RT News

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pakistan: Corpses lie exposed in retaken Swat town

By INAM UR-REHMAN, Associated Press Writer Inam Ur-rehman, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 12 mins ago

MINGORA, Pakistan – Corpses lay exposed in the Swat Valley's main town on Sunday, and residents rushed to mostly empty markets in search of food a day after the military claimed to have retaken the city from the Taliban.

Elsewhere in the northwest, officials said scores of militants were killed in fighting with soldiers that could signal Pakistan is expanding the offensive from Swat into other parts of the northwestern border region with Afghanistan.

Many buildings were damaged in parts of Mingora seen by The Associated Press, but not badly. Two decomposing bodies, apparently those of insurgents, lay unburied in a cemetery, while a third charred corpse lay close to a shopping mall. The smell of explosives hung in the air.

"We have been starving for many days. We have been cooking tree leaves to keep ourselves alive. Thank God it is over," said Afzal Khan. "We need food, we need help. We want peace."

Pakistan launched an offensive against militants in the Swat Valley and surrounding districts last month after they violated the terms of a cease-fire and advanced into a region close to the capital, Islamabad.

Speaking in Singapore, Pakistan's defense secretary predicted the army would retake the whole Swat region in "two to three days," giving hope some of the estimated 3 million refugees may soon be able to return home. Pakistan's military spokesman said that assessment was overly optimistic.

The Swat offensive has earned Western praise, as troops have regained large swaths of the region from an estimated 4,000 militants, but several places remain under militant control.

In South Waziristan, insurgents attacked an army convoy Saturday night in Tiarza village in South Waziristan, sparking battles in various parts of the region, two intelligence officials said. They estimated that 50 militants and two soldiers were killed.

Early Sunday, militants fired more than a dozen missiles at an army camp in South Waziristan's Jandola area. The military retaliated using artillery, and some troops moved into a Taliban-held village to force out the armed Islamist extremists.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to media. The information could not be independently verified because of limited access to the remote area, and other officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Most of Mingora's around 375,000 residents fled before or during the offensive. The military briefly lifted a curfew Sunday, allowing some of the 20,000 or so that remained to buy provisions in the few shops that were open.

Ali Rehman said he had not left his house for 25 days.

"I never knew who was fighting and who was being killed," he said, clutching two bags of flour. "I need help to keep my family alive because I do not have any source of income anymore."

Authorities said they were distributing aid to people trapped in Mingora, and water and gas supplies were being restored. An emergency medical team had been flown in and would work to reopen the town's hospital and treat civilians wounded in the fighting, military spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said.

But it will be at least two weeks before power is back on, and refugees are not yet being encouraged to return home, he added.

The Taliban warned they would attack Pakistani cities in retaliation for the Swat offensive. They claimed responsibility for Wednesday's gun and suicide bomb attack in the eastern city of Lahore that killed at least 30 people. A day later, three suicide bombings killed at least 14 people in two cities in the northwest.

Abbas said Saturday that 1,217 militants have been killed in the Swat offensive and 79 arrested, and 81 soldiers have died — figures that cannot be independently verified. The military has not released civilian casualty numbers and says all care is being taken to protect the innocent.


Associated Press writer Vijay Joshi contributed to this report from Singapore.

U.S. Occupation of Iraq Will End, but a Host of American Influences May Linger

A Quiet but Undeniable Cultural Legacy

Mark Apram is the most popular tattoo artist in Baghdad, and his room is a potpourri of American influences. "Anything American, I love it," he said.
Mark Apram is the most popular tattoo artist in Baghdad, and his room is a potpourri of American influences. "Anything American, I love it," he said. (Nada Bakri - The Washington Post)

These residents of the southern city of Basra, above, are dressed in a manner that would be fairly indistinguishable from that of their U.S. counterparts. Some youths say the U.S. mission has brought openness.
These residents of the southern city of Basra, above, are dressed in a manner that would be fairly indistinguishable from that of their U.S. counterparts. Some youths say the U.S. mission has brought openness. (By Andrea Bruce -- The Washington Post)
Buy Photo

The American influence on the Iraqi military lexicon is clear. Badges that were once uniformly in Arabic now almost always have an English component. English acronyms are sometimes used in colloquial Arabic.
The American influence on the Iraqi military lexicon(A stock of terms used in a particular profession, subject, or style; a vocabulary: the) is clear. Badges that were once uniformly in Arabic now almost always have an English component. English acronyms are sometimes used in colloquial Arabic. (By Nada Bakri -- The Washington Post)

By Anthony Shadid
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, May 31, 2009


Across the street from the tidy rows of tombstones in the British cemetery, mute testimony to the soldiers of an earlier occupation, Mustafa Muwaffaq bears witness to the quieter side of the United States' six-year-old presence in Iraq.

In wraparound sunglasses, shorts and shoes without socks, the burly 20-year-old student waxes eloquent about his love for heavy metal of all kinds: death, thrash, black. But none of it compares, he says, to the honky-tonk of Alan Jackson, whose tunes he strums on his acoustic guitar at night, pining for a life as far away as a passport will take him.

"You know, I wanna go to Texas and be a country boy," he said, as he stood in the sweltering shade of Baghdad's Academy of Fine Arts. "I wanna be a cowboy, and I wanna sing like one."

All occupations eventually end. When this one does, history's narratives will be shaped by the cacophony(The use of harsh or discordant sounds in literary composition, as for poetic effect.) it wrought(Shaped by hammering with tools. Used chiefly of metals or metalwork.
Made delicately or elaborately) -- the carnage unleashed by the U.S.-led invasion that threatened Iraq's notion of itself as a country and that will haunt generations to come.

But the whispers may linger just as long -- the far quieter way in which two cultures that often found it difficult to share the same space intersected to reshape Iraq's language, culture and sensibility. From tattoos of Metallica to bellybutton piercings, from posters for a rap concert in Baghdad to stories parents tell their naughty children in Fallujah of the Americans coming to get them, the occupation has already left its mark.

There is the bellicose language of the checkpoint: "Go" and "Stop" (often rendered as "stob" in a language with no "p"), along with a string of American expletives that Iraqi children imitate with zeal. In parks along the Tigris River, they play "tafteesh," Arabic for inspection. Iraqi troops, sometimes indistinguishable from their U.S. counterparts, don the sunglasses considered effeminate in the time of Saddam Hussein.

Some Iraqi youths even dip Skoal tobacco.

"It's inevitable that they're going to leave a trace on us after they depart," said Yahya Hussein, a soccer coach, former player and denizen of Baghdad's Karrada neighborhood.

'These Are the Times'

Hussein left Kawkab al-Sharq cafe -- named for a legendary Egyptian singer of another era -- where waiters ferried tea, Nescafe and a water pipe known as a nergilla, a word taken from Persian. His family's history in Karrada stretches back 11 generations, and as he strolled along the neighborhood's main thoroughfare, he spoke with the authority of experience.

"All this," he said, pointing at a kiosk, "came after the occupation."


Rickety stands along the street overflowed with goods. Toy guns emblazoned with the moniker "Super Police" sat next to imitation handcuffs and walkie-talkies. A doll dressed in fatigues, with dog tags around its neck, carried an M-16 rifle, familiar to Iraqis as a weapon of the U.S. military. With a squeeze of the doll's hand, Freddie Mercury belted out Queen's "We Will Rock You" to a street speaking Arabic.

"These are the times," Hussein said.

Bootleg copies of "Star Trek," "Valkyrie" and "Marley & Me" were on sale, along with CDs by Eminem, 50 Cent and Massari. On a wall was an ad for a concert by Rap Boys, billed as the "first and biggest rap party in Baghdad."

Youths asked a barber across the street for the latest haircut, which they call "spiky"; one barber insisted that the name came from a soldier's nickname for his military dog. The soldier's version of a crew cut is called "Yankee" (or, sometimes, "bankee").

Businesses hawked camouflage-patterned men's underwear. "Harley," a kind of biker boot, went for $125. "Texas," the cowboy version, cost $100.

For each item, Hussein had a simple phrase: "after the suqut," the fall of Saddam Hussein.

The Long Perspective

Iraq remains a proud country, its people bridling at what they see as the condescension(Patronizingly superior behavior or attitude) inherent in the United States' modern-day equivalent of a civilizing mission. History, thousands of years of it, forms the refrain of any conversation: Mesopotamia gave birth to civilization, and at its medieval zenith, as Europe slumbered, Baghdad was a city of racetracks, law schools, museums, libraries, hospitals, zoos and insane asylums.

The country's past shamed its present, and in the wake of Hussein's fall in 2003, many Iraqis, however suspicious, were willing to give the Americans the benefit of the doubt. Now, many blame them for everything from sectarian strife to Baghdad's disrepair. The only kind of American most Iraqis have met is a young, gun-toting soldier, and a look of scornful incomprehension often greets a question about the Americans' cultural legacy.

"What are they leaving behind?" asked Mohammed Chayan, a 45-year-old painter sitting with friends at the Madarat Cafe and Gallery, near a wall of concrete barriers.

"There's never really been interaction with society," he said. "When they came to visit, it wasn't artists who showed up. It was soldiers coming down from their tanks."

"They were isolated," admitted Mohammed Rasim Kasim, a filmmaker and photographer. "But," he added, "I have to disagree with my colleague."

Kasim, a bearish, cheerful man, said that before 2003 he had traveled only to neighboring Jordan. Since then, he has visited the United States, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Germany and Austria. And an image lingers from his travels: recognizing a car in Berlin as a U.S. military vehicle not because it was part of an armored convoy snarling traffic for a mile behind it, as in Iraq, but because he spotted the tiny inscription on its license plate: "U.S. Army."

"It was written so small," he said, still amazed at how inconspicuous it was.

"I'm not defending their presence, but that's not all it was. We have to be honest," Kasim told his friend. "We paid a very high price, but it was the price of freedom."

Chayan shook his head.

"We haven't seen a bright side," he said. "Well, there's no bright side to colonization, we can say that. But the Americans could have left something positive behind. What makes me sad, wherever I go, whenever I go, I just see remains of destruction."

A friend of Chayan's stopped by briefly. "Peace be upon you," he said. The two men traded words of endearment in a staccato burst of familiar Arabic: "My heart," "My dear," "My soul." Then Chayan bade him goodbye: "With peace." His friend's response was distinctly Iraqi, a word borrowed decades ago from English and now used as a greeting, as a farewell, as thanks or as welcome.

"Hello, hello," he said.

The British Interlude

The British entered Baghdad in 1917 to end Ottoman rule, with the same pledge the Americans would make. "Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators," proclaimed Maj. Gen. Sir Stanley Maude. Like the Americans, the British faced a revolt, in 1920, led by a segment of the population that had grown frustrated and resentful at the heavy-handedness of a foreign army.

