Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq

April 19th, 2011 - by admin

Greg Muttitt / Random House (April 21, 2011) – 2011-04-19 22:46:51


Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq
Greg Muttitt / Random House (April 21, 2011)

Oil lies at the heart of Iraqi politics. Yet in the eight years since the bombs began to fall on Baghdad, it has been a taboo subject. In Fuel on the Fire, Greg Muttitt’s gripping and far-reaching investigation, we are taken behind the scenes of the occupation to answer one of the war’s most pressing questions: What is happening to Iraq’s oil?

Stop the Theft of Iraqi Oil!
Greg Muttitt, Hassan Jumaa, and Nadia Idle

Fuel on the Fire is a book on Iraqi oil politics since 2003. It reveals how the occupation powers sought to privatise Iraq’s oil, their push for an Iraqi oil law and the campaign against them by Iraqi trade unions and civil society. The book helps us draw lessons for the future: what will be the impact of Iraq signing contracts with BP, Shell, ExxonMobil etc; and what does the Iraq war tell us about events in Libya and the broader Middle East?

Fuel on the Fire is based on hundreds of previously unreleased US and UK documents, which expose in detail how the governments and companies sought to restructure the Iraqi oil industry in their own interests. The documents will shortly be released on this site. Watch this space!

Greg Muttitt was previously co-director of campaigning charity Platform, and has investigated Iraqi oil issues since 2003.

About Greg Muttitt
Greg Muttitt was previously co-director of campaigning charity Platform, which exposes and fights the environmental and human impacts of the oil industry.

Since the Iraq war started in 2003, Greg has investigated the hidden plans for the future of the country’s oil. This work took him to meetings where the US and UK government officials lobbied Iraqi decision-makers, and to meetings where Iraqi oil ministry teams discussed their future oil policy with western companies.

He met some of the oil executives who hoped to benefit from transforming Iraq’s oil industry, and the government officials and advisers they worked with. Greg also got hold of hundreds of unreleased British and American government documents, which described their plans and actions to reshape Iraq’s oil industry.

But Greg also talked to ordinary Iraqis, and a few politicians, about what they wanted to happen to their oil. He attended Iraq’s first anti-privatisation conference in Basra, and the meeting in Amman at which Iraq’s trade unions decided they would fight the oil law the US was pushing. He made many Iraqi friends, and I came to know some of Iraq’s foremost oil experts. These experiences gave him a very different perspective from what we read in the papers.

Since completing the book, he has started a new job as Campaigns and Policy Director at anti-poverty charity War on Want. Greg lives in Oxfordshire with his wife Rosemary.

UK Government Met Oil Industry Chiefs on Iraq at Least Five Times before War.
New Book Shows
Secret Strategy Papers Set Plans to Achieve UK “Vital Interest” in Iraqi Oil

Fuel on the Fire.com

(April 19, 2011) — Unseen evidence of secret meetings between the UK government and oil companies before the decision to go to war is revealed in a new book to be published this week. It reveals strategy papers showing the takeover of the Iraq oil industry was a strategic priority for the UK government in a post-Saddam Iraq directly contradicting Tony Blair who publicly insisted at the time that any accusation of a UK interest in Iraq’s oil was “absurd”.

Fuel on the Fire, by oil industry expert Greg Muttitt and published by Random House on Thursday 21 April uses previously unseen documents to show that British civil servants held at least five meetings with BP and Shell (denied by the companies) to help them achieve their aims in post-Saddam Iraq. Trade Minister Baroness Symons held two of the meetings.

Fuel on the Fire also cites British government strategy papers at the same time setting out detailed plans on how to reshape Iraq’s oil industry by putting multinationals in charge, stating that “Iraq is extremely important to the UK’s objectives on energy security.”

One government document of a meeting in the Foreign Office on 13 November 2002 describes BP saying it was “desperate to get in there” with “Iraq the big oil project.”

Another document marked “RESTRICTED” from 31 October 2002 involving Baroness Symons and the oil industry reports their concern that the US might be making post-Saddam oil deals with Russia and says “Baroness Symons agreed that it would be difficult to justify British companies losing out in Iraq in that way if the UK had itself been a conspicuous supporter of the US government throughout the crisis.” The document says the UK government “would let our Embassy in Washington know of the companies concerns in detail, and discuss ways these could be addressed with the US government.”

Fuel on the Fire also shows that, in 2006 and 2007, the USA and international partners tried to force Iraq to pass an oil law which would hand control of Iraq oil to multinationals and strip the Iraq Parliament of its existing power of scrutiny over deals.

However, they failed to take account of the determination of Iraq civil society to resist. In the most remarkable part of the story, Fuel on the Fire tells for the first time how Iraqi trade unions, Iraq oil experts, religious groups and others conducted a powerful campaign against the oil law — and won.

Author, Greg Muttitt, said: “This book opens the doors the official inquiries do not. It provides conclusive proof that control of Iraq oil was a critical consideration at the highest levels of the UK government before any decision to go to war.

“I tracked brave Iraqis’ struggles over foreign interference, economic failure and corrupt politicians which gives this book a message of hope — and one which should resonate strongly with the current uprisings across the region.”

“The details of how Britain and the USA shaped war-torn Iraq in their own interests, resulting in a dysfunctional government and sectarian bloodshed, has important lessons for the current intervention in Libya. The Iraqi people’s keen desire for democracy and ability to organise against corrupt leaders is now being reflected across the region.”

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