The Corner

The Other Partner in the Galbraith Oil Scandal

The Norwegian press has been doing great work in investigating the Norwegian oil firm DNO’s somewhat questionable dealings in Iraqi Kurdistan, during the course of which they identified former ambassador Peter Galbraith as a claimant to a share of the Tawke oil field.

The other claimant is Shahir ‘Abd-al-Haq, a Yemeni businessman, who had handled DNO’s business in Yemen and, at some point, also bought shares in Tawke. It is uncertain whether Galbraith and ‘Abd-al-Haq were formal partners, or were just thrown together by mutual interests and holdings in the same field. What is not disputed, however, is that they are co-plaintiffs in court proceedings in London seeking compensation from DNO for having been ousted from the contracts.

’Abd-al-Haq has appeared on the U.S. radar screen before, as he helped Iraqi president Saddam Hussein subvert U.N. sanctions and import weapons. So now we have Peter Galbraith, who was an outspoken advocate for Kurdish rights in the wake of Saddam’s ethnic cleansing becoming a partner with a man who helped arm Saddam. Greed makes strange bedfellows.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.