In the theatre of oil, the politics of Iraq

The grand oil auction Dec. 11 and 12 required a breakout performance for Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani in time for the national elections.

BAGHDAD - They emerged from armored convoys, removed their flak jackets and straightened their suits and ties. Executives of the world’s biggest oil companies had passed the check points and blast walls of a conflict-stricken city and were now walking the red carpet into a ministry whose leaders were firmly in charge.

A successful show was as much about Iraq today as the future of the country, and master of ceremonies and Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani knew it.

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