December 14, 2005
reaffirm our commitment to protect Iraq's natural resources, as the patrimony
of the people of Iraq, which should be used only for their benefit."
--Joint statement by George Bush and Tony Blair, 08 April 2003.
Since the invasion and occupation of Iraq,
Western corporate media have deceptively reported and portrayed the Occupation
as a necessary vehicle to "spread democracy" and "fight
terrorism"; however the carving up of Iraq's wealth and oil assets is
deliberately avoided. The media hype over "reconstruction effort" and
illegitimate elections is a cover up for the colonisation of Iraq and Iraq's
economy. An "agreement" between British and U.S. oil corporations
will see Iraq's oil revenues end up in the pockets of the invaders at the
expense of the people of Iraq.
Executives from ExxonMobil, BP, Shell and Halliburton and Iraqi
expatriate conmen, described in the West as Iraqi "technocrats," have
reached a deal to carve-up Iraqi oil, despite opposition from Iraqi oil workers
and union leaders. It is described as the "second phase of the war,"
in which the invaders will divide the cake between themselves as reward for
their crimes of aggression. "The decisions on how to carve up Iraq are
being made behind close doors in Washington and London and Baghdad," said
Greg Muttitt, a scholar with PLATFORM, an independent environmental group. The
deal made easy by the deliberate ongoing cycle of violence in Iraq and the
media complicity in manipulating and diverting the public from important and
morally significant issues, such as the criminal nature of the Occupation and
its effects on the daily living conditions of Iraqis.
Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration moved step
by step for the final assault to colonise Iraq's economy. First, on 20
March 2003, George
Bush issued his Executive Order 13290 to confiscate "certain property of
the Government of Iraq and it agencies, instrumentalities, or controlled
entities and that all right, title, and interest in any property so confiscated
should vest in the [U.S.] Department of the Treasury." This allowed the
Bush administration to immediately seize $1.7 billion in Iraqi funds. Second,
in May 2003, Bush Executive Order 13303 indemnifies not only the corporate
looters such as ExxonMobil and Halliburton from prosecution, but also provides
protection to soldiers and private security guards committing crimes against
Then, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) headed by U.S. proconsul
L. Paul Bremer, issued a series of edicts and created commissions in
order to 'tighten the grip on Iraq's Future,' post 30 June 2004. The devious
design of the U.S. was exposed in an article in the Wall Street Journal on 13 May 2004. Reporters Yochi Dreazen and
Christopher Cooper wrote; "As Washington prepares to hand over power, U.S.
administrator L. Paul Bremer and other officials are quietly building
institutions that will give the U.S. powerful levers for influencing nearly
every important decision the interim government will make. In a series of
edicts issued earlier this spring, Mr. Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority
created new commissions that effectively take away virtually all of the powers
once held by several ministries. . . . and put in place a pair of watchdog
institutions that will serve as checks on individual ministries and allow for
continued U.S. oversight." It was just a fake sovereignty designed for
public consumption. It is the U.S. Embassy which took sovereignty, not the
As Bremer prepared for his unannounced hasty departure from Iraq in June
2004, the imperial proconsul imposed his '100 Orders' that were designed to
transfer the Iraqi economy form a centrally planned economy to free market
economy by U.S. fiat. The so-called Bremer's reform is similar to that imposed
on nations strangled by the International Monetary Fund. In short, the Orders,
though enacted illegally, have detrimental effects on the Iraqi economy. For example, Order 39 allows for the
following: (1) privatization of Iraq's non-oil-related economy which dominated
by 200 state-owned enterprises; (2) 100 percent foreign ownership of Iraqi
businesses; (3) 'national treatment' of foreign firms; (4) unrestricted,
tax-free remittance of all profits and other funds; and (5) 40-year ownership
licenses. Thus, it allows the U.S. corporations operating in Iraq to own every
business, do all of the work, and send all their money home. Nothing needs to
be reinvested locally to service the Iraqi economy, no Iraqi need be hired, no
public services need be guaranteed, and workers' rights can easily be ignored.
