So corrupt Hunter Biden's in the news again. THE DAILY MAIL provides this overview:
- Emails obtained by DailyMail.com show Hunter Biden worked with former Kazakh prime minister Karim Massimov to try to pull off a $120M pipeline deal
- The oil deal involved Massimov, who's now accused of treason, and the State China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), now under US sanctions
- The president's son traveled to Beijing and Kazakhstan in 2014 and 2015 to broker the deal on behalf of a Ukrainian gas firm Burisma as a board member
- The venture came years after a similar oil deal had faced opposition from Western energy firms
- Devon Archer, Hunter's longtime friend and business partner at Burisma wrote to Hunter that he was excited that the offer could make them rich
- Emails show their plan was for the Kazakh government to grant drilling rights to CNOOC, with the rigs and wells being operated by Burisma
- It is unclear from Hunter's emails whether they pulled off either deal
- The State Department's sanctions only cover CNOOC's activity in the South China Sea, not their other global operations
Hunter Biden tried to strike an exceedingly lucrative, “forever” business deal with a state-owned Chinese energy company that’s since been sanctioned by the US over its ties to the Chinese military, according to the latest emails unearthed from his infamous laptop.
The plan would have apparently also involved the then-prime minister of Kazakhstan, who was arrested on suspicion of treason last month following his ouster as head of the country’s intelligence service.
The emails date to April 2014, when Biden’s dad, President Biden, was vice president and about a year before father and son apparently posed for a photo with the Kazakhstani official, Karim Massimov, in a Washington, DC, restaurant.
The correspondence shows Hunter Biden and then-business partner Devon Archer — who has since cooperated in a tax probe of the first son — discussing an offer to help find “investment opportunities” for the China National Offshore Oil Corp.
If Joe Biden is a one term president, how do you see his only term ending? I see it with him issuing a blanket pardon for his son Hunter as he rushes out the door.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
Thursday, February 10, 2022. with all the problems Iraq is facing, the Iraqi people really can't afford the ongoing political stalemate.
In Iraq, there's still no government. There are, however, ridicuslous stories insisting that the Parliament is managing things just fine.
The Parliament has a clear role, the three presidencies have a role and the prime minister (and the council) have a clear role. We have seen, for example, biased bills work their way through the Parliament and be blocked by the President or one of the vice presidents. One component of government cannot function on its own. Pretending otherwise is lying.
The second largest lake in Iraq has dried up, threatening people's
income and agriculture, with locals saying they have been forced to
abandon their homes and move to urban areas.
Milh Lake was once a popular destination for tourists to cool down during scorching summer temperatures. It is now experiencing a dangerous drought, threatening the lives of local Iraqis.
The second-largest lake in Iraq, also known as Razzaza Lake, is located west of the city of Karbala.
Water levels here have plummeted and the once-thriving touristic spot currently resembles a desert. The only things to see now are dead animals and large amounts of salt.
How is the Parliament addressing the climate crisis in Iraq? It's not. It can't. It doesn't have the powers needed to address it all by itself. Without a functioning government, there's not even a pretense of forward movement on the battle against climate change.
Back in July, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent noted:
The Iraqi marshlands are a wetland with a unique ecosystem at the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers.
In the early 1990s, these marshlands were intentionally dried up as a means of retaliation against a population considered to be rebellious.
By 2001, an estimated 90 per cent of the marshlands had disappeared (UNEP), leading to a loss of biodiversity and large-scale displacement.
If you go back even further to the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, iconic date palms were cut down for military purposes in places like Fao, south of Basra.
“There were more than 30 million palms before the Iran-Iraq war, today there’s less than half that number,” said Adel Al-Attar, an ICRC water and habitat advisor, from Basra.
“Conflict, neglect, soil salinity, there are several reasons that have contributed towards their loss. It is deeply upsetting. The whole atmosphere has changed since we lost the palms.
“They aren’t only about fruit. They give shade for certain crops. The leaves are used to make furniture like chairs and beds. No palms mean no business. So people have left the land and moved to the cities to find jobs.”
The loss of palms and the drying of the marshlands are visible reminders of the direct damage that war has inflicted upon the environment in southern Iraq.
Less visible, but arguably more detrimental, are the indirect consequences of war – whether in Iraq or anywhere else.
For example, conflict will often weaken a government’s ability to manage natural resources, the environment and infrastructure.
