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Archive for the ‘Iraq’ Category

More than 100 private security companies in Iraq: undermining mission, behaving like trigger-happy cowboys

Posted by gasweek on 17 October, 2007

According to United States Defence Department figures, there were more than 100 private security companies operating in Iraq, with more than 180,000 personnel, reported The Advertiser (11/10/2007, p. 13).

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Posted in Iraq, US, Volume 2604 | Leave a Comment »

US bombing raid on Iraqi women and children: now between 74,312 and 80,954 civilians killed since US-led invasion of Iraq in April 2003

Posted by gasweek on 17 October, 2007

A United States air strike in Iraq that killed 15 women and children had represented one of the largest losses of civilian life in a single military raid and a bloody start to the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, wrote Andrew Gully in The Canberra Times (13/10/2007, p.17).

Civilian deaths regretted: A US military spokesman had said 19 suspected insurgents and 15 women and children were killed in an oper­ation on Thursday in the Lake Tharthar region. Late last month the US military had been accused by Iraqi officials of killing 15 women and children in two air strikes south of Baghdad. Commanders had responded by saying that civilian deaths were regretted and came as “coalition forces search to rid Iraq of terrorism”.

Indiscriminate firing on civilians in Baghdad: The latest incident had come amid Iraqi outrage after a government report had found that guards from US private security firm Blackwater killed 17 civilians as they fired indis­criminately in a central Baghdad square last month.

Growing number of civilians killed: According to the latest United Nations Assist­ance Mission for Iraq report into human rights abuses in Iraq, 88 civilians had been killed in air strikes by the US military in the three months between April and June. According to the Iraqi Body Count website, which kept an indepen­dent tally of Iraqi deaths, between 74,312 and 80,954 civilians had been killed since the US-led invasion of Iraq in April 2003.

The Canberra Times, 13/10/2007, p. 17

Posted in Iraq, Security, Surveillance, Volume 2604 | Leave a Comment »

Mercenary Blackwater USA guards earn $US1,222 ($1,370) a day – six to nine times more than a regular US Army sergeant

Posted by gasweek on 10 October, 2007

Their mission was to protect “packages”, US diplomats and other high-ranking officials in Iraq. Blackwater USA — which has pocketed more than $US1 billion from US taxpayers since 2001 and pays armed guards $US1222 ($1370) a day — six to nine times more than a regular US Army sergeant.

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Posted in Iraq, US, Volume 2603 | Leave a Comment »

Iraq orders $US100 mil­lion ($112 million) worth of light military equipment from China

Posted by gasweek on 10 October, 2007

News of the Iraqi arms deal – in which it would order $US100 mil­lion ($112 million) worth of light military equipment from China – came as Lieutenant-General Raymond Odierno, the top US commander for day-to-day op­erations in Iraq, said he expected a US presence would be re­quired for “at least three to five more years” and would involve 25,000 to 50,000 troops, depend­ing on security conditions, reported The Sydney Morning Herald (5/10/2007, p.9).

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Posted in China, Iraq, US, Volume 2603 | Leave a Comment »

Erik Prince, commander of the world’s most powerful private army – Blackwater; and how wars can make private companies very rich, very quickly

Posted by gasweek on 10 October, 2007

At 38, Erik Prince was in effect the commander of the world’s most powerful private army. He looks like Hollywood’s take on a soldier, even in civilian dress. His straight blond hair is cut army-short, with just a little length in the neat fringe. He is tanned, fit and good-looking, with sharp blue eyes and the bearing of a man in uniform.

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Posted in Afghanistan, Iraq, Security, US, Volume 2603 | Leave a Comment »

US soldiers in Iraq now highly-protected “walking computer hubs”; but still remain vulnerable, success far from guaranteed

Posted by gasweek on 9 October, 2007

Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan were outfitted with advanced armour and other protec­tion, including high-tech vests, anti­-ballistic goggles, earplugs and fire-retardant gloves, wrote Pauline Jelinek in The Canberra Times (6/10/2007, p.20).

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Posted in Defense, Iraq, Volume 2603 | Leave a Comment »

Multinational mercenaries: Iraq private-security contractors still immune from Iraqi law

Posted by gasweek on 5 October, 2007

Their helicopters buzzed through the Baghdad sky, their patrols bristled with the latest weaponry and their armoured vehicles carried the latest high-tech gadgets, wrote Paul Tait in The Canberra Times (22/9/2007, p.B2). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Australia, Defense, Energy Efficiency, Gas, Iraq, Volume 2603 | Leave a Comment »

US suspends all land travel by diplomats and civilian officials in Iraq after law-immune US-paid mercenaries kill 20 Iraqis: Iraq’s Ministry of Defence confirms deaths

Posted by gasweek on 26 September, 2007

The US has suspended all land travel by diplomats and civilian officials in Iraq outside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, amid mounting outrage over the alleged killing of civilians by the US Embassy’s security provider Blackwater USA, reported The Mercury (20/9/2007, p. 20). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Defense, Iraq, Liquids, Middle East, oil, Policy, Security, US, Volume 2601 | Leave a Comment »

“The Iraq war is largely about oil”, says ex-US Fed Reserve chair, Alan Greenspan

Posted by gasweek on 26 September, 2007

 Former Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan created another Iraq-related crisis for the Bush Administration, alleging in his new memoir that “the Iraq war is largely about oil”, reported The Canberra Times (18/9/2007, p.7).

