Thursday, March 22, 2007

US impatient for Iraq oil law, but opposition grows

SCOTTISH MP KATY CLARK has introduced motion on oil in Iraq

FOUR years after invading Iraq in a war we were told was for anything except control of Iraqi oil, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said he fears the Americans will withdraw support for his government — effectively ousting him — if parliament does not pass a draft oil law by the end of June.

The oil law is opposed by many Iraqis for opening the country's oil resources up once again to Western oil companies. Both US and British companies are eyeing their possible fiefs. The main Iraqi oil feilds are in the predominantly Shi'ite south and the largely Kurdish north. But after bringing death, destruction and sectarian division to help carve up Iraq, US policy is concerned now to settle the oil issue in line with strategy, as it enlist its Saudi (and Sunni) allies to impose order and prepare for a threatened war with Iran.

According to an Associated Press report, "American officials have informed the prime minister they want an Iraqi government in place by year's end that would be acceptable to Iraq's Sunni Arab neighbors, particularly Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt".

Adding to al-Maliki's fears about a withdrawal of American support were visits to Saudi Arabia by two key political figures, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, and Masoud Barzani, leader of Iraq's largely autonomous Kurdish region. "Allawi is there to enlist support for a new political front that rises above sectarian structures now in place," the former prime minister's spokesman Izzat al-Shahbandar told Associated Press.
Al-Maliki tells aides U.S. benchmark deadline is June 30 or his ouster possible

The Iraq government has given oil tenders to foreign firms to drill in the Musan area of southern Iraq.\2007-03-18\kurd1.htm

Meanwhile Iraqis who want to ensure their country's oil wealth is used for the people and reconstruction, not least the oilworkers themselves, are opposed to privatisation and generous concessions given foreign oil companies. They say they can develop and manage the oil industry themselves. And unlike the sectarian parties and gangs and the corrupt politicians in the US-stooge government, the workers' unions are committed to unity, freedom and justice for all Iraqis, whatever their religious background, and whether Arab or Kurd.

Their stand may not get much news coverage, but it is winning some support. In Britain, some Labour MPs are taking up the issue of Iraqi oil. An Early Day Motion submitted by Katy Clark, Labour MP for Ayrshire North and Arran, says:
That this House notes that Iraq's economy is heavily dependent on oil and that decisions about the future of Iraq's oil industry will have a major bearing on that country; further notes that the constitution of Iraq states that oil and gas are owned by all the people of Iraq; expresses concern that the British Government, in its involvement in the drafting of Iraq's new oil laws, has sought the views of international oil companies regarding the possible types of contracts that the Iraqi government should offer; believes that decisions on the Iraqi oil industry should be made by the Iraqi people without outside interference; and calls on the Government to disclose to the House all representations it has made in relation to the oil law.

So far about 20 MPs have signed. See:

Teach in this weekend

There's a Teach-in about Iraqi oil in London this weekend , 11am-5pm, Saturday 24th March 2007. Union Chapel, Compton Ave, London N1 2XDTube: Highbury and IslingtonMap:

With: Greg Muttitt from PLATFORM (author 'Crude Designs: The rip-off of Iraq's oil wealth') Ewa Jasiewicz from Naftana (UK Support Committee for the General Union of Oil Employees in Iraq)

It's supported by: Corporate Watch, Iraq Occupation Focus, Jubilee Iraq, Naftana, Platform, Voices UK and War on Want.

Their statement says:

For the Iraqi people war and occupation has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, relentless insecurity and crippling poverty. But for foreign oil companies the desperate situation in Iraq is a chance to take control of Iraq's oil and make massive profits at the expense of its people. A new law that would transfer control of most of Iraq's oil production from the public sector to multinational oil companies through long-term contracts of up to 20 or 30 years, now looks set to be rubber-stamped by Iraq's Parliament in the next few months.

Whilst the US and British governments, the IMF and the big multinational oil companies have all been active in shaping the new law - which will tie the hands of future governments, depriving them of democratic control over the country's main natural resource - the Iraqi public and Iraqi civil society have been excluded from the process.

Join us on 24th March to: Find out more about the new law, the companies involved, and the US and UK Governments' roles in this smash and grab lawMake plans to take action to stop British companies from joining the race to carve up Iraq's oil wealth.For more information about the campaign visit

For further reading about the Iraqi oil issue, you can look up some recent articles by Munir Chalabi, an Iraqi engineer and political analyst who has been working with Naftana:

ZNet Iraq Political comments on the draft of the Iraqi oil law

Recent article on Iraqi oil “The Future of Iraqi oil as proposed by the Iraqi Study Group” which was published on ZNet web site on the 8th January 2007- the link to the article:

And on Oil Change website- the link to the article:

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