What's Up With Post-War Iraq?


Field of dreams?

An interesting analysis of Iraq's bitter oil politics from Reuters:

[For Royal Dutch Shell, the fields in the autonomous Kurdish region] offered rich potential, an easier working environment, better security and attractive contracts. That seemed a winning combination for smaller oil companies already working there, such as Norway's DNO, even though they struggled to collect profits.

But at the 11th hour, industry sources say, Royal Dutch Shell backed out and decided to focus on a $17 billion gas deal in the south rather than sign exploration contracts with the Kurdish Regional Government, which the central government could dismiss as illegal and could prompt reprisals.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports the Iraqi government has postponed a reconciliation conference scheduled to start today, citing "mounting differences," which apparently must be resolved before talk of reconciliation can start.

The AP ticks off a list of incidents since the U.S. withdrawal in December: the Sunni Vice President Tariq Al-Hashemi has been hiding in Kurdistan since being charged with running sectarian death squads, the Sunni Deputy Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq was banned from Cabinet meetings after calling the Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki a "dictator who is worse than Saddam," and a car bomb blast just missed the local chief of police in Duluiyah in the second attempt on his life this year.

And then there are the autonomous Kurds, who have always had a tense relationship with Baghdad, and were the regular victims of Saddam Hussein's ethnic cleansing exercises. Their present issues with Baghdad range from territorial disputes to the hottest topic in any Iraqi government, oil exports. The Kurdish government halted oil exports on Sunday in an escalation of a dispute with Baghdad over non-payment of revenue. 

And what of Exxon, the biggest oil company to make the plunge into the Kurdish oil fields?Reuters continues:

When Kurdistan's government announced last year that Exxon had agreed to exploration deals for six Kurdish fields, Baghdad responded with outrage. Deputy Prime Minister Hussain al-Shahristani—architect of Baghdad's oil program—said the U.S. firm could forfeit the contract on its huge West Qurna-1 oilfield in the south if it did not halt work with the Kurds.

Baghdad has since barred Exxon from bidding in the next round of oil deals, although it says the decision is not final. Exxon was also removed from its lead role in a water injection project in the south, although Iraqi officials denied the move was linked to the Kurdish deal.

The central government now says that Exxon has written to it twice since early March to say that its deals with the Kurds have been suspended. The Kurds say Exxon has not halted work in Kurdistan and have challenged Baghdad to publish Exxon's letters.

Joe Biden doesn't need help to look cool.

Could Joe Biden have been right? In 2006, the then Delaware Senator co-wrote a New York Times op-ed with Council on Foreign Relations President Emeritus Leslie Gelb advocating a highly decentralized Iraq, roping in the historical example of federated Yugoslavia, forged from the older Yugoslavia during the Balkan Wars in the early 1990s. Yugoslavia ceased to exist in 2003, when the remaining two members, Serbia and Montenegro, formed the Union of Serbia and Montenegro instead.

When John  McCain referred to Joe Biden's "cockamamie idea" about splitting up Iraq during the 2008 presidential campaign, CNN fact checked it as false, but you'd be forgiven for assuming Iraq would eventually break up under any plan where Yugoslavia is the model. The Biden plan envisioned a central government that would only be "in charge of common interests," but the escalating acrimony in the central government in Iraq after the withdrawal of U.S. troops in December could be rapidly winnowing what common interests the various Iraqi factions may think they have left.

NEXT: Obama Respects the Supreme Court Says Eric Holder, Violence in Syria Continues in Anticipation of April 12 Ceasefire, Rick Santorum Gets Attention for Not Dropping Out: P.M. Links

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  1. To repeat myself, partition Iraq and invite the Kurds to join the United States. I believe we settled on Kurdlahoma?

    1. To repeat myself: Fuck that. I’m not buying new flags.

      1. There must be a state we could get rid of, right?

        Who would miss Hawaii, after all?

        1. Reorganize Hawaii as the unincorporated territory of the Sandwich Islands — that should appropriately confuse everybody worth confusing.

          1. Give it back to the Germans.

            1. After all the hard work they put into bombing Pearl Harbor, it’d only be sporting.

              1. So it was Yamagruber?

        2. Keep Hawaii, give ’em Illinois. Baghdad will learn what real corruption is.

      2. I’m not buying new flags.

        There are no stars on the Gadsden flag, comrade. Turn in your monocle!

    2. I’ll be dead in the cold, cold ground before I recognize Kurdsourri.

      1. What about North Dakurda?

        1. West Kurdkota?

        2. We have a Virginia, and a West Virginia, but no East Virginia. I say we adopt Kurdistan as Mideast Virginia.

          All joking aside, I was actually talking to a buddy about this earlier today. He just got back from Kurdistan (stationed there as a surveillance drone operator) and mentioned the fracas over oil ownership in the north.

