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Archive: September 2007
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Photo Gallery
09/28/2007 11:24 AM ET
US Army soldiers of Alpha Company of 1/38 Infantry Regiment run along a street during a mopping-up operation to search and secure the area in Baquba, some 50 kms north-east of Baghdad, 27 September 2007.
Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty
US Army soldiers of Alpha Company of 1/38 Infantry Regiment run along a street during a mopping-up operation to search and secure the area in Baquba, some 50 kms north-east of Baghdad, 27 September 2007.

Iraqi children stand watching as US Army soldiers of Alpha Company, 1/38 Infantry Regiment, search their home during a mopping-up operation to search and secure the area, in Baquba, some 50 kms north-east of Baghdad, 27 September 2007.
Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty
Iraqi children stand watching as US Army soldiers of Alpha Company, 1/38 Infantry Regiment, search their home during a mopping-up operation to search and secure the area, in Baquba, some 50 kms north-east of Baghdad, 27 September 2007.

US Army soldiers of Alpha Company, 1/38 Infantry Regiment, search a house during a mopping-up operation to search and secure the area, in Baquba, some 50 kms north-east of Baghdad, 27 September 2007.aghdad, 27 September 2007.
Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty
US Army soldiers of Alpha Company, 1/38 Infantry Regiment, search a house during a mopping-up operation to search and secure the area, in Baquba, some 50 kms north-east of Baghdad, 27 September 2007.aghdad, 27 September 2007.

US Army Sergeant of Alpha Company, 1/38 Infantry Regiment, takes a look inside an Iraqi man's bag during a mopping-up operation to search and secure an area, in Baquba, some 50 kms north-east of Baghdad, 27 September 2007.
Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty
US Army Sergeant of Alpha Company, 1/38 Infantry Regiment, takes a look inside an Iraqi man's bag during a mopping-up operation to search and secure an area, in Baquba, some 50 kms north-east of Baghdad, 27 September 2007.

A US Army soldier of Alpha Company, 1/38 Infantry Regiment, photographs a local Iraqi resident along with an identification card that the Iraqi man is holding during a mopping-up operation to search and secure an area, in Baquba.
Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty
A US Army soldier of Alpha Company, 1/38 Infantry Regiment, photographs a local Iraqi resident along with an identification card that the Iraqi man is holding during a mopping-up operation to search and secure an area, in Baquba.

US Staff Sergeant Fuller (L) of Alpha Company, 1/38 Infantry Regiment, looks toward Iraqi women and children as he secures an area during a mopping-up operation in Baquba, some 50 kms north-east of Baghdad, 27 September 2007.
Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty
US Staff Sergeant Fuller (L) of Alpha Company, 1/38 Infantry Regiment, looks toward Iraqi women and children as he secures an area during a mopping-up operation in Baquba, some 50 kms north-east of Baghdad, 27 September 2007.

US Army soldiers of Alpha Company, 1/38 Infantry Regiment, take up positions during a mopping-up operation to search and secure the area, in Baquba, some 50 kms north-east of Baghdad, 27 September 2007.
Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty
US Army soldiers of Alpha Company, 1/38 Infantry Regiment, take up positions during a mopping-up operation to search and secure the area, in Baquba, some 50 kms north-east of Baghdad, 27 September 2007.

US Army soldiers of Alpha Company, 1/38 Infantry Regiment, move in loose order along a street scanning the vicinity during a mopping-up operation to search and secure the area, in Baquba, some 50 kms north-east of Baghdad, 27 September 2007.
Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty
US Army soldiers of Alpha Company, 1/38 Infantry Regiment, move in loose order along a street scanning the vicinity during a mopping-up operation to search and secure the area, in Baquba, some 50 kms north-east of Baghdad, 27 September 2007.

US Army soldiers of Alpha Company, 1/38 Infantry Regiment, take up positions during a mopping-up operation to search and secure the area, in Baquba, some 50 kms north-east of Baghdad, 27 September 2007.
Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty
US Army soldiers of Alpha Company, 1/38 Infantry Regiment, take up positions during a mopping-up operation to search and secure the area, in Baquba, some 50 kms north-east of Baghdad, 27 September 2007.

