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THE ISSUES


Iraq
Blackwater U.S.A.
This week the Interior Ministry of Iraq announced that it was revoking the license of Blackwater U.S.A., a private American company that provides security to government and private officials in Iraq. Currently there are about 1,000 Blackwater employees operating in Iraq. Private contractors in Iraq have been angering Iraqis who consider them ???a mercenary force that runs roughshod over people in their own country. Unfortunately there is probably nothing that the Iraqi government can do to remove Blackwater forces, or any other private contractors, from their country.

Iraq & the U.N. Mandates
The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the U.S. and Iraq has been at the top of the news. Why? Because the U.S. mandate allowing the U.S. to control Iraq will expire December 31, 2008. What is the mandate and how did it come to be?

Iraq's Enduring Bases
During Operation Desert Storm the U.S. established a permanent military base in Saudi Arabia. This was one of the main reasons Osama bin Laden gave for his hatred of the U.S. Shortly after declaration of “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq, the U.S. moved its military presence in the Middle East from Saudi Arabia into Iraq. According to many sources, this has been planned for a long time and may have been one of the real reasons for attacking Iraq. All evidence points to the fact that we are never leaving.

Iraq: Who's In Charge?
Who’s in charge? Who was elected? When will they finally have a working government? I’ve been so confused by the various “governments, “elections,” and “prime ministers,” I thought you’d be, too. So, here’s what’s happened to date.

Iraq: Making a Case for Invasion
This is a timeline of the actions and incidents the Bush administration made to build its case for an invasion of Iraq. From 1997 the Project for the New American Century cited as its primary concern the removal of Saddam Hussein. The timeline will be updated as new information becomes available.

The Iraq War: It's All About the Oil
The Iraq War has been all about the oil. The current debate over oil distribution among the 3 sectarian groups includes arguments over Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) - contracts between Iraq and Western oil companies to develop Iraqi oil. A draft of the proposed agreement indicates that oil companies will reap excessive profits while exploiting Iraq decades. The Issue Wonk speculates that getting the PSAs in place and rebuilding Iraqi oil infrastructure by American taxpayers is truly what President Bush defines as "victory." Phase 1 of the strategy was to remove Iraqi oil from the marketplace in order to drive up prices. Phase 2 is to exploit Iraq for decades by controlling and profiting from its oil.

The Saudi Connection
Late November/early December 2006, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia "summoned" Vice President Dick Cheney to Riyadh. They threatened to provide financial backing to the Iraqi Sunnis in their war against the Iraqi Shiites if the United States pulls its troops out of Iraq. They could also reduce oil prices sharply by raising production. What is the Saudi connection to Iraq? It's Islamic sectarianism and oil.

The Up-Coming September Report
As Congress comes back in session and everyone gears up for the long-awaited September Report,? I thought we ought to look at how the September Report came about as well as look at the other reports that have been released.

Turkey and the Kurds
Turkey has been fighting with the Kurds in its territory for more than 100 years. The hostilities are escalating, including Turkish incursions into Iraqi Kurdistan in search of PKK rebels. They are being aided by the United States, despite its close relations with the Kurds. The Iraqi Kurds have a de facto independent nation, but they yield a great deal of power in the Iraqi central government. Could their refusal to pass the Hydrocarbon Law that Bush so desperately wants be behind his assistance to Turkey in its fight against Kurdish rebels?

Where's the $9 Billion?
We've been hearing for years about the $9 billion lost by the Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority. Recently, Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele did a remarkable piece of investigative reporting for Vanity Fair on the issue. The Issue Wonk summarizes it.

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