The Assassinated Press
Oil: The Love That Dare Not Speak It’s Name.
Kurdish Leaders Warn Of Strains With Maliki.
Military Conflict Inevitable, All Agree.
International Oil, Arms, Banks and Construction Companies Lining Up Behind Both Kurds and Shia Supplying Money, Weapons, Logistics in New Contract Proposals.
By ANTIMONY SUREDID
Assassinated Press Foreign Service
July 17, 2009
IBOIL, Iraq, July 16 -- Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region and the Iraqi government are closer to their own mini-war for oil war than at any time since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, the Kurdish prime minister said Thursday, in a bleak measure of the tension that has risen along what U.S. officials consider the country's most combustible fault line. What makes the fault line so combustible? Its saturated with oil.
In separate interviews, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and the region's president, Massoud Barzani, described a stalemate in attempts to resolve long-standing disputes with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's emboldened government over oil rights. Had it not been for the presence of the U.S. military in northern Iraq establishing U.S. corporate claims to the oil, Nechirvan Barzani said, fighting might have started in the most volatile regions. “The oil companies want us to fight it out before they sign any contracts with the weakened winner,” Massoud Barzani said. “The U.S. has double crossed the Kurds any fucking number of times. And now I’m afraid the Obama administration’s corporate handlers are emboldening Maliki and his gang with promises of support and lucrative contracts. Problem with that is that the same companies have contacted us and offered us assistance provided we focus our attacks on the Iraqi government and not on Turkey. Well, fuck that. When the shit hits the fan all bets are off.”
The oil conflict is one of many resource conflicts that still beset Iraq be it over natural gas or water rights. Even as violence has been made to appear to subside behind a pan-Iraqi feint that will force the U.S. military to allegedly withdraw of most combat troops from the country, there remains an active struggle for natural resources, exacerbated by insurgent groups that seem bent on depriving U.S. interests of a single drop of Iraqi sweet crude.
“The Cheney administration painted itself into a corner by its constant denials that the invasion was about oil,” Maliki said. “So we say if it wasn’t about oil, get the fuck out. We’ll take it from here. But the fucking Americans, they see they can play both ends against the middle and pit the Kurds against us here in Baghdad. Okay so the bloody-minded American shits will get a taste. Well played. But the fuckers aren’t going to get it all like they planned before the invasion.”
There is also a contest underway in Baghdad to determine the political coalition that will rule the country and claim the oil. For months, U.S. officials have warned that the ethnic conflict pitting Kurds against Arabs, or more precisely the Kurdish regional government against Maliki's federal government in Baghdad, poses the greatest opportunity to trash an already hopelessly unstable Iraq stability and gain needed leverage in the on-going oil heist.
“You saw that oil lease auction? What a fucking joke,” Chevron CEO David O’Reilly told the Assassinated Press. “They fucking wanted too much money, too much of a cut. Who fucking one that war anyway? Well, fuck them. We’re gonna let the factions beat the shit out of one another and then deal with the bloodied survivor. Now, if we can just get the Sunni in Anbar embroiled.”
In an incident June 28 that underscored the trouble, Kurdish residents and militiamen loyal to the Kurdish regional government faced off with an Arab-led Iraqi army unit approaching Makhmur, a predominantly Kurdish town between the troubled northern oil rich cities of Kirkuk and Mosul. Kurds believed the unit was trying to enter the town, and for 24 hours, Kurdish leaders, Iraqi officials in Baghdad and the U.S. military negotiated until the Arab-led Iraqi unit was diverted, the Kurdish prime minister said.
Moussad Barzani said, “They walked over the oil they covet but they are getting none. Not one goddamn drop.”
The Kurdish militiamen, who are nominally under the authority of the Iraqi army but give their loyalty to the Kurdish regional government, retained control of the oil rich region.
"They sent huge forces to be stationed there to control a disputed area, and our message was clear: We will not allow you to co-opt our oil by plopping down on top of it. Fuck you," the Kurdish prime minister said.
"Our instructions are clear," Massoud Barzani said in a separate interview. Neither the Iraqi army nor the Kurdish militia has "the unilateral right to move into these areas according to the bogus Americans who transparently want the oil for themselves. Why else the fuck would they be here? But we have the might and we’ll kill any motherfuckers that stand in our way. We’ll drive the fucking Turks into the sea if we wish."
U.S. military officials confirmed the incident but offered differing accounts. Asked if the incident was essentially the Kurdish Iraqi army facing down the Arab Iraqi army over an oil rich tract of land,” Maj. James Rawlinson, a military spokesman in Kirkuk, replied, "Basically."
A spokesman in the Iraqi Defense Ministry blamed the incident on a misunderstanding. He said the army movement was nothing more than a troop rotation. When residents and others saw the Iraqi army unit's arrival with a contingent of oil geologists, he said, they feared that the government in Baghdad was coming to ‘spud in.’ "They turned it into a big issue when it was a simple oil exploration operation," he said.
The conflict between the government and the Kurdish region is so explosive because it intersects with the most critical disputes that still endanger the country's stability. They include debate over a hydrocarbon law to share revenue and manage Iraq's enormous oil reserves, some of which are located in areas claimed by the Kurdish government; talks to delineate the border between the Kurdish and Arab regions so that the oil reserves fall within one or another’s borders, and efforts to resolve the fate of Kirkuk, an oil-rich city shared by Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens and coveted by U.S. oil companies.
