Sunday, January 07, 2007

Iraq: the great oil swindle

They came, they saw and they have taken the oil.

The Iraqi government is about to push through a law giving Western oil companies the right to exploit the country's massive oil reserves. Western oil companies will be entitled to up to 75% of the profits from Iraqi oil. Now I say Iraqi government when really the draft law went to the US government and major oil companies in July and to the IMF in September.

The law was drafted with the "assistance" of BearingPoint, an American consultancy firm hired by the US government, which had a representative working in the American embassy in Baghdad for several months. These moves have been concealed from the Iraqi parliament. The Iraqi people have been completely bypassed in the manoeuvres to get this new law into place.

In this draft law there are odious stabilisation clauses that in effect overide Iraqi sovereignty. The oil companies will be able to sue the Iraqi government if laws are passed that interfere with the oil companies profits. The Iraqi governments of future years will not be able to pass labour protection, health and safety or environmental law without the threat of expensive litigation in the international courts. The contracts are deliberately very complex: oil companies will undoubtedly find loopholes.

Perhaps the pro-war left would like to protest against this abuse of their noble enterprise to bring "freedom" to the Iraqi people?

On the website of the Iraq Occupation Focus there is a pdf of an excellent report called, Crude Designs: the rip-off of Iraq's oil wealth. Well worth a read.