EYE BROWS ARE RAISED BY FADED CELEBRITY BARRY O'S RECENT COMMENT THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS "BUILDING IRON MAN."
IT'S A DESPERATE DISTRACTION ATTEMPT AS BARRY O TRIES TO USE A SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER TO SPIT SHINE HIS OWN TARNISHED BRAND, LIKE WHEN SUBWAY TRIES TO DO A MOVIE TIE-IN.
59% OF AMERICANS HAVE REGISTERED THEIR DISAPPOINTMENT WITH BARRY O.
A MOVIE TIE-IN WON'T CHANGE THAT.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
February 15th, in DC, Peter Galbraith did a presentation the Kurds. Mutlu Civiroglu (Rudaw) reported on it last week noting:
Speaking about the current situation in the Kurdistan Region, and contrasting it with the rest of Iraq, Galbraith noted that American citizens needed a visa to travel to Iraq, but not to the Kurdistan Region.
He noted that many international airlines do not fly to Baghdad, but they do to Erbil.
Talking about his most recent visit to Kurdistan, Galbraith said each time he goes to Erbil he cannot recognize the city because of the rapid development.
The success of the KRG -- especially when compared to other parts of Iraq -- really inflame Iraq's chief thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. Eight years, Nouri's had to bring peace to Iraq but he's failed. He's failed so poorly that his actions only encourage more violence. And yet, in the north, it's a completely different story for the Kurdistan Regional Government.
Monday, the US Consulate in Erbil issued the following:
Deputy Principal Officer Stephen Gee and Consulate General Erbil staff joined businesspeople, members of the diplomatic community and friends from around the Iraqi Kurdistan Region to attend the opening of well-known U.S. franchise Pizza Hut on February 18 in Erbil.
Kuwait-based Kout Food Group plans to open a second Pizza Hut restaurant in Erbil, provide a pizza delivery service and expand to Dahuk and Sulaimaniyah.
And this week, more business news for the KRG, not for Nouri. First off, let's note Joseph Pennington:
Joseph Pennington, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Counselor, assumed his duties as Consul General in Erbil in July 2013. Prior to his arrival in Erbil, Mr. Pennington served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Prague, Czech Republic (2010-13) and held the same position in Yerevan, Armenia (2007-10).
Here's a photo of Pennihgton:
On February 15, Consul General Joseph Pennington attended the grand opening of U.S. franchise Cinnabon/Carvel Ice Cream's first shop in Iraq, in Erbil. Storeowners plan to expand to Dahuk, Sulaimaniyah, Baghdad, Basra, and Najaf.
Judit Neurink (Rudaw) reports Ace Hardware, Marriot and Hyatt Hotels are among those "setting up shop in Kurdistan" and a reception Pennington attended to note continued interest on the part of American businesses. Neurick reports:
American companies in Kurdistan are mainly active in oil and gas, security and building. Pennington expects these activities to broaden in the future. “There is a lot of interest in the States for doing business here. But as it is Iraq, security plays a role and companies are cautious. Of course, here are fewer attacks than elsewhere in Iraq, but there still are threats.”
The reception was held at a moment of diplomatic tension between the US and Kurdistan, with Kurdish President Massoud Barzani cancelling a visit to the White House over the fact that Kurdistan’s two main political parties – the Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan -- still feature on a terrorism blacklist from the days they resisted Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Kurdish politicians have shown frustration over the lack of support from Washington in their conflict with Baghdad over oil revenues, which has recently led to Baghdad withholding Kurdistan’s constitutional part of the national budget.
Although none of the diplomats at the reception wanted to comment on this hot issue, Qubad Talabani, the KRG Minister for Coordination and Follow Up, voiced some frustration. Until a year-and-a-half ago he was the KRG representative in Washington, where he set up the business council.
“I’d like the United States to see us as an asset, but they still see us through the Iraqi lens,” he said when asked for his dearest wish for the relations with the US. “What we do here has implications in Turkey, in Syria and on the oil markets. Our relationship should reflect that.”
