Friday, March 21, 2014

Iraq - a successful war?

Tony Blair said it was a conspiracy theory. The compliant media ignored it as a motive. Nevertheless, it has become more and more apparent that the 2003 was indeed a war about oil and little to do with the supposed justifications of Iraq’s non-existent WMDs and Saddam Hussein’s run-of-the-mill tyranny.

Dr Nafeez Ahmed, executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development writes in a The Guardian that the Iraq War was only partly, however, about big profits for Anglo-American oil conglomerates - that would be a bonus (one which in the end has failed to materialise to the degree hoped for - not for want of trying though). The real goal - as Greg Muttitt documented in his book Fuel on the Fire citing declassified Foreign Office files from 2003 onwards - was stabilising global energy supplies as a whole by ensuring the free flow of Iraqi oil to world markets - benefits to US and UK companies constituted an important but secondary goal:
"The most important strategic interest lay in expanding global energy supplies, through foreign investment, in some of the world's largest oil reserves – in particular Iraq. This meshed neatly with the secondary aim of securing contracts for their companies. Note that the strategy documents released here tend to refer to 'British and global energy supplies.' British energy security is to be obtained by there being ample global supplies – it is not about the specific flow."

The US and British sought to privatise Iraqi oil production with a view to allow foreign companies to takeover. Minutes of a meeting held on 12 May 2003 said:
"The future shape