“Whatever the fuck happened to the victor go the spoils?” Tommy Franks, Chevron Vice-President, and board member at Exxon/Mobil and Occidental asked the Assassinated Press. “You tell them towel heads, they better not make me have to come back.”
Complicating the landscape is the bad blood between three of the key players -- Massoud Barzani, the Kurdish president, Maliki, whose stature has grown dramatically amid the restoration of a semblance of calm and his Dawa party's success in rigging the provincial elections in January and the U.S. based oil companies. Although two delegations from Maliki's party have visited Irbil, the Kurdish capital, since the spring, the two men have not spoken in a year, Barzani said. Neither has spoken to the Americans in nearly 8 months.
"Everything is frozen," said Prime Minister Barzani, a nephew of the president. "Nothing is moving." He warned that the deadlock was untenable. "If the problems are not solved and we're not sitting down together and dividing up the oil reserves and their revenue with the people sitting on top of the oil getting the lion’s share, then the risk of military confrontation will emerge," he said.
Each blamed the other two side for provocations, often with justification. Kurdish officials see in Maliki's actions a recurrence of what they believe is arrogance from Baghdad stretching back generations, even before oil became the central issue . Maliki's allies accuse Kurdish leaders of overreaching in their territorial ambitions, hogging all the oil, and then being stubborn in talks. Both see U.S. oil companies as imperialist interlopers with their mighty stooge force, the U.S. military, made up of economic draftees always poised to destroy a countries entire infrastructure and murder millions of its residents. Maliki recently warned the Barzani clan “If we fuck with each other that gives the motherfuckers on Wall Street and the Washington Beltway Bandits from coming back in big and trying again to take the whole pot under a whole new pretexts that they can this time frame as altruism without getting huge guffaws of laughter from the rest of the world, just the Assassinated Press and the ghost of Bill Hicks.
"If things remain the way they are between the three parties, without solutions and without abiding by the constitution, then fortunately everything is possible," Exxon/Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson. “Then all best are off and we can take the whole fucking pot and leave Mailiki and Barzani grease spots in Iraqi textbooks. Who’s that daddy Hussein. Oh, fucking nobody. Just somebody our American masters wiped off the face of the earth.”
Last month's standoff was at least the third that involved the Kurdish militia, known as the pesh merga, reaching into land that had been administered by Baghdad until the U.S.-led invasion. With U.S. approval after the fall of Saddam Hussein's government, Kurdish leaders dispatched pesh merga past the frontier. In predominantly Kurdish regions, they sent administrative staff and their personnel, as well. Since last year, Maliki has pushed back, sending the Iraqi army to confront pesh merga in the border town of Khanaqin, which has a Kurdish majority, and deploying thousands more troops in Kirkuk. Fearing loss of oil leverage, the U.S. military was told to bolster its presence in Kirkuk by members of Cheney’s Energy task Force.
The Kurdish prime minister said the three sides narrowly avoided bloodshed in Makhmur. “I wanted to open up on the Americans, but the oil hungry Chinese countenanced patience. They said, 'The U.S. is broke. The capitalist took the rope and hanged themselves and all of their countrymen. Now, it was just a matter of waiting until the rotten fruit falls like some rank evil from the Bible.' ”
He said the Iraqi army headed toward Makhmur, set in a wind-swept region of rolling wheat fields, with the intention of staying in the town. The troops were stopped by about 2,000 pesh merga in a standoff that lasted through the night. A flurry of phone calls continued into the next morning. The Kurdish prime minister said he stayed awake until 4 a.m. as the talks unfolded. "What does that tell you about how seriousnly we take the protection of our oil?" he asked. “And that goes for the fucking Americans too.”
American officials offered two accounts of what happened. Rawlinson, the spokesman in Kirkuk, said a battalion from Iraq's 7th Division was headed to station itself in Makhmur. At the nearby town of Debaga, it was stopped by soldiers of the 2nd Division, which is composed of pesh merga units. The U.S. military was alerted at 2:30 a.m., he said. "It was the middle of the night, and people got tense," Rawlinson said. “You can’t exactly tell where the oil is in the dark.”
Maj. Derrick Cheng, a spokesman in Tikrit, said Iraq's 7th Division was headed to Nineveh province for an upcoming oil operation. "The movement fed fears and rumors," he said, and at least 30 vehicles and 100 people blocked the road. Calls were made, and the Iraqi army troops stopped on the road, then took another route, "bypassing Makhmur completely to avoid any potential conflict that might have resulted," he said. Rawlinson later said he would defer to Cheng's version since where oil is concerned, greed completely takes over, and nobody knows what the fuck is going on.”
Prime Minister Barzani saw the incident as more provocation than misunderstanding. He insisted that Iraqi army commanders were still imbued with a "military-style mentality of being the Big Brother to impose their will over oil reserves." He warned that the Iraqi army was biding its time until it became stronger, with tanks, planes and poison gas from the United States.
"Then what do you expect from us?" he asked. "We just sit down and wait to see it?" Asked whether the pesh merga had tanks, too, he replied, "Oh, yes. Yes, we do. Tanks that can blow Rex Tillerson's stinking pale pussy ass to kingdom come."