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IRAQ: U.S. Diplomatic Adviser’s Troubling Role in Oil Politics October 17, 2009

Posted by Helena Cobban in Uncategorized.
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WASHINGTON, Oct 17 (IPS) – In 2003, U.S. diplomatist Peter Galbraith resigned at the end of a distinguished, 24-year government career. Over the years that followed, he worked as a contract-based adviser to leaders in Iraq’s Kurdish community, while also arguing passionately in public media that Iraq’s Kurds should be given maximum independence from Baghdad – including full control over any new sources of oil.

But in June 2004, more quietly, Galbraith also established a small, U.S.-registered company, Porcupine, that held a five percent stake in a newly exploited oilfield in Iraqi Kurdistan, a Norwegian daily revealed last Saturday.

The daily, Dagens Næringsliv, had been investigating the increasingly troubled relationship between Porcupine and a privately-owned Norwegian firm, DNO, which partnered with Porcupine in the Kurdish-Iraqi oil project. Journalists at the daily said that discovering that Porcupine’s hitherto secretive owner was Galbraith came as a complete surprise.

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U.S. Strategy in Doubt as Abbas Loses Popular Support October 11, 2009

Posted by Helena Cobban in Uncategorized.
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WASHINGTON, Oct 9 (IPS) – Just two months ago, many western commentators were jubilant that Mahmoud Abbas, the U.S.-supported head of both the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the interim Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA), was making a comeback and reducing the influence in Palestinian society of the Islamist movement Hamas.

But a series of events in recent weeks has sent Abbas’s level of support from his people into a nosedive. The most serious has been the reaction among Palestinians to a decision Abbas or someone close to him made to postpone any further U.N. action on the recommendations of the Goldstone Report into the atrocities committed during last winter’s Israel-Gaza war.

Richard Goldstone, a very distinguished South African jurist and war-crimes prosecutor, presented his report to the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva on Sep. 29. It contained a recommendation that the HRC forward the report’s lengthy and detailed findings regarding wrongdoing by both sides to the Security Council for possible further action.

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IRAN: Non-Western Big Powers Enjoy Growing Influence October 2, 2009

Posted by Helena Cobban in Uncategorized.
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WASHINGTON, Oct 2 (IPS) – Thursday’s seven-party talks in Geneva on Iran’s nuclear programme resulted in a breakthrough agreement on Russian enrichment of materials Tehran needs for nuclear-medical work.

Proponents say that step considerably reduces western fears that Tehran was heading for nuclear weapons, and is a good move toward rebuilding the long-broken confidence between Tehran and most western governments.

It also reveals the degree to which western governments now find they must take due account of non-western powers like Russia and China, rather than continuing to allow their policies to be dictated by the more hawkish tendencies among their own citizenries.

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