To celebrate Thanksgiving, here is a video of our Thanksgiving at FOB Hammer in Iraq, November 2009. As part of the celebration, the officers served dinner to the enlisted men and women. I assisted– because I had a beard, I am the one wearing a facemask stretched over the lower part of my chin.
You could almost write a book based just on the history of Thanksgivings in our war in Iraq. Remember in 2003, flush with manly, victory-laced testosterone, George W. Bush secretly flew into Iraq to have turkey dinner with the troops? Then, during the boom years of occupation, no expense was spared to provide a full, all-the-trimmings Thanksgiving feast for our men and women in uniform, such as you can witness in the video above.
Meanwhile, as we ate out meal in 2009, in the freedom city of Basra on Thanksgiving Day, at least nine people were killed and 40 wounded when three bombs exploded in a market. Many of the casualties were police and soldiers who responded to the scene of the first blast, officials said. Hospital sources put the toll at nine dead and 40 wounded, while a police source said 11 people were killed and 42 wounded.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Copyright © 2015. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!
As part of the democratic process still unfolding in Iraq, Sunni insurgents have attacked an Iraqi police station manned by Shia cops, in Sunni Ramadi. The cops work for the Iraqi government, widely seen as being dominated by Shia and used as a tool of control over the Sunni’s in Ramadi. Cowboys and Indians.
In Ramadi, two initial car bombs exploded at around 11:30 am near Dawlah Kabir Mosque in the center of the city, before a third car bomb went off in the same area. A short time later, a fourth car bomb detonated near a police compound in Ramadi, followed quickly thereafter by two suicide bombers blowing themselves up inside. Then, about 10 insurgents stormed the compound, which houses the police’s investigations and intelligence directorate and a building under construction that is to be the new office of the mayor of Ramadi. The gunmen, who apparently did not take hostages, were holed up in the latter facility and clashes were ongoing as of 1:30 pm.
The violence was reminiscent of a siege at a police station in the nearby town of Al-Baghdadi, also in Anbar province, three months ago, in which the local police chief and four others were killed when gunmen disguised in police uniforms set off explosions, clearing the way for them to overrun the building.
In June, at least three explosions near provincial government offices in Ramadi killed 10 people and wounded 15 others.
In January 2011, a suicide bomber blew up an explosives-packed car carrying Anbar governor Qassim Mohammed Abid, but he was unhurt.
Anbar Provincial government offices were also targeted by attackers three times in 2010, and, on December 30, 2009,
Of course, Sunday’s violence in Ramadi came a day after a suicide attacker targeting Shiites killed 53 people on the outskirts of the southern city of Basra, the latest in a series of attacks that have killed nearly 200 people.
Copyright © 2015. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!
Two or three bombs hit a crude oil pipeline in Iraq’s southern oilfields leading to storage tanks around Basra.
The impact on oil production or exports was not immediately clear, but the deputy head of the Basra provincial council, Ahmed al-Sulaiti, said firefighters were still battling the fire late on Tuesday.
An oil police source told Reuters, “the explosions happened in succession and caused an enormous fire … We cannot go near the explosion site because the fire is still raging… we fear the fire might extend to other nearby oil pipelines.”
The pipeline was reported to be carrying crude to the Zubair 1 storage facility near Basra. In early June, militants blew up a storage tank at the Zubair 1 storage facility, despite tight security.
Jeez, they didn’t even wait until the door hit the last US solider on the butt on the way out…
Copyright © 2015. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!
Iraq continues to represent the vision of two American presidents who apparently had nothing better to do than invade and occupy the place because, hey, why not? On Saturday, seven people were killed and 28 others wounded when three roadside bombs exploded mid-morning in the busy Bab al-Sharji commercial district of central Baghdad. Another six men died and 10 others were injured when a roadside bomb hit a minibus carrying young laborers and construction workers in al-Annaz area in eastern Falluja. Both area were primarily Sunni.
But don’t worry, because earlier in the week 50 people were killed and more than 50 others were hurt when three explosions hit a commercial district in Basra, an oil-rich, predominantly Shiite city. The universe of sectarian killing in Iraq remains in balance.
America firmed up ties with its best buddy and ally Pakistan by gunning down at least 26 Pakistani troops. NATO helicopters opened fire on two Pakistani military checkpoints near the border with Afghanistan early Saturday, killing 24 soldiers. Another 13 soldiers were wounded in the attack in the Mohmand Agency area. But it’s OK– Marine General John R. Allen offered his “sincere and personal heartfelt condolences” to the families of any Pakistan Security Forces members killed or injured. OK, that’s settled!
