Is Bruited Sec. of State Tillerson allied with Iran & at war with Iraq?

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

A couple of years ago an oil tanker showed up off the Texas coast with cargo from Iraqi Kurdistan.

The problem? Iraqi Kurdistan is a province of Iraq, and the central government in Baghdad claims that petroleum discovered in Iraqi Kurdistan is under the control of the Baghdad Ministry of Petroleum.

The attempt of Iraqi Kurdistan to export petroleum to the US without going through Baghdad created an immediate court case. But once the oil was caught up in US litigation, it became clear that US judges would rule in favor of the central Iraqi government.

Despite the clear leanings of the US judicial system, there is one powerful American who insists that Iraqi Kurdistan can do oil deals without reading in Baghdad.

Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson? Yep, that very one. The man Trump is hinting will be his secretary of state? Yes.

Tillerson as head of Exxon-Mobil was perfectly happy to do a deal with Iraqi Kurdistan even if the deal angered the central Iraqi government.

The deal was illegal in international law, but Tillerson really
pushed for it, because Exxon-Mobil apparently isn’t satisfied with annual profits of $16 billion a year.

The backing of Exxon-Mobil for the Kurdistan Regional Government’s interpretation of oil rights gave the KRG new confidence, and historians looking back on it may well see it as the moment in which the Iraqi Kurds started on their path to an independent country.

Getting the cooperation of the Iraqi government of PM Haydar al-Abadi in the fight against Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) is crucial to success in that campaign. But you could imagine a President Trump being rebuffed by the Baghdad government of al-Abadi for interfering in the country’s internal affairs via that KRG oil deal.

Moreover, Turkey won’t be too happy with the whole episode, either.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in the meantime is planning to take advantage of the end of international sanctions on Iran by pumping oil through Iran to get around Iraq’s objections.

So, yes, you got it. Tillerson’s corporation is de facto an ally of Iran and would have a reason to want US sanctions on that country dropped (those sanctions were just renewed by Congress for 10 years).

Related video:

CPT Iraqi Kurdistan: “Exxon Mobil disrupts lives of farmers of Hajji Ahmed”

20 Responses

  1. “Tillerson as head of Exxon-Mobil was perfectly happy to do a deal with Iraqi Kurdistan even if the deal angered the central Iraqi government.” & under Trump he’ll be US govt. – Iran Contra anyone? Yes, facetious!
    “So, yes, you got it. Tillerson’s corporation is de facto an ally of Iran and would have a reason to want US sanctions on that country dropped (those sanctions were just renewed by Congress for 10 years).” Then he’s very sensible, isn’t he? & he’s mates with Putin too apparently – again sensible.
    Compared with the idiotic Cold War mentality that drags on in the US for decades too long – Russia is the big bad ogre, & poor Iran, for all it’s “great Satan” comments, has been harmless as you’ve pointed out so often Juan.
    The US should be more upset with Exxon Mobil for their keeping quiet & then denying climate change – that’s what really going to stuff the world, not the petty squabbles of grudgeholders like MOST of the US hierarchies.
    Anyway, it seems that Iraq & Iran are getting on with fighting ISIS – perhaps when Russia has dealt to Syria it will pop down & give them a hand. Without tying it all up with oil & arms contracts as the US is always insistent upon.
    “But you could imagine a President Trump being rebuffed by the Baghdad government of al-Abadi for interfering in the country’s internal affairs via that KRG oil deal.” Big sigh. I think if Iraq is still willing to ask for US help after the 2003 invasion they’ll just smile politely & shrug off a wee under the table deal.
    I have no truck with Trump or any of those he’s likely to appoint, but it does seem that he MIGHT be a bit more straightforward & practical in his dealings with some people than at present.
    Russia & Iran are not, of course, perfect. But I prefer them to Israel & Saudia Arabia myself. Just sayin’
    & actually Juan, I do wonder if this article is entirely tongue in cheek!

  2. So now there will be a Saudi tool at Defense and an Iranian tool at State. Will the cancel each other out or blow everything up?

  3. When fossil-fuel demons become part of our government, officially, we can be assured of a constant state of war. Prediction: A return of the draft under Trump, to keep the poor “in line” and to provide fodder for the new “oil wars”.

    • The draft is hardly necessary with current military technology. The Military-Industrial Complex has already become White Man’s Welfare. Young, unemployable White men are already conditioned to see the military as their tribal birthright, while Blacks have been skeptical about the military since Vietnam and Latinos since the occupation of Iraq.

