Sunday, May 31, 2009

How Did The Outgoing Provincial Councils Do?

All of Iraq’s new provincial councils have now been seated. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) released its quarterly report to Congress on April 30, which contains the latest data on how those outgoing politicians did. The previous councils were in office from 2005 to 2009. Most came to power with little to no experience in government. Their last two years should be their best performance because they were able to learn on the job, had the benefit of U.S. and international training, and saw a dramatic drop in violence.

In 2008 the provinces were budgeted $9,830.69 million. They spent 67% of it, or $6,596.8 million. The three Kurdish provinces of Dohuk, Irbil, and Sulaymaniya received almost a third of the overall amount, $3,701.49 million. The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) does not provide information about its spending however, so both Baghdad and the U.S. tend to count all of the money sent north as spent. In 2008 the SIGIR said Kurdistan spent 100% of their budget, which skews the overall number for Iraq’s provinces upwards. Without the KRG, the remaining fifteen governorates were budgeted $6,129.2 million, and only spent 47% of it, $2,894.7 million. This was an improvement over 2007 when the provinces were budgeted $3,631 million and spent over $2,137 million, 58%+. Minus Kurdistan the provinces spent $650 mil of their $2,071 budget, 31.3% however. While getting better, these numbers show that Iraq’s local governments still have a ways to go in appropriating and investing their money. The public sector is the largest part of the economy, so it’s important that the provinces expend as much as possible. 47% in 2008, especially with the dramatic drop in violence, is still an inadequate amount given the demands of average Iraqis.

In terms of individual provinces, outside of Kurdistan, Maysan, Karbala, Najaf, Babil, and Anbar did the best in executing their budget in that order in 2008. Maysan, which was controlled by the Sadrists, spent 86.4% of their 2008 budget. The Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) controlled Karbala, 85.3%, Najaf, 75.7%, and Babil 63.5%. The Iraqi Islamic Party ran Anbar, which rounded out the top five, spending 54.4% of its budget. In 2007 many of the same provinces and parties were at the top, starting with Najaf, 64%, Maysan, 51%, Babil, 49%, Karbala, 41%, and Wasit, 41%, the last of which had a Sadrist governor and a provincial council run by the Iraq Elites Gathering.

Ninewa, 36.6%, Dhi Qar, 33.1%, Qadisiyah, 31.5%, Diyala, 28.2%, and Muthanna, 26.8%, were at the bottom last year. The Supreme Council ran Qadisiyah alone. In Dhi Qar, the council was split between the Fadhila Party and the SIIC, and Diyala and Muthanna had a SIIC-Dawa coalition. Ninewa was controlled by the Kurdish Alliance of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), with an independent Arab governor. In 2007 Baghdad, 31%, Ninewa, 26%, Basra, 21%, Muthanna, 19%, and Anbar, 3.7%, did the worst. The Supreme Council controlled Baghdad, and all of them except for Muthanna were some of the most violent in the country that year, which greatly complicated governing them. The provinces that did the best and worst in this category show that the ruling party had little to do with performance. The Supreme Council for example controlled three of the top five governorates that spent the most money, but also had a hand in ruling four of the bottom five. It seems that local officials, and their training and expertise would be much more important factors than what national parties they belonged to when it came to executing their budgets.

2008 Provincial Budget Execution – Ruling Parties

Total: Budgeted $9,830.69 mil, Spent $6,596.8 mil, 67%
Not Including Kurdistan: Budgeted $6,129.2 mil, Spent $2,894.7 mil, 47%

Kurdistan - Budgeted: $3,701.49 mil, Spent $3,702.1 mil, 100% - KDP-PUK
Maysan - Budgeted $194.59 mil, Spent $168.09 mil, 86.4% - Sadrists
Karbala - Budgeted $164.03 mil, Spent $139.86 mil, 85.3% - SIIC
Najaf - Budgeted $328.18 mil, Spent $248.41 mil, 75.7% - SIIC
Babil - Budgeted $409.09 mil, Spent $259.83 mil, 63.5% - SIIC
Anbar - Budgeted $367.15 mil, Spent $199.68 mil, 54.4% - Iraqi Islamic Party
Wasit - Budgeted $217.59 mil, Spent $117.16 mil, 53.8% - Iraq Elites Gathering-Sadrists
Baghdad - Budgeted $1,433.52 mil, Spent $670.66 mil, 46.8% - SIIC
Salahaddin - Budgeted $243.47 mil, Spent $112.25 mil, 46.1% - KDP-PUK
Basra - Budgeted $660.04 mil, Spent $287.37 mil, 43.5% - SIIC-Fadhila
Tamim - Budgeted $285.52 mil, Spent $108.19 mil, 37.9% - KDP-PUK
Ninewa - Budgeted $538.43 mil, Spent $197.11 mil, 36.6% - KDP-PUK
Dhi Qar - Budgeted $377.09 mil, Spent $124.84 mil, 33.1% - Fadhila-SIIC
Qadisiyah - Budgeted $240.45 mil, Spent $75.67 mil, 31.5% - SIIC
Diyala - Budgeted $443.11 mil, Spent $124.81 mil, 28.2% - Dawa-SIIC
Muthanna - Budgeted $226.94 mil, Spent $60.77 mil, 26.8% - Dawa-SIIC

2007 Provincial Budget Execution – Ruling Parties

Total: Budgeted $3,631 mil, Spent $2,137+ mil, 58%+
Not Including Kurdistan: Budgeted $2,071 mil, Spent $650 mil, 31.3%+

Kurdistan - Budgeted $1,560 mil, Spent $1,487, 95% - KDP-PUK
Najaf – Budgeted $88 mil, Spent $54.6 mil, 64% - SIIC
Maysan – Budgeted $76 mil, Spent $39 mil, 51% - Sadrists
Babil – Budgeted $127 mil, Spent $61.9 mil, 49% - SIIC
Karbala – Budgeted $71 mil, Spent $29.4 mil, 41% - SIIC
Wasit – Budgeted $83 mil, Spent $33.7 mil, 41% - Iraq Elites Gathering-Sadrists
Dhi Qar – Budgeted $138 mil, Spent $54.8 mil, 40% - Fadhila-SIIC
Qadisiyah – Budgeted $64 mil, Spent $24.7 mil, 39% - SIIC
Salahaddin – Budgeted $93 mil, Spent $31.5 mil, 34% - KDP-PUK
Tamim – Budgeted $91 mil, Spent $31 mil, 34% - KDP-PUK
Baghdad – Budgeted $560 mil, Spent $174.4 mil, 31% - SIIC
Ninewa – Budgeted $226 mil, Spent $58.5 mil, 26% - KDP-PUK
Basra – Budgeted $195 mil, Spent $40.8 mil, 26% - SIIC-Fadhila
Muthanna – Budgeted $52 mil, Spent $9.9 mil, 19% - Dawa-SIIC
Anbar – Budgeted $107 mil, Spent $4 mil, 3.7% - Iraqi Islamic Party
Diyala – Budgeted $100 mil, Spent N/A – Dawa-SIIC

The aggregate numbers on the amount budgeted and spent in each province only tells half of the story. In 2008, Maysan was ranked the top province in spending its budget outside of Kurdistan at 86.4%. However that money only led to 41 of 241 projects being completed there. For another view, the SIGIR report also included assessments of the U.S.-led Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), which operate in each of Iraq’s governorates. They rated Maysan as the least developed of all of Iraq’s provincial economies.

The PRTs assess governance, political development, reconciliation, economic development, and rule of law. These topics are ranked beginning, developing, sustaining, performing, or self-reliant. From February 2008 to February 2009 Kurdistan was given the highest rating, Wasit, Babil, and Karbala had the most improvement, while Ninewa, Anbar, Diyala, Baghdad, Muthanna, and Basra all saw reversals. Karbala, run by the SIIC, was rated the most successful province outside of Kurdistan, progressing from developing to performing in political development, reconciliation, and rule of Law, and from developing to sustaining in governance and economic development. Wasit was the only province that was given a self-reliant mark, and that was in reconciliation. Muthanna had a similar rating in February 2008, but fell back to sustaining a year later.

PRT Rankings:
Beginning: Little progress on decision-making, provision of services, political participation, fighting corruption, basic freedoms, infrastructure, and unemployment.
Developing: Small improvements in economic development, government, and security. Still lack budget spending, basic freedoms, political participation, jobs, banks, and effort against corruption.
Sustaining: Getting better at working with national government, building political parties, political participation, and police. Still lacks coordination, appropriations, banks, and still has tribal influences.
Performing: Social and financial institutions and infrastructure working, coordination, political participation, and transparency exists. Banks opening, appropriations improving, transportation available, police and legal system building, security forces in the lead, and tribes deferring to government.
Self-Reliant: Independent government with basic freedoms, security, political and economic institutions working, religious tolerance, working legal system, and self-sufficient security forces.