British rule lasted until 1932, and its waning influence ended with the fall of the Hashemite monarchy in 1958. By then, it had left an indelible mark on Iraq's culture and society. Everything from post offices and nightclubs to the railway stations and double-decker red buses that ran in the capital until the last days of Hussein's rule bore a British stamp. So did the military, the judiciary, the health system and the ministries.

Even today, English instructors in Iraqi universities favor a British accent.

"The British created the system. We inherited it from them," said Adnan Pachachi, an 85-year-old lawmaker and former diplomat who entered Iraq's foreign service in the last years of the monarchy. "Of course, Iraqis then added to it."

Words borrowed from the British still litter Iraqi Arabic, albeit with a local inflection: glass, bottle, bicycle, rail, battery, ice cream, counter, blanket, jerrycan, gear, dashboard (dishbool), table (tabla) and lousy (malyous). "Wrongside" means to drive the wrong way down a one-way street. Some argue that the word for tea glass, istikaan, comes from the phrase "ice tea can." (Others insist the word is derived from Persian.)

And, of course, "hello."


American Dreams

Abu Naji was the nickname Iraqis gave their British occupiers. There remains no equivalent for the Americans, but a slew of words describe those who imitate them. The older term for someone becoming more American than Americans was mitamrik, or Americanized. More conservative types here call such people khanazeer or quruud, "pigs" or "monkeys." One student at the Academy of Fine Arts coined another name.

she said.

The students agreed there has been an infitah, or opening -- the word many use for the plethora of influences that followed the occupation, imported through the Internet and satellite television, each banned to varying degrees under Hussein. But many of them echoed the question heard at the Madarat Gallery: What has freedom brought?

"You can say what you want to say, and you don't care what anyone else thinks," said Raed Ibrahim, a 23-year-old painter at the academy. "That's my freedom. Anyone can grasp it."

Shahid Shaker, a 21-year-old sculptor, looked at the ground, then spoke up. "Don't exaggerate," she told him softly. "Yes, the occupation brought freedom. But it destroyed culture, too. We're being educated in a culture of violence."

"Sometimes," she added, "there is too much freedom."

Imported pornography is sold openly in Baghdad's Bab al-Sharji market. Popping pills is something of a fad(A fashion that is taken up with great enthusiasm for a brief period of time; a craze.). On campus, dating has grown more permissive. The reality TV show "American Idol," broadcast by a Saudi-owned satellite channel, has its fans. Citing songs by 50 Cent and Metallica conveys a certain hipness. So do tattoos; Shaker says 40 percent of students have one, a remarkable figure given that they were once a mark of prison time.

"I'm going to get one as soon as I get the money," Ibrahim volunteered.

'Havee Matel Mark'

Mark Apram, the most popular tattoo artist in Baghdad, charges $50 for his work. Twenty-nine and married, he sometimes works from his cramped apartment, where a wall bears the words "Havee Matel Mark" over his painting of a red-eyed devil with pitchfork. ("Did I spell it right?" he asked.)

The room is a potpourri of American influences: a picture of an FHM model laminated on his coffee table; a stuffed Taz, the Tasmanian devil from Looney Tunes; an Incredible Hulk action figure. His shirt, embossed with images of Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg, reads, "The Hood, the Bad and The Guilty."

"Anything American, I love it," he said. "It's what makes me happy."

Apram estimates that he has done a million tattoos since the Americans invaded, inspired by the Internet and by designs he saw on soldiers' arms when they rolled up their sleeves. "Maybe even more," he responded to a look of disbelief.


He is an advertisement for his own work. His left arm bears the images of a scorpion, the sun, the Virgin Mary and the name of an old girlfriend, Rana. (His pregnant wife has begged him to remove that one.) Being right-handed, he has left his right arm bare. On his right leg are tattooed a dragon and the letter E, for Eminem.

Butterflies and flowers are most popular with girls, he said. Men prefer skulls, a barbed-wire-like design, Metallica and the names of daughters, wives and girlfriends. Some ask for a dragon. A teenage boy wanted a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

The Internet has been influential, he said, as have satellite TV channels. But as he sees it, his success is a legacy of the presence of tens of thousands of American troops in his country.

"They're the origin of all of it," he said. "They're teaching us how to act."

A Military Lexicon

The military aesthetic may prove to be this occupation's most lasting cultural artifact. If the British can claim credit for an array of industrial words used by Iraqis, including "radiator" and "machine," the Americans are responsible for a military lexicon that is still evolving.

"Hummer" has entered Iraqi dialect as the word for the armored jeeps known as Humvees, as has the Arabic-inflected plural, Hummer-at. "Buffalo" is the word for MRAPs, the hulking Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. "Chocolate, mister!" or "Soccer ball, mister, soccer ball!" children shout to troops in Sadr City, a Baghdad slum of soggy trash and stagnant pools of sewage.

Badg-at has become Iraqi Arabic for identity cards. Other words and phrases have been picked up from soldiers at checkpoints or conducting house raids or foot patrols: "Relax," "Please," "Sorry," "No problem," "Oh, my God," "Give me five." Almost any youth can hurl a string of American expletives whose Arabic equivalent would earn them a slap across the face.

The war has inspired new Arabic words, as well. Hawasim, the name Hussein bestowed on his last battle in 2003, has come to mean booty looted in its aftermath. Arabic rendered literally from English at checkpoints -- "Prepared to capture criminals" or "Prepared to help" -- reads like the Arabic subtitles of an American movie.

As in the Palestinian territories, where security forces sometimes copy the style of their Israeli occupiers, Iraqi soldiers are now sometimes indistinguishable from their American counterparts, resembling a scaled-down version of a football player.

There is the desert camouflage, along with sunglasses and, occasionally, gloves. The black leather boots of the Hussein era have given way to a khaki suede variety. Holsters have gone from the hip to the thigh. The soldiers are equipped with kneepads, though they usually droop down to their ankles. No one was seen with a flak jacket before the invasion. Nor did anyone roll up their sleeves or tuck their pants into their boots.

Even the posture is American: rifle carried high, finger on the trigger.

And a fist thrust forth has come to mean stop.

"They look like peacocks," declared Abu Ali Rubai, a 60-year-old uniform vendor. "They wear this and that," he said, pointing at a holster nicknamed Rambo, combat boots called Swat, and plastic handcuffs. "They're like a child playing with toys."

He ruffled through bags filled with the gold-colored insignia of the old army's medical corps, tanks, special forces and artillery. He pointed out the colors of the berets that no one buys anymore -- blue for air force, beige for infantry and red for military police. Then he grabbed fistfuls of new badges, most of them in English and Arabic. There was Special Forces, with its skull and crossed arrows (sometimes written as Special Farces). "Iraq Army" was printed in English. So was SWAT. One badge read, "Ministry of Interiors."

Rubai cast a longing eye at his favorite uniform, worn by Abdel-Karim Qassem, the officer who overthrew the monarchy in 1958, in a portrait that hangs behind his desk. It was a woolen, British-style uniform with a hat known as the sidara, or faisaliyya. Four blue versions of the hat still hung from nails in the wall, gathering dust.

"The old ones were more distinguished," Rubai said. Then he recited a stanza by Maaruf al-Rusafi, a nationalist poet who died in 1945.

The English are not our saviors,

Even if they have made pledges to us in writing.

When has a strong man had pity for the weak?

How does a master make a pledge to his sheep?

We are but prisoners in their hands

And by the pledges they have written that shackle us.

By God, even if we were monkeys,

Monkeys would not accept being our kin.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ex-Iraq trade minister arrested in mid-flight drama

Ex-Iraq trade minister arrested in mid-flight drama AFP/File – Iraq's former trade minister Abdel Falah al-Sudani, seen here in April 2009, was arrested on Saturday …

by Ammar Karim Ammar Karim – Sat May 30, 2:26 pm ET

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Former Iraqi trade minister Abdel Falah al-Sudani was arrested on Saturday after his plane was dramatically ordered back to Bagdhad as he tried to flee the country in the wake of a graft scandal.

Sudani was on board a flight to Dubai, which authorities turned back to the capital so that he could be arrested, said Sabah al-Saedi, head of parliament's corruption and integrity commission.

"The minister was trying to escape from justice and was headed to the United Arab Emirates (UAE)," said Saedi.

"After some phone calls were made to judicial authorities and the airport, the airplane was turned back and the minister arrested," he said.

On Monday, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's office announced that Sudani had resigned amid allegations of corruption and embezzlement linked to the nation's food assistance programme.

"An arrest warrant was issued against the minister under the charge of corruption," said Saedi. "He is the main person responsible for corruption in the ministry."

A commission official later told state television that on Sunday "procedures would be taken according to the law" against Sudani.

The trade ministry operates a nearly six-billion dollar annual budget that provides a monthly public food distribution programme for Iraqis. It also manages the import of grain, seeds and construction materials.

A security official told AFP Sudani was on Jupiter Airlines PHW604 over the southern Iraqi city of Basra when Saturday's drama unfolded.

"At 1 pm the minister took the plane going to Dubai but representatives from the commission arrived at the airport with police shortly after," said the official on condition of anonymity.

"They contacted the plane and forced it to turn back. When it landed security personnel arrested the minister."

Sudani, a member of Maliki's Shiite Dawa faction, had already been questioned by parliament over claims relating to imports for the food rationing programme.

Maliki vowed to root out graft in the government, after Sudani, who was accused of importing expired commodities, mainly sugar; procuring illegal contracts and failing to fight corruption in his ministry, quit.

"We will institute reforms ... and we will search for the truth," Maliki told reporters on Wednesday after talks with senior trade ministry officials.

"We will not stand with arms folded in the face of corruption. We will pursue those who are corrupt and bring them before the courts," Maliki said, while placing the ministry under his authority.

Maliki stressed on Wednesday he was immediately instituting measures to fight graft in Iraq.

"We will recruit new executives to replace those who are not qualified and we urge those in charge of purchases to sign contracts with large global companies directly rather than through intermediaries," he said.

The Commission on Public Integrity, tasked with fighting corruption in Iraq, announced on Wednesday that 997 officials are being investigated for alleged graft, including 53 people ranked as directors general or higher.

It said 120 Iraqis were arrested for corruption in April and May.

Watchdog group Transparency International ranked Iraq in 2008 as the world's third-most corrupt country behind Somalia and Myanmar.

Iraq's food rationing system was established in 1995 as part of the United Nations oil-for-food programme following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

The public distribution programme has been plagued by mismanagement and corruption since the 2003 US-led invasion.