Foreign corporations can withdraw their investments at any time. Order
81 is designed to reengineer Iraq's traditional agriculture
system into a U.S.-style corporate agribusiness, and in the process enslave
Iraqi farmers and undermine Iraq's food security. All these imposed by
military means -- in contravention of the WTO regulations and international law
-- and disguised as U.S. "reconstruction efforts" to rebuild Iraq.
nonetheless continue to propagate that the "reconstruction effort" of
Iraq is the largest U.S.-led occupation program since the reconstruction of
Europe after World War II, deliberately avoiding the fact that if the
"reconstruction" of Iraq ever takes place it will be paid by the
Iraqi people. U.S. $32 billion was promised for reconstruction, in loans and
grants. Yet reparation payments for the 1991 U.S. war on Iraq continue,
including large payments to Kuwait and U.S. corporations. Despite the large
amount of money authorised by the U.S. Congress, there is zero reconstruction
in Iraq today . The U.S. is destroying Iraq on a daily basis and hampering
Iraq's economic recovery for the sole purpose of selling Iraq's public assets
and resources on the cheap to U.S.
corporations, without consulting the Iraqi people. The billions of
dollars in U.S. taxpayers' money is meant to fill the pockets of U.S. private
corporations, not for the reconstruction of Iraq.
According to Ed
Harriman; "by 28 June last year , when [Paul] Bremer left
Baghdad two days early to avoid possible attack on the way to the airport, his
CPA had spent up to $20 billion of Iraqi money, compared to $300 million of US
funds." The audits report
(prepared by Congress, the Pentagon, the General Accountability Office, the
International Advisory and Monitoring Board and the Special Inspector General
for Iraq Reconstruction) "have also discovered that $8.8 billion
that passed through the new Iraqi government ministries in Baghdad while Bremer
was in charge is unaccounted for, with little prospect of finding out where it
went. A further $3.4 billion earmarked by Congress for Iraqi development has
since been siphoned off to finance 'security,'" added Harriman.  In its
report on 23 October 2003, Christian Aid said: "The billions of dollars of
oil money that has already been transferred to the U.S.-controlled [CPA] has
effectively disappeared into financial black holes," the pockets of U.S.
Furthermore, Iraq oil is sold unmetered and more than $4
billion in oil export revenue was sold off illegally to U.S. cronies. "We
do not know the exact quantity of oil we are exporting, we do not exactly know
the prices we are selling it for, and we do not know where the oil revenue is
going to," an Iraqi official in the Iraqi Oil Ministry told ISN
Security Watch recently. This deliberately encouraged corruption, designed to
undermine Iraq's future and contributes to lost potential oil revenue, is
estimated to be $8 billion a year.
To justify the
ongoing Occupation and looting of Iraq's wealth, the U.S. and the British
government are deliberately orchestrating and increasing the violence against
the Iraqi people. Through daily destruction of property and vital
infrastructure, Iraq's broad
economy has virtually collapsed and many factories and warehouses have been
sacked and gutted. The U.S. had fallen short of restoring -- even minimal --
essential services such as electricity,
potable water supplies, and sanitation to pre-war level. The health care
services and the education system are ruined.
indiscriminate and savage aerial and ground bombardments -- with chemical
bombs, fire bombs (fuel-air bombs), napalm and other non-conventional weapons
(WMD) -- of population centres have killed hundreds of thousands of innocent
Iraqis; a deliberate mass murder. In addition, the U.S. and British governments are secretly sponsoring the killings of
prominent Iraqi politicians,
intellectuals, academics, religious leaders and trade union leaders, including
leaders of the Oil Workers Union using U.S. and British-trained death squads and criminals. The aim is to incite civil strife and
destroy the unity of Iraq to serve the U.S.-Zionist imperialist strategy.
As the violence
continues unhindered, behind the scenes and without the participation of
the Iraqi people, the Bush and Blair governments, and its puppet government are
in the process of transferring Iraq's economy into a "free market"
economy to serve U.S corporate interests. The long-awaited covert plan to transfer Iraq's oil assets to
U.S. and British oil corporations is on the table. The production sharing
agreements (PSAs) -- proposed by the U.S. State Department before the 2003
invasion and put aside to be implemented after the December 15 illegitimate
elections -- Iraqis are set to
lose control of their own economic and political fate.