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, six children were among seven civilians killed in a NATO airstrike. A spokesman for the governor of Kandahar said that a NATO reconnaissance aircraft spotted five militants planting mines in the village of Siacha. The plane targeted the insurgents, killing two and wounding a third, and then pursued the other two suspects as they carried their wounded comrade away. “The plane chased them, the insurgents entered a street where children were playing and, as a result of its shooting, seven people have been killed, including six children, and two girls also have been injured.”
There is more, but my stomach can only handle so much loaded down with turkey and stuffing, so I’ll leave it to your imagination and Google. Americans, thank you, and please now return to your shopping and over-eating.
From the website UK Defense Forum comes a review of a more obscure book about the reconstruction of Iraq, told from the British side.
Reviewed by Ian Shields for the UK Defense Forum
There have been plenty of books written about the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath, but these have been predominantly about the military aspects of the campaign and the role of servicemen in the aftermath of the fighting; many indeed being written by service personnel of all ranks. Add to this some books by (senior) diplomats detailing their involvement and thoughts, plenty of references in the memoires of various politicians, and finally the odd academic tome and you have a pretty good view of the literature. This short book, about the experiences of one woman in a relatively lowly Foreign and Commonwealth Office appointment, offers a very different insight. Caroline Jaine, a mother of three, volunteered to serve in Basra and this is the story of the 100 days she spent there.
The book deserves reading for three specific reasons: first, it highlights the totally inadequate preparation we offer non-military personnel deploying to a conflict zone, whether immediately after the fighting or during the post-conflict reconstruction phase. Second, it highlights how important both these civilian experts and the media are to attempts at building or re0building a civil society. Third, but most important, it highlights the gulf of understanding between the military and civilian worlds, when both sides are meant to be pulling together: as a damning critique of a “comprehensive” or “joined-up approach” it takes some beating. The book’s critique of this lack of understanding of the real task in Basra, the frictions between the military and the civilians that bedevilled progress and the poor view of the politicians – brought on by their own behaviour and lack of understanding – are the more effective because they are understated and implied.
There are two personal themes that run throughout the book. First, Caroline’s undoubted bravery, although she takes great pains to underplay this, emphasise her lack of bravery, and play up her naivety. Yet she is, clearly, very brave – the picture on the front cover is (albeit tongue-in-cheek) testament to this, and opening up her inner thoughts in the fashion that she has further underlines this point. Second, this book has the theme of strategy, or – more accurately – the devastating impact that a lack of strategy has on a project such as rebuilding Iraqi civil society, running throughout it; indeed, it is one of the two themes of the book’s sub-title.
Those who have an interest in strategy, in post-conflict reconstruction (or, to use a military term, Phase IV operations), a comprehensive or joined-up, approach, practioners or theoreticians of conflict resolution would all benefit from reading this book. It is sad that the book has not been published by a major publishing house, but it is readily available via a certain (major) on-line book retailer. Finally, read A Better Basra if you just want to read a very human story and read, in well-written prose, how one ordinary mother thought she could make a difference, and the sacrifices she paid trying to do so.
Iraqi officials say seven people were killed when three bombs hidden in motorcycles exploded in Basra. The bombs went off Wednesday evening near cafes where young people were sitting and drinking soft drinks. Some 24 people were wounded in the blasts.
Basra is southeast of Baghdad. The city is a hub of oil production, a major center of Iranian influence and site of one of America’s mega-consulates o’ freedom.
So how’s that oil production (“blood for oil”) doing, anyway, in between bombings?
Let’s check in with the always-sunny-in-Basra folks at the US Energy Information Administration: they says oil production is soaring over last year, with production jumping 13%, going from 2.3 to 2.6 million barrels a day. Yeah!
But here’s a spoil sport: Iraq’s oil exports in October ran at an average of 2.088 million barrels a day, or 0.6% below the rate of September said the head of the State Oil Marketing Organization, or SOMO. Those Iraqi numbers seem, well, lower, than the US numbers. That is a sad.
So which is it? Is Iraq a good witch or a bad witch this Halloween? No one knows, but things are certainly booming!
Even as the number of US troops in Iraq continues to (slowly) decline, the State Department is cranking up its headcount such that in many parts of Iraq the number of official Americans is actually increasing.
