Sunday, November 11, 2007


Concerns and doubts over collapse of Mosul dam

(VOI) – The controversial issue of the Mosul Dam has come up to the surface again after reports warned of a possible imminent collapse threatening to flood about half a million Iraqis amidst arguments among government and political circles in this regard. Some believe that reports about this dam was sheer media hype that rests on no authentic geological data while others think the stakes were high about the dam collapse now that there were no accurate scientific measures adopted to provide maintenance services. The Washington Post's last week report said that the Iraqi government rejected the findings of a U.S. oversight panel that the dam, near the northern city of Mosul, was on the verge of a collapse that could cause flooding along the Tigris River "all the way to Baghdad. "The possible collapse, the U.S. paper said, could unleash four billion cubic meters of water at one shot, which might kill thousands and submerge two of Iraq's largest cities by nearly 20 meters.
Riad al-Mufti, the former director for planning and follow-up of the Mosul Dam, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI) that he believed there was no clear danger as far as a collapse of the dam was concerned. "The body of the dam can never tumble down except if struck with an atomic bomb or a powerful tremor. The dam body and foundations have no problem," Mufti affirmed. He pointed out that the continuous cement stuffing being applied at present in the dam base was part of its designing since it was first built on January 25, 1981 until its completion in 1986. "There was a tunnel designed inside the dam especially for stuffing works," he said. However, Mufti added, there was a problem regarding stuffing works, which were neglected during the 1990s, due to lack of state assistance and inefficiency of technical staff then. An executive engineer working in Mosul Dam told VOI on condition of anonymity that there were special drills inside the dam used to reach the spaces and pump a special kind of cement inside them. Experts, however, said the geological nature of the terrain where the dam was built was unsuitable, being composed of salty rocks that melt under pressure. They believe that if the gaps formed in the rocks are not filled with a special kind of cement, there would be more threats posed to the dam. A geologist who had worked on the Mosul Dam project told VOI the amount of water that would flood from the dam if it collapsed is estimated by 660,000 cubic meters per second while the Tigris River water course can not stand discharging more than 3,500 cubic meters per second. "No one can predict when the dam might fall down. It could be today, tomorrow or in 30 years," he said. Built between 1980 and 1984 by a joint German-Italian corporation, the 113 meter high dam's life span was estimated to reach 80 years.
Replying to the Washington Post report on the dam, Dr. Ali al-Dabbagh, the official spokesman for the Iraqi government, said in a statement that his government has placed the dam under constant monitoring with all precautions and maintenance works provided. "Iraqi teams have been working round the clock to inject the dam base with concrete and fill in the gaps that resulted from the erosion of some rocks," Dabbagh said. Ninewa Governor Dreid Kashmoula said the filling works stopped for a "short while" after the U.S. invaded Iraq. "The danger in the Mosul dam has been present since day one of its construction, due to the non-solidness of the terrain on which the dam stands," Kashmoula said during a press conference in Mosul, 405 km north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.



KRG to announce two more oil deals

Oil, Kurdistan
(UPI) -- Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government will announce two more oil deals in coming days as it develops its oil sector with state-owned and private oil firms. There has been no response yet from Baghdad after the KRG’s announcement last Tuesday of another six production-sharing contracts it has signed. The KRG’s semiautonomous region in Iraq’s north has the geological makeup for major oil and natural gas deposits but has 0.5 percent of Iraq’s proven oil reserves.
Baghdad has called the KRG’s oil deals illegal, saying it needs to wait for a national oil law to be approved. That law is being held up for lack of agreement as to whether the federal government or regions and provinces have the authority to sign deals, among other reasons. KRG Natural Resources Minister Ashti Hawrami told United Press International in a telephone interview two additional oil deals, including at least one with “a Western company,” will be announced “in just a few days, maybe a week.” According to a KRG map of exploration blocks, it has 28 either open or pending contracts.
The KRG has signed deals with a number of smaller, more risk-taking firms, including Hunt Oil of Dallas. Larger firms fear blacklisting from Baghdad, which will likely have the say-so on the majority of Iraq’s oil deals. But Tuesday’s announcement of deals by the KRG shows the applicants for its deals are getting weightier. A subsidiary of MOL Hungarian Oil and Gas was part of two production-sharing contracts. India’s largest private oil company, Reliance Energy, and Central Europe powerhouse OMV, an Austrian firm, each signed two production-sharing contracts.
The KRG also awarded four “strategic blocks” to the Kurdistan Exploration and Production Co. and gave the discovered but not developed Khurmala oil field to the Kurdistan National Oil Co. Both KEPCO -- which will concentrate on exploration and production -- and KNOC -- an operator of discovered fields -- were newly formed under the KRG’s oil law but would send revenues to Baghdad to redistribute. Hawrami said the companies “answer to the Council of Ministers in Kurdistan and is monitored and regulated by the Ministry of Natural Resources in Kurdistan, and is recognized by the Parliament in Kurdistan.” KNOC will also build a 50,000 barrels per day refinery.