      Thus it serves the anti-egalitarian agenda of the Right to process these White men into a new kind of knighthood, lauded as heroes, hooked up with the giant corporations who handle our war operations, and then hired up by Halliburton and the mercenary firms to make more money than anyone else lacking a college degree. So they return to their towns as Big Men, gun nuts, Christian warriors, an influence on their poorer neighbors. They might as well be knights coming back from the Crusades with their rewards of farmland, certain to protect the heartland against wayward thinking by the peasants.

      You can see the value in this if it ever becomes necessary to send the National Guard in to crush the cities they already hate.

      • The projected negative attitude towards veterans as “Big Men, gun nuts, Christian warriors, an influence on their poorer neighbors. They might as well be knights coming back from the Crusades with their rewards of farmland, certain to protect the heartland against wayward thinking by the peasants.” Is wrong-headed and unfairly cynical.

  4. Professor Cole – would not Tillerson’s appointment have a tendency to anger Israel?

    Trump is playing a dangerous game that can have a grave effect on everyone? Crossing swords with the CIA and the state of Israel in the same week shows his STUPiDITY.

  5. Does anyone really expect attention to the minutiae of law and a disappearance of hypocrisy from Trump? Trump will, I guess, do what he damn well pleases to get the best for what he regards as the interests of the US. Think rather of a big bruiser bestriding the globe with a couple of rottweilers at his heels and no patience with anyone standing in his way, including the CIA and anyone else who has a notion to waste his money. Marlon Brando’s Godfather to the power of 10. Meanwhile the masses will be kept happy with revelations and scandals to light up the sky.

    • On second thoughts, I think we will see less hypocrisy because I don’t think he cares that much about human rights and democracy so won’t make claims about them in the first place.

  6. I recall a so-called Wall Street titan say on a television business program several years ago that morality was not a factor in business decisions. Recent events suggest that policy remains in effect with worsening effects. Given the business orientation of the president-elect and his nominees for his cabinet only a fool would expect morality to be a factor in future White House decisions. Which probably means business as usual in spades. As far as Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” in Trump’s legions are concerned, lotsaluck on keeping or getting jobs.

    • The question is, is the plan to keep the deplorables happy by unleashing them to restore America’s normal racist state of terror, as cops, as discriminating employers, and as vigilantes?

      Because I strongly suspect that’s what the deplorables really wanted all along from Trump. They know the pie isn’t growing any more, and even when it was, it was always their ancestors’ sadistic pleasure to make their own piece larger by beating it out of Blacks and immigrants. People who spend so much time advocating a return to the past are guilty of its crimes until they prove themselves innocent.

  7. The author above point out the bad move by Exxon with Kurdistan but he is the same author who has supported Kurdistan independence from Iraq. Keep in mind that there was never an independent Kurdish nation in Iraq ever. The Medes (ancestor of Of Kurds) with help from the Caldeans toppled the Assyrian Empire and occupied Nineveh for over half a century. Kurds have the right to be citizens of Iraq but do not have the right to have an independent nation, which is being promoted by the American outlaws & gangsters.

    Americans are insufficiently schooled about the world but are rampantly ignorant about the Arabs and the Middle east.

  8. Trump is heavily involved in an oil and gas exploration with Putin and Exxon that Obama stopped when he sanctioned Russia for Crimea. The ease that they could get Trump elected President when Putin calls him his “useful idiot” says much about the FOX-heads, control of red states and Republicans who are happy to be neo-fascists. We see the decline in life terms just like when Russia collapsed in 1990.
    USINC is now connected to Exxon, Putin and oil around the world. Your tax-dollars go to them, not to the residents of the US.

    • It is certainly interesting to consider the implications of the half-century project of the right-wing movement to restore robber baron corporate rule to America – when increasingly foreign countries act as multinational corporations.

      Cheney and the neocons were not fans of that; they wanted an American monopoly of all forms of power. While head of the American Petroleum Institute, Cheney gave a speech blaming the state-owned oil corporations, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Russia, for a likely supply crunch in the early 21st century. As head neocon, Cheney was laying out the corporate justification for war on Iraq and Iran. Note that the neoliberal prince who’s taking over policy in Saudi Arabia is now plotting to privatize Aramco. But Russia is using its dual nature as dictatorship and oil corporation to advance its power. And what do corporations do? They buy control of governments, domestic and foreign.

    • Rachel Maddow highlighted this deal a couple of days ago. It is worth $500 billion. What do you want to bet Putin gets a billion or two out of that and if and when sanctions are lifted Trump gets a whole lot of business in Russia.

