The Truth about Oil and Iraq: Part 4 / Iraq’s Oil Ministers Come to the US

May 29th, 2007 - by admin

Hon. Dennis J. Kucknich / US House of Representatives – 2007-05-29 22:59:58

“In February, the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office advisers accompanied eight senior officials from the Oil Ministry on a trip to the US, sponsored by the US Trade and Development Agency. On the trip, they met oil company representatives to discuss the future structure of the Iraq oil industry.

“The same month, at the request of the State Department, USAID provided an adviser to the Oil Ministry, again from BearingPoint,” the privatization specialist, “to work directly on a new oil law providing ‘legal and regulatory advice and drafting the framework of petroleum and other energy-related legislation, including foreign investment.'”

“The US campaign on the fledgling Iraqi Government has been successful. Following his appointment in May, new Oil Minister Husayn al-Shahristani announced that one of his top priorities would be writing of an oil law to allow Iraq to sign contracts with ‘the largest companies.'”

“This would be the first time in more than 30 years that foreign companies would receive a major stake in Iraq’s oil. Oil was brought into public ownership and control in Iraq in 1975.

“With the ink not yet on the paper, the US has maintained its pressure. On his visit to Baghdad in 2006, [the US Energy Secretary] insisted that the Iraqi government must ‘pass a hydrocarbon law under which foreign companies can invest.’ But the work to make this case had already been done: ‘We got every indication they were willing and also felt a necessity to open up this sector,’ he commented after a meeting with the Oil Minister and Iraqi officials.”

The Energy Secretary did not stop at reviewing the draft law himself in Baghdad. He also arranged for Dr. Al-Shahristani, the new Oil Minister, to meet with nine major oil companies, including Shell, BP, ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco and ConocoPhillips, for them to comment on the draft as well, during the Minister’s trip to Washington, DC the following week.

“Given the pressures involved, perhaps the Minister felt he did not have much choice. His promise to pass the law through Parliament by the end of 2006 was set in Iraq’s agreement with the International Monetary Fund last December. According to that agreement, IMF officials would also review and comment on a draft in September.

“And still, the draft law had not been seen by the Iraqi Parliament. Meanwhile, an official from the Oil Ministry had stated that Iraqi civil society and the general public will not be consulted at all.

“These issues could hardly be more important for Iraq. Oil accounts for more than 90 percent of government revenue, is the main driver of Iraq’s economy. And decisions made in the coming months will not be reversible–once contracts are signed, they will have a major bearing on Iraq’s economy and politics for decades to come.”

There is much that has been written. An article in the Associated Press on March 13, 2007, about how Iraqi leaders fear ouster over oil money: “Continued White House support for Iraq depended on positive action and all the benchmarks, especially the oil law and sectarian reconciliation, by the close of this parliamentary session, June 30.”

In an article in the Los Angeles Times, May 13, 2007: “Iraqis resist US pressure to enact oil law. Foreign investment and Shiite control are primary concerns.” Here is a quote:

“I did make it clear that we believe it is very important to move on the issues before us in a timely fashion and any undue delay would be difficult to explain.”

That is a quote from Vice President Cheney, who recently visited Iraq to urge the passage of the Hydrocarbon Act, among other matters.

“The US Energy Secretary calls on Iraq to open up its oil sector to foreign investment.” This is an article from July 21, 2006, saying that US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman has urged Iraq to establish a legal framework that would be instrumental in attracting foreign investment.

Other articles. From a Department of Energy press release, July 26, 2006: “Secretary Bodman hosts Iraqi Ministers of Oil and Electricity. Energy leaders sign memorandum of understanding to further promote electricity cooperation.”

From Agence France-Presse: “US wants new Iraq oil law so foreign firms can take part.” July 18, 2006. “The United States on Tuesday urged Iraq to adopt a new hydrocarbon law that would enable US and other foreign companies to invest in the war-torn country’s oil sector.”

.Bush’s Exit Strategy:
‘Privatize Your Oil or We’ll Withdraw our Troops’

We all know that the Iraq Study Group, in one of its major recommendations, Recommendation 63, said the United States should encourage investment in Iraq’s oil sector by the international community and international energy companies; that the United States should assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise; that the United States should ensure the World Bank’s efforts to assure that best practices are used in contracting.

Mr. Speaker, the last 50 minutes that I have spent talking about the effort to try to privatize Iraq’s oil, if you go to one of the search engines, you can find perhaps 1 million different citations relating to this. So it is impossible to cover this kind of a subject, even in a period of an hour. But it needs to be said that this administration has pushed the Congress to put language in funding bills for Iraq that would set the stage for the privatization of Iraq’s oil.

