JFP 6/17: Israeli officials threaten "naive peace activists" on flotilla with force

Just Foreign Policy News
June 17, 2011

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As Robert Naiman, the editor of the Just Foreign Policy News, will be a passenger on the US boat to Gaza, there will be a hiatus in the Just Foreign Policy News, starting Monday, June 20. Due to the uncertainty over what may happen to us if the Israeli authorities attack our boat, it is not possible to say exactly when the News will resume. But the editor has a return ticket from Athens to New York on July 6.

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II) Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Israeli officials asserted that if a new flotilla sought to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza, the Israeli military would use force again, including boarding the ships and confronting the activists, the New York Times reports. Vessels are scheduled to depart from European ports this month and assemble into a flotilla heading toward Gaza to challenge Israel's blockade. Among those expected to participate is an American vessel with several dozen passengers, including the writer Alice Walker and an 86-year-old whose parents died in the Holocaust.

Among those expected to participate is an American vessel with several dozen passengers, including the writer Alice Walker and an 86-year-old whose parents died in the Holocaust.

Israel's navy has been training for another flotilla and says it will use a number of tactics before boarding ships and do everything it can to avoid close contact with activists on board, the Times says.

A naval officer who briefed foreign journalists said that he did not believe that the coming flotilla would contain arms, but that Israel needed to enforce the blockade indiscriminately to defend against weapons imports by future flotillas.

He said that many of those planning to take part in the flotilla were peace activists, but that they were naïve because "extremists will set the tone" if Israeli commandos board the ships.

2) The Turkish charity that was the main organizer of a planned aid flotilla to Gaza announced Friday that it was pulling out, citing technical problems on its ship, the Mavi Marmara, the Washington Post reports. The Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or IHH, had been pressed by the Turkish government to shelve plans for the flotilla. Bulent Yildirim, the head of IHH, denied that the move was a result of pressure from the government.

Other groups with smaller vessels have said they will continue their preparations to sail to Gaza. According to organizers, the flotilla is expected to comprise 10 to 15 ships carrying activists from various countries, who will converge at sea south of Cyprus later this month.

3) Republican Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman has begun to distinguish himself by calling for a rapid withdrawal of U.S troops from Afghanistan, Esquire reports. "If you can't define a winning exit strategy for the American people, where we somehow come out ahead, then we're wasting our money, and we're wasting our strategic resources," Huntsman told Esquire.

Huntsman also said that he wouldn't have intervened in Libya - "We just can't afford it" - and would seek to make serious cuts in the military's budget. Huntsman told Esquire he plans on running a campaign built in part on the parallel platforms of debt reduction and ending the war in Afghanistan.

4) Two California Democrats who are friends of President Obama are ramping up the heat on him to make a significant move on withdrawal from Afghanistan, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Sen. Barbara Boxer wants Obama to bring home 30,000 U.S troops by the end of 2011. Rep. Barbara Lee wants Obama to bring home 50,000 by that time.

5) The Pentagon has started paring U.S. forces in Afghanistan, even before President Obama decides on the size of the promised reduction, by re-routing 800 soldiers that were in training for the conflict, Bloomberg reports. Defense Secretary Gates said Gen. Petraeus concluded that the soldiers were likely to be withdrawn soon from Afghanistan by Obama's upcoming order.

6) The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Friday to treat al-Qaida and the Taliban separately when it comes to U.N. sanctions, a move aimed at supporting the Afghan government's reconciliation efforts, AP reports. The move symbolically severs al-Qaida and the Taliban, which were previously tied in the same U.N. sanctions regime, and recognizes their different agendas. Unlike Al Qaeda, Taliban militants have focused on their own country and have shown little interest in attacking targets abroad, AP notes.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said the move should send "a clear message to the Taliban that there is a future for those who separate from al-Qaida."

