The Iraqi oil official kidnapped with four others on Tuesday was in charge of Iraq’s exploration and production, a key role, especially for a Sunni.
Abdel-Jabar al-Wagaa, a deputy minister and top assistant to the oil minister, was taken by a group of men in official uniforms and vehicles.
“This is a very sad story,” former Oil Minister Issam al-Chalabi has told the wires. He said he knew Wagaa, that the 62-year-old has a wife and other family. “He’s been working in the ministry for quite some time now, over 30 years.”
Chalabi said it is another in a series of blows to the ministry’s expertise. “There’s a continuous drain,” he said. Wagaa, named deputy minister in 2004, may be a target because of his position, because he’s a Sunni and not a Shiite Arab, or because of the tribe he hailed from, the Jibouri tribe from Mosul. “Nobody can tell but it could be a combination of all these reasons,” Chalabi said.
“This is really bad,” a U.S. official familiar with Iraq oil issues told UPI on condition of anonymity. “This is a blow to the Oil Ministry. He was one of the few remaining Western-educated technocrats.”