Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Was it a tip off? It could be, but for what?

A well-known Kurdish figure suggested today that the latest New York Times report on smuggling crude and refined products from Iraq's self-ruled northern region of Kurdistan to Iran was a tip off from one of the two main parties to set a major blow to the other.

Hiwa Osman, the IWPR Iraq's country director, the son of the independent veteran Kurdish politician Mahmoud Osman and the former media adviser to the current Iraqi Kurdish president, Jalal Talbani said: "Although publicly the PUK and KDP say that they are united over this issue (oil) but in reality they are different. The recent New York Times report was apparently a tip off by one of the leading figures in one of the two ruling parties."

The animosities between PUK which is led by Talabani and KDP which is led by his rival Masoud Barzani dated back to decades ago and it reached its climax in the 1990s when the two embroiled in fierce clashes over land after the Gulf War which led to announce the three-province region as an off-limit zone to Saddam Hussein regime and enjoyed the international community protection.

The younger Osman also chastised the Kurds for not adopting a media policy that provides steady stream of information about their oil development plans and of course they can't because all the deals were awarded privately and none, inside or outside Iraq, heard anything about holding bidding rounds but instead they were awarded on no bid-basis and secretly.

I can agree with Osman's suggestion especially if we know that since Barham Salih took office as the regional Prime Minister in the second half of last year, he's been suffering with dealing with Barzani's party and his close aides mainly the region's Natural Resources Minister, Ashti Hawrami and this is something the New York Times has been mentioning in all their stories by its reporter Sam Dagher who was granted a residency in the region since early this year.

The question is what was the aim of bringing such matter to the surface by this official now? Is he only trying to smash his rival by showing how corrupt he is? Or is he trying to court the central government in Baghdad after March 7 national elections took the title away of post-Saddam era kingmakers from the Kurds?

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Kurds deny smuggling of crude, refined products to Iran

As it was expected, Iraq's self-ruled northern Kurdish regional government denied Sunday the report made by The New York Times July 8 about smuggling crude and refined products to Iran for the benefit of the main two political parties as "inaccurate" and of course they continue to say that they work for all Iraq.

The denial statement came as the correspondent of the pan-Arab and Dubai-based Al-Arabiya TV, Ahmed Al-Salih, matched the Times report. Al-Salih managed to show the lines of hundreds of tankers waiting to enter Iran and also interviewed with the drivers.

In a bid to show how the central government is angry and worry about the smuggling, the government spokesman Ali Al-Dabbagh called the TV's video as a "clear evidence" that smuggling was talking place. "We will be contacting the Kurdish authorities to work together to put a stop to this phenomenon," Al-Dabbagh said.

Of course, Al-Dabbagh's statement was only a show as they will never be able to stop it as it is happening with many issues. In addition to that Iraq's Prime Minister will not dare to annoy the Kurds as he's begging for support from political factions to secure a second term in office.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Iraq's Kurds run their own oil kingdom

Iraq's Kurds in the northern self-ruled region are running their own oil kingdom by awarding oil deals solely and smuggling crude and refined products to Iran to fill their pockets, this is the core of today's New York Times article.

The Times' Sam Dagher investigates the corruption among the officials of the region's two main political parties who have turned into lieges since 1990s and have done whatever they please while Baghdad government is engulfed with its own problems and knows nothing or can't do anything.

Dagher's story also illustrates how a weak Iraq is in the benefit of the Kurds who are the only winners of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion in Iraq. Instead of coming together to build a strong and unified country, Iraq's Arab politicians are totally preoccupied by their differences and fighting over chairs and this is what the Kurds want.