The Taliban have long demanded removal from the sanctions list to help promote reconciliation. The Afghan government has asked a U.N. panel to take about 50 Taliban figures off the sanctions list. The sanctions committee was expected to rule on the requests this week, but diplomats said the council extended the deadline until July 15 to give delegations more time to consider information provided by the Afghan government.

7) In an op-ed in the New York Times, former President Jimmy Carter calls on the US to implement the recommendations of the Global Commission on Drug Policy to abandon the "war on drugs." The Commission's primary recommendations are to substitute treatment for imprisonment for people who use drugs but do no harm to others, and to concentrate more coordinated international effort on combating violent criminal organizations rather than nonviolent, low-level offenders, Carter writes.

Carter notes that the shift in US policy under Reagan away from treatment towards efforts to reduce foreign cultivation through armed force has resulted in a terrible escalation in drug-related violence, corruption and gross violations of human rights in a growing number of Latin American countries.

Afghanistan
8) Recent U.S. government reports suggest that the Obama administration has poured large sums into projects in Afghanistan that have fueled corruption, distorted local economies and left Afghanistan with technology it won't be able to maintain after NATO forces leave, Ken Dilanian reports in the Los Angeles Times. Doubts about the aid effort are likely to bolster calls for a more rapid pullout, Dilanian writes.

Iraq
9) US drilling companies stand to make tens of billions of dollars from the new petroleum activity in Iraq, Andrew Kramer reports in the New York Times. International oil companies are now subcontracting mostly with the four largely American oil services companies that are global leaders in their field: Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Weatherford International and Schlumberger. Those four have won the largest portion of the subcontracts to drill for oil, build wells and refurbish old equipment.

Michael Klare, an authority on oil and conflict, said American officials who had advised the Iraqi government on its contracting decisions almost certainly expected American oil services companies to win a good portion of the business there, regardless who won the primary contracts.

"The strategic interest of the United States is in new oil supplies arriving on the world market, to lower prices," said the president of Lukoil Overseas. "The strategic interest of the United States is in new oil supplies arriving on the world market, to lower prices."

Saudi Arabia
10) Saudi women brazenly cruised by police patrols in the first forays of a campaign that hopes to ignite a road rebellion against male-only driving rules, AP reports. It was a rare grass-roots challenge to the Western-backed Saudi monarchy as it tries to ride out the Arab world's wave of change, AP says.

About 40 women took part in Friday's show of defiance. No arrests were immediately reported, although Maha al-Qahtani was later ticketed for driving without a license. "When I had my ticket, I felt like I did something. I made them understand that we need our right," al-Qahtani said. "I feel great ... It is a good sign."

A protest supporter, Benjamin Joffe-Walt, said some Saudi men claimed they drove around dressed in the traditional black coverings for women in an attempt to confuse security forces.

Argentina
11) The president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, has called Britain "arrogant" for refusing to hold talks on the sovereignty of the Malvinas islands, the BBC reports. Last week Washington called on Britain and Argentina to negotiate over the islands' sovereignty. The retired admiral who led the British taskforce in the 1982 war has expressed concern that Washington has shifted to backing Argentina.

Contents:
U.S./Top News

1) Israel Warns of Using Force if New Flotilla Heads to Gaza
Ethan Bronner, New York Times, June 16, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/17/world/middleeast/17flotilla.html

Tel Aviv - Israel made clear on Thursday that if a new flotilla of pro-Palestinian activists sought to break its naval blockade of Gaza like the one a year ago when its commandos killed nine people, the Israeli military would use force again, including boarding the ships and confronting the activists.

"We will do anything we have to do to prevent a boat from breaking the blockade," a top naval official said in a briefing for foreign journalists. "If there is the same violence against our forces on board, there is a pretty good chance there will be injuries."
[...]
Groups of Palestinian advocates in chartered vessels are scheduled to depart from a number of European ports this month and assemble into a flotilla heading toward Gaza to challenge Israel's blockade and commemorate the deaths of a year ago.

