Iraq Calls on Iran to Withdraw from Fakka Oil Well Along Common Border
Edward Yeranian | Cairo 19 December 2009
Iraq is protesting an Iranian military incursion and occupation of an Iraqi oil well on its side of the border between the two countries.
A border row has erupted between Iraq and Iran, following the incursion of Iranian troops into Iraqi territory and the occupation of an Iraqi oil well in Maysan province, close to Iran.
US forces commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno, indicated that the Iranians had withdrawn their troops as of Saturday morning, but an Iraqi oil company employee stated that the Iranians left five men inside the facility along with an Iranian flag flying over it.
Iran has denied the reports that its forces have taken over an oil well. Ramin Mehmanparast, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, said that the media reports are misleading and are an attempt to harms Iran's "close ties" with Iraq.
The Iraqi government sent a complaint to the Iranian ambassador in Baghdad and later held an emergency security meeting on Friday, summoning Iran's ambassador in Baghdad, Hassan Kazemi-Qomi, to discuss the matter.
Iraqi government spokesman Ali Debbagh insisted that Iran remove its troops from Iraqi soil, immediately. He said that (Iraq) is asking (Iran) to withdraw its armed force immediately from oil well number four (in the area of Fakkah), along with their flag, and return to their (side of the border). He also urges Iran to allow a joint border commission to decide how to resolve the problem.
Iraqi political leaders also accused each other of not doing enough to compel the Iranians to withdraw.
Parliament Speaker Iyad al-Samaraie, from a rival political bloc opposing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, insisted that the government do more to resolve the crisis. He urged Iran to withdraw its forces and stop work at the oil facility. He also calls on the Iraqi government to speed up the process of resolving the crisis, threatening that parliament will step in and compel the government to act if it ignores its responsibilities.
US ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill, meanwhile, praised the Iraqi government, telling reporters that it had acted quickly to defend its sovereignty and that it was "not going to be pushed around" by Iran in the dispute.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen said Saturday that the United States was watching the incident at the al-Fakkah oil field. He said the United States has no plans to intervene in the diplomatic and economic spat. He said he was encourage by the Iraqi government's steps to ease tension.
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