Do you recall in the
run-up to the invasion of Iraq how sceptics who suggested the Bush
administration was after oil were generally written off as anti-American
At that time those
paragons of virtue inhabiting the White House were thought to have no such
grasping motives. They were instead committed to ridding the planet of nasty
weapons and evil-doing dictators in the name of democracy, freedom and the
spread of Starbucks.
It turns out those
sceptics, who insisted Iraq wouldn�t have been invaded if its only export
commodity were bananas, were on to something after all.
According to last
Sunday�s Observer, �Baghdad is under pressure from Britain and the US to pass
an oil law which would hand long-term control of Iraq�s energy assets to
doubting Thomas was former South African President Nelson Mandela, who said
this in 2005, �George Bush wants to get hold of the Iraqi oil� and �we must
expose this as much as possible.�
Another is the former
Malaysian leader, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who earlier this month stated his belief
that the US wants to control Iraq�s oil to prevent it from fuelling the rise of
China. �Containing China is the American dream,� he said.
As far back as 2005,
BBC�s Newsnight revealed that the big oil grab was planned within weeks of Bush
taking office, long before the 9-11 attacks.
The original plan,
drafted by neoconservatives, involved the privatisation and sell-off of Iraq�s
oil fields. In this way it was hoped the Opec pricing cartel could be smashed.
However, this was
opposed by oil industry executives, who have every interest in keeping oil
prices high and who, in any case, will stand to benefit handsomely from the new
viceroy in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, suggested the seizing of Iraq�s oil fields in
the early days of the invasion, this was quashed by the US State Department no
doubt eager to deflect accusations that this was the administration�s intent
The Bush camp, which
includes foreign oil companies and the IMF, insists the Iraqi government needs
to sign off on the new hydrocarbon law as soon as possible to encourage energy
company investors to upgrade wells and pipelines, and to seek out new oil and
Prime Minister Nouri
Al Maliki and president of the Kurdish administration. Massoud Barzani, have
disgracefully agreed to the draft.
In other words, the
Iraqi government plans to relinquish control of Iraq�s oilfields for up to 35
years (extendable for another 30) to foreigners, who will not be obliged to
employ Iraqis or invest a percentage of their profits into Iraq�s economy.
Further, foreign oil executives may be offered seats in the Iraqi Federal Oil
and Gas Council that is responsible for handing out lucrative contracts.
This is a rich prize
indeed for foreign oil giants. Iraq boasts the second largest sweet crude
reserves in the world, which have the added bonus of being near the surface
and, thus, inexpensive to extract.
While it�s true that
Iraq�s oil industry does require a massive injection of cash after years of
being the target of saboteurs and neglect, what�s stopping the World Bank, the
IMF or the US, for that matter, from providing loans to the Iraqi government to
do the job itself with the help of oil companies on usual terms?
Given the country�s
rich natural resources and the real prospect of new untapped fields, repayment
of any such loans would be guaranteed.
There is also the
question of whether the current Iraqi government has the legal right to sign
off on the proposed law at a time when the country is still under occupation.
It certainly does not possess the moral right. Obviously its members� arms are
being twisted and there is nothing they can do about it even if they wanted to.
One might also
legitimately wonder what kind of sweetheart deals have been entered into
encouraging Iraqi politicians to hand over their nation�s wealth to
international companies. Could this be a pre-condition to Iraq�s eventual split
into three when both the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south would
be flush with oil revenue leaving the Sunnis pleading for handouts?
When one couples this
proposed theft with billions of Iraq�s oil-for-food cash flown in to the
country under Bremer�s watch and distributed like candy from the back of trucks
-- which remains unaccounted for -- we�re looking at the greatest heist in
Yet unlike Britain�s
train robbers who were pursued by Scotland Yard as far as Australia and Brazil,
the perpetrators of this mega scam are getting away with it.
Iraq as a unified
entity could be on its last legs. A victim of occupation, sectarian violence
and terrorism, hundreds of thousands of its people have been killed, maimed,
widowed and orphaned. Hundreds of thousands more have been displaced or live in
This is an
unparalleled crime in that it has been sanctioned by Congress and retroactively
rubber-stamped by the United Nations.
As the bloated
vultures circle overhead to feast off Iraqi carrion, the international
community should be deeply ashamed of its silent collusion. I�ll say it loud
and clear: The war in Iraq was a straight exchange. Blood for oil.
S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes
feedback and can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.