US Army Specialist Luke Weschenfelder, from Billings, MT, of Alpha Company of 1/38 Infantry Regiment sleeps with his M-4 assault rifle next to him, and a teddy-bear, a gift from his girlfriend Brittany, at his company's combat out post outside Baqubah.
Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty
US Army Specialist Luke Weschenfelder, from Billings, MT, of Alpha Company of 1/38 Infantry Regiment sleeps with his M-4 assault rifle next to him, and a teddy-bear, a gift from his girlfriend Brittany, at his company's combat out post outside Baqubah.

Photo Gallery
"Concerned Local Nationalists" Caught Carrying Contraband Weapons
09/26/2007 12:30 PM ET
US soldier from Alpha Company of 1/38 Infantry Regiment inspects weapons that were confiscated during an overnight operation outside Baquba, early 26 September 2007, from the US Army registered local protection force the Concerned Local Nationalists (CLN)
Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty
US soldier from Alpha Company of 1/38 Infantry Regiment inspects weapons that were confiscated during an overnight operation outside Baquba, early 26 September 2007, from the US Army registered local protection force the Concerned Local Nationalists (CLN)

The Concerned Local Nationalists (CLN) along with other local armed groups have joined forces with the US military to fight against Al-Qaeda in the area around Baquba, some 50 kms northeast of Baghdad.

Members of the CLN are authorized by the US military to carry a Kalashnikov rifle and two magazines of ammunition, but on Wednesday Alpha Company detained CLN group members for unauthorized possession of contraband types of weapons, including sniper rifles and machine-guns.

A US soldier from Alpha Company of 1/38 Infantry Regiment guards members of the US Army registered local Iraqi protection force the Concerned Local Nationalists (CLN) outside Baquba, early 26 September 2007, after they were arrested for possession of contraband weapons.
Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty
A US soldier from Alpha Company of 1/38 Infantry Regiment guards members of the US Army registered local Iraqi protection force the Concerned Local Nationalists (CLN) outside Baquba, early 26 September 2007, after they were arrested for possession of contraband weapons.

A US soldier from Alpha Company of 1/38 Infantry Regiment guards members of the US Army registered local Iraqi protection force the Concerned Local Nationalists (CLN) outside Baquba, early 26 September 2007.
Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty
A US soldier from Alpha Company of 1/38 Infantry Regiment guards members of the US Army registered local Iraqi protection force the Concerned Local Nationalists (CLN) outside Baquba, early 26 September 2007.

A US soldier from Alpha Company of 1/38 Infantry Regiment inspects weapons that were confiscated during an overnight operation outside Baquba, early 26 September 2007, from the US Army registered local protection force the Concerned Local Nationalists.
Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty
A US soldier from Alpha Company of 1/38 Infantry Regiment inspects weapons that were confiscated during an overnight operation outside Baquba, early 26 September 2007, from the US Army registered local protection force the Concerned Local Nationalists.

Iraqi Diary
Province's Only Hospital Serves 500 Per Day--More When Bombs Hit
09/23/2007 4:17 PM ET
Iraqi medics treat a wounded Shiite from the Turkmen minority, at a Kirkuk hospital, 16 September 2007.
Marwan Ibrahim/AFP/Getty
Iraqi medics treat a wounded Shiite from the Turkmen minority, at a Kirkuk hospital, 16 September 2007.

Kirkuk's public hospital, built under the British mandate in the 1940s, resembles a decrepit castle. Heat and humidity have swept away the colour of the walls, which are crumbling and spattered with blood.

Patients and doctors say the province's main public hospital is unsanitary, ill-equipped and overcrowded. Yet the facility is practically all that Kirkuk has in the way of state medical provision.

The facility receives about 80 per cent of patients in the province, or about 500 patients per day. Most days, five to ten surgeries are conducted, but when the bombs strike, victims come through the emergency department by the dozens.

"It's not an exaggeration to say that healthcare in Kirkuk is in a crisis," said Dr Nabil Sabir, a gastroenterologist. "It's getting worse and needs to be addressed immediately."

