Turkey claims Iraqi oil

Turkey lays claim to 10 percent of Iraqi oil revenues after a war, relying on a 76-year-old treaty. Will the United States allow this?

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Turkish soldiers on parade

The Turkish daily Sabah reported that Turkey is demanding 10 percent of Iraqi oil annually after the war, bringing in $5.5 billion dollars a year if Washington agrees.
This is not a new claim. Turkey is relying on the 1923 Lausanne treaty, which officially marked the boundaries of the Republic of Turkey with all parties except Britain. The agreement between the two powers was to be a “friendly arrangement to be concluded between Turkey and Great Britain within nine months.” Unfortunately, the two parties could not come to an agreement, with Turkey continuing to lay claim to the province of Mosul in present-day Iraq, and the matter was referred to the League of Nations.
Turkey’s reluctance to part with Mosul was based on several factors: Mosul wanted to remain in the Turkish fold, it had many Turkish-speaking citizens, its trade routes and of course, its oil reserves. Also, on Oct. 30, 1918, when the armistice ending World War I was signed, British troops were still several miles outside the city, making the British claim on the area less than convincing.
But in 1926, Turkey finally accepted the “Brussels line,” giving Iraq (a British protectorate) the oil-rich province of Mosul, along with its 600,000 or so inhabitants. In compensation, Turkey was to receive a portion of the oil revenues — including those from transportation and other petroleum products — out of Mosul for 25 years, but instead Turkey agreed to a £500,000 buyout.
This conflict has flared up over the years, with the most recent being in 1995 when during Operation Steel, Turkey moved approximately 35,000 troops into northern Iraq to hunt PKK members. As the troops were leaving, Turkish president Süleyman Demirel said to the press:

The border is wrong. The Mosul Province was within the Ottoman Empire’s territory. Had that place been a part of Turkey, none of the problems we are confronted with at the present time would have existed.

Iraq, of course, fiercely resisted the idea of redrawing borders (even though Saddam’s regime had lost control of the northern provinces) and even the Iraqi opposition found common ground with the dictator in denouncing Demirel’s comments. In the face of such opposition from everyone in the region, including Syria, Iran and even Egypt, Demirel backed down, saying that the issue of borders had indeed been settled in 1926. “Turkey has no policy about any new border arrangements and has no plans to reconsider such matters,” he told an Arabic newspaper.
(Thanks to Daniel Pipes for the background on this.)
So this is just more of the same from the Turks. They have never forgotten the loss of Mosul and Kirkuk, and I’ve written about this several times here and here (at the bottom.) What’s new is the dropping of the demand of the return of the territories, but settling for a portion of oil revenues.
This says to me that Russia’s and France’s oil contracts in Iraq have a shelf-life of about two months now. After the war, The Shells, Exxon-Mobiles and other American oil companies will take over the Iraqi oil industry and begin ladeling out spoils to friends, a category which almost certainly doesn’t include Russia or France. Turkey, however, although it has been lukewarm to a war in public, has nonetheless come onboard.
The claim of 10 percent of the oil submitted to Washington is either ballsy in the extreme, or the Turks believe they have done something right to expect that kind of revenue. Most likely, they have given up territorial claims and backed down on their sabre-rattling against the Kurds, who will also be mollified by this, since it will keep Turkish troops out of their territory and they will still get some oil revenue from Kirkuk and Mosul. (Also remember the Turkish economy — especially in the southeast around Diyarbakir — has been pistol-whipped by the U.N. sanctions. That $5.5 billion extra a year would sure help out in a $42.5 billion annual budget.) The United States wins because it keeps the situation in the north stable, without having to play referee between Turkish forces and PUK and KDP peshmergas.
This all sounds great, except that Turkey is relying on a 76-year-old agreement to lay claim to oil that doesn’t belong to it. Whether the United States will point out this elephant in the living room remains to be seen.

Two wars for the price of one!

