Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The oil grab that went awry

This is amazing.  I'm glad this did not happen the way the Bush team envisioned it.  I think this confirms my (most Iraqis') worries about ulterior motives.  (Thanks Datta)

The Iraq oil grab that went awry
By Dilip Hiro

...Advocating "going after Saddam" during the January 30 meeting, defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, according to O'Neill, "Imagine what the region would look like without Saddam and with a regime that's aligned with US interests. It would change everything in the region and beyond. It would demonstrate what US policy is all about." He then discussed post-Saddam Iraq - the Kurds in the north, the oilfields, and the reconstruction of the country's economy (Suskind, p 85).

Among the relevant documents later sent to NSC members, including O'Neill, was one prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). It had already mapped Iraq's oilfields and exploration areas, and listed US corporations likely to be interested in participating in Iraq's petroleum industry.

Another DIA document in the package, titled "Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts", listed companies from 30 countries - France, Germany, Russia and Britain, among others - their specialties and bidding histories. The attached maps pinpointed "super-giant oilfield", "other oilfield" and "earmarked for production sharing" and divided the basically undeveloped but oil-rich southwest of Iraq into nine blocks, indicating promising areas for future exploration (Suskind, p 96).

According to high-flying oil insider Falah al-Jibury, the US administration began making plans for Iraq's oil industry "within weeks" of Bush taking office in January 2001. In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp's Newsnight program, which aired on March 17, 2005, he referred to his participation in secret meetings in California, Washington and the Middle East, where, among other things, he interviewed possible successors to Saddam.

By January 2003, a plan for Iraqi oil crafted by the State Department and oil majors emerged under the guidance of Amy Myers Jaffe of the James A Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston. It recommended maintaining the state-owned Iraq National Oil Co, whose origins dated to 1961 - but open it up to foreign investment after an initial period in which US-approved Iraqi managers would supervise the rehabilitation of the war-damaged oil infrastructure. The existence of this group would come to light in a report by the Wall Street Journal on March 3, 2003.

Unknown to the architects of this scheme, according to the same BBC Newsnight report, the Pentagon's planners, apparently influenced by powerful neo-conservatives in and out of the administration, had devised their own super-secret plan. It involved the sale of all Iraqi oilfields to private companies with a view to increasing output well above the quota set by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries for Iraq to weaken, and then destroy, OPEC.

Secondary evidence
On October 11, 2002, the New York Times reported that the Pentagon already had plans to occupy and control Iraq's oilfields. The next day The Economist described how Americans in the know had dubbed the waterway demarcating the southern borders of Iraq and Iran "Klondike on the Shatt al-Arab", while Ahmad Chalabi, head of the US-funded Iraqi National Congress and a neo-con favorite, had already delivered this message: "American companies will have a big shot at Iraqi oil - if he gets to run the show."

On October 30, Oil and Gas International revealed that the Bush administration wanted a working group of 12-20 people to (a) recommend ways to rehabilitate the Iraqi oil industry "to increase oil exports to partially pay for a possible US military occupation government", (b) consider Iraq's continued membership of OPEC, and (c) consider whether to honor contracts Saddam Hussein had granted to non-US oil companies.


Also check out this Ron Paul commercial, which features a 2004 60 Minutes interview with Paul O'Neil that reveals the Bush team planned to invade Iraq as soon as they took office.

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