The grand oil theft has begun: Oil giants poised to move into Basra

Western oil giants are poised to enter southern Iraq to tap the country’s vast reserves, despite the ongoing threat of violence, according to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s business emissary to the country.

Michael Wareing, who heads the new Basra Development Commission, acknowledged that there would be concerns among Iraqis about multinationals exploiting natural resources.

Basra, where 4 000 British troops are based, has been described as “the lung” of Iraq by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The region accounts for 90% of government revenue and 70% of Iraq’s proven oil reserves. It has access to the Persian Gulf and is potentially one of the richest areas in the Middle East, but continues to be plagued by rival militias.

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North American Army created without OK by Congress

In a ceremony that received virtually no attention in the American media, the United States and Canada signed a military agreement Feb. 14 allowing the armed forces from one nation to support the armed forces of the other nation during a domestic civil emergency, even one that does not involve a cross-border crisis.


U.S. Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, commander of USNORTHCOM, signs agreement Feb. 14, 2008, with Canadian Air Force Lt. Gen. Marc Dumais, commander of Canada Command (USNORTHCOM photo)

The agreement, defined as a Civil Assistance Plan, was not submitted to Congress for approval, nor did Congress pass any law or treaty specifically authorizing this military agreement to combine the operations of the armed forces of the United States and Canada in the event of a wide range of domestic civil disturbances ranging from violent storms, to health epidemics, to civil riots or terrorist attacks.

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Former Halliburton subsidiary KBR’s 4th quarter profits up 65%

HOUSTON (AP) — Former Halliburton subsidiary KBR Inc. said Tuesday fourth-quarter profit rose 65 percent, lifted by contributions from natural-gas projects, work in Iraq and a tax benefit related to a 2006 asset sale.

The Houston-based military contractor and engineering and construction firm said profit for the October-December period was $71 million, or 42 cents a share, up from $43 million, or 28 cents a share, in the prior-year period.

The most-recent quarter included income from discontinued operations of $23 million, or 14 cents a share, due to tax benefits from the 2006 sale of its production services group.

The prior-year period included a loss from discontinued operations of $2 million, or 1 cent a share.

Wall Street expected KBR to earn 32 cents in the quarter, excluding one-time items.

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14 Iranians in US custody in Iraq

The US troops in Iraq currently have fourteen Iranians in their custody, they had freed 10 others last year, a military official says.

The Iranians are “being held as imperative threats to security in accordance with United Nations Security resolution,” the US Central Command claimed in a statement from its headquarters in Tampa, Florida.

“The dates and times of their individual capture are not immediately available,” Major Brad Leighton, spokesman for the US military in Iraq told AFP on Monday.
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Narco Aggression: Russia accuses the U.S. military of involvement in drug trafficking out of Afghanistan

The global proceeds of the Afghan drug trade is in excess of 150 billion dollars a year. There is mounting evidence that this illicit trade is protected by the US military.Historically, starting in the early 1980s, the Afghan drug trade was used to finance CIA covert support of the Islamic brigades. The 2003 war on Afghanistan was launched following the Taliban government’s 2000-2001 drug eradication program which led to a collapse in opium production in excess of 90 percent.

The following report, which accuses the United States of using military transport planes to ship narcotics out of Afghanistan confirms what is already known and documented regarding the Golden Crescent Drug Trade and its insiduous relationship to US intelligence.

Russia, facing a catastrophic rise in drug addiction, accuses the U.S. military of involvement in drug trafficking from Afghanistan.

Afghanistan produced 8,200 tonnes of opium last year, enough to make 93 per cent of the world’s heroin supply.

Could it be that the American military in Afghanistan is involved in drug trafficking? Yes, it is quite possible, according to Russia’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov.

Commenting on reports that the United States military transport aviation is used for shipping narcotics out of Afghanistan, the Russian envoy said there was no smoke without fire.

“If such actions do take place they cannot be undertaken without contact with Afghans, and if one Afghan man knows this, at least a half of Afghanistan will know about this sooner or later,” Kabulov told Vesti, Russia’s 24-hour news channel. “That is why I think this is possible, but cannot prove it.”

