In a little-noted but potentially ominous move, Halliburton has announced that is pulling out of Iran, where it has long maintained oil industry maintenance services, exploiting loopholes in the sanctions. The company's CEO Dave Lesar said "the business environment currently in Iran is not conducive to our overall strategy and objectives." (AFP, Jan. 29)
Bahrain's Gulf Daily News reports that Iraq's elections are taking place under a "climate of fear," with at least 30 killed Jan 27 alone in roadside ambushes, twin suicide attacks in Samarra and fighting on Baghdad's Haifa Street, which seems to be an insurgent stronghold. Two US troops were among the dead--just one day after a helicopter crash killed 31 Marines, making the 26th the bloodiest day of the war so far for Iraqi forces.
More violence in Pakistan's semi-autonomous Northwest Tribal Areas. This time rival clans in a land dispute in Miranshah, North Waziristan, decided to settle scores with live fire in the middle of a crowded market, leaving seven dead. (Bahrain's Gulf Daily News, Jan. 27)