Among those expected to participate is an American vessel with several dozen passengers, including the writer Alice Walker and an 86-year-old whose parents died in the Holocaust.

Because of insurance difficulties and political pressure, it remained unclear whether the ship on which last year's deaths occurred, the Mavi Marmara of Turkey, would join the flotilla as planned. Israel, widely condemned for the commando operation, said that a year ago the ship was dominated by extremists who created the confrontations that resulted in the deaths.
[...]
Four years ago, after Hamas took over in Gaza, Israel and Egypt closed off the territory, preventing most goods and nearly all people from going in and out. Israel began a naval blockade two and a half years ago when it invaded Gaza to stop Palestinian militants from firing rockets into Israel.

But after the commando raid a year ago, international outrage over the deaths, along with the hardships in Gaza, contributed to a shift in Israeli policy. Israel eased its blockade, letting in more goods over land. After the revolution in Egypt this year, Egypt changed its policy toward Gaza, partly reopening its border to people. Today Gaza has plenty of goods available, but its economy remains devastated and unemployment is 40 to 45 percent.
[...]
Israel's navy has been training for another flotilla and says it will use a number of tactics before boarding ships and do everything it can to avoid close contact with activists on board.

As it did last time, Israel says it will ask ships carrying aid to Gaza to dock in Israel or Egypt, unload the cargo and allow it to be driven in. Israeli officials say the flotillas' goal is not to ship aid to the Palestinians, but to challenge and embarrass the Israelis.

The naval officer who briefed foreign journalists said that he did not believe that the coming flotilla would contain arms, but that Israel needed to enforce the blockade indiscriminately to defend against weapons imports by future flotillas. He said searches on board did not work because boats had many areas to conceal things, so the only reasonable way was for the cargo to be unloaded and driven to Gaza.

He said that many of those planning to take part in the flotilla were peace activists, but that they were naïve because "extremists will set the tone" if Israeli commandos board the ships.

2) Turkish charity says its ship won't be part of flotilla
Joel Greenberg, Washington Post, Friday, June 17, 8:15 AM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/turkish-charity-says-its-ship-wont-be-part-of-flotilla/2011/06/17/AGIB5hYH_story.html

Jerusalem - The Turkish charity that was the main organizer of a planned aid flotilla to Gaza announced Friday that it was pulling out, citing technical problems on its ship, the Mavi Marmara, which was the target of a deadly raid by Israeli commandos last year.

The Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or IHH, had been pressed by the Turkish government to shelve plans for the flotilla, an international effort by activists from 22 organizations to challenge Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Bulent Yildirim, the head of IHH, said damage to its ship after it was seized during the Israeli raid had forced the group to cancel its participation. Speaking in Ankara, he denied that the move was a result of pressure from the government, which is preoccupied with a refugee crisis on Turkey's border with Syria.

The Mavi Marmara was to have been the flagship of the flotilla, carrying hundreds of activists. Other groups with smaller vessels have said they will continue their preparations to sail to Gaza. According to organizers, the flotilla is expected to comprise 10 to 15 ships carrying activists from various countries, who will converge at sea south of Cyprus later this month.
[...]

3) Exclusive Interviews: Jon Huntsman Is Tired of Waiting
Chris Jones, Esquire, June 15, 2011 at 2:02PM
http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/jon-huntsman-afghanistan-5924855

On Tuesday, Jon Huntsman - the former governor of Utah and, more recently, the U.S. ambassador to China - will officially enter the race for the Republican presidential nomination. But he has already begun to distinguish himself in a crowded field by becoming the first to call for a rapid withdrawal of U.S troops from Afghanistan. [Esquire must mean: the first among candidates that we take seriously - JFP.]

"If you can't define a winning exit strategy for the American people, where we somehow come out ahead, then we're wasting our money, and we're wasting our strategic resources," Huntsman told Esquire as part of a long profile in its August issue. "It's a tribal state, and it always will be. Whether we like it or not, whenever we withdraw from Afghanistan, whether it's now or years from now, we'll have an incendiary situation... Should we stay and play traffic cop? I don't think that serves our strategic interests."