Remnants of war, such as unexploded weapons or anti-personnel mines, can render land unusable and harm wildlife, while camps for people uprooted by conflict place additional pressure on the surrounding environment.
Enter climate change
Average temperatures in Iraq have risen by at least 0.7C over the last century, while extreme heat is becoming more frequent. Rainfall is on a slight downward trend in the south-east of the country.
The mean annual temperature is projected to rise by 2C by 2050, while the mean annual rainfall is projected to decrease by 9 per cent (World Bank Group).
“I’ve lived in Basra all my life,” said Al-Attar. “As a boy, the summer temperature never went much beyond 40C in summer. Today, it can surpass 50C.”
Sand or dust storms have also increased dramatically in frequency, in large part due to soil degradation.
Between 1951-1990, there were an average of 24 days per year with dust storms in Iraq, compared to 122 in 2013 (UN). Again, projections suggest they are likely to increase.
“When there’s not enough rain or vegetation, the upper layers of earth become less compact, meaning the chance of dust or sandstorms increases,” explained Al-Attar.
“These weather events contribute to desertification. Fertile soil is turning into desert.”
Historically fertile areas in southern Iraq are disappearing, according to local authorities. In Fao, arable land has decreased from 7.5 sq km to 3.75 sq km, while in Thi Qar it has dropped from 100 sq km to just 12.5 sq km.
Desertification in the south has decimated the agricultural sector, which used to employ a sizeable part of the population.
When people are unable to depend on the land for their livelihoods, they migrate to urban areas like Basra or Najaf in the search for jobs.
As an example, the population of the port town of Fao has decreased from 400,000 to 50,000 people in four decades as people move to the larger cities.
“The future is emigration,” said Al-Attar. “It hurts when you see the younger generation leaving rural areas to go work in unskilled labor jobs in urban areas or in the oil fields.
“There aren’t enough jobs for them in these sectors. Unemployment is high, as are tensions, which doesn’t bode well for recovery and stability.”
Last month, THE NEWSHOUR (PBS) reported on climate change in Iraq:
In November, nearly 200 nations gathered in Glasgow, Scotland for the COP26 climate summit. The outcome was disappointing for experts, who wanted stronger commitments to ensure capping global warming. The conference also failed to ease vulnerable countries' concerns about long-promised climate financing from rich nations.
One of the countries lacking international support is Iraq. As NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Simona Foltyn reports, the country is already facing the alarming effects of climate change.
This story is part of our ongoing series, "Peril & Promise: The Challenge of Climate Change."
Sunrise in Iraq's Mesopotamian marshes. These historic wetlands are nestled in southern Iraq, where human civilization emerged 7,000 years ago.
But water scarcity is threatening this habitat and the humans who rely on it.
Jassem Ali, Fisherman:
There's no water. And if there's no water, there's no more fish. There's only bare land left. The water has dried.
In this area, average annual rainfall for the last twenty years was 10 percent lower than in the three decades prior.
Declining water levels means the water that is left is increasingly salty , making it largely unfit for humans, animals and vegetation alike. Only small fish survive here now, but they fetch a lower price for the fishermen. Their catch earned them $15 dollars each, the result of two days of hard work.
Hassoun Daoud, Fisherman:
Of course this is not enough. I have a family that depends on me. But this is our life now.
Jassem Ali, Fisherman:
I have four children sitting at home. Two are married and two aren't.
I ask Jassem Ali if he's thinking about leaving fishing to find work elsewhere.
"And do what?" he asks in return.
Also last month, ALJAZEERA noted, "The World Bank recently warned Iraq would be hit particularly hard by climate change, with a significant effect on the economy and employment. The country could suffer a 20 percent drop in water resources by 2050, with nearly one-third of the irrigated land in Iraq left parched."
This is a pressing issue, not something to shove on the backburner but that's what's happening. In fact, every thing is being shoved on the back burner in Iraq as the country remains without a president or prime minister. No, the Parliament can't rule the country by itself. It's not how it works, it's not how it's set up. There are many issues that need to be addressed daily and they aren't being addressed.
This week, HURRIYET reported:
A report prepared by the European Union draws attention to the possibility of conflict due to water sharing between Turkey, Syria and Iraq in the Euphrates-Tigris basin as a result of global climate change.
Striking findings regarding the future period have been included in the research titled “Climate Change and Water Report for the Tigris and Euphrates Basin” prepared by the European Union Cascades project.
This study examines future impacts of climate change on water resources and the ensuing economic and political challenges in the Euphrates-Tigris basin shared by the countries of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey.
“More severe water shortages and water quality problems aggravated by climate change will make it harder to sustain farming and livelihoods depending on ecosystems.,” the report said.
“A failure to mitigate climate-related water risks can contribute to poverty, food insecurity, and unemployment in rural farming communities, and eventually lead to displacement and internal migration at a larger scale than is seen today,” it added.
Noting that climate change would complicate and aggravate water-related challenges that are already significant in the region, especially in Iraq and Syria, the report said that the incurred economic losses would reduce the government’s resources for an adequate adaptation response.
A problem of that magnitude needs a comprehensive strategy and, no, Parliament can't devise and implement that.
Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court said on Wednesday that it will meet on
Sunday to hear the case against the Kurdistan Democratic Party's (KDP)
candidate for the Iraqi presidency, as reported by state media.
The court decided on Sunday to temporarily suspend the KDP’s Hoshyar Zebari’s nomination for the Iraqi presidency after a number of parliamentarians filed a case against him. Zebari has said he respects the ruling.
The legislature was scheduled to meet on Monday to elect a new president for the country. However, the meeting was postponed indefinitely because a quorum of two-thirds attendance was not met as the prominent political parties, including the KDP, boycotted the session.
Iraq held snap parliamentary elections on October 10. The speaker of
parliament was elected last month following a deal between Kurdistan
Region’s ruling KDP, Sadrist bloc and most Sunnis.
The KDP has fielded Zebari, who has previously held several positions in Baghdad, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has nominated the incumbent Iraqi President Barham Salih for the position. Both candidates are the strongest by far.
There's some misunderstanding regarding Zebari's run. It has not been blocked or stopped. It's halted while the court reviews matters.
Former prime minister and forever thug Nouri al-Maliki often used bodies like the court to circumvent candidates who were rivals. Many times, they'd be cleared by whatever body. But his point was to cause problems for those candidates. Here? If he's a part of this, he most likely knows Zebari stands a very good chance of being cleared. The oint of this would be to demonstrate to Moqtada's alliance how unprepared Moqtada is and how he is unable to handle basic politics which is why the October 10th elections have still not resulted in a prime minister or president.
The point of the move is to frustrate Moqtada's alliance and to make them question Moqtada's leadership.
Current Iraqi realities demonstrate that the country's political arena is devoid of a leader who can unite Iraqis across party lines and beyond selfish calculations. Realities also show that Moqtada al-Sadr is not the person who can fulfil the dreams of the few who voted for him.
For those who have forgotten them, it is useful to recall the confessions of Qais Khazali, a dissident leader from the Sadrist movement, to US forces when they arrested him in 2007.
According to his interrogation file, of June 18, 2007, Khazali confirmed that his repeated visits to Iran in company with Sadr and later alone as Moqtada's envoy, were aimed at obtaining money, weapons and political support from Tehran.
Khazali said that Sadr wanted him to be the channel of communication with Iran and to receive funding from Tehran while he, Sadr, maintained the appearance of independence from Iran.
Further fleshing out this reality, recent electoral statistics have shown that the total number of those who voted for the Sadrist movement, the Coordination Framework groups, the Muhammad al-Halbousi bloc and Khamis al-Khanjar, and the party of Massoud Barzani, does not exceed ten percent of the overall population of Iraq.
This means that the number of those under the influence of the current political leaders does not exceed two million Iraqis at best, many of whom were driven by need, fear, or racial, sectarian or regional loyalties. The remaining 29 million Iraqis are just fence-sitting. They are simply watching while the battles for the winners and losers rage on.
There is more than meets the eye in the political class and what it means for Iraqi society.
What the bloody uprisings have proven, since 2003, is that the Iraqi Shia popular constituencies, in particular, are unhappy with the pro-Iranian political class in power. They consider it a duty to resist that class, to work to bring it down and to get rid of its corruption.
We'll note this Tweet:
He's arguably Iraq's best-known face abroad. Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd, was the country's longest-serving foreign minister, often hobnobbing with Western diplomats and journalists, but also cultivating strong ties with neighboring Arab states to make his country's case.
The following sites updated: