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Shiite Faction Threatens Iraq's Basra Oil Exports

Discussion in '2006 Archive' started by KenH, May 27, 2006.

  1. KenH

    KenH Well-Known Member

    May 18, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Shi'ite faction menaces Iraq's Basra oil exports By Mariam Karouny
    Fri May 26, 10:37 AM ET

    Iraq's new government risks being held to ransom by a dissident Shi'ite faction using its local clout in Basra to hobble vital oil exports, Iraqi officials and senior political sources said on Friday.

    They warned that the locally powerful Fadhila party was threatening to have members in the oil industry stage a go-slow to halt exports through the key southern oil port if it did not win the concessions it wanted from Baghdad.

    "Fadhila is in control," a senior Shi'ite political source close to the party said.

    Turf wars among Iraq's ruling Shi'ite Islamist parties have long made its second city a confusing battleground for rival militias, leaving the British forces nominally in charge of Basra hoping that the new government can finally impose order.

    Instead, the small Fadhila, which controls the governor's office and parts of the local oil industry but which refused to join Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's cabinet, risks turning the tables on Baghdad by turning off its cash lifeline.

    "He who owns Basra owns the oil reserves. It is the gateway to the Gulf," the Shi'ite political source said. "It's the richest city in the world. It has a strategic position so why would any one give it up?"

    The power struggle over Basra's oil goes to the fractious heart of the United Iraqi Alliance, the bloc of Shi'ite Islamist parties that controls a near-majority in parliament and will shape Iraq's future for years, with or without U.S. occupation.

    "The security problem in Basra, the corruption, the death squads, is all a power struggle between militias and mafia run by parts of the UIA," a senior Iraqi oil official said, warning that factions in Basra could shut down all Iraq's exports.

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