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Four Color Politics

Mainly the Quotes of the Morning, with occasional Other Crap.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Quotes of the Morning: Oil Laws are the King's Laws

“You've said the Iraqis haven't met any obligations; I would disagree with your characterization. They have said that they will send Iraqi forces into Baghdad to take the lead, along with U.S. troops, to bring security to Baghdad, and they've done that. They said they'd name a commander for Baghdad; they have done that. They said they'd send up -- they'd send troops out into the neighborhoods to clear and hold and then build; they're doing that. They send they would send a budget up that would spend a considerable amount of their money on reconstruction; they have done that. They're working on an oil law that is in progress. “
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, April 3, 2007

“Ah yes.. the oil law. How’s that going?”

“Iraq's parliament should pass a new oil law and make progress on amending the constitution before the end of the month, two key ‘benchmarks’ being demanded by U.S. officials, a top Iraqi official said yesterday.”
-Washington Times, May 15, 2007

“The oil law is one of the key benchmarks we’re demanding?”

“It has not even reached parliament, but the oil law that U.S. officials call vital to ending Iraq's civil war is in serious trouble among Iraqi lawmakers, many of whom see it as a sloppy document rushed forward to satisfy Washington's clock.

Opposition ranges from vehement to measured, but two things are clear: The May deadline that the White House had been banking on is in doubt. And even if the law is passed, it fails to resolve key issues, including how to divide Iraq's oil revenue among its Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni regions, and how much foreign investment to allow. Those questions would be put off for future debates.
Iraq is believed to have some of the world's largest oil reserves, about 115 billion barrels. The country's 2007 budget is based on predictions that oil proceeds will reach $31 billion, 93% of the government's revenue.

But war and political instability have kept production down. Just before the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, production was 2.6 million barrels per day. U.S. officials predicted a rapid rise to 3 million barrels. Instead, Iraq often has struggled to push the daily total to 2 million barrels because of obsolete equipment and security problems.
The oil law is supposed to change this by opening the industry to foreign investors who could modernize equipment and increase production. U.S. officials hope that spreading oil profit fairly across the country would cause instability to ebb.”
-LA Times, May 13, 2007

“Ah! We need to spread profit evenly across Iraq. I guess that means taking the revenues from the oil rich northern (Kurdish) and southern (Shiite) regions and distributing it to the more central (Sunni) areas to try to bribe the insurgency. Of course there is one more group that has a little interest in the new oil law..”

“The result of this lobbying is the draft oil law before the Iraqi parliament. This could result in multinational oil companies controlling and profiting from most of the country's oilfields for up to 20 years. The first draft was written in July 2006 and was seen by Shell and other oil companies within two weeks. Members of the Iraqi parliament did not see it until eight months later, while Iraqi civil society was excluded together.”
-Jonathan Stevenson, Letter in the Guardian (UK), May 15, 2007

“Hey, the Iraq people don’t deal with oil on a daily basis. If we wanted to talk about car bombings we’d talk to them. No, this is about oil, so we went to the companies that deal with oil to talk about the new law and get input. Surely no one could complain about that.”

“To Iraq's Kurdish leadership, the issue of how to apportion the third-largest pools of oil in the world is ‘a make-or-break deal’ for the country as a whole, a top official told United Press International.
‘The oil issue for us is a red line. It will signify our participation in Iraq or not,’ Qubad Talabani, son of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and the Kurdistan Regional Government's representative to the United States, said in an interview from his Washington office.
‘This sets us back to square one, a point that's unacceptable to us. We're trying to modernize Iraq, build a new Iraq, built on new foundations, new policies. The symbol of this new Iraq will be how it manages its oil infrastructure,’ Talabani said. ‘And if people want to revert back to Saddam-era policies of a state-controlled oil sector with no accountability, with no accountability to the parliament or the people of the country, with no oversight except from one or two, then I'm sorry, that is not the Iraq that the Kurds bought into. That is not the Iraq that the Kurds would want to be part of.’
‘If a centralized oil regime is imposed on us, we will not participate in the state of Iraq,’ Talabani said. ‘And we have to make it absolutely clear to our friends in Washington, to our brothers in Baghdad, this is a make-or-break deal for Iraq.’"
-UPI, May 14, 2007

“Who would have thought that setting up a country could be so tough? Man, this democracy thing is a bitch to deal with some days.”

“As a matter of fact, I spoke to the Prime Minister yesterday about progress on the oil law. He reminded me that sometimes the legislature doesn't do what the executive branch wants them to do. I reminded him, I understand what he's talking about. “
-George ‘Dubya’ Bush, April 3, 2007


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