Huntsman also said that he wouldn't have intervened in Libya - "We just can't afford it" - and would seek to make serious cuts in the military's budget. "If you can't find anything there to cut, you're not looking hard enough."

In a week when The New York Times described Monday's GOP debate as "full of historical error, economic obfuscation, avoidance of hard truths and even outright bigotry," Huntsman - despite being a former Obama appointee - may have found his opening. The fifty-one-year-old father of seven told Esquire that he plans on running a campaign built in part on the parallel platforms of debt reduction and ending the war in Afghanistan.
[...]

4) Barbara Boxer to Obama: Bring home 30,000 troops from Afghanistan by end of 2011
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/nov05election/detail?entry_id=91263

As the White House is working out its next step in Afghanistan, two California Democrats -- who are friends of President Obama -- are ramping up the heat on him to make a significant move there soon.

Sen. Barbara Boxer wants Obama to bring home 30,000 U.S troops by the end of 2011. And Rep. Barbara Lee said that's not enough. She wants Obama to bring home 50,000 by that time. These are, by far, the most dramatic troop withdrawl numbers we've seen so far.
[...]
Said Lee Friday: "As the President contemplates this decision, I urge him to hold true to his comments that he will seriously consider a 'significant' reduction of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

"A troop reduction of 10,000 -- 15,000 is anything but significant, as it would not even get us back to pre-escalation levels. Likewise, a modest reduction of 30,000 troops should not be considered significant since it would merely return us to 2009 and pre-escalation troop levels. A more 'significant' and reasonable goal would be the withdrawal of 50,000 combat troops which is only half of the roughly 100,000 troops currently on the ground. Any withdrawal plan should begin immediately and be conducted swiftly, not drag out over years."

5) Pentagon Starts Paring Troops In Afghan War As Drawdown Looms
Viola Gienger, Bloomberg, Jun 16, 2011 11:01 PM CT
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-06-16/afghan-cuts-begin-troops-diverted-to-iraq.html

The Pentagon has started paring U.S. forces in Afghanistan, even before President Barack Obama decides on the full size of the promised reduction, by re- routing 800 soldiers that were in training for the conflict.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, Obama's top military adviser, said yesterday that they approved a recommendation from Army General David Petraeus, the top U.S. and coalition commander in Afghanistan, to go without two battalions that were due to arrive in the war zone after July 1.

The forces are being diverted as the U.S. considers how much to cut troop strength in Afghanistan to meet the president's December 2009 pledge of starting to reduce the U.S. presence there next month. Obama is under pressure from his own Democrats and some Republicans for a sizable cut in the almost 100,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan, fighting alongside 47,000 from other countries in the NATO-led coalition.

The rerouted soldiers will head to Kuwait to help with the remaining 48,000-strong U.S. training and support mission in neighboring Iraq. "As General Petraeus was looking across Afghanistan and beginning to identify different options, it was pretty clear that these two units were units that would probably be on that list," Gates told reporters at the Pentagon.
[...]

6) UN separates al-Qaida and Taliban sanctions to improve terrorism fight, promote talks
Associated Press, Friday, June 17, 3:12 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia-pacific/un-to-delink-al-qaida-and-taliban-sanctions-to-improve-terrorism-fight-and-promote-talks/2011/06/17/AGCaiLYH_story.html

United Nations - The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Friday to treat al-Qaida and the Taliban separately when it comes to U.N. sanctions, a move aimed at supporting the Afghan government's reconciliation efforts and more effectively fighting global terrorism.

The council's adoption of two resolutions symbolically severs al-Qaida and the Taliban, which were previously tied in the same U.N. sanctions regime, and recognizes their different agendas.

