Iraq’s Post-Withdrawal Crisis, Update 27
June 16, 2012-June 22, 2012
by Ramzy Mardini
Maliki Requests U.S. To Stop Exxon Operations
The White House confirmed on Tuesday that President Barack Obama received a letter from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, requesting the U.S. to intervene and prevent Exxon Mobil from continuing its operations in the Kurdish Region. “We’ve received the letter but are going to decline to comment until we respond to Prime Minister Maliki,” said spokesman Tommy Vietor. Last fall, Exxon Mobil signed an oil exploration agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which the central government in Baghdad argues is illegal. Two of the six blocks contracted are located in territories that are disputed by the regional government in Arbil and the central government in Baghdad. “Maliki views these deals as representing a very dangerous initiative that may lead to the outbreak of wars” and “breaking up the unity of Iraq,” said government spokesman Ali Musawi on the KRG oil contracts. The next day, the Iraqi government warned French company Total to not sign contracts with the KRG without their approval. Kurdish officials have hinted that other companies are looking to follow Exxon in investing in the Kurdish Region.
Nujaifi Threatens to Summon Maliki
Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi doubled-down this week on the effort to remove Maliki from power by aiming to back the request to summon the prime minister for questioning, which would then be followed by the holding of a no-confidence vote. On Thursday, Nujaifi said political opposition leaders are planning to submit the request for the parliamentary inquiry “within two or three days.” Maliki’s political allies have shot back at the speaker for allegedly lacking neutrality and exceeding his constitutional duties. State of Law parliamentarian Hanan al-Fatlawi stated on Friday that a number of lawmakers have signed a request to withdraw confidence in Speaker Nujaifi, and will be submitted to the Parliament during the next session. Members of the rival Iraqiyya coalition defended Nujaifi, asserting that the no-confidence measure against the speaker is simply a reaction to the same measure being applied on Maliki, arguing that Nujaifi is not the one committing constitutional violations while exercising his duties. Fuad Hussein, chief of staff to Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani, claims this week that the number of parliamentarians who support withdrawing confidence in the prime minister is 172, nine more than that is required to collapse the government. Maliki allies, however, refute those claims.
Panetta: Daqduq Will Not Be Released
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta reiterated on Thursday that he received assurances from the Iraqis that Shi’a militant and senior Hizballah operative Ali Musa al-Daqduq would remain in custody. “We’ve gotten a commitment from them that they would keep him incarcerated and that they would keep him in custody.” However, Panetta did not elaborate under what Iraqi legal provision Daqduq would continue to be imprisoned, and did not comment on the Justice Department’s request for extradition. Last month, the legal case against Daqduq was dismissed by an Iraqi court, citing lack of evidence to convict him and ordered his release from prison, pending an appeal. A Lebanese native, Daqduq was the mastermind behind a 2007 ambush in Karbala that led to the kidnapping and killing of five U.S. soldiers. The U.S. military captured him and two leading figures of the Iranian-backed Shi’a militant group Asaib Ahl al-Haq later that year. Daqduq was handed over to Iraqi custody in December, following the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops.