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Gates-Fallon reality diverges from Bush43-Petraeus; senior Republicans tilt to the former

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A short article from The Swoop, Iraq: The Worst Lies Aheadis breathtaking in its directness:

  • SecDef Gates and incoming Central Command (CENTCOM) commander Admiral William "Fox" Fallon are far less hopeful than Multi-National Force - Iraq (MNF-I) commander, General David Petraeus.
  • Gates/Fallon assessment of Iraq is said to be "closer" to that of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) 25 April Human Rights Report than to anything emanating from the White House
  • Pentagon overall puts "little credibility" in diehard "strategies for victory" from American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the like
  • Personal relations between Fallon and Petraeus are "distant"
  • Petraeus is "unpopular in the Pentagon" for an accommodation to Bush43 that "will damage the US Army"

No surprise, Gates has little confidence in Nouri al-Maliki and the Shia political leadership, but here is the most interesting item:

  • US petroleum experts are urging the White House to reduce its pressure on the al-Maliki government to officiate the 15 February, 2007, draft of the IRAQ OIL AND GAS LAW as it is so favorable to International Oil Companies (IOCs) that it is certain to be repudiated

Overall, the consistent refrain is that "the worst lies ahead" and that the assessment of the Surge in the fall will lay matters bare. And in a nod to political reality from "senior Republicans" outside the White House:

  • Gates is being urged "to act as the intermediary between the White House and Capitol Hill to launch the process of reducing US force levels in time for the 2008 presidential campaign"

As to the UNAMI Human Rights Report, formerly published bimonthly and now quarterly, I have found the HRP a consistently reasonable indicator of Iraqi conditions on the ground, and one that has been widely at variance with the rosier views issued by the Bush43 administration. The variance is wider when one remembers that UN documents tend towards the median, even lowest common denominator, when trying to reach consensus among member states on divisive issues.

Raised in the Oil Patch, I found certain articles of the Oil and Gas Law draft to be absolutely scrumptious (for contract holders): Article 9: Grant of Rights, Article 13: Exploration and Production Contracts, Article 33: Taxation, Article 34 - Royalty, and Article 39: Resolution of Disputes. Equally scrumptious is Article 14: Obligations of the Holders of Exploration and Production Rights, for what it does not obligate the foreign rights holder to do. Texas and Louisiana have more stringent laws for their petroleum assets.

This draft is so favorable to foreign rights holders that it could have been drafted by the short-lived American Viceroy in Iraq, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). Pursuing this hunch at Iraq Revenue Watch (IRW) established by George Soros' Open Society Institute (OSI) in May 2003 (and collecting materials henceforth), I think that CPA antecedents are present. Readers can peruse the key documents and decide for themselves. Among the "commentaries by Iraqi oil experts," I found this bit of understatement:

The law is investment friendly. It encourages private enterprise and welcomes the international oil companies (IOCs) to work in partnership with the Iraq National Oil Company (INOC).They have a recognised role to play in the transfer of up-to-date state-of-the-art technology, technical and managerial training of Iraqis, and in investment capital. Selection from among pre-qualified companies will be made through tendering in a transparent and accountable process.

I agree with the assessment that Swoop presents, i.e., that when Iraqis have some position to be able to contest this draft, they will and will punish those IOCs that had advantaged themselves under it. Were I an Iraqi, I would.

On a purely technical note dealing with Arabic/English translations and Iraqi/US assumptions, I recommend Bell and Saunders' Constitutional Issues Regarding Federal and Regional Authority.

I find the Fallon-Petraeus relationship comment to be of interest and hard to document in open source, but then Swoop advertises its leading edge capture. Still, in a city that thrives on gossip, I am surprised that I do not see more of this emanating from Washington, especially from administration detractors. I do note this comment from the Donnelly/Waller The Man Who'll Lead the Surge:

Petraeus - whom critics call "King David" for his often sophisticated self-promotion skills...

In addition to this item, I also suggest Arkin's The Overrated General Petraeus. A later Swoop item, Washington's World - May 7th - May 13th, 2007, adds:

Officers close to Admiral William Fallon, the Central Command commander, report that he is skeptical about the General David Petraeus' "surge" strategy which he sees as "slick presentation" rather than genuinely innovative.

The link on the word 'skeptical' points to Fallon's Senate Armed Services Committee address, not the venue for a smooth diplomat to denigrate a subordinate. Still, Swoop maintains the Fallon-Petraeus divide.

A note about Swoop itself; It was Swoop that first leaked Bush43's description of the Iraq Study Group's report as a "flaming turd." The Telegraph's Toby Harnden describes Swoop as "a remarkably well-plugged-in website produced by anonymous Washington insiders who have tentacles that reach into the dark corners of the political and intelligence worlds." The FT's Gideon Rachman notes the "Excellent Swoop foreign policy analysis" in Iran and the Washington debate. (I cannot find the quote that Swoop ascribes to WaPo.)

Swoop advertises that it is produced by the "Washington Assessment and Analysis Service" which does not otherwise exist on the web, is printed in English, Arabic, Farsi, Hindi, Chinese, Korean and Japanese for those "who need an accurate, objective and independent understanding of American intentions" in US international "political, military, financial and commercial" policy. It has two public sponsors, Blue Tech and eLawForum.

Amalgamating a series of its posts, I deduce that that the common axis of Putin and energy will see Russia attempt to recover its near abroad, expel the US from the energy Stans of Central Asia and create a rift between the US and Europe, but that is another post.

Washington's World - May 7th - May 13th, 2007
The Swoop

Iraq: The Worst Lies Ahead
The Swoop
Published on: May 5th 2007 13:12:03

STATEMENT OF ADMIRAL WILLIAM J. FALLON, UNITED STATES NAVY
COMMANDER, UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND
BEFORE THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE REGARDING THE POSTURE OF THE UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND
3 MAY 2007

Human Rights Report
1 January - 31 March 2007
UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI)

Silver Fox
Biography of Admiral William J. Fallon
Military Advanced Education (MAE)
Volume: 2 Issue: 1
Published: Apr 28, 2007

Warrior/Scholar
Biography of Lieutenant General David H. Petraeus Commander, Multi-National Force-Iraq, Operation Iraqi Freedom
Military Advanced Education (MAE)
Volume: 2 Issue: 1
Published: Apr 28, 2007

KRG publishes draft Federal Oil and Gas Law of Iraq in English and Arabic
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)
9 Mar 2007

The Man Who'll Lead the Surge
By SALLY B. DONNELLY AND DOUGLAS WALLER/WASHINGTON
TIME
Jan. 09, 2007

The Overrated General Petraeus
By William M. Arkin
Early Warning
January 5, 2007; 10:00 AM ET

DRAFT IRAQ OIL AND GAS LAW
NO. _______ OF 2007
COUNCIL OF MINISTERS OIL AND ENERGY COMMITTEE
REPUBLIC OF IRAQ
15 FEBRUARY 2007

Gordon Housworth



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