Governance – Sustaining
Political Development – Sustaining
Reconciliation – Sustaining
Economic Development – Advanced from Developing to Sustaining
Rule of Law – Moved down from Sustaining to Developing

Governance – Developing
Political Development – Advanced from Beginning to Performing
Reconciliation – Advanced from Beginning to Sustaining
Economic Development – Sustaining
Rule of Law – Advanced from Sustaining to Performing

Governance – Advanced from Developing to Sustaining
Political Development – Advanced from Developing to Sustaining
Reconciliation – Advanced from Developing to Sustaining
Economic Development – Advanced from Developing to Sustaining
Rule of Law – Moved down from Sustaining to Developing

Governance – Moved down from Sustaining to Developing
Political Development – Advanced from Sustaining to Performing
Reconciliation – Sustaining
Economic Development – Advanced from Developing to Sustaining
Rule of Law – Developing

Dhi Qar
Governance – Sustaining
Political Development – Sustaining
Reconciliation – Sustaining
Economic Development – Sustaining
Rule of Law - Sustaining

Governance – Moved down from Sustaining to Developing
Political Development – Developing
Reconciliation – Developing
Economic Development – Advanced from Developing to Sustaining
Rule of Law – Beginning to Developing

Governance – Advanced from Developing to Sustaining
Political Development – Advanced from Developing to Performing
Reconciliation – Advanced from Developing to Performing
Economic Development – Advanced from Developing to Sustaining
Rule of Law – Advanced from Developing to Performing

Governance – Sustaining
Political Development – Performing
Reconciliation – Performing
Economic Development – Advanced from Sustaining to Performing
Rule of Law – Advanced from Sustaining to Performing

Governance – Advanced from Beginning to Developing
Political Development – Developing
Reconciliation – Sustaining
Economic Development – Beginning
Rule of Law – Developing

Governance – Advanced from Developing to Sustaining
Political Development – Advanced from Beginning to Performing
Reconciliation- Moved down from Self-Reliant to Sustaining
Economic Development – Advanced from Developing to Sustaining
Rule of Law – Advanced from Developing to Sustaining

Governance – Sustaining
Political Development – Advanced from Developing to Performing
Reconciliation – Advanced from Developing to Sustaining
Economic Development – Sustaining
Rule of Law – Sustaining

Governance – Developing
Political Development – Advanced from Developing to Sustaining
Reconciliation – Advanced from Beginning to Developing
Economic Development – Developing
Rule of Law – Moved down from Sustaining to Developing

Governance – Advanced from Developing to Sustaining
Political Development – Advanced from Developing to Sustaining
Reconciliation – Beginning
Economic Development – Advanced from Beginning to Sustaining
Rule of Law – Advanced from Developing to Sustaining

Governance – Sustaining
Political Development – Advanced from Sustaining to Performing
Reconciliation – Advanced from Developing to Sustaining
Economic Development – Developing
Rule of Law – Developing

Governance – Advanced from Developing to Sustaining
Political Development – Sustaining
Reconciliation – Advanced from Developing to Sustaining
Economic Development – Advanced from Developing to Sustaining
Rule of Law – Advanced from Developing to Sustaining

Governance – Developing
Political Development – Advanced from Developing to Sustaining
Reconciliation – Advanced from Beginning to Self-Reliant
Economic Development – Advanced from Beginning to Sustaining
Rule of Law – Advanced from Developing to Performing

The SIGIR also provided the unemployment figures for each province. A recent January 2009 United Nations survey of Iraqis found the jobless rate at 18%. The SIGIR’s numbers were close at 19.5%. Wasit had the lowest unemployment rate at 13.6%. It also spent more than half of its budget at 53.8%, and had one of the largest jumps in economic development from beginning to sustaining according to the PRTs. Wasit was followed by Baghdad, 14.5%, Tamim, 15.7%, Babil, 15.9%, and Qadisiyah, 15.9%. Those four provinces were all over the place in spending their budgets from Qadisiyah that was third from last, only executing 31.5% of its money, to Babil, which spent 63.5% of its budget. The PRTs also ranked all of them at the sustaining level as well. At the opposite end of the spectrum were Karbala, 19.1%, Ninewa 20.9%, Salahaddin, 21.9%, Muthanna, 30.5%, and Dhi Qar, 36.5%, that had the highest unemployment. Ninewa and Salahaddin were both given developing marks in economics by the PRTs, the second to last rating, and were in the middle to bottom in spending their money. Muthanna and Dhi Qar were given sustaining ranks by the PRTs, but barely executed their budgets, with Muthanna in last place.

Unemployment By Province
Wasit 13.6%
Baghdad 14.5%
Tamim 15.7%
Babil 15.9%
Qadisiyah 15.9%
Kurdistan 16.7%
Maysan 17.3%
Anbar 17.4%
Najaf 18.6%
Basra 18.8%
Diyala 19.0%
Karbala 19.1%
Ninewa 20.9%
Salahaddin 21.9%
Muthanna 30.5%
Dhi Qar 36.5%
Avg. 19.5%

The budget execution and unemployment numbers provided by the SIGIR and the PRT assessments are some of the best available information on Iraq’s provinces. They can point out the overall economic situation of each area, and give hints at how they were governed. Overall, the statistics show that party affiliation does not translate into either good or bad policies. The Supreme Council for example ran half of Iraq’s provinces, but that only meant they were both at the top and bottom in terms of developing their areas. The real difference was the growth and performance of local officials, many of which were amateurs when they were elected in 2005. Some provinces showed great improvement according to the PRTs, and that was reflected in their spending and unemployment situation. All eighteen governorates however still needed to get much better at appropriating their money and providing jobs. The problem is that many of the new incoming councils are novices as well, which could mean another long process of learning the nuts and bolts of governing and budgeting with the provinces suffering in the meantime.


Aswat al-Iraq, “41 out of 241 projects implemented in Missan,” 12/30/08

Inter-Agency Information and Analysis Unit, “Iraq Labour Force Analysis 2003-2008,” United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, January 2009

Knights, Michael and McCarthy, Eamon, “Provincial Politics in Iraq: Fragmentation or New Awakening?” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, April 2008

Robertson, Campbell and Glanz, James, “Iraqi Figures Back U.S. View on Low Spending for Reconstruction,” New York Times, 8/21/08

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly and Semiannual Report to the United States Congress,” 7/30/08
- “Quarterly Report to the United States Congress,” 4/30/09

Friday, May 29, 2009

Iraq Oil Prices Up, But Still Facing A Deficit

Iraq’s Oil Ministry recently announced that both its oil exports and revenues were up for April 2009, but it is not enough to meet the demands of the country’s budget. In April Iraq earned $2.69 billion, the largest amount this year, compared to $2.49 billion in March. 54.7 million barrels were exported last month for an average of 1.832 million barrels a day. In March 1.816 million barrels were exported a day. Each barrel went for $49.21 in April compared to $44.20 in March. An Oil Ministry official said that Iraqi oil had reached $50 a barrel on May 23. Another Ministry employee told the press that exports would rise to an average of 1.9 million barrels a day this month.

Oil Ministry’s Numbers On Iraq’s Oil Exports (Avg. Mil. Barrels Per Day)
April 09 1.83
March 09 1.81
Feb. 09 1.80
Jan. 09 1.89
Dec. 08 1.81
Nov. 08 1.76

The Oil Ministry is desperately trying to boost production since oil is estimated to account for 85% of the country’s revenue this year. The Ministry wants to increase overall output by 300,000-500,000 barrels a day by the end of the year. To accomplish this they have signed several deals recently, including one with China National Petroleum, the first major oil contract since the invasion, tenders to drill 100 new wells, and is offering up 19 major oil and gas fields to major international energy companies. The Oil Ministry is even apparently going to allow the Kurds to begin exports even though it considers the deals illegal.

Despite the modest increase in exports in April, and the expected growth in May, Iraq will not be generating enough money this year to cover its needs. The country’s 2009 budget is based upon an average of 2 million barrels a day in exports and a $50 a barrel price. It took the country five months to reach $50 a barrel, and it still has not made its export mark this year. To make up the difference the Finance Ministry will borrow $7 billion for two years from the International Monetary Fund to cover the budget deficit. The government also claims that cell phone companies owe them $1.875 billion, and want payments to begin now to add extra revenue. As reported before, the government is making massive cuts in spending across all of its ministries as a result of the deficit. Everything from services to security is going to be affected.

Iraq is still trying to pull itself out of years of wars and international sanctions. The U.S. reconstruction effort is coming to an end, and no major aid packages from either America or the international community is expected in the future. There is very little foreign investment either. That leaves Iraq increasingly on its own. Iraq’s economy is still driven by the state as well with the government being the largest employer in the country. The budget deficit will mean less opportunity for growth and jobs in Iraq as a result.


Abdul-Zahra, Qassim, “Iraq passes sharply reduced budget for 2009,” Associated Press, 3/5/09

Ali, Mohannad, “Iraq allocates $224 million to drill new wells in oil field in south,” Azzaman, 5/15/09

Associated Press, “Iraq’s oil exports inch up in January,” 2/1/09

Aswat al-Iraq, “Finance ministry to sign new agreements with IMF,” 5/27/09
- “Iraq’s oil exports exceeded 54 million barrels in December – Oil Ministry,” 1/6/09
- “Iraq’s oil prices lower than the international average,” 5/23/09
- “Iraq’s oil revenues increase in April 2009,” 5/23/09
- “Kurdistan oil exports to help reduce budget deficit-lawmakers,” 5/23/09

Business Intelligence Middle East, “China faces unexpected problem drilling for oil in Iraq,” 5/22/09

Chon, Gina, “China Faces Unexpected Problem Drilling for Oil in Iraq – Farmers,” Wall Street Journal, 5/22/09

DiPala, Anthony, “Iraq Oil Export Income Rose 8.2% to $2.69 Billion in April,” Bloomberg, 5/25/09

Hafidh, Hassan, “UPDATE: Iraq April Oil Exports 1.82M B/d, Up 0.33% On Month,” Dow Jones, 5/3/09

Hoyos, Carola and Khalaf, Roula, “Kurdish exports resume despite Iraq impasse,” Financial Times, 5/27/09

Iraq Directory, “The Iraqi oil production is back to 2.4 million barrels per day,” 3/9/09

Lando, Ben, “Iraqi oil exports up but earning less,” UPI, 12/22/08

Reuters, “UPDATE 1-Iraq says to start Kurdistan oil exports on Sunday,” 5/27/09

Salaheddin, Sinan, “Oil Ministry: Iraq’s oil revenues drop,” Associated Press, 4/5/09

Sly, Liz, “Economic downturn finally hits Iraq,” Los Angeles Times, 5/11/09

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly Report to the United States Congress,” 4/30/09

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Survey Finds 23% of Iraqis Live In Poverty

The Central Organization for Statistics and Information Technology (COSIT), a branch of the Iraqi Planning and Development Ministry, conducted a countrywide survey that was released on May 19, 2009 that found 23% of the nation was living in poverty. The poverty line was set at earning $66 per month, or $2.20 a day. The COSIT was expecting a higher rate, but discovered that the government’s food ration system provided a huge relief to many families, which kept them out of the bottom rung of society. Muthanna at 49%, Babil at 41% and Salahaddin at 40% had the highest rates of poverty. The three Kurdish provinces of Dohuk, 10%, Irbil, 3%, and Sulaymaniya, 3%, had the least.