The number of Americans in Basra will actually increase significantly in the months ahead as the State Department dramatically expands its consulate. Officials say the consulate will employ more than 1,200 people, making it larger than most embassies. The bulk of its employees will be security contractors and civilian officials from the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
The US consulate in Erbil will be even bigger, with eventually at least 1,400 people, including more than 100 troops.
The World’s Largest Embassy (c) in Baghdad easily retains its title, adding another couple of thousand USG employees to Team Iraq.
The US Mission in China, country with a quarter of the world’s population and a double-digit percentage of American debt, muddles by with something like half an Iraqi consulate’s worth of staff. Same for other important Embassies in the UK, Japan, Moscow, never mind smaller places without Muslims we stopped caring about when the Cold War faded away.
Given that most of the State employees in Iraq will be contractors, at $200,000+ a year in salary, or diplomats who cost close to $500,000 to maintain and support (although they make much less than contractors in actual pay) and you’re talking billions and billions of Ameros just to pay salaries.
Which begs the question: what (or, WTF) will all those people do in Iraq? What are their jobs? What does the US need from them so badly that we’re in hock again to pay for it? What remains so special about Iraq that it needs resources so far in excess of China, Russia, or even Afghanistan?
Sorry, a bit of a trick question, because I don’t know.
I can’t conceive of what all those folks will do, except perhaps write memos to each other, provide support for memo writers and of course, security for memo writers. After eight years of war heading into a ninth, Iraq still remains so unsafe that an American cannot drive, never mind walk, the streets.
Which brings it all home. Under such conditions, exactly what are all those State Department people going to do in Iraq? Is this in fact the long-sought Obama jobs program?
SecDef/CIA/Chief of All Washington Leon Panetta and Admiral Mullen testify today before the Senate Armed Services Committee, and will in part answer the question of what any American troops left in Iraq next year will do there. My answer to that question appeared on HuffPo last week; let’s see how close my answer and theirs are in the end.
If you’re at home, please feel free to invent a drinking game of your own while watching the testimony on C-Span. Maybe a shot for every point of agreement, or two shots for every disagreement, or maybe just get depressed that this war will never end and kill the fucking bottle.
In Iraq today, diplomats, military officials, and Washington busybodies are involved in a complex game of maneuvering into place American troops meant to remain in Iraq long past the previously 12/31/2011 negotiated deadline for full withdrawal. Iraq will eventually agree, probably in some semi-passive way, such as calling them trainers, or visiting students, or temps. There will be endless argument over numbers — should it be 3000 soldiers or 10,000? The debate over whether troops should stay on, or how many should stay, begs the real question: What will all those soldiers do in Iraq?
The U.S. has already tipped its hand on the most obvious thing some of them will be doing: Special Forces operations. Vice Admiral William McRaven, who heads up JSOC, the Joint Special Operations Command, told a Senate committee that a “small force” of special operations types should remain in Iraq after the end of the year. Some Iraqis, specifically Iraqi special forces who don’t want to face the bad guys alone, have asked that the US operators stick around as well.
So what will all those bad boys be doing in Iraq? They would undoubtedly just keep on keeping on with what they are already doing — hunting down individuals and killing them. The bin Laden raid was a varsity-level operation of this type, but night after night such raids, albeit on a much smaller scale, are taking place in Iraq (as in Afghanistan) to pop bomb makers and local cell leaders. Why do you think we’ve had no new prisoners found for Gitmo recently? Dead men tell no tales.
Estimates are that almost two thousand targeted killing missions have been conducted over the last couple of years, to the point that one DOD official likened the routine of evening raids to “mowing the lawn.” On May 1 alone, the night of the bin Laden raid, special-operations forces conducted twelve other missions.
The fighting in Iraq has moved from mass operations to very specific killings on both sides. A Shiite militia has no need to target a marketplace when what they really want to do is whack one specific Sunni police captain hassling them. The US, with its vast, frightening and ever-growing electronic search and surveillance machine, doesn’t need to carpet bomb a village when a ten man special ops team can motor in one night, knowing the Shiite militia commander they want to whack is at home, second floor, back bedroom, on the phone to his Qods Force controller (also being whacked simultaneously somewhere else). The array of electronics needed to do this kind of thing will stay with the special forces in Iraq and/or be quietly slipping through the night sky far, far above the whacking.
Such whacky hijinks will continue post-12/31/2011 whether Iraq and the US work out a deal for a permanent troop presence or not, as special ops seem to find their own way to where they want to go. The targeted killings will be much, much easier however if the guys can be based locally, and if there is less need for the Iraqis to look the other way. Now as in the future, sometimes the Iraqis are involved, sometimes the Iraqis know about what’s going down but conveniently look the other way, and sometimes our guys just go out and do it whether the Iraqis like it or not. Call it privilege of empire.
Since for political purposes (can you imagine a Malaki-Obama conversation? “Barack, my brother, my domestic numbers are killing me; can we just call them trainers?” “I agree, I agree Nouri my friend, every time I call them ‘troops’ Fox jumps my ass.”) many if not all of the Americans in uniform will be labeled “trainers,” it is a good thing that in fact some large subset will indeed train Iraqis.
The State Department held an Iraq investment conference in early June, a forum for the Secretary herself to strong-arm US companies into investing in the US government’s investment in Iraq. Say what you want, folks at State are optimists. Here’s the take from June:
While businesses entering the Iraqi market continue to face hurdles, including a greatly improved but still difficult security environment, some positive developments, such as rising oil revenues, expected double-digit domestic economic growth, significant investments in infrastructure, and a stable democratic government point to the conclusion that Iraq represents a unique business opportunity.
So, some 10 weeks later, let’s have another look at investment in Iraq.
Security just keeps on sucking the air out of any investment plans. Just yesterday a string of coordinated bombings across Iraq killed 80 people, injured 250 and showed the bad guys, whoever they are, retain the ability to strike as they wish. The number of civilians killed by violence in Iraq rose to 159 in July from 155 in June, matching January with the highest toll so far for 2011.
It is unclear if these attacks are designed to encourage American forces to stay or leave, but people do keep dying. Worse than a falling Dow for encouraging foreign investment.
Oil exports, which were to drive the economy in Iraq, dropped in July compared to June (2.16 million barrels a day versus 2.75 million). Oil prices rose, so in dollar terms Iraq still did OK, but the oft-promised increases in output show no signs of coming true. Any drop in worldwide oil prices will whack Iraq hard upside the head as their output levels seems stuck.
As for that developing infrastructure, well, that’s also part of the problem. Demand for electricity is still very high, high enough in fact to divert some of Iraq’s crude production to meet growing local demand for fuel to drive power plants. Kind of like borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.
In addition to the show stoppers above, investment in Iraq seems to run into bureaucratic hurdles.
Basra is the focus for most of the West, because of oil, oil and oil. Unfortunately, while many projects are announced, fewer are implemented. According to head of investment in Basra, Haider Ali Fadel, while reports indicate that the investment authority agreed to the implementation of 40 projects since its founding in 2008, more than half have not been implemented.
Fadel cited the lack of land allocated for the implementation of investment projects as the major problem (foreign companies cannot own land in Iraq, and the ever-so-slow Ministry of Oil controls most real estate in Basra). Somehow obtaining visas for foreign investors to enter Iraq remains a major challenge as well. The latter problem is related to corruption, poor relations between the Ministries of the Interior and Foreign Affairs, just bad communications or all of the above, depending on who you speak with.
What might be called other “coordination” problems between local and Baghdad bureaucrats also seem to be thwarting investment. In April, Iraq awarded the China National Machinery Equipment Import & Export Corporation a $204.4 million contract to build a 500 megawatt electrical power plant in Basra.
However, the head of the electricity committee in Basra province, Ziad Fadhel Ali, said that “the electricity ministry did not signthe final contract, and we don’t know the reason for the delay. Since the signing of the initial agreement, the company has not taken any step towards implementing the contract because of the obstruction of the electricity ministry,” Ali said. Baghdad authorities blamed a failed financial guarantee from a Korean bank.
Such problems are not limited to Basra. On July 2, Canadian company Capgent signed a $1.66 billion contract with Iraq’s electricity ministry to build 10 power plants over a period of 12 months. Four days later, Baghdad signed a $625 million contract with German firm MBH to build five power stations in 11 months. But Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussein al-Shahristani told a news conference that Capgent was “a company on paper only” and MBH was bankrupt and facing legal trouble. “The contracts with the phantom and bankrupt companies have been cancelled and lawsuits filed against them,” Shahristani said.
The construction contracting business, needed to actually build those investments that get past the bureaucrats, remains a problem as well. Iraq Business News reports that changes in legislation have led to an explosion in cheesy building companies.
