BAGHDAD: Yesterday [July 24], the Iraqi government blacklisted Chevron Corp., the US oil giant, for signing allegedly illegal contracts with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
The Baghdad-based Iraqi government decided not to enter into any contract with Chevron unless the oil giant annuls a contract it recently signed with the KRG. This contract goes against the desires of the Iraqi government.
The trial [of Iraq’s fugitive vice president Tariq al-Hashemi] has taken place for the first time in the same room in which former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and his regime figures were tried. The trial in absentia, which is being held in the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, resumed after Hashemi verbally attacked Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [from exile] calling him a butcher.
The Ministry of Oil issued a statement saying that the reputation and credibility of Chevron, as well as those of other companies, are under the test today. They statement added that the ministry was confident that the company would completely fail this test and that it should be ashamed of its actions.
The ministry announced the that it was removing Chevron’s operating qualifications, banning it from signing any new contracts or agreements with the Ministry of Oil and its companies, specifically those in the extraction sector. This ban will remain permanent unless Chevron annuls the contract it recently signed with the KRG.
The US group announced on July 17 that it had bought 80% of the Reliance Exploration and Production DMCC, a subsidiary of the Indian Reliance Group. The group issued a statement saying that this acquisition will give it operational control over the two oil exploratory areas of Rufi and Sarta, located in the north of Erbil and covering more than 1124 square kilometers.
The Ministry of Oil issued a statement saying that the Chevron Group signed the contract with full knowledge of the position of the Ministry of Oil and the federal government, according to which all contracts signed by the KRG should be deemed illegal and illegitimate.
The Iraqi Government emphasized that all the Iraqi oil contracts should be exclusively concluded with [the Iraqi Government], stressing that any contract to which it is not a party is illegitimate.
On the other hand, security and medical sources said that two attacks killed nine people in Iraq late on Monday. These attacks bring the death toll to 116 in a series of coordinated bombings and gun attacks.
On Tuesday [July 24], the Federal Court of Cassation rejected an appeal made by fugitive Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi’s defense team. In this appeal, the defense demanded that the court summon senior leaders to serve as witnesses for the case, including President Jalal Talabani.
A car bomb exploded near a cafe in Al-Amin neighborhood in southeastern Baghdad, killing six and wounding 24 others as they were smoking water pipes and drinking tea.
Three others were killed when a roadside bomb exploded near the minibus they were riding, approximately 20 Kilometers west of Baquba, a city located to the north-east of Baghdad. The police said that seven others were injured in the blast. These attacks bring the total number of injured to 299 in the deadliest days Iraq has witnessed this year.
These attacks, which coincided with the escalation of the conflict in neighboring Syria, have highlighted the deficiencies in the Iraqi security forces. Security forces were unable to prevent insurgents from striking multiple locations across the country.
Mo'ayyed Al-Ezzi, leader of Hashemi’s defense team, who himself is being tried in absentia on terrorism charges, said that the Federal Court of Cassation has refused the appeals he made and returned the case file to the central court.
On Tuesday, after listening to a number of witnesses and accused, the judge adjourned Hashemi's trial until August 14.
The court had postponed its last hearing after the defense team filed an appeal in the Federal Court of Cassation.
The defense team asked Talabani, Talabani’s former Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi, the head of the Presidential Office Naseer al-Ani and five MPs from the Iraqi list led by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi to give their testimonies.
In previous hearings, a large number of Hashemi's followers made confessions. They admitted having participated in bombings and killings upon the instructions of Hashemi and his office manager Ahmad Qahtan. Hashemi's first hearing was on May 15.
The Supreme Judicial Council decided to prosecute Hashemi — currently in Turkey — in absentia for three murders relating to the assassination of the General Manager at the Ministry of National Security, an officer in the Ministry of Interior and a lawyer.
Turkey refused to hand over Hashemi, against whom an arrest warrant was issued in December. Interpol has also issued an arrest warrant against him.