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 No conflict in Kurdistan

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No conflict in Kurdistan  26.11.2009  
By Peter W. Galbraith  

November 26, 2009

In your recent editorial about my work with DNO, a Norwegian oil company investing in Iraqi Kurdistan, you combine kind words about my diplomatic career and with measured criticism of my work with the company. Much of the latter comes from a Nov. 12 New York Times story that alleges that I "pushed through" provisions of the Iraqi constitution from which I would later benefit. The New York Times provided no source for this allegation and, in a breach of generally accepted standards of fairness, the reporter never asked me about it.               

Peter Galbraith, former State Department Official and former U.S. ambassador to Croatia
Even a superficial analysis would show that this could not be true. At the time the Iraqi Constitution was negotiated in 2005, I was a private citizen with no connection whatsoever with the U.S. government. In short,www.ekurd.netI was in no position to push through anything. At the request of Kurdistan's leaders, I did offer them advice on how to negotiate best to achieve their goals. But I never participated in any negotiations and was never in the room when they took place.

The Kurds put forward their proposals for the Iraqi Constitution on Feb. 11, 2004, proposals that included Kurdistan control over oil on its own territory. At that time, I had no relationship with DNO, and DNO had no involvement in Iraq. When Kurdistan's leaders asked for my advice 18 months later (which I provided informally and on an unpaid basis), they knew I was being paid by DNO. They saw no conflict of interest for obvious reason that Kurdistan's goal of controlling its own oil was completely congruent with the economic interests of companies that the Kurds brought into the region.

Until 2005, most Kurds saw Iraq's oil as a curse and wished the country had none. Iraqi oil financed the armies that oppressed the Kurds and purchased the weapons, including poison gas, that Saddam Hussein used to commit genocide. DNO pioneered the creation of a Kurdistan oil industry that today has more than 30 companies operating in the region. Oil revenues give Kurdistan the means for real self-government,
www.ekurd.netincluding the ability to defend itself. Today, Kurdistan is experiencing unprecedented prosperity financed in part by Kurdistan's oil and in stark contrast to recent decades when Iraq's oil paid for mass murder and the physical destruction of more than 5,000 villages.



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