And Now Remaining Minars Of Imamain Al Askarian Shrine Blown


Bankruptcy looms for GM; Chrysler awaits fate

FILE - In this file photo taken Jan. 11, 2009, Chevrolet Beat concept car, which will be introduced as a production car Spark, is shown at at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. General Motors Corp. said Friday, May 29, 2009, that it plans to reopen a shuttered U.S. factory to build compact cars that will likely be the smallest vehicles GM has ever produced here.
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

– FILE - In this file photo taken Jan. 11, 2009, Chevrolet Beat concept car, which will be introduced as …

* Rescue plan for Vauxhall and Opel Play Video Auto Industry Video:Rescue plan for Vauxhall and Opel BBC
* Dealership bankruptcies may mean car savings for you Play Video Auto Industry Video:Dealership bankruptcies may mean car savings for you KTVK 3TV Phoenix

Related Quotes Symbol Price Change
GM 0.75 -0.37
MGA 32.43 -0.11
^GSPC 919.14 +12.31
click here
By TOM KRISHER, AP Auto Writer Tom Krisher, Ap Auto Writer – 21 mins ago

DETROIT – General Motors Corp. has cleared a couple of key roadblocks on the ailing automaker's route to an almost certain bankruptcy filing Monday.

Early Saturday in Berlin, Germany's finance minister said a plan was approved for Canadian auto parts maker Magna International Inc. to move ahead with a rescue of GM's Opel unit.

That news came after the United Auto Workers union on Friday ratified a package of concessions designed to reduce GM's labor costs.

The developments appeared to put in place two more pieces of the automaker's massive restructuring effort as its board of directors meets Saturday for a second day to decide what GM will do when its government restructuring deadline arrives Monday.

GM has yet to confirm it will seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection but scheduled a news conference for Monday in New York.

Chrysler LLC, meanwhile, will likely have to wait until Monday to learn if a bankruptcy judge will rule that it can go forward with its plan to sell most of the company to a group headed by Italy's Fiat and take a big step toward its goal of a speedy exit from Chapter 11.

U.S. Judge Arthur Gonzalez is expected to approve the sale but it's likely that attorneys for three Indiana state pension and construction funds, which have aggressively opposed the deal, will appeal the decision and possibly force Chrysler to further postpone the deal's closing.

Chrysler claims that any substantial delay could push Fiat to back out if the deal, since the Italian automaker has set a deadline of June 15 to wrap up a transaction.

U.S. automakers have been hammered by a brutal combination of a bad economy, a big jump in gas prices last year, and decisions to churn out gas-sucking SUVs at a time when more American consumers were looking for cars that were cheaper to fill up.

GM, with the government's backing and nearly $20 billion in U.S. loans so far, has made more dramatic changes in just a few days than it has in decades. A deal to sell GM's rugged but inefficient Hummer brand also appeared on the horizon.

GM's stock tumbled to the lowest price in the company's 100-year history on Friday, closing at just 75 cents after trading as low as 74 cents. A government plan for GM revealed Thursday would make the shares virtually worthless.

The United Auto Workers' reluctant but overwhelming ratification of concessions will save GM $1.3 billion per year and bring its labor costs down to those of its Japanese competitors. The new UAW deal freezes wages, ends bonuses and eliminates some noncompetitive work rules.

In Berlin, the agreement hammered out will see Adam Opel GmbH put under the care of a trustee later Saturday, shielding the German automaker from GM's likely filing for bankruptcy protection early next week.

The German government and several state governments will provide a $2.1 billion bridge loan, part of which will be available immediately.

Siegfried Wolf, a co-CEO of Magna said he expected the agreements with GM would be signed in five weeks time, but insisted that the deal struck early Saturday would prevent Opel from being touched by whatever will happen to GM.

"A solution has been found to keep Opel running," Germany's Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck told reporters after more than six hours of talks. "You can be sure that we did not take the decision lightly. All the federal and state representatives are aware there are some risks."


AP Auto Writer Bree Fowler contributed to this report from New York.

Iraq-born teen cracks maths puzzle

Iraqi teen tackles maths puzzle, but not the first: university AFP/File – Students take a math class at a school. A 16-year-old Iraqi immigrant, who figured out a solution to …

Thu May 28, 8:41 am ET

STOCKHOLM (AFP) – A 16-year-old Iraqi immigrant living in Sweden has cracked a maths puzzle that has stumped experts for more than 300 years, Swedish media reported on Thursday.

In just four months, Mohamed Altoumaimi has found a formula to explain and simplify the so-called Bernoulli numbers, a sequence of calculations named after the 17th century Swiss mathematician Jacob Bernoulli, the Dagens Nyheter daily said.

Altoumaimi, who came to Sweden six years ago, said teachers at his high school in Falun, central Sweden were not convinced about his work at first.

"When I first showed it to my teachers, none of them thought the formula I had written down really worked," Altoumaimi told the Falu Kuriren newspaper.

He then got in touch with professors at Uppsala University, one of Sweden's top institutions, to ask them to check his work.

After going through his notebooks, the professors found his work was indeed correct and offered him a place in Uppsala.

But for now, Altoumaimi is focusing on his school studies and plans to take summer classes in advanced mathematics and physics this year.

"I wanted to be a researcher in physics or mathematics; I really like those subjects. But I have to improve in English and social sciences," he told the Falu Kuriren.

احمدي نژاد:در دولت هاي قبل حتي يك روزنامه مخالف را هم تحمل نكردند/سوال سلام:آقاي احمدي نژاد در دادگاه روزنامه سلام چه مي كرديد؟

احمدي نژاد:در دولت هاي قبل حتي يك روزنامه مخالف را هم تحمل نكردند/سوال سلام:آقاي احمدي نژاد در دادگاه روزنامه سلام چه مي كرديد؟
مناسب چاپ
ارسال به دوستان

سلام:محمود احمدي نژادامروز مدعي شد كه در دولت‌هاي قبلي در يك دوره روزنامه‌اي بود كه هفته‌اي يك بار مقاله‌اي در انتقاد از عملكرد اقتصادي دولت مي‌نوشتند كه نتوانستند آن را تحمل كنند و يا در دوره گذشته روزنامه‌هايي كه به نقد دولت مي‌پرداختند را نيز تحمل نشده‌اند اما چهار سال است كه اين برادر كوچك شما 20 تا 30 روزنامه هر چه دلشان مي‌خواهد مي‌نويسند ولي من مي‌گويم اشكالي ندارد. اجازه دهيد بعضي‌ها طعم شيرين آزادي را بچشند.

مطمئنا اشاره احمدي نژاد مربوط به روزنامه سلام مي شد كه از آن به عنوان روزنامه اي نام برد كه هفته اي يك بار انتقادهاي اقتصادي از دولت وقت مطرح مي كرد مسلما حافظه تاريخي جناب احمدي نژاد ضعيف شده است كه از ياد برده است كه روزنامه سلام در زمان دولت آيت الله هاشمي رفسنجاني شديدترين انتثادها را عليه دولت مطرح مي كرد ولي هيچگاه به محاق توقيف نرفت و اتفاقا با شكايت امثال شما دادگاهي شد و در نهايت ناجوانمردانه توسط دستگاه قضايي وقت توقيف شد.

آقاي احمدي نژاد مصرانه از شما خواستاريم پز آزادي را در دولت خود ندهيد آزادي را همگان هنگامي كه خبرگزاري ايلنا با شكايت وزارت كار و وزارت علوم و تحقيقات شما توقيف شد به ياد دارند آزادي را در توقيف ده‌ها روزنامه و نشريات تخصصي با حكم هيات نظارت بر مطبوعات وزارت ارشاد تحت امر دولت شما توقيف شدند كه نمونه آخر آن توقيف روزنامه ياس نو آن هم بعد از يك شماره بود.

آقاي احمدي نژاد مردم ايران تنها يك چيز از شما مي خواهد ”راست گويي و صداقت“.باور كنيد براي مقام دوم كشور پسنديده نيست كه اينگونه شعور ملت خود را مورد تمسخر قرار دهد.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Allotting of Iraqi Oil Rights May Stoke Hostility

Khaled Salih, Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Natural Resources, KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government), holds a press briefing in Oslo September 27,2009. Northern Iraq's Kurdish region on Friday said it was "hopeful" of settling a row with Norwegian oil firm DNO International that led to the suspension of the firm's activities in Iraq. The dispute threatens to taint the KRG's business-friendly image and could even deter investors considering Iraq's crumbling national oil sector that, although promising, is already beset by legal ambiguity and security risks. REUTERS/Kyrre Lien/Scanpix

Christoph Bangert for The New York Times

Kurds have built rough homes in Kirkuk near oil fields on land the government says is not theirs.

Article Tools Sponsored By
Published: May 28, 2009

KIRKUK, Iraq — Sheik Habih Shawqi Hamakan peered through his binoculars on a recent afternoon at a sight he considers, despite the rising columns of black smoke that blot out the sun, pure beauty.

As far as the eye can see are oil fields, among the most productive in Iraq. He turned, gesturing to his rambling two-story house with its garden of blossoming pink and yellow rosebushes. That, too, sits on an oil field.

The sheik is one of thousands of Kurds who have moved to Kirkuk, an unstable oil town in northern Iraq, since the 2003 United States-led invasion and claimed plots of land not theirs to build houses. Some of the homes, illegal facts on the ground aimed at furthering Kurdish claims to Kirkuk, sit a mere half mile from towering flames of natural gas among the oil fields.

Their presence is one of many pressure points converging at a critical time in Kirkuk, as rights to those fields are scheduled to be awarded to the highest bidding international oil company next month as part of Iraq’s larger effort to bolster its slumping economy by nearly tripling oil production over the next six years.

Kirkuk Province, wedged between Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq, is smaller than Connecticut but produces as much oil as Alaska. It is believed to possess as much as one-sixth of Iraq’s total petroleum reserves.

Both Kurds and the central government have long claimed Kirkuk as their own — and many residents and Western observers fear that the awarding of the contract, along with the bonanza of jobs and cash expected to follow, may decisively stoke hostility among the Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens who live here. Many worry this may tear at Iraqi unity and embroil the disputed territory in greater violence. At worst, it could bring the open ethnic warfare that many have predicted since security for the province was handed over to Kurdish forces after the 2003 invasion.

Any dispute over Kirkuk is of concern to Turkey, Syria and Iran, each with a minority Kurdish population, and could ignite simmering Arab-Kurdish tensions throughout northern Iraq, the country’s most restive region.

Still, even though the status of Kirkuk remains unresolved and it is unclear how much oil actually lies beneath it, many of the world’s largest oil corporations are competing for the contract here. It is one of eight large but underperforming oil and gas fields throughout Iraq for which the government is scheduled to award production rights at the end of June.