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Posted in Iraq, Liquids, Middle East, oil, Policy, US, Volume 2601 | Leave a Comment »

Stricken US credit markets shut down; six year war in Iraq could cost US taxpayers $US1 – $US2 trillion

Posted by gasweek on 26 September, 2007

The Iraq war will cost US taxpayers dearly for some time to come while the cash reserves of high-growth Asia are rising. According to Glenda Korporaal, writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, (19/9/2007, p.48) China had emerged as a world capital exporter, a force that can be expected to becoming increasingly powerful as the country looks to spend its $US1.2 bil­lion in foreign exchange reserves and hold the lid on its appreciating currency. By the end of 2006, more than 5000 Chinese “investment entities” had estab­lished almost 10,000 companies abroad in 172 countries and regions offshore.

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Posted in China, Iraq, US, Volume 2520 | Leave a Comment »

Iraqi judge Abdul Sattar Ghafour Bairaqdar, from the Supreme Judiciary Council, says Blackwater mercenaries should face trial: US obfuscation, ahead

Posted by gasweek on 26 September, 2007

A top judge also said Blackwater could face trial over Sun­day’s incident in Baghdad, which left 10 people dead and was branded a “criminal” act by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, reported The Sydney Morning Herald (19/9/2007, p.11).

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Posted in Iraq, US, Volume 2520 | Leave a Comment »

Forget the coalition of the willing, it’s the coalition of the billing; Blackwater mercenaries earned $US500 million in US government contracts

Posted by gasweek on 25 September, 2007

According to witness Hassan Jabit, the Blackwater guards – stuck in a traffic their black-tinted 4WDs betraying their high-value human cargo – panicked and opened fire. “After 20 minutes, the Americans told us to turn back,” the Iraqi lawyer told Associated Press from his Baghdad hospital bed on Thursday. “They shouted ‘go, go, go’ … When we started turning back, the Americans be­gan shooting heavily at us.” Bedlam ensued, says Jabir, who was hit by two bullets, one piercing his left lung, the other lodging in his intestines. “I saw a 10-year-old boy jump in fear from one of the minibuses. He was shot in his head. His mother jumped after him and was also killed, reported The Sydney Morning Herald, (22/9/2007, p. 31).

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Posted in Defense, Iraq, Security, Volume 2520 | Leave a Comment »

Contempt towards the US – 6 out of 10 Australians see American influence negatively

Posted by gasweek on 21 September, 2007

Derision or hostility towards the US, spurred by opposition to the Iraq war and resentment, real or imagined, of America’s economic and cultural dominance, continues to spread, widening the disconnect between our political leaders and the electorate, wrote Barry Hing in The Australian (27/8/2007, p. 16). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Australia, Gas, Iraq, US, Volume 2520 | Leave a Comment »

America and Iran play rivals for mastery of the post-Saddam Gulf; leaders of both countries ratchet up rhetoric

Posted by gasweek on 20 September, 2007

America and Iran have come to see each other as rivals for mastery of the post-Saddam Gulf. American relations with Iran appear to be going from bad to worse. The two countries are used to trading insults, but they have now become explosive. The more George Bush flounders in Iraq, the greater his temptation to blame Iran. On 28 August he called Iran the world’s leading supporter of terrorism, claiming that its nuclear programme had put the Middle East “under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust” and authorised his commanders to confront Iran’s “murderous activities”, reported The Economist, (12/9/2007, p.14).

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Posted in Defense, Iran, Iraq, Security, US, Volume 2520 | Leave a Comment »

Locals see British forces as ‘defeated’ in Basra, not ‘withdrawing’, says ICG Iraq analysis

Posted by gasweek on 20 September, 2007

Britain had 45,000 troops in Iraq during the invasion and a peak of 18,000 in the occupation, reported The Australian (4/9/2007, p.13).