The COSIT findings are similar to other recent reports on impoverishment in Iraq, and lower than previous accounts. The United Nations for example, puts the poverty rate at 22%. In November 2008 the World Food Programme released an analysis of Iraq’s food situation that included a breakdown of wealth across every district in Iraq that also said poverty hit 22% of the Iraqi population. Their report was more detailed and found that 40% of Iraq’s population lived in the two lowest quintiles of wealth in the country. It also showed that within provinces there were deep pockets of poverty that would be overlooked by the aggregate numbers found by the COSIT and U.N. Ibril for example was tied for the province with the lowest poverty rate by COSIT, yet in the Choman district 79-94% of the population lived in the poorest quintile, and in the Soran and Makhmur districts 50-75% of the population were in that lowest group. At the same time, the 2009 estimate is lower than 2007 when Oxfam estimated that 43% of the country was poor.

A Planning Ministry official said that the major causes of poverty in Iraq were unemployment, run down infrastructure, and corruption. A U.N. survey released in February 2009 found that the jobless rate in Iraq was 18% and underemployment 10%, but that among young people 15-29 years of age, it was 28%. When broken down by gender, young men 15-29 years old have a 57% unemployment rate, which was even higher for women. Iraq has also been consistently rated one of the most corrupt countries in the world. The German group Transparency International releases annual reports ranking countries by corruption. In 2003 Iraq was tied for 113 out of 133 with 1 being the least corrupt country in the world and 133 the worst. In 2004 Iraq went down to being tied for 129 out of 146. In 2005 It was tied for 137 out of 159, 2006 tied for 160 out of 163, 2007 178 out of 180. By 2008 Iraq was tied with Myanmar as the second most corrupt country in the world. Iraq’s infrastructure has also suffered through the Iran-Iraq War, the Gulf War, and the U.S. invasion, along with a decade of international sanctions. It was during the U.N. sanctions in 1995 that the country’s food ration system was created under the Oil-For-Food program. While the system is far from perfect, with the Trade Minister recently having to resign for abusing the program, it is one of the major safety nets in the country.

The COSIT survey is just the most recent report to come out of Iraq that gives a clearer picture of the humanitarian situation within the country. During the height of the fighting large parts of Iraq were off limits, even to the government. Now that violence is down, ministry officials, the United Nations, and non-government organizations are able to enter into most parts of the nation to study the plight of the people. What they are finding is that Iraq is still suffering from many economic hardships, but the numbers are not as high as people expected, and there is hope for improvement with greater access to the population.


Aswat al-Iraq, “Iraq among countries with highest levels of corruption – report,” 9/23/08
- “Poverty in Iraq in 2007 at 23% - COSIT,” 5/19/09

Cordesman, Anthony, “Iraq’s Insurgency and Civil Violence,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 8/22/07

Inter-Agency Information and Analysis Unit, “Iraq Labour Force Analysis 2003-2008,” United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, January 2009
- “Karbala Governorate Profile,” United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, April 2009

IRIN, “IRAQ: Corruption undermining state food aid programme?” 5/19/09
- “IRAQ: Over 20 percent of Iraqis live below the poverty line,” 5/24/09

Reuters, “Iraq Trade Minister Resigns Over Corruption Scandal,” 5/25/09

World Food Programme, “Comprehensive Food Security & Vulnerability Analysis: Iraq,” November 2008

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How Long Will The U.S. Be In Iraq?

In late May 2009 General George Casey, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff said that the United States could be in Iraq for the next ten years. American forces could actually stay longer. Under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) U.S. troops are to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. Iraq’s security forces however, will not be able to defend the country by then, most likely leading Baghdad to ask the U.S. to leave behind a residual force to protect Iraq from external threats until the government is able to fulfill its duties.

At the end of February 2009 President Barak Obama announced his withdrawal plan from Iraq. He said that the U.S. drawdown would follow the SOFA signed between the Bush White House and Baghdad. That called for U.S. combat troops to be out of Iraq’s cities and towns by June 30, 2009. They would then relocate to major bases, some of which are going to be conveniently designated outside of city borders like Camp Victory and Forward Operation Base Falcon, both within Baghdad. There are also plans for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government to ask the U.S. to stay in selected joint security stations in the capital, Mosul, and perhaps a few other cities. U.S. forces would then go down from about 140,000 to 128,000 by September 2009. They would stay at that level until Iraq’s parliamentary elections are completed. Originally those were planned for the end of this year, but have now been pushed back to January 30, 2010. Based upon conditions in Iraq, Americans troops would then go down to around 50,000 by the end of August 2010, but that now may be delayed because of the change in schedule for the balloting. The 50,000 would be tasked with advising Iraqi troops, conducting anti-terrorist operations, providing security to U.S. civilians and reconstruction teams, as well as protecting supply convoys. By December 31, 2011 those remaining troops are to be withdrawn. There is one major problem with this plan, Iraqi forces will not be able to protect the country by that date.

The Iraqi army and police have gone through a massive expansion, but still have many years to go. There are now 725,691 in the Iraqi security forces. Their development has been uneven, and there are still plenty of problems to overcome. One of the most important is the fact that the armed forces do not have the heavy weapons such as jetfighters, artillery, and boats, to defend the country from external threats. Originally, the Iraqi Defense Ministry had pegged 2020 as the date they would be capable of national defense. However, because of the country’s financial problems with the drop in oil prices these ideas have now been put on hold. There will be no expansion of the Iraqi Army or major purchases of weapons this year. The Iraqi Air Force wanted to buy 96 F-16 fighters from the United States by 2020. Baghdad doesn’t have the money for that. They don’t even have the funds to maintain what they have now. The U.S. donated 5,000 Humvees to the Iraqi forces, and are expected to turn over another 4,000 as part of the withdrawal. The Americans told the Defense Ministry that they needed $68 million for spare parts to keep up these vehicles, but only $1 million was appropriated. The Iraqis are salvaging spare parts from broken down Humvees to keep others still running as a result.

President Obama and the Iraqi government will have the ultimate decision as to whether the U.S. will stay past 2011. The President has said he doesn’t plan on asking Iraq to let the Americans stay after that deadline, but at the same time he has been very open to the advice of his military commanders. When deciding on the withdrawal timeline he picked the middle path between his promise of getting U.S. troops out in 16 months and the U.S. military command in Iraq’s wish to take 23 months. It would be hard to believe that they won’t advocate staying longer in Iraq if the government can’t protect its air, sea, and borders yet. Baghdad is said to have a similar opinion. Many things can happen between now and 2011, but the way it stands now it looks like the U.S. will be in Iraq for several more years after that date.


Adas, Basil, “US launches plan to boost Iraqi army’s capability,” Gulf News, 9/24/08

Agence France Presse, “Iraq sets election date,” 5/18/09

Ahmed, Hamid, “Iraqi leader calls for anti-corruption campaign,” Associated Press, 5/9/09

Alsumaria, “Iraq to purchase F-16 fighters this year,” 4/1/09

Arraf, Jane, “Can Iraq go it alone?” Christian Science Monitor, 4/21/09
- “Iraqi Army: almost one-quarter lacks minimum qualifications,” Christian Science Monitor, 5/22/09b
- “To meet June deadline, US and Iraqis redraw city borders,” Christian Science Monitor, 5/19/09

Associated Press, “Army chief: U.S. troops could be in Iraq for 10 years,” 5/27/09

Barnes, Julian, “Compromise on Iraq withdrawal timeline appears near,” Los Angeles Times, 2/25/09
- “Obama sees most troops out of Iraq by Aug. 31, 2010,” Los Angeles Times, 2/28/09

BBC, “Iraq sets election date of January 2010,” 5/18/09

Carter, Chelsea, “New threat for Iraqi military: Drop in oil prices,” Associated Press, 5/13/09

Cloud, David, “Inside Obama’s Iraq decision,” Politico, 2/27/09

Haynes, Deborah, “Kurdish Prime Minister predicts US troops will remain in Iraq until 2020,” Times of London, 10/24/08

Londono, Ernesto, “Plunging Oil Prices Force Iraq to Cut Security Jobs,” Washington Post, 5/18/09

Missing Links Blog, “Iraqi forces to be ready by the year 2020, according to plan,” 8/11/08

Nordland, Rod, “Exceptions to Iraq Deadline Are Proposed,” New York Times, 4/27/09

Shanker, Thom, “Minister Sees Need for U.S. Help in Iraq Until 2018,” New York Times, 1/15/08

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly Report to the United States Congress,” 4/30/09

United States Government Accountability Office, “IRAQ Key Issues for Congressional Oversight,” March 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kurdish Parliamentary Elections Announced For July

At the beginning of May 2009 the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government Massoud Barzani announced that Kurdish parliamentary elections will be held on July 25. Originally they were planned for May. 42 parties and alliances with a total of 509 candidates will run for 111 seats. That’s an increase from previous elections. In 1992 only seven parties ran, and in 2005 thirteen. Since the 1990s Kurdish politics have been dominated by the two major parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of Barzani. They plan on running together again in the 2009 vote. This year’s balloting may be the start of a sea change in Kurdish politics however as the former co-founder of the PUK his own party, which could break the monopoly on power held by the ruling groups.