I’m back and ready to rumble! Iraq is in a holding pattern, but North Korea is hotting up! That country has expelled UN weapons inspectors, removed monitoring equipment and started up reactors that can make weapons grade plutonium in six months or so. The Stalinist playground has also moved light machine guns into the (formerly) DMZ between North and South. President Bush’s response, in marked contrast to his bellicosity regarding Iraq — which doesn’t as yet have nukes, doesn’t seem much of a threat to its neighbors and doesn’t seem to be cozying up to Al Qa’ida — is to threaten North Korea with economic collapse if it doesn’t abandon its nuclear aims.
One question: Is he fucking serious?

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A 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery soldier from Fort Stewart, Ga. looks out over Udari Range in Northwestern Kuwait, during a live fire exercise. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class David K. Dismukes, CFLCC Public Affairs)

Hello all — I’m back from the hinterlands of Arkansas, and boy am I glad to be back in New York. I took a break from the site for the last week, since much of the news out of Iraq seems to be of the “hurry up and wait” variety. (In a minor update, the United Nations says Iraq has given it the names of more than 500 scientists involved in its arms program.)
However, what’s more interesting is how the crisis with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (that’s North Korea for the Bushies reading this) is starting to intersect with the Iraqi crisis. Now, I know this site is called “Back to Iraq,” but the ways in which the Bush administration is dealing with North Korea is revealing vis a vis Saddam’s abattoir.
First off, North Korea has expelled UN weapons inspectors, removed monitoring equipment and started up reactors that can make weapons grade plutonium in six months or so. The Stalinist playground has also moved light machine guns into the (formerly) DMZ between North and South. President Bush’s response, in marked contrast to his bellicosity regarding Iraq — which doesn’t as yet have nukes, doesn’t seem much of a threat to its neighbors and doesn’t seem to be cozying up to Al Qa’ida — is to threaten North Korea with economic collapse if it doesn’t abandon its nuclear aims.
One question: Is he fucking serious?
Threatening the north with economic collapse is like waving a gun at a dead man. People are eating grass, for God’s sake. (George Paine over at warblogging.com has a good entry on this.
With his “with us or against us” rhetoric, Bush has drawn a line in the sand in which all terrorism and weapons of mass destruction in the hands of axis of evil charter members are “evil.” But with one member, we go to war, although the evidence that Iraq poses an existential threat to the United States is sorely lacking. With another member, which can threaten the cities of major allies and would be the most likely to sell anthrax and loose nukes to Al Qa’ida, we threaten it with growing economic and political isolation, called “tailored containment.”
“It is called ‘tailored containment’ because this is an entirely different situation than Iraq or Iran,” a senior administration official said. “It is a lot about political stress and putting economic stress. It also requires maximum multinational cooperation.”
That sounds an awful lot like sanctions to me, which I thought the Bush people had dismissed in Iraq as unworkable. And why is this an “entirely different situation than Iraq or Iran”? Is it because if we go to war with North Korea, the North Koreans might shoot back? All in all, it sounds like the Bush policy with North Korea is to piss them off as much as possible.
At any rate, Bush’s policy of preemptive self-defense has just come back and bit him in the ass. This action by the North Koreans is directly related to his good guys-bad guys rhetoric, because they are threatened and they’re looking to beef up their deterrent before the United States can act militarily. The United States is not the only country that can act before someone threatens its existence, and Dear Leader has just acted. Perhaps everyone is gearing up to finish that business from the 1950s once and for all.
I’ll be honest, North Korea isn’t something I’ve paid a lot of attention to, seeing as my focus has been on Iraq. It turns out I have something in common with the Bush White House after all…

Bush to Saddam: “FYI, you forgot to mention your WMD”

As expected, the United States declared Iraq in material breach of various United Nations resolutions calling on him to disarm, and had Secretary of State Colin Powell give the world the bad news at a press conference today. The United States also has plans to move 50,000 more troops into the Persian Gulf region as the world girds for a new war.

As expected, the United States declared Iraq in material breach of various United Nations resolutions calling on him to disarm, and had Secretary of State Colin Powell give the world the bad news at a press conference today. According to the State Department, here are examples of omissions:

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release
December 19, 2002
2002/1143
FACT SHEET
Illustrative Examples of Omissions from the
Iraqi Declaration to the United Nations Security Council
Anthrax and Other Undeclared Biological Agents

  • The UN Special Commission concluded that Iraq did not verifiably account for, at a minimum, 2160kg of growth media.
  • This is enough to produce 26,000 liters of anthrax — 3 times the amount Iraq declared; 1200 liters of botulinum toxin; and, 5500 liters of clostridium perfrigens — 16 times the amount Iraq declared.
  • Why does the Iraqi declaration ignore these dangerous agents in its tally?

