Posts Tagged Global Oligarchy

US walks out as Iran delivers anti-US speech

WARNING: Article contains propaganda!

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By EDITH M. LEDERER – Associated Press
Thu, Sep 22, 2011

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — American diplomats led a walkout at the U.N. General Assembly Thursday as Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fiercely attacked the United States and major West European nations as “arrogant powers” ruled by greed and eager for military adventurism.

The two U.S. diplomats, who specialize in the Middle East, were followed out of the chamber by diplomats from more than 30 countries. They included the 27 European Union members, Australia, New Zealand, Somalia, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and Macedonia, a U.N. diplomat said. Israel boycotted the speech.

Ahmadenijad’s fiery anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli rhetoric has been a staple of the General Assembly’s ministerial meetings.

Last year, Ahmadinejad provoked a walkout by the U.S., EU, and others when he said a majority of people in the United States and around the world believe the American government staged the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in an attempt to assure Israel’s survival.

The provocative comments prompted the U.S. delegation to walk out of Ahmadinejad’s U.N. speech, where he also blamed the U.S. as the power behind U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used as fuel for electricity generation or to build nuclear weapons.

Ahmadinejad’s speech pitted the poverty and unhappiness of most countries against the riches and power of the U.S. and unnamed European nations that he accused of perpetuating wars, causing the current global economic crisis and infringing on “the rights and sovereignty of nations.”

He attacked the United States and European colonial powers for abducting tens of millions of Africans and making them slaves, for their readiness “to drop thousands of bombs on other countries,” and for dominating the U.N. Security Council. He singled out the U.S. for using a nuclear bomb against Japan in World War II and imposing and supporting military dictatorships and totalitarian regimes in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

“It is as lucid as daylight that the same slave masters and colonial powers that once instigated the two world wars have caused widespread misery and disorder with far-reaching effects across the globe since then,” Ahmadinejad said. “Do these arrogant powers really have the competence and ability to run or govern the world?”

The Iranian president answered by calling for “the shared and collective management of the world in order to put an end to the present disorders, tyranny and discriminations worldwide.” Last year, he said “the future belongs to Iran” and challenged the U.S. to accept that his country has a major role in the world.

Ahmadinejad made no mention of his disputed re-election in June 2009 when security forces systematically crushed opposition protests, the current internal political turmoil that has sharply diminished his power, or Iran’s nuclear program which the U.S. and its allies believe is aimed at producing nuclear weapons.

“While President Ahmadinejad is lecturing the world from the U.N. podium,” Human Rights Watch’s U.N. Director Philippe Bolopion said, “dissent is still being crushed ruthlessly in Iran and basic rights demanded by millions in the Arab world are brutally denied to Iranians who are demanding the same.”

“The world assembly should take with a grain of salt the remarks of a leader who said nothing about the public hanging yesterday of a 17-year-old in his own country,” he said.

In his speech, Ahmadinejad noted “the widespread awakening in Islamic lands … (in) the pursuit of the realization of justice, freedom and the creation of a better tomorrow.” He said “our great nationa stands ready to join hands with other nations to march on this beautiful path.”
The Iranian leader accused the U.S. of threatening to place sanctions on anyone who questions the Holocaust and the Sept. 11 attacks with sanctions and military action.

Without naming the United States, he asked: “Who imposed, through deceits and hypocrisy, the Zionism and over 60 years of war, homelessness, terror and mass murder on the Palestinian people and on countries in the region?”

Ahmadinejad accused some unidentified European countries of still using the Holocaust “as the excuse to pay fine or ransom to the Zionists.” He also said any question about the foundation of Zionism is condemned by the U.S. “as an unforgivable sin.”

Mark Kornblau, spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, said: “Mr. Ahmadinejad had a chance to address his own people’s aspirations for freedom and dignity, but instead he again turned to abhorrent anti-Semitic slurs and despicable conspiracy theories.”

When the idea of an independent fact-finding investigation of “the hidden elements” involved in the Sept. 11 attacks was raised last year, he said, “my country and myself came under pressure and threat by the government of the United States.”

“Instead of assigning a fact-finding team, they killed the main perpetrator and threw his body into the sea,” Ahmadinejad said, referring to the U.S. military’s killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in early May.

“Would it not have been reasonable to bring to justice and openly to trial the main perpetrator of the incident in order to identify the elements behind the safe space provided for the invading aircraft to attack the twin world trade towers?,” he asked.