Afghan narcotics are an extremely painful issue for Russia. They first hit the Russian market during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s when Russian soldiers developed a taste for Afghan heroin and smuggled it back to Russia.

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Israel and the Kurdish Regional Government assist Turkish attacks against Kurds

LONDON – Israel has been supporting Turkey in its oppression against the Kurdish people, revealed local sources.
A spokesperson of the PKK stated that in the current conflict, the Israeli army is assisting the Turks in their oppression of Kurds.
The Turkish Prime Minister stated that the incursion is coordinated with “the local administration in Northern Iraq.” This implies that the Kurdistan Regional Government, which Turkey terms as the administration of Northern Iraq, avoiding using the words “Kurd” or “Kurdistan,” have been coordinating with Turkey.
By mentioning the coordination with the “local administration in Northern Iraq” the Turkish Prime Minister may mean Jalal Talabani, the head of PUK and the President of Iraq. Abdulla Gul telephoned Talabani on Friday. Turkey refuses to recognise any Kurdistan Regional Government. In fact, Turkey refuses to fully recognise an ethinc group known as Kurd.
However in a statement, 24 hours after the incursion and under huge pressure from media and the people of Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) issued a statement condemning the incursion.

Women’s lives worse than ever

And here is me thinking we were there to help those poor supressed women, Sounds like we succeeded, eh?

By Terri Judd
Monday, 25 February 2008

Grinding poverty and the escalating war is driving an increasing number of Afghan families to sell their daughters into forced marriages.

Girls as young as six are being married into a life of slavery and rape, often by multiple members of their new relatives. Banned from seeing their own parents or siblings, they are also prohibited from going to school. With little recognition of the illegality of the situation or any effective recourse, many of the victims are driven to self-immolation – burning themselves to death – or severe self-harm.

Six years after the US and Britain “freed” Afghan women from the oppressive Taliban regime, a new report proves that life is just as bad for most, and worse in some cases.

Projects started in the optimistic days of 2002 have begun to wane as the UK and its Nato allies fail to treat women’s rights as a priority, workers in the country insist.

The statistics in the report from Womankind, Afghan Women and Girls Seven Years On, make shocking reading. Violent attacks against females, usually domestic, are at epidemic proportions with 87 per cent of females complaining of such abuse – half of it sexual. More than 60 per cent of marriages are forced.

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Pushing Missile Defense in Europe

 With the occupation of Iraq soon to enter its sixth year and the looming possibility of war against Iran, it’s easy for Americans not to notice the Bush administration’s attempt to expand the U.S. military presence in Europe. A new Cold War between the United States and Russia threatens. And the U.S. media is paying little attention.

Even many in the peace movement don’t know that Washington has proposed to install 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar military base in the Czech Republic. The missiles and radar taken together constitute an anti-missile system purportedly meant to defend against Iran and other “rogue” states. In fact, they represent a new expansion of U.S. global military power and an escalation of the arms race with Russia.

Opposition to the proposed U.S. installations, however, is gathering force within Poland and the Czech Republic. And even the U.S. Congress has shown a measure of skepticism. The expansion of U.S. military presence in Eastern Europe is far from a done deal.

Why Eastern Europe?

Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States has moved resolutely to create a unipolar world based on ever-greater military dominance. Though much weakened, Russia remains a major international “player” because of its vast size, its still-formidable nuclear arsenal, and its ability to use its gas and oil resources for political advantage. Consequently, Moscow is viewed by Washington as a major potential threat to its imperial ambitions, one that must be undermined.

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War pimp alert: US funding militia to destabilize Iran

The United States is clandestinely funding militant groups within Iran’s borders to destabilize the country, The Daily Telegraph says.

According to the daily, CIA officials are secretly funding militias among the numerous ethnic minorities clustered in Iran’s border regions in order to mount pressure on the country to give up its nuclear program.

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CIA ‘plane used for torture flights landed in Britain last week’

The row over the use of British air bases for American “torture” flights flared up again last night following evidence that a plane linked to the transport of terrorist suspects landed in Britain on Wednesday.A Gulfstream IV private jet, which has been identified by Amnesty International as a CIA-linked plane implicated in so-called “rendition,” arrived at RAF Northolt in West London just hours before the Government was forced into a humiliating U-turn on the practice.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband admitted to the Commons on Thursday that two US rendition flights landed at a British air base on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean in 2002 – despite previous repeated denials from Tony Blair and Jack Straw.