I am going to quote from the first war supplemental, that “the President shall make and transmit to Congress a determination, No. 2, whether the Government of Iraq is making substantial progress in meeting its commitment to pursue reconciliation initiatives, including enactment of a hydrocarbon law.” Then under subsection (b), it says “if the President fails to make this determination, the Secretary of Defense shall commence the redeployment of our Armed Forces from Iraq.”

In other words, privatize your oil, or we are leaving you without having a security and peacekeeping force to replace the United States Army.

The Supplementals and the Hydrocarbon Act
In the second supplemental, the administration language promoted the President transmitting to Congress a report in classified and unclassified form, article 2, whether the Government of Iraq has enacted a broadly accepted Hydrocarbon Law that equitably shares revenues among all Iraqis.

Now again, they don’t talk about what the real purpose of the Hydrocarbon Act has been. It is not about sharing revenues equitably; it is about a complex restructuring of Iraq’s oil industry for the purpose of turning Iraq’s oil over to private oil companies.

Finally, in the third supplemental that is before this Congress this week, there is an article from the Senate side that relates to Iraq oil, and I quote: “The United States strategy in Iraq shall hereafter be conditioned on the Iraqi Government meeting certain benchmarks.” And one such benchmark, “enacting and implementing legislation to ensure the equitable distribution of hydrocarbon resources of the people of Iraq.” And it goes on to pay homage to the issues of equity and ethnicity.

Madam Speaker, it is clear that the people of Iraq are under enormous pressure to give up control of their oil.

When you consider that there was no cause to go to war against Iraq, that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, that Iraq had nothing to do with al Qaeda’s role in 9/11, that the administration kept changing the reason why we went into Iraq, and here we are, years later, we are still in Iraq, and enormous pressure is being put on the Iraqi Government to privatize their oil.

HR 1234:
An Exit Strategy that would Benefit All Parties

I am here to say that there is another path that can be taken, and that path is part of H.R. 1234, a bill that I have written that would enable the war to end by Congress determining that no more money will go for this war, telling the administration that it must open up diplomatic relations with Syria and Iran, and moving in a direction where we put together an international peacekeeping and security force that would move in as our troops leave. And then we set the stage for real reconciliation that cannot come with the US serving as an occupying army.

We have a moral responsibility to the Iraqi people whose country we have ravaged with war to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars of damage, whose people may have experienced the loss of perhaps as many as a million Iraqis during this conflict โ€” innocent people, whose social bonds have been torn asunder.

We have a moral responsibility to work to bring about a program of reconciliation between the Sunnis, Shiites and the Kurds which can only come when we end the occupation.

We have a moral responsibility to bring about an honest reconstruction program, absent the US contractors who have been gouging the Iraqi people, and gouging the American taxpayers as well, but we have to make sure that the Iraqi people have control of their oil.

I would like to believe that this war has not been about oil. I would like to believe that there was some kind of a righteous cause connected to what we did; but I know better, and the proof is in this Hydrocarbon Act.

This Congress has an opportunity to finally take a stand and reject this Hydrocarbon Act. We can strip out this provision forcing Iraq to privatize its oil. We can strip that out of the legislation. Or we can simply defeat the legislation because that is in there, and then go back to the boards and tell the President, look, Mr. President, we are not going to give you any more money for this war, which is what I believe we should do.

Tell the President: “This war is over, Mr. President, and use the money that is in the pipeline to bring the troops home.”

Let’s go and reach out to the international community. With the end of the occupation and the closing of bases, we will have people who will start listening to us internationally, and we will have some credibility.

But the morality [that] this country rests on โ€” our heart and soul of who we are as Americans โ€” is not reflected by this obscene attempt to steal the oil resources of Iraq.

That is why I have chosen to take this time to come before the Congress, to lay these facts out for Members of Congress and for the American people so that you can see without question the relationship between war and this oil and the relationship between the pressure that is being put on the Iraq Government right now and privatization and the continuation of the war.

Let’s end this war. Let’s end the attempt to control Iraq’s oil. Let’s challenge the oil companies in this country as this House has done this morning. Let’s take a stand for truth and justice. Let’s take a stand for what is right.

Let us not be seduced by this idea that somehow we have the military might, and we can, therefore, grab other people’s resources. That is not what America is about.

America has a higher calling in the world. It is time we began a process of truth and reconciliation in our own country, in reaching out and creating the healing of America. But we must first begin with the truth, and the truth is what I have told this Congress today.

Madam Speaker, thank you.

Members of Congress, thank you.