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Posted in Iraq, UK, Volume 2520 | Leave a Comment »

Snoop-troops: Wide police “terrorist” powers used to snoop on ordinary folks who question Federal Govt policies

Posted by gasweek on 19 September, 2007

Before the APEC meeting began, police and politicians repeatedly talked up the prospect of protests turning violent and boasted about how they would crack down hard, according to Brian Toohey reported The Australian Financial review (8/9/2007, p. 62). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Iraq, Law, Policy, Public Opinion, Security, Volume 2520 | Leave a Comment »

Iraqi parliament yet to pass legislation on US oil revenue sharing that gives global oil companies control over Iraq’s oil reserves

Posted by gasweek on 18 September, 2007

Iraqi oil exports were down to less than half the $55 billion that they were worth in 1980 said Senator Lyn Allison (Victoria—Leader of the Australian Democrats). “The invasion has created large numbers of Shia and Sunni jihadists that probably did not need any assistance from Iran”.

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Posted in Iraq, Middle East, oil, Price, US, Volume 2520 | Leave a Comment »

Kurds agree that they would get 17pc of Iraq’s oil income from fields already in operation; still arguing over not-yet-discovered fields

Posted by gasweek on 18 September, 2007

The Kurds had agreed that they would get 17 per cent of Iraq’s oil income from fields already in operation. But they are still arguing with the authorities in Baghdad over the management, exploration and contracts in unexploited or not-yet-discovered fields, reported The Economist (8/9/2007, p.48).

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Posted in Exploration, Iraq, Kurdistan, Middle East, oil, Volume 2520 | Leave a Comment »

Iraqi Kurdistan split by two rival administrations: Kurdish enclaves are both family affairs as KDP, PUK parties eye Turkish ambitions and US protection

Posted by gasweek on 15 September, 2007

Another huge problem for Iraqi Kurdistan is the fact that it has been run, since 1991, but two rival administrations, according to The Economist (8/9/2007, p. 48).

Barzani family, KDP rule west: In the provinces of Dohuk and Erbil, the Barzani family, which runs the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), has called the shots for generations.

Jalal Talabani and PUK run eastern region: To the east, the province of Sulaymaniyah has been run by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), run by Jalal Talabani; this too, has become something of a family affair.

Kurdish clans clash in civil war: In the last 1990s, the two outfits fought a vicious civil war, in which at least 3,000 people – some put the figure at more than 10,000 – were killed. To a large degree, the party and the union are tribal fiefs, with power, money and even land distributed from the top by the ruling families.

Top posts within region, and Iraq as a whole: When Talabani is currently president of federal Iraq, Massoud Barzani is president of Kurdistan; his nephew, Nechirvan Barzani, is its prime minister; Massoud’s son, Masrur Barzani, heads the powerful intelligence service. At the end of the year, one of Talabani’s men is supposed to take over as Kurdistan’s prime minister. No one is sure whether that will happen smoothly.

Inside Iraqi Kurdistan: no paradise: Moreover, the notion that Iraqi Kurdistan is a haven of democracy is far-fetched. The two fiefs control virtually all public activity, including the media, hitherto with remarkably little scrutiny; outright opposition has invariably been squeezed out, often amid accusations of betraying the sacred cause of Kurdistan. Patronage – some call it corruption – is the norm.

Islamists, free media chip away at duopoly: The Islamists, with a reputation for honesty, are the third force, a small for now, but waiting in the wings. If Kurdistan is to thrive, its own politics must loosen up and become more open, if not a Western-style free-for-all. Two small but plucky opposition newspapers give an airing to the peccadillos of the party duopoly. And even some of the party-owned media outlets – for instance, Kurdsat TV, owned and run by Talabani’s modernising wife, Herro – occassionally broach topics that were once taboo. Especially compared with the rest of Iraq, Kurdistan has been making strides on every front. But this does not mean it will survive as a fledging nation.

Mountain people eye nervous neighbours: The Iraqi Kurds depend, in the end, on three main things: their hardened fighting men, known as the Peshmergas (“those willing to die”), technically a “regional protection force” within Iraq; their neighbours, especially the Turks; and the mountains (“the Kurds’ only friends”, as their centries old saying goes). The Kurds’ relations with their neighbours are just as critical.

Turkish interests in northern Iraq: Turkey, with its 14m-odd Kurds of its own (many of them well assimilated) in a population of 75m, has frequently issued threats to invade Iraqi Kurdistan and clobber its Kurds if they make a grab for Kirkuk, where Turkey considers itself the guarantor of the rights of the Turkmens, their ethnic kinsfolk from the days when the area was part of the Ottoman empire. It also threatens to invade if Iraq’s Kurds do not oust or corral the 3,000-plus guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who hide in the remotest mountains of northern Iraq, where they plan and train for their lethal operations in south-eastern Turkey.

Turkey-Iraqi Kurdistan deal on the horizon? Erbil’s huge new airport, for instance, is a Turkish (and British) project. If Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan could come to an accommodation, which looks more feasible than before, it would vastly boost the chances of the latter’s survival.

