The Iraqi government condemned air-strikes by the US military on its territory as "hostile acts" after the Pentagon said it hit sites used by Iran-backed forces. The strikes killed one member of the Iraqi security forces and wounded 18 people, including civilians, Baghdad said Dec. 26, calling the raids an "unacceptable attack on Iraqi sovereignty." Washington said the strikes targeted three sites used by Kataib Hezbollah, part of the network of Shi'ite militias in Iraq, in retaliation for a drone attack the day before on Erbil airbase that wounded three US service members, one of them critically,. (Al Jazeera)
The pipeline exporting crude oil from Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq to the Turkish port of Ceyhan is ready to resume operation, seven months after it was ordered closed by an international court ruling. On March 23, the Paris-based International Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of Baghdad against Ankara, finding that the latter breached a 1973 agreement by allowing the Kurdistan Regional Government to begin independent oil exports in 2014. The judgement confirmed that Iraqi national oil company SOMO is the only entity authorized to manage export operations through the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline. The KRG, based in Erbil, has now acceded to these terms, agreeing to market through SOMO.
President Guillermo Lasso dissolved Ecuador's opposition-controlled National Assembly on May 17—just one day after his impeachment trial began. The impeachment proceedings are of course suspended, and Lasso is to rule by decree, subject to oversight only by the Constitutional Court, until new presidential and legislative elections are held. His office issued a communique asserting that Lasso acted under Article 148 of the Ecuadoran Constitution, which states: "The President of the Republic will be able to dissolve the National Assembly…if it repeatedly without justification obstructs implementation of the National Development Plan or because of a severe political crisis and domestic unrest." The so-called "muerte cruzada" (mutual death) provision, introduced in 2008, has never been used in Ecuador before.
The government of Kazakhstan has brought a legal action for violation of environmental protection laws against the North Caspian Operating Company (NCOC), the consortium leading development of the country's massive Kashagan oil field, seeking $5.14 billion in fines. In the complaint filed late last month, the Ministry of Ecology & Natural Resources cites storage of sulfur on site in excess of permitted limits, burning of crude gas on flares without a permit, improper discharge of wastewater, and other violations.
Ukraine is denying involvement in September's attack on the Nord Stream pipelines, which were built to carry Russian natural gas to Germany (but had already been shut by Russia before the apparent sabotage). The denials follow a March 7 report in the New York Times, citing anonymous US intelligence officials to the effect that an unnamed "pro-Ukrainian group" was to blame. (BBC News) German prosecutors simultaneoulsy announced their investigators had found "traces" of explosive on a yacht that had sailed to the site of the attack from Rostok just beforehand, and had been rented from a Polish-based company that is "apparently owned by two Ukrainians." (Politico, The Guardian)
Afghanistan's Taliban regime has agreed to sign a contract with a Chinese company to exploit oil in the Amu Darya basin in the country's north, the acting mining minister announced Jan. 5. The contract with the Xinjiang Central Asia Petroleum & Gas Co. (CAPEIC) is to be the first major resource extraction deal the regime has signed with a foreign company since taking power in 2021. "The Amu Darya oil contract is an important project between China and Afghanistan," China's ambassador, Wang Yu, told a joint press conference with Taliban officials in Kabul. Beijing has not formally recognized the Taliban government but has significant interests in Afghanistan, a country deemed critical for its Belt & Road Initiative.
The Supreme Court of Sweden on Nov. 10 ruled that the trial of Alex Schneiter, a Swiss citizen and former CEO of Lundin Oil charged in connection with war crimes in Sudan, may proceed in the Swedish courts. While Lundin Oil is a Swedish-based company, Schneiter claims that he cannot be tried in Sweden because he is neither a citizen nor a resident. This claim was rejected by the lower courts, and now by the high court. The Supreme Court held that Schneiter's alleged crimes are subject to "universal jurisdiction," which allows anyone to be prosecuted anywhere in the world for serious international crimes. Justice Johan Danelius concluded: "The fact that the defendant is not [resident] in Sweden does not constitute an obstacle to Swedish jurisdiction, provided that the connection to Sweden in other respects is sufficient." The criminal case will now proceed in the Stockholm District Court.
Russian energy giant Gazprom cut off the flow of natural gas to Germany and other European markets via the Nord Stream pipeline on Aug. 31, calling it a three-day shut-down for maintenance purposes. But Western governments charge that Russia is "weaponizing" gas supplies amid the Ukraine war. (EuroNews) Days earlier, Germany's government broached allowing the blocked Nord Stream 2 pipeline to begin pumping Russian gas. Wolfgang Kubicki, vice president of the Bundestag, said the move is necessary so "people do not have to freeze in winter and that our industry does not suffer serious damage." His comment prompted a harsh response from Kyiv, where Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that "addiction to Russian gas kills." (Politico)