Nytt

The New York Times har fulgt opp avsløringene i Dagens Næringsliv om at Peter W. Galbraith har interesser i oljefelt i Kurdistan, potensielt verdt flere hundre millioner kroner. Avsløringene er kompromitterende for Galbraith fordi han har fremstått som en idealistisk forkjemper for kurdernes rettigheter.

Nå kan det se ut som om han har skodd seg økonomisk. Galbraith har influert Joseph Biden og John Kerrys syn på Kurdistan og Irak. Ingen av de to var klar over Galbraiths økonomiske interesser. Mer alvorlig er at han deltok i utformingen av den irakiske grunnloven, i avsnittene som gjaldt bestemmelsesrett over oljefeltene. Kurderne fikk stor grad av selvstyre. At Galbraith hadde personlig interesse av en slik utvikling tar seg svært dårlig ut.

Interviews by The New York Times with more than a dozen current and former government and business officials in Norway, France, Iraq, the United States and elsewhere, along with legal records and other documents, reveal in considerable detail that he received rights to an enormous stake in at least one of Kurdistan’s oil fields in the spring of 2004.

As it turns out, Mr. Galbraith received the rights after he helped negotiate a potentially lucrative contract that allowed the Norwegian oil company DNO to drill for oil in the promising Dohuk region of Kurdistan, the interviews and documents show.

He says his actions were proper because he was at the time a private citizen deeply involved in Kurdish causes, both in business and policy.

When drillers struck oil in a rich new field called Tawke in December 2005, no one but a handful of government and business officials and members of Mr. Galbraith’s inner circle knew that the constitutional provisions he had pushed through only months earlier could enrich him so handsomely.

A worker at the Tawke field in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, where oil was struck in 2005. The Kurds are claiming control of their oil.
Now Mr. Galbraith, 58, son of the renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith, stands to earn perhaps a hundred million or more dollars as a result of his closeness to the Kurds, his relations with a Norwegian oil company and constitutional provisions he helped the Kurds extract.

In the constitutional negotiations, he helped the Kurds ram through provisions that gave their region — rather than the central Baghdad government — sole authority over many of their internal affairs, including clauses that he maintains will give the Kurds virtually complete control over all new oil finds on their territory.

Mr. Galbraith, widely viewed in Washington as a smart and bold foreign policy expert, has always described himself as an unpaid adviser to the Kurds, although he has spoken in general terms about having business interests in Kurdistan, as the north of Iraq is known.

So it came as a shock to many last month when a group of Norwegian investigative journalists at the newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv began publishing documents linking Mr. Galbraith to a specific Norwegian oil company with major contracts in Iraq.

Interviews by The New York Times with more than a dozen current and former government and business officials in Norway, France, Iraq, the United States and elsewhere, along with legal records and other documents, reveal in considerable detail that he received rights to an enormous stake in at least one of Kurdistan’s oil fields in the spring of 2004.

As it turns out, Mr. Galbraith received the rights after he helped negotiate a potentially lucrative contract that allowed the Norwegian oil company DNO to drill for oil in the promising Dohuk region of Kurdistan, the interviews and documents show.

He says his actions were proper because he was at the time a private citizen deeply involved in Kurdish causes, both in business and policy.

When drillers struck oil in a rich new field called Tawke in December 2005, no one but a handful of government and business officials and members of Mr. Galbraith’s inner circle knew that the constitutional provisions he had pushed through only months earlier could enrich him so handsomely.

As the scope of Mr. Galbraith’s financial interests in Kurdistan become clear, they have the potential to inflame some of Iraqis’ deepest fears, including conspiracy theories that the true reason for the American invasion of their country was to take its oil. It may not help that outside Kurdistan, Mr. Galbraith’s influential view that Iraq should be broken up along ethnic lines is considered offensive to many Iraqis’ nationalism. Mr. Biden and Mr. Kerry, who have been influenced by Mr. Galbraith’s thinking but do not advocate such a partitioning of the country, were not aware of Mr. Galbraith’s oil dealings in Iraq, aides to both politicians say.

Some officials say that his financial ties could raise serious questions about the integrity of the constitutional negotiations themselves. «The idea that an oil company was participating in the drafting of the Iraqi Constitution leaves me speechless,» said Feisal Amin al-Istrabadi, a principal drafter of the law that governed Iraq after the United States ceded control to an Iraqi government on June 28, 2004.

In effect, he said, the company «has a representative in the room, drafting.»

DNO’s chief executive, Helge Eide, confirmed that Mr. Galbraith helped negotiate the Tawke deal and advised the company during 2005. But Mr. Eide said that Mr. Galbraith acted solely as a political adviser and that the company never discussed the Constitution negotiations with him. «We certainly never did give any input, language or suggestions on the Constitution,» Mr. Eide said.

Galbraith erkjenner at han spilte en dobbeltrolle under forhandlingene med Bagdad, han var rådgiver for det kurdiske selvstyret, og ble betalt av DNO. Galbraith har hatt et renommé som en idealist.

Han gikk meget hardt ut mot Kai Eide for ikke å ha reagert på den systematiske valgsvindelen til Hamid Karzai. Galbraith var Eides nestkommanderende. Han ble sparket, men har fortsatt å kritisere prosessen. Nå er hans integritet alvorlig svekket.

Mr. Galbraith says he held no official position in the United States or Iraq during this entire period and acted purely as a private citizen. He maintains that his largely undeclared dual role was entirely proper. He says that he was simply advocating positions that the Kurds had documented before his relationship with DNO even began.

«What is true is that I undertook business activities that were entirely consistent with my long-held policy views,» Mr. Galbraith said in his response. «I believe my work with DNO (and other companies) helped create the Kurdistan oil industry which helps provide Kurdistan an economic base for the autonomy its people almost unanimously desire.»

«So, while I may have had interests, I see no conflict,» Mr. Galbraith said.

Kurdish officials said that they were informed of Mr. Galbraith’s work for DNO and that they still considered him a friend and advocate. Mr. Galbraith said that during his work on the Constitution negotiations, the Kurds «did not pay me and they knew I was being paid by DNO.»

U.S. Adviser to Kurds Stands to Reap Oil Profits