Daniel Foster at NRO:
The AP is reporting that Iranians have seized an Iraqi oil well along the disputed southern border between the two countries. Deputy Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Haj Aziz said that Iranian troops took “oil well No. 4” Thursday night, and it remains unclear whether they still control it.
Aziz also told the AP that the Foreign and Oil Ministries were coordinating a response, and may summon the Iranian ambassador on Saturday.
BAGHDAD: Iraq yesterday demanded that Iran immediately withdraw its soldiers from a disputed oilfield on the two countries’ border, but Tehran denied any incursion.
Iraqi government spokesman Ali Al Dabbagh said 11 Iranian soldiers had taken control of the Fakka oilfield in a remote desert area of southeastern Iraq, in a “violation of Iraqi sovereignty”.
“Iraq demands the immediate withdrawal from well No 4 and the Fakka oilfield, which belongs to Iraq. Iraq is looking for a peaceful and diplomatic settlement to this issue,” he said.
Officials have summoned Tehran’s envoy in Iraq to discuss the matter, he said. Iraqi officials said the soldiers crossed into Iraqi territory yesterday and raised the Iranian flag at Fakka.
While President Obama dodges the health care debate and the snowflakes in Copenhagen, Iran has seized the day and seized an oil well in Iraq.
“Iranian forces took control of a southern Iraqi oil well on a disputed section of the border on Friday, US and Iraqi officials told AFP,” Agence France Presse reported.
The area has been in dispute for some time. The American military hopes the crisis can be resolved diplomatically. I hope so.
I guess when dealing with Muslims, a beer summit is out of question.
UPDATE: Michael Crowley at TNR:
This week I’ve been traveling with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, on a whirlwind tour that took us through Afghanistan and Pakistan before we arrived in Baghdad this evening. This installment of The Plank comes to you from one of Saddam Hussein’s lesser palaces, situated on a stagnant pond where the dictator and his sons reportedly used to go fishing. (Most of the buildings around the compound are now named after places in Oregon.) I’ll be writing plenty about this trip in the days to come, and in the print edition of TNR. But I thought I’d provide some context for what I see is the lead story on the Drudge Report: IRANIANS SEIZE IRAQI OIL WELL. This is much ado about nothing. We spent the early part of the day in the southern Iraqi port city of Basra, which is both home to most (I think) of Iraq’s oil fields and also right next to the Iraq-Iran border. At an Army base nearby, no one seemed very concerned by the news; we were told that the well in question–which apparently lies on disputed border terrain–has changed hands several times. “They play capture the flag,” one officer laughed. Literally. “The Iraqis will put their flag on it, and then the Iranians will come in the middle of the night and take it down and put theirs up.” Senior U.S. military officials apparently don’t consider this a high-priority concern, either.
But while the south of Iraq is generally peaceful, with the focus on political maturity and economic development, Iran is a real concern here. In a meeting with Iraqi security officials Mullen said that “Iran worries me a great deal,” and one Iraqi general warned that he expected Iran to try and interfere with the coming March elections here.
But that oil well is not the precursor to a cross-border war.