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Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary arrives in Iraq on an unannounced visit

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Thursday, 18 October, 2012

BAGHDAD / Obelisk: A source familiar with, Thursday, Deputy Defense Secretary arrived in Baghdad on an unannounced visit.
The source for “obelisk”, “Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter arrived in the capital Baghdad on an unannounced visit and he will meet with security officials in the Iraqi government.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity that “the visit comes in light of the strategic framework agreement signed between the two countries.”, Likely being discussed arming the Iraqi army and the development of capabilities, in addition to follow-up file F16 aircraft .

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki demanded in the 15 of the current month of October, the United States to activate the strategic agreement, as revealed envoy of U.S. President Barack Obama to Baghdad for visits to high-level U.S. delegations to strengthen the defenses of Iraq as soon as possible.

Iraq has signed and the United States in 2008, a framework agreement of strategic to support the ministries and agencies of the Iraqi transition from the strategic partnership with the Republic of Iraq to the areas of economic, diplomatic, cultural and security, based on reducing the number of reconstruction teams in the provinces, as well as providing important sustainable for the rule of law including the program Police Development and completion of the coordination and supervision and the report of the Fund of Iraq relief and reconstruction.


Now why would the Deputy US Defense minister land in Iraq unannounced. In addition to the Shabbibi debacle, here are some other articles that may shed some light on the visit.


Exxon Nears Sale of South Iraq Stak

Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM +0.10% is in talks to sell its stake in a contract to develop a multibillion-dollar oil project in southern Iraq while gearing up to start a controversial drilling effort in the Kurdistan region, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The U.S. energy giant's move to exit southern Iraq and push forward with its plans in Kurdistan, in northern Iraq, suggests the central government's efforts to keep it operating solely in southern Iraq are likely to fail. This comes as talks between the Kurdistan regional government, or KRG, and the federal government in Baghdad aimed at resolving differences over oil rights appear to have stalled again after a brief period of progress.

"Exxon has informed top Iraqi government officials that it is intending to leave," a person familiar with the Iraqi oil ministry said.

Exxon Mobil is in talks with international oil companies about selling its 60% stake in a service agreement to develop the massive West Qurna-1 oil field in southern Iraq, one person familiar with the Iraqi Oil Ministryand another person familiar with Exxon Mobil's operations in Kurdistan said on Thursday. Exxon's 2010 deal with the Iraqi central government to improve production in the West Qurna-1 field was never expected to be lucrative under the best of circumstances, the person said.

The government had agreed to pay Exxon Mobil and its partners $1.90 for each additional barrel of oil they pumped after refurbishing the already producing field. The fees would barely be enough to cover the companies' costs. Other deals in southern Iraq between Baghdad and foreign oil companies had similar terms.

Anglo-Dutch oil-and-gas company Royal Dutch Shell RDSB.LN -1.37% PLC has a 15% stake in the West Qurna-1 development contract, while the remaining 25% is owned by the Iraqi state oil company.

Shell declined to comment when asked whether it is interested to buy Exxon Mobil's stake in West Qurna-1 field.

Meanwhile, Exxon Mobil s planning to start exploratory drilling in Kurdistan as soon as early 2013, people with knowledge of Exxon Mobil and the KRG said, after delaying such plans for months in order to resolve a dispute with Baghdad over deals signed with the KRG.

Exxon Mobil declined to comment about the talks on exiting southern Iraq and plans to begin drilling in Kurdistan.

The U.S. company has already ordered the purchase of oil-well casing heads and is negotiating a contract with an oil-services firm to start drilling in Kurdistan, said another person familiar with Exxon Mobil's operations in the region. "They have opened an office in Erbil," the KRG capital, he said.
"We know they have been active," an executive at a Western oil company in Kurdistan said about Exxon Mobil.

Two of the people familiar with the situation said Exxon Mobil would start drilling operations near Mosul in one of the disputed areas that have inflamed tensions between Baghdad and Erbil.

In November last year, Exxon Mobil provoked protest from Baghdad when it became the first major international oil company to sign petroleum contracts with the KRG despite Baghdad's threats to expel it from a contract in southern Iraq. Exxon Mobil signed a deal to develop six blocks with the KRG, which is locked in a feud with the Arab-dominated central government over land and oil rights.

Three of the blocks are in areas disputed by Erbil and Baghdad.

Earlier this year, U.S. oil giant Chevron Corp., CVX -0.46% France's Total SA FP.FR -0.40% and the oil-producing arm of Russia's OAO Gazprom OGZPY -0.69% followed Exxon Mobil's lead by striking their own deals in Kurdistan.

The Iraqi central government has excluded companies that signed deals with the KRG from participating in auctions for future oil-exploration rights in southern Iraq.

The central government's reaction suggests Kurdish oil developments still face huge political hurdles. Leaders in Baghdad and Erbil disagree on the appropriate distribution of power between the regional and central governments. The Kurds have signed at least 30 oil deals despite the central government's objections, and the oil ministry in Baghdad has considered those contracts null and void.

This week, a high-level committee failed to convene a planned meeting aimed at resolving the oil dispute between Baghdad and Erbil, casting doubt on recent progress with the dispute. Iraq's federal oil minister Abdul Kareem Luaiby and Kurdish oil minister Ashti Hawrami, both members of the committee, met in Baghdad three weeks ago to discuss a draft hydrocarbon law that would regulate the oil industry and to try to agree on a version that would be acceptable to both sides. The country's parliament hasn't been able to advance toward enacting the legislation for years, as Baghdad and Erbil have been at loggerheads over oil rights.

Last month, the central government decided to pay international oil companies working in Kurdistan some 1 trillion Iraqi dinars [$850 million] and said the KRG should increase exports to 200,000 barrels a day from this month until the end of the year via Iraq's federally controlled pipelines, but that settled only part of the dispute between them.

"So far there is no agreement," said Firhad al-Atroshi, a Kurdish parliamentarian, and a member of the high-level committee set up to try to reach an agreement on the draft oil law.

The hydrocarbon law will be important in settling a long-standing dispute between Baghdad and the regional government in Kurdistan. Baghdad doesn't recognize scores of deals signed by the Kurds with foreign companies. The central government wants to review these deals and bring them in line with oil laws valid in Baghdad.

Kurds are opposing a new version of the law that assigns powers of the highest hydrocarbon authority, the Federal Oil and Gas Council, to the federal prime minister, while the Kurds want powers to rest with a collective authority whose members are to be nominated by the parliament.

Baghdad and the Kurds are most divided over the extent of decentralization and federalism in the oil sector.
"We are opposing a provision of the current draft law that forbids regions within Iraq from having the right to negotiate and sign contracts," said Mr. al-Atroshi.

Some experts on the region say that both sides need to make some concessions to reach agreement on the draft law, while others say the Kurds wouldn't accept Baghdad controlling the region's oil resources and changing deals already signed with international oil companies.

"Compromise on the oil and gas issue has always been important because of a fundamental contradiction between Baghdad's and Erbil's vision of power and sovereignty in Iraq," said Raad Alkadiri, director for country strategies and partner at PFC Energy, the Washington, D.C.-based strategic-advisory firm.

"I do not expect the Kurds to be willing to compromise away their own oil law [which gives them exclusive right to govern their own resources] and the control over their natural resources, as this is the economic fundament for their retention of their far-reaching autonomy over the long term," said Samuel Ciszuk, an analyst at U.K.-based consultancy KBC Energy Economics.

The Kurds also disagree with the current draft of the Iraq hydrocarbon law because it gives the federal oil ministry exclusive powers that overwhelm those of the proposed Federal Oil and Gas Council, Mr. al-Atroshi said.


Iraq says signs contract for 18 F-16 fighter jets

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq has signed a new contract to buy its second set of 18 F-16 fighters from the United States, part of a deal to purchase 36 of the jets to rebuild its air force, Iraq's acting defense minister said on Thursday.

Baghdad signed an initial deal for the first set of 18 jets in September last year valued at roughly $3 billion and those aircraft are scheduled to be delivered by September 2014 with the second batch due four years later.

"We signed the contract ... The (new) contract is no different from the first contract in terms of the technical and financial details," acting Defense Minister Sadoun al-Dulaimi said after a meeting U.S. officials in Baghdad. "This handover will be finished in 2018."

Duliami said Iraq was also talking with U.S. officials about buying air defense systems and Apache helicopters.

A U.S. embassy spokesman in Baghdad said the U.S. government had presented Iraq with a letter of acceptance for the second set of fighters and were awaiting confirmation of agreement.

"The United States would welcome Iraqi acceptance as another important step in our growing bilateral security assistance relationship," the spokesman said.

Iraq has had no real air force since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. Washington has signed around $12 billion in recent arms deals with the Iraqi government to build up its armed forces.

Baghdad, which has also signed military contracts with Russia and the Czech Republic this month, says it will not be able to defend its airspace until 2020.

The new U.S. deal and the purchase Czech jets come as Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki faces pressure from Washington to prevent Iran transporting arms through Iraqi airspace to help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.


Iraq Presses US for Faster Arms Deliveries

Iraq's prime minister pressed for faster deliveries of weapons to help arm his country's military during a Thursday meeting with a senior U.S. defense official.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki made the request during talks with U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in Baghdad, according to a statement by the Iraqi leader's office.

Al-Maliki said Iraq needs to beef up its defenses to protect the country's security and national sovereignty, and to tackle terrorist groups that continue to threaten Iraq's stability more than nine years after the U.S.-led invasion.

Carter visited the Iraqi capital during a Mideast tour that included stops in U.S. allies Kuwait and Qatar. His visit to Iraq also included talks with Iraq's acting defense minister, Saadoun al-Dulaimi.

Iraq has agreed to buy a range of American-made weapons, including tanks and F-16 fighter jets, as it works to rebuild and modernize its military.
Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement that Carter used his first trip to Iraq as deputy secretary to emphasize Iraq's role in ensuring regional stability, and said the countries' "cooperation on matters of mutual strategic interest continue to be more vital than ever."

The last American troops left Iraq on Dec. 18, 2011, sticking to a year-end withdrawal deadline outlined in a 2008 security agreement. The U.S. had hoped to maintain a military presence in Iraq beyond that deadline, but Washington was unable to reach a deal with the Iraqis on legal issues and immunity for U.S. troops.

A small number of U.S. military personnel remain in Iraq as an arm of the American embassy, and are responsible for facilitating Iraqi arms purchases and training the Iraqis how to use and maintain the weapons.

Baghdad made its push just days after al-Maliki met with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Moscow and said Iraq is open to building military and security ties with Russia.

During his visit to the Russian capital, al-Maliki said Iraq is considering buying more than $4 billion of weapons from Russia, including helicopter gunships and air defense missiles. Russia was a key supplier of weapons to Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator who was ousted during the 2003 invasion.
Iraq last week agreed to buy 28 Czech-made military planes in a deal valued at $1 billion.


Op-Ed: Obama’s ‘Shovel-Ready’ Iranian Weapons Highway: Iraq

Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012 11:45 PM

The real final debacle of Obama’s Iraq retreat and failure has yet to unfold and “come home to roost.” Iraq bought $4.2 billions’ worth of attack helicopters and anti-aircraft weapons from Russia this week. For whose use?

I’m slow. So, remind me exactly why Iraq needs $6 billion worth of US F-16s and $4.2 billion of Russian attack helicopters and air-defense weapons, when its children are starving.

Who, precisely, is threatening Iraq? The marauding princes and kings of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, or Jordan? The rapacious Emir of Qatar? No. (As a separate question for a separate essay, “For al Maliki to massacre Iraq’s own Sunni population with Russian helicopter gunships as Assad is massacring his Sunni population with the Russian helicopter gunships?” Now that ranks as a definite, maybe.)

