Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Bloody oil ventures

As the New Labour project flounders, the occupants are busy deciding which deckchair they will occupy on the sinking ship. The disaster of foreign policy, incompetence over the NHS, education and public services means that Gordon Brown will be unlikely to remain in office for too long. Brown continues his theme of telling foreigners what they can do to 'earn' Britishness. His new idea is that citizenship should require people to do community service alongside the native criminals. Secondly the citizenship should be reversible, thereby giving the government the chance to remove anybody that the tabloids hate for having a beard. The acres of newspaper print, the weeks of media coverage hide the failure of the new labour project at home and abroad. They mask the fact that whoever sits in number 10, the bloody policies causing bloodshed and destruction abroad will continue. Why? Because the UK is enslaved to US politics. Brown, Cameron and the rest have no power in world politics. From Afghanistan to Iran and Iraq, the policy will always keep roughly to the US script. The situation in Afghanistan for example, is as dire as it has ever been since the fall of the Taliban. What is it all for? In his latest essay, Tariq Ali asks:

Who is responsible for this disaster? Why is the country still subjugated? What are Washington's strategic goals in the region? What is the function of NATO? And how long can any country remain occupied against the will of a majority of its people?

The answers are obvious. The country is not subjugated because it once dared to shelter Osama Bin Laden, nor is is subjugated because of its enormous oil wealth. The function of NATO is simply as an extension of US military policing. Bush and Cheney want completion and security of oil pipelines through some of the most hostile terrain. They do not give a shit how many NATO soldiers die and certainly do not give a shit about the death of Afghan people or the rights of their women. The sleight of hand of Blair in reducing troops in Iraq was accompanied a day later by announcing extra troops in Afghanistan. Many commentators though remain delusional. Rear admiral Richard Cobbold claimed in the Gruanida that this shift would finally defeat the Taliban. Where hundreds of thousands have failed, obviously the stiff upper lip of an extra thousand Brits will make all the difference. If I had a penny for every delusion printed or broadcast in the media, I would be a rich man indeed. Across the pond, the fixation now is all about the new oil law in Iraq. The questions are not how or when the troops will be withdrawn but when the oil will come under their control.

It would be a big step forward if Iraq actually approved and carried out long-promised and never-delivered legislation equitably sharing the nation’s oil revenues among all Iraqis. Unfortunately, the draft oil agreement approved by Iraq’s cabinet on Monday is still a long way from that.

There are a host of political hurdles that must be overcome and no assurance that Iraq’s Shiites and Kurds — who dominate the Parliament and happen to sit on most of Iraq’s known reserves — are suddenly willing to share the wealth equitably with Iraq’s Sunnis.

The sudden concern about the Sunni's (who make up the bulk of the insurgency) is no doubt very heart warming for them. However, the 'Sunnis' in question here are the US and its Saudi allies. They continue:

And oil, Iraq’s principal resource, must be equitably shared without regard to geography, religion or ethnic group. An oil law should be one of the benchmarks Washington insists on as a condition of continued support.
Presumably that includes the 'Sunni' American Christians located in the Texas region of Iraq. The real story is left to bloggers to report. Raed Jarrar:

"Financially, the proposed law legalizes very unfair types of contracts that may freeze Iraq into very long-term contracts that can go up to 35 years and cause the loss of hundreds of billions of
dollars from Iraqis. ... The law also gives regional authorities final say in dealing with the oil, instead of giving this final say to a central federal government. So it opens the door for splitting Iraq into three regions or possibly even three states in the near future."
The law drafted by western oil companies in collaboration with the US government will no doubt soon get a rubber stamping from the puppet Iraqi parliament, who have had no other input on it. There is a widespread pretence that Iraq actually needs the foreign oil companies for example in this article:

Parliamentary approval will lead to Iraq, which relies on oil revenues for about 90% of the federal budget, moving forward with plans to entice big foreign oil companies to invest in the country`s oil sector

The article claims that the oil companies are shying away from Iraq until the law is passed - as if the massive amount of profit waiting for them is not really attractive enough, and as if they had not been prime movers in instigating the war. The Sydney Morning Herald by contrast does not hide that this is what the oil corporations have wanted all along. The pretence here being that the US only covets the oil for 'reconstruction':

The US has long wanted to capitalise on Iraq's oil resources, as a means of paying for the country's reconstruction since the 2003 invasion. Oil's importance was reiterated in the Iraq Study Group report released in December.

The agreement not only will open up Iraq's oil industry to international investment - a bonanza for foreign oil companies - but also produce revenue for a nation badly in need of cash to finance its reconstruction.

What happened to the hundreds of billions that Bush has already poured into 'reconstruction'? Oops I forgot, we are no longer supposed to mention that. The insurgents must have stolen it.


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