Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pakistan Militant Group Scraps Truce

On the road to World War III:

A powerful Taliban faction in a northwestern tribal region has said it is withdrawing from a peace deal with the government to protest continuing strikes by American drones, confronting the Pakistani military with a possible two-front campaign against militants, according to Pakistani news reports on Tuesday.

The Taliban faction, led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, operates in the mountainous North Waziristan area along the border with Afghanistan.

It struck a peace deal with the authorities in February 2008, but Mr. Gul Bahadur said the truce was no longer operative. The development Monday came as American reinforcements have been moving into Afghanistan. Taliban fighters there have traditionally relied on havens in Pakistan’s lawless tribal regions.

Soon after the Pakistani Taliban’s announcement that it was abandoning the truce, as many as 150 militants attacked a Pakistani military convoy about 22 miles west of Miramshah, the capital of North Waziristan. At least 30 soldiers —the Taliban claimed 60 — were believed to have been killed in the ambush, which highlighted the army’s vulnerability in the area.

Separately, The Associated Press reported that four people were killed in southwestern Pakistan when a car bomber attacked trucks taking supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan.

And Americans are still dying in Iraq:
The U.S. military says an American soldier has been killed in combat in Iraq.

A statement says the Multi-National Division — Baghdad soldier died Sunday but further details weren't released.

The statement was issued Monday, on the eve of a deadline for U.S. combat troops to withdraw from Iraqi cities.

American soldiers will still be in urban areas but their mission will shift from one of combat to training and advising their Iraqi counterparts.

The statement says the soldier's death is under investigation.

At least 4,319 members of the U.S. military have died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003. That's according to an Associated Press count.

And despite an invasion that was based in part to gain control of Iraq's oil, we could loss out there too:
After a year in preparation, a much-heralded auction of licenses to develop Iraq’s huge oil reserves began Tuesday but seemed to run into difficulties when oil and gas companies demanded far more remuneration than the authorities were ready to pay.

Symbolically, the sale, broadcast on television, coincided with the formal handover by American forces of security arrangements in urban areas to Iraqi forces — an economic counterpoint to the striving for political military independence underpinning the Iraqi takeover of patrolling Iraq’s restive cities.

At the auction, each contender offered a sealed bid containing details of how much oil the developing company would produce and how much it expected to be paid for each barrel of oil produced.

The auction has been billed as one of huge economic importance to Iraq, whose oil fields have been closed to foreigners for decades since they were nationalized. Iraq is seeking to increase its oil production after six years of war.

But, according to reporters watching the auction, the first round of bidding for the vast Rumaila field — the biggest on offer — stalled when Exxon Mobil and a consortium of BP and the China National Petroleum Corp. both wanted to earn more than the government’s offer of $2 for each barrel above a guaranteed minimum production level. Exxon said it would produce 3.1 million barrels daily with each additional barrel at a fee of $4.80, news reports said. The BP consortium said it would produce 2.85 million barrels a day and wanted $3.99 for each additional barrel.