Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Galbraith Was Paid by DNO when He Sat In on Sensitive Constitutional Drafting Sessions in 2005

Posted by Reidar Visser on Thursday, 12 November 2009 10:27

In many ways, today’s story in The New York Times on Tawke-gate serves to corroborate the account of events already conveyed earlier by Norway’s Dagens Næringsliv (DN). In particular, the impression that it was the Norwegian oil company DNO (rather than the KRG) that awarded a stake in the Tawke oilfield to Peter Galbraith back in 2004 is strengthened in the article, and there are interesting remarks by Abd al-Hadi al-Hassani, one of the few officials close to the Maliki administration who has had the courage to comment publicly on the affair so far. Also, it is refreshing that the NYT, which in the past has given ample space to Americans advocating a soft partition of Iraq, has chosen to publish this kind of critical perspective on one of the leading intellectuals of the soft partition crowd.

Perhaps the single most significant piece of new information in the story is the confirmation that Peter Galbraith, whose consultancy work for DNO in 2004 has previously been revealed by DN, also received payment from DNO in 2005, “throughout the constitutional negotiations in 2005 and later.” On this aspect, Iraq’s former ambassador to the UN, Feisal Amin al-Istrabadi comments to the NYT as follows:  “The idea that an oil company was participating in the drafting of the Iraqi Constitution leaves me speechless”. Istrabadi emphasises that DNO in practice had “a representative in the room, drafting.”

It is often not realised how secretive and closed those final negotiations of the Iraqi constitution in August 2005 really were. A good description has been offered by Jonathan Morrow of the USIP:

“After August 8, constitutional negotiations took place in a series of private, ad hoc meetings between Kurdish and Shiite party leaders – the “Leadership Council,” as it was termed by the international press, or more informally by Committee members, “the kitchen” (matbakh). In its basic form, the Leadership Council consisted of SCIRI leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, Shiite Dawa party leader Prime Minister Jaafari, Kurdish PUK party leader President Jalal Talabani, and Kurdish KDP party leader Masoud Barzani. These meetings took place at irregular intervals at a number of private residences and compounds in the International Zone. These were meetings at which the Sunni Committee members had no right of attendance, to which they frequently requested attendance, but were not often invited. The expectation was quite clear: the Shiite and Kurdish parties would agree to a constitutional text, which would then be presented as a fait accompli to the Sunni Arabs, who would be asked to take it or leave it.”

Someone who was admitted to these meetings, however, was Peter Galbraith, the paid DNO consultant and stake-holder in the Tawke oilfield. Again, according to Morrow, “the Kurdish parties were able to invite into the ad hoc meetings experienced non-Iraqi international negotiators and constitutional lawyers, including former U.S. diplomat Peter Galbraith and University of Maryland Professor Karol Soltan, to advance the Kurdish case.”

It seems Galbraith was doing more than just “advancing the Kurdish case”: The Iraqi constitution adopted in October 2005 for the first time establishes a regional role in administering the country’s oil sector, more or less on the lines advocated by Galbraith in a policy paper from early 2004. It is noteworthy that the KDP draft constitution for Iraq from 2003, by way of contrast, accorded exclusive sovereignty to Baghdad in administering the oil sector. Today’s revelation that Galbraith also received payment from DNO, a foreign oil company, when he was sitting in on those sensitive Iraqi constitutional meetings in August 2005 where the regional role in the oil sector was established, takes the whole Tawke-gate affair to unprecedented levels of scandalousness.

15 Responses to “Galbraith Was Paid by DNO when He Sat In on Sensitive Constitutional Drafting Sessions in 2005”

  1. Reidar,
    Thank you for serving the moral truth, and congratulation on another valuable analysis.
    I think the interesting dynamic to watch for right now is between the US and its Kurdish allies.

  2. Salah said

    Its long time people talking about Iraq war regarded as its all about oil….. And there is a denial all long for that claim.

    But let first not forgot few facts here. Iraq richness it’s not JUST OIL! There are more that that if you think so sorry you fool yourself.

