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June 6th
12:26 PM
China nudging US out of Iraqi oil boom
Could China be the ultimate winner of the Iraq War? Deutsche Welle »

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraq has become one of the world’s top oil producers, and China, which already buys nearly half the oil the country produces, is currently vying for an even bigger share. State-operated oil companies are now bidding for a vast stake in one of Iraq’s largest oil fields currently owned by US multinational Exxon Mobil…
"Though the Americans technically won the war there, as you know it was a catastrophic blunder," said Mamdouh Salameh, international oil economist and oil market consultant for the World Bank. "They went for oil, but the winner actually is China."  >continue<

The report notes China enjoys the advantage of not having risk management concerns as do commercially driven American companies, since China’s effort is a defacto extension of foreign policy with full state backing. Exxon’s problems are further aggravated by the lure of deals in the Kurdish north at the expense of drawing the ire of the majority Shiite backed Maliki government in Baghdad.

China nudging US out of Iraqi oil boom

Could China be the ultimate winner of the Iraq War?
Deutsche Welle »

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraq has become one of the world’s top oil producers, and China, which already buys nearly half the oil the country produces, is currently vying for an even bigger share. State-operated oil companies are now bidding for a vast stake in one of Iraq’s largest oil fields currently owned by US multinational Exxon Mobil…

"Though the Americans technically won the war there, as you know it was a catastrophic blunder," said Mamdouh Salameh, international oil economist and oil market consultant for the World Bank. "They went for oil, but the winner actually is China."  >continue<

The report notes China enjoys the advantage of not having risk management concerns as do commercially driven American companies, since China’s effort is a defacto extension of foreign policy with full state backing. Exxon’s problems are further aggravated by the lure of deals in the Kurdish north at the expense of drawing the ire of the majority Shiite backed Maliki government in Baghdad.

March 14th
3:20 PM
"As we approach the ten year anniversary of the launching of George W. Bush’s war on Iraq, it is worth my pointing out that I concluded even before the war began that the main rationale then given for it, Iraq’s alleged nuclear weapons program, was a fiction… In any case, if I could come to this conclusion before the war based entirely on open sources, then intelligence analysts ought to have been able to."
March 9th
12:16 PM
Via

The Iraq Disaster

Tom Engelhardt & Peter Van Buren »

We don’t get it.  We really don’t….

The government we essentially installed chose Iran as an ally and business partner.  The permanent bases we built to the tune of billions of dollars are now largely looted ghost towns.  The reconstruction of the country that we promoted proved worse than farcical, as former State Department official Peter Van Buren, author of the already classic book We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, reminds us.  And an outfit proudly carrying the al-Qaeda brand name, which did not exist in Iraq before our invasion, is now thriving in a still destabilized country…  >continue<

- Engelhardt introducing Van Buren’s "Mission Unaccomplished" wherein we witness an account of a Potemkin Chicken Factory.

The task of nation building, once we were past the tragic point of no return, was never seriously engaged. The Republicans had long become accustomed to using that phrase, “nation building”, as a sneer term in anti-Clinton polemics. Can we really be surprised by the irony that a faith in spontaneous goodness jumping out of a market hat should run aground upon such a shoal of necessity?

January 15th
4:09 PM

What Zero Dark Thirty Really Leaves Out

Juan Cole | Informed Comment »

An important problem with the narrative line of “Zero Dark Thirty,” Kathryn Bigelow’s film about the Central Intelligence Agency’s quest for Usama Bin Laden, is not just that it comes across as pro-torture but that it ignores the elephant in the room: Bad intelligence elicited by torture almost derailed that quest to put down al-Qaeda by diverting most resources to Iraq.

…The film is misleading precisely because it does what the Bush administration did not do. It stays with Afghanistan, Pakistan and al-Qaeda. At one point a CIA official complains that there are no other working groups concentrating on al-Qaeda, that it is just the handful of field officers around the table. But he does not say that the Bush administration ran off to Iraq and closed down the Bin Laden desk at the CIA. Nor do any of the characters admit that bad intelligence, including that gathered by torture, helped send the United States off on the Great Iraq Wild Goose Chase. >continue<

October 29th
6:40 PM

A Kurdish Wedge Between Iraq, Turkey

Joost Hiltermann  |  ICG »