Ballistic Missiles

  • Iraq has disclosed manufacturing new energetic fuels suited only to a class of missile to which it does not admit.
  • Iraq claims that flight-testing of a larger diameter missile falls within the 150km limit. This claim is not credible.
  • Why is the Iraqi regime manufacturing fuels for missiles it says it does not have?

Nuclear Weapons

  • The Declaration ignores efforts to procure uranium from Niger.
  • Why is the Iraqi regime hiding their uranium procurement?

VX

  • In 1999, UN Special Commission and international experts concluded that Iraq needed to provide additional, credible information about VX production.
  • The declaration provides no information to address these concerns.
  • What is the Iraqi regime trying to hide by not providing this information?

Chemical and Biological Weapons Munitions

  • In January 1999, the UN Special Commission reported that Iraq failed to provide credible evidence that 550 mustard gas-filled artillery shells and 400 biological weapon-capable aerial bombs had been lost or destroyed.
  • The Iraqi regime has never adequately accounted for hundreds, possibly thousands, of tons of chemical precursors.
  • Again, what is the Iraqi regime trying to hide by not providing this information?

Empty Chemical Munitions

  • There is no adequate accounting for nearly 30,000 empty munitions that could be filled with chemical agents.
  • Where are these munitions?

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) Programs

  • Iraq denies any connection between UAV programs and chemical or biological agent dispersal. Yet, Iraq admitted in 1995 that a MIG-21 remote-piloted vehicle tested in 1991 was to carry a biological weapon spray system.
  • Iraq already knows how to put these biological agents into bombs and how to disperse biological agent using aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicles.
  • Why do they deny what they have already admitted? Why has the Iraqi regime acquired the range and auto-flight capabilities to spray biological weapons?

Mobile Biological Weapon Agent Facilities

  • The Iraqi declaration provides no information about its mobile biological weapon agent facilities. Instead it insists that these are “refrigeration vehicles and food testing laboratories.”
  • What is the Iraqi regime trying to hide about their mobile biological weapon facilities?

Summary
None of these holes and gaps in Iraq’s declaration are mere accidents, editing oversights or technical mistakes: they are material omissions.

By trotting out the administration’s lone dove to make this announcement, the Bushies were signalling Saddam that he was on a weak limb over a very long drop. And the administration was also currying favor with the Europeans, who think Powell is the only sane man in the White House.
But I’d just like to talk about one charge: the anthrax. At his news conference, Powell said: ” Before the inspectors were forced to leave Iraq, they concluded that Iraq could have produced 26,000 liters [27,500 quarts] of anthrax. That is three times the amount Iraq had declared. Yet the Iraqi declaration is silent on this stockpile, which alone would be enough to kill several million people.”
OK… So that means Iraq declared roughly 8,700 liters. But note the hedge “could have produced.” Going on the basis of these statements and the rush for war in the White House, doesn’t this seem more like speculation that evidence of wrongdoing? What if Iraq had the capablity to produce 26,000 liters but never actually produced that much? Granted, I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to a murderous thug, but still… Statements like these make the United States look like it’s making stuff up. Perhaps it is. It’s only been 12 days since Iraq turned in its dossier.
Also, U.S. President George W. Bush has ordered up to 50,000 more troops to the Gulf region, which would bring total troop levels to about 110,000. It will take some time for them to get there, and most observers now say the U.S. should have its forces in place in early February. An additional 250,000 reservists will likely be activated, too. British Prime Minister Tony Blair told troops, in his annual Christmas address, to “prepare for war.”
In the financial markets, bond markets were on fire as investors fled risky stocks for the relatively safe-haven of government securities. The Canadian dollar, as well as major indexes in Paris and Tel Aviv, fell as the war drum beat louder.
While the Bush administration still makes noises about how the president hasn’t made up his mind yet or that “Iraq is well on its way to losing this last chance,” implying that war is not inevtiable, anyone with half a brain can see that Bush has made up his mind and it’s only a matter of time.