2.5 million Kurds are registered to vote. Only those that reside in the three Kurdish provinces of Dohuk, Irbil, and Sulaymaniya are eligible. Eleven of the 111 seats are reserved for minorities. Five are to go to Turkmen, five for Christians, and one for Armenians. 30% are also to go to women. Despite some earlier controversy, the Iraqi Election Commission will supervise the voting. Currently the KDP holds 40 seats, followed by the 38 of the PUK. The next two parties, the Kurdistan Islamic Union only holds nine followed by the Turkmen Party with four.

Current Seats Held In The Kurdish Parliament
Kurdistan Democratic Party: 40
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan: 38
Kurdistan Islamic Union: 9
Turkmen Party: 4
Kurdistan Communist Party: 3
Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party: 2
Assyrian Democratic Movement: 2
Chaldean Cultural Society: 1
Bet Nahrain Democratic Party: 1
Chaldean Democratic Union Party: 1
Farmers Movement Party: 1
Kurdistan Democratic National Union: 1
Independent Nouri Talabany: 1
Islamic Group of Kurdistan: 6
Kurdistan Toilers Party: 1

The biggest change in this year’s election is the fact that PUK co-founder Nishurwan Mustafa will run as the head of the Change List. Mustafa co-founded the PUK with Talabani, but later resigned in December 2006. Mustafa plans on running against the domination of the PUK and KDP, claiming that they are corrupt, autocratic, and have not provided services. Mustafa has a decided advantage heading into the balloting because he owns a large media company called Wisha, and is popular in Sulaymaniya. Since the KDP and PUK are roughly equal, Mustafa could play the insurgent and break that balance of power.

This comes on the heels of a number of defections and dissension within the PUK. In February 2009 a group of leading officials in the PUK politburo led by Deputy Secretary General Kosrat Rasoul Ali, who is also the Vice President of the Kurdistan Regional Government, threatened to resign unless Talabani instituted reforms in the party to make it more democratic, end corruption, and work towards greater transparency over its finances. Talabani ended up giving into their demands, and replaced the Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Kurdistan as well.

The next few months will be an interesting election cycle in Kurdistan. Mustafa will have to prove that he can use his media power and popularity to form a credible opposition party and sway voters to his cause. The PUK and KDP will also have to bring out the vote as they have come under increasing criticism from everyday Kurds along with their own party officials. This could be the beginning of a major change in the region’s politics if the hold of the PUK and KDP are really challenged.


Agence France Presse, “Five Iraqi Kurdish Party Officials Resign,” 2/13/09
- “Iraqi Kurds to hold election on July 25,” 5/5/09

Alsumaria, “Talabani to share power within his party,” 2/18/09

Aswat al-Iraq, “509 candidates run for Kurdish elections – IHEC,” 5/21/09
- “Kurdish interior ministry to resign – ministry,” 3/10/09
- “Kurdistan’s deputy PM resigns after relieved of duties,” 2/24/09
- “Main Kurdish parties announce alliance in elections,” 5/7/09

Azzaman, “Talabani Tries To Prevent His Party From Splitting And Rejects The Resignation Of Rasul,” 2/17/09

Barzanji, Yahya, “New candidate emerges among Iraq’s Kurds,” Associated Press, 5/2/09

Hamad, Qassim Khidhir, “kdp and puk face election challenge,” Niqash, 5/12/09

Kurdish, “Barzani rejects IHEC to supervise KRG Elections, Hawlati,” 2/26/09

Ose, Oshnag, “talabani battles new calls for reform,” Niqash, 3/4/09

Zagros, Roman and Mahmood, Azeez, “Third Force in Kurdish Politics Mooted,” Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 3/30/09

Monday, May 25, 2009

Baghdad Responds To Renewed Violence Pt. II: Baghdad Re-Arresting Prisoners Released By Americans

The recent spate of bombings and violence in Iraq has led the authorities to blame prisoners released by the Americans as one major cause. Under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) the U.S. is to either release all detainees or turn them over to the government. In December 2008 American forces held over 15,000 Iraqis. Even before the SOFA was signed the U.S. had been stepping up its process of releasing them, letting 16,000 out in the first ten months of 2008. In 2007 the commander of U.S. detention facilities set up an extensive program to rehabilitate the Iraqis held by giving them religious, educational, and vocational classes. Now about 50 Iraqis are being released a day. By the summer of 2009 the American military plans to close down their main prisons, and release all but 2,500-5,000 that are considered the worst prisoners by the end of the year.

When the U.S. began releasing prisoners in 2007 it raised concerns of American commanders, and it now has become an issue with Iraq’s politicians. In February 2008, U.S. officers told the Christian Science Monitor that they were worried that the ex-detainees might jeopardize security. In October, the police chief in Ramadi said that he was keeping a close eye on former prisoners, and paying some of them to be spies. As more were released, an Iraqi police colonel in a town in Anbar said he was being overwhelmed by ex-prisoners, and had arrested 70 of them. The deputy police commander in Fallujah said they were looking for 10% of the detainees, while an intelligence officer at the Interior Ministry was worried about Shiite militants regrouping as Special Groups in Basra and Baghdad. He claimed 60% of the prisoners were returning to militancy. These were all local officials expressing their concerns.

When a spate of mass casualty bombings occurred in Baghdad however, the issue became a national one. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki gave an interview with the BBC at the end of April 2009 where he blamed the attacks on the Americans’ release program. It was then announced in May that the government was beginning a program to re-capture many of the people let go by the Americans. Later in the month the Prime Minister said that he wanted to amend the Amnesty Law passed in February 2008, claiming that it released too many prisoners. While Baghdad has announced that 132,838 people had been amnestied as of May 18, 2009 only around 6,300 were actual prisoners that were released. The rest were people on bail, parole or had warrants on them.

Freeing prisoners held by the U.S. was a major concern of the Iraqis during the negotiations over the SOFA. 85% were said to be Sunnis, and the main Sunni party the Iraqi Accordance Front and its leader Vice President Tariq Hashemi had been pushing for their release for years. The handover of prisoners by the Americans was also a sign of Iraq’s sovereignty. That symbolic gesture may now be coming to an end. It’s likely that some of these former prisoners are returning to their insurgent and militia pasts now that they are free. At the same time, Baghdad is searching for scapegoats to divert attention away from the increase in attacks and deaths. Together they give a powerful incentive for the government to begin rounding people up, at least for the time being, to show that the security forces are doing something to counter the rash of violence.


Agence France Presse, “Iraqi detainees refusing to go home: US general,” 3/23/08

Alsumaria, “US Army releases about 3000 Iraqi detainees,” 3/18/08

Associated Press, “US military says number of detainees falling,” 3/3/09

Aswat al-Iraq, “132,838 inmates released so far under Amnesty Law,” 5/18/09
- “Some inmates released by U.S. are wanted by Iraqi authorities – official,” 4/24/09

Boot, Max, “We Are Winning. We Haven’t Won,” Weekly Standard, 1/28/08

Cordesman, Anthony, “Iraq’s Insurgency and Civil Violence,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 8/22/07

DPA, “US to transfer Iraqi prisoners to local authorities,” 12/11/08

Eisenstadt, Michael, “Populism, Authoritarianism, and National Security in al-Maliki’s Iraq,” Washington Institute for Near East Studies, 5/12/09

Haynes, Deborah, “US risks fanning violence as it opens gates of Iraqi detention camps,” Times of London, 4/20/09

IRIN, “IRAQ: Lawyers accuse government of concealing information about detainees’ UN Office For The Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 9/19/07

Kingsbury, Alex, “In Iraq, U.S. Marines Rely on Allies Like a Hatchet-Wielding Colonel to Keep the Peace,” U.S. News & World Report, 10/30/08

Lubold, Gordon, “A new U.S. push to release more detainees in Iraq,” Christian Science Monitor, 2/22/08
- “Do U.S. prisons in Iraq breed insurgency?” Christian Science Monitor, 12/20/07

Muir, John, “’No Delay’ in US withdrawal from Iraq,” BBC News, 4/27/09

Peter, Tom, “Iraqi courts to decide fate of America’s detainees,” Christian Science Monitor, 1/29/09

Pincus, Walter, “U.S. Working to Reshape Iraqi Detainees,” Washington Post, 9/19/07

Pincus, Walter and Greenwell, Megan, “U.S. Releases 260 Iraqi Detainees,” Washington Post, 9/23/07

Reilly, Corinne, “As clock ticks, U.S. letting thousands of Iraqi prisoners go,” McClatchy Newspapers, 10/27/08

Reuters, “Iraq PM slams law pardoning mainly Sunni prisoners,” 5/23/09

San Francisco Chronicle, “U.S. military divided on troop withdrawal,” 8/25/07

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly Report to the United States Congress,” 4/30/09

Stone, Andrea, “Some worried about detainee transfer to Iraq,” USA Today, 1/26/09

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “Humanitarian Update Iraq February 2009,” 2/28/09

Zair, Kareem, “Iraq to re-detain released prisoners,” Azzaman, 5/16/09

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Baghdad Responds To Renewed Violence Pt. I: Al Qaeda’s Prince Arrested Or An Imposter?