Although Ankara has long supported Iraq’s territorial unity as a barrier against Iranian influence and as a check against secessionist impulses among its own Kurdish population, the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has recently begun to shift strategies. Since 2008, it has forged a close economic bond with the KRG by opening its border and encouraging Turkish investments in the Kurdish region, and its relations with Baghdad have deteriorated…  >continue<

January 22nd
1:48 PM
Via
longreads:

[Iraq] The country’s huge challenges following the U.S. withdrawal, including corruption, new waves of violence and crippled infrastructure:

The end of the U.S. military’s long, bloody adventure in Iraq signals the start of a new, highly uncertain chapter in the country’s development. In the scenario conjured by optimistic U.S. and Iraqi officials, an Iraq free of tyranny, terrorism, and foreign occupation will transform itself into a modern and open economy in the heart of the Arab world. That vision recedes a bit more every day as sectarian tensions reemerge, corruption hinders development, and the country’s political leadership moves against its opponents and flirts with autocracy. Iraqis are reluctant to ask aloud if the most recent attacks represent the deadly half-life of war, or, as Abdel Sadeh and many others I spoke to during four weeks in December and January say they fear, another meltdown.

“Iraq: Under Worse Management.” — Elliott Woods, Bloomberg Businessweek
See also: “Heads in the Sand.” — David Rose, Vanity Fair, May 12, 2009

longreads:

[Iraq] The country’s huge challenges following the U.S. withdrawal, including corruption, new waves of violence and crippled infrastructure:

The end of the U.S. military’s long, bloody adventure in Iraq signals the start of a new, highly uncertain chapter in the country’s development. In the scenario conjured by optimistic U.S. and Iraqi officials, an Iraq free of tyranny, terrorism, and foreign occupation will transform itself into a modern and open economy in the heart of the Arab world. That vision recedes a bit more every day as sectarian tensions reemerge, corruption hinders development, and the country’s political leadership moves against its opponents and flirts with autocracy. Iraqis are reluctant to ask aloud if the most recent attacks represent the deadly half-life of war, or, as Abdel Sadeh and many others I spoke to during four weeks in December and January say they fear, another meltdown.

“Iraq: Under Worse Management.” — Elliott Woods, Bloomberg Businessweek

See also: “Heads in the Sand.” — David Rose, Vanity Fair, May 12, 2009

December 26th
10:26 AM
Via
"Democracy in both America and Britain is coming under scrutiny these days. Quite apart from the antics of MPs and congressmen, it is said to be sliding towards oligarchy, with increasing overtones of autocracy. Money and its power over technology are making elections unfair. The military-industrial complex is as powerful as ever, having adopted “the menace of global terrorism” as its casus belli. Lobbying and corruption are polluting the government process. In a nutshell, democracy is not in good shape.How strange to choose this moment to export it, least of all to countries that have never experienced it in their history. The West not only exports the stuff, it does so with massive, thuggish violence, the antithesis of how self-government should mature in any polity. The tortured justification in Iraq and Afghanistan is that elections will somehow sanctify a “war against terrorism” waged on someone else’s soil. The resulting death and destruction have been appalling. Never can an end, however noble, have so failed to justify the means of achieving it. (via toobaa)"
—  Simon Jenkins, former editor of The Times, writing in The Guardian newspaper, 8 April 2010  … with a prescience for things occupy.
December 21st
3:16 PM

US Troops guarded terrorist base in Iraq

In a move that almost defies belief, is so brazen and hypocritical many will not believe it no matter how many State Department officials confirm it, the US has been guarding a terrorist training camp inside Iraq with US troops and is planning to relocated them, possibly in a freshly abandoned US military base in Iraq while D.C. lobbyists work feverishly to have them de-listed, armed, and sent to conduct terrorist operations in Iran.

Foreign Policy Magazine has reported in their article, “State Department scrambling to move the MEK — to a former U.S. military base?" fully admits that Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK) is a terrorist organization used by Saddam Hussein to attack Iran in the 80’s and was responsible for the death of US military personnel and civilians. Foreign Policy reports that efforts by the Iraqi Army to evict MEK has resulted in armed clashes.