Since Iraq has large unexplored oil reserves, of the best quality in the
world and the cheapest to extract, the PSA model has no place in Iraq's oil
industry. A new and detailed report, entitled 'Crude Designs: The rip-off
of Iraq's oil wealth' by the
London-based advocacy group PLATFORM, shows that the PSA model "is on
course to be adopted in Iraq, soon after the December elections, with no public
debate and at enormous potential cost."  Very few countries have signed the PSAs, and those who signed are
regretting it today. Citing International Energy
Agency figures, the report reveals that: "PSAs are only used in respect of about 12 percent
of world oil reserves, in countries where oilfields are small (and often
offshore), production costs are high, and exploration prospects are uncertain.
None of these conditions applies to Iraq." It should be emphasised that
the deals have been negotiated with Iraqi conmen and U.S.-British oil
corporations, despite strong opposition by the Iraqi people.
The report shows clearly that the PSAs, if adopted, will put the Iraqi
people on the road to permanent poverty. According to the report; "under PSAs future Iraqi governments would
be prevented from changing tax rates or introducing stricter laws or
regulations relating to labour standards, workplace safety, community
relations, environment or other issues." At an oil price of $40 per barrel, Iraq
stands to lose between $74 billion and $194 billion over the lifetime of the
proposed contracts, from only the first 12 oilfields to be developed. These
estimates, based on conservative assumptions, represent between two and seven
times the current Iraqi government budget." The report added: "Under
the likely terms of the contracts, oil company rates of return from investing
in Iraq would range from 42 percent to 162 percent, far in excess of usual
industry minimum target of around 12 percent return on investment."
According to Greg
Muttitt, the lead author of the report, "For all the US administration's
talk of creating a democracy in Iraq, in fact, their heavy pushing of PSAs
stands to deprive Iraq of democratic control of its most important natural
resource. I would even go further: the USA, Britain and the oil companies seem
to be taking advantage of the weakness of Iraq's new institutions of
government, and of the terrible violence in the country, by pushing Iraq to
sign deals in this weak state, whose terms would last for decades. The chances
of Iraq getting a good deal for its people in these circumstances are minimal;
the prospect of mega-profitable deals for multinational oil companies is fairly
assured," by the illegitimate actions of a puppet government subservient
to imperialist powers.
It was revealed
recently (Washington Post) that the
big multinational oil companies have 'participated'
in the 2001 energy task force
headed by Vice President Cheney
to plan for the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In 1999, Cheney as the CEO of
Halliburton told a gathering in London: "the Middle East with two-thirds
of the world's oil and the lowest cost is still where the prize ultimately
lies." Cheney may achieve his ultimate goal with extreme violence against
the people of Iraq.
As the Iraqi people are held hostages by U.S. forces -- without
the prospect of being freed soon -- and their livelihoods are being destroyed,
they have no way of knowing how much of their nation's wealth is being looted
to fill the pockets of U.S. and British oil corporations and their cronies.
There is an urgent need for meaningful accountability and transparency. The PSAs
deal is not in the interests of the Iraqi people. It is reminiscent to the
'concession system' imposed on the Middle East during colonisation. It will
devastate Iraq's economy and increase the suffering. Therefore, the
U.S.-Britain orchestrated PSAs to carve up Iraq's oil revenues should be
resisted and all efforts should be
made to end the suffering of the Iraqi people imposed by the Occupation.
Instead of looting Iraq's wealth, the U.S. and British governments
should pay reparations to the Iraqi people for waging an unjust war of
aggression that has needlessly caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of
innocent Iraqis. The best deal the U.S. should negotiate with the Iraqi people
is the full and immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, the
decolonisation of Iraq's economy, and the return of Iraqi assets.
 Naomi Klein, Baghdad Zero, Harper's
Magazine: September, 2004.
 Ed Harriman, Where
has all the money gone? London
Review of Books, Vol. 27(13), July 2005.
 Greg Muttitt, Crude Designs:
The rip-off of Iraq's oil wealth, PLATFORM,
November 2005. It is recommended reading.
Ghali Hassan lives in Perth, Western Australia.
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