The problems stem primarily from Kirkuk's poor financial and medical resources. Despite the city’s vast, untapped oil wealth - the province is believed to hold 60 per cent of Iraq's oil - poverty is prevalent, and public services are limited.

Iraq's healthcare system began severely deteriorating under the United Nations-imposed sanctions in the 1990s and has only become worse since that time.

The hospital and other public health services in Kirkuk are further strained by the increasing violence and the growing number of displaced people who have come here from more troubled parts of the country.

Despite the pressures on the hospital, the central authorities are slow to provide supplies of medicines and it has to rely on support from aid agencies, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, in emergencies.

The United States military has sought to alleviate some of the problems by supplying basics such as intravenous bags and burn blankets, so too has the Kurdistan Regional Government, which hopes to incorporate Kirkuk into Iraqi Kurdistan.

But what’s provided does little to address the hospital’s needs - as a result of which many of the poor in the province, particularly the displaced, go without care.

"No supplies," said Khadija Hama-Rashid, a nurse who manages the hospital's operation room. “That's why we only treat emergency cases.”

Nadhim Jihad, manager of the hospital’s warehouse where medicine and other supplies are stocked, reports that the hospital only has 20 per cent of the resources it needs.

The Kirkuk directorate of health estimates that the province as a whole receives 60 per cent of the medical supplies required by the hospital and other public clinics.

"We send patients' family to get drugs from the markets," said Mustafa Hussein, director of the intensive care unit in the hospital.

Murad al-Salihi, the hospital's deputy director, said demand for drugs and other supplies has soared as violence has spiralled. Medical staff have had to treat dozens of serious injuries in the aftermath of devastating bomb attacks, yet central government rarely sends enough supplies - and those that it dispatches are vulnerable to sabotage by insurgents.

“Trucks transport drugs and supplies that we cannot receive by air, and they are frequently attacked ," said Salihi. "It's a difficult process.”

As if this wasn’t bad enough, staff also have to cope with the aging building’s poor facilities and inadequate equipment. The hospital, which was built in the 1940s, needs a complete internal and external renovation. Available medical technology is outdated - x-ray machines are over 30 years old. The only advanced piece of equipment is a CT scanner - but that broke down last year and has not been replaced.

Ilham Ali, a gynaecologist and the department's supervisor, said his unit simply can’t deal with all the cases it receives, “We don't have enough beds or other supplies like air conditioners and water coolers."

The US and Iraqi authorities recognised shortly after Saddam Hussein's fall from power in April 2003 that Kirkuk's healthcare system was in trouble, but little has been done to support it.

Both pledged to improve medical service provision, with US engineers in 2004 assigned to build at least five clinics. But a report last year by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction said that the clinics "were found to be far from complete and were poorly constructed".

This article was written by an Institute for War & Peace Reporting correspondent based in Kirkuk.

Photo Gallery
09/23/2007 4:05 PM ET
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 22: A U.S. Army medic from the 28th Combat Support Hospital awaits helicopter ambublances carrying American wounded September 22, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.
John Moore/Getty
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 22: A U.S. Army medic from the 28th Combat Support Hospital awaits helicopter ambublances carrying American wounded September 22, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 22: A U.S. Army medic carries a wounded American soldier into the emergency room of the 28th Combat Support Hospital September 22, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.
John Moore/Getty
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 22: A U.S. Army medic carries a wounded American soldier into the emergency room of the 28th Combat Support Hospital September 22, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 22: A U.S. Army helicopter medic leaves documentation atop a wounded American soldier flown to the 28th Combat Support Hospital September 22, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.
John Moore/Getty
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 22: A U.S. Army helicopter medic leaves documentation atop a wounded American soldier flown to the 28th Combat Support Hospital September 22, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 22: U.S. Army medics from the 28th Combat Support Hospital rush a dying American soldier to the emergency room September 22, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.
John Moore/Getty
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 22: U.S. Army medics from the 28th Combat Support Hospital rush a dying American soldier to the emergency room September 22, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 22: U.S. Army doctors and nurses work to save the life of a dying American soldier at the 28th Combat Support Hospital September 22, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.
John Moore/Getty
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 22: U.S. Army doctors and nurses work to save the life of a dying American soldier at the 28th Combat Support Hospital September 22, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 22: U.S. Army medical staff check the x-rays of a dying American soldier at the 28th Combat Support Hospital September 22, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.
John Moore/Getty
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 22: U.S. Army medical staff check the x-rays of a dying American soldier at the 28th Combat Support Hospital September 22, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 22: (EDITOR'S NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT) A U.S. Army nurse takes the fading pulse of a dying American soldier at the 28th Combat Support Hospital September 22, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.
John Moore/Getty
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 22: (EDITOR'S NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT) A U.S. Army nurse takes the fading pulse of a dying American soldier at the 28th Combat Support Hospital September 22, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 22: A blood soaked mop cleans the emergency room floor at the 28th Combat Support Hospital September 22, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.
John Moore/Getty
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 22: A blood soaked mop cleans the emergency room floor at the 28th Combat Support Hospital September 22, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 22: A U.S. Army hospital staffer cuts off the identifying markings from the uniform of a slain American soldier at the 28th Combat Support Hospital September 22, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.
John Moore/Getty
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 22: A U.S. Army hospital staffer cuts off the identifying markings from the uniform of a slain American soldier at the 28th Combat Support Hospital September 22, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.

