"We reaffirm our commitment to protect Iraq's natural resources,
as the patrimony of the people of Iraq, which should be used only for their
benefit." --Joint statement by George Bush and
Tony Blair, 08 April 2003.
Since the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Western corporate media
have deceptively reported and portrayed the Occupation as a necessary vehicle
to "spread democracy" and "fight terrorism"; however the
carving up of Iraq's wealth and oil assets is deliberately avoided. The media
hype over "reconstruction effort" and illegitimate elections is a
cover up for the colonisation of Iraq and Iraq's economy. An "agreement"
between British and U.S. oil corporations will see Iraq's oil revenues end up
in the pockets of the invaders at the expense of the people of Iraq.
Executives from ExxonMobil, BP, Shell and Halliburton and Iraqi expatriate
conmen, described in the West as Iraqi "technocrats," have reached
a deal to carve-up Iraqi oil, despite opposition from Iraqi oil workers and
union leaders. It is described as the "second phase of the war," in
which the invaders will divide the cake between themselves as reward for their
crimes of aggression. "The decisions on how to carve up Iraq are being
made behind close doors in Washington and London and Baghdad," said Greg
Muttitt, a scholar with PLATFORM, an independent environmental group. The deal
made easy by the deliberate ongoing cycle of violence in Iraq and the media
complicity in manipulating and diverting the public from important and morally
significant issues, such as the criminal nature of the Occupation and its effects
on the daily living conditions of Iraqis.
Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration moved step by
step for the final assault to colonise Iraq's economy. First, on 20 March 2003,
George Bush issued his Executive Order 13290 to confiscate "certain property
of the Government of Iraq and it agencies, instrumentalities, or controlled
entities and that all right, title, and interest in any property so confiscated
should vest in the [U.S.] Department of the Treasury." This allowed the
Bush administration to immediately seize $1.7 billion in Iraqi funds. Second,
in May 2003, Bush Executive Order 13303 indemnifies not only the corporate looters
such as ExxonMobil and Halliburton from prosecution, but also provides protection
to soldiers and private security guards committing crimes against Iraqis
Then, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) headed by U.S. proconsul L.
Paul Bremer, issued a series of edicts and created commissions in order to 'tighten
the grip on Iraq's Future,' post 30 June 2004. The devious design of the U.S.
was exposed in an article in the Wall Street Journal on 13 May 2004. Reporters
Yochi Dreazen and Christopher Cooper wrote; "As Washington prepares to
hand over power, U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer and other officials are quietly
building institutions that will give the U.S. powerful levers for influencing
nearly every important decision the interim government will make. In a series
of edicts issued earlier this spring, Mr. Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority
created new commissions that effectively take away virtually all of the powers
once held by several ministries. . . . and put in place a pair of watchdog institutions
that will serve as checks on individual ministries and allow for continued U.S.
oversight." It was just a fake sovereignty designed for public consumption.
It is the U.S. Embassy which took sovereignty, not the expatriate stooges.
As Bremer prepared for his unannounced hasty departure from Iraq in June 2004,
the imperial proconsul imposed his '100 Orders' that were designed to transfer
the Iraqi economy form a centrally planned economy to free market economy by
U.S. fiat. The so-called Bremer's reform is similar to that imposed on nations
strangled by the International Monetary Fund. In short, the Orders, though enacted
illegally, have detrimental effects on the Iraqi economy. For example, Order
39 allows for the following: (1) privatization of Iraq's non-oil-related economy
which dominated by 200 state-owned enterprises; (2) 100 percent foreign ownership
of Iraqi businesses; (3) 'national treatment' of foreign firms; (4) unrestricted,
tax-free remittance of all profits and other funds; and (5) 40-year ownership
licenses. Thus, it allows the U.S. corporations operating in Iraq to own every
business, do all of the work, and send all their money home. Nothing needs to
be reinvested locally to service the Iraqi economy, no Iraqi need be hired,
no public services need be guaranteed, and workers' rights can easily be ignored.