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Iraq - Iran pipeline may be built

(UPI) -- Iraq and Iran may be moving ahead on a cross-river oil pipeline, a move the Iraq ministry has talked about but was further down the road. Media reports are carrying the word of a source in Iraq’s South Oil Co. that the pipeline construction has started. The South Oil Co. is a state-owned entity producing and transporting oil from Basra and surrounding areas, where 80 percent of Iraq’s oil reserves are located.
The Kuwait News Agency reports the construction of the pipeline between ports in Basra and the Abaadan port in Iran, crossing the Shatt al-Arab river. The pipeline capacity would be 200,000 barrels per day, and provide another route for Iraq exports and allowing an increase in production, the Al Mashriq newspaper reports.
Iraq produces just over 2 million barrels per day right now, but with 115 billion barrels of proven reserves, it could handle much more. Iraq and Iran had apparently signed a deal on the pipeline, though details are not known. Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani has confirmed it as one of many options to increase production and exports of the oil.

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Iraq, the Surge, Partition, and the War: Public Opinion by City and Region

Center for Strategic & International Studies
The attached report was prepared with the aid of Gary Langer and the ABC polling unit. It provides a detailed analysis of a recent poll of Iraqi public opinion on the war, sectarian cleansing, the Iraqi government, US forces and the surge, and many of the other issues that show the state of Iraq hearts and minds. It also shows the differences in such public opinion by sect, ethnicity, governorate, and major city where the sample of public opinion was large enough to provide a valid picture that could be broken out into such detail.
The results should be reviewed in detail. Polls do not provide some simply punch line insights, they rather provide a mosaic of the various attitudes Iraqis have towards key issues. Unless they are reviewed in detail, picking out one trend or result can be more misleading than helpful. This is particularly true of the results in this analysis. Some are consistent with the results of previous polls over a period of several years. Some reflect the initial impact of changes in US strategy and the surge at a time when the degree of added security in Baghdad and the impact of the tribal awakening in Anbar was less apparent to most Iraqis than it is today.The reader should also remember that the results in this report do reflect “hearts and minds” on a broad level. Decision makers often act on their own, very different perceptions. Violence and extremism are also generally driven by the views and actions of small minorities. Broad popular support for violence is rare, but this can have limited impact in a nation where minorities are willing to kill and use extreme violence with or without popular support.
That said, the results do provide important insights in several areas. They make it clear that Iraqis do not support breaking up the country, or separation and strong federalism at the expensive of national unity. They show that perceptions of violence are not eased by sectarian and ethnic divisions and are high in most areas with a dominant Arab Sunni or Arab Shi’ite population and leadership. They also indicate that Iraqis will tolerate a US and Coalition presence only as long as it is necessary to put an end to violence and until Iraqi forces are ready to take over the job. At the same time, they show a sharp decline in popular confidence in both the national and local governments, and the perception that violence and sectarian cleansing continue to rise. This is a warning that Iraq patience in the central government’s failures to move forward in accommodation and providing effective services is wearing thin, and that the Iraqi “clock” in demanding much more rapid progress may not be all that different from the American one.

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Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction From SIGIR Observations

October 30, 2007 Quarterly Report to Congress
Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction From SIGIR Observations
Although the overall security environment has improved recently, contractors, journalists, and Iraq’s citizens continue to live and work in an environment that is, in many places, still quite dangerous:
+ The Department of Labor (DoL) reported 72 new death claims this quarter for civilian contractors working on U.S.-funded projects in Iraq. Since Iraq reconstruction began, 1,073 death claims have been filed with the DoL. Reported deaths in this category were about 22% above the quarterly average.
+ DoS reported that three U.S. civilians died in Iraq this quarter. Since the beginning of the U.S. reconstruction effort, 235 U.S. civilian workers have died in Iraq. Non-military U.S. citizen deaths reported this quarter were 78% below the quarterly average.
+ This quarter, 2 journalists were killed in Iraq; 119 Iraqi and other journalists have been killed since March 2003, and 41 media support workers have been killed in Iraq since hostilities began, including 2 this quarter.
+ Violence continued to force Iraqis to migrate. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that one of every seven Iraqis has been displaced by the conflict in Iraq. The UNHCR noted that large numbers of Iraqis continue to flee the country, and admission into Syria and Jordan became subject to visa approval this quarter. Internal migration is also limited by provincial restrictions on admission of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

