Saturday, June 09, 2007

Iraqi oil is just too good to share with anyone

Arbiter Online
Opinion Writer

Posted: 6/6/07
Since the start of the Gulf war in 1991, the Bush administration has operated under the guise of promoting democracy in oil rich Middle Eastern countries.

But the U.S. administration has repeatedly blown its democratic cover by angering coalition members within the Iraqi government over the issue of oil. The main stumbling block appears to be the threat of an American-British takeover of Iraqi oil with the help of Baathist party members. The fragile alliance of Iraqi forces which comprise the democratic Maliki government depends heavily upon continued U.S. presence in Iraq, but if the Americans fail to balance these coalition forces while delivering on oil promises then the killing will intensify as oil has become the key to the very survival of this beleaguered Middle Eastern country.

Iraqi crude oil is of a very high grade and lies close to the surface, making it cheap to extract and relatively cheap to refine. Shipping this oil from the port of Basara is convenient. The whole situation is like a dream to British and American oilmen, who have been denied direct participation in Iraq’s nationalized oil production for more than 30 years.

Iraqi oil fields have been a bone of contention between warring imperialist powers over the years since the discovery at the turn of the last century. The first imperialist power to arrive on the scene was Great Britain following WWI. It suppressed nationalist revolts in order to establish its foothold and then was forced to defend its conquest of Iraqi oil again in 1941.

British violence against a hostile Iraqi populace led to the rise of the Baathist party, a very fascist outfit with close ties to the Nazis during the 1940s and Soviet fascists during the 1970s to 1980s. These oil alliances, particularly with the Soviets, meant even more killing as the Kurdish and Shia populations had to be subdued in order that the Sunni bosses could control Iraqi oil production and profits.

For a short time there was dancing in the streets of Bagdad after the fall of Saddam Hussein and the vanquishing of his murderous Baathist associates. But the post-war jubilance has long since been replaced with civil strife as the oil war takes to the streets.

Shias and Kurds live in rich oil districts long controlled by the Baathist Sunni oil bosses (rightfully deposed in 2003, but poised to stage a comeback if President Bush has his way).

As reported by the Global Policy Forum, a United Nations watch group based in New York, February 27, the Iraqi cabinet that could effectively hand over sovereignty of Iraqi oil resources to foreign oil companies approved a new
hydrocarbon law.

British and American governments have been in secret negotiations with the Maliki government for the last several months, seeking to reverse the Oil Nationalization Law of 1972 that has permitted the Iraqi government to monopolize Iraqi oil production for the past 35 years.

Very quickly, the Iraqi Federation attacked the proposed oil law, as did Kurdish and Shia lawmakers in Baghdad. These groups stand to lose if such legislation is passed. The response from Washington has been a massive show of force as a means to pressure rebellious Iraqi groups such as the Sadr militia to give in to the United States’ demands for foreign control over Iraqi oil. This latest move effectively negates any pretence of American respect for democracy in that country.

A truly sovereign democratic Iraq could theoretically trade with whomever it desires, but the prospect of a Russian or Chinese business presence in Iraq as a result of such sovereignty would prove very unsettling in Washington as well as an irritant to major western oil companies.

The style of democratic rule that would give the Iraqis the power to choose their oil trading and contractual partners as well as the power to run their own lives is closer to the democracy that Washington has promised but failed to deliver.

There will be no democracy in Iraq as long as our administration perseveres with its oil war. For the Bush Administration it is imperative that this oil war be waged so that Iraq will be put in a virtual straight jacket and U.S. business is guaranteed a reliable source of oil.

I, for one do not believe that this oil in any way justifies continued bloodshed in Iraq.

Our president should heed the message of the American people and order our troops home.

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