In 2003, the US’ Coalition Provisional Authority made changes to the existing Company Law No. 21 of 1997 because, as then-CPA head Paul Bremer wrote, “some of the rules concerning company formation and investment under the prior regime no longer serve a relevant social or economic purpose, and that such rules hinder economic growth.”
Bremers’ amendments were supposed to liberalize the economy but had unintended consequences. Within a fairly short period, 925 construction companies registered in Basra alone with another 5000 waiting for registration.
The growth in numbers allowed for the creation of companies that only existed on paper. The amendments allowed any Iraqi with a minimum of one million dinars (around US$850) to register a company. While the law does not allow a company to implement projects with costs three times more than its capital, any company can temporarily increase its capital by utilising a temporary deposit from one of the local banks. The bank deposits the needed amount, charges a commission and then withdraws the cash from the company’s account after the deal is signed. A foreign investor would be none the wiser.
Hard to Swallow
Investment in Iraq remains hard to swallow. We’ll check back again in a few weeks for an update. Until then, save your money.
Lâm Văn Tức, was a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk who burned himself to death at a busy Saigon road intersection on June 11, 1963. He was protesting the persecution of Buddhists by South Vietnam’s corrupt and ineffectual Diệm administration.
The Iraqi poet Poet Kazim al-Hajjaj, in southern Iraq’s port city of Basra, has locked himself inside his home “until death,” to protest the continuous electric power cuts in his city. Temperatures these days are routinely over 100 degress F/50 degrees C.
The US spent over $63 billion on “rebuilding,” including billions spent on (not) fixing the power grid.
There is nothing more to say. This is the Iraq we created.
Further evidence that we failed in Iraq: Iraq has asked China to set up a fund to help with the reconstruction of the war-battered country, an Iraqi government official said on Monday during a visit to Beijing by Iraqi Prime Minister al Maliki.
For those keeping score in blood and treasure at home, the US spent $63 billion on reconstruction efforts since the 2003 invasion, plus billions more in Iraqi money, all to little avail. Ordinary people have seen little improvement in their lives while contracting firms grew rich. The US went on to build the World’s Largest Embassy © in Baghdad, I wrote a whole book about the failure of reconstruction, etc., etc., etc.
But let’s talk about a winner today instead! China has done well for itself in Iraq. The country eased into a cozy relationship with Iraq by writing off 80 percent of its Saddam Hussein-era debt.
In 2008, the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) successfully renegotiated a contract originally signed by the previous regime to develop the Ahdab oilfield, becoming the first country to sign an oil service contract in Iraq under the new U.S.-backed regime.
CNPC completed construction of the first phase of the oilfield in June this year, and it is also developing Iraq’s Halfaya oilfield. CNPC also has a 37 percent stake in a service contract to develop the Rumaila oilfield, which pumps out almost half of Iraq’s total oil output.
Iraqi government spokesman Ali al Dabbagh hinted also that the country might buy weapons from China, necessitating the need for PLA trainers to visit Iraq.
Indeed, Iraq and China on July 19 signed a Memo of Understanding (MOU) for economic and technical cooperation and another MOU for the training of the Iraqi cadres in China, according to a statement on Monday by Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki’s office, now on a visit to China, leading a high-level delegation. These will be followed by the signing of an MOU for cooperation in the field of electric power
The US, in its odd desperation to have things succeed somehow, anyhow, in Iraq, has even been helping the Chinese exploit Iraqi oil outside Basra. To ensure their safety, most of the foreign oil companies have their offices located within the confines of the US military base at Basra, along with the US PRT, the British Consulate and the Russian and Chinese oil exploration firms, which must make for some interesting cafeteria small talk.
“US policy at this time is that the USG in Iraq should assist in facilitating the mobilization of these companies without regard to the nationality of the companies,” said Kenneth Thomas, head of the energy section of the Basra PRT, though he added “But we are not going to assist an Iranian company.”
Chinese investment deals are worth noting. Outside of oil, one of the biggest is Shanghai Electric moving ahead with a $1 billion power-generating plant to boost Iraq’s electricity capacity by 1,320 megawatts. The planned steam power plant in the town of Zubaidiya near the city of Kut, southeast of Baghdad, is seen as one of the biggest power projects in the country, where intermittent electricity is one of the public’s top complaints.