Photo Gallery
09/21/2007 3:08 PM ET
US soldiers equipped with night-vision goggles wait for an airlift next to a burning al-Qaeda hideout, near Iskandaria, south of Baghdad early 21 September 2007.
Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty
US soldiers equipped with night-vision goggles wait for an airlift next to a burning al-Qaeda hideout, near Iskandaria, south of Baghdad early 21 September 2007.

Dozens of US soldiers from 1-501 Para-Infantry Regiment raided the hideout to capture a high-profile kidnapper but the militant escaped under cover of darkness, leaving behind an anti-aircraft gun, grenades and a car bomb.
US soldiers equipped with nigh-vision goggles wait for an airlift at a Forward Operating Base (FOB) as they prepare to raid an al-Qaeda hideout near Iskandaria south of Baghdad early 21 September 2007.
Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty
US soldiers equipped with nigh-vision goggles wait for an airlift at a Forward Operating Base (FOB) as they prepare to raid an al-Qaeda hideout near Iskandaria south of Baghdad early 21 September 2007.

US soldiers equipped with nigh-vision goggles guard a bodybag filled with weapons found in an al-Qaeda hideout near Iskandaria south of Baghdad early 21 September 2007.
Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty
US soldiers equipped with nigh-vision goggles guard a bodybag filled with weapons found in an al-Qaeda hideout near Iskandaria south of Baghdad early 21 September 2007.

An Iraqi interpreter translates graffiti on the wall of an al-Qaeda hideout, near Iskandaria, south of Baghdad early 21 September 2007.
Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty
An Iraqi interpreter translates graffiti on the wall of an al-Qaeda hideout, near Iskandaria, south of Baghdad early 21 September 2007.

A US army explosives expert checks an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) found during a raid in an al-Qaeda hideout near Iskandaria south of Baghdad early 21 September 2007.
Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty
A US army explosives expert checks an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) found during a raid in an al-Qaeda hideout near Iskandaria south of Baghdad early 21 September 2007.

US soldiers equipped with night-vision goggles read their maps on the rooftop of an al-Qaeda hideaout, near Iskandaria, south of Baghdad early 21 September 2007.
Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty
US soldiers equipped with night-vision goggles read their maps on the rooftop of an al-Qaeda hideaout, near Iskandaria, south of Baghdad early 21 September 2007.

US soldiers equipped with night-vision goggles wait for an airlift next to a burning al-Qaeda hideout, near Iskandaria, south of Baghdad early 21 September 2007.
Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty
US soldiers equipped with night-vision goggles wait for an airlift next to a burning al-Qaeda hideout, near Iskandaria, south of Baghdad early 21 September 2007.

PETROL POLITICS
Thamir Ghadhban Working Towards Development of Energy Sector
By BEN LANDO 09/19/2007 7:18 PM ET
Thamir Ghadhban
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
Thamir Ghadhban
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Thamir Ghadhban has served in several political and technical capacities in Iraq’s oil sector. He’s been oil minister twice since 2003, has sat as a politician crafting Iraq’s constitution and is now Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s top energy adviser.