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Iraqi died after ‘gratuitous violence’ by UK soldiers

London (AFP)
Sept 9, 2011

Britain’s army chief said the death of an Iraqi detainee in Basra had cast a “dark shadow” over its reputation, after an inquiry found he had suffered “gratuitous violence” at the hands of soldiers.

Hotel receptionist Baha Mousa, 26, was hooded, beaten and held in stress positions along with nine other Iraqis following their detention by 1st Battalion the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment (1QLR) in September 2003, the inquiry found Thursday.

Mousa, a father of two, died 36 hours after he was arrested, having sustained 93 separate injuries, including fractured ribs and a broken nose.

The three-year inquiry, led by retired judge William Gage, said numerous soldiers were involved in the abuse and he accused others of a “lack of moral courage” in failing to report what was happening.

It also said the the Ministry of Defense was guilty of a “corporate failure” to prevent such mistreatment, saying it had no proper doctrine on interrogation methods when Britain joined the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

General Peter Wall, the head of the army, offered an unreserved apology.

“The shameful circumstances of Baha Mousa’s death have cast a dark shadow on that reputation and this must not happen again,” he said.

Some soldiers had already been suspended from operational duty and military service, he told Friday’s Guardian newspaper.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the inquiry detailed a “truly shocking and appalling incident” and he raised the possibility of further prosecutions in the case, something Mousa’s family have called for.

Seven soldiers were charged over the abuse in 2005, but six were cleared in a court martial. Cameron said: “If there is further evidence that comes out of this inquiry that enables further action to be taken, it should be taken.”

However, he stressed that the abuse “is not in any way typical of the British army that upholds the highest standards”.

Defense Secretary Liam Fox promised the government would use the inquiry’s findings “to see whether more can be done to bring those responsible to justice.”

The inquiry found Mousa’s death had been caused by a combination of his injuries — many of them inflicted by one soldier, Donald Payne — and his weakened physical state caused by his mistreatment, the extreme heat and a lack of food and water.

Payne had a “particularly unpleasant” method of assault which included punching or kicking detainees to make them groan in an orchestrated “choir”, Gage said.

The soldier pleaded guilty to inhumanely treating civilians and was jailed for a year in 2007, becoming the first member of the British armed forces to be convicted of a war crime.

A year later, the Ministry of Defense agreed to pay Mousa’s family and the other detainees a total of 2.83 million pounds ($4.5 million, 3.2 million euros).

Although Britain banned the use of hooding and painful stress positions in 1972, Gage found a lack of knowledge of this prohibition, which he blamed on “corporate failure” by the Ministry of Defense.

While such practices were “standard operating procedure” among Payne’s regiment in Iraq, they were “wholly unacceptable”, he added.

Gage concluded that the abuse “constituted an appalling episode of serious gratuitous violence on civilians”, adding that “they represent a very serious breach of discipline by a number of members of 1QLR”.

Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International’s Europe and central Asia director, called for those responsible to be “held accountable for their actions and brought swiftly to justice, including in criminal proceedings.”

The inquiry strongly criticized the regiment’s former commanding officer, Colonel Jorge Mendonca, one of those cleared at the court martial.

While accepting Mendonca’s claim that he did not know about the abuse, Gage said: “As commanding officer, he ought to have known what was going on in that building long before Baha Mousa died.”

About 46,000 British troops were deployed to Iraq at the height of the conflict, with the vast majority withdrawn in 2009.

Source: Space War.

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Jordanian Threatens to Sue US Billionaire Embroiled in Iraq Contracting Scandal


By Shaherah Khatatbeh and Banan Malkawi

AMMONNEWS -Jordanian Badr al-Masaafa has threatened to sue Mustafa Abu Naba and Harry Sargeant – the American billionaire who owns the company that suppose the Iraqi Army with oil, for his failure to be compensated for his services to the two partners.

An American tribunal condemned Sergeant and Abu Nabaa on a charge of defrauding their third partner Jordanian businessman Muhammad al-Salah, and ordered for him to be paid 28 million USD at the end of last July.

The same tribunal called on 13 people in Jordan, including al-Masaafa, to testify in the case last April in one of the Amman hotels after The Association of Jurors and Interpreters and Scribes attended the tribunal along with the complainants and defendants and their lawyers.

al-Masaafa’s testimony was made after Abu Nabaa sent him a text message saying ‘Hello Badr, if necessary are you ready to talk about what our friend said to you when he called threatened me”,

Another text sent by Abu Nabaa before the testimony said ‘you don’t have any objections to telling me what you heard word for word?’. Al-Salah had sent a threatening verbal message to Abu Nabaa via al-Masaafa after the the two partners argued.

