THE BLOG
11/29/2007 11:09 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

NSN Iraq Daily Update 11/29/07

KURDS BUCK U.S. ON OIL DEALS - UNDERMINE POLITICAL RECONCILIATION

The Kurdish Regional Government has been signing oil deals against the wishes of Iraq's central government and the U.S. State Department. Due to the inability of the Iraqi national government to transcend sectarian differences and create a national petroleum law, the Kurdish Regional Government has adopted its own oil law and has been unilaterally signing oil contracts with foreign companies. In the past month the Kurds have signed a dozen oil exploration contracts. The State Department strongly objects to the Kurdish oil deals, as it fears they will undermine the ability of the Iraqi government to create a national oil law - the cornerstone of any political reconciliation. The Iraqi oil minister Hussein Shahristani has also described the Kurdish deals as illegal. But this brought a strong rebuke from Ashti Abdullah Hawrami, the oil minister of the Kurdish Regional Government, "We don't need his approval." Hawrami added, "Every time we hear the word 'illegal,' we sign two more contracts." [Washington Post, 11/28/07]

Bush donor and member of Presidential advisory board signed oil contract with Iraqi Kurds, against the wishes of the State Department. Ray Hunt, CEO of Texas-based Hunt Oil, a major campaign contributor to President Bush, and a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, signed an oil contract in September with the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq. The State Department objected to the deal, because it believes that it will undermine any effort to create a national oil law. The Hunt contract has paved the way for smaller U.S. oil companies to sign similar deals. Two top Kurdish leaders are currently in the U.S. attempting to sign more oil deals. [Washington Post, 11/28/07]

U.S. MILITARY EXPECTS TO ADD TO UNOFFICIAL SECURITY GUARDS

The American military expects to add 10,000 Iraqis to the group of unofficial security guards who act as paid neighborhood sentries. The guards are part of a program that began earlier this year when American forces offered tribal sheiks money in exchange for information about terrorist and criminal activities. About 77,000 volunteers have joined the groups, the majority of them Sunnis. The program has raised concern among Shi'as that the Sunnis would use the money and training to reform militias. [NY Times, 11/29/07]

SLOW PROGRESS IN IRAQ RECONSTRUCTION MAY BE TO BLAME FOR HEALTH CRISIS

Unicef warns Baghdad may face a cholera outbreak. In recent weeks, 101 new cases have been reported. Cholera, a waterborne disease, often appears due to poor sanitary conditions. In Baghdad, raw sewage flows into many waterways, accounting for nearly 80 percent of the country's new cases. Iraq's sewage treatment plants are working at less than one-fifth of their capacity. Officials are concerned by the increase in cases because the rainy season is approaching. [NY Times, 11/29/07]

IRAQI GOVERNMENT REMAINS TORN ALONG SECTARIAN LINES

U.S official shows frustration with political progress in Iraq. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte at a news conference in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq that he welcomed security gains but stressed the importance of political progress. "Now exists the hope there will be a parallel progress in the political area, particularly in terms of achieving the various pieces of national reconciliation legislation on such matters as oil, regional governance and so forth," said Negroponte. Iraqi leaders remain torn along sectarian lines and have made little progress on passing key laws that are crucial to reconciliation. [Reuters, 11/29/07]

U.S. TO WORK WITH AUSTRALIA ON IRAQ WITHDRAWL

The U.S. will work with Australia's new leader on his plan to withdraw troops from Iraq. Prime minister-elect Kevin Rudd was elected on his pledges to pull out Australian troops. On the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, Rudd "has said that he will be involved in consultations with us and we are very much looking forward to doing that," said U.S. Ambassador Robert McCallum. Australia has close to 1,500 troops involved in Iraqi operations, although most are outside the country and only the 500 combat troops deployed in the south of Iraq are subject to Rudd's withdrawal plan. [AFP, 11/29/07]

VIOLENCE CONTINUES TO RAGE IN IRAQ

Iraqi and US troops killed two suspected militants and detained 22, in separate raids. According to U.S. military statements, US forces killed two and detained five militants in a village north of Baghdad. The target was a member of a group that broke away from the Mahdi Army militia of Shi'a leader Moqtada al-Sadr who ordered a six-month freeze of operations in August. In a separate incident, the Iraqi defense ministry said its troops raided a Sunni militia hideout, detaining 17 suspected militants. [AFP, 11/29/07]