He sat down with United Press International on the sidelines of the Iraq Oil, Gas, Petrochemical and Electricity Summit organized by the Iraq Development Program in Dubai earlier this month to talk about issues facing his country’s energy sector.

Earlier in the conference, he presented a long-term plan to turn Iraq from an oil and gas giant in need of energy sources to a total energy exporter. Saddam Hussein’s rule handicapped today’s Iraq energy sector, which needs tens of billions of dollars in investment, repairs and security for its pipelines, and an actual infrastructure to put the natural gas to use instead of burning it off.

But how to do that is tricky. A controversial hydrocarbons law, which Ghadhban helped craft, is stuck in Parliament. At issue is the extent of federal control over the oil sector and how much it will be opened up to private/foreign investment. And at a technical level, whether Iraq’s current reserves should be exploited further first or more exploration is needed.

He also speaks about the fight between the current oil minister and the oil unions, as well as the need for transparency to keep the oil sector away from allegations of corruption.

UPI: There are a lot of long-term plans. Once the infrastructure and investment are in place for that it would mean Iraq could meet all of its own oil, electricity, natural gas, fuel needs and export and make money of that. Do I understand that correct?

Ghadhban: It is very clear. What I presented is really a scenario. It is not yet a solid plan. I expect that the Ministry of Oil shall present soon a plan after enactment of the (oil) law and according to the law it’s the federal oil and gas council which has the power to issue a plan, adopt it, and it would be a comprehensive plan for the whole country. The country is in need of energy, all sources of energy such as oil, gas, oil products. And it has the resources, we have the reserves. It’s only a matter of reorganizing ourselves, implementing plans and also, of course, implement the projects.

Such as we have shown, such as the stopping of flaring of the gas, collection of gas, separation, processing, providing LPG and providing the right gas for power generation. There is no doubt that Iraq has the potential to become an exporter of gas, of course as well as it is already an exporter of oil but it will be at a much higher level.

Q: What is the timeframe, if everything goes as hopeful as you’re talking about?

A: Currently Iraq is exporting more than one and a half million barrels per day. It actually achieved 1.7 million barrels per day in July. So with more active implementation of small projects, we don’t need really huge projects now, with modest investment just to complete already drilled wells, there will be a very positive and remarkable impact on production and export capabilities. And this will all lead in a short period of time to the expansion of production capacity as well as export capacity.

The other point is that, of course, we’ve been working on it, not much success but we will have success in the coming months, is to secure the pipelines, the export pipelines from Kirkuk all the way to Turkey, and once this is achieved there will be a positive impact, no doubt about that, on the export capability of some at least 300,000 barrels per day extra.

Q: How important is it to concentrate on the natural gas? Two-thirds of the natural gas that Iraq produces is burned off.

A: It is very, very important. First of all power generation is in dire need for gas. Why are now a number of power stations either are operating at lower capacity or not operating at all? And now the Ministry of Electricity is really in the business of importing the gas oil. Also the Ministry of Oil was and is still importing the fuel for power generation. That’s one. The second point, doing so and providing natural gas for power generation, we would free crude oil being burned now for power generation, we would free it for export and this is about 100,000 barrels per day and this is of course income to the country. It is only right that we should really utilize, maximize utilization of gas into power generation. Also in addition to that by the way is that even industrial projects, industrial plants are operating under its lower capacity like the petrochemical and fertilizer in Basra, they are not having enough feed and they depend on natural gas.

Q: So, once these power plants are operating on the natural gas, not only does that allow Iraq to export more but you have more electricity feeding the oil sector?

A: Exactly, definitely. In addition, to provide more power supply to the citizens and shorten power cuts.

Q: Going to the pipelines, what is the chance that the Syria pipeline is going to be put back in operation and what are the conditions for that to happen?