“By opening bids on fields in Kirkuk, Prime Minister Maliki is clearly poking the Kurds in the eye by asserting Iraqi sovereignty over oil in territories whose status is constitutionally in dispute,” said Joost Hiltermann, an Iraq expert at the International Crisis Group.

In recent weeks, even after a summit meeting in Berlin among Kirkuk’s Arabs, Kurds, Turkmens and Assyrians, violence in the province has increased. This spring, Kirkuk city has been rocked by car bombings, shootings and suicide attacks that have killed at least a dozen police officers, three Assyrian Christians, a high-ranking Arab police official and workers going to the oil fields.

Kirkuk’s predominately Kurdish security forces say they need help controlling the violence, but not from the largely Arab Iraqi Army troops stationed on the city’s outskirts. The American military held a series of meetings with Arab and Kurdish political leaders and security forces this month without reaching an accord to allow an Iraqi Army unit to operate in the city.

“We hope it is not going back again to very serious violence, but all signs are that it will,” said Maj. Gen. Turhan Abdul Rahman Yasif, deputy chief of the province’s police force.

A United Nations report last month offered several recommendations to reduce tensions, including making Kirkuk a region jointly administered by Iraq and Kurdistan. Residents would ultimately hold a referendum to decide their future.

Kirkuk’s population of Kurds, Arabs, Turkmens and Assyrian Christians generally live apart from one another in mutual suspicion. The other groups accuse the Kurds of seeking to annex Kirkuk and its oil wealth into the semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government, which could give Kurdistan the economic underpinning to become an independent state.

But there has been almost no oil exploration in Iraq for decades. The Oil Ministry says Kirkuk contains about 15 billion barrels of oil, or 16 percent of Iraq’s total, and 2 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves.

But most oil industry estimates put Kirkuk’s reserves at between 5.5 billion barrels and 10 billion barrels.

Revenue Watch Institute, a New York-based nonprofit natural resources policy group, estimated in a 2006 report that 62 percent of Kirkuk’s petroleum had already been extracted.

“That means this super giant field is at the final stages of its life,” the report said.

But Mena’a Abdullah Alubaid, director general of Iraq’s North Oil Company, a branch of the Oil Ministry that oversees Kirkuk’s fields, insists that the fields will last until 2074.

Wayne Kelley, managing director of RSK Ltd., an independent oil engineering firm, said the petroleum company that ultimately wins the Kirkuk field would face issues including the potential for violence and the likely contamination of part of the field with waste oil.

“Nowhere in the world has a field of anywhere near this size been so grossly mismanaged,” he said.

Another significant impediment could be the growing population of Kurdish settlers, many of whom have built homes on land that the Oil Ministry says is not theirs.

The families say they were forced out of Kirkuk by Saddam Hussein’s government, which bulldozed their villages. They call the contested city their “Jerusalem,” and some said they would take up arms to stay.

Sheik Hamakan, 60, said that after years of exile in Iran and elsewhere he had finally satisfied his longing to be home. He will not, he vowed, stand aside for government bulldozers to raze his family’s house a second time.

“I won’t leave,” he said. “It would be up to them to demolish the village on my head.”

Reporting was contributed by Riyadh Mohammed, Abeer Mohammed, Sam Dagher and Mohamed Hussein from Baghdad, and Tareq Maher and an Iraqi employee of The New York Times from Kirkuk.


In Iraq, oil is literally bubbling to the surface
April 24th, 2011

Neil King at the WSJ has an article on wild frontier of Iraqi oil exploration in Kurdistan – Wildcatters Plung Into North Iraq. No doubt they’ll find lots of the stuff.

The Canadians are squeezing oil from sand.

The Brazilians want to nurse it up through miles of seawater, sandstone and salt. But here in the far north of Iraq, oil is literally bubbling to the surface.

Oil executives lament that the age of “easy oil” is over.

It isn’t over here. For companies that have stumbled into this corner of Iraq known as Kurdistan, it’s an era that has just begun.

“Look at this,” said Magne Normann, Middle East director for DNO International ASA of Norway, as he stood beside a pond of oil oozing up on a hillside.

For fun, he heaved in a stone.

“What a sight,” he said, as the liquid shot three feet high. “Pure oil.”

Iraq is well known as one of the planet’s last great oil repositories, with more than 115 billion barrels of reserves, by most estimates.

The surprise is how much oil — and easily accessible oil — there appears to be in Iraq’s Kurdish region, a rugged, Switzerland-size area that has seen centuries of conflict but essentially no oil exploration, until now.

One of the world’s most prolific oil fields, the Kirkuk field, sprawls for more than 70 miles just to the southwest of the Kurdish region’s border.

After 74 years in production, it still churns out over 400,000 barrels a day. Dozens of similar geological structures extend far to the north in Kurdistan, undrilled and almost entirely unexamined.

“I am not expecting to find another Kirkuk,” says Ashti Hawrami, Kurdistan’s plain-talking minister of natural resources.

“But I think we will find a lot of fields that add up to Kirkuk.”

The hubbub is in sharp contrast to the rest of Iraq, where an exploratory well hasn’t been drilled in 15 years, thanks to neglect throughout the Iran-Iraq war, the period of international sanctions and then the war that began in 2003.

Major oil companies have entered talks with Baghdad over ways to boost output in the huge fields in Iraq’s south.

But the Iraqi government remains loath to grant outsiders the right to explore for new oil or to share in the profits. …

Companies signing deals under the Kurds’ law have since been barred by Baghdad from doing business in the rest of Iraq, where the biggest of the country’s oil fields lie.

That threat is keeping the major oil companies out of Kurdistan, despite their ardor for new terrain to drill.

Meanwhile, until Iraqis can agree on a national oil law, the companies drilling in Kurdistan have no way to export oil they unearth.


Wed May 11, 2011 1:34am EDT

DNOs production in the first quarter of 2011 was 39,945 bopd, up from 12,442 in the same quarter last year. Commencement of crude oil export from Kurdistan in February 2011 was a milestone for DNO.

"DNO is producing high volumes of crude oil in Kurdistan. A first cash advance to DNO of USD 110 million has now been confirmed by the Kurdistan Regional Government and forms a basis for increased activities by DNO in Kurdistan going forward", says Managing Director Helge Eide.

Sales increased to NOK 281.2 million in the first quarter this year (export revenues from Tawke not included), up from NOK 258.6 million in the same quarter 2010. EBITDA was NOK 146.3 million in this quarter, down from NOK 155.6 million in the first quarter 2010. The somewhat lower EBITDA is mainly explained by lower achieved oil price and higher expensed exploration costs.

Revenue from export sales has not been included in the financials for Q1 2011. However, DNO has now received confirmation from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) that cash advances will be made by the KRG to companies exporting oil from the Kurdistan Region in Iraq. An amount of USD 110 million will be released to DNO by the KRG as payment against some of the amounts due in respect of the Tawke PSC.

For more information, see attached press release, quarterly report and webcast presentation.

DNO International ASA will hold a presentation at 08:00 CEST today at the Oslo Konserthus in Oslo. A webcast of the presentation is available on DNO's web site, www.dno.no.

Oslo, 11 May 2011

DNO International ASA
Corporate Communications

This information is subject of the disclosure requirements pursuant to section 5-12 of the Norwegian Securities Trading Act.
Q1 2011 Webcast presentation
Q1 2011 Quarterly report
Q1 2011 Press release


There's a buzz going around that Swara Tika-1, just N of Atrush and SH, has hit lots of oil.
Rights are owned by Hillwood Int Eneregy (75%) and Marathon (25%). Hillwood is one of Ross Perot's private companies so only way in is via MRO.
If you look at the map of Iraqi discoveries, there could now be a ginormous green splodge now stretching from the Hunt Oil well at Aint Sifni, thru SH and Atrush into Sarsang/Swara Tika.
Maybe the cause of today's rise?


Iraq’s Moment
Posted: May 10, 2011

The base of Iraq's development centres around its oil industry. Although analysts think that Iraq has barely scratched the surface of its oil reserves, the country is already the world's 12th largest producer of crude.

Tags: Economic growth, Gross domestic product, International Monetary Fund, Iraq, Iraqi government, middle east, Politics of Iraq, United States 0
Iraq’s strong oil revenues this year, coupled with a new $37-bn

investment plan, will ensure double-digit hike in GDP this year. However, political and security issues could derail growth.

Iraq’s expected double-digit growth this year is a reflection of high oil prices more than anything else, but the government has a chance to build on this windfall with the $37-billion development programme announced in late April.

With Iraq sitting on the fourth largest oil reserves in the world, foreign investment can flow quickly if the government can improve security and keep other key economic indicators at favourable levels.

But with the latest political changes sweeping across the region, Iraq has to navigate through a multitude of internal and external challenges, before it can leverage its oil-led growth.

With Libya, Syria, Egypt and Yemen grabbing all the headlines, it is easy to lose sight of some of the countries in the region that are quietly progressing along.

Apart from Qatar, Iraq is the only other economy in the region expected to post double-digit growth this year, according to the International Institute of Finance (IIF). The banking body expects Iraq to post an 11% GDP growth in 2011, second only to Qatar’s 18.1%.

The International Monetary Fund expects Iraq to grow at 9.6%, with inflation at a reasonable 5% and nominal GDP reaching $108-billion – the first time it will cross the $100-billion mark.

But Iraq is hardly a paragon of stability. The Arab Spring has not spared Iraq and its citizens have been out on the streets demanding key reforms and access to basic infrastructure and jobs – but the protests have not threatened the government just yet.

The country, which is recovering from the United States-led invasion apart from multiple wars during the eighties and nineties, remains vulnerable to the problems affecting other countries in the region. There is a danger of Iraq getting swept up in the events taking place in Syria and the Gulf-Iran rivalry which has threatened to escalate.

Iraq, which has a majority Shii’te population, has been watching with some consternation the treatment meted out to Bahraini Shii’te, and while we don’t expect the Iraqi government to intervene, its citizens have protested vehemently against Saudi and Bahraini governments.

Iraq has no shortage of domestic concerns either. Nine months after an election that saw a divided electorate, a new government was finally formed last December led by Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki.

The base of Iraq’s development centres around its oil industry. Although analysts think that Iraq has barely scratched the surface of its oil reserves, the country is already the world’s 12th largest producer of crude. The country sits on the fourth largest reserves in the world, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, with 115 billion barrels of oil reserves.

“Just a fraction of Iraq’s known fields are in development, and Iraq may be one of the few places left where vast reserves, proven and unknown, have barely been exploited,” says the U.S. Department of Energy.

Much of Iraq’s economic growth ihas come coming from its oil production, which has benefited from high oil prices.