  9. “So, yes, you got it. Tillerson’s corporation is de facto an ally of Iran and would have a reason to want US sanctions on that country dropped (those sanctions were just renewed by Congress for 10 years).”

    This last paragraph is confusing: the implication is that through Exxon-Mobil’s dealing with Iraqi Kurdistan, Tillerson is de-facto allied with Iran, because Iraqi Kurdistan is ” is planning to take advantage of the end of international sanctions on Iran by pumping oil through Iran to get around Iraq’s objections.”

    That Iraqi Kurdistan’s plan will actually come to fruition is still in doubt. Even if this plan were to actually come to fruition, it still does not provide sufficient evidence that Tillerson would be allied with Iran. Does trading with Iran make one an ally of Iran? I guess IC sees it this way. The more important part that remains completely unaddressed: just what is wrong with doing business with Iran? . . .

    The rest of the world, including Europe, China, and Russia, no longer believe in such sanctions, and are probably not going to follow the US if the rip the Vienna accord.

    • It is just an analysis, not advocacy. If Tillerson wants to export Kurdistan petroleum, the Iran route may be the most viable, which puts him on the opposite side of his boss and several other cabinet members.

  10. It was said in the French army, something to the effect of: “Dung is clean; oil is dirty,” its sentiment preferring cavalry over mechanised soldiering. Dirty? Having seen the misbehavior of major oil companies over the last century, one is simply amazed at the generals’ understatement.

  11. There are over 20 million Kurds in Kurdistan, most of whom are under the authority of Turkey, which has been brutal to the Kurds, even more so than when Iraqi Kurds lived under Sadaam Hussein.

    It’s not too far to go from semi-autonomy in Iraq to a sovereign state.

    Bangladesh was created from East Pakistan and Eritrea emerged from Ethiopia.

    In the future we might find that the Catalans of Spain have either a semi-autonomous region or something just short of a state, possibly some sort of confederated status or the equivalent of Scotland in the United Kingdom pre-Brexit.

    But I’m sure Turkey would object because just as China likes having Tibet (but cares less for the people), Turkey would like to retain control over Kurdistan.

    Prof. Cole does make a keen observation about Tillerson as head of Exxon-Mobil and the implications that his appointment as Secretary of State would have for US policy towards Iran, which contrary to popular accounts is less about nuclear power and more about preventing Iran from becoming a regional power.

    As I see it, U.S. foreign policy from West Asia (Afghanistan and Pakistan) to the Middle East and North Africa has destabilized most of the states contained in these linked regions.

    The U.S. and UK are the chief suppliers of weapons to Saudi Arabia , which is destroying Yemen through an intensive bombardment campaign that summons the horrors of Cambodia and Laos under Nixon/Kissinger.

    And yet, ISIS and various jihadists that are fighting the U.S.-led coalition forces somehow obtain the very same weapons we supply Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states with. There is ample evidence that U.S. weapons are passed on from so-called “moderates” supposedly siding with the U.S., actually are obtained by the very groups we deem our enemies.

    What’s worrying about Trump’s appointments is that he likes to pair people with differing views against each other as if it’s some sort of contest.

    Historically, the CIA director is the Deputy National Security Advisor. A story in the Guardian on 12/11/2016 indicated that unlike the FBI, which widely supports Trump, the CIA is quite worried that Trump is unwilling to accept their findings about Russian interference via hacking (of the DNC and leaks of HRC’s emails with John Podesta that were published by Wikileaks) and possibly covert financing (as they have done for Marie LePen’s National Front in France:
    link to theguardian.com

    And lastly, Trump has not been reading his daily National Security briefings, as President-Elects are naturally expected to do.

    This really suggests that the agendas of the CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency, Pentagon (mostly involved in arms procurement and weapons development and selling to allies), the National Security Council, the State Department, Homeland Security and the FBI could come into serious conflict.

    Already Trump has been reckless with China through his dealings with Taiwan, violating protocol established in 1979. China is extremely worried as well. link to theguardian.com

    I think we are entering an even more dangerous era than currently exists and some wrong moves could lead to war in East Asia as well.

    Certainly China does not take kindly to a more militarized Japan and the stability of South Korea is under threat due to the legislature’s vote to impeach their first female President which is now under review by their Supreme Court. (She has been stripped of her power and the Prime Minister has assumed her authority). link to theguardian.com

  12. If we are supposed to dislike Tillerson or Exxon because they don’t hate Iran enough, I’m sorry but this is rather an indication of a refreshing ability not to be captive to some kind of primordial and unreasonable hatred of a country and people who have nothing whatsoever against the U.S. and deserved long ago to have relations with the US put on a constructive basis

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