            1. Bullshit, Kurdifornia! It’ll give us an excuse to use Stone Burners on the San Andreas fault, Pro’L Dib.

              1. You need to re-read your Dune Messiah. A single stone burner can potentially destroy the entire planet.

        3. And the rockets red glare…, holy shit! A rocket! Duck.

      2. Can the Kurds play football? If so, they should be a Southern state. Like Kurdbama.

    3. Nixon had the chance to do it.

      Fuck Nixon.

  2. Maybe you could set it up so that the central government could only regulate commerce between the three regions of Iraq. That would be foolproof, right?

    1. Threadwin

  3. Could Joe Biden have been right?


    1. Biden’s a genius compared to Dick “Deficit’s Don’t Matter” Cheney and nowhere close to as evil. Of course, the Free Republic posters here consider that blasphemy.

      1. Yep, all zero of them.

        You really nailed all the Cheney lovers on this board, big guy.

        1. I will note that when I need me a dose of pure, straight-up evil, Cheney’s my go-to guy.

          It’s like callin’ in the lefty from the bullpen – gimme Cheney when I need to go Full Evil on someone.

      2. Speaking of deficits don’t matter.

        1. He’s right about one thing: If I’m alive in 2080 I’ll be a fucking robot.

        2. I followed the link upon link and saw that chart from the “Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.” You’d expect that a group with a name like that would know the difference between “debt” and “deficit.” You would be wrong. Wonder who’s behind them?

  4. Where are the flowers and parades Cheney promised? And the gushers of oil that would pay us back our $1 trillion? Or the mobile weapons labs?

    1. Sodamn moved them to Syria before the invasion. Which is why we have to invade there too.

      1. Like Sec. of State Pansuit cares about supposed WMD’s. Assad is a bloodthirsty despot, and the election’s coming up. She doesn’t have time to waste; if she’s gonna go full metal invasion, she’d better get to moving.

    2. One of the downsides of the registration regime is the inability to do a good ::crickets::

  5. If only our troops were still there. Then Iraq would be a land of sunshine, smiles, and happiness, just as it was during our occupation.

    I still can’t believe how naive some people were about prospects for democracy in a highly sectarian country.

    1. I still can’t believe how naive some people were about prospects for democracy in a highly sectarian country.

      That’s exactly why I’m staying home on November 2nd.

      1. HIYO!!

    2. Exactly. The Iraqi’s need a strong despotic leader … such as myself … to keep the trains running on time.

  6. Good lord. They bent over backwards until they got a nice, plump asshat to side with Biden on that one. I remember when Biden went on Charlie Rose to talk about splitting Iraq into three states. He believed the best you could hope for in terms of an agreed upon truce was a loose confederation. It did not sound like he was endorsing a Republican government of shared interest, at all.

  7. Over/under on years before a brutal strongman unifies the country: 9

    1. Five.

      1. Once again, HIYOOOOO!

        You are on fire this afternoon, Hugh!

        1. Hey, when you’ve only got one joke, you better be an expert on how it works.

          1. That you are, Hugh – that you are!

          2. Thanks, Hugh! I am now pro-Romney!

  8. Trying to care about Iraq.

    Trying . . . .

    Nope. Nothing.

    1. They’ve had 7 years to sort this BS out. Despite the propensity of Rothbardites to yell “imperialist” about our foreign policy at all times, our occupation of Iraq was relatively benign, and from the get-go attempted to establish self-government in the country.

      I feel for the Kurds (who were largely self-governing and who mostly did well for themselves), because no matter what happens in Iraq, they’re probably going to get the short end of the stick. As for the Sunni and Shia Arabs? Screw ’em.

      1. Kurds are a bunch of terrorists who blow up civilians, fuck them, too.

        1. Some of them, sure. How much overlap is there between those guys, and the Kurds who have established what is by far the most peaceful region in Iraq?

          1. And what about curds and whey? Who doesn’t love some delicious curds and whey?

            1. Is Hitler an appropriate answer?

              1. Oh, way to Little Miss Muffett the thread! sheesh!

      2. Having your thumb up your ass doesn’t preclude you from being an imperialist. There are plenty of examples of relatively benign actions from British and Roman history when they were still plenty imperialist to in anyway make that an effective disqualifier for the label ‘imperialist’. It isn’t the intent that is important, but the willingness to find always find an excuse to engage outside of your geographic locality that is the predominant trait of an imperialist.

        and from the get-go attempted to establish self-government in the country.

        They already had self government in their country. We did not like the outcome of their choices so we replaced that government. That is definitional imperialism.

        1. The dictionary definition of imperialist usually ain’t what Rothbardites are going for when they use the word… it’s more something along the lines of malevolent, zero-sum interference in other countries’ affairs (and only as pertains to the US or other Western nations; won’t catch Rothbard saying anything nasty about ye olde USSR’s foreign policy).

          “They already had self government in their country. We did not like the outcome of their choices”

          Um… we weren’t the only ones. I’m pretty sure that millions of dead Iraqis, as well as a majority of their population, were on that train, too. Change “self government” in that sentence to “liberal/mixed economy democracy” and my point stands.

          The above isn’t an endorsement of the FUBAR choice we made in invading Iraq, btw.