Former Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett revealed poor record keeping could be to blame for the government’s late disclosure on the subject.

Ms Beckett, who is now chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, said that when she was Foreign Secretary she was told by the Americans that there was no evidence of British airspace being used for the flights.

She told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show: “It was very difficult for the Government to go back and look at what had happened on previous occasions. There was not a clear, simple trace of record keeping.

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Canada, U.S. agree to share troops in civil emergencies

David Pugliese, Canwest News Service
Published: Friday, February 22, 2008Canada and the U.S. have signed an agreement that paves the way for the militaries from either nation to send troops across each other’s borders during an emergency, but some are questioning why the Harper government has kept silent on the deal.

Neither the Canadian government nor the Canadian Forces announced the new agreement, which was signed Feb. 14 in Texas.

The U.S. military’s Northern Command, however, publicized the agreement with a statement outlining how its top officer, Gen. Gene Renuart, and Canadian Lt.-Gen. Marc Dumais, head of Canada Command, signed the plan, which allows the military from one nation to support the armed forces of the other nation during a civil emergency.

The new agreement has been greeted with suspicion by the left wing in Canada and the right wing in the U.S.

The left-leaning Council of Canadians, which is campaigning against what it calls the increasing integration of the U.S. and Canadian militaries, is raising concerns about the deal.

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Russian energy ties with Iran send US a message

With European and US companies out of the competition, Russia’s Gazprom has an edge as it bids for a bigger role in developing the world’s second-largest gas reserves

AS the United States warns the world away from business with Tehran, Moscow’s tightening ties to Iran’s energy sector underline Russia’s differences with Washington over Iranian nuclear plans and Kosovo’s independence.

While the timing of Moscow’s announcement on Tuesday may have been political, the deal for Russian state-controlled energy giant Gazprom to take on big new Iranian oil and gas projects was a long time in the making and dovetails with Gazprom’s strategic ambitions, analysts said. Gazprom, the world’s biggest gas producer, will play a larger role in developing Iran’s giant South Pars gas field and will also drill for oil.

“The Russian government and the United States are at loggerheads over how to engage with Iran, with Russia actively favouring a more open relationship,” said Ronald Smith, chief strategist at Alfa Bank. “This makes Gazprom rather indifferent to American policy wishes.” The US accuses Iran of using uranium enrichment to develop weapons, while Tehran says it needs nuclear power. Russia has been reluctant to impose more UN sanctions on Iran.

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Bush: no compromise on phone immunity in spy bill

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (Reuters) – U.S. President George W. Bush said on Thursday he would not compromise with the Democratic-led Congress on his demand that phone companies that took part in his warrantless domestic spying program be shielded from lawsuits.Bush has demanded Congress protect companies like AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications from civil lawsuits that accuse them of violating Americans’ privacy rights in the administration’s anti-terrorism program.

The Senate approved a measure that would grant the companies retroactive immunity but the House of Representatives has opposed it. The surveillance program began in 2001 after the September 11 attacks and some 40 lawsuits are pending.

House and Senate Democrats said they would try to find a compromise even as they said their Republican counterparts refused to permit staff to meet with them on Thursday.

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Moscow threatens force over Kosovo

Formal recognition of Kosovo as an independent state by the EU or NATO obligates Moscow to resort to ‘brute force,’ Russia’s envoy to NATO says.In a video link-up from Brussels Dmitry Rogozin said, “if the European Union works out a common position, or if NATO breaches its mandate in Kosovo, these organizations will be in conflict with the United Nations,” Interfax news agency reported.

“We too will have to proceed from the view that in order to be respected we must use brute force, in other words armed force.”
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Turkey Says It Has Sent Ground Troops Into Iraq

The US is not protecting their most reliable ally in Iraq. More quagmire and mayhem to come.

SAMSUN, Turkey – Turkey’s military said it had sent ground troops into northern Iraq Thursday night in an operation aimed at weakening Kurdish militants there, the first confirmed ground incursion since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003.