On April 23, 2009 the Iraqi government claimed they had arrested Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the prince of the Islamic State of Iraq, a front group created by Al Qaeda in Iraq to give it a more local character. The authorities said they captured him in the Resafa district of Baghdad. Baghdadi has been the public voice of the Islamic State, releasing several speeches. The Iraqis have not allowed the Americans to talk to the detainee, and there are serious doubts that this is really Baghdadi. Instead, it appears that the government made up this story to make it seem like they were doing something to counter the rash of bombings that hit the capital in April 2009.

The Iraqi government has been bragging about the capture of Baghdadi since the end of April. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki confirmed his arrest on April 27, and said that the security forces had been tracking him for two months. Later, the Iraqi Defense Minister told parliament that his identity had been confirmed. On May 18 the government released a taped confession by Baghdadi. In the recording he claimed to be 40 years old, and a former employee at the Commission for Military Industrialization under Saddam. He said his real name was Ahmad Abid Ahmad Khames al-Majmai from Diyala. He stated that he joined Al Qaeda in Iraq in 2005, and became the leader of the Islamic State in 2006. He went on to say that his organization received funding from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Syria, and that his group and the Baathists worked together with the help of the Iraqi Islamic Party. Finally, he stated that an associate of Al Qaeda in Iraq founder Abu Musab al-Zarqawi gave him orders to carry on with the sectarian war. Conveniently the government seemed to not only capture the head of the most notorious terrorist and insurgent group in the country, but one that admitted to everything from foreign funding, to connections to Saddam and the Baathists, to the civil war.

Following up on that, Maliki’s supporters touted the arrest to the press. Maliki’s media advisor Yasin Majid said that Baghdadi’s arrest was more important than the capture of Saddam, and that it proved that the Iraqi security forces could handle the country after the U.S. withdrawal. A Dawa parliamentarian went on to claim that the detention could realign Iraq’s politics as it linked the Baathists, Al Qaeda in Iraq, and the Iraqi Islamic Party, the largest Sunni party in the country.

Quickly problems began developing with the government’s story however. First, before the taped confession was released, Minister of National Security Shirwan al-Waili gave a completely different story of Baghdadi’s alleged background. The Minister claimed that his real name was Maad Ibrahim Muhammad, who was a former colonel in the Republican Guard until 1990. He was tried and sentenced to death for membership in an Islamist group by Saddam’s government, but was then released and kicked out of the army. He then went on a foreign trip to Syria, Algeria, and Morocco, before returning to Iraq in 2004. There he joined Zarqawi’s Al Qaeda in Iraq. He was then caught by the Americans in 2007 and held at Camp Bucca, the main U.S. prison camp, for one and a half years. He was later released under the February 2008 Amnesty Law. He was picked again, this time by the Iraqis, but bribed an officer to obtain his release. Not only was this dramatically different from the taped confession, but according to Nibras Kazimi of Talisman Gate and the Hudson Institute, conflicts with Baghdadi’s released speeches. He put out most of his speeches during 2007, which would mean he recorded many of them while in a U.S. prison. Kazimi found a Maad Ibrahim Muhammad on a list of prisoners released under the amnesty law, but he was in Diyala, not Baghdad as Waili’s story claimed.

To counter the government’s claim, the insurgents released two speeches by Baghdadi refuting his arrest. In the first one, he claimed the government was playing games claiming that he was captured and releasing a picture of someone the Islamic State did not know. A member of the SITE Intelligence Group and Kazimi both said that the voice, style and tone of the tape were like the others made by Baghdadi. The Iraqi authorities have dismissed the recording. After that, another tape was aired on Al Jazeera ridiculing the government again saying their confession was a fake, and that they had aired two different stories of who he allegedly was.

In Anbar, the provincial police chief and Awakening leaders also claim they are tracking the “real” Baghdadi. Sheikh Ali Hatem Sulaiman, one of the Awakening heads in Anbar, and the Anbar police chief told the Los Angeles Times that they didn’t believe the man held by the authorities was the real insurgent leader. Instead, they said they were tracking Baghdadi across their province.

The Americans have had no say on the matter because the Iraqi government has not allowed them to see the captured man. In July 2007 however, the U.S. military said that Baghdadi was a fake name made up by the Islamic State. The group hired an actor to play his part. Afterwards, it’s believed the insurgents placed a real person in that position to take up the role of Baghdadi.

The Iraqis also have a history of making up stories about capturing top Al Qaeda in Iraq leaders. In 2007 they claimed to have eliminated Baghdadi, but it turned out to be an insurgent leader that had been killed by the U.S. instead. The Iraqis confiscated his body before it was buried, and tried to make a story out of it.

The character Baghdadi originally appeared three years ago. In January 2006 it was announced that Zarqawi had stepped aside for an Iraqi named Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi. It was said that he was a relative of the Prophet Mohammed to give him religious standing, and his name was to give the foreign led insurgent group an Iraqi character. Baghdadi was given the leadership position of the Mujahadeen Shura Council, an umbrella insurgent organization of militants. Zarqawi was later killed and replaced by an Egyptian Abu Ayyub al-Masri. He went on to form the Islamic State of Iraq in October 2006 with Baghdadi still the nominal leader.

The major cause of the story of Baghdadi’s capture is probably the return of mass casualty attacks to Iraq recently. April 2009 witnessed a series of bombings that killed almost 200 people. The papers were full of stories of Iraqis worried that violence was increasing, and that the sectarian war might be renewed since most of the victims were Shiites. That put intense pressure on Prime Minister Maliki to do something, especially because he ran in the January 2009 provincial elections partially on his security crackdowns. That is the likely reason why the government hatched this story of capturing the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq. Not happy with just that, Maliki is now trying to make it a political matter by criticizing the Islamic Party by saying they are connected to the terrorists. The man the authorities hold could very well be an insurgent leader, but there are simply too many wholes and questions in the story to believe what Baghdad is saying about him. Not only that but the Prime Minister is now playing a dangerous political game with the capture, which could have serious repercussions for him down the road.


Alsumaria, “Al Maliki confirms arrest of Al Qaeda Chief,” 4/27/09

Aswat al-Iraq, “Top gunmen confessed to Syrian, Egyptian, Saudi funding – BOC,” 5/18/09

Babylon & Beyond Blog, “IRAQ: Abu Omar Baghdadi speaks?” Los Angeles Times, 5/13/09

Chulov, Martin, “Wave of bombings kills up to 70 as al-Qaida chief is caught,” Guardian, 4/23/09

Kazimi, Nibras, “’Al-Baghdad’ on TV,” Talisman Gate Blog, 5/18/09
- “Al-Baghdadi’s Sixteenth Speech,” Talisman Gate Blog, 5/12/09
- “Al-Waili on al-Baghdadi (Updated),” Talisman Gate Blog, 5/10/09
- “More Twists in the ‘al-Baghdadi’ Sage,” Talisman Gate Blog, 5/22/09

Kimmage, Daniel, and Ridolfo, Kathleen, “Iraqi Insurgent Media: The War of Images And Ideas,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, June 2007

Roggio, Bill, “The Awakening, al Qaeda clash in Iraq,” Long War, 12/17/07
- “Islamic State of Iraq leader reported captured,” Long War Journal, 4/23/09
- “US Military denies al Qaeda leader al Masri is in custody,” Long War, 5/9/08

Sly, Liz, “Even in custody, Abu Omar al Baghdadi proves elusive,” Los Angeles Times, 5/15/09
- “In Baghdad, dread grows with death toll,” Los Angeles Times, 5/2/09
- “Rifts deepen within Iraq’s insurgency,” Chicago Tribune, 1/24/06

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sadrist Sighting In Turkey

On May 2, 2009 Moqtada al-Sadr made a rare public appearance in Turkey. The last time he’d been seen was a TV interview on Al Jazeera on March 29, 2008. His previous personal appearance was a speech given in Kufa, Iraq on May 15, 2007. Since February 2007 Sadr has been in the holy city of Qom, Iran studying to be an ayatollah. He also left Iraq to escape the Surge, which he believed rightfully would eventually target him and his movement. The goal of his emergence was to meet with his leaders and forge a new political strategy for the future.

Initially, few understood why Sadr would show up in Turkey of all places, but it was later revealed that it was a political meeting of top Sadrist officials. Sadr met with 70 members of his movement according to Iraq Slogger, including five Sadrist parliamentarians. The main issue discussed was the future of the Sadrist Trend, and how it will participate in the parliamentary elections, which are now scheduled for January 30, 2010. Sadr’s top spokesman said that the movement would follow a similar strategy as it did in the January 2009 provincial elections when it didn’t form its own party, but rather supported independents. As a sign of this new direction, Sadr announced that he had given up armed struggle against the Americans, and would now concentrate on politics and culture. To gain legitimacy and show his new stance Sadr met with Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recept Tayyip Erdogan. Sadrist officials also said that their leader would soon be returning to Iraq when his religious training was finished.

In the 2009 elections the Sadrists had mixed results. They lost control of Maysan where they held the governorship, and reportedly did badly in Sadr City. Their overall percentage of votes also went down from 12.7% in the 2005 provincial elections to 8.1% in 2009. They did however gain representation in eleven provinces compared to just three in 2005. The Sadrist backed Independent Trend of the Noble Ones formed ruling coalitions with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law in two of them, Babil and Dhi Qar.

