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Mon Sep 17 2007 (Updated 09/24/07)
Blackwater Security banned from Iraq?
On Monday September 17th Iraq's Interior Ministry revoked the license of Blackwater USA and demanded that all employees leave the country. The ban followed a Sunday gunbattle in Baghdad that left eight civilians dead. The Interior Ministry said authorities will prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force and "all those responsible for Sunday's killing will be referred to Iraqi justice." On Tuesday, the Iraqi government softened its stance, saying that the ban on Blackwater was not permanent, but warned it planned to review the legal immunity of all private security companies.
On Wednesday August 15th, 4 car bombs killed up to 500 people and wounded many more in two Northern Iraqi Yazidi villages. As sectarian violence increases across the country, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has announced a new ruling coalition that contains no Sunni representation.
Two Iraqi trade union leaders on a speaking tour of the United States called for rejection of the new oil law being considered in the Iraqi parliament. The law was secretly written in Houston in favor of the U.S. oil companies long before it was ever seen by any member of the Iraqi parliament. If passed, the new oil law would effectively turn over all new oil fields to the control of foreign oil companies. Speaking before an enthusiastic audience of approximately 125 people in the Laborers Hall in San Jose on Sunday, June 10, the two Iraqi trade union leaders from Basra agreed that the U.S. occupation must end. Both leaders clearly indicated that the U.S. occupation itself creates sectarian violence and reduces security.
On June 12th, the minarets of the Al-Askariya mosque in Samarra, one of the most revered shrines of Shiite Islam, were reduced to rubble. The mosque was supposed to be one of the most carefully defended locations in Iraq due to its religious significance to Shiites and the violence that followed the bombing of its golden dome in 2006.
The US military has ordered that at least 10 areas of Baghdad be entirely sealed off by walls. The western Baghdad district of Ghazaliyah has already been walled off. The 15,000 residents of the area are subjected to curfews and can only enter and leave through one checkpoint, where they are subjected to repeated identity checks and searches. Since April 10, US forces have been constructing a five-kilometer wall made of six-ton concrete sections along the highway dividing Adhamiyah from its Shiite neighbors. On April 23rd, residents the Sunni enclave demonstrated and shouted slogans against the wall and Prime Minister Al Maliki called for an end to construction, but the US military has said that it will continue building the walls.
On April 19th anti-war protesters gathered in front of a Chevron station in San Francisco to protest a proposed Iraqi law that would give Western oil companies more control over Iraqi oil. If the law is adopted as is, control of the Iraqi oil industry will shift from the public sector, where it’s been since the 1970s, into the hands of the multinational oil companies, especially British and American firms.
On April 6th, Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani, said that Turkey must not interfere in the Kurds' bid to attach northern Iraq's oil-rich city of Kirkuk to the Kurdish semiautonomous zone, otherwise Iraq's Kurds will retaliate by intervening in Turkey's southeast. On April 12th, the head of Turkey's army, called for a military operation in northern Iraq to target Kurdish rebels. On April 13th, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, the speaker of Iraq's parliament spoke out in support of Barzani, warning Ankara that "the hand that will be extended to interfere in our internal affairs will be cut."
Iraq:   2