“Growth in non-oil real GDP will depend on improvements in the security situation,” says the IIF. “If oil prices remain above $100 per barrel, and if the production of crude oil continues to increase over the coming years to about 4.5 mbd by 2015, then official foreign exchange reserves could almost triple, rising from $50 billion at end- 2010 to $143 billion by 2015, equivalent to 78% of projected GDP, or 15 months of import cover.”

Iraq has stepped up its oil production in the first quarter of this year to an average of 2.70 million barrels per day (mbd), as compared with 2.36 mbd in 2010. Assuming consumption of oil increases by 5% a year, exports of crude oil in 2011 are projected at 2.15 mbd.

The increase was to cover Libya’s shortfall and also aided by three successful bidding rounds held since 2008, which drew in international oil companies to develop and/or rehabilitate Iraq’s vast oil fields. The government has set ambitious plans to increase oil output to 11 mbd by 2020.

But observers don’t expect the government to meet that target. The IIF expects a production level of 4.5-million barrels per day by 2015, and the International Monetary Fund at 5 million by 2017.

“The main risks in the coming years will be bottlenecks in the export infrastructure that will need to be addressed. The authorities are working to upgrade and expand the country’s oil infrastructure,” says the IMF.

Additional single point moorings are planned at the Basra oil terminal, as well as additional pipelines to the terminal, which is Iraq’s largest point of export. Plans also include the construction of new domestic pipelines to connect the southern fields to the northern pipeline to Turkey, and a new pipeline to Syria.

In addition, large investments in supporting activities are also underway and planned, including the construction of desalination plants to produce water for injection in the fields, and storage facilities. These investments will require time to implement, and suggest a more gradual increase in Iraq’s oil production. Based on more conservative assumptions for the time it will take to expand Iraq’s export capacity, oil production could still increase to over 5 mbpd by 2017.


Like many countries in the Middle East, Iraq has a young population with 57% of its 31.5 million between the ages of 15-64 and 41% of the population under 14. Unemployment stands at 17.5%, according to World Bank report, and job creation is crucial.

On April 25, the Iraqi cabinet approved $37-billion development programme to improve its dilapidating infrastructure. Some of the key points of the programme includes development in key areas such as:

Transport infrastructure $10-billion
Highways $1.5-billion
Education $5-billion
Higher Education $2-billion
Water & Sewage $5-billion
Agriculture $5-billion
Health Infrastructure $3-billion

The development, which was first proposed during Prime Minister Nour Al- Maliki’s first term, will at least partially be funded by the government’s oil revenues. The IMF’s stand-by agreement (SBA) of $3.7-billion program will also be used as part of the ongoing reconstruction of the country.

The plan is in addition to the 2011 budget, based on a conservative oil price of $76.50, which aims to accelerate investment in public services and in oil infrastructure, as well as to accommodate additional social safety net and security outlays, while remaining consistent with medium-term fiscal sustainability and available financing.

“Iraq’s rehabilitation needs remain large, particularly to improve public service delivery and rebuild essential infrastructure, which are critical also to help create a private sector that can provide sufficient employment opportunities to the country’s large labour force,” says the IMF.

The budget deficit is projected to narrow substantially in 2012 and to move back into surplus in the following years. Over the medium-term, and even with more cautious assumptions regarding the increase in oil production than those presented in the oil companies’ production plans, Iraq’s government finances would reach a sustainable position.

The Central bank of Iraq has been successful in keeping inflation under control, by managing the exchange rate and by keeping the policy interest rate positive in real terms. Headline inflation and core inflation (excluding fuel and transportation) have remained in the low single digits. The CBI’s policy interest rate, which has been gradually reduced, is currently at 6% and positive in real terms. With low inflation, the exchange rate has been stable since the beginning of 2009.

The bank is also reportedly planning to remove three zeroes from the Iraqi dinnar in a bid to further stablize the currency and improve the government’s purchasing power.

For all its problems – and Iraq has many – under Prime Minister Nour Al Maliki, the country is slowly moving towards stability and economic recovery. Given that foreign investment remains a major driver of growth for the country, the country’s security risks are high and has already delayed projects and development plans. However, the restive population with its various factions and sectarian and political divides are looking to the government for faster growth and more economic reforms to accelerate growth. Al Maliki’s success will depend on how quickly the $37-billion plan is executed and whether the increased oil revenues trickled down to Iraqis on the street.



Boardroom Coup at DNO Fuels Bid Speculation

Posted on 13 June 2011. Tags: DNO, Norway, RAK
Boardroom Coup at DNO Fuels Bid Speculation

Norwegian investor Berge Gerdt Larsen was booted out as chairman of DNO International on Thursday, in a boardroom coup led by majority shareholder RAK Petroleum.

RAK chief executive, Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani (pictured), was voted in as new chairman at the Norwegian independent’s annual general meeting in Oslo, after the Middle East shareholder disclosed its plan to replace part of the DNO board just half-an-hour before the meeting.

United Arab Emirates-based oil and gas producer RAK increased its stake in DNO to 30% in April last year and the latest move by Mossavar-Rahmani suggests he may be positioning his company for a possible takeover of DNO, which mainly operates in Kurdistan and Yemen.

Mossavar-Rahmani is reported to have told Bloomberg News today that a merger of the two companies is a possibility.

“DNO International has a solid foundation in assets and importantly, in people. We believed this as we acquired our large position in the company and we believe it today as we take a more active role, in collaboration with shareholders, directors and management, to stabilise DNO International and then drive it to realise its full potential,” he said in a statement issued after the AGM.

However, in an implied criticism of his ousted predecessor, he emphasized the need to bring best practices to the company in terms of governance, transparency, accountability, cost control and regulatory compliance, while improving its relationships with host governments.

At today’s AGM, shareholders voted 78.18% in favour of the new board with Mossavar-Rahmani at the helm, with 21.82% against, TDN Finans reported. However, Gerdt Larsen complained that 61% of shareholders were not represented at the meeting.

As well as the RAK boss, the board now comprises deputy chairman Gunnar Hirsti and directors Marit Instanes and Shelley Watson, who were all re-elected, with Karen Sund, head of Oslo-based consultancy Sund Energy, elected as the only new independent director.

First Securities analyst Teodor Sveen Nilsen told Reuters that the boardroom switch did not alter his view of DNO’s prospects.

“It’s not unnatural that the largest owner, RAK, has the board chairmanship, but this could revive speculation about a RAK offer to buy DNO.”

At last year’s annual meeting DNO shareholders elected two board members proposed by RAK, including RAK board member and former U.S. ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, who subsequently declined to serve.

Three months ago Mossavar-Rahmini took the seat that had been designated for Khalilzad.

(Sources: UpstreamOnline, Reuters)


Kurdish oil boom begins
Larry Morrow, a construction supervisor for Norway's DNO Iraq, taking a call about work at the Tawke field as he overlooks the crude processing facility at DNO's Feyshkabour export center. On the far right is where Tawke field oil is piped in. To the left, pipelines running from a tanker offloading center where other KRG fields truck their crude to be exported. (BEN LANDO/Iraq Oil Report)
Larry Morrow, a construction supervisor for Norway's DNO Iraq, taking a call about work at the Tawke field as he overlooks the crude processing facility at DNO's Feyshkabour export center. On the far right is where Tawke field oil is piped in. To the left, pipelines running from a tanker offloading center where other KRG fields truck their crude to be exported. (BEN LANDO/Iraq Oil Report)
By Ben Lando of Iraq Oil Report
Published June 13, 2011

Three years ago, the only thing shining in this Kurdish village was the reflection off the seepage pools of crude bubbling in residents' backyards. Now the summer sun glares off the tinted windows of new houses painted in bright pastel colors. The region is experiencing what appears to be the beginning of its long-heralded oil boom.

In the past four months, oil exports from five fields within or administered by the semi-autonomous Kurdish region have gone from zero to around 181,000 barrels p...


Tilbake til: Olje og energi

Innlegg av: California (29.06.11 08:48 ), lest 0 ganger
Economy - Kurdish oil boom begins 29-Jun-11 [8:19]
PNA-Three years ago, the only thing shining in this Kurdish village was the reflection off the seepage pools of crude bubbling in residents' backyards. Now the summer sun glares off the tinted windows of new houses painted in bright pastel colors. The region is experiencing what appears to be the beginning of its long-heralded oil boom

In the past four months, oil exports from five fields within or administered by the semi-autonomous Kurdish region have gone from zero to around 181,000 barrels per day (bpd), and companies have received a share of the $243 million payout from Baghdad.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) now accounts for more than eight percent of the country's oil exports and more than a third of the flow through the Turkey pipeline. The Tawke field, developed by Norwegian firm DNO, accounts for 72,000 bpd of exports. And on Thursday, Gulf Keystone Petroleum's Shaikan field began its first exports, of 5,000 bpd.

Facilities are expanding at the fields and a key DNO-run export hub near the borders with Turkey and Syria. There is a hope locally to reach 200,000 bpd of exports by year's end.

"When the KRG told us we would resume exports, they were already very optimistic," said Eric Aillaud, production manager for DNO Iraq. His company just received its first payment for its work in Kurdistan: $103.7 million. Tawke's maximum capacity is currently 75,000 bpd, Aillaud said, but if the pumps were upgraded or the field's tanker loading site were utilized, "then you can expand."

Innlegg av: California (29.06.11 08:49 ), lest 0 ganger
The KRG's oil development has faced huge political obstacles, many of which still remain. Leaders in Baghdad and the KRG capital of Erbil fundamentally disagree about the appropriate distribution of power between the regional and central governments; as a result, the Kurds have signed oil deals despite the central government's objections, and the Oil Ministry has considered those contracts illegitimate and has blacklisted the companies who signed them. For many years, the dispute prevented Kurdish oil from being exported.

Yet leaders in Erbil and Baghdad have recently found urgent reasons to resolve their conflicts, at least in the short term: the high price of oil and the demands of Iraq's budget have provided financial incentive, and Maliki has needed the support of the sizable Kurdish parliamentary bloc to win another term and keep his governing coalition together.

The two sides initiated a rapprochement in January, when the central and regional leadership reached a still-secret but somewhat loosely guarded agreement to re-start the flow of exports. Unlike a short-lived export deal in 2009, which didn't include any mechanism for paying the contractors, the central government has agreed to reimburse the contractors for their costs, among other commitments by both sides.

According to various accounts of the deal, payments are to be made every other month, equivalent to the value of half of the KRG crude exported, followed by professional auditing of true costs that are being recovered. Baghdad transferred the first of those payments to the KRG in late May.

A top official at the Taq Taq Operating Company - the joint venture between Turkey's Genel Energji and China's Sinopec (having purchased original investor, Swiss-based Addax Petroleum, and then being subsequently blacklisted from proposed deals in Baghdad) - confirmed it received a $92.7 million payout. Officials from other exporting firms confirmed payments as well.