Coming Attractions: Gulf War II

For a sobering look at modern war, check out this video of an AC-130 hunting down targets in Afghanistan. (Windows Media Player required.) The most chilling is the tracking and leading of individuals as they run for their lives.

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For a sobering look at modern war, check out this video of an AC-130 hunting down targets in Afghanistan. (Thanks to IFILM for picking up the slack on this.) The most chilling is the tracking and leading of individuals as they run for their lives, who appear as bright spots in the infrared imaging. The audio commentary is interesting, too, with comments from pilots and commanders. There are orders to avoid a mosque but “level” a building nearby. I’m assuming similar scenes will be played out in several months in Iraq.

Radio Free Iraq … maybe not.

In a further sign that the United States is not serious about promoting a democractic Iraq, Clandestine Radio Watch reports that Radio Hurriah, the Iraqi National Congress’ station for broadcasting into Iraq has been de-funded by the U.S. Department of State. This follows the shuttering of Hurriah TV earlier this year.

In a further sign that the United States is not serious about promoting a democractic Iraq, Clandestine Radio Watch reports that Radio Hurriah, the Iraqi National Congress’ station for broadcasting into Iraq has been de-funded by the U.S. Department of State. This follows the shuttering of Hurriah TV earlier this year.
The State Department apparently felt there were already enough stations broadcasting into Iraq, and it has a point — 27 stations beam opposition broadcasts into the country. But most of them operate out of Iraqi Kurdistan and reflect the political and ethnic divisions of that region, Clandestine Radio Watch reports. Also, al-Mustaqbal, Voice of the Brave Armed Forces, and Radio of the Two Rivers (Radio Mesopotamia) operate out of Kuwait using covert American-run transmitters.
This abandonment by the Bush administration is a continuation of the Clinton cold-shouldering of the INC, which has had an on-and-off relationship with Washington over the years. The London-based opposition movement was particularly hung out to dry in 1996 when the CIA worked with the group to topple Saddam in a coup attempt that went disasterously wrong thanks to a lack of funding. When Iraqi troops overran positions in northern Iraq, CIA operatives fled for their lives and many of the INC personnel in Iraq were captured and executed, including the entire local staff of the Iraqi Broadcasting Corp., which had been broadcasting pro-democracy messages from Iraqi Kurdistan.
The other radio stations broadcasting into Iraq tend to focus on the failings of Saddam and promote the one bullet/no war solution to Iraqi’s problems espoused by White House flak Ari Fleischer a few months back. (“The cost of one bullet, if the Iraqi people take it on themselves, is substantially less [than the cost of war]… There are many options that the President hopes the… people of Iraq will exercise themselves that gets rid of the threat.” — And Secretary of State Colin Powell says regime change isn’t the goal!) Considering the wink and nod to Iraqi democracy the United States has been giving over the last few months, this cut in Hurriah’s funding (which happened in May!) isn’t surprising. And it’s giving rise to suspicions among average Kuwaitis as to what America’s real motives are in the Middle East.
This cuts to the heart of my own ambivalence on the matter of Iraq. I don’t trust the Bush administration to act in any but the most venal, self-serving manner. I don’t believe in going to war and killing innocent people if there’s no greater goal than access to oil and some slippery geopolitical goal of “benign” hegemony that no one will admit to on the record. But if there were a real commitment to democracy and a free Iraq that was truly liberated not just from Saddam’s thuggery but from the United States’ ambitions as well, then I might just consider that something worth fighting for.

