Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty is a relic of the Cold War that in the mid-1990s got rebranded by Tom Dine (as you can read in my Nation piece) as a very serious lever of US soft power in the Muslim world.
What RFE/RL does is technically termed “surrogate broadcasting.” The current director-general says what they aim to produce is “something like the same National Public Radio station we have here in the US”– but produced by nationals of the countries to which RFE/RL broadcasts.
Which is another way of saying that though RFE/RL is funded by the S government, it aims to provide quality news coverage to the countries it broadcasts to. Unlike, for example the Alhurra t.v. channel or the Iraq-only Radio Sawa, which were established (under a single, and for-profit umbrella) during the Bush administration: Those latter two provide “news” that is much more propagandistic and/or ill-considered.
So today, I’m following Reidar Visser’s tip and looking at the RFE/RL coverage of the Galbraith affair… And yes, it is very good .
The writer, Charles Recknagel, gives us a concise description of the legal-affairs backstory for last week’s revelation by the Norwegian daily Dagens Naeringsliv that Peter Galbraith had a very significant material interest in the Kurdish Regional Government’s achievement of control over exploitation of new oil fields within its boundaries– at the very same time he was arguing strongly, as a supposed constitutional “expert”, that the new, post-invasion “regional governments” in Iraq (of which the KRG is thus far the only one) should gain exactly that and other new rights, at the expense of the central government.
The RFE/RL account of “Galbraithgate” seems to clearly give the lie to those (like Laura Rosen and others) who argue that last week’s revelation of Galbraith’s strong financial interest in the devolution of powers inside Iraq was timed to embarrass him at a point when he has just had gotten into a very public spat with the (as it happens, Norwegian) head of the UN mission in Afghanistan.
- The financial news editor of “Dagens Naeringsliv,” Terje Erikstad, says the discovery of Galbraith’s name was completely unanticipated.
“We started out the investigation looking at the fine levied against a mid-sized Norwegian oil company, DNO,” Erikstad said. “It is often in the news because it was a pioneer in northern Iraq and its shares on the Oslo stock exchange go up and down with developments there. We were not looking for Galbraith’s name at all, so finding it on [Porcupine’s] founding documents in Delaware was quite a surprise for us.”
Recknagel also gives an estimate of how much money is at stake in the current litigation between Galbraith’s company, Porcupine, and DNO:
- The paper [DN] published a document from 2006 that lists the partners in the Tawke field and shows Porcupine as having a 5 percent interest in it.
The paper estimates that the total amount of compensation being sought jointly by Porcupine and the Yemeni businessman is some $525 million. A ruling is expected in the first half of next year.
DNO has the capacity currently to export roughly 43,000 barrels per day from Iraqi Kurdistan [presumably, all of this from Tawke field], worth approximately $30 million annually. However, exports are currently blocked as the KRG and Baghdad continue to dispute the same kind of issues Galbraith once tried to resolve.
Yes, isn’t that the crux of the story: That Galbraith was actively working for the KRG to acquire these kinds of revenue-producing powers that were previously in the sovereign domain of Iraq’s central government– at exactly the same time, 2004-2006, that he was already in a business relationship with both the KRG and DNO whereby he stood to reap considerable personal benefit from the new arrangements he was arguing for.
Good job, RFE/RL.
So when will we see some similarly hard-headed reporting in organs of the US mainstream media other than the Boston Globe? The Globe did have a piece about “Galbraith-gate” in today’s paper– but it was not nearly as well researched and written as the one in RFE/RL.