Time to nail the Iraq lie:
right Edward Gibbon was when he said history is little more than the
register of crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind. But perhaps
no register is enough to chronicle....
Nasiriyah: Iranian forces took control of a southern
Iraqi oil well in a disputed section of the border on Friday, US and
Iraqi officials told AFP.
“There has been no violence related to
this incident and we trust this will be resolved through peaceful
diplomacy between the governments of Iraq and Iran,” a US military
spokesman told AFP at Contingency Operating Base Adder, just outside
the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah.
“The oil field is in a disputed
territory between the Iranian and Iraqi border forts,” he said.
An official of the Iraqi state-owned
South Oil Company in the city of Amara west of the field said:
“Iranian forces arrived at the field early in the morning (Friday).
They took control of Well 4 and raised the Iranian flag even though
the well lies in Iraqi territory.”
“An Oil Ministry delegation is to
travel to the area on Saturday to assess the situation,” he said.
Iraqi Deputy Interior Minister Ahmed
Ali Al-Khafaji, reversing earlier denials, said the incursion was
the latest in a series this week at the Fakka oil field, 300 km
southeast of Baghdad, in Maysan province.
“Eleven Iranian (soldiers) infiltrated
the Iran-Iraq border and took control of the oil well. They raised
the Iranian flag, and they are still there,” he told Reuters.
Iraqi government spokesman Ali Al-Dabbagh
said, “Iraq demands immediate withdrawal from Well No. 4 and the
Fakka oil field, which belongs to Iraq. Iraq is looking for a
peaceful and diplomatic settlement to this issue.”
Dabbagh did not give a deadline for
withdrawal and did not say what Iraq would do if Iran failed to
comply. Officials have summoned Tehran’s envoy in Iraq to discuss
the matter, he said.
There was no official word from Tehran
on the incident. Oil prices rose after Al Arabiya television first
reported an incursion.
Al-Khafaji said Baghdad had taken no
military action and stressed it would seek a measured, diplomatic
response to the situation. “We are awaiting orders from our leader.
This well is located on Iraqi land, 300 meters inside Iraq. It is
disputed between Iran and Iraq. There was an agreement between the
two countries’ oil ministers to fix this problem diplomatically,” he
The benchmark US light crude oil
future moved to a high of $74.69 per barrel at 1414 GMT, up from
$73.31 at 1108 GMT before the first reports.
The incident came a few days after the
Iraqi Oil Ministry awarded leading global energy firms contracts to
operate seven oil fields, in the second tender since the 2003 US
Ties between Iran and Iraq, which
fought a bloody eight-year war in the 1980s, have improved since the
new government took over in Baghdad. Yet tensions have flared in the
past in the inhospitable desert region, just one of many flash
points where continuing disagreement over shared borders between the
two neighbors has fueled a low-level public feud.
Well 4 lies in the Fakka oil field,
part of a cluster of fields Iraq unsuccessfully put up for auction
to oil majors in June. The field has estimated reserves of 1.55
million barrels. Iran has prevented Iraqi oil officials from
reaching the well in the past, an oil industry source said. The
Iraqis have accused Iran of firing on their people, something Tehran