While Al-Qaida is focused on worldwide jihad against the West and establishment of a religious state in the Muslim world, Taliban militants have focused on their own country and have shown little interest in attacking targets abroad.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said in a statement that the council had taken "important steps" to respond to the evolving and distinct threats posed by al-Qaida and the Taliban. "The United States believes that the new sanctions regime for Afghanistan will serve as an important tool to promote reconciliation, while isolating extremists," she said. It should also send "a clear message to the Taliban that there is a future for those who separate from al-Qaida."
[...]
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been making peace overtures to members of the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan for five years and sheltered al-Qaida before being driven out of power in the U.S.-led invasion in late 2001. The Taliban have long demanded removal from the sanctions list to help promote reconciliation.

The U.S. and Afghan governments have said that they are willing to reconcile with Taliban members who renounce violence, embrace the Afghan constitution and sever ties with al-Qaida.

The current U.N. sanctions list for both al-Qaida and the Taliban includes about 450 people, entities and organizations, including roughly 140 with links to the Taliban.

The Afghan government has asked a U.N. panel to take about 50 Taliban figures off the sanctions list. The sanctions committee was expected to rule on the requests this week, but diplomats said the council extended the deadline until July 15 to give delegations more time to consider the information provided by the Afghan government in support of the delisting requests.

7) Call Off the Global Drug War
Jimmy Carter, New York Times, June 16, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/17/opinion/17carter.html

Atlanta - In an extraordinary new initiative announced earlier this month, the Global Commission on Drug Policy has made some courageous and profoundly important recommendations in a report on how to bring more effective control over the illicit drug trade. The commission includes the former presidents or prime ministers of five countries, a former secretary general of the United Nations, human rights leaders, and business and government leaders, including Richard Branson, George P. Shultz and Paul A. Volcker.

The report describes the total failure of the present global antidrug effort, and in particular America's "war on drugs," which was declared 40 years ago today. It notes that the global consumption of opiates has increased 34.5 percent, cocaine 27 percent and cannabis 8.5 percent from 1998 to 2008. Its primary recommendations are to substitute treatment for imprisonment for people who use drugs but do no harm to others, and to concentrate more coordinated international effort on combating violent criminal organizations rather than nonviolent, low-level offenders.

These recommendations are compatible with United States drug policy from three decades ago. In a message to Congress in 1977, I said the country should decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, with a full program of treatment for addicts. I also cautioned against filling our prisons with young people who were no threat to society, and summarized by saying: "Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself."

These ideas were widely accepted at the time. But in the 1980s President Ronald Reagan and Congress began to shift from balanced drug policies, including the treatment and rehabilitation of addicts, toward futile efforts to control drug imports from foreign countries.

This approach entailed an enormous expenditure of resources and the dependence on police and military forces to reduce the foreign cultivation of marijuana, coca and opium poppy and the production of cocaine and heroin. One result has been a terrible escalation in drug-related violence, corruption and gross violations of human rights in a growing number of Latin American countries.

The commission's facts and arguments are persuasive. It recommends that governments be encouraged to experiment "with models of legal regulation of drugs ... that are designed to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens." For effective examples, they can look to policies that have shown promising results in Europe, Australia and other places.

But they probably won't turn to the United States for advice. Drug policies here are more punitive and counterproductive than in other democracies, and have brought about an explosion in prison populations. At the end of 1980, just before I left office, 500,000 people were incarcerated in America; at the end of 2009 the number was nearly 2.3 million. There are 743 people in prison for every 100,000 Americans, a higher portion than in any other country and seven times as great as in Europe. Some 7.2 million people are either in prison or on probation or parole - more than 3 percent of all American adults!

Some of this increase has been caused by mandatory minimum sentencing and "three strikes you're out" laws. But about three-quarters of new admissions to state prisons are for nonviolent crimes. And the single greatest cause of prison population growth has been the war on drugs, with the number of people incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses increasing more than twelvefold since 1980.