A: There are no conditions except to secure the pipeline itself. It is not only that we have also to take measures. ... We are actually, Iraq was taking measures to regain the pumping capacity from the south northward and the connections at the Haditha, K3 area, so we will have capability of also exporting oil from the south northward. Right now the capacity in the Kirkuk area from the northern oil fields is in the range of 700,000 barrels per day so it is not really large enough to satisfy our needs through Turkey. So if we want to also go through Syria we have to make available more oil from the south northward. But Iraq is really looking forward and has always been to strengthen its relations, economic relations, with Syria and have also an additional access to the Mediterranean through the oil pipelines. Previously a capacity of 200-250,000 barrels per day was available before the war and there were measures to be taken, were planned, with the replacement of a small segment of pipeline with a new one, the capacity could be enhanced to about 300,000 barrels per day, so this is viable.

Q: What about the talk of a pipeline to Iran. If I understand it correctly it will be a pipeline that sends crude to Iran, Iran refines it and sends refined product back to Iraq in a separate pipeline?

A: This is the idea. It has been talked about. The Ministry of Oil signed an agreement with Iran. I don’t know much about it but as you said, the idea is to send crude oil to Abadan, refine it and send the product back and there’s a settlement.

Q: But both countries need refined products so one, why wouldn’t Iraq invest the money in a refinery and refine it yourself and Iraq could use it or why wouldn’t Iran just keep the fuel?

A: Actually, I cannot elaborate on that.

Q: There have been some concerns of the oil law that would have undue exploration and you said no, that the exploration is necessary. Can you elaborate on this disagreement among experts?

A: There are some people whom I respect, at least one of them, based on proven oil reserves and production targets and taking the market in consideration and also national interest, they are concerned that Iraq might embark on an extensive exploration program and this may not provide the best contractual terms to the country. And they recommend that we slow down or perhaps postpone exploration for the future. I am of the opinion that any future policy in terms of exploration as well as development should be based on a sound basis and of course the first priority is to take the national interest in consideration and one of this is that from a planning point of view it will not be a wholesale as some fear or it will not be a random and haphazard, it will be done in a constructive manner and we have to have the following objectives to be met. One, is that we want to replace production by additional exploration from finding and proving. Number two, this probable reserve, the figure of 214 billion barrels, we have to work hard to convert parts of it into proven reserves and therefore there has to be exploration by Iraqi efforts in addition to that by IOCS.

Q: Is this extra, on top of the 115 billion barrels proven ...

A: Of course, it is a separate category. We have to work on this and convert it from the probable category in the classification to the proven. And this is done only by actual hard work of exploration, i.e., seismic work and drilling and testing and assessment. And therefore there should be a target for how much to be achieved. I give a figure based on previous studies and plans, a figure of around 30 percent to be achieved in coming years until 2015.

Q: Speaking of something less friendly is the interaction between the oil minister and the oil unions. Obviously there are a lot of politics involved. Can you explain the sense from your point of view what’s going on with that dispute?

A: I’m not really, directly involved in this matter, OK. I worked in Basra for 16 years and I know those people. I know most of them if not all of them, they are sincere people, they are dedicated, they work hard and they contributed and they mean well. Of course there is no law right now making it legal to form, to organize labor organizations or societies. But in the constitution it preserves this right. I am of the opinion that we should hear there grievances and their opinion. When I was in charge I met them. Even when I was chief executive officer of the ministry during 2003 after the fall of the regime they sent people they came to Baghdad and I talked with them, I listened to them and so on and I’m of this opinion, of course the minister has the right to take whatever he thinks right about the decisions, no doubt about that, but also I think it is wise of labor organization not to go into political issues. I believe they should concentrate on their social issues, their rights to improve the conditions of the workers in Basra. But also if they have an opinion regarding the oil law it should be based on the oil law, it should not be based on rumors and so on. I remember seeing a video by (Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions President) Hassan Jumaa and I found him a very serious person, sincere and he was polite. He expressed his opinion. I didn’t see a problem with that really.

Q: You’re saying that their analysis of the oil law is wrong, is that what you’re saying?

