December 8, 2006
Los Angeles Times

It's Still About Oil in Iraq

by Antonia Juhasz

WHILE THE Bush administration, the media and nearly all the Democrats still refuse to explain the war in Iraq in terms of oil, the ever-pragmatic members of the Iraq Study Group share no such reticence.

Page 1, Chapter 1 of the Iraq Study Group report lays out Iraq's importance to its region, the U.S. and the world with this reminder: "It has the world's second-largest known oil reserves." The group then proceeds to give very specific and radical recommendations as to what the United States should do to secure those reserves. If the proposals are followed, Iraq's national oil industry will be commercialized and opened to foreign firms.

The report makes visible to everyone the elephant in the room: that we are fighting, killing and dying in a war for oil. It states in plain language that the U.S. government should use every tool at its disposal to ensure that American oil interests and those of its corporations are met.

It's spelled out in Recommendation No. 63, which calls on the U.S. to "assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise" and to "encourage investment in Iraq's oil sector by the international community and by international energy companies." This recommendation would turn Iraq's nationalized oil industry into a commercial entity that could be partly or fully privatized by foreign firms.

This is an echo of calls made before and immediately after the invasion of Iraq.

The U.S. State Department's Oil and Energy Working Group, meeting between December 2002 and April 2003, also said that Iraq "should be opened to international oil companies as quickly as possible after the war." Its preferred method of privatization was a form of oil contract called a production-sharing agreement. These agreements are preferred by the oil industry but rejected by all the top oil producers in the Middle East because they grant greater control and more profits to the companies than the governments. The Heritage Foundation also released a report in March 2003 calling for the full privatization of Iraq's oil sector. One representative of the foundation, Edwin Meese III, is a member of the Iraq Study Group. Another, James J. Carafano, assisted in the study group's work.

For any degree of oil privatization to take place, and for it to apply to all the country's oil fields, Iraq has to amend its constitution and pass a new national oil law. . . .


Enver Masud, "A Clash Between Justice and Greed, Not Islam and the West," The Wisdom Fund, September 2, 2002

Enver Masud, "Iraq: Divide and Rule," The Wisdom Fund, October 10, 2006

"Excerpts: Iraq Study Group Report," Washington Post, December 6, 2006

VIDEO: Milan Rai, "What is on the Table is Continued Control at a Reduced Political and Military Cost,", December 8, 2006

Anthony Arnove, "The US Occupation of Iraq: Act III in a Tragedy of Many Parts,", December 16, 2006

["The companies are saying, 'Before any troops are withdrawn, we have to have these contracts.'"--Danny Fortson, "Iraq poised to end drought for thirsting oil giants," Independent, January 7, 2007]

[Maliki's speech was a US condition for deploying extra troops, insisted on by Bush in a two-hour teleconference with Maliki last Thursday.--Peter Beaumont and Paul Harris, "Iraqi PM reveals US crackdown," Guardian, January 7, 2007]

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