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Islamic Army of Iraq attacks Al-Qaeda base

Security, Insurgency, Tribal
(BBC) - A Sunni faction has killed 18 al-Qaeda militants in an attack on a compound near the Iraqi city of Samarra, police have said. Another 16 al-Qaeda members were said to have been captured in the attack. The Sunni Islamic Army of Iraq - once part of the insurgency against US-led forces - said its fighters attacked the compound east of the city.
The faction is one of several Sunni former insurgent groups that have now turned against al-Qaeda. On Friday, five Sunni Arab tribal leaders had been killed in a suicide attack in Diyala province, north-east of Baghdad. The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says the Islamic Army of Iraq is apparently planning to use those captured in an exchange of prisoners.
A total of 15 fighters from the Islamic Army were also killed in the attack, police sources told Reuters news agency. Analysts say that while the Islamic Army shares with the US military a common enemy in al-Qaeda, it does not support the coalition forces or their continued presence in Iraq. No US or Iraqi security forces are thought to have been involved in the fighting.
Our correspondent says many of the Sunni tribes that used to provide safe havens for the militants are actively combating al-Qaeda. Much of the violence in the troubled areas north of Baghdad reflect that struggle within the Sunni community, he says. On Friday, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives belt in the house of Sunni anti-al-Qaeda tribal leader Sheikh Faez al-Obeidi, killing him and four of his relatives. Those killed were members of the Diyala Salvation Council.
Sheikh Abu Risha, a key US ally in Anbar, was killed in September. Ten others were wounded in the blast, which happened near the town of Khalis. Diyala province, home to a mixture of Sunnis and Shias, has become a key battleground in the struggle to drive al-Qaeda from Iraq. The battle has spread there from Anbar province, once a stronghold of the Sunni insurgency. Many in the Sunni community say they dislike the austere form of Islam that al-Qaeda practises.

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Iraqi Minister Council removes legal immunity from foreign private security firms

Republic of Iraq, Ministry of Interior, Ministry Agency of information and National Investigations
General Dept of the Technical Affairs, Headquarters of Registration and Assessment of Private Security Companies
Letter No: 937, Date: Nov 1, 2007
To: All PSC
Sub: Removing the legal immunity
According to the directions of the Minister Council regarding moving the legal immunity
from all the foreign private security companies and deal with it according to Iraqi law.
Please notify that in all your future missions and give the direction to all your staff. For
your information all the Iraqi security departments were informed about it .The MNF
confirming taking the legal actions against any violator in the future. Including signing
your passports from the traveling and Jinsseya directorate to make your residence in Iraq
legal .And the violator will face legal punishment from the Iraqi law.
The Director of Registration and Assessment of PSC office
Copy to: To be informed and to take the appropriate actions …..With
respect PSCAI, PSC.

In the Name of the People - The Presidency Council
Based on what was submitted by the Council of Ministers and ratified by the Council of
Representatives and in accordance with the provisions of Article 138 (Fifth) of the
Constitution, the Presidency Council has decided in its session held on / / / to promulgate
the following law.
No. ( ) of 2007
The Law of subjecting Non-Iraqi Security Companies and its Contractors to the
Provisions of the Iraqi law

Article 1:
Non-Iraqi security companies and its non-Iraqi employees and contractors shall be
subject to the Iraqi legislations and the jurisdiction of the Iraqi judiciary in all civil and
criminal cases. All immunities granted to them in accordance with any valid legislation
shall be canceled.
Article 2:
The categories mentioned in Article 1 of this law shall be subject to the Iraqi legislations
including those related to the residency, granting visas, possessing and carrying weapons,
paying taxes, fees and customs, registering companies and granting them license to work
in the Iraqi territories.
Article 3:
The vehicles, ships, airplanes belonging to the categories mentioned in Article 1 of this
law shall be subject to the procedures of registration, licensing, checking and inspection
stipulated in the Iraqi legislations.
Article 4:
This law shall be deemed as an amendment for the Dissolved CPA Order No17 of 2004.
Article 5:
This Law shall enter into force on the date of its publishing in the Official Gazette.

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