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Wednesday, January 19, 2005


As if to underscore its true allegiance to waging war for corporate profit, the US now wants to give US business a bigger chunk of the Iraqi war booty by privatizing the Iraqi National Oil Company.

One has only to read any section of Daniel Yergin's excellent book The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power, chronicling the history of oil, to see how the Arab world has always viewed oil as a national heritage, something worth fighting and dying for, to know how wrong-headed this current policy is destined to be.

The prospects for any semblance of a peaceful election in Iraq look dim. It is hard to imagine that any Iraqi looking at the Abu Ghraib scandals would welcome US soldiers as "liberators." Iraq has become a virtual lightening rod for fundamentalist terrorism (as Descrates points out in his excellent diary on Unintended Consequences), and the companies charged with "rebuilding" Iraq are so mired in scandal, corruption and mismanagement that the country has devolved into a cesspool of anti-American rage (for a brief rundown, see here). And now this?

The Iraqi Finance Minister, Adil Abdel Mahdi, is a virtual marionette of the Bush Administration, is extremely enthusiatic about his job of selling out the interests of the Iraqi people in favor of US big business. According to IPS News:
"So I think this is very promising to the American investors and to American enterprises, certainly to oil companies," Abdel Mahdi said at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on Tuesday.

Abdel Hadi, formerly a member of the exile Iraqi opposition, said the interim government will also reconsider deals signed between French and Russians oil firms and the regime of former President Saddam Hussein. It is still not clear whether those contracts will be cancelled altogether or just reduced.

France and Russia both opposed the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of the Arab country and companies from those nations were initially banned by the U.S. occupation administration, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), from helping to "rebuild" Iraq.

Washington later said non-U.S. firms could work there, after the world's rich nations agreed to forgive part of Iraq's debt, a decision that opened the door to Baghdad signing on to a loan programme designed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The CPA has already shown where its heart really lies when it paid out billions in Iraqi oil profits to pay off US contractors like Halliburton and Bechtel. "This money belongs to the Iraqi people - it is not a slush fund," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA).

'Cos when they say it's not about the money -- it's always about the money.