Not only has this excessive punishment destroyed the lives of millions of young people and their families (disproportionately minorities), but it is wreaking havoc on state and local budgets. Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pointed out that, in 1980, 10 percent of his state's budget went to higher education and 3 percent to prisons; in 2010, almost 11 percent went to prisons and only 7.5 percent to higher education.

Maybe the increased tax burden on wealthy citizens necessary to pay for the war on drugs will help to bring about a reform of America's drug policies. At least the recommendations of the Global Commission will give some cover to political leaders who wish to do what is right.

A few years ago I worked side by side for four months with a group of prison inmates, who were learning the building trade, to renovate some public buildings in my hometown of Plains, Ga. They were intelligent and dedicated young men, each preparing for a productive life after the completion of his sentence. More than half of them were in prison for drug-related crimes, and would have been better off in college or trade school.

To help such men remain valuable members of society, and to make drug policies more humane and more effective, the American government should support and enact the reforms laid out by the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

Afghanistan

8) U.S. risks wasting billions more in Afghanistan aid, report says
U.S. officials had pledged to improve the aid program begun by the George W. Bush administration. But pouring more money into Afghanistan has only undermined the counterinsurgency effort against the Taliban, analysts say.
Ken Dilanian, Los Angeles Times, June 17, 2011
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghan-aid-20110617,0,5653383.story

Washington - Reviewing the multibillion-dollar U.S. aid program in Afghanistan two years ago, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton pronounced it a "heartbreaking" failure and promised to make a successful aid program the centerpiece of a revamped strategy to defeat the Taliban.

Recent U.S. government reports suggest that the Obama administration instead doubled down on a flawed strategy, pouring large sums into projects that have fueled corruption, distorted local economies and left Afghanistan with technology it won't be able to maintain after NATO forces leave.

The bipartisan Congressional Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan said in a report this month that "overly ambitious proposals, incomplete analysis, poor planning, weak coordination and inadequate follow-through by federal officials" risked wasting billions more.

The Afghan economy is so dependent on military spending and international aid that it could plunge into depression in 2014 when U.S. forces are scheduled to depart, concludes a two-year study released last week by the Democratic majority of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The committee chairman, John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, is a close ally of the Obama administration.

The administration is opening a review of the size of a troop withdrawal amid widespread doubts about the cost and purpose of the war. Doubts about the aid effort are likely to bolster calls for a more rapid pullout. Some analysts contend that the torrent of aid undermines the counterinsurgency effort by creating a culture of entitlement and corruption.

"There is this assumption that if we spend a lot of money on them, they'll like us," said Carol Lancaster, a former deputy administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, who is now dean of Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. "I'm not sure what you gain by spending a lot of money that doesn't produce sustainable and beneficial change."
[...]
Starting in 2002, the George W. Bush administration spent about $10.7 billion on civilian aid in Afghanistan. Clinton declared in March 2009, soon after the Obama administration took office, that many of the programs didn't work. "We are looking at every single dollar as to how it's spent and where it's going, and trying to track the outcomes," Clinton said. "We want to see real results."

The Obama administration spent $7 billion more in 2009 and 2010, and is slated to spend an additional $3.2 billion this year. But government studies indicate that the fundamental structure of the aid programs has not changed.

The World Bank estimates that 97% of Afghanistan's economic output is from spending related to the international military and civilian presence. Donors finance most Afghan government operations, the Senate study says. Higher salaries paid by foreign contractors and international aid groups draw away the country's best-educated technocrats.
[...]
Despite a promised increase in the number of diplomats and U.S. civil servants, the Senate report finds, the aid program continues to rely on a few contractors, including firms that have been criticized for mismanagement and, in one case, fined for fraud.


The Senate report also raises questions about the large portion of money directed to short-term stabilization programs to win over civilians in the south and east, where the heaviest fighting has taken place. A recent study of Helmand province found that villagers were supporting the Taliban not because they were poor, but because they were scared and needed security.
[...]

