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New points of view about the future of Iraq and the Middle East.

Updated: 2016-10-20T06:20:49.039-04:00




I have a new blog. (image)

Can't keep the guns and the money


Looks like yesterday's meeting was just another failed attempt to break the deadlock. The "agreement" the political leaders reached is practically worth nothing. Washington will not like this. The US is not willing to station people overseas without legal protections...I think it's politically indefensible in the US. The cause of this deadlock is rooted in the disagreements on power, land and (image)

Riots erupt in Saudi village


And it is on in Saudi Arabia! Fourteen people, including 11 policemen, were hurt when riots erupted in a Shiite-majority village in eastern Saudi Arabia, state news agency SPA said Tuesday, blaming the unrest on a "foreign country." "A group of outlaws and rioters on motorbikes gathered" at a roundabout in the village of Al-Awamia in Al-Qatif province on Monday "carrying petrol bombs," SPA said,(image)

Iraq May Approve Energy Law by Year End, Committee Chief Says


An overly wishful, almost out of touch assessment of bill stuck since 2007:“We are studying two drafts, one from within the committee and another one from the government,” Adnan Al Janabi said. “We will come out with a new law from these two drafts, and we can pass the law by the end of the year.” Not gonna happen! First you need the three major blocs to all agree on a workable power-sharing (image)

Iraq signs deal to buy 18 F-16 warplanes


The deal is finally's unclear yet though whether it includes the same lame weapons package announced in the original notification. The final price will also be significantly lower than the $3-4 billion estimate. How much exactly? We'll have to wait, but I guess it will be around $1 billion.(image)

Saudi women gain vote for the first time


Congrats to the women of Saudi Arabian who now have the right to vote and run for public office...A huge step forward.(image)

Somali radio gives away assault rifles in Quran contest


You're not gonna believe what this radio station in Somalia did!The "Al-Andalus" radio station offered weapons (and cash) as prizes for winners in a Quran memorization contest this past Ramadan. The first place winner got an AK-47 and the equivalent of $700. Second place winner got an AK-47 too, plus the equivalent of $500 in cash. The third place winner, well, he got 2 hand grenades and $400 in (image)

Iraq Calls for Change of Syrian Regime


This is a pretty interesting and welcome about-face.(image)

Bomb blast in Ankara as Turkey, Iran consider joint operations


This escalation will most certainly reflect negatively on the border ares of Iraq's Kurdistan Region. Actually, with a joint Ankara-Tehran operation possibly in the works, it looks like the KRG has some really tough days ahead. It could also very well influence the KRG position in their negotiations with Maliki, who will probably try to leverage the situation to improve his position..It would be (image)

Egypt bars Islamist hard-line political party


Egypt's Political Parties Affairs Committee has made a brave decision, barring the extremist Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiyya from registering as a political party. The way this enfolds will have deep effects on the future of Egypt's political system.If this ruling stands, Egypt will succeed in avoiding one of the biggest mistakes we made in Iraq when all filters were removed. We ended up allowing those who(image)

Iraq Crude Oil Output Rises to Highest Level Since 2003


Production in August hit 2.81 million barrels per day. Going neck and neck with Kuwait, who has also been frantically ramping up output this year.With significant revenue growth in the pipeline, the government in Baghdad is already working on a plan to expand next year's budget by more than a third.You will see September numbers dip slightly when the next output report is released. That's because(image)

Syrian naphtha tender attracts no bids: traders


Someone in the neighborhood is losing revenue pretty fast! Watcha gonna do Bashar?(image)

Allawi no longer welcome in politics, says Maliki


Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki has effectively torpedoed what was left of the power-sharing agreement that led to the formation of his cabinet.In a very short and ominous statement to the press, he stated that Ayad Allawi "is no longer an acceptable partner in the political process."This is going to have serious ramifications, including the potential for the collapse of the current coalition (image)

Iraq reworks fees to bolster 4th energy auction


The Ministry of Oil will be trying to squeeze even more revenue out of future development contracts by closing one of the "loopholes" found in earlier contracts."If the total production is 1 million barrels per day and the cost recovery is (the value of) 300,000 bpd, then we will deduct the 300,000 from the net production and the remainder is 700,000 bpd, so we will pay remuneration for the (image)

Tehran fantasizes about gas exports to Europe


Another Iranian pipe dream, literally.(image)

Oil dispute flare-up


The KRG are saying exports were halted because of "technical difficulties." This could in theory be true, but it's highly unlikely. First, exports were halted immediately after Maliki-Erbil tension boiled over draft oil law disagreements. Second, it happened while the Kurdish parties threatened to even boycott federal parliament and cabinet meetings. Against this backdrop, the technical (image)

A lighter footprint will not prevent conflict


I'm quite sure that when General Odierno said:"I'm not saying 3-5,000 is the right number," but "there comes a time...when it (US presence) becomes counter-productive...I'm not quite sure what the right number is, but there's a number there somewhere that is -- you've got be careful about."...he was trying to explain that he wanted the extended US presence, should there be any, to maintain a low (image)

Sadr says will suspend operations against US troops


So Moqtada Sadr, trying to make himself look reasonable, issued a statement Saturday night in which he claims that: "Out of keenness on Iraq's independence and the withdrawal of American forces from the country, I must halt military operations for the Iraqi resistance until the withdrawal is case the withdrawal is not complete and Iraq's land remained nonindependent, the decision (image)

Ahmadinejad tells Assad to end the violence?


Something must have been lost in translation, because this couldn't be coming from Ahmadinejad.(image)

Iraq Discovers Oil, Gas Field in Anbar Province, Official Says


Never heard of recent active exploration in this area,which roughly corresponds with the southern edge of "block 2", one of the 12 exploration blocks that will be auctioned off in the upcoming 4th bid round in January. I'd take this one with a grain of salt, for now. (image)

Iraqi Army Receives Last Abrams Shipment


All 140 of them have been delivered. We'll need about 4 times as many only to complete the modernization of tank elements for 4 modern mechanized divisions...still a long way to go before having adequate defense against conventional external threats.(image)

Revolution in Syria brings security to Iraq's border


Iraqi border guards report that since protests escalated in Syria, there have been almost no militants trying to cross into Iraq. "We have recorded only three infiltration attempts in the last three months, and this is the lowest rate since 2003," the official said adding that "Arab revolutions against ruling regimes, particularly Syrian protests, have had a positive effect on security in Iraq."I(image)

Iraq eyes EU gas exports through Turkey


This article actually raises a few very interesting points about Iraq's potential gas exports, particularly this one: Al-Shamma also said gas exports to Europe would begin only if gasfields were found, saying associated gas would not be exported by pipeline. “If we depend on associated gas, that will fluctuate and we cannot commit to a long-term export project. We need to have a stable supply and(image)

Iraq OKs six more companies for 4th energy bid


Reuters: Iraq has approved six more energy companies to participate in its 4th energy auction, raising the number of pre-qualified bidders to 46, a senior oil ministry official said on Wednesday. The auction for 12 new exploration blocs, scheduled for late January, is expected to add 29 trillion cubic feet of gas and 10 billion barrels of oil to Iraqi reserves. "We have six companies that were (image)

Sadr applauds Hizbollah Brigades, seeks merger


Al-Sumaria News (Arabic) quoted Moqtada Sadr as saying that he blesses the work of the Hizbollah Brigades--one of the notorious IRGC backed special groups--and that he offered a merger between the group and his militias; "The strength of the Trend [Sadr's movement], so to speak, is yours."Sadr also acknowledges that that the Brigades' mission is regional, and extends well beyond Iraq's borders, (image)