Arab-Kurdish tensions remain: “The chauvinist Arabs always call us a second Israel,” says Mr Jafar, the Peshmerga leader. He denies that Israel and the Kurds have military or intelligence contacts. “I wish we did,” he said breezily.

Kurds eager for US links: Kurdish leaders are as candid about their desire for the Americans to stay on in Iraq or, if they are bound to withdraw, to keep a military base in Iraqi Kurdistan as a guarantor of the Kurd’s national safety. “We’d like the Americans to put their biggest bast in Kurdistan,” said Jafar. But the Americans have so far been wary of too warmly embracing the Kurds, concentrating instead on trying to reconcile Sunni and Shia Arabs in Baghdad. “We love the Americans but they don’t love us,” Nechirvan Barzani, the Kurdish prime minister, is said recently to have sighed.

The Economist, 8/9/2007, p. 48

Posted in Iraq, Kurdistan, Turkey, US | Leave a Comment »

US retreats from Iraq, Dutch leave Afghanistan; Australia faces withdrawal from Afghanistan unless another ally can be found to provide protection for troops

Posted by gasweek on 15 September, 2007

The US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and US ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said in a report to Congress that Washington’s “surge” strategy – the decision to deploy an extra 30,000 troops primarily in Baghdad – had reduced sectarian and terrorist violence there. General Petraeus also said he would reconsider whether further withdrawals of US troops were warranted from as early as March next year, reported The Australian Financial Review (12/9/2007, p.13).

Facts, lies and statistics: The Petraeus report’s findings conflict with others, including a US Government Accountability Office report that finds Iraq had failed to achieve 11 out of 18 security benchmarks, including stamping out militia violence and making political progress on reconciling Iraq’s Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

US drawdown by mid-2008? General Petraeus said that any premature withdrawal of US troops from Iraq would invite disaster, but he suggested the force could drop from 160,000 to 130,000 – its pre-January surge level – by mid-2008 without sacrificing any security gains.

Aus troops in Iraq: Australia has 1575 troops either serving in Iraq or supporting the mission in neighbouring Middle East countries, including 515 in Iraq’s southern Dhi Qar province training and backing up Iraqi forces.

Aussies in Afghanistan: In Afghanistan, up to 1000 Australian troops in Oruzgan province rely on 1700 Dutch soldiers for logistical support, while Canada has 2300 troops based near Kandahar.

Australian troops seeks friendly troops in Afghanistan: With a shadow hanging over the Dutch mission, Defence Minister Brendan Nelson has warned that Australia will have to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan unless another ally can be found to provide protection. Canada has ruled itself out.

The Australian Financial Review, 12/9/2007, p. 13

Posted in Afghanistan, Australia, Iraq, US | Leave a Comment »

Kurds within Iraq want to build own “feeder” oil pipelines to join the national system; Baghdad wary of independent moves as foreign oil firms look on

Posted by gasweek on 15 September, 2007

Several oil companies, mostly mid-sized and small independent ones, have signed deals with the Kurdistan regional government in Iraq, and a dozen more are in negotiation, all waiting impatiently for the government in Baghdad to give the green light, according to The Economist (8/9/2007, p.48).

Baghdad restraint on Kurdish trade: The Kurds say they can dish out export permits, though the authorities in Baghdad disagree. More to the point, the Kurds do not control the existing pipelines for export. So they want to build their own “feeder” pipelines to join the national one just before it reaches the Turkish border. Several Western firms hope to get in on this act.

Meager decade for Kurds in Iraq: Plainly, the Kurds are seeking to be independent in economics as a land-locked country can be: a huge challenge. From 1991 until 2003, when the Americans invaded, the Kurds depended on smuggling, minimal trade with neighbouring countries, foreign handouts and a share (often stingily and belatedly distributed) of the UN’s corrupt and maladministered oil-for-food programme.

New start struggles without banking, postal system: In the past few years they have tried valiantly to create an economy of their own. But they are starting almost from scratch. There is no banking (“We have no access to money” says Osman Shwani, the planning minister), no insurance, no postal service and in the past few years the Kurd’s budget has entirely lacked public scrutiny. Commercial law is less than rudimentary. There is a gaping lack of statistics. Mr Shwani freely admits he does not know the size of Kurdistan’s GDP.

“No one has ever paid taxes”: There is virtually no tax system. In theory, income tax of between 3 per cent and 10 per cent is paid by salaried earners. “But no one has ever paid taxes,” says Shwani. One of the biggest brakes on the economy is the vast proportion of people in the public payroll, which gobbles up about three-quarters of the budget.

The Economist, 8/9/2007, p. 48

Posted in Iraq, Kurdistan, US | Leave a Comment »