Saturday, October 22, 2005

'Halliburton operates Iraq oil fields'

http://www.commondreams.org/cgi-bin/print.cgi?file=/headlines03/0507-01.htm

May 7, 2003 by Agence France Presse

US says Halliburton Deal Includes Operating Iraq Oil Fields

WASHINGTON - The US Army has revealed for the first time that a subsidiary of Halliburton Co. has a contract encompassing the operation of Iraqi oil fields, a senior US lawmaker said.

It's extremely troubling that our government is using taxpayer money to deliver lucrative contracts to companies like Halliburton that have used offshore subsidiaries to maneuver around restrictions on doing business with state sponsors of terrorism.

Charlie CrayCitizen WorksPreviously, the US Army Corps of Engineers had described the contract given to Halliburton -- run by US Vice President Dick Cheney from 1995 to 2000 -- as involving oil well firefighting.

But in a May 2 letter replying to questions from a senior Democratic lawmaker, Henry Waxman, the army said the contract also included "operation of facilities and distribution of products."
Waxman, the top-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives' committee on government reform, asked for an explanation Tuesday.

"Your May 2 letter indicates that the contract is considerably broader in scope than previously known," Waxman told Army Corps of Engineers military programs chief Lieutenant General Robert Flowers.

"Prior descriptions of the Halliburton contract had indicated that the contract was for extinguishing fires at oil wells and for related repair activities," the lawmaker said, according to a copy of the letter.

"These new disclosures are significant and they seem at odds with the administration's repeated assurances that the Iraqi oil belongs to the Iraqi people."

The Army Corps of Engineers said the Halliburton contract was designed as a temporary bridge to a contract that would be out to competitive tender. It expected the replacement contract to be advertised by early summer and awarded at the end of August.

The corps had already come under fire Wednesday over its granting of the Iraqi oil contract on March 8 to Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) without putting it out to tender.

Representative Henry Waxman also said Halliburton's dealings with countries cited by Washington as state sponsors of terrorism, or members of the so-called "axis of evil", date back to the 1980s.

The dealings "appear to have continued during the period between 1995 and 2000, when Vice President Cheney headed the company; and they are apparently ongoing even today," said Waxman, a frequent critic of President George W. Bush's administration.

"Halliburton has recently been awarded a leading -- and lucrative -- role in the US war against terrorism," Waxman wrote.

"Yet there is also evidence from press accounts and other sources that indicates that Halliburton has profited from numerous business dealings with state sponsors of terrorism, including two of the three members of President Bush's 'axis of evil.'"

The "axis of evil" first cited by Bush in early 2002 included Iraq, prior to the US-led war, Iran and North Korea.

Waxman stopped short of saying Halliburton's actions violated US laws that prohibit business dealings in certain countries, but maintained that Halliburton "appears to have sought to circumvent these restrictions by setting up subsidiaries in foreign countries and territories such as the Cayman Islands."

Waxman said he was concerned that the US government was awarding new contracts to Halliburton despite its ties to certain countries.

He wrote to Rumsfeld, "I would like to know what the Defense Department knows about these ties and whether you think this should be a matter of concern to the Congress and the American taxpayer.

"Rather than being criticized, the company is rewarded with valuable government contracts."
Some of the involvement of Halliburton is detailed in company documents including its annual reports.

Halliburton spokesman Wendy Hall did not dispute the Waxman allegations, but said the company operates within the law while trying to remain competitive with US and foreign rivals.
"Putting politics aside, we and our affiliates operate in countries, to the extent it is legally permissible, where our customers are active as they expect us to provide oilfield services support to their international operations," Hall said in a written statement.

"Where the United States government has mandated that United States companies refrain from commerce, we comply, often to the advantage of our international competitors. We do not always agree with policies or actions of governments in every place that we do business and make no excuses for their behaviors."

As for the actions of Halliburton offshore subsidiaries, Hall said, "The company believes that the operations of its subsidiaries are in compliance with US laws. These entities and activities are staffed and managed by non-US personnel."

Waxman has asked the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, to probe whether the firm had received favorable treatment by the administration.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Cheney, contacted about the letter, gave no immediate response.

But Citizen Works, a consumer advocacy group founded by onetime presidential candidate Ralph Nader , said Halliburton's treatment by the government was questionable.

"It's extremely troubling that our government is using taxpayer money to deliver lucrative contracts to companies like Halliburton that have used offshore subsidiaries to maneuver around restrictions on doing business with state sponsors of terrorism," said spokesman Charlie Cray.

