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Kirkuk provides road map to post-Mosul Iraq, governor says

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KIRKUK/WASHINGTON (CI MENA)  — Kirkuk Governor Dr. Najmaldin O. Karim, MD is providing a road map for a stable and prosperous Iraq without the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) with his no-nonsense management of the recently liberated oil rich territory next to the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) based in Erbil.

[Kirkuk Province Governor Dr. Najmaldin O. Karim, MD speaks with Capitol Intelligence/CI MENA using CI Glass in his office in Kirkuk Governorate, Kirkuk, Iraq. December 6, 2015]

In an interview with Capitol Intelligence at his office in the Kirkuk Governorate on December 6, 2015, the US trained neurosurgeon said he has been successful in uniting the diverse ethnic group of Kurds, Sunni Arabs, and Turkmen following the liberation of the area by Kurdish Peshmerga forces by delivering services ranging from trash pickup to supplying reliable electricity.

Kirkuk’s Dr. Karim can-do management style, combined with private sector leadership from Europe’s leading banker, Unicredit CEO Federico Ghizzoni, can quickly transform northern Iraq from a geopolitical quagmire to an regional economic power.

Dr. Karim, who worked as a neurosurgeon at Washington, DC’s George Washington University Medical Hospital when President Ronald Reagan’s life was saved after the attempted assassination by John Hinckley, Jr on March 30, 1981.

Governor Dr. Karim immediately made his mark in the post-ISIS Kirkuk by making the clearing of trash and litter of the city a source of common pride for all residents. Governor Karim has also ordered that commercial trucks not enter the city between 8am to 10 a.m. so to ease rush-hour traffic congestion.

He is also unique for Iraq or the West for his absolute no smoking policy inside the Kirkuk Governorate. Visitors are not only carefully searched for weapons but any type of tobacco product, and are required to leave any offending cigarettes and cigars at the entrance of the large government compound.

Kirkuk Governor Dr. Karim and KRG officials all express frustration that Western leaders continue to receive misinformation regarding on the ground security in the KRG and Kirkuk.

“These international organizations come to Kirkuk for half a day and that report that the situation is terrible without even doing basic research and seeing for themselves,” Governor Dr. Karim said. ”

In fact, Capitol Intelligence was able to drive to Kirkuk for the interview with Governor Dr. Karim  using a Hertz rental car without incident while the UN and other foreign government officials and NGOs needlessly hire bulletproof Toyota Land cruisers at USD one,500 per day and personal security details (PSD) for about USD 10,000 a day.

The oil rich Kirkuk, where Houston-based American oil giant Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) and British/Dutch BP (NYSE: BP) are operators, is proof that the indisputable economic success seen in Erbil and the KRG can be copied in other Iraqi provinces such as Isis-occupied Mosul located only 80 kilometers from Erbil.

Dr. Karim played a key role in formalizing a joint oil production sharing agreement between Iraqi Central Government in Baghdad and Kirkuk/KRG involving a massive daily production of 500,000 barrels of oil, with the lion share produced in Kirkuk province.

Dr. Karim said while an agreement is in place, Iraq’s State Organization for Marketing of Oil (SOMO) has been slow in paying the KRG and Kirkuk the revenues it is owed from oil exports, thus placing Kirkuk and KRG in a severe economic hardship made even worse by the large number of internally displaced persons on their territories. .

Not only is Gov. Karim negotiating with Baghdad but also with the heads of the world’s major oil companies. Dr. Karim said he recently met with BP CEO Bob Dudley and hopes to meet Exxon Mobil CEO Rex W. Tillerson sometime in the future.

[ExxonMobil CEO Rex W. Tillerson speaks with Capitol Intelligence/BBN using CI Glass at Economic Club of Washington DC. March 12, 2015.]

However, the falling oil prices and delays in SOMO payments has both Governor Karim and the KRG aggressively seeking new non-exploration & production investments in the downstream sector of gasoline refining and chemicals, electrical power production and in the industrial manufacturing areas of textiles, furniture and machine tools.

Among groups that are currently scouting major investments in the northern Iraq refining sector include Warsaw Stock Exchange listed conglomerates such as Poland’s PKN Orlen (WSE: PKN) and Grupa Lotos (WSE: LTS) and a number of Russia groups connected to Russian oil and gas giant Gazprom.

The KRG, Kirkuk Governor Karim and the front-line soldiers of the Peshmerga fail to understand why President Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Hollande, Turkish President Erdogan, UK PM David Cameron and Italian PM Matteo Renzi cannot see that defeating ISIS is much easier than maintaining the status quo.

[Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi speaks with Capitol Intelligence/CI MENA using CI Glass during US-Italy State visit with US President Barack Obama in Washington, DC. October 19, 2016]

On the front lines in Barletta, some 10 minutes from Mosul, a mere 50 ISIS “terrorists” have blocked a key commercial road leading to Turkey and oil fields in Northwest Kurdistan and forced hundreds of Peshmerga to face occasional sniper fire and attacks from home made mortars.

[CI MENA films Peshmerga frontlines with ISIS at Bartella near Mosul, Iraq using CI Glass (Google Glass) on December 7, 2015]

The ill-equipped Peshmerga control the KRG and Kirkuk border with ISIS in makeshift unheated shacks and dine on meals of bean soup and rice while US Special Forces are locked in military bases while other foreign troops, such as the German Army, are housed in 5-Star hotels with full sauna and SpA services in Erbil.

Already in July 2014, KRG Foreign Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir traveled to Washington, DC asking for material support from the United States to help them clear ISIS from Iraqi territory.

“Anywhere where we are present (such as Kirkuk), we have provided security and protection,” Bakir said.

The terrorist attacks on Paris and those in Tunisia and Sinai can all traced back to Western inability to tackle a ragtag team of petty gangsters who willingly let themselves be manipulated and used by organized crime and other outside forces.

The main financial support for ISIS comes from oil fields located near and around Mosul, many bordering on oil fields owned by Dallas oil tycoon Ray Hunt of Hunt Oil.

The KRG, faced with its severe economic crisis, has started a massive public sector privatization program to free-up economic resources and lower the dependency of state sector employment on the overall population.

A front-line three-star Peshmerga General Mohamad Ahmad said he and his soldiers are prepared to liberate Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city with a population that once numbered two and half million, if they get on the ground support from the US military and other allies.

[Peshmerga General Mohamad Ahmad speaks with Capitol Intelligence/CI MENA using CI Glass (Google Glass/Luxottica) at ISIS front-lines at Bartella near  Mosul.]

Mosul, a city known for its accountants and pharmaceutical industry, could once again be a financial and industrial center of a renewed and revitalized Iraq and the region as a whole.

By PK Semler in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan; Kirkuk, Iraq; Milan, Italy; and Washington, DC. Additional reporting by Brusque Jasim in Kirkuk and Erbil.

Copyright of Capitol Intelligence Group — Turning Swords into Equity ®

PK Semler
Peter K. Semler is the Chief Executive Editor and founder of Capitol Intelligence. Prior, Peter was the Washington, DC Bureau Chief for Mergermarket (Dealreporter/Debtwire) of the Financial Times and personally headed political/economic coverage of the US House of Representatives and Senate.
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