During the trial al-Salah’s lawyer asked al-Masaafa whether Sergaent or Mustafa Abu Nabaa had paid him money to testify. al-Masaafa denied it and said before the Jurors that he had rights to claim from the partners and that he would sue them to obtain compensation that he estimated to be around 150 thousand Jordanian Dinars.

Abu Nabaa and Sergaent lost the case and the American tribunal ruled for millions of dollars to be paid to al-Salah for being cut out of the partnership and as a share of the money and benefits earned by the partners since 2004.

al-Masaafa’s story began early 2006 after he had asked to retire from the Jordanian army in mid 2005 and began working with Mustafa Abu Nabaa – a Jordanian with Danish nationality – after a short period working as a bodyguard without a contract with Harry Sergaent, the American billionaire.

al-Masaafa recounted to ‘Ammon News’ ‘I was working as a driver for a member of the royal family and I met Mustafa Abu Nabaa who was visiting al-Salah, the husband of Princess Alia, and I decided to work with him, so I asked for retirement from the army and began working for him.

al-Masaafa said that during the 2006 war when Israeli warplanes attacked Beirut and other Lebanese towns he was assigned with getting Harry Sergeant’s son out of Beirut. He went by land after the Israeli warplanes bombed Beirut airport, using a taxi, and drove for 20 hours to reach the Royal hotel in Beirut where he met ‘Harry Junior’. After two days of tele-communications and transport breakdown he paid a Syrian taxi driver 3000 Jordanian dinars to return to Amman.

When al-Masaafa and Harry Junior reached Amman they went to one of the Amman hotels meet Sergaent and Majdi al-Bastami, Director General for the State Center for Trading Petrol which had a monopoly for providing oil to the US forces in Iraq via Jordan.

When al-Masaafa handed over Sergaent’s son and asked for the dangerous nature of the task he had undertaken to be taken into account when he was paid, Sergaent agreed to pay him later.

Not long afterwards, after al-Masaafa had signed a contract with the company, Abu Nabaa asked him to bring ‘friends’ from Beirut. He returned a second time to Beirut in 2008 when the country was witnessing murders and bombings.

al-Masaafa affirms that he completed his task. He acted as a bodyguard to the partners and their families and undertook various other tasks such as protocol issues, and was responsible for the safety of Harry Junior while he was traveling through Lebanon and Jordan and Egypt.

His jobs often came out of the blue, and he was required to rapidly travel from one state to another, for example when he was required suddenly to travel to Egypt after Abu Nabaa asked him to accompany Harry Junior.

al-Masaafa was surprised and asked Harry Junior why they were traveling, and was taken by surprise when Harry Junior told him that his father and Abu Nabaa were being threatened by ‘al-Qa’ida’.

al-Masaafa added that Harry Junior was attacked in Khalda area of Amman when unidentified individuals driving two Mercedes cars attacked him, prompting al-Masaafa to intervene to protect him. As a result al-Masaafa’s lips were spilt and his eyelid torn and he had to get 11 stitches in hospital.

al-Masaafa then traveled to Germany for a cosmetic procedure at his own expense. On returning to Amman he asked Mustafa al-Nabaa’s father, Abdul Qadr Abu Nabba to intervene in order for him to be financially compensated. Abdul Qadr spoke with the company’s financial director who refused to pay the amount on the pretext that al-Masaafa worked for Abu Nabaa and Sergaent, which meant that he had to be paid by them privately and not by the company.

al-Masaafa, who is 38 and three children, said that he then tried to call Sergaent to demand the compensation he deserved by being exposed to danger on more than one occasion in the course of work, but Sergaent did not reply to phone calls. Once when al-Masaafa called someone who he thinks is ‘Marty Martin’ who worked previously as a boss in the CIA and was appointed by Sergaent to replace al-Salah to improve relations with the Jordanian government, according to documents from the US tribunal.

The government documents indicate that Sergaent appointed Marty Martin, previously Director of the CIA in the Middle East and appealed to him to strengthen the relationship with the Jordanian government at a time when al-Salah was being estranged and defrauded, according to al-Salah’s lawyer.

