Bush and US Business Up The Ante On Control of Iraqi Oil

The New York Times today reports that a new Iraqi law will give ‘central’ control of Iraq’s vast oil fields to Baghdad (read: the US, which controls Baghdad). The richest and most profitable oil fields are in the North and controlled by Shiites. The US political proxies in Baghdad are Sunni. This shift in power over oil is a very overt tactic most likely, if the law passes, to send conflict and violence in the region spiraling out of control even further, which I would argue is the reason the US would like to see such a law pass.

This will give us the basis of the unity of this country,” said Ali Baban, the Iraqi planning minister and a member of the Sunni-dominated Tawafaq party who serves on the negotiating committee.

Does ‘us’ mean a group of Sunnis operating independently from Iraq’s US occupiers? Since there is no such political group, the answer must be no. I don’t know the composition of the Parliament and the odds of this new law getting pushed through but the consequences seem stark if it does.

No way the Shiites in the North, backed by Iran and Syria will like, or allow, this.

And finally, the reporting…. The Times does mention that this law will, in effect further privatize Iraq’s oil, the reason we went there in the first place, but doesn’t go to the trouble of making clear the political and military implications of such a move which is the news US citizens need to know. You have to read between the lines and have a pre-existing critical disposition to pick that up. The Times justifies the sweeping legal and economic changes with racism that will read famililiarly to its US audience,

Having an oil law will in principle make it easier to attract international companies with the resources and expertise that the country so desperately needs. Still, hovering over all the negotiations is the question of whether companies will want to do business in Iraq.

Uh…the Times should have preceded this article with a contextual essay about how the Iraqis just now got into the oil business and thus have no competent brown people in country to run it, which would explain the need for ‘international’ expertise because I thought, and perhaps others did as well, that Iraq had been doing this oil thing for a hundred years. Funny how you think something like that and it turns out to be completely wrong. I’m thankful then to the Times for my political and historical education.

Maybe this law is good and will allow the ‘international’ business community to get in there and finally give the Iraqis what Hussein denied them and what they’ve obviously sorely needed–help running their oil businesses. It took a million lives to get here but maybe this Iraq venture isn’t such a bad thing after all.

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