Iraq

9) In Rebuilding Iraq's Oil Industry, U.S. Subcontractors Hold Sway
Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times, June 16, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/17/business/energy-environment/17oil.html

Moscow - When Iraq auctioned rights to rebuild and expand its oil industry two years ago, the Russian company Lukoil won a hefty portion - a field holding about 10 percent of Iraq's known oil reserves.

It seemed a geopolitical victory for Lukoil. And because only one of the 11 fields that the Iraqis auctioned off went to an American oil company - Exxon Mobil - it also seemed as if few petroleum benefits would flow to the country that took the lead role in the war, the United States.

The auction's outcome helped defuse criticism in the Arab world that the United States had invaded Iraq for its oil. "No one, even the United States, can steal the oil," the Iraqi government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, said at the time.

But American companies can, apparently, drill for the oil.

In fact, American drilling companies stand to make tens of billions of dollars from the new petroleum activity in Iraq long before any of the oil producers start seeing any returns on their investments.

Lukoil and many of the other international oil companies that won fields in the auction are now subcontracting mostly with the four largely American oil services companies that are global leaders in their field: Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Weatherford International and Schlumberger. Those four have won the largest portion of the subcontracts to drill for oil, build wells and refurbish old equipment.

"Iraq is a huge opportunity for contractors," Alex Munton, a Middle East analyst for Wood Mackenzie, a research and consulting firm based in Edinburgh, said by telephone.

Mr. Munton estimated that about half of the $150 billion the international majors are expected to invest at Iraqi oil fields over the next decade would go to drilling subcontractors - most of it to the big four operators, which all have ties to the Texas oil industry.
[...]
Michael Klare, professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and an authority on oil and conflict, said that American oil services companies were generally dominant both in the Middle East and globally because of their advanced drilling technology. So it is no surprise, he said, they came out on top in Iraq, too - whatever the initial diplomatic appearances.

United States officials have said that American experts who advised the Iraqi oil ministry about ways to restore and increase petroleum production did so without seeking any preferences for American companies.

And immediately after the 2009 auction round won by Lukoil, the United States Embassy spokesman in Baghdad, Philip Frayne, told Reuters that "the results of the bid round should lay to rest the old canard that the U.S. intervened in Iraq to secure Iraqi oil for American companies."

But Professor Klare said that the American officials who had advised the Iraqi government on its contracting decisions almost certainly expected American oil services companies to win a good portion of the business there, regardless who won the primary contracts. "There's no question that they would assume as much," he said.
[...]
Andrei Kuzyaev, the president of Lukoil Overseas, the company's subsidiary for foreign operations, said in an interview that he was choosing oil services contractors in Iraq through open tenders, as required by the contract. But in fact, Lukoil officials say privately, only American companies have bid.

"The strategic interest of the United States is in new oil supplies arriving on the world market, to lower prices," Mr. Kuzyaev said.

"It is not important that we did not take part in the coalition," he said, referring to the military operations in Iraq. "For America, the important thing is open access to reserves. And that is what is happening in Iraq."

Saudi Arabia
10) 'Saudi women, start your engines:' Campaign against driving ban hits the road
Associated Press, Friday, June 17, 2:08 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle-east/activist-saudi-women-begin-forays-to-challenge-driving-ban/2011/06/17/AGv4MOYH_story.html

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - A Saudi woman defiantly drove through the nation's capital Friday while others brazenly cruised by police patrols in the first forays of a campaign that hopes to ignite a road rebellion against the male-only driving rules in the ultraconservative kingdom.

It was a rare grass-roots challenge to the Western-backed Saudi monarchy as it tries to ride out the Arab world's wave of change, and a lesson in how the uprisings are taking root in different ways. In this case, the driver's seat was turned into a powerful platform for women's rights in a country where wives and daughters have almost no political voice.

"We've seen that change is possible," said Maha al-Qahtani, a computer specialist at Saudi's Ministry of Education. She said she drove for 45 minutes around the capital, Riyadh, with her husband in the passenger seat. "This is Saudi women saying, 'This is our time to make a change.'"

