The Real Story from Maliki’s Visit to Amman

Nouri_al-Maliki_with_Bush,_June_2006,_cropped

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki visited Amman and met with King Abdullah and Prime Minister Ensour, and agreed to double the amount of heavy fuel exported to Jordan from 30,000 tonnes to 60,000 tonnes. The official story makes it seem like Maliki made several agreements to help bail out the Jordanian economy, but in fact there was only one major new development – the additional heavy fuel (in addition to several smaller agreements regarding exports and agriculture), and simply a restatement of things that had been agreed to prior between the two countries, with the official media presenting it as something new when nothing has really changed. It’s part of a pattern with this regime – take something relatively minor and present it as a fundamental improvement over the past. Is the agreement for additional heavy fuel beneficial – somewhat, but it’s not part of something that will fundamentally alter the realities.

Let’s start with the one major new development, the two sides agreed that Iraq would double exports of heavy fuel to Jordan from 30,000 tonnes to 60,000 tonnes. In the short term, this agreement provides some help to the Jordanian economy. It is worth noting that heavy fuel can be used to generate electricity at power stations such as the Aqaba Thermal Power Station, which was the reason for Iraq agreeing to supply Jordan with 30,000 tonnes back in 2011.

Now let’s examine the other agreements. It turns out that except for the agreements on agriculture and transportation, they are either restatements of past agreements or things that provide no immediate benefit. For example, the construction of an oil pipeline to export Iraqi oil through Aqaba and to supply Jordan Petroleum Refinery Company – a pipeline with an estimated 1 million barrels per day capacity – was already agreed to back in June when the two governments agreed to move ahead with planning, and the Memorandum of Understanding between the Iraqi and Jordanian governments dates back to 2011, though the Prime Ministry of Iraq approved it in June 2012. With regards to other agreements, the promise by Maliki to potentially supply Jordan with oil from Kirkuk and Basra oil fields was just that – a promise of something to happen in the future, without delivering any immediate benefit.

What actually happened was that Iraq made a minor agreement to boost the supply of heavy fuel, and the regime is presenting it as a major change. While it is more substantial than the gift of 100,000 barrels, ultimately it does little to change the underlying reality.

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