Forty oil companies have entered Iraq via Kurdistan. The most prominent of those, the American firm Marathon signed onto four blocks last year. Sources say some of the largest oil companies in the world that haven't scored a deal from Baghdad are knocking on doors up north.

In one telling portent of the boom times ahead, the Oil Ministry's own Iraqi Drilling Company recently opened an office in Erbil, in order to pursue sub-contracts in Kurdish fields: even the central government's state-run oil services arm is joining the Kurdish oil bonanza.

Short-term solutions spur rapid expansion

Oil from Tawke is sent through DNO's 45-kilometer pipeline to its export processing facility at Feyshkhabour, under the watch of Syrian mountains three kilometers to the west and Turkish mountains two kilometers north. The Tawke pipeline comes above ground near a loading bay that looks like a massive petrol station, where trucks carrying crude from other fields empty their tanks. The blend of piped and trucked Kurdish oil then flows into another pipeline running under a beat-up road and over to the Iraqi Oil Ministry's metering station, which feeds the export pipeline to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, Turkey.

The Feyshkhabour facility is steadily expanding. It can handle about 112,000 bpd now and will likely reach 150,000 bpd capacity by the end of the year. Sources say its design capacity is more than twice that, and can be achieved with some minor electrical tweaking of the pumps and more crude. An additional pipeline is being considered, which, according to plans, nearly every field KRG field being developed would feed into.

Such expansion has been a long time in the making. DNO in 2004 was among the first companies to sign a contract with the Iraqi Kurdish leaders, who officially organized into the KRG in 2006. The region's oil ambitions date back even further. In 2002 and early 2003, with the end of the Saddam Hussein regime on the horizon and under the protection of an international no-fly zone, Kurdish authorities signed with two Turkish companies, Genel Enerji and PetOil.

Taq Taq is currently trucking 20,000 bpd to Feyshkhabour and is expected to increase to 30,000 bpd soon. Gulf Keystone plans to ramp up to 20,000 bpd by early next year, according to the company's country manager, Adnan Samarrai.

Iraq has 143.1 billion barrels of proven reserves of oil, and if the KRG's estimated 30 to 40 billion can be authenticated, Iraq would become the second-largest holder of oil reserves in the world. Iraq is about to launch an exploration auction that will likely boost reserves further toward closing the gap with world-leader Saudi Arabia, which claims 267 billion barrels.

Between the KRG's deals and the massive output contracts Baghdad has signed with foreign oil companies, the stated plans are to increase production capacity to more than 13.5 million bpd. The KRG has said it could contribute one million bpd within four years.

The growing exports and initial payments represent a tenuous breakthrough in a dispute that has plagued the politics, economy and security of the country. Federal revenues from the KRG's oil could create a mutual economic dependence that leads to clarifying Iraq's national oil policy and aligning the country's two oil sectors.


INTERVIEW-Iraq can barely handle oil security in south

29 Jun 2011 14:12

Source: reuters // Reuters

* Expansion will put new stress on undermanned oil police

* Sophisticated cameras and monitoring systems needed

* Force needs helicopters to monitor sprawling pipe network

By Ahmed Rasheed

BASRA, Iraq, June 29 (Reuters) - Iraq is barely capable of protecting its vital oil infrastructure and could falter if its oil police do not get enough manpower and sophisticated security equipment soon, a senior Iraqi security official said.

Brigadier Moussa Abdul-Hassan, chief of the south oil police, said the expansion by foreign oil companies of operations in southern oilfields could surpass the ability of the oil police to offer protection in the future.

"With the expansion of oil work in the south, from drilling hundreds of oil wells to building oil facilities, we need to boost the number of troops and update our equipment to be fit for the job," Hassan told Reuters in an interview.

"Now we are barely controlling the situation, but for the near future, I mean next year, we will have new oilfields starting massive work, especially in Majnoon and West Qurna 1 and 2, and that expansion will definitely increase our responsibilities," Hassan said.

Emerging threats against oil infrastructure represent a challenge to Iraq prepares to take full control of security ahead of a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops by year-end.

The protection of Iraq's oil reserves, among the world's largest, is crucial to rebuilding after years of war and economic sanctions as it pursues plans to become a top producer once again.

Militants have targeted Iraq's oil resources this year.

At the Doura refinery south of Baghdad, which has a capacity of 240,000 barrels per day, troops defused four make-shift bombs earlier this month.

In February, al Qaeda militants attacked Iraq's largest refinery in Baiji, killing four workers and detonating bombs and triggering a fire that shut down the operations for two days. Security forces foiled another attack days later.

In early June, bombs were planted atop four crude depots of the Zubair 1 storage facility in the south, setting ablaze one tank.


"Having sophisticated security cameras and monitoring systems, this breach could have been avoided," Hassan said in the oil hub city of Basra. "We are still using old methods of protection."

"For the future , we are seeking to boost oil police numbers to cope with building up oil work in southern fields, so we need more trained policemen, sophisticated equipment. Now the equipment we're using does not meet global standards," he said.

Hassan did not cite numbers. Major General Hamid Ibrahim, head of the oil police, told Reuters in March that the 40,000-member force needed to add 12,000 more officers.

Hassan said the police need thermal cameras and bomb detectors installed around fields, installations and pipelines. Iraq has about 7,000 km (4,300 miles) of oil and gas pipelines.

"We are also lacking helicopters, which have maximum importance in securing our sprawling oil pipelines and export facilities," Hassan added.

Asked if the police had received any recent tips that armed groups might target oil facilities in Basra, Hassan said: "We are not waiting for security tips to respond. We consider Basra oil facilities under a constant threat and primary target for saboteurs."

Hassan said the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces by Dec. 31 would have no impact on the work of the oil police, who operate independently.

"The work we do is not dependent on coalition troops and we are currently coordinating with the Iraqi army in securing oil facilities in the south," he said.

Hassan said the force had successfully compromised smuggling operations in Basra, a constant challenge.

"Smugglers were making holes in the export pipelines, installing valves with small pumping motors to steal the crude," he said. "We decided to use tough measures by burning the trucks we seized and it worked in deterring them."

(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Editing by Jim Loney)


RAK Sizes Up DNO for Possible Takeover Bid
Hilsen Energy Intelligence Finance:

Energy Intelligence Group
Wednesday, June, 29, 2011
Despite mixed success building up its oil and gas portfolio since being established six years ago, RAK
Petroleum of the United Arab Emirates has put itself in a position where it could potentially acquire
Norway’s DNO if it makes the decision to do so. After increasing its ownership stake to 30% last year,
RAK took control of DNO’s board of directors earlier this month, sending renewed speculation through the
market it may seek to take over the company, whose main producing asset is in the Kurdistan region of
northern Iraq.
RAK started buying substantial DNO shares two years ago, gradually hiking its stake to 30% by May
2010, where it remains today. RAK Chief Executive Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani is key to the company's
current growth strategy. With RAK since 2008, Mossavar-Rahmani was founder of Houston-based
Apache International and became CEO of RAK in May of last year. Elected to DNO’s board in March, he
became chairman following its annual general meeting on Jun. 9.
Ousted from DNO's board was Berge Gerdt Larsen, chairman since 2002 and CEO from 1996 to 2002.
To some, including Larsen, RAK’s decision to change the board came as a surprise. The Norwegian
press described the move as a new strongman coming to power in the form of a boardroom coup.
Mossavar-Rahmani, an Iranian-American, has emphasized the move was not a surprise attack but merely
a 30% shareholder taking a larger role and more control at a critical time for both companies. RAK now
views itself in a better position to take effective control over management and be a more outspoken
shareholder and proactive investor, analysts say.
As chairman of both RAK and DNO, Mossavar-Rahmani has indicated that DNO is in the process of
rebalancing its portfolio, suggesting it is actively seeking to refocus efforts where the company has a
comparative advantage, such as in the Middle East and North Africa region and in Norway itself.
Recognizing it cannot be everywhere, DNO could make a strategic exit from its exploration block in
Mozambique and its development block in Equatorial Guinea
, industry sources say. Founded in 1971,
DNO also holds producing assets in Yemen and a stake in an exploration block in the North Sea.
Established in 2005 with more than $800 million of up-front capital, RAK operates under the patronage of
Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al-Qasimi, ruler of Ras al-Khaimah, the UAE’s northernmost emirate. With
ambitions to become a regional exploration and production player, RAK also seeks to maximize returns to
its key shareholders -- the ruling family and investors from the UAE and Saudi Arabia. RAK is still
relatively new and largely untested on a wide regional scale -- with operations limited to Oman, Tunisia
and the UAE -
- but its state connections help open up doors in the region, while operating like a private
company eases some of the burdens inherent in state bureaucracy.
RAK’s primary attraction to DNO is the latter's position in Iraqi Kurdistan, where its Tawke field holds an
estimated 500 million barrels and currently produces around 70,000 barrels per day.
By linking up with an
already established player in Kurdistan, RAK could take a shortcut to holding sizable producing assets in
a previously underexploited frontier, avoiding risky and hard-to-replicate initial stages that DNO has
already passed through, according to sources familiar with RAK's thinking.
Despite being an early entrant into Kurdistan in 2004, DNO has struggled to monetize its efforts within a
highly complex Iraqi political environment. DNO recently received a first payment of $103.7 million to
cover its share of Kurdish exports that restarted in February, but uncertainty still exists over a permanent
payment mechanism and the legality of contracts signed with the Kurdistan regional government.

DNO reported a loss of NOK 65.4 million ($11.9 million) for the first quarter of 2011. After taking into
account its 30% share of DNO’s quarterly loss, RAK reported net profits of AED 5.9 million ($1.6 million),
down from AED 30.5 million during last year’s first quarter. RAK produced 9,250 b/d of liquids and 31.2
MMcf/d of gas in 2010, all from its offshore block in Oman.
Viewed as a long-term strategic investment, RAK is willing to accept short-term uncertainty in Kurdistan,
sources close to the company say. Evident of its efforts to leverage political and cultural ties to advance
its interests, last year RAK elected Zalmay Khalilzad, a former US ambassador to Iraq with many longstanding
connections in the region, to its board.

The biggest uncertainty regarding DNO and its valuation is the profit-sharing mechanism in Kurdistan,
says Irmantas Vaskela of Terra Markets, a Norwegian investment bank. “It may be that RAK would like to
see some more clarity regarding the profit sharing in Kurdistan before bidding for DNO,” Vaskela says.

Considering the substantial drop in DNO’s share price since early February, it may be more attractive for
a takeover bid -- and the chances of that bid succeeding have increased after recent board changes,
analysts say.
RAK has said publicly it is considering buying DNO, with access to capital not an obstacle. In the event it
is unable to come up with the funds necessary to launch a cash bid, a merger of the two companies is a
potential scenario with RAK likely able to dictate the terms to some degree. With its sizable stake and
control of the board, RAK also has the option of remaining heavily involved in DNO’s affairs without
triggering a takeover bid, which would occur if its stake reached 33.3%.