Foreign Policy then reports the United Nations “Assistance Mission in Iraq” (UNAMI) is working with the US State Department to relocate the terrorists within Iraq and possibly at a US military base near Baghdad’s airport.  >continue<

related:
Iran alleges Saudi Plot is MEK sting
Leading conservatives openly support a terrorist group

11:08 AM

Maelstrom Building

The dissolution of Iraq into chaos, perhaps alongside and in sync with Syria, threatens to plunge the Middle East into a humanitarian and political nightmare. If a fear of this fate conjured prudence for the first Bush Administration in its decision not to advance on Baghdad, serious labours for the sake of a viable government in Iraq seemed oddly absent in the minds of the invaders of 2003. This lapse, more than anything else, best underscores the contempt observers felt upon witnessing George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” theatre.

Rather than seriously confront the fears of 1991, the younger Bush went into Iraq stoked with a contempt for nation building. The State Department was marginalized as appointments and duties, ostensibly for the sake of rebuilding Iraq, were made on the basis of loyalty and graft. A government, as in Afghanistan, was allowed to come to be on the basis of religious and ethnic fault lines, motivated seemingly by the dreamy notion that stable democracy is a phenomenon that jumps fully fledged like a rabbit out of history’s magic hat.  >continue<

October 25th
4:14 PM

Iran Alleges Saudi Plot Story is MEK Sting

…The MEK continues to try to overthrow the Iranian government. It is highly intolerant of criticism and has bought well-placed US politicians and flacks, so it is dangerous to criticize it.

If Shakuri is an MEK double agent, then that would blow the FBI case against Iran out of the water, since they are constantly plotting against Tehran and are entirely capable of trying to frame the ayatollahs.

Iran is sourcing this allegation to Interpol, so it should be easy enough to confirm or falsify the claim– we can just ask Interpol if it is well founded.  >continue<

Interesting, the MEK has been in the news a few times of late, including some heavy stuff from Glenn Greenwald.

May 13th
1:57 PM
Via

Revealed: MI6 made secret plan for anti-Saddam coup in December 2001 - For oil.

verbalresistance:

MI6 drew up proposals to support a coup against Saddam Hussein three months after the terrorist attacks on 11 September in the United States, previously classified documents indicate.

The papers outline a proposal for regime change in Iraq backed up by airstrikes. The files were read by the then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who described them as “very perceptive”… >continue original tumblr post<

March 28th
1:28 PM
excerpt:

I am unabashedly cheering the liberation movement on, and glad that the UNSC-authorized intervention has saved them from being crushed. I can still remember when I was a teenager how disappointed I was that Soviet tanks were allowed to put down the Prague Spring&#8230;
Some have charged that the Libya action has a Neoconservative political odor. But the Neoconservatives hate the United Nations and wanted to destroy it. They went to war on Iraq despite the lack of UNSC authorization, in a way that clearly contravened the UN Charter. Their spokesman and briefly the ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, actually at one point denied that the United Nations even existed. The Neoconservatives loved deploying American muscle unilaterally, and rubbing it in everyone’s face. Those who would not go along were subjected to petty harassment. France, then deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz pledged, would be “punished” for declining to fall on Iraq at Washington’s whim. The Libya action, in contrast, observes all the norms of international law and multilateral consultation that the Neoconservatives despise. There is no pettiness. Germany is not ‘punished’ for not going along. Moreover, the Neoconservatives wanted to exercise primarily Anglo-American military might in the service of harming the public sector and enforced ‘shock therapy’ privatization so as to open the conquered country to Western corporate penetration. All this social engineering required boots on the ground, a land invasion and occupation. Mere limited aerial bombardment cannot effect the sort of extreme-capitalist revolution they seek. Libya 2011 is not like Iraq 2003 in any way.
&#8230; I would like to urge the Left to learn to chew gum and walk at the same time. It is possible to reason our way through, on a case-by-case basis, to an ethical progressive position that supports the ordinary folk in their travails in places like Libya. &gt;source&lt;

Though we&#8217;re not sure why the concept of &#8220;the Left&#8221; necessarily needs to be invoked, we encourage everyone to be intrigued by his ideas and subscribe to his newsletter.  And please check out Cole&#8217;s argument in full.

excerpt:

I am unabashedly cheering the liberation movement on, and glad that the UNSC-authorized intervention has saved them from being crushed. I can still remember when I was a teenager how disappointed I was that Soviet tanks were allowed to put down the Prague Spring…