          1. Dictionary definition, not really. Rothbardian definition is consistent with the Anti-Imperialist League definition and that is the etymology that libertarians ought to be concerned with the vague one offered up by dirty, stupid 60’s hippies.

          2. To the Wikipedia, batman!


            The American Anti-Imperialist League was an organization established in the United States on June 15, 1898, to battle the American annexation of the Philippines as an insular area. The anti-imperialists opposed the expansion because they believed imperialism violated the credo of republicanism, especially the need for “consent of the governed.” They did not oppose expansion on commercial, constitutional, religious, or humanitarian grounds; rather they believed that annexation and administration of backward tropical areas would mean the abandonment of American ideals of self-government and isolation?ideals expressed in the United States Declaration of Independence, George Washington’s Farewell Address and Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

          3. Note. Traditional anti-imperialist like myself and Rothbard do not deny positive things have occurred due to imperialism. British enforcement of their anti-slavery laws on the high seas for one. Another, Europeans colonist in Africa did a lot of unrecognized good (and evil, esp. the Dutch). At one time Ethiopia was the breadbasket of the Middle East largely due to imperialistic involvement.

            We are much more concerned with how imperialism warps the foundations of our own government away from one of limited powers and how our interest are not furthered by it. It is odd to me that it is considered morally superior that our interest in Iraq are not entirely our own. No, that is morally decadent. It would be, perhaps, morally evil if our interest were entirely centered around the oil, but that would at least have been in our interest (in the broadest sense) and not a maddening waste of our people and resources for an abstract concept as morally bankrupt as ‘democracy.’

            1. Especially the Dutch? If you want evil go to the Belgians.

              1. A play on an old joke, but, yeah, Belgian Congo, the horror.

              2. But don’t forget this:

                The Dutch Slave Trade 1500-1850


                Leftist tend to concentrate on the Belgian Congo because of its commercial exploitation of resources more than the human misery factor.

      3. our occupation of Iraq was relatively benign


        Ah, relatively…ok.

        1. Tallest midget, and all that jazz.

  9. The Biden plan envisioned a central government that would only be “in charge of common interests,”

    Isn’t that more or less how the US federal government is supposed to work? It takes care of common defense, international treaties, international and interstate trade while leaving internal matters to the states. Doesn’t sound like the sort of thing that Biden normally goes in for. This strikes me as broken clock syndrome.


  10. Splitting up Iraq that way was never going to happen because Turkey would have freaked out.

    1. Absolutely true, not to mention the fact that Ole Genius Joe was expecting to let the Kurds establish independence over a vast oil reserve as well. There was NO WAY the Iraqi government would let the Kurds just walk away with the rights to the reserves.

      The partition idea was laughable on its face, but that’s Joe for you.

  11. It’s almost as though most of the Mideast and most all of Africa’s this fucked up deathtrap that’s just not worth the Western world’s time….just constant “meet the new boss” and sectarian killin’.

    Kind of like Compton, or Detroit…

    1. that’s just not worth the Western world’s time

      Except of course for all that bloody oil they’re sitting on. One of the big issues here is that apparently there is some potentially large oil field discovered near the Kurdish border, and the Kurds want all the revenue themselves eventhough there is some law stipulating that they only receive 17% of said revenue. I’ll see if I can find a link later, but I is lazy and busy, so fat chance.

      1. Well, I do need to keep petrol in the Mustangs, and large trucks and SUV’s, and boats, and airplanes, and leisure rockets, and…

    2. All of Africa? You must tell the people of democratic, free and relatively prosperous countries like Botswana that they’re living in a fucked up deathtrap.

  12. Wher is ur unifyin StrongKitteh now?

  13. People who advocate a decentralized Iraq are crypto-neo-Confederates blowing dog whistles to bring back slavery.

    1. People who tried to keep Iraq unified were a bunch of blind men in a dark room looking for a black cat that wasn’t there.

  14. Biden plagiarized the idea from H&R commenters anyway.

  15. Could Joe Biden have been right?


    Blind squirrels, stopped clocks, etc.
    “I looked, and there was a pale horse…”

  16. Gingrich-Founded Health-Care Think Tank Files Bankruptcy:

    [Stefan Passantino, a lawyer for Gingrich’s campaign] described Gingrich’s thought process on health reform as “the secret sauce” that drew members. “It’s Newt’s brain that people wanted,” Passantino said.

  17. The new kill animations in Skyrim are awesome.

    That is all. Carry on.

    1. That’s great information for a year from now when I finally buy it for $20-30 with all the DLC and bug-fix patches.

      1. I’ll wait ’till it’s 9.99 on steam. Never was a big fan of Bethesda anyway.

  18. Reason refers to Joe Biden in a non-derisive manner? OK, that was more unexpected than, I don’t know, the sinking of the Titanic!

    1. You say that as if they were being unfair to the old fool. They never have been. He has a toxic mouth and a squishy little brain, and should have been politically dead since the late 80’s after the plagiarism scandal. But, you can’t keep an old pol down, right? Because the control the system.

      Oh, yeah, fuck you AV!

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