But really, come on, is the Iranian Shiite puppet Prime Minister al Maliki buying 10 billion bucks of advanced weapons for defense against its Shiite puppet-master Iran? Nope. 

And what is the common thread between all of the US F-16s, and Russian Pantsir-S1 anti-air batteries, and Mi-28NE combat helicopters? All the weapons Iraq is ostensibly buying for “Iraq” have total mobility and can be easily transferred to Iran or quickly integrated into Iran’s order of battle to attack Saudi Arabia, or to defend Iran’s nuclear program. So, for Iran, Iraq is the perfect “weapons-laundering scheme.”

Iraq not only can buy the weapons for Iran free of sanctions, but can, also pay for them in cold hard cash. And, for the moment, we won’t even discuss that America is, eye-wide-shut, watching the Shiite Iraq “oil-laundering scheme” the Shiite Iranian “sanctioned” oil is surreptitiously transshipped to Iraq and sold as Iraqi “sanction-free” crude. Iraq’s Iranian oil scheme substantially circumvents Obama’s “toughest-severest” Iranian sanctions to begin with.


Iraq wants Russians to replace Exxon at West Qurna-report

MOSCOW, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Iraq is considering replacing ExxonMobil with Russian companies at the supergiant West Qurna-1 oilfield, after the U.S. major angered Baghdad by venturing into Kurdistan, according to a media report citing industry sources.

The northern Kurdish region has riled Baghdad by signing deals with foreign oil majors, such as Exxon, Total and Chevron, contracts the central government rejects as illegal.

Nefte Compass, a weekly energy newsletter about the FSU and Eastern Europe, said on Thursday that Iraq is weighing whether to replace Exxon with Russia's LUKOIL and Gazprom Neft - both already involved in the country.

It said that the proposal was due to be raised at a meeting this week between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The meeting took place on Wednesday, but no such offers - if they were made - have been made public.

A spokesman for Russia's second-largest crude producer LUKOIL, which operates West Qurna-2, said the company is not planning to increase its exposure in Iraq by acquiring a stake in West Qurna-1, reiterating the company's official line that it is satisfied with its portfolio in Iraq.
Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of the world's top natural gas producer Gazprom, declined to comment.

Sources have told Reuters that Russia's top oil company Rosneft, may team up with Exxon in Iraq after the two have struck a landmark agreement to jointly tap Arctic hydrocarbon riches and oil and gas in North America.

Rosneft also declined to comment on the possibility of entering Iraq.

On Wednesday, Putin, a vocal opponent of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, called for Russia to strengthen its presence in the OPEC oil producer state at the meeting with al-Maliki.

Sources also said Gazprom Neft has no plans to freeze its projects in Kurdistan, it pledged to develop in August, refuting media reports. The company already has a project in Iraq, near the Iranian border, where it expects to produce about 15,000 barrels per day from 2013.


After reading all these articles...I say 'screw them'!! Bring all our military home and if the middle east wants to fight each other...OH WELL have at it! NO MORE USA tax dollars or military LIVES to try and teach those idiots "peace".

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki demanded in the 15 of the current month of
October, the United States to activate the strategic agreement, as
revealed envoy of U.S. President Barack Obama to Baghdad for visits to
high-level U.S. delegations to strengthen the defenses of Iraq as soon
as possible.

Maliki is a DICTATOR in office...he has NO right to demand crap from the USA.



The only problem with leaving the area and let them fight each other..... Wont work !! with Maliki wanting to give Iran and other eastern countries... his bank reserves to help them through sanction the world has put on them .... and why he wants his jets and helicopters is he will need them to protect himself against the US and Israel..... what a mess.... why we didn't stay till democracy took hold more is way beyond me Sad ... I think this will come back to bite us in the butt !!! we have F^%$ up the end game again !!! the worst may be ahead of us Sad


All I can say is- WHAT AN UGLY MESS.

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