2003 AFP

Friday, October 21, 2005

Iraq vote figures do not add up

http://www.antiwar.com/orig/porter.php?articleid=7695

The following is taken from antiwar.com

October 20, 2005

Vote Figures for Crucial Province Don't Add Up

by Gareth Porter

The early vote totals from Nineveh province, which suggested an overwhelming majority in favor of Iraq's draft constitution that assured its passage by national referendum, now appear to have been highly misleading.

The final official figures for the province, obtained by IPS from a U.S. official in Mosul, actually have the constitution being rejected by a fairly wide margin, but less than the two-thirds majority required to defeat it outright.

Both the initial figures and the new vote totals raise serious questions about the credibility of the reported results in Nineveh. A leading Sunni political figure has already charged that the Nineveh vote totals have been altered.

According to the widely cited preliminary figures announced by the spokesman for the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI) in Nineveh, 326,000 people voted for the constitution and 90,000 against. Those figures were said to be based on results from more than 90 percent of the 300 polling stations in the province.

Relying on those "unofficial" figures, the media reported that the constitution appeared to have been passed – on the assumption that the Sunnis had failed to muster the necessary two-thirds "no" vote in Nineveh. No further results have been released by the IECI since then, and the final tally from the national referendum is not expected until Friday at the earliest.

However, according to the U.S. military liaison with the IECI in Nineveh, Maj. Jeffrey Houston, the final totals for the province were 424,491 "no" votes and 353,348 "yes" votes. This means that the earlier figures actually represented only 54 percent of the official vote total – not 90 percent, as the media had been led to believe. And the votes which had not been revealed earlier went against the constitution by a ratio more than 12 to 1.

These ballots could only have come from the Sunni sections of Mosul, a city of 1.7 million people. Although the votes from polling centers in those densely populated urban areas would take longer to count than those from more sparsely populated towns and cities outside Mosul, they should not have taken much longer than those for the Kurdish sections of Mosul.

Thus there seems to be no logistical reason for failing to announce the results for the 340,000 votes that went overwhelmingly against the constitution. Rather, the evidence suggests that it was a deliberate effort to mislead the media by Kurdish and Shi'ite political leaders who were intent on ensuring that the constitution would pass.

They knew that all eyes would be on Nineveh as the province where the referendum would be decided. By issuing figures that appeared to show that the vote in Nineveh was a runaway victory for the constitution, they not only shaped the main story line in the media that the constitution had already passed, but effectively discouraged any further media curiosity about the vote in that province.

The final figures revealed by the U.S. military liaison with the IECI suggest a voter turnout in Nineveh that strains credibility. On a day when Sunni turnout reached 88 percent in Salahuddin province and 90 percent in Fallujah, a total of only 778,000 votes – about 60 percent of the eligible voters – in Nineveh appears anomalous. Even if the turnout in the province had only been 70 percent, the total would have been 930,000.

The final vote totals suggest that the Sunnis, who clearly voted with near unanimity against the constitution, are a minority in the province. It is generally acknowledged that Sunnis constitute a hefty majority of the population of Nineveh, although Kurdish leaders have never conceded that fact.

A total of 350,000 votes for the constitution in the province is questionable based on the area's ethnic-religious composition. The final vote breakdown for the January election reveals that the Kurds and Shiites in Nineveh had mustered a combined total of only 130,000 votes for Kurdish and Shi'ite candidates, despite high rates of turnout for both groups.

To have amassed 350,000 votes for the constitution, they would have had to obtain overwhelming support from the non-Kurdish, non-Arab minorities in the province.
According to official census data, before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Assyrian Christians and Sunni Arabs accounted 46 percent of the more than 350,000 people on the Nineveh plain. Most of the others are Shabaks and Yezidis. Kurds represented just 6 percent of the population.
But the Kurds have asserted political control over the towns and villages of the plains, with a heavy Kurdish paramilitary and Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) presence. That Kurdish presence provoked widespread opposition and some public protests among non-Kurdish communities on the plains, especially Christians and Shabaks.

Assyrian Christians are particularly afraid the constitution's article 135, which divides the Christian community into Chaldeans and Assyrians, will be used by Kurds to expropriate their lands and villages in North Iraq.

Michael Youash, director of the Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project in Washington, has spoken with Assyrian Christian leaders in two district towns, Bakhdeda and BarTilla, on the Nineveh plain where Christians represent roughly half the combined total population of more than 100,000 people.