Qubad Talabani's words matter. Not just due to his position, but especially due to his family. Those are stronger words than his father's ever managed. He is the second son of Iraq's First Lady Hero Ibrahim Ahmed and Iraq's President Jalal Talabani. In recent weeks, Hero has spent her time in dialogue with the Iranian government (primarily reassuring them that a government would be formed in the KRG following last fall's elections). Jalal? December 2012, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke. The incident took place late on December 17, 2012 following Jalal's argument with Iraq's prime minister and chief thug Nouri al-Maliki (see the December 18, 2012 snapshot). Jalal was admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital. Thursday, December 20, 2012, he was moved to Germany. He remains in Germany currently.
Qubad is correct, there are regional implications and the US government needs to see the KRG through its own lens, not as it seen by Baghdad.
As the business continues to pour into the KRG, it must be very humiliating for Nouri. The security levels in the KRG, contrasted with the non-stop violence in the rest of Iraq, must leave Nouri feeling small and impotent. And that must mix with his own greed leading him to rage against the KRG and attempt to destroy its efforts to transport oil to Turkey via a pipeline. Nouri's government repeatedly insisted last week that Turkey had agreed not to provide Turkey with oil via a KRG and Turkey pipeline but would instead provide crude oil only via Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organisation. Business Day Online notes that KRG spokesperson Safeen Dizayee disagrees and states, "Absolutely we have not reached any agreement to export oil via SOMO. The dialogue and discussions are still underway."
Nidal al-Leithi (Al-Monitor) reports:
Former Iraqi Oil Minister Issam al-Chalabi revealed that a latent crisis is brewing between Iraq’s Oil Ministry and the largest oil companies in Iraq.
In a statement to Azzaman, Chalabi, who is now serving as an international adviser for energy affairs, held the Ministry of Oil responsible for this crisis, saying that it will affect oil production in the long run.
Chalabi criticized the role Turkey played in the oil crisis between the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). He told Azzaman that Turkey would have to terminate its contract with the KRG and go back to its previous policy, which is contracting with the federal government in terms of oil investments and pipeline extensions.
I'm not really sure why his opinion is worth quoting. He was an Oil Minister. Decades ago. March 1987 to October 1990. (He then fled Iraq.) And he's been making this argument for years. Not really sure why anyone cares. There is no oil law. Nouri swore to the US government in 2007 that he'd get the oil and gas law passed, he never did. Chalabi insists this means Saddam's oil law is in place.
That's really not how it works. And the KRG has more rights -- and has since 2003 -- than it did under Sadam Hussein's presidency. Kirkuk Now notes, "On Sunday, Nechirvan Barzani, the Prime Minister of the KRG, held talks in Baghdad with the Kurdish ministers and the members of the Iraqi Parliament concerning the continuing disagreements between the two governments." On that Sunday meeting, the Kurdistan Regional Government notes:
Several viewpoints were exchanged regarding recent developments throughout the course of the meeting. A four-point declaration was unanimously adopted outlining the Kurdistan Region’s position:
- Iraqi Kurdistan is part of Iraq according to the Constitution and is
therefore entitled to all rights and authorities granted to it as
stipulated by the Constitution. This includes its share of the budget
derived from the national income. The central government cannot cut
salaries under any pretext to use as leverage against the KRG.
Although the KRG has other options at its disposal to provide salaries
and meet other needs of its people, negotiations should continue
between the Iraqi Federal Government and the KRG based on the
fulfillment of the Kurdistan Region’s constitutional rights.
We call upon the Iraqi Prime Minister to rescind this illegal and
unconstitutional policy. The Kurdistan Region’s share of the budget and
salaries is a constitutional right and should be disbursed. Pending
issues with the KRG should be resolved through dialogue and negotiation.
- We call upon respected religious authorities, the United Nations, governments of countries with relations with Iraq, member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and member states of the Arab League to take responsibility by using their influence to end the policy of economic sanctions levied against the people and the government of the Kurdistan Region. This policy is unjustified in its entirety, blatantly violates constitutional law, and stands against international accords and the basic principles of human rights.
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