12 September 2007
A new law giving western companies the right to profit from Iraq’s oil wealth will deprive Iraq of funds vital for reconstruction and development. Peter Tatchell interviews, Iraqi trade unionist, Muayad Ahmad, co-founder of the Federation Of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq (FWCUI) and Ewa Jasiewicz of Hands off Iraqi Oil and Platform.
First, the west invaded Iraq. Then it occupied Iraq. Now the west wants to grab a share of Iraq’s oil profits. A new US-backed law will open the door to foreign exploitation, fragmentation and privatisation of Iraq’s vast oil reserves, which amount to at least 10% of the global total.
Western oil companies like BP, Shell, Chevron, Total and Exxon will be granted long-term production sharing agreements that will bring them immense wealth, at the expense of the Iraqi people.
Oil revenues are the major source of funding for Iraq’s economic development. Yet large chunks of these revenues are now destined to go into the pockets of multinational conglomerates.
It was only last month that Alan Greenspan, former head of the US Federal Reserve, dropped the bombshell:
“I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” (Bob Woodward, ‘Greenspan Is Critical Of Bush in Memoir,’ Washington Post, September 15, 2007).
Iraqi trade unions are leading the campaign to demand that the oil industry remains in public hands and is used to benefit the Iraqi people. But they are under attack from the British and US-backed sectarian right-wing government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad. Using a 1987 Saddam-era anti-union law, oil minister Hussein Shahrastani has declared the oil workers’ union illegal and barred it from consultation on the new legislation. His government has threatened to arrest the union leaders and seize their funds.
See also the article by Kamil Mahdi, No oil for law, Transnational Institute / Red Pepper, August 2007:
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