Foreign corporations can withdraw their investments at any time. Order
81 is designed to reengineer Iraq's traditional agriculture system into
a U.S.-style corporate agribusiness, and in the process enslave Iraqi farmers
and undermine Iraq's food security. All these imposed by military means -- in
contravention of the WTO regulations and international law -- and disguised
as U.S. "reconstruction efforts" to rebuild Iraq.
The media nonetheless continue to propagate that the "reconstruction effort"
of Iraq is the largest U.S.-led occupation program since the reconstruction
of Europe after World War II, deliberately avoiding the fact that if the "reconstruction"
of Iraq ever takes place it will be paid by the Iraqi people. U.S. $32 billion
was promised for reconstruction, in loans and grants. Yet reparation payments
for the 1991 U.S. war on Iraq continue, including large payments to Kuwait and
U.S. corporations. Despite the large amount of money authorised by the U.S.
Congress, there is zero reconstruction in Iraq today . The
U.S. is destroying Iraq on a daily basis and hampering Iraq's economic recovery
for the sole purpose of selling Iraq's public assets and resources on the cheap
to U.S. corporations, without consulting the Iraqi people. The billions of dollars
in U.S. taxpayers' money is meant to fill the pockets of U.S. private corporations,
not for the reconstruction of Iraq.
According to Ed Harriman; "by 28 June last year , when [Paul] Bremer
left Baghdad two days early to avoid possible attack on the way to the airport,
his CPA had spent up to $20 billion of Iraqi money, compared to $300 million
of US funds." The audits report (prepared by Congress, the Pentagon, the
General Accountability Office, the International Advisory and Monitoring Board
and the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction) "have also discovered
that $8.8 billion that passed through the new Iraqi government ministries in
Baghdad while Bremer was in charge is unaccounted for, with little prospect
of finding out where it went. A further $3.4 billion earmarked by Congress for
Iraqi development has since been siphoned off to finance 'security,'" added
Harriman.  In its report on 23 October 2003, Christian Aid
said: "The billions of dollars of oil money that has already been transferred
to the U.S.-controlled [CPA] has effectively disappeared into financial black
holes," the pockets of U.S. cronies.
Furthermore, Iraq oil is sold unmetered and more than $4 billion in oil export
revenue was sold off illegally to U.S. cronies. "We do not know the exact
quantity of oil we are exporting, we do not exactly know the prices we are selling
it for, and we do not know where the oil revenue is going to," an Iraqi
official in the Iraqi Oil Ministry told ISN
Security Watch recently. This deliberately encouraged corruption, designed to
undermine Iraq's future and contributes to lost potential oil revenue, is estimated
to be $8 billion a year.
To justify the ongoing Occupation and looting of Iraq's wealth, the U.S. and
the British government are deliberately orchestrating and increasing the violence
against the Iraqi people. Through daily destruction of property and vital infrastructure,
Iraq's broad economy has virtually collapsed and many factories and warehouses
have been sacked and gutted. The U.S. had fallen short of restoring -- even
minimal -- essential services such as electricity, potable water supplies, and
sanitation to pre-war level. The health care services and the education system
The daily indiscriminate and savage aerial and ground bombardments -- with
chemical bombs, fire bombs (fuel-air bombs), napalm and other non-conventional
weapons (WMD) -- of population centres have killed hundreds of thousands of
innocent Iraqis; a deliberate mass murder. In addition, the U.S. and British
governments are secretly sponsoring the killings of prominent Iraqi politicians,
intellectuals, academics, religious leaders and trade union leaders, including
leaders of the Oil Workers Union using U.S. and British-trained death squads
and criminals. The aim is to incite civil strife and destroy the unity of Iraq
to serve the U.S.-Zionist imperialist strategy.
As the violence continues unhindered, behind the scenes and without the participation
of the Iraqi people, the Bush and Blair governments, and its puppet government
are in the process of transferring Iraq's economy into a "free market"
economy to serve U.S corporate interests. The long-awaited covert plan to transfer
Iraq's oil assets to U.S. and British oil corporations is on the table. The
production sharing agreements (PSAs) -- proposed by the U.S. State Department
before the 2003 invasion and put aside to be implemented after the December
15 illegitimate elections -- Iraqis are set to lose control of their own economic
and political fate.