A: I didn’t say that, I don’t mean that. We actually heard and read and saw people talking about the law and without knowing what the law is about. It’s not their domain, it’s not their profession. People talking about PSAs and people converting it from a comprehensive law into whether we have a PSA or not. And there will be a rip off of the Iraq oil wealth. This is completely nonsense. Or that 70 percent of the profit will go to the foreign company, again this is completely nonsense. The law as it is, although we have differences and the differences are basically on the power of the authorities, whether it should be a centralized form of law or whether it is a sharing between the regional governments and the federal government. These are the main actual differences here. And of course we had lots of differences while we were debating the law. And we arrived at the consensus and of course still many of us are not happy at what we arrived at but this is now the prevailing conditions in Iraq and the prevailing wisdom in Iraq and after all no law is really gospel truth. It is subject to amendments in the future and what I drive to is I really advise that labor unions work and concentrate on its priorities as normally the priorities of such societies is to improve and fight for their member rights, but they have the right to express an opinion, especially on laws affecting their life.

Q: There’s a United States government report coming out that looks at the corruption and the Commission on Public Integrity in Iraq. Supposedly it’s going to outline a number of issues in a number of ministries, including the Oil Ministry, detailing corruption inside the Oil Ministry. What are your thoughts on what needs to be done to make the oil sector more transparent, to make sure the fears that people have of returning to the Saddam type of corruption?

A: If anybody, say an objective and thorough analyst, looked at the law, at the draft law, you’ll find that we put so much precautions and we wrote articles to achieve what you have said. As an example, all awards of contracts will have to be done through competitive, transparent rounds. All contracts, after signatures, have to be published within two months. And therefore nothing will be hidden under a table. And also there is an article about anti-corruption laws, everybody has to abide by it and anyone, Iraqi and non-Iraqi, if proven that he has indulged in corruptive matters and so on he will be subject to taken to court. And I really believe, of course there is an article about transparency, well written and well documented, and it is up to the standard now in the world. So I believe we have taken enough measures, legally, in order to ensure such objectives to make the awards of contracts and the practice to be transparent and without corruption. Of course it is then up to the practice and implementation. And now in Iraq in each ministry there is an office, the inspector general, and also the whole country there is this commission on integrity, plus we have the auditing agency in Iraq, and I believe Iraq has been subjected to lots of harsh treatment regarding this point, because many other countries do not publish what now we are publishing or data that is now available in all sectors in the country. I think we are moving forward and Parliament is also moving forward on this matter.

Ben Lando is UPI energy editor. (energy@upi.com) This article was re-printed by permission. © Copyright United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

Video
09/18/2007 2:51 PM ET

UNDER FIRE
Iraqi Forces Struggle With Western Notions of Gender Equality
09/18/2007 2:44 PM ET
The great Iraqi democratic experiment has yet to prove whether a political theory born of hundreds of years of Western experience can flourish in the former dictatorship. But even more problematically foreign than Western ideals about political representation are those that assume an equality of the sexes.

The US military has worked to recruit and train women for Iraq's security forces. While the government has not attempted to block the efforts, they have met with limited success. The LA Times' Molly Hennessy-Fiske talked to one of the few female commanders of the Iraqi army in a piece discussing the role of women in the military, the sexism they battle, and the likelihood they'll be allowed to keep their positions after US withdrawal.

The US learned in Afghanistan that women can play a valuable front line role in security operations. Their presence can minimize family distress during a house search, and they can collective intelligence that their male counterparts cannot.

Army Brig. Gen. David Phillips, the senior military policeman in Iraq, told the LA Times he helped recruit female police to boost the democratic principle of equality and the force's ability to search and question suspects.

The first recruiting drive Phillips coordinated at the Baghdad police academy in December 2003 attracted only two women, a mother and daughter. Their hiring had to be negotiated with their tribal leaders, but both graduated and went on to join the police.

Tribal leaders allowed five more women to attend the next class, and 14 in the following one. As the word spread, the number of recruits went up, with one 2004 class attracting 500 women, more than the program could accept. The 270 women who joined the training class proved more dedicated than male classmates: Only 11% quit the program, compared with 17% of male students. A female recruit graduated at the top of the class.

But female graduates faced resistance. Phillips said many complained that their supervisors would confiscate their weapons and ammunition and send them home from work. He also reported hearing catcalls when the female police mixed with male colleagues and saw the women being harassed on the streets. Soon the program to recruit and train women deteriorated.

