Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kurdish MP accuses Maliki of failing to honor alliance demands of Kurds

Erbil, June 6 (AKnews) - A Kurdish deputy in the Iraqi parliament complained on Monday that the demands of the Kurds, preconditions to the alliance that assured Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office, have still not been met six months after the formation of the government.Dr. Mahmoud Othman, Dr. Mahmoud Osman

MP Mahmoud Othman accused the government of failing to honor the prerequisite demands of the Kurdistan Blocs Coalition (KBC), submitted to the feuding political blocs in September 2010.

"None of the 19 demands handed to Maliki have been implemented," Othman said, "…the most important of which are the application of article 140, the hydrocarbon law and the Peshmarga issue".

Article 140 outlines a three-stage process to resolving the disputes over areas contested by the Kurdistan Regional Government and the central government in Baghdad.

In addition, the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region and Baghdad have long been at odds over oil deals signed between the regional Government and foreign companies to develop and export oil from Iraqi-Kurdistan. Baghdad has declared the Kurdish contracts with foreign companies illegal as they were signed without the consent of federal authorities.

"We were expecting the demands we submitted to Maliki (all but one of which Maliki had approved) to be implemented…There should at least have been talks about the demands or the Iraqi government's plans to implement them," Osman said.

Othman's dissatisfaction with Maliki's government adds fuel to accusations from the al-Iraqiya List currently being aired that Maliki has so far failed to uphold the power-sharing agreements signed between the political blocs in December last year prior to the formation of the government.

Al-Iraqiya, led by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, narrowly beat Maliki's State of Law Coalition in the March 2010 elections but Maliki controversially overcame Allawi's list by forming a super-bloc, the National Coalition (NC), with the Sadrist Current after the poll.

After a nine-month political impasse with both leaders refusing to relinquish claim to the country's leadership, Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani stepped in with a model for a national unity government and a power-sharing deal.

Under the agreements signed in Erbil, Maliki and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani – a Kurd – were to retain their offices for a second term, while al-Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi, who secured a narrow majority of votes in the elections, would head a new executive body called the National Council for Strategic Policies (NCSP) as an attempt to maintain balance.

With the NCSP still un-formed six months after the Erbil accord was signed, the al-Iraqiya list has several times threatened to withdraw from the partnership government, accusing Maliki of monopolizing power and failing to implement all terms of the deal.

"The Iraqi government has not exerted serious efforts," Othman said, "…therefore the Kurdish government must follow up the issue and make sure they (the Kurdish demands) are implemented."

Written by Raber Y. Aziz - Rebin Hasan contributed to this story

06/06/2011 17:03

Perpetrators of Tikrit attacks arrested

Salahaddin, June 7 (AKnews) - Salahaddin province has announced that five people have been arrested accused of perpetrating a deadly attacked in Tikrit - the birth place of Saddam Hussein - which killed 13 people.

Over four days, some 36 people have been killed in Tikrit city, and over 80 wounded in three separate attacks.

On Monday, a suicide car bomber targeting the presidential palaces in Tikrit, 175 km northwest of Baghdad, blew himself up killing 13 and wounding 15 others, most of them security personnel. Also on Friday, some 23 people were killed and around 70 injured in two further attacks, one on a hospital and another near a mosque.

Following the Monday attack, the director of national security in Salahaddin province stepped down.

"The police forces launched an extensive operation in central Tikrit Monday and were able to arrest 15 people, among them five wanted by the security forces for their involvement in the recent car bombings," Captain Hazem Khalil told AKnews.

The operations were based on "accurate" intelligence information, said Khalil who declined to identify the five detainees, or the group to which they belong.

"The forces transferred the arrested men to interrogate them and refer them to the judiciary," is all he would say.

In April, al-Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) attacked government buildings in Salahaddin province taking all inside hostage. A fight between the security forces and the militants ended with dozens killed in addition to 15 gunmen holding the buildings. Among the victims were a number of members of the provincial council.

Written by Raber Y. Aziz, Mazin Abdullah contributed to this story (AKnews)

07/06/2011 10:29

Iraqi Oil Minister heads to Vienna for OPEC meeting

Baghdad, June 6 (AKnews) - Iraq's Oil Minister Abdulkarim Luaibi has set off for Austria to attend the annual OPEC meeting to discuss international calls for an increase in crude oil production.opec

The conference will discuss whether its possible to produce enough crude oil to satisfy global demands after exports from Libya ground to a halt due to the uprisings there.

"Iraq's move to raise its output level to 3 million bpd by the end of this year fits with the OPEC plan to develop crude oil production in the world," the Oil Ministry's assistant media official, Murtadha al-Jashaami, told AKnews.

On Sunday, the state-run Iraq Drilling Co. started drill-and-repair work on wells in the Hamrin Mountains, north of Baghdad, for the first time in 21 years, according to the semi-official al-Iraqiya television station.

Al-Iraqiya TV cited Idris Mohsin al-Yasiri, general director of the drilling company, saying they had started work on a total of 72 wells this week.

Iraq Drilling Co. is also expected to drill 12 wells in 2011 and 18 next year, according to al-Yasiri.

Holding the world's fifth-largest oil reserves, Iraq depends on oil for most of its revenue. The government is struggling to raise crude exports and is seeking foreign investors to boost output after three decades of successive conflicts and international sanctions destroyed its infrastructure.

The crude oil business has also suffered in recent years from insurgent attacks.

Since 2003, Iraq has signed 15 gas and oil licenses and is expecting oil output to rise to more than 3 million bpd by the end of this year. Iraq currently produces 2.4 million bpd.
Written by Raber Y. Aziz (AKnews) - Jaafar al-Wannan contributed to this story 

06/06/2011 13:47