At the same time the government continues to target selected Sadr officials. On May 10 for example, Iraqi security forces raided the house of a Sadrist imam in Kadhemiya, Baghdad, but he wasn’t home, and the police claimed to have arrested a Sadrist leader in Dhi Qar who was accused of terrorism.

As reported before, the Sadr movement has also faced numerous divisions. The latest was when 200 moderates formed their own breakaway social and political group in March 2009. The previous month it was reported that Asaib Ahl al-Haq, the League of the Righteous, a Special Group supported by Iran, was planning on forming its own political party for the parliamentary elections. Qais Khazali formed the League. Khazali was one of Sadr’s father’s top followers who kept the movement together after Saddam Hussein assassinated the elder Sadr. The League claims to be the legitimate Sadr movement, and still believes in armed struggle. The last two times Sadr is known to have come back to Iraq in May 2007 and April 2008 it was to try to deal with these various breakaway groups. Prime Minister Maliki and other Shiite leaders have also been trying to peel away Sadrs followers.

Sadr has been trying to move away from being seen as a militia leader and more as a politician since he originally ordered a ceasefire in August 2007. He now rejects using violence, but his movement has split into so many different groups, and lost standing with everyday Shiites because of the new status quo created after the end of the sectarian war, that he doesn’t have the influence and control that he once did. His main goal now is probably to unify his followers, build on his showing in the provincial elections, and prove to be a larger player in parliament. He may end up losing seats however as he had mixed results in January 2009.

For more on Sadr see:

Massive Security Raids In Basra

Anbar Sheikhs Reach Out To Shiites

New Challenges To Sadr's Leadership

Iran's Policy Towards Iraq

How Did The Sadrists Do In The Provincial Elections?

A Divided Sadr Trend

Sadrists Announce Parties They Support For Provincial Elections

Sadr's Predicament

Combating Terrorism Center's Report On Iran's Role In Iraq

Combating Terrorism Center Report On Iranian Training of Shiite Militants

SOFA Passes

Shiite Rivalries Increasing As Provincial Elections Near

How Failure To Deal With Iraq's Militias Caused The Breakdown Of The Country

Another Sadrist Assassinated

Sadrist Cleric Assassinated In Basra

Sadr Struggles To Remain Relevant

Sadr's Leadership Or Lack Thereof

Hezbollah's Role In Iraq

Desperation Move By The Sadrists? Update II

Desperation Move By The Sadrists? Update I

Vali Nasr: Iranian Policy In Iraq At A Crossroads

Operation Promise of Peace In Maysan Province

Overview Of Iran's Influence In Iraq

Desperation Move By The Sadrists?

Sadr's Leadership Or Lack Thereof


Agence France Presse, “Iraq radical cleric meets fellow Shiites,” 5/2/09
- “Iraq sets election date,” 5/18/09

Alsumaria, “Iraq elections leaks say Al Maliki ahead,” 2/2/09

Associated Press, “Shiite militia may be disintegrating,” 3/21/07

Aswat al-Iraq, “Iraqi security forces raid cleric’s house in Kadhemiya,” 5/10/09
- “Thi-Qar police say arrested Sadrist leader,” 5/10/09

Bozkurt, Abdullah, “Deciphering Muqtada al-Sadr’s visit to Turkey: forging new relations,” Today’s Zaman, 5/13/09

Chon, Gina, “Iraq Hopes Grow on Split in Sadr Body, Amnesties,” Wall Street Journal, 3/30/09

Cobanoglu, Cagri, “Al-Sadr asks Ankara to play bigger role in Middle East,” Today’s Zaman, 5/4/09

Cochrane, Marisa, “The Fragmentation of the Sadrist Movement,” Institute for the Study of War, January 2009

Eisenstadt, Michael, “Populism, Authoritarianism, and National Security in al-Maliki’s Iraq,” Washington Institute for Near East Studies, 5/12/09

Fayad, Ma’ad, “Iran Ordered Muqtada al-Sadr to Return to Al-Najaf – Iraqi Sources,” Asharq Alawsat, 4/14/08

Felter, Joseph and Fishman, Brian, “Iranian Strategy in Iraq, Politics and ‘Other Means,’” Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, 10/13/08

Ibrahim, Waleed, “’Surprise’ poll victories strengthen Iraq’s Maliki,” Retuers, 2/1/09

Mohsen, Amer, “Iraq Papers Thu: The Convention,”, 5/6/09

Reuters, “Iraq’s Sadr back in Iran – U.S. military sources,” 7/8/07

Ricks, Thomas and Raghavan, Suadrasan, “Sadr Back in Iraq, U.S. Generals Say,” Washington Post, 5/25/07

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Going Into Debt To Cover Budget Deficit

On April 3, 2009 the Presidential Council passed the $58.9 billion 2009 Iraqi budget. It was based upon 2 million barrels a day in oil exports at a price of $50 a barrel. In that month the country was only able to sell 1.82 million barrels a day at $47 a barrel. As a result, the country is expected to run anywhere from a $25 billion to $30 billion deficit. Parliament originally believed that this would be covered by the country’s large foreign reserves that had built up since 2005 due to rising oil prices and an inability of Baghdad to spend most of its money. The Finance Minister Baqir Jabr said this stands at $75 billion, $44 billion in the Central Bank of Iraq and $30 billion held by the Finance Ministry itself. On April 27 Minister Jabr however said that the government couldn’t use that fund. That was followed by the Central Bank announcing in May that it had turned down the government’s request to cover the deficit. That leaves Baghdad with only two means to make up the difference. One, it can hope that the Oil Ministry is able to boost oil production to bring in more money. That’s unlikely to happen anytime soon. The other option is for the government to get a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). That’s the route Baghdad is currently following.

It seems that parliament was completely unaware of the rules governing the budget when it was passed or were misinformed about them. There were several reports that lawmakers expected the budget deficit to be covered by the country’s reserves. It was only after that it was passed that the Finance Minister let them know that they could not use this money. The legislature either never talked to the Ministry or the Central Bank when it was debating the budget or were misled. In the end, parliament ended up passing a budget, almost half of which it can’t pay for. To make matters worse, it will go further in debt, borrowing money from the IMF to cover the difference, despite the fact that it has a massive reserve. Hopefully that can be used to pay the loan back, otherwise the situation will get worse in the next fiscal year unless petroleum prices skyrocket up again.

For more on Iraq's budget see:

Falling Oil Revenues, and Uneven Production

Baghdad Failing To Invest In Its Future

Presidential Council Vetoes 2009 Budget

Ups and Downs Of Iraq's Oil Industry And Its Implications For The Budget

Iraq's Budget Stalled

How Are The Current Provincial Councils Doing?

Iraq Revises Budget Once Again

Iraq Cuts Budget

Are Budget Cuts Ahead For Iraq?

Iraq's New Budget Woes

Iraq Cuts Its 2009 Budget, But Still Can't Spend It

NY Times Finds Iraq Spends Even Less Of Its Budget

GAO August 2008 Report On Iraq's Budget And Spending


Abdul-Zahra, Qassim, “Iraq passes sharply reduced budget for 2009,” Associated Press, 3/5/09

Agence France Presse, “Iraq presidency approves slashed budget,” 4/3/09

Aswat al-Iraq, “MP expects 50% deficit in 2009 budget,” 4/27/09

Azzaman, “Iraq’s hard cash reserves estimated at more than $70 billion, minister says,” 3/18/09

Cockburn, Patrick, “Collapse in Iraqi oil price shatters hope of recovery,” Independent, 3/20/09

Cordesman, Anthony, “The Changing Situation in Iraq: A Progress Report,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, 4/4/09

Hafidh, Hassan, “UPDATE: Iraq April Oil Exports 1.82M B/d, Up 0.33% On Month,” Dow Jones, 5/3/09

Al-Hashemi, Mostafa, “Iraq not to tap hard cash reserves despite fall in oil prices,” Azzaman, 4/27/09

Iraq Directory, “Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) declined government’s request to borrow from Reserved funds,” 5/5/09

Levinson, Charles, “Toll Rises as Iraq Slows Surge,” Wall Street Journal, 5/9/09

Sly, Liz, “Economic downturn finally hits Iraq,” Los Angeles Times, 5/11/09

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What If Iraq Goes Bad? Position Paper by Stephen Biddle, Council On Foreign Relations

Stephen Biddle is a senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. He has been one of the leading writers on Iraq, and was a consultant to General David Petraeus while he was commander in Iraq. This month, May 2009, he released a new report, “Reversal In Iraq.” In it he goes through four scenarios that might reverse course in Iraq, and then finishes off by saying that the U.S. needs to extend its deployment to make sure the gains made are maintained, and Iraq moves towards stability.

Biddle begins his paper by warning that the advances made in Iraq are fragile. This is something that the U.S. military command in the country has repeatedly said. Biddle believes that Iraq is in the beginning of a negotiated settlement to a civil war. In the 23 cases of similar conflicts that Biddle studied from 1940 to 1992, 10 failed within five years of a cease-fire. That is one reason why Biddle calls for caution. The added difficulty in Iraq is that the peace deals made there were all haphazard. Biddle counts over 200 separate negotiations that involved the U.S. and insurgents, tribes, and militias. In none of them was the Iraqi government involved. Now the country is dealing with the aftermath as most sides still distrust each other, and are trying to feel their way forward. This is by nature an unstable situation, made the more so by the bitterness left over by the sectarian war that raged from 2006-2007. Biddle believes that one little flare up could have unintended consequences and renew the fighting. Fortunately, conditions still favor cease-fires in Iraq.