"They came into it with 100% enthusiasm and got crushed after graduation," Phillips said. "We maybe set them up for failure because they saw women instructors doing what they wanted to do. We built them in our image and maybe we should have had more consideration that their culture is different."

According to the female Iraqi officer, "We're in our posts because the Americans are here.... Once they leave, we will all be out."

The Latest
Americans Ask Coalition Partners for Troops to Secure Iranian Border
09/12/2007 3:58 PM ET
A handout photograph from Britain's Ministry of Defence, shows a British armoured vehicle on patrol in southern Iraq, 03 September 2007.
AFP/Getty
A handout photograph from Britain's Ministry of Defence, shows a British armoured vehicle on patrol in southern Iraq, 03 September 2007.

UK forces pulled out of Basra city last week, moving the area's British contingency to the airport in what many anticipate to be the first step towards a total withdrawal from the country. But the US has another job for its coalition partners--securing the Iranian border.

Three-hundred and fifty British troops have been sent from Basra to the Iranian border, according to the UK's Independent. The re-deployment comes at the request of US commanders, who say that the flow of weapons and supplies from Iran to Shi'ite militia groups has stepped up in recent weeks.

Brigadier James Bashall, commander of 1 Mechanised Brigade, based at Basra said: "We have been asked to help at the Iranian border to stop the flow of weapons and I am willing to do so. We know the points of entry and I am sure we can do what needs to be done. The US forces are, as we know, engaged in the 'surge' and the border is of particular concern to them."

According to Sengupta, the British military's move to the border represents a change of policy.

They had stopped patrols along the long border at Maysan despite US concerns at the time that the area would become a conduit for weapons into Iraq.

The decision to return to the frontier has been heavily influenced by the highly charged and very public dispute with the United States. British commanders feel that they cannot turn down the fresh American request for help after refusing to delay the withdrawal from Basra Palace. They also maintain that the operation will stop Iranian arms entering Basra.

Photo Gallery
09/10/2007 2:01 PM ET

Mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles have become a favorite new acquisition for the US military because of their reinforced V-shaped hull, which was designed to withstand the direct blast of an IED or EFP. The MRAP in these pictures reportedly crossed paths with a 300-lb. IED in Anbar, transforming the vehicle into a twisted hulk of metal--an attack the crew survived.






Photo Gallery
Americans to Leave Saddam's Palace for New Compound in Coming Months
09/04/2007 1:09 PM ET
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 3: A giant statue of Saddam Hussein lies face down near the U.S. embassy in the Green Zone September 3, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.
John Moore/Getty
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 3: A giant statue of Saddam Hussein lies face down near the U.S. embassy in the Green Zone September 3, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 3: 'Uncle Sam' stands over an American flag cake at the U.S. embassy dining hall in the Green Zone September 3, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.
John Moore/Getty
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 3: 'Uncle Sam' stands over an American flag cake at the U.S. embassy dining hall in the Green Zone September 3, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 3: Saddam era Iraqi missiles fire into the sky in a mural inside the U.S. embassy building in the Green Zone September 3, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.
John Moore/Getty
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 3: Saddam era Iraqi missiles fire into the sky in a mural inside the U.S. embassy building in the Green Zone September 3, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 3: An American soldier walks past the U.S. embassy in the Green Zone September 3, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.
John Moore/Getty
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 3: An American soldier walks past the U.S. embassy in the Green Zone September 3, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 3: Concrete barriers adorned with a pastoral scene protect a chapel in the U.S. embassy compound in the Green Zone September 3, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.
John Moore/Getty
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 3: Concrete barriers adorned with a pastoral scene protect a chapel in the U.S. embassy compound in the Green Zone September 3, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 3: A soldier reaches for fresh fruit at the U.S. embassy dining hall in the Green Zone September 3, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.
John Moore/Getty
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 3: A soldier reaches for fresh fruit at the U.S. embassy dining hall in the Green Zone September 3, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.

BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 3: An air conditioner, protected by deteriorating sand bags, cools trailer housing for U.S. embassy staff in the Green Zone September 3, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.
John Moore/Getty
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - SEPTEMBER 3: An air conditioner, protected by deteriorating sand bags, cools trailer housing for U.S. embassy staff in the Green Zone September 3, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.

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