About 40 women took part in Friday's show of defiance. No arrests or violence were immediately reported, though al-Qahtani was later ticketed for driving without a license.

But the demonstration could bring difficult choices for the Saudi regime, which has so far has escaped major unrest. Officials could either order a crackdown on the women or give way to the demands at the risk of angering clerics and other conservative groups.

It also could encourage wider reform bids by Saudi women, who are not allowed to vote and must obtain permission from a male guardian to travel or take a job.

Saudi Arabia is the only country that bans women from driving. The prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers, and those who cannot afford the $300 to $400 a month for a driver must rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor.

A similar effort more than two decades ago faltered. In November 1990, when U.S. troops were deployed to Saudi Arabia before the invasion to oust Iraqi troops from Kuwait, about 50 women got behind the wheel and drove family cars. They were jailed for one day, had their passports confiscated and lost their jobs.

The official start of the latest campaign follows the 10-day detention last month of a 32-year-old woman, Manal al-Sherif, after she posted video of herself driving. She was released after reportedly signing a pledge that she would not drive again or speak publicly.

Her case, however, sparked an outcry from international rights groups and brought direct appeals to Saudi's rulers to lift the driving ban.

On Friday, activists said security forces mostly stood by in an apparent effort to avoid clashes or international backlash. Eman al-Nafjan, a prominent Saudi-based blogger, said some women drove directly in front of police units, which made no attempts to intervene. Women participating in the campaign also flooded a senior traffic police officer with text messages saying: "Saudi women demand to drive."

"To be honest, we didn't expect that," she said in a telephone interview. "The more women who drive without problem, the more that will join them."

Al-Qahtani decided to go out for another spin shortly before sundown, partly to encourage more women. Realizing she was taking a risk, she packed a change of clothes with her. Sure enough, a traffic police stopped her and her husband on the highway.

After an order to hand over the keys and a conversation on the side with her husband, the police officer decided to give al-Qahtani a ticket for driving without a license.

"When I had my ticket, I felt like I did something. I made them understand that we need our right," she said. "I feel great ... It is a good sign."
[...]
A protest supporter, Benjamin JoffeWalt, said some Saudi men claimed they drove around dressed in the traditional black coverings for women in an attempt to confuse security forces.
[...]

Argentina
11) Argentine leader says UK 'arrogant' over Falklands
BBC, 17 June 2011
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13803111

The president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, has called Britain "arrogant" for refusing to negotiate on the Falklands.

She was speaking a day after UK Prime Minister David Cameron said the issue of sovereignty was non-negotiable.

President Fernandez called his refusal to hold talks on the sovereignty of the Falklands, or Malvinas, arrogant and bordering on stupidity.
[...]
Last week Washington called on Britain and Argentina to negotiate over the Falklands' sovereignty.
[...]
On Friday, a spokeswoman for Downing Street said the prime minister maintained his position. She said the government had made it clear to Argentina that it was prepared to hold talks but would not negotiate on sovereignty.
[...]
Sir Sandy Woodward, the retired admiral who led the British taskforce which set sail for the Falklands in 1982, told a newspaper earlier this week he feared the islands were "now perilously close to being indefensible".

He told the Daily Mail: "Twenty-nine years ago today, we re-claimed the Falklands for Britain in one of the most remarkable campaigns since the Second World War. "The simple truth is without aircraft carriers and without the Americans, we would not have any hope of doing the same again today."

Adm Woodward questioned whether the US would continue to support Britain's sovereignty over the islands, pointing to Washington's call last week for negotiations. The Americans' reference to the islands by their Argentinian name - the Malvinas - didn't "leave too much doubt about which way the wind may be blowing", he said.

-

Just Foreign Policy is a membership organization devoted to reforming US foreign policy so it reflects the values and interests of the majority of Americans. The archive of the Just Foreign Policy News is here:

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/blog/dailynews

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