    Bill Clinton stated in one of his statement that US had got Uranium enough fro decades, this of course if you asked Iraqi north will tell you there was a huge operation 24/7 after 1991 that heavy trucks from north Iraq loaded hiding to Turkey some said a complete mountain was moved!!

    If Galbraith invested by his own money or its his commissions for the writing the Iraqi constitution (democratically) in favour of Kurds and they rewarded him what comes on now, let beer in mind he was not employed by US government with the for the time he involved their with Kurds or DNO.

    But here more coming stories that BUSH team now moving to take the WalkCake!!

    Reidar, more stink and fishy, this more interesting and not less important than Galbraith saga:

    War veterans make Iraq their business

    Jay Garner, a retired general who was, in effect, US governor of Iraq straight after the war. He is now an adviser to Vast Exploration, a Canadian company with interests in Kurdistan oil

    The Financial Times Limited 2009 Note you need to register to read the article

    Zalmay Khalilzad The plunder of Iraq’s oil

  3. Salah said

    Child abductions in Iraq’s oil city

  4. Brent said

    Faisal, It seems to me that Iraq would have the almost exact same constitution as now, wether Galbraith was involved or not. Hes one advisor amongst many I susppect. It does leave a sour taste in the mouth but the constitution was passed by 80% of Iraqi voters. And there is a review still to be conducted. Respectfully, I would prefer to be reading about the possible coalitions still to be formed and the front runners for winning the next election.

  5. Reidar Visser said

    Brent, the final draft of the constitution eas ready on 12 Oct 2005, three days before the ref. Few Iraqis had time to read it, and it was not in the media either due to the country being closed down for the poll. Today we see the reaction as even the PM is calling for changes towards a more centralised state structure. As you note, there is a process of revision going on which is why I feel foreigners, both oil companies and consultants of whatever description, should be patient and stay on the sidelines until the process has come to a close. To my mind, that means north AND south, although of course the service contracts in the south will inevitably prove a lot less controversial than the PSAs of the north in parliament.

  6. zaid said

    Istrabadi’s complaint that DNO had “a representative in the room, drafting” is incomplete. In fact, there was a foreign private citizen that was in the room, drafting, and representing his own personal financial interests (obviously, without telling anyone that that was the case).

  7. Brent said

    Reidar, I agree except on the oil contracts in the south being less controversial. In the north they are mainly exploration contracts some high risk and take alot of money and time with sometimes nothing to show at the end. In the south they are service contracts from already existing fields low risk as the oil is already there. It seems to me that a cash straped Iraqi govt would find it easier to take over the service contracts as opposed to the exploration ones. I dont see what can be gained by a new govt in Bagdad lumbering itself with years of wrangling over who signed what and when. They need to be capitalisng on the oil now not in 5 years time. Which is how long it would take to tender for new exploration contracts and drill programes. Not to mention finding the billions to fund it all.

  8. Reidar Visser said

    Brent I understand the logic of your argument “in vitro”, the problem is the Iraqis don’t see it that way (which is what I am trying to convey). Many see the PSAs as plunder, even if there is a logic of exploration and hence greater risk. And so to the central govt is makes more sense now to focus on getting the southern oilfields online in a serious way, instead of bargaining abot the comparatively small northern ones, where they find the current Kurdish position unacceptable. It should be remembered that a good deal of the opposition to Shahristani right now is purely opportunistic and an attempt by Maliki’s (Shiite) enemies to hurt him prior to the elections. Many of them (such as Fadila) are equally opposed to the Kurdish PSAs.

  9. Salah said

    should be remembered that a good deal of the opposition to Shahristani right now is purely opportunistic and an attempt by Maliki’s (Shiite) enemies to hurt him prior to the elections.

    Your reading may be right, but there are many Iraqi oil specialists had extensive and detailed argument about Shahristani oil contrasts, even some western specialists the spoken in same way.

