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  Global Views
Iraq Four Years After: The Conquest of Oil
US soldier observing an oil pipeline on fire in Iraq

As the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq gets closer, the real motive behind the conquest becomes starker — and starker. There is a bill before the Iraqi Parliament which gives foreign companies effective control over the nation's oil.

Iraq has 115 million barrels of oil, perhaps the second largest reserves in the world, accounting for 10 percent of the global total. If this bill becomes law, companies such as ExxonMobil and Chevron would be able to enter into production sharing agreements with the government which will not only strengthen their hold over Iraqi oil but also increase their profits enormously. None of the other major oil exporters in West Asia — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran — have such agreements. These countries have outlawed foreign ownership and control over their oil and placed the commodity under state control.

The millions and millions of people around the globe who opposed the war against Iraq in 2003 knew right from the beginning that oil was the principal reason why the ruling elite in the United States and Britain chose to embark upon their disastrous adventure. Of course there were other reasons too. The ouster of the Saddam Hussein government and the attempt to bring Iraq under the control of Washington and London were also aimed at reinforcing Israel's position in the region. Iraq is also of tremendous strategic importance in the context of West Asia and the Middle East.

After four years it is obvious to even a casual observer that Washington and its allies are prepared to pay any price to achieve their diabolical goals. Thousands of their own soldiers have been killed in the war. Perhaps hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been sacrificed at the altar of oil and Israel. The Iraqi people are more divided than ever before as Shiites and Sunnis slaughter each other. Unemployment is at its highest. Poverty is widespread. Disease is rampant. The health care system is in a precarious state. Basic amenities are grossly inadequate.

And yet, the US and its allies will not end their occupation of Iraq. They will not set a timetable for the withdrawal of their soldiers. They are determined to pursue their plan of building permanent military bases in the country. They are hell-bent, as we have seen, on tightening their grip upon Iraqi oil. They continue to restructure the economy to fulfil the objectives of a neo-liberal capitalist agenda.

This is why the thousands of groups in the world opposed to the US presence in Iraq who represent the sentiments of millions of people everywhere should intensify their campaign to bring occupation to an end. They should also focus upon the take over of Iraqi oil. We should make the American public in particular aware of the motives behind occupation. This is the right time to develop further American consciousness on this issue since the American people themselves have become increasingly critical of the US-led war on Iraq. The majority of them want US soldiers to return home. They do not want their nation to conquer other lands or to steal other people's resources. They do not want their nation to incur the wrath of the world. They do not want to earn the odium of the rest of the human family.

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar,
International Movement for a Just World.






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