Latest snipit from IHS dated 28th of June appologies if alerady posted.


Crude exports from Iraqi Kurdistan are coming in at a level of 175,000 b/d, according to Michael Howard, adviser to Ashti Hawrami, the natural resources minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The numbers demonstrate that Iraqi Kurdistan is well on track to hit its year-end target to export 200,000 b/d, he told Dow Jones, putting the total crude production in the autonomous region at between 225,000 b/d and 230,000 b/d. Howard also told the news agency that a second tranche payment from the Iraqi central government to the oil companies producing the crude in Iraqi Kurdistan was expected soon. Meanwhile, Norway's DNO, which produces the largest share of Iraqi Kurdistan's exports at its Tawke field, flagged its June output in the region as being a bit lower than May's output, given operational disturbances on the central government-controlled Kirkuk-Ceyhan export pipeline to the Turkish Mediterranean coast.

DNO's gross crude production from Tawke came in at 70,263 b/d in May, up from 65,333 b/d in April, but is likely to fall back to "around 65,000 b/d" in June, as the Kirkuk-Ceyhan export pipeline has suffered some shut-ins this month. Significance: Iraqi Kurdistan is able to deliver crude export growth at a time when Iraq proper is also seeing a large increase in crude exports from its IOC-developed southern megafields, but also faces very large cost recovery claims from the companies, which the government seems to have expected would come in at a later date. THE ADDED VOLUMES FROM THE NORTH ARE THEREFORE MAKING A CRUCIAL DIFFERENCE TO THE STATE COFFERS AND ARE QUITE LIKELY TO SMOOTH THE ACCEPTANCE OF A FINAL DEAL BETWEEN THE IRAQI GOVERNMENT AND THE KRG THAT WOULD RECOGNISE ON A NATIONAL LEVEL THE OIL CONTRACTS THE REGION HAS AWARDED UNDER ITS OWN OIL LAW, ALTHOUGH SOME FORM OF COMPROMISE ADJUSTMENT OF THE CONTRACT TERMS MIGHT ULTIMATELY STILL BE NECESSARY (see Iraq: 11 May 2011: and Iraq: 6 May 2011: ). Iraqi pipeline infrastructure will, however, for the foreseeable future add a significant degree of uncertainty to production and export numbers, given the low level of infrastructure integrity and the rising tendency among remaining militants to target strategic oil infrastructure of late (see Iraq: 17 June 2011: and Iraq: 6 June 2011:


Published: 08:35 CEST 04-07-2011 /Thomson Reuters /Source: DNO International ASA /XOSL: DNO /ISIN: NO0003921009

Proposed merger of RAK Petroleum MENA subsidiaries into DNO ahead of London listing

DNO International ASA (DNO) and UAE-based RAK Petroleum Public Company Limited (RAK Petroleum) have signed a heads of agreement to merge RAK Petroleum's Middle East and North Africa (MENA) operating subsidiaries into a subsidiary of DNO in exchange for DNO shares to be issued to RAK Petroleum.

The consideration shares will be issued at a minimum share price of NOK 8.25 per share and a maximum share price of NOK 10.00 against a value of the RAK Petroleum MENA assets between USD 250 and 300 million.

See attached full stock exchange notice for more information.

Oslo, 4 July 2011

DNO International ASA
Corporate Communications

This information is subject of the disclosure requirements acc. to §5-12 vphl (Norwegian Securities Trading Act)

Proposed merger - SE Notice


Parliament pressing for oil deal ban

By Ben Lando of Iraq Oil Report
Published July 4, 2011

BAGHDAD - Parliament's Oil and Energy Committee wants the legislature to ban Iraq's central, regional, and provincial governments from signing any new oil or gas contracts until a long-delayed hydrocarbons law is passed.

The committee formally submitted a statement to Parliament, a copy of which was given to Iraq Oil Report by committee adviser Luay al-Khateeb of the Iraq Energy Institute, calling for a vote banning any new deals until the law is passed.

"We will go back to parliament (after July 12) and go for a vote on stopping new signatures and to speed up the oil and gas law," said Adnan Janabi, the chairman of the Parliament committee. "We will get the support by parliament on both counts."

"I want to put an end to this vicious circle," "Today I got a communication (about changes) from the committee from the minister of oil and we'll study it," Janabi said Sunday. "But we won't wait for too long (for a new law to be submitted)."

"At the moment there are doubts and disputes raised by various people," said Janabi. "We have legal opinions which say the contracts signed by the Ministry of Oil have some problems, constitutional and legal problems. And the Ministry of Oil says that the contracts signed by the Kurdistan Regional Government are illegal. We want to end that. The way to end that is to press everybody and to get our act together and enact the oil and gas law."

"It will be the law which will enable every party, including the (foreign) companies, to be comfortable with their future," Janabi said.

The new oil and gas law would delineate authority over Iraq's oil sector. The 2005 Constitution calls for such legislation but has been caught in the unresolved debates over the extent of local versus federal power and the role of foreign oil companies.

Political leaders agreed to a draft law in February 2007, but the deal fell apart, and the oil sector has since been politicized and within a legal environment filled with contradictory laws and competing interpretations.

The energy committee's move is an attempt to put pressure on the feuding politicians, all of whom recognize the central importance of oil to Iraq – the government generates more than 90 percent of its revenue from oil – but cannot agree on how best to guide the development of the sector.

The central government has signed 12 oil deals and two gas deals, reached a draft agreement on a third gas deal and has planned for January a fourth oil and gas auction, this time for exploration blocks. Iraq's rich geology has attracted the world's largest oil companies.

The Kurdistan Regional Government has signed nearly 40 deals since the oil law failed in 2007, and is courting additional investors for available development deals.

Provincial governments have also attempted to strike deals on their own – though with little success – including most recently in Salahaddin province.

All sides say their deals are legal, pointing to both their own favored interpretations of the Constitution and older laws still on the books to back their dealings and rule the others illegitimate.

Combined, the deals signed would at least on paper increase Iraq's oil production capacity from about 2.7 million barrels per day (bpd) now to more than 13.5 million bpd in seven years. But they have been signed under varying degrees of controversy; Janabi insists that existing laws, which have been approved only by the Cabinet, also require Parliament's validation in order to be legal.

The committee's ban, if passed by the legislature, would potentially hamper several oil sector developments, including the planned fourth bidding round, a draft joint venture with Royal Dutch Shell and Mitsubishi to capture an estimated 700 million cubic feet of associated gas being flared in Basra province, and any prospective KRG contracts. Under the terms of the proposed measure, such deals could only proceed once Parliament passes a new oil and gas law.

Currently the committee has a draft of the oil and gas law which was submitted by the Cabinet to Parliament in the previous term. But it is waiting for a new proposal from the Cabinet's energy committee, which is led by Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs Hussain al-Shahristani – who was Oil Minister from mid-2006 until late 2010. The Cabinet energy committee began debating changes to the draft law at a meeting last week.



DNO International ASA will release its results for the second quarter 2011 to the Oslo Stock Exchange on 17 August 2011 at 7:30 A.M. CET.

On the release day, representatives from DNO International ASA will give a presentation of the quarterly financial statements. The presentation will be held at 08:00 A.M. at Oslo Konserthus, Munkedamsveien 14.

The presentation can also be followed live on the Internet, via a video webcast at www.dno.no. An archived version of the webcast will be posted on www.dno.no shortly after the presentation. The presentation will be held in English.

Oslo, 16 August 2011

Clinton and Bush to clash for cash in Canada

By Joseph Curl (Contact) | Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The well-worn cliche is "time heals all wounds," but in politics, the saying often ought to be "money heals all wounds."

On Friday, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, who spent years railing against each other, will appear together in Toronto for what is being billed a "conversation."

No one will say how much each will take home, but estimates run as high as $150,000 apiece for the two-hour appearance. Just to be one of the 6,000 people inside the city's convention center costs $250, with VIP tickets at $625 and the sold-out "emerald" section seating going for $2,500 (buyers in those front rows also get a photo with the two presidents).

The event will be only the second appearance by Mr. Bush since leaving office; his first was also in Canada, in Calgary. Mr. Clinton, meanwhile, is an old hand on the speaking tour: He did, after all, haul in $31 million in speaking fees between 2001 and 2005.

Friday's event is being put on by the Power Within, which produces "full-day inspirational, motivational and entertaining events with the power to ignite your spirit!" its Web site says exuberantly. The Toronto-based company is affiliated with self-help guru Tony Robbins, "the nation's foremost authority on the psychology of peak performance," the site says.




Clinton operation desert FOX dropped thousands of tons of bombs on Baghdad in 1998. G.W. Bush practically bankrupted America militarily. The weapon industry (e.g. Lockheed, Martin, Boeing, Northrop, General Daynamics, Raytheon, Litton Industries, Eaton Systems, United Technology, Fairchild...etc) pay Pentagon officials rewards shortly after leaving office (e.g. Cheney, Wolfowitz, Feith, Perle and Powell) and sponsor the lecture tours of former presidents and prime ministers (e.g. Aznar and Blair). Politics is a dirty field infested by the crooks. With this in mind, Americans are unshamed for trying teach others their form of manipulated democracy.

Adnan Darwash, Iraq Occupation Times

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Explosion in mosque kills 30 in southeast Iran

29 May 2009, 0031 hrs IST, REUTERS

TEHRAN: An explosion at a prominent Shi'ite Muslim mosque in the southeast Iranian city of Zahedan on Thursday killed 30 people and wounded 60,
the semi-official news agency ILNA reported.

The agency said the blast was a suicide bombing but no person or group had claimed responsibility. Shortly after the explosion, security forces discovered and defused a second bomb near the mosque, the semi-official FARS news agency reported. The attack was carried out on a public holiday honouring the first Shi'ite Imam, Ali Ebne-Abitaleb, after whom the mosque is named. Zahedan is a mostly Sunni city.

The provincial governor told state television the explosion occurred at about 7:45 p.m. (1515 GMT) when many people were inside the mosque for prayers. Zahedan is the capital of Sistan-Baluchestan province which shares a border with Pakistan. The province faces serious security problems and there are frequent clashes between police and drug dealers and bandits. A bomb attack in Zahedan in February 2007 which killed 18 Revolutionary Guards was claimed by Jundallah, an insurgent group that says it is fighting for the rights of Iran's Sunni Muslim minority.