Since Iraq has large unexplored oil reserves, of the best quality in the world
and the cheapest to extract, the PSA model has no place in Iraq's oil industry.
A new and detailed report, entitled 'Crude Designs: The rip-off of Iraq's oil
wealth' by the London-based advocacy group PLATFORM, shows that the PSA model
"is on course to be adopted in Iraq, soon after the December elections,
with no public debate and at enormous potential cost." 
Very few countries have signed the PSAs, and those who signed are regretting
it today. Citing International Energy Agency figures, the report reveals that:
"PSAs are only used in respect of about 12 percent of world oil reserves,
in countries where oilfields are small (and often offshore), production costs
are high, and exploration prospects are uncertain. None of these conditions
applies to Iraq." It should be emphasised that the deals have been negotiated
with Iraqi conmen and U.S.-British oil corporations, despite strong opposition
by the Iraqi people.
The report shows clearly that the PSAs, if adopted, will put the Iraqi people
on the road to permanent poverty. According to the report; "under PSAs
future Iraqi governments would be prevented from changing tax rates or introducing
stricter laws or regulations relating to labour standards, workplace safety,
community relations, environment or other issues." At an oil price of $40
per barrel, Iraq stands to lose between $74 billion and $194 billion over the
lifetime of the proposed contracts, from only the first 12 oilfields to be developed.
These estimates, based on conservative assumptions, represent between two and
seven times the current Iraqi government budget." The report added: "Under
the likely terms of the contracts, oil company rates of return from investing
in Iraq would range from 42 percent to 162 percent, far in excess of usual industry
minimum target of around 12 percent return on investment."
According to Greg Muttitt, the lead author of the report, "For all the
US administration's talk of creating a democracy in Iraq, in fact, their heavy
pushing of PSAs stands to deprive Iraq of democratic control of its most important
natural resource. I would even go further: the USA, Britain and the oil companies
seem to be taking advantage of the weakness of Iraq's new institutions of government,
and of the terrible violence in the country, by pushing Iraq to sign deals in
this weak state, whose terms would last for decades. The chances of Iraq getting
a good deal for its people in these circumstances are minimal; the prospect
of mega-profitable deals for multinational oil companies is fairly assured,"
by the illegitimate actions of a puppet government subservient to imperialist
It was revealed recently (Washington Post) that the big multinational oil companies
in the 2001 energy task force headed by Vice President Cheney to plan for the
U.S. invasion of Iraq. In 1999, Cheney as the CEO of Halliburton told a gathering
in London: "the Middle East with two-thirds of the world's oil and the
lowest cost is still where the prize ultimately lies." Cheney may achieve
his ultimate goal with extreme violence against the people of Iraq.
As the Iraqi people are held hostages by U.S. forces -- without the prospect
of being freed soon -- and their livelihoods are being destroyed, they have
no way of knowing how much of their nation's wealth is being looted to fill
the pockets of U.S. and British oil corporations and their cronies. There is
an urgent need for meaningful accountability and transparency. The PSAs deal
is not in the interests of the Iraqi people. It is reminiscent to the 'concession
system' imposed on the Middle East during colonisation. It will devastate Iraq's
economy and increase the suffering. Therefore, the U.S.-Britain orchestrated
PSAs to carve up Iraq's oil revenues should be resisted and all efforts should
be made to end the suffering of the Iraqi people imposed by the Occupation.
Instead of looting Iraq's wealth, the U.S. and British governments should pay
reparations to the Iraqi people for waging an unjust war of aggression that
has needlessly caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis.
The best deal the U.S. should negotiate with the Iraqi people is the full and
immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, the decolonisation of Iraq's
economy, and the return of Iraqi assets.
 Naomi Klein, Baghdad
Zero, Harper's Magazine: September, 2004.
 Ed Harriman, Where
has all the money gone? London Review of Books, Vol.
27(13), July 2005.
 Greg Muttitt, Crude
Designs: The rip-off of Iraq's oil wealth, PLATFORM, November 2005. It is
Ghali Hassan lives in Perth, Western Australia.