Foreign Policy Blogs

Weekend Roundup

In a follow up to my fellow blogger Jennifer's piece on the lucrative oil wars in Iraq, the BBC has a piece entitled “Iraq seeking help to develop oil“. This discusses the official beginning of the opening up of the oil industry to foreign investment. The six main oil fields that are being opened up to investment are Rumaila, Kirkuk, Zubair, West Qurna, Bai Hassan and Maysan (according to BBC). These are being chosen because according to Oil Minister Husain Al-Shahristani, “These fields were chosen because their production can be raised in a short time and at a low cost”.

Anbar province (known most commonly as 'the restive Anbar province’) has been handed back to Iraqi authorities. Anbar is the province of Abu Risha (killed in September 2007), the tribal leader whose prominent backing of the Awakening movement continues to drive the province today. This has brought peace to the province, but the peace's sustainability remains to be seen.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank based in Washington DC, has released a report on “Quietism And The U.S. Position In Iraq” on June 19. It is written by Anthony Cordesman and Jose Ramos. It mainly discusses Ayatollah Sistani  and his true level of influence. His positions on various issues such as political and military matters are difficult to gauge because his public statements are very limited. According to the report, “Experts also disagree about the extent to which Sistani has seen some loss of influence, faces a challenge from Shi'ite politicians and parties, and has become more cautious in taking political stands. Furthermore, there are conflicting reports about the extent to which he holds private policy discussions, some of which are reported to oppose any lasting relations with the US.”