Some have charged that the Libya action has a Neoconservative political odor. But the Neoconservatives hate the United Nations and wanted to destroy it. They went to war on Iraq despite the lack of UNSC authorization, in a way that clearly contravened the UN Charter. Their spokesman and briefly the ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, actually at one point denied that the United Nations even existed. The Neoconservatives loved deploying American muscle unilaterally, and rubbing it in everyone’s face. Those who would not go along were subjected to petty harassment. France, then deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz pledged, would be “punished” for declining to fall on Iraq at Washington’s whim. The Libya action, in contrast, observes all the norms of international law and multilateral consultation that the Neoconservatives despise. There is no pettiness. Germany is not ‘punished’ for not going along. Moreover, the Neoconservatives wanted to exercise primarily Anglo-American military might in the service of harming the public sector and enforced ‘shock therapy’ privatization so as to open the conquered country to Western corporate penetration. All this social engineering required boots on the ground, a land invasion and occupation. Mere limited aerial bombardment cannot effect the sort of extreme-capitalist revolution they seek. Libya 2011 is not like Iraq 2003 in any way.

… I would like to urge the Left to learn to chew gum and walk at the same time. It is possible to reason our way through, on a case-by-case basis, to an ethical progressive position that supports the ordinary folk in their travails in places like Libya. >source<

Though we’re not sure why the concept of “the Left” necessarily needs to be invoked, we encourage everyone to be intrigued by his ideas and subscribe to his newsletter.  And please check out Cole’s argument in full.

March 26th
6:50 PM
Via

Hillary Clinton faces a crucial decision that could make or break Iran's democratic movement

seaofgreen:

It’s impossible to post just one segment of this piece. You must read it in its entirety.

Not as if to test the limits of possibility, however, this seemingly arcane issue is indeed of some import:

For all of its mistakes in the Middle East, the Bush administration — even at the height of its aggressive foreign policy — understood that delisting the MEK from the State Department’s terrorist list would be a dangerous gambit. It would trigger a huge loss of U.S. soft power in Iran, damage Iran’s democratic progress and help Iranian hardliners cement a long-term dictatorship. The Iranian people won’t forgive or forget such cynical moves. Bitter memories associated with U.S. policies toward the Shah and Mohammad Mossadegh, the prime minister overthrown with covert American assistance in 1953, continue to linger and poison U.S.-Iran relations to this day. We urge the U.S. government to avoid committing this critical mistake at a time when the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people hang in the balance. >source<

Moreover, the MEK was the focus of a Glenn Greenwald piece on Jan 3: Leading conservatives openly support a Terrorist group

… on December 23, a group of leading conservatives — including Rudy Giuliani and former Bush officials Michael Mukasey, Tom Ridge, and Fran Townsend — did exactly that. In Paris, of all places, they appeared at a forum organized by supporters of the Mujaheddin-e Khalq (MEK) — a group declared by the U.S. since 1997 to be “terrorist organization” — and expressed wholesale support for that group. Worse — on foreign soil — they vehemently criticized their own country’s opposition to these Terrorists and specifically “demanded that Obama instead take the group off the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations and incorporate it into efforts to overturn the mullah-led government in Tehran.” In other words, they are calling on the U.S. to embrace this Saddam-supported, U.S.-hating Terrorist group and recruit them to help overthrow the government of Iran.

March 18th
2:37 AM

Slowly Turning Into You

by Jack White

Jack White - I’m Slowly Turning into You

Citizen Zed: Last night, upon hearing of the U.S. shift regards Libya it was easy to get cynical. All seemed too late, especially with the spectre of a Security Council veto.  Especially with Libya’s jasmine bloom so near to being crushed. I noted an irony.  But afterwards I realized the irony was deeper and more twisted, for I wanted shit to happen outside UN auspices.  Suddenly I realized the horrific vibration of a strong contradiction.  

What was different in the desire to see unilateral action against Gaddafi - and the U.S. invasion of Iraq?  

Although, I felt there was a way to neutralize a hypothetical sneering neocon, I could see the density of problematic argumentative vectors.  And I realized the problem could not easily be waived away. The horror, the wild fate of slowly turning into…

But the UN has acted.  My cynicism was ultimately misplaced. I can forget about the problem - at least for a moment - caught up in astonishment. 

So many people transported into the harrowing spirit of Bouazizi’s defiance. I wish I knew I had the guts to step forward, unarmed, into that agon. I want to think that no rational world citizen could ignore their heroism. I want to think that somehow, in the better sense, I’m slowly turning into you.