    Shahristani questioning time in parliament was laughable and not serious from different prospective:

    1- Number of MP’s in first senate 85member in second senate 70 member from 275 total members!! I don’t know on earth the speaker allowed this goes ahead?

    2- Most the questions was personal and roamer sources which far from the real purpose of discussing the contract of oil.

  10. Brent,
    You obviously like to keep it simple, so do I. I will try to explain the situation as I see it in simple terms.
    There is the old model (political system) and there is the new model. The old is an empire of many cultures and ethnicities but with one master ethnicity which likes to see itself as the glue of the empire. The old political system emphasizes ethnicities and generally needs only one-chamber parliament where the supremacy of the masters stands (hopefully) unchalleged. The new model emphacises one national identity and sees all its component ethnicities as equal at least in their opportunity to reach high political office. Most modern democracies follow the new model, including the U.S., Canada and modern Iraq (1923-1958.) I know there are exceptions such as the Roman Empire, but such exceptions only serve to prove the rule. The constitution of 2005 is extremely old model in emphacising ethnicities it is hard to find similarities in working democracies, so your conclusion that “Iraq would have almost exact same constitution as now, wether Galbraith was involved or not” seems unjustified. To my mind, the expectation of Iraqi constitution in 2005 by any right should have been modeled on the U.S. and I find it morally wrong for the U.S. to promote a constitution so far from its own.

  11. Salah said

    Very interesting revelations of Kurds earning comparing with US.

    So Galbraith just one who share corrupted gangs in northern Iraq!

    حسب المعلومات التي حصلت عليها مجلة (لفين). فان المخصصات والراتب الشهري لمسعود البارزاني رئيس حكومة الإقليم هي(400) ألف دولار شهريا ، ويعادل هذا المبلغ راتب ومخصصات باراك اوباما رئيس الولايات الأمريكية المتحدة لسنة كاملة ، لان راتب اوباما هو (33333) دولار فقط ويساوي (400) ألف دولار سنويا . ميزانية الإقليم لا تتجاوز 8 مليار دولار سنويا في المقابل إن الميزانية السنوية لأمريكا هي (14.264) تريليون دولار. ومسعود البارزاني هو رئيس للإقليم يتكون من 3 محافظات و سكانها 5مليون نسمة ، أما اوباما فإنه رئيس لـ 50 ولاية و يبلغ عدد سكانها قرابة ( 307) مليون نسمة.

    أما راتب و مخصصات رئيس جمهورية العراق (جلال الطالباني) هو (12)مليون دولار سنويا أي مليون دولار شهريا ، و راتب كلاهما (الطالباني و البارزاني ) يعتبر من أعلى الرواتب بين رؤوساء العالم.

  12. Salah said

    “The idea that an oil company was participating in the drafting of the Iraqi Constitution leaves me speechless”

    Please give your view the legality of Iraqi Constitution with the above statement.

    Secondly what Iraqis have in legal manners with Iraqi Constitution? i.e can they rejected legally?

    And how?

  13. Reidar Visser said

    Salah, in my view, the most important article in the constitution is the one that enables a thorough one-off revision, to be adopted with a straightforward majority in parliament. If that is done in a careful manner, then the constution itself could enjoy greater legitimacy in the future.

  14. Salah said

    Thanks Reidar,

    As you may know, getting the majority in parliament, it’s not an easy matter as the big “religious” parties not welling to changes with the constitution.

    As I remember there were a review for the constitution after it’s approved,some how that time frame was passed without review.

    As for Galbraith saga looks the most Iraqi parties even the Iraqi parliament not piking their attentions at all, there is very low media coverage but non of them talks about it seriously.

  15. Reidar Visser said

    Salah, since the current parliament did not manage to complete its revision (they have only presented a partial and extremely weak report) it will probably be for the next partliament to create a new (and better) committee – which is why I think all Iraqis should use their vote! Even the Daawa party this time employs the slogan of “changing the constitution” in its electoral propaganda, and among other things has been emphasising more power to the centre.

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