The first situation that threatens this new status quo is the possible emergence of a strong man. That comes in the form of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. He has been amassing power in his office, and over the central government and security forces. He has also been taking on his opponents. One are the largely Sunni Sons of Iraq (SOI) units put together by the U.S. that are at the heart of many of the cease-fires in the country. Because each neighborhood has its own SOI leader Maliki has been able to pick off selected ones individually. By starting off with the ones that actually had bad backgrounds or committed crimes he has been able to avoid criticism from the United States. That was the case with the beginning of the government’s latest crackdown that began in March 2009 with the arrest of Adel Mashadani, the head of the SOI in the Fadhil area of Baghdad. U.S. forces backed up the Iraqis in the raid and ensuing firefight. The Americans later said that the arrest was legitimate, and repeated the Iraqi charges against him. The U.S. has said little about the subsequent arrests. Biddle is unsure whether Maliki really wants to be an autocrat or whether he is simply an opportunist trying to grab power when a situation presents itself. The problem Biddle sees is that the Prime Minister may overstep himself and lead to renewed fighting. Then again, with the multitude of unorganized Sunni units, Maliki may be able to manage the situation while eliminating the SOI piece by piece.

The most dangerous threat to long-term stability in Iraq is the Kurdish-Arab divide. In disputed areas like Kirkuk there is oil, a history of abuse under the former regime, competing claims for property rights, and a complete unwillingness to budge on any issue. Mosul is a similar situation. This conflict has allowed Al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent groups to find sanctuary in the north, while they have largely been forced out of the rest of the country by portraying themselves as the protectors of the Arabs against the Kurds. As reported several times before, Prime Minister Maliki is involved in this dispute as well, trying to align himself with the Sunni Arabs of the north to pressure the Kurds.

Another issue that might lead to renewed conflict in Iraq is a possible spillover from an Israeli attack on Iran. If Israel were to bomb Tehran’s nuclear facilities, that could lead to Shiite militia attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq since the Americans will be blamed for Israel’s actions. This seems the most unlikely of Biddle’s scenarios.

Fourth, a precipitous U.S. withdrawal might undermine all of the advances made in Iraq. Biddle believes that in many civil wars foreign peacekeepers are crucial to maintaining cease-fires. Many U.S. forces are no longer directly involved in combat operations and are now acting just like peacekeepers trying to mediate conflicts, help with reconstruction, providing basic services, etc. Biddle argues that if the U.S. were to leave too soon before real stability is achieved, the new status quo might deteriorate. That could bring in Iraq’s neighbors and bring down the entire region. A problem with this is that Iraq has already gone through a sectarian civil war where foreign countries were supporting different sides, and the conflict did not spread outside of Iraq.

Biddle concludes by calling for a longer stay for U.S. forces in Iraq. Looking at the American experience in Bosnia and Kosovo, he says that 50,000-70,000 American troops should remain in Iraq past the 2011 deadline set by the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). He even suggests that the U.S. might renegotiate the deal to allow for this. In the meantime he says that the U.S. should use all of its remaining influence to moderate the actions of Prime Minister Maliki. The U.S. still has sway with financial institutions, international organizations, and offers military assistance to the Iraqis. The problem is U.S. sway in Iraq is diminishing as the Obama administration is committed to withdrawal and Maliki is feeling more independent by the day.

Stephen Biddle has often made this argument. He and many other analysts from American think tanks are worried about what will happen after the U.S. leaves, so therefore they err on the side of caution. This is a view shared by the American commander in Iraq General Ray Odierno and General David Petraeus, the head of the Central Command that has responsibility for the Middle East as well. They originally argued for a 23-month timeline for pulling out U.S. troops. Not being discussed publicly now, but Biddle and his compatriots may get their way. The Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul Qadis Jasim said in 2008 that his forces will not be fully independent and capable of defending Iraq’s borders until 2020. The country is still in the process of buying heavy military equipment. The Air Force for example has no jet fighters, the army no artillery. In April 2009, the head of the Iraqi Air Force said they want to buy 96 F-16 fighters from the U.S. Baghdad has no money for such purchases right now however because of its budget problems. That could push back the 2020 date even further. Since either side can amend the SOFA, it’s very likely that Baghdad will ask a sizeable contingent of Americans to stay in the country past December 2011 until it’s ready to protect its own territory from both internal and external threats. The problem with Biddle’s paper is that there is no telling whether a longer stay will have any affect upon Iraq’s internal politics. Can Maliki be moderated? Can the Arab-Kurdish dispute be resolved? The U.S. hasn’t stopped Maliki’s crackdown on the SOI, and is deferring to the United Nations to resolve disputed territories in the north, and this is with over 100,000 troops in the country. Biddle and others may be misled into thinking that the U.S. has more influence within Iraq that it actually does.

For other reports by Iraq experts see:

Norwegian Institute's Policy Paper On The Way Forward In Iraq

Kenneth Pollack: Too Soon To Wave Victory Flag

Reidar Visser On Obama's Options In Iraq

Withdrawal Instead of Patience As Center of U.S. Strategy In Iraq

Iraq Needs Real Governance Center for Strategic and International Studies Report Says

Cordesman Interview: U.S. Needs To Stay For The Long Haul In Iraq

Council on Foreign Relations-Brookings' Experts Call for Patience In Iraq

Anthony Cordesman, CSIS Report on Iraqi Forces

Council on Foreign Relations and Brookings Institution Experts Voice Their Opinions After Recent Trip To Iraq

Is Iraq Going To End Up Like Eastern Europe?


Alsumaria, “Iraq to purchase F-16 fighters this year,” 4/1/09

Biddle, Stephen, “Reversal in Iraq,” Center for Preventative Action Council on Foreign Relations, May 2009

C-Span Video, “Stephen Biddle, Military Consultant To Gen. David Petraeus,” 9/10/07

Carter, Chelsea, “Falling oil prices stymie Iraq’s security spending,” Associated Press, 3/1/09

Gray, Andrew, "U.S. commanders favor slower Iraq pullout," Reuters, 2/7/09

Londono, Ernesto, “Plunging Oil Prices Force Iraq to Cut Security Jobs,” Washington Post, 5/18/09

Missing Links Blog, “Iraqi forces to be ready by the year 2020, according to plan,” 8/11/08

Nordland, Rod, “Rebellious Sunni Council Disarmed After Clashes, Officials in Baghdad Say,” New York Times, 3/31/09

Reid, Robert, “ANALYSIS: Weekend uprising shows Iraqi tensions,” Associated Press, 3/31/09

Rubin, Alissa and Nordland, Rod, “Troops Arrest an Awakening Council Leader in Iraq, Setting Off Fighting,” New York Times, 3/29/09

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Political Crackdown In Diyala

On May 18, 2009 Interior Ministry forces arrested the head of the Iraqi Accordance Front (IAF) in Diyala Abdul Jabbar al-Khazraji and a Sons of Iraq leader Sheikh Riyad al-Mujami in Baquba, the provincial capitol. They were sent to Baghdad where they are charged with attacks on civilians. The raid was part of Operation Promise of Good II, the latest security crackdown in the province. In April 2009, Iraqi forces had tried to detain four members of the IAF on the day they were to be sworn in as new members of the Diyala provincial council. The U.S. prevented the arrests, and Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, the leader of the Accordance Front, was also involved. Accordance Front and SOI members said that the government was out to destroy them, and an SOI leader said that dozens had fled and hundreds had quit their posts as a result. As reported before, even the Shiite parties of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, that is part of the ruling coalition in Diyala and Dawa, which is the opposition, have complained about Operation Promise of Good II. All of this has a striking resemblance to the first Promise of Good launched in 2008.

Operation Promise of Good II was begun on May 1, involving 21,000 police as well as elements of the 5th Iraqi Army Division, and two other brigades. The original Promise of Good was announced in June 2008, and eventually included 2 Army divisions, and 15,000-20,000 police. Both times Baghdad said it was going after insurgents, but the offensives quickly turned into political crackdowns on the Sunni parties and SOI of Diyala. In 2008 the security forces had a 5,000-name want list that mostly consisted of SOI members. By the end of August five SOI leaders and hundreds of fighters were arrested, and more had fled. The SOI went to the U.S. for help, but received little assistance. The political nature of the operation was emphasized when three SOI were arrested the day before the deadline to register for the January 2009 provincial elections. They were released the next day, but their detention made them ineligible to run as candidates. The security forces also arrested members of the Iraqi Islamic Party, the leaders of the Accordance Front, who were allied with the SOI. In August 2008 Maliki ordered a raid on the provincial council offices to detain the Diyala security chief and Iraqi Islamic Party member Hussein al-Zubaydi because of his conflict with the Maliki appointed provincial police chief. That constituted the stick of Maliki’s strategy for Diyala. By January 2009 when the government took control of the SOI, Baghdad promised them jobs as a carrot.

Despite Maliki’s effort to break the power of the Sunnis in Diyala, after the provincial elections, the Accordance Front came out on top, and was able to form a coalition with their parliamentary allies the Kurdish Alliance and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council’s Diyala Coalition to gain the governorship. This did not go over well with Maliki as his State of Law followers protested, and threatened to go to court over the results.