He says Assyrian Christian political organizations mounted big demonstrations against the constitution in both towns, and that their local leaders are sure that very high percentages in both towns voted against the constitution.

In response to an e-mail query, Maj. Houston, the U.S. military liaison with the IECI, said, "It was my understanding that the Christian communities would be opposed to the constitution," but he dismissed the suspicions of vote fraud in the province.

Saleh al-Mutlek, one of the Sunni negotiators on the constitution last summer and now a leading opponent of the constitution, told reporters, "There is a scheme to alter the results" of the vote. He alleged that members of the Iraqi National Guard had seized ballot boxes from a polling station in Mosul and transferred them to a governorate office controlled by Kurds.

A former U.S. military liaison with the Nineveh province IECI has confirmed a similar incident of seizure of ballot boxes from a polling station during the January elections.

According to Maj. Anthony Cruz, Kurdish militiamen tried to bribe local electoral commission staff to accept ballots that had obviously been tampered with. Cruz also confirmed a much larger ballot-stuffing scheme by Kurdish officials in the province, as reported by IPS in September.

On Monday, the Electoral Commission announced that it would conduct an audit to examine the high "yes" vote, but it is not clear that it will include the results in Nineveh.

(Inter Press Service)



Find this article at: http://www.antiwar.com/orig/porter.php?articleid=7695

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Iraq vote fraud - FT report

http://news.ft.com/cms/s/2b442bf8-401e-11da-8394-00000e2511c8.html


According to Steve Negus at the Financial Times, 18 October 2005, Sunni Arab leaders claim that irregularities in voting in one closely-contested governorate risk endangering the legitimacy of the constitutional referendum.

According to the FT:

1. Most voters in at least two predominantly Sunni Arab governorates, Anbar and Salaheddin, appear to have voted against the constitution.

2. The early results suggest the outcome in the provinces of Diala and Ninawah, which are ethnically mixed but thought to be majority Sunni, may be decisive in determining whether opponents of the draft have mustered the two-thirds majority needed to defeat it.

Some Sunni politicians said an early tally of 55 per cent against in Diala, although it would fall short of the two-thirds mark, was within the bounds of credibility given the large population of Shia and Kurds in the governorate.

3. More controversial, however, have been reports that up to 70 per cent of the voters in Ninawah voted “yes” a tally that some local Sunni Arab politicians say does not correspond with reports that they received on election day.

4. Saleh al-Mutlek, a Sunni politician and prominent opponent of the charter, said that in the provincial capital of Mosul, carloads of Iraqi National Guards had seized ballot boxs from a polling station and transfered them to a governorate office controlled by Kurds. “There is a scheme to alter the results” of the referendum, he claimed.

5. Other Sunnis have claimed members of the main Shia and Kurdish parties in some governorates had filled out blank ballots and stuffed them into boxes after the polls closed.
Similar irregularities were alleged in January's parliamentary vote, and Iraqi observers said ballot box stuffing would be very easy to carry out in small, ethnically homogenous communities, be they Shia, Kurdish, or Sunni Arab, where all monitors and observers were likely to be from the same or allied political parties.


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Saturday, October 15, 2005

Some Iraqis can't find polling stations.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20051014/wl_nm/iraq_referendum_anbar_dc_1;_ylt=
Ai7y.TkEYWOFtXkDvisMi29X6GMA;
_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl

Reuters reported on 14 october 2005:

"There are no voting centers in cities like Haditha, Hit, Rawa, Qaim, Ana, Baghdadi and the villages around them," Mahmoud Salman al-Ani, a human rights activist in Ramadi, said on Friday, listing locations across western Anbar province.

"There aren't actually any voting centers or even voting sheets in these cities ... Nobody knows how and where to vote if they decide to," he said of the predominantly Sunni Arab region.
Anbar, Iraq's largest province, runs from Baghdad to border Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia and is also the heartland of the Sunni-led insurgency. Much of the population is expected to vote against the U.S.-backed constitution on Saturday...

"The Americans intended to isolate the cities in western Iraq to prevent the huge Sunni population from voting," said Thair al-Hadeethi, a human rights activist from Haditha...

"This is a Crusaders' constitution," said Yassir al-Dulaimi, 40, an engineer from Ramadi. "Those who wrote it are people making a living and working for the favor of the occupier and for their own benefit, not for the favor of the country."

Clerics in mosques in Ramadi and Haditha urged people to reject the draft charter, and residents talked about leaflets circulated in the streets calling on voters to vote "No."
"The constitution is illegal," said Mohammed Hussein, 45, the owner of household appliances shop. "If the Americans want to make it legal then they should first release all the detainees held at U.S. prisons and stop killing innocents."