Sergaent, a former official in the Republican Party in Florida, was one of the closest business partners to the Pentagon and won billions of dollars worth of oil contracts during the war in Iraq.

A member of the US congress, Henry Waxman, who headed the inquiry, said in a letter to the US Minister of Defense, Robert Gates, that Sergaent had exploited his effective monopoly over supply routes across Jordanian land to inflate the prices of his services ‘scandalously’, and he described this as the worst form of war profiteering and trafficking.

The Pentagon’s audit process last month revealed that the ministry had paid up to 204 million USD too much to Sergaent for fuel contracts thought to be worth around 2.7 billion USD over six years.

The financial audit report added that the Ministry of Defense had agreed to Sergaent’s highly inflated prices because there was no competitive service that could obtain an ‘exclusive’ authorization letter from the Jordanian government.

al-Masaafa asked the person who believes was Marty Martin to deliver a message to Sergaent saying that he was entitled to compensation from him, and ‘Martin’ replied in Arabic that he would tell Sergaent and get back to him, which he never did.

al-Masaafa is threatening to sue the Jordanian partner Abu Nabaa and the American, Sergaent, in Jordanian courts if he is not financially compensated to the value of 150 thousand Jordanian Dinars.

Source: Ammon News.

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‘Blackwater stayed in Iraq despite ban’

Sun Sep 4, 2011

Leaked US diplomatic cables show that hundreds of notorious US security contractor Blackwater’s employees continued to operate in Iraq despite Baghdad having revoked the firm’s license.

“There are many former Blackwater employees at other private security companies in Iraq,” said a January 4, 2010 cable, leaked by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks, AFP reported on Sunday.

Another cable from January 11, 2010, which was similarly exposed by the website, said, “The [US] embassy understands that Triple Canopy (another US security firm) currently employs several hundred former Blackwater employees.”

Blackwater, which has changed its name to Xe Services, LLC, is notorious for misusing its US State Department-issued gun license as an excuse for committing atrocities.

On September 16, 2007, guards hired by the company opened fire in Baghdad’s Nisoor square, killing 17 Iraqi citizens in an act of aggression, which Iraqi officials have described as ‘unprovoked.’

In January 2009 and in response to the bloodshed, the Iraqi government said it would not renew the company’s license to operate.

Reports say the company also continues to be extensively involved in Afghanistan, where Washington has deployed thousand of forces.

Source: PressTV.

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Iran sentences American citizens to 8 years in prison for espionage, illegal entry

TEHRAN (BNO NEWS) — Iran has sentenced two American citizens to eight years in prison after they were convicted of espionage and illegal entry, prosecutors said on Sunday.

Several non-official Iranian media outlets had already reported on Saturday that the two American citizens were sentenced to prison, but the news was not confirmed until Sunday by Tehran Prosecutor-General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi.

Dolatabadi said Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal were sentenced to eight years in prison after being found guilty, but added that they still have 20 days to appeal the verdict. The news shattered earlier hopes in the United States that Iran would release the two as sentencing took place during the Holy month of Ramadan, which is also a time of forgiveness.

Bauer and Fattal were arrested in July 2009 along with Sarah Shourd when they crossed the border in Iraq’s Kurdistan region into Iran. Iranian prosecutors charged them with entering the country illegally and having links to U.S. intelligence, a claim which the defendants and their families have repeatedly denied.

According to the detained Americans, they were hiking in Iraq when they unknowingly crossed the unmarked border into Iran where they were arrested by border guards. Iranian prosecutors have rejected those claims, saying there is ‘compelling evidence’ that they are spies.

Shourd was released on September 14, 2010, after 14 months of imprisonment. She was released on a $500,000 bail on ‘medical concerns,’ although no details were provided. Shourd has since returned home to the United States and does not plan to return to Iran to face trial.

In response to Sunday’s news, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States is “deeply disappointed” by the sentencing. “We continue to call and work for their immediate release – it is time for them to return home and be reunited with their families,” she said.

It was not immediately clear if Bauer and Fattal would receive credit for time already served.

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

Source: WireUpdate.

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A Marine Discovers Islam in Iraq

Eliana Lopez

Before Ibrahim Abdel-Wahed Mohamed left Sea Cliff for a tour of duty with the Marines in Iraq, he was Anthony Grant Vance, the son of American and Panamanian parents who had raised him as a Catholic.