It seems now that Maliki’s strategy failed to win him election victory he is going back to the stick to deal with Diyala’s Sunnis. The Prime Minister was unable to break the ties between the SOI and the Accordance Front, which led to their winning in the voting. The IAF was then able to outmaneuver the State of Law, and form a ruling coalition to take over the Diyala council. Maliki has therefore turned to arresting the Accordance Front leader, and going back to rounding up SOI members. If Operation Promise Of Good II is like the last one, there will be no mass arrests. Rather warrants will be issued and selected leaders and some rank and file will be rounded up to force the majority to either give into Maliki’s will or flee and quit, thus relieving the government from having to pay them and finding them permanent employment later on.

For more on the situation in Diyala see:

Local Criticism of New Security Operation In Diyala

Old And New Alliances Argue Over Control of Diyala Provincial Council

New And Old Provincial Councils In Diyala Embroiled In Controversy

The Islamic Party's Victory In Diyala

Here Comes The Carrot For Diyala's Sons Of Iraq


Abdullah, Muhammed, “sectarian polarization in diyala,” Niqash, 4/20/09

Ashton, Adam, “Iraqi government to take control of Sunni militia in Diyala,” McClatchy Newspapers, 12/27/08

Aswat al-Iraq, “4 blocs to contest the results of Diala council votes,” 4/12/09
- “Bashaer al-Kheir II will not eliminate gunmen – official,” 5/6/09
- “Dialans have zero trust in Iraqi security forces – MP,” 5/4/09
- “IAF head’s detention is meant for political liquidation – IIP,” 5/19/09
- “Thousands of protesters call to dissolve IHEC-Diala,” 3/1/09
- “Thousands stage demonstrations in Diala,” 4/8/09

Goetze, Katharina and Salman, Daud and Naji, Zaineb, “Could Awakening Fighters Rejoin Insurgency?” Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 10/31/08

Parker, Ned, “Iraq’s Sunnis turn toward the ballot,” Los Angeles Times, 1/31/09

Russo, Claire, “Diyala’s Provincial Election: Maliki & The IIP,” Institute for the Study of War, 1/30/09

Santora, Marc, “Iraq Arrests 2 Sunni Leaders, Raising Fears of Violence,” New York Times, 5/19/09

Monday, May 18, 2009

Breakthrough On Oil Deal Between Baghdad and Kurdistan? Not Quite

On May 8 the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced that it had been given permission to export oil. Baghdad and Kurdistan almost agreed to the same deal in the winter of 2008 only to see it fall apart. This latest report was hailed as a breakthrough between the two sides that have bitterly argued over who has control over the country’s resources, but a closer inspection of the terms shows that selling Kurdish oil is still a long way off.

In early May the Iraqi central government seemingly authorized the KRG to export oil. This would begin on June 1 and come from the Tawke and Taq Taq fields. Those are the only two currently producing in Kurdistan, and are being developed by the Norwegian DNO and the Swiss-Canadian and Turkish joint venture Addax Petroleum-Genel Enerji. At first, the Oil Ministry denied the story, but later confirmed it. The Tawke field will be able to connect to the Kirkuk-Turkey pipeline, while Taq Taq would truck its oil to that line until an extension was built. In total, both were expected to add 70,000 barrels a day immediately. The KRG claims that they have the potential of 250,000 barrels down the road. All of the profits from these fields would be deposited in the Development Fund for Iraq, which is controlled by Baghdad. This comes just at a time when Iraq’s revenues have plummeted, and it is expecting a budget deficit that could grow to $25 billion unless it boosts oil production.

There’s one major hitch however. The Oil Ministry has said that the Kurds can export their oil, but that it will not pay the companies. That means the Kurdish government will have to. The KRG has signed production sharing agreements with the oil businesses, which generally pay between 18-20% of production. The Kurds receive all of their money from the central government, and have no independent means of garnering revenue, so they will be hard pressed to compensate DNO, Addax and Genel Enerji. The KRG is acting like this is a done deal, but those three oil companies issued a press release saying that they are not moving forward until the finances are straightened out.

Something very similar occurred in November 2008. Then the Oil Minister was trying to work out a deal over those same Taq Taq and Tawke fields to export. The negotiations began in June 2008, and seemed to be on the verge of coming to fruition that winter when things fell apart. Baghdad demanded that the Kurds void all their oil contracts that they signed after they passed their own oil law in August 2007, while the KRG wanted a share of the profits. The negotiations collapsed in December as a result.

In the on-going dispute between Baghdad and the KRG, it appears that the Kurds have been outplayed for the time being. The central government would love to add Kurdish oil production to their coffers, especially if they don’t have to pay anything. However this may be a short lived victory as the Oil Ministry is under intense pressure to either boost production immediately or give up its authority over petroleum because of the dire financial situation of the government. At a May oil and gas summit in Houston, Texas for example, oil executives, analysts, advisers, and the former Oil Minister all said that international companies would not invest in Iraq until a national oil law was passed, and the government offers better terms on its contracts. Iraq’s Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani was also given a petition signed by 140 members of Iraq’s parliament collected by the Oil and Gas Committee calling for him to appear and answer questions on why his policies have failed. Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi of the Supreme Council also publicly criticized Minister Shahristani for failing to increase output this month. Oil analysts also believe that while the Kurds might be frustrated in their effort to expand their oil industry in the short term, it is adding even more pressure on the central government to allow them to export. In April 2009 Iraq exported 1.82 million barrels a day. The Oil Minister’s goal is 2 million barrels. The KRG’s claim that they can add 250,000 barrels a day would achieve that amount.

The Kurds hope of exporting oil seems closer now than ever before. As long as oil prices remain low, there will be intense pressure on Baghdad to boost production. The Oil Ministry has proven incapable of doing that. As reported before, oil output has gone up and down since the invasion, and has never achieved the benchmarks set by the government. All sides, the Kurds, parliament, international oil companies, etc, have criticized Oil Minister Shahristani. He has the backing of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki however. With a massive budget deficit expected, all of this is coming to a head. Of course, this being Iraq, it’s just as likely that the issue will be deadlocked for months and months as find a resolution.

For more on Iraq’s oil industry click on the “oil” label below.


Abbas, Mohammed, “Iraq Central Gov’t, Kurdistan Agree Oil Exports (UPDATE 2),” Reuters, 11/28/08

AFX News Limited, “Kurdish Authorities Stand by Foreign Oil Contracts,” 12/2/08

Ali, Mohanad, “Five committees set up to solve differences over oil with Kurds,” Azzaman, 11/30/08

Alsumaria, “Kurdistan leader upholds Iraq Constitution,” 3/13/09

Amara, Mostafa, “Kurds cannot collect oil royalties, says minister,” Azzaman, 12/22/08

Arabian Business, “Iraq in breakthrough to link Kurd oilfields to export,” 11/25/08

Bayoumy, Yara and Rasheed, Ahmed, “Iraq officials attack Oil Ministry, urge new policy,” Reuters, 5/16/09

Bergin, Tom, “UPDATE 1-Iraq Kurd leader eyes 1 mln bpd oil in 3 yrs,” Reuters, 3/12/09

Ciszuk, Samuel, “KRG-Baghdad still at odds over IOC pay,” Iraq Oil Report, 3/25/09
- “No clarity on Iraq-KRG oil export flap,” Iraq Oil Report, 5/13/09
- “Taq-Taq aim is 180K bpd despite no export rights,” Iraq Oil Report, 3/25/09

Hafidh, Hassan, “2nd UPDATE:Iraq Vice Pres: Not Doing Enough To Up Oil Output,” Zawya Dow Jones, 5/16/09
- “UPDATE: Iraq April Oil Exports 1.82M B/d, Up 0.33% On Month,” Dow Jones, 5/3/09

Hafidh, Hassan and Swartz, Spencer, “Iraq Ends Ban, Allows Kurds to Export Oil,” Wall Street Journal, 5/11/09

Hamad, Qassim Khidhir, “oil dispute threatens Iraqi economy,” Niqash, 4/16/09

Helman, Christopher and Bogan, Jesse, “The Failure Game Of Iraqi Oil,” Forbes, 5/13/09

Hilterman, Joost, “Kurdish crude bails out Baghdad,” The Argument Blog, Foreign, 5/13/09

Ibrahim, Waleed, “UPDATE 4-Kurds say will launch oil exports, Iraq denies,” Reuters, 5/8/09

International Crisis Group, “Oil For Soil: Toward A Grand Bargain On Iraq And The Kurds,” 10/28/08

Lando, Ben, “Iraq oil showdown,” Iraq Oil Report, 5/14/09

Reuters, “Iraq earns $60 billion from 2008 crude exports,” 1/5/09
- “Iraq Kurds to start Tawke crude exports June 1,” 5/8/09

Salaheddin, Sinan, “Iraqi Kurds to Begin Solo Exports of Crude Oil,” Associated Press, 11/28/08

Shattab, Ali, “Kurds illegally sell oil produced in their region, minister says,” Azzaman, 1/3/09

Sly, Liz, “Economic downturn finally hits Iraq,” Los Angeles Times, 5/11/09

UPI, “Baghdad, Erbil agree to some oil exports,” 11/24/08
- “Heritage confident of Iraqi exports,” 5/7/09

Zair, Kareem, “Iraqi Kurds say their region holds up to 45 billion barrels of oil,” Azzaman, 4/21/09
- “Kurds will not export oil unless they rescind deals with foreign firms, oil minister says,” Azzaman, 12/6/08

This Day In Iraqi History - Jul 24 Treaty of Lusanne said League of Nations would decide whether Mosul vilayet went to Iraq or Turkey

  1920 France occupied Syria Defeated King Faisal’s forces leading him to flee Would set sites on Mesopotamia afterward ...