

Iraq 1918-2006 RIP

Kurdistan may not declare formal independence in this decade because Turkey might overreact, but in reality it is already gone.

The Kurdish-speaking north of Iraq is already a separate state for all practical purposes, with its own army and budget. The Kurdish authorities only co-operate with the Shia Arab majority of the south in order to keep the Americans happy and the Sunni Arab minority down, but they are already signing contracts with foreign oil companies whose revenues, if they find oil, will go only to the Kurdish government.

Iraq will probably break up over the next year or two, with Kurds and Shia Arabs in the oil-rich north and south abandoning the recalcitrant Sunni Arabs of the centre for the Americans to deal with. And when the United States pulls out, as it inevitably will sooner or later, where does the "Sunni Triangle'' that extends from Baghdad west to the Syria border go? That is the million-dinar question, and the wrong answer could bring the whole house of cards tumbling down.

Going back to ur first linked article:

Once control of Kirkuk is established, there will be fewer reasons for the Kurds to remain part of the greater Iraqi state. Leading up to this possible point of separation, it can be expected that the Kurdish region will act to firm up its claim to autonomy through similar tactics as the DNO oil deal.

The DNO deal and other agreements in the works have inflamed Sunni Arab fears that Iraq is headed toward fragmentation or regionalization, developments that would leave them with the resource-poor central region. While there is to be a constitutional committee to suggest changes to the constitution that would only require a simple majority in the parliament to pass, there is little chance that the Kurdish and Shi'a members would allow the laws governing oil projects to be rewritten.

Without such a change, the regions in which new oil projects will be founded -- the Kurdish north and Shi'a south -- will gain in power as their coffers fill with new revenue from such projects. The central government can only expect revenue from currently existing projects, while the region in which the project is built can control any revenue from future projects.

There is the key to the Kurds creating a homeland for themselves - they have total control of all new oil revenue. Where does this leave King George and Unka Dickie?

If the United States removes the bulk of its forces from Iraq, it will lose more control over the political situation in the country. The contending power factions will see a U.S. withdrawal as a signal to secure their interests. This could result in more violence as the different power groups jockey for power in the absence of a firm U.S. commitment to the country. The Kurdish north and religious Shi'a in the south seem inclined to force the disintegration of Iraq's central government by shifting power to the regions that they control.

Additionally, with reduced U.S. oversight in the cities of Iraq, militant groups that consider themselves part of the Islamic revolutionary movement may have more opportunity to plan attacks against U.S. and related targets.

So don't go believing THE Donald when he starts talking about pulling out US troops. It ain't gonna happen, and you're hearing it here!

More incentive for George to remain:

A U.S. withdrawal would also give Iran more ability to involve itself in southern Iraq and create alliances with the Shi'a majority there. Tehran will no doubt look to exploit its newfound influence in the country.

Indeed, there is always the concern that Iran hopes to one day incorporate, either officially or unofficially, southern Iraq and its rich oilfields into the Iranian state, a development that would greatly increase Iran's power in the region. A permanent loss of influence in Iraq would mark a near complete failure of the objectives involved in Washington's intervention. Indeed, the most pressing question that remains is whether Iraq's fragmentation will come as part of a civil war or as the end product of a gradual drift toward increased regional power.

The developments that unfolded in Iraq assure countries such as Iran that the U.S. may resort to military means in future conflicts.

The only unanswered question is: where is Rummy going to raise the levies?

The only likely answer to avoid restarting the draft?


We fought a war over this once.

Thinks about it! What ever happened to Laura's initiative against gang violence? Why, as one commenter noted in a recent thread, all the military recruiting ads featuring minorities so prominently? What better way to rid the element of the population most likely to openly and violently rebel when George pulls the martial law trigger?

Round up the gangstas and drop them into Iraq or Afghanistan or wwhatever other hell-hole George wants to create and get them away from the WA$Ps who put him inot office. 'Fight or die' will be the only order they get with the copious ammo drops. 'Take what you need from the ragheads' will be the only advice they will get.

After that, they are on their own - until King George sends in the real troops to clean up the mess before the Bu$hCo proconsul arrives to 'restore law and order' - and oil drilling.

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pessimist :: 12:53 PM :: Comments (10) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!