The Turkish General Staff announced the action on its website on Friday. It gave no details of how many troops went or how long they would stay, and said only that they would return once goals had been achieved. Private NTV television reported 10,000 troops were involved and said they had pushed about six miles into Iraqi territory.

A Turkish analyst, commenting on NTV, said the attack appeared aimed at dealing the Kurdish militants, the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, a surprise blow before the snow melts and the guerillas make their traditional spring advance into Turkey to attack Turkish troops. The analyst said the operation would likely last between three and four days.

It was not clear what, if any, role the United States played in the incursion, which set one of its closest allies in a troubled region, Turkey, a NATO member that shares borders with Iran, Iraq and Syria, against another, Iraqi Kurds, the most important American partners in the Iraq war.

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Afghanistan sitting on a gold mine: minister

Of course, thats why the Americans wanted it, duhhh.

KABUL (AFP) – Afghanistan is sitting on a wealth of mineral reserves — perhaps the richest in the region — that offer hope for a country mired in poverty after decades of war, the mining minister says.

Significant deposits of copper, iron, gold, oil and gas, and coal — as well as precious gems such as emeralds and rubies — are largely untapped and still being mapped, Mohammad Ibrahim Adel told AFP.

And they promise prosperity for one of the world’s poorest countries, the minister said, dismissing concerns that a Taliban-led insurgency may thwart efforts to unearth this treasure.

Already in the pipeline is the exploitation of a massive copper deposit — one of the biggest in the world — about 30 kilometres (20 miles) east of Kabul.

“There has not been such a big project in the history of Afghanistan,” Adel said.

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Iraq waits on word from al-Sadr

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Iraq waits on word from al-Sadr

| Thursday, Feb 21 2008 12:47 PM

Last Updated: Thursday, Feb 21 2008 12:51 PM

Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has decided whether to extend his Mahdi Army’s cease-fire, and sent the message in sealed envelopes to be opened at the beginning of Friday’s sermons, one of his officials said.

Photos:

IRAQ AL-SADR

Followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr carry symbolic coffins to commemorate the fourth anniversary of a Shiite uprising against U.S. forces in Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008. Al-Sadr will have a statement read in mosques at Friday prayer services addressing whether his Mahdi Army will extend a six-month cease-fire that’s helped reduce violence throughout Iraq, a Shiite lawmaker said.

IRAQ AL-SADR

Followers of a radical anti U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr carry his portrait during a ceremony to mark a fourth anniversary of the Shiite uprising against the American occupation in Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008. al-Sadr will have a statement read in mosques at Friday prayer services addressing whether his Mahdi Army will extend a six-month cease-fire that’s helped reduce violence throughout Iraq, a Shiite lawmaker said.

IRAQ BRITISH TROOPS

Iraqi policeman stands by a road side bomb crater that struck a British patrol on Wednesday night in Basra, Iraq, 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008. There were no reports on possible casualties.

IRAQ BRITISH TROOPS

Iraqi policeman stands by a road side bomb crater that struck a British patrol on Wednesday night in Basra, Iraq, 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008. There were no reports on possible casualties.

Although the content of the message, delivered Thursday to 200 loyal clerics around Iraq, was not known, there were strong indications from officials in his organization that the anti-U.S. firebrand would extend the six-month cessation of what had been an undeclared war against the U.S. military since 2004.

The cease-fire has been one of three important factors that have helped reduce violence since mid-2007. The two others are the influx of thousands of U.S. troops last summer, and emergence of Sunni-dominated groups that are fighting against al-Qaida in Iraq.

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Attacks against American targets up around Baghdad as al-Sadr cease-fire in doubt

BAGHDAD (AP) – With deadly attacks against U.S. targets increasing around Baghdad, anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr raised the possibility Wednesday that he may not renew a six-month cease-fire widely credited for helping slash violence.

The cease-fire is due to expire Saturday, and there were fears, especially among minority Sunni Arabs, that the re-emergence of al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia could return Iraq to where it was just a year ago – with sectarian death squads prowling the streets of a country on the brink of civil war.

A surge of violence would also make it all the more difficult for Iraq’s Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds to reach agreements on sharing power and wealth, and greatly complicate the debate in the United States on whether and how quickly to withdraw troops.

Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, a U.S. military spokesman, blamed Iranian-backed Shiite extremists for a flurry of rocket attacks – including one Monday against an Iraqi housing complex near the country’s main U.S. military base that killed at least five people and wounded 16, including two U.S. soldiers.

Smith also said one American civilian was killed and a number of U.S. troops and civilian personnel were wounded in a rocket attack in the southeastern area of Rustamiyah Tuesday night. He did not elaborate, but there is a U.S. base in the predominantly Shiite area.

He said those attacks and another on Tuesday were carried out by ”Iranian-backed Special Group criminals,” a term the military uses to describe groups that broke away from the Mahdi Army militia or refused to respect the cease-fire al-Sadr declared last August.

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Inside the world of war profiteers

From prostitutes to Super bowl tickets, a federal probe reveals how contractors in Iraq cheated the U.S.

By David Jackson and Jason Grotto

Tribune reporters

February 21, 2008

ROCK ISLAND, Ill.—Inside the stout federal courthouse of this Mississippi River town, the dirty secrets of Iraq war profiteering keep pouring out.

Hundreds of pages of recently unsealed court records detail how kickbacks shaped the war’s largest troop support contract months before the first wave of U.S. soldiers plunged their boots into Iraqi sand.

The graft continued well beyond the 2004 congressional hearings that first called attention to it. And the massive fraud endangered the health of American soldiers even as it lined contractors’ pockets, records show.

Federal prosecutors in Rock Island have indicted four former supervisors from KBR, the giant defense firm that holds the contract, along with a decorated Army officer and five executives from KBR subcontractors based in the U.S. or the Middle East. Those defendants, along with two other KBR employees who have pleaded guilty in Virginia, account for a third of the 36 people indicted to date on Iraq war-contract crimes, Justice Department records show.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Rock Island sentenced the Army official, Chief Warrant Officer Peleti “Pete” Peleti Jr., to 28 months in prison for taking bribes. One Middle Eastern subcontractor treated him to a trip to the 2006 Super Bowl, a defense investigator said.

Prosecutors would not confirm or deny ongoing grand jury activity. But court records identify a dozen FBI, IRS and military investigative agents who have been assigned to the case. Interviews as well as testimony at the sentencing for Peleti, who has cooperated with authorities, suggest an active probe.

Rock Island serves as a center for the probe of war profiteering because Army brass at the arsenal here administer KBR’s so-called LOGCAP III contract to feed, shelter and support U.S. soldiers, and to help restore Iraq’s oil infrastructure.

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Large Potential Albanian Oil and Gas Discovery Underscores Kosovo’s Importance

Just in case you were wondering why the US was so quick in accepting Kosovo’s independency. ANd why in fact it has worked so hard to make it independent.

by Stephen Lendman

Global Research, February 19, 2008
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On January 10, Swiss-based Manas Petroleum Corporation broke the news. Gustavson Associates LLC’s Resource Evaluation identified large prospects of oil and gas reserves in Albania, close to Kosovo. They are in areas called blocks A, B, C, D and E, encompassing about 780,000 acres along the northwest to southeast “trending (geological) fold belt of northwestern Albania.”

Assigned estimates of the find (so far unproved) are up to 2.987 billion barrels of oil and 3.014 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. However, because of their depth, oil deposits may be capped with a layer of gas. If so, Gustavson calculates the potential to be 1.4 billion barrels of light oil and up to 15 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Further, if only gas is present, the discovery may be as much as 28 trillion cubic feet. In any case, if estimates prove out, it’s a sizable find.

In its statement, Gustavson reported: “The probability of success for a wildcat well in a structurally complex area such as this is relatively high (because) it is in a structurally favorable area (and) proven hydrocarbon source and analogous production exists only 20 to 30 kilometers away.”

Currently, the Balkans region has small proved oil reserves of about 345 million barrels, of which an estimated 198 million barrels are in Albania. Proved natural gas reserves are much larger at around 2.7 trillion cubic feet.

In December 2007, Albania’s Council of Ministers allowed DWM Petroleum, AG, a Manas subsidiary, to assist in the exploration, development and production of Albania’s oil and gas reserves in conjunction with the government’s Agency of Natural Resources.

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