Despite his Christian upbringing, though, he had been curious about Islam since his childhood in Kansas, where he had two Afghani friends. He thought about pursuing anthropology studies to further learn about religion and different cultures, but instead ended up joining the military.

Mohamed felt the pull toward the faith strengthen in Iraq — “the heart of the Islamic world,” as he says — and he reached out to the Muslim contractors on his base and started learning about the precepts of the Quran.

Convinced that he was being called to Islam, he officially became a Muslim while still serving in Iraq. There he underwent Shahada, a profession of faith where a person testifies in front of others that “there is no god but God and Mohammad is the messenger of God,” as the Sunni declaration reads.

His transformation may seem dramatic, but it’s not entirely unique. The number of Latinos in the U.S. converting to Islam is growing, and Long Island is no exception.

In 1997, the American Muslim Council counted approximately 40,000 Hispanic Muslims nationwide, but that number could nowadays be closer to 75,000, according to Latino American Dawah Association (LADO), an organization committed to promoting Islam among the Latino community within the United States.

Juan Galvan, a member of LADO, affirms that Latino converts to Islam are increasing. “Many Muslim organizations have stated that the Latino Muslim community tripled or quadrupled after 9/11,” he says.

He explains that after the attacks, people wanted to know more about the religion. “Many people came to learn about Islam for the first time. Some people came to hate Islam, and some people came to love Islam.”

Mohamed firmly stands with the latter, as one of a small percentage of soldiers who fought in Iraq and returned with a new faith.

In some ways, his roots may have predisposed him to theological experimentation.

Born in Panama to an American Marine father and Panamanian mother, he was baptized and raised as a Catholic. His parents divorced when he was an adolescent, and his father became a Jehovah’s Witness. The conversion led his father to retire from the military after 13 years of service, telling Mohamed that once you decide to follow God, “you don’t pledge allegiance to a country, but you pledge allegiance to God.”

Still, Mohamed followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the Marine Corps after he finished high school. As a Marine, traveled around the country, living in California, Virginia, North Carolina and New York, where he finally settled down.

It was working at the military base in Garden City when Mohamed first saw the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury, a place that always intrigued him. “We passed by the mosque a couple times and I had the curiosity” he recalls. After several years on Long Island, he was sent to Iraq in 2008.

Two years have passed since Mohamed converted to Islam. Now he lives in Westbury, attends the Islamic Center of Long Island and is pursuing a major in education at CW Post.

He still maintains an open mind when it comes to other religions.

“I’m not here to put anyone else down for their beliefs,” he says. “I still believe that there are many lessons to be learned from other faiths.”

Source: Huffington Post.

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Sadrists condemn U.S. military action

KARBALA, Iraq, Aug. 17 (UPI) — Alleged movement of U.S. forces into Karbala last week was an act of terrorism that violates bilateral security arrangements, an Iraqi official said.

A lawmaker in the Sadrist political party, loyal to anti-American cleric Moqtada Sadr, said U.S. forces entered parts of Karbala last week. Tariq al-Khekany told the Voices of Iraq news agency that U.S. forces spent about six hours in a Sadrist stronghold in the city.

“We condemn the said ‘terrorist’ operation, which stood counter to the (2008) security agreement, signed between Iraq and the United States,” he was quoted as saying.

U.S. combat forces withdrew to their military bases in Iraq in June 2009 under the terms of a bilateral Status of Forces Agreement with Baghdad. That agreement left Iraqi security forces in the lead of major operations.

A series of attacks and bombings Monday killed at least 89 people. Iraqi officials blamed national security forces in part for the attacks.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during comments Tuesday said that although no group had claimed responsibility for Monday’s attacks, it was likely a sign that al-Qaida in Iraq was “trying to assert itself.”

Iraqis are considering whether some U.S. forces would stay beyond a Dec. 31 deadline to withdraw. Sadrists blame the U.S. military presence for many of the country’s problems.

Source: United Press International (UPI).

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‘US troops to stay in Iraq beyond 2011’

Mon Aug 15, 2011

An analyst says US administration is putting intense pressure on the Iraqi government to extend the stay of American troops in the country beyond the 2011 deadline.

“I don’t believe they (US troops) will be leaving [Iraq] by the end of this year (2011)… the Americans are pushing for a new agreement,” Zayd al-Isa, a Middle East expert, told Press TV on Monday.

Al-Isa pointed out that Washington has lost many important allies in the popular uprisings currently sweeping the Arab world and it cannot afford to lose its grip Iraq too.

The Middle East expert added that President Barack Obama is afraid that pulling US troops out of Iraq may lead to the deterioration of the situation in of the country, which may work against him in the 2012 presidential election.

“The Republicans, particularly the neo-conservatives, are going to use it (US troop pullout) against them (Obama and his Democratic supporters) [in the 2012 election], particularly if there is deterioration in the situation,” Al-Isa said.

The analyst, however, said that breaching the terms of the withdrawal agreement between Washington and Baghdad would as be illegal as it is binding.

The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed between the United States and Iraqi governments mandates that Washington withdraws its troops from Iraq by the end of December 2011.

The US invaded Iraq in 2003 under the pretext of destroying alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD) belonging to executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

However, it was later found that the country did not possess any WMDs at the time and that the US and Britain, which led the invasion, were well-aware of the non-existence of such weapons in Iraq, but took military action against the oil-rich nation anyway.

Over one million Iraqis have been killed as a result of the occupation, according to a study by the British polling group, Opinion Research Business (ORB).

Source: PressTV.

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Iran names street after US activist

Aug 12, 2011

TEHRAN: Tehran’s municipal council has named a street after an American activist who was crushed to death by an Israeli military bulldozer in the Gaza Strip in 2003, local newspaper reported on Thursday.

The report in Hamshahri, a daily affiliated with Tehran municipality, said the council decided to name the street Rachel Aliene Corrie. It said the street would be in central Tehran, but did not specify when the sign bearing the new name would be hung.

Corrie, a pro-Palestinian activist from Washington state, was trying to prevent what she and other activists believed was an Israeli military push to demolish nearby Palestinian homes. She was 23 at the time of her death.

Iran does not recognize Israel and supports the Palestinians.

The decision marked the first time that an Iranian street has been named after a US national since 1979 Islamic revolution.

Before the revolution, at least three main Tehran streets were named after former US presidents; Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt.

Iran and the United States have not had diplomatic ties since militant students overran the US Embassy in Tehran, holding US diplomats hostage for 444 days.

Currently there are a few streets in Tehran named after Western nationals, including Bobby Sands, a member of Irish Republican Army who died on hunger strike in a British prison in 1981 and Edward Brown, a British orientalist known for his work on Iranian history.

Source: Arab News.

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Iraq throws open doors to US firms as army exits

Washington (AFP)
Dec 13, 2011

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki issued an open invitation for US firms to help rebuild Iraq on Tuesday, as his oil-rich nation closes the door on a nearly nine-year American military presence.

Hailing a new phase in the country’s history, Maliki declared the long war-scarred nation was ready to build a new economy that held “limitless” opportunities for US firms.

“It is not now the generals but the businessmen and the corporations that are at the forefront” of Iraq’s future, he told a business gathering just steps from the White House.

“Circumstances have improved because of better security,” said Maliki, playing the role of salesman-in-chief for an economy that was ravaged by authoritarian rule and multilateral sanctions even before the war began in 2003.

“We are not satisfied with the number of US corporations in Iraq,” he added. “All sectors of the economy are there, open for business for American business.”

Oil is at the top of that list of sectors.

With massive proven reserves of 115 billion barrels of oil, the fourth largest in the world — much of it untapped — foreign oil companies are girding to return to the country.

Output today is around 2.5 million barrels per day, but could be nearly doubled by 2016 according to oil cartel OPEC.

But a political tug-of-war between the semi-autonomous Kurdish north and Baghdad has stalled efforts to create a new law governing the sector for the last three years.

While many companies, including ExxonMobil, have piled into Iraq despite the absence of a clear regulatory framework, there has often been confusion about their legal status.

Crafting such a law that makes the most of the country’s resources, while attracting knowledgeable and deep-pocketed foreign firms, will be essential to putting the country on a sound footing.

Oil exports already account for around two thirds of Iraq gross domestic product, but actual revenues could be increased dramatically if production can be ramped up and if an estimated $100 billion of funds to rebuild the oil sector can be found.

Maliki gave little indication that a deal on the so-called hydrocarbons law was imminent, but said, “we do need a great package of new laws.”

On Monday Maliki held talks with US President Barack Obama in an attempt to create a new paradigm in relations that have frequently been overshadowed by Iraq’s descent into civil war and fierce divisions in the United States over the war’s prosecution.

Source: Energy-Daily.

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