The NYT today carried a substantial article about the dispute over oil rights between the Iraqi central government and the Kurdish regional government, including many mentions of the oil lease for the KRG’s Tawke field held by the Norwegian company DNO– and they managed to do that without making any mention of the other big aspect of this story that’s roiling the Norwegian press: namely, the fact that the US “cowboy diplomatic advisor” Peter Galbraith has been revealed to be a mystery shareholder in DNO.
Amazing. How could the NYT not mention this– especially given the amount of space the NYT has given to Galbraith’s own views in recent years, both on the op-ed page and as the subject of news articles, including recently?
There truly seems to be (as Reidar Visser and Steve Connors have noted in the comments section of of my earlier post on this topic) some kind of vow of omerta in the US MSM regarding Galbraith’s investing activities and the sharp conflicts of interest involved therein.
in the English-language media, the only other major people to have picked up on the story so far are Michael Rubin of The National Review (here and here) and the always excellent Paul Woodward of War in Context.
Meanwhile, Reaidar Visser has provided us with a fuller translation of the Oct. 10 article about Galbraith from Dagens Næringsliv (DN).
The article puts Galbraith’s involvement in the context of the dispute that has broken out between DNO, the KRG, and some former DNO shareholders, including the Connecticut-registered company “Porcupine”, of which Galbraith is a significant shareholder.
The DN journos have these quotes gathered from Galbraith, as they confronted him in the Norwegian city of Bergen where he has a home along with his Norwegian wife:
- 1. “It is well known that I have worked for companies that invest in Iraq. I have pledged to maintain confidentiality concerning these relationships and cannot provide any more information.”
2. “I have worked with companies investing in Iraq and of course the Kurdish authorities know about my relationships to my clients. That is all I want to say.”
Michael Rubin had done a little digging round and found some paragraphs about Galbraith and his financial interests in Iraqi Kurdistan in this January 2007 Al Kamen piece in the WaPo (scroll down):
- Former ambassador to Croatia Peter W. Galbraith, testifying last week at a Senate hearing about Iraq, noted that he’d been asked by committee staffers to “clarify my relationship with the Kurdistan Regional Government.”
The query probably was sparked by rumors over the years that Galbraith was formally advising the Kurds. His biography is on the KRG’s “Kurdistan, The Other Iraq” Web site, which lists him as an “adviser to the Kurdistan Regional Government.”
In his testimony, Galbraith said he’d “been friends of the Kurdish leaders and for that matter, other Iraqis, for a very long period of time, but I am not in a paid relationship with the Kurdistan Regional Government.”
In an e-mail exchange Friday and Saturday, Galbraith wrote that he hadn’t seen the Web site and “to the extent that it implies a formal relationship with the KRG, it is inaccurate.” Galbraith wrote that he had been paid by “two Kurdish clients” for four months in late 2003-2004 for “either an educational program on negotiations or conducting a negotiation” — all outside this country.
“I do not lobby or represent anyone in the U.S.,” he wrote, adding that he specifically noted this in his recent book on Iraq and explained there that the KRG has “provided security, accommodation and in-country transportation” when he visits.
So, he did not get paid in cash by the KRG. But was he given the shares in the DNO-KRG deal as some form of “recognition” for the work he did for the KRG?
Definitely worth asking more questions.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee, over to you?