Mosques in Falluja urged people on Friday to cast "No" votes. Sunni religious groups, including the influential Muslim Clerics Association, have made similar calls.
(Reuters reporting by Omar al-Ibadi and Mariam Karouny)


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Monday, October 10, 2005

UK forces destabilising Iraq?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4323050.stm

The governor of Basra province has accused British forces of destabilising security following the arrest of 12 people over attacks against UK troops.

The men, some of whom are police officers, are still being questioned.

Governor Mohammed al-Waili said the British should have co-ordinated with him and with Iraqi security forces.

The 12 detainees, some of whom are accused of supporting radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr, are thought to include the director of Basra's state-run electricity company Odai Awad.

Employees of the company are threatening a strike unless he is released within 24 hours.
Mr al-Waili told the Associated Press news agency: "The British troops are responsible for destabilising security in the province.



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Saddam may never come to trial?

http://washtimes.com/upi/20051007-090602-7219r.htm

Salem Hussein, the nephew of Ahmed Chalabi, Iraqi's powerful vice prime minister for Iraq who is in charge of oil and energy issues, told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank, on 5 October 2005, that Saddam's trial may never come to fruition.

Incessant delays have afforded Saddam's defense team more time to attack the legitimacy of the Special Tribunal by claiming the 2003 Iraq war that toppled the longtime Iraqi leader was illegal to begin with, Salem Chalabi said.

Amatzia Baram, a senior fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center, told the same AEI meeting that growing worries in Baghdad over security threats from the escalating insurgency in Iraq may hinder the current Iraqi government's ability to successfully hold Saddam's trial at this time

The sheer intensity of the Iraq insurgency has also hampered the country's capacity for constructive institution building and the state system there, including the judiciary, is faltering, Salem Chalabi said.

Saddam's trial is currently scheduled to start on Oct. 19, four days after Iraq holds a referendum vote to approve its new draft constitution.

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Saturday, October 08, 2005

UK military not sure that Iran is supplying weapons.

http://www.sundayherald.com/52184

Trevor Royle in The Sunday Herald, 9 October 2005, reports on the alleged role of Iran in supplying weapons to Iraq.

Royle states that the UK military is not sure that Iran is actually involved.

A senior officer told The Herald: “We can’t be definite about this one. The force of the explosions is so great that there’s very little left in the way of clues to let us know the weapons’ provenance. In any case, you can find all you want to know about how to build them on the internet.”

Asked if there was official Iranian involvement in arms supplies to Iraq, the Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita replied: “That I am not aware of.”

Brigadier General Carter Ham, US deputy director for regional operations, was asked the same question. While he conceded that bombmaking equipment was probably being smuggled into Iraq, he denied knowledge of any Iranian complicity in the operations: “It’s not known to the best of my understanding.”

According to The Herald:

Iranian officials say they are not involved in supplying weapons.

Iran's ambassador in London, Dr Seyed Mohammad Hossein Adeli, said the charges “cannot be supported by either any political analyst or any concrete evidence” and added that his country is “against any kind of action which might jeopardise or destroy the stabilisation process of Iraq”.

The Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim Jaafari distanced himself from Blair’s allegations by claiming that the charges were “without foundation” and that “relations between Iran and Iraq are friendly and progressing”.

The Herald's Trevor Royle writes:

There is also the question of whose interests are served by Iran supplying weapons to the insurgents. In the south, the Shia majority are their allies and in central Iraq the insurgency is being conducted by Sunnis and former Baath Party members who are determined to prevent Shia hegemony. It is difficult to find any reason why Iran would want to foster violence ahead of this week’s constitutional referendum in Iraq and there is no evidence to suggest that Iran is intent on destabilising the present interim administration. A victory for the Shia factions would be likely to lead to the new government building friendly links with its near neighbour and there would be nothing to gain by souring that relationship...

The Iranians claim that British special forces had been fomenting trouble by supporting “some terrorist elements who crossed the Iranian border and were behind some explosions in southern parts of Iran”...

Local intelligence suggests that the bombs are made in secret workshops in Iraq to designs supplied by Hezbollah and that trained military personnel still loyal to Saddam are involved in the process. “The enemy is evolving and constantly innovating,” says Brigadier General Josef Votel, who leads the US army’s IED Defeat Task Force. “If there were any thoughts that this is a rudimentary and unsophisticated enemy, those thoughts have been replaced.”




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