The presidents of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan met in the capital Tehran for their first summit on Sunday, in an effort to improve cooperation in fighting terrorism and drug trafficking and tackling other regional security problems. Pakistan and Afghanistan are battling to stem the spread of Taliban insurgencies in their countries, and Iran and Pakistan want a stable Afghanistan because the drugs trade has had a dire effect on Iran and past Afghan violence sent millions of refugees across the border.

Iran is also preparing for a presidential election on June 12, in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is seeking a second term and faces three challengers.


Iran official blames U.S. in deadly mosque bombing
29 May 2009 11:30:36 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Blast kills more than 20, two weeks before election

* Authorities say 3 arrested over 'terrorist act' (Adds new death toll, quotes, analyst comment, detail)

By Zahra Hosseinian and Fredrik Dahl

TEHRAN, May 29 (Reuters) - An Iranian official accused the United States on Friday of involvement in a mosque bombing that killed more than 20 people in volatile south-eastern Iran, two weeks before the Islamic Republic's presidential election.

Jalal Sayyah, of the governor's office in Sistan-Baluchestan province, said three people had been arrested in connection with Thursday's blast in a crowded Shi'ite mosque in the city of Zahedan, in a region where many of Iran's minority Sunnis live.

The explosion, which some officials and media suggested was a suicide bombing, took place on a religious holiday in the mainly Shi'ite Muslim country. More than 80 people were wounded.

Iran has previously accused the United States, its arch-foe, of backing Sunni rebels operating on its border with Pakistan, who Tehran says are linked to the Islamist al Qaeda network.

"The terrorists, who were equipped by America in one of our neighbouring countries, carried out this criminal act in their efforts to create religious conflict and fear and to influence the presidential election," Sayyah told state radio.

He said two children were among the dead. The official IRNA news agency put the death toll at 25, naming all but one of the victims, who were men. Other media cited somewhat lower figures.

The person who detonated the device was standing among men praying in Ali Ebne-Abitaleb mosque and was also killed, provincial judiciary official Ebrahim Hamidi said.

It was one of the deadliest such bombing incidents in Iran since its 1980-88 war with Iraq. A blast in a mosque in the southern city of Shiraz killed 14 people in April last year but the country has been relatively peaceful in a turbulent region.

"It has been confirmed that those behind the terrorist act in Zahedan were hired by America and the arrogance's other hands,"
Sayyah told the semi-official Fars News Agency.

Iranian leaders, who often accuse the United States and its allies of seeking to destabilise it, refer to Washington as the "Great Satan" guilty of "global arrogance".


Sistan-Baluchestan province, home to Iran's mostly Sunni ethnic Baluchis, is the scene of frequent clashes between security forces and heavily armed drug smugglers and bandits.

A senior cleric blamed Sunni extremists for the bombing but also suggested foreign enemies were involved in a bid to sow discord and conflict between Iran's Shi'ites and Sunnis.

"The fingertips of America and Israel are definitely on this incident,"
Ahmad Khatami told Friday prayer worshippers in Tehran. The guilty would be arrested and "severely punished."

Provincial governor Ali Mohammad Azad said the "terrorist team" behind the attack were being interrogated.

Defence analyst Paul Beaver said it was "highly unlikely" that the U.S. administration of President Barack Obama, who is seeking to engage Tehran diplomatically after three decades of mutual mistrust, would support Sunni insurgents in Iran.

He said history had shown that backing guerrilla groups to effect regime change was "ineffectual and wrong, and the present U.S. administration does not want to be tarnished in that way".

In April, Iran's intelligence minister said it had arrested a group of people linked to Israel who were planning bombings ahead of the June 12 election, in which hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is seeking a second four-year term.

Presidential hopefuls including moderate former Prime Minister Mirhossein Mousavi condemned the incident.

Iranian media said a big part of the mosque was destroyed by the blast, which took place when many people were inside. Footage showed a blood-stained floor inside.

A bomb attack in Zahedan in early 2007 which killed 18 Revolutionary Guards was claimed by Jundollah (God's Soldiers), an insurgent group that says it is fighting for the rights of Iran's Sunni minority but which Tehran says is part of al Qaeda. (Editing by Mark Trevelyan)


Iran hangs three men over mosque bombing

Three admitted supplying explosives to perpetrators of Zahedan attack this week that killed 25, judiciary says

Three men were hanged in Iran today for involvement in a mosque bombing that killed 25 people this week, the country's official news agency reported.

The three supplied explosives to the perpetrators of the bombing on Thursday in Zahedan, capital of the volatile Sistan-Baluchestan province in eastern Iran, said a statement issued by the judiciary.

Ebrahim Hamidi, the head of the justice department in Zahedan, said the men had been arrested before the bombing and had since "confessed to importing explosives into Iran and providing them to the main person behind the attack".

He said the men, identified as Haji Nouti Zehi, Gholam Rasoul Shahoo Zehi and Zabihollah Naroui, were involved in several other bombings including a bus attack in 2006.

Jundallah, or God's Brigade, a Sunni militant group believed to have links with al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack. The group is composed of Sunni Muslims from the Baluchi ethnic minority who for years have been fighting a low-level insurgency in south-eastern Iran, complaining of persecution by the overwhelmingly Shia and Persian Iranian government.

In March 2006, gunmen dressed as security forces killed 21 people on a road outside Zahedan in an attack that authorities blamed on "rebels".


My dad just laughed

i couldnt get anything else out of him when I mentioned the bombing of the Mosque in Zahedan other than his comment, "I been there".

US denies involvement in Zahedan blast
[Iran Press TV Latest] The US State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly says that the US was not involved in the bombing of a mosque in southeastern Iran.
I loved the photos showing blood on the ceiling and the pic of one dead muz in the middle of the marble floor ( it looked like a soldier in some sort of uniform ) who looked like he had been blown right out of his skin.

Dad looked at the photo and said, "pasdaran" and laughed.

there is a rumor re-enforced by Rigi of the Jundullah who claim the blast was theirs that the Mosque was hosting a big meeting of local Pasdaran and that was why it was hit.
Apparently Jundullah got quite a few. Zahedan is going apeshi7 over it.

its close to election time in Iran in another Month and there are bombs popping in other places and some gunmen shot up a political rally for Abujibberjabber. Iran is that kinda place. Good luck Iran.

What if Florida were full of Arabs like Khuzestan province is in Iran and they all really hated Persians ? And wht if at the same time Arizona and New Mexico didnt pay any taxes and killed about 1600 FBI a year? Nobody in the FBI lasted more than six weeks once they went down there. What if the United States had only ONE rail line in the entire country and they rationed gasoline so you had to wait in two mile lines to get a tank filled( after you paid the tax and filled out the paper work).

Welcome to Iran where they buy votes with a bag of potatoes. Ya Allah and PBUH.

If I were Obama I wouldnt "talk" with these people. I would use them for a piss can. The International sanctions have them paying double and everybody under 25 hates the mullah govt. Skip to my loo.
Author: Seraph1
Date: 30-05-09 13:56


Jun 1, 11:19 AM EDT

Arson attack in restive Iranian city kills 5


AP Photo/Vahid Salemi

Arson attack in restive Iranian city kills 5

Bomb discovery forces return of Iranian plane

Egypt: Iran less important than peace process

Think tank accuses Ahmadinejad of distorting facts

Iran hangs 3 over mosque bombing

AP Photo

Latest Iran Photos
Your Questions Answered
Ask AP: Shut stores' electricity, Muqtada al-Sadr

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- An arson attack on a bank killed five people on Monday in a southeastern Iranian city where a mosque bombing days earlier killed 25, state media said.

The attacks were both in the restive city of Zahedan, which sits at a crossroads between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran and has seen a sudden explosion of violence in the run-up to June 12 presidential election.

The mosque bombing on Thursday was claimed by a Sunni militant group Jundallah, or God's Soldiers, which Iran says has links to al-Qaida. The group has been fighting a low-level campaign against Iran's Shiite leadership for years.

State-owned Press TV said the arson attack targeted the Mehr Financial and Credit Institute, linked to the paramilitary Basij militia which is often involved in crackdowns on dissidents.

The state news agency said the city was now calm and police had arrested suspects.

Three men convicted of involvement in the mosque bombing were hanged in Zahedan on Saturday. Clashes erupted Sunday in the city after rumors that a local Sunni cleric had been attacked. On Friday, gunmen fired on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's campaign office in Zahedan, injuring three people.

Pakistan's ambassador to Iran was summoned to the Iranian Foreign Ministry over the bombing, the state news agency reported. Two Pakistani officials said Monday that Iran had partially closed a border crossing between the two countries.

Qamar Masood, a senior official in Baluchistan province on the Pakistan side of the border, said the crossing at Taftan had been closed for trading but that foot traffic was still being allowed.

The country's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, accused enemies of promoting sectarian conflicts in Iran. Though he did not name any country, the use of the term "enemy" by Iranian officials is usually a reference to the U.S.

"Enemies were trying to create chaos but all people should remain aware," Khamenei said Monday on state radio, adding that the enemy was targeting national unity in the country.

Zahedan is the capital of the large Sistan-Baluchistan province, home to a million of Iran's Sunni Muslim minority. Sunnis are believed to make up some 6 million of Iran's 70 million people.

Jundallah, has carried out bombings, kidnappings and other attacks against Iranian soldiers since the early 2000s to press its campaign for more rights for impoverished Sunnis under Iran's Shiite government.

Iran says the group operates across the border in Pakistan, a source of concerns for the two governments which cooperate closely on the problem.

The region's Sunni discontent has led to sectarian rioting and clashes in the past.

The Sunnis are from Iran's ethnic Baluchi minority, a community also found over the borders in neighboring Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Iran has repeatedly accused the U.S. of backing militants including Jundallah specifically and ethnic opposition groups to destabilize the Iranian government.

The militant group was behind a car bombing in February 2007 that killed 11 members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards near Zahedan.

Jundallah also claimed responsibility for the December 2006 kidnapping of seven Iranian soldiers in the Zahedan area. The seven were released a month later, apparently after negotiations through tribal mediators.

Adding to the region's lawlessness, the crossroads between the three countries is also a key smuggling point for narcotics. It is scene of frequent clashes between police and drug gangs.

Iran has faced several ethnic and religious insurgencies that have carried out sporadic, sometimes deadly attacks in recent years - though none have amounted to a serious threat to the government.

Besides the violence in the southeast, ethnic Arab militants have been blamed for bombings in the southwestern city of Ahvaz - including blasts in 2006 that killed nine people. Some Iranian Kurds based in northern Iraq have also stepped up incursions into Iran.

Late on Saturday, an Iranian airliner was also forced to return to a southeastern airport minutes after takeoff when a homemade bomb was found aboard, said state television, in an incident a security official called a sabotage.

(This version CORRECTS translation of Jundallah.)