Of course, you know, this means war

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Photo courtesy of the BBC

First off, my apologies for the delay in updating the site. This past week, I got snowed under by a combination of outside assignments and a maternal visit. I’m not a slacker. Really. Also, to whoever just donated $5, thanks very much! You pushed me over the $100 mark for donations.
Oddly enough, it’s been a bit of a quiet week on the Iraqi front, with any news mostly pushed to the side by Trent Lott winking at the segregationists and then saying, in effect, “I wasn’t winking, I had something in my eye.” As they say in the movies, “It’s quiet … too quiet.”
But the war machine moves on, although perhaps with more hesitation than many people think. Chief of the Army, Gen. Eric Shinseki, and the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James L. Jones, worry that the current war plans are too risky. The plans, as reported by the Washington Post call for “a fast-moving ground attack without an overwhelming number of reinforcements on hand.” Instead, the war would get off to a “rolling start” with more troops being flown in. Also, the armored units, instead of traveling a predetermined distance and pausing to allow slower units to catch up, would charge across the desert until they run into opposition. They would then blow things up real good.
That’s the current plan, anyway, and it’s giving Shinseki and Jones, who sit on the Joint Chiefs, the heebie-jeebies. They argue that Paul Wolfowitz’s rosy “house of cards” theory of the life span of Saddam’s reign is overly optimistic. The generals argue that worst-case planning is necessary, especially in the case of a “Fortress Baghdad” scenario that involves heavy street fighting with the Iraqis using chemical and biological agents. (Hm. Have Shinseki and Jones been reading this entry in which the Ba’ath party has a contingency plan to ring Baghdad with the Republican Guard? The details of the Iraqi defense plan, first reported in the London-based Arabic daily paper, Al-Quds Al-Arabi are thus:

“First, deployment of the Republican Guard forces at the periphery of the cities, primarily Baghdad, to resist any American ground offensive that seeks to take them. The mission of the Republican [Guard] forces will also be to resist any attempt at internal Iraqi rebellion, such as the one that followed the American offensive in January 1991 in the South and the North.”
“Second, deployment of special forces that will include the ‘elite of the elite’ – in his words – inside the capital Baghdad, so that they can participate in street combat if the American forces or their allies enter. Then, will begin fierce resistance operations, such as those carried out in occupied Palestine.”
“Third, deployment of groups of ‘Saddam’s Fedayeen’ within the capital and in other cities, to control the internal situation and participate in the resistance operations.” (Translation provided courtesy of MEMRI)

The “good” news, I guess, is that if it does come down to horrible fighting, block by city block, and Saddam strikes back with chemical or biological weapons, a majority of Americas are fully prepared to nuke him.
Six in 10 Americans would support a nuclear response, according to the Washington Post-ABC News poll. Yipes! More encouragingly, however, 58 percent of respondents said President George W. Bush had not presented enough evidence to warrant attacking Iraq, up from 50 percent in September. There seems to be some concern over Bush’s motives for attacking Iraq and the public worries he’s moving too quickly for their taste. Fifty-eight percent also want to see the United Nations as a supporting cast member. Perhaps in the Gulf War II movie, it will be credited as “second international organization on the left.”
(As an aside, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told Al-Quds Al-Arabi that the United States had no plans to remove Saddam from power. “If he cooperates, then the basis of changed-regime policy has shifted because his regime has, in fact, changed its policy to one of cooperation,” Powell said. Note it’s no longer “regime change” but “changed regime” as the goal. Orwell must be proud.)
Oh, and in case anyone thought a war might be averted, the United States will give Iraq’s dossier it turned in last weekend an “F.” With the news that the United States would not be accepting Iraq’s excuse that the dog ate its chemical weapons, the price of gold rose and the dollar fell, indicating that markets feel war is now inevitable. I’ve been saying it since July: It’s not a matter of will the United States go to war, but when. And it’s still looking like February or March. Stratfor agrees, saying that Australia has been advised to be ready to gear up in March. The British military has also begun leaking to the press saying the summer heat would not be a “crucial factor” in an attack on Iraq.
In other news, the Associated Press is now reporting that Turkey is preparing to deploy 65,000 to 75,000 troops in northern Iraq in the event of a U.S. invasion. I reported on this back in October. Radio Australia is reporting that Turkey has already put 10,000 to 15,000 troops on the Turkish-Iraqi border in order to counter Kurdish rebels operating cross border. The goal of the Turks is to prevent the Kurds from forming a state in the fog of war resulting from a dust-up to the south. The Turks would also be in a position to seize the oil fields of Kirkuk and Mosul, something they’ve wanted to do since 1923 when they were denied to Ataturk. Ankara is not going to miss out on the spoils of this war, especially since the first one and the decade of sanctions demolished Turkey’s economy. It’s payback time.