It's the Oil. But there's a fight back
'CORPORATE PIRATES' . Protesters have used imaginative means to break media silence on the big business interests looking to profit from Iraq war.
Smiles here after court case cut short, demonstrators charged with invading Iraq business conference walked free, probably because authorities feared they would use the dock as a platform to denounce crimes of the powerful. (Thames Magistrates, East London, September 2005)
"WAR -What is it Good For?", as brought to us by Tony Blair (no not really) and the Ugly Rumours, is on its way to No.1 in the pop charts. http://www.uglyrumours.com/ and you can buy at http://tinyurl.com/33j4oj
But ask WHO was it good for?, and it isn't a rumour that, along with the United States' strategic goal of controlling the tap for everyone else's fuel while thrusting oil-producing states back into "third World" dependence, goes the chance for big Western oil companies to regain their profit-grabbing pre-eminence.
Despite opposition by most Iraqis and especially the workers' unions in the oil industry, the Iraqi government, with little or no real independence or authority as occupation forces, death squads and sectarian gangs battle on to kill more Iraqis, has agreed a law almost sight unseen (it was first drafted in English, not Arabic) surrendering control over the country's oil reserve to foreign interests.
But this fight isn't over. It has just started. Bearing the brunt of war and destruction that began with sanctions, the Iraqi people are not to be left alone to withstand the multi-nationals. An international campaign has begun.
Hands off Iraqi Oil!
This press release was issued yesterday:
For Immediate Release:
Thursday March 8th 2007
Campaign Against Iraqi Oil Rip Off Launched in UK
Shell and BP to be Targeted
Development, environment, human rights and anti-war groups have come together to launch a campaign against the "rip off" of Iraqi oil by western companies.
'Hands Off Iraqi Oil' is part of an international coalition, which is also gearing up in the US and Italy, as well as Iraq.
In the UK, The Hands Off campaign comprises radical development charity War on Want, oil industry watchdog PLATFORM, investigative researchers Corporate Watch, long-term Iraq campaigners Voices UK, debt-relief watchdog Jubilee Iraq, anti-occupation network Iraq Occupation Focus and Naftana, the UK support group for the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions.
The launch comes just days after the Iraqi cabinet - under intense pressure from the USA and UK and the International Monetary Fund - approved a draft oil law which would transfer control over the majority of Iraq's huge reserves from the public sector to multinational companies, for the first time in 35 years.
The law would allow contracts to be signed with the companies, which would give them exclusive rights to extract oil for up to 20 years.
The campaign supports the view of much of Iraqi civil society that the current oil law, and contracts signed under it, would surrender Iraq's sovereignty and economic future to foreign interests. The UK campaign will target British oil majors Shell and BP, warning them to keep their 'Hands Off' the spoils of war.
Ewa Jasiewicz, researcher and campaigner at PLATFORM said:
'Deals signed under this law should be regarded as a form of robbery. Iraq's oil in this context is war loot, for which hundreds and thousands of Iraqis have died. Oil companies pushing for contracts now should be regarded as war profiteers; partners in the stealing of Iraq's future'.
Louise Richards, Chief Executive at War on Want, said:
'We stand in solidarity with all workers in the Iraqi oil industry at this crucial time in their struggle. Iraq's trade unionists have consistently been denied any say in the future of their country's oil sector, despite their strong and reasoned opposition to privatisation. We salute and support them in their opposition to the theft of Iraq's oil resources.'
A sister campaign has also been launched in Italy. Another is about to launch in the USA. Both are co-ordinating with Hands Off in the UK. The Italian campaign is pressurizing Italian oil company ENI to back out of the bidding process for contracts under the law.
Paola Gasparoli, Iraq Project Manager at Un Ponte Per says:
'We are asking our government which is the main stakeholder in ENI to oppose any attempt to dispossess Iraq of its' resources. To allow the sell-out of Iraqi oil whilst sending money for humanitarian aid and reconstruction is more than farcical, it is immoral. Iraq's oil and gas is not yet privatised - it is now more important that ever to support Iraqi unions and the Iraqi general public in opposing this law'.
The US campaign will target oil company Chevron, including picketing their offices on 20 March, the fourth anniversary of the start of the war.
Meanwhile, in Iraq, trade unions - as well as members of parliament and oil experts - are organising against the oil law. In a recent statement to the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Hassan Jum'a Awad, leader of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions said:
'I particularly say to America "Hands Off Iraqi Oil". This wealth belongs to the people of Iraq and the decent people of the world'.
See http://www.handsoffiraqioil.org/ for information and updates
PLATFORM - Greg Muttitt 07970 589 611 www.carbonweb.org/iraq
War on Want - Paul Collins 07983 550728 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.waronwant.org/
Jubilee Iraq - Justin Alexander 07813 137171 email@example.com
IRAQ - Iraqi federation of Oil Unions Hassan Jumaa Awad al Assadi 00964 7801 001 196 (Arabic Only)
ITALY - Un Ponte Per Paola Gasparoli 0039 333 544 6280 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.unponteper.it/
USA - Oil Change International Antonia Juhasz 001 (415) 846-5447 email@example.com http://www.priceofoil.org/