Of course, billions of dollars and eight years after the US invasion, Iraq’s national grid still only supplies a few hours of power each day.
On a smaller scale, Chinese goods are readily found in Iraq’s markets and stores. A PRT project to make clothing, fully subsidized by the US Government, went belly up because Chinese imports underpriced our crappy knit goods by 30 percent. Another project, this time the Army’s plan to hand out free food, ended up being flooded with cheap Chinese gift bags, complete with intellectually pirated Disney characters on the outsides. Of course, no US base was complete with its so-called “Hajii Shop,” a sort of local bodega whose main item was illegal DVDs, shipped on via a reverse Silk Road journey from Guangzhou. Even some of Iraq’s prostitutes came from China: every Chinese restaurant was rumored to include some special off-menu services being available.
China remains popular enough in the region. In the latest Zogby poll, when presented with several countries (e.g. Turkey, Iran, France, China, the US etc.) and asked to evaluate whether or not each of them play a constructive role “in promoting peace and stability in the Arab World” eight in ten Arabs give a negative assessment to the US role — rating it significantly lower than France, Turkey, China, and, in four of six Arab countries, even lower than Iran.
So, quick recap:
Since 2003 the US has lost 4474 soldiers and a couple of trillion dollars. Iran has risen politically such that there is talk of Iraq being nothing more than an Iranian vassal, and economic relations between the two countries are sweet as a summer peach. Trade with China is purring along the old Silk Road. Then China grabs a bunch of the oil at no cost to itself in military expenses, human lives or loss of prestige in the Middle East.
Yep, this war has worked out just fine, just fine.
Hey ‘Merikans, feelin’ any prouder? Standin’ any taller? Hell boy, we are even freer today than yesterday because we are back baby, back cold killing Iraqis again that is. Man, it feels like the heady days of 2003 all over again, before all that nancy boy reconstruction heart and minds crap. Any Iraqi hearts and minds we were after today were splattered in the street.
Yes, it’s true. After a rocket attack against America’s Freedom Base at the Basra Airport (the place the sissy British abandoned earlier this year), we all put down some attack helo love on the guys we thought did it. We killed one and wounded some others, including a woman. They is the worst kinda’ bad guys.
This all just follows the new trend in Iraq, a bit o’ the old ultra violence. In fact, yep, another record fell, as this past week was the bloodiest in Iraq since the elections of March 2010. There were over 90 separate attacks documented, mainly in Baghdad and the districts surrounding it, although the southern city of Basrah also saw a rare suicide attack,
Well, in a week where the Iraqis wouldn’t pay us for invading them, at least there was some good news. USA! USA! USA!
Good Christ, we are never going to be finished with this war.
Video from Tahrir Square in Baghdad this weekend, clashes between pro-Malaki (Shiite) forces and anti-Malaki forces (Sunni).
Also this weekend, two beheaded in Mosul, five others killed in Basra, couple more in Baghdad.
Hey Iraqis, you’re free! Go thank a Vet.
The Future of Iraq: Troops Face Dangers in South outlines the increasing dangers US troops, as well as the rest of Iraq, face in the volatile south. The southern regions of Iraq are and always have been Shiite strongholds, a fertile crescent of Iranian influence and happy places for al Sadr’s people. Unfortunately, that’s also where much of the easy-to-get oil is.
Another sign that the south is going to be trouble for some time was today’s rocket attack against an Iraqi oil storage depot that set one tank ablaze in a rare assault on strategic southern oilfields. Dhiya Jaffar, head of the state-run South Oil Company, told Reuters the attack set ablaze one tank at the Zubair 1 storage facility. An Iraqi police source said bombs targeted four tanks at the facility, but only one of the tanks hit contained crude and ignited. Another bomb hit an empty tank and bombs at two other tanks were deactivated, the police source said.
While the attack disrupted relatively little of the oil flow, it was not for lack of trying. Expect more as the US-Iran proxy war and Iraq’s problems with raising its oil output continue to collide in the South.
Still want more evidence of the Southern mess? Have a look at the growing tensions in Maysan, where the new Governor refused to meet with US PRT personnel, and told local agencies and non-government organizations not to cooperate with them either. The Americans responded in turn, by cutting their training of local forces there. Can’t see all that leading anywhere good.
Note that the continued presence of US troops in the area simply adds fuel to the fire; there are enough soldiers to keep tensions high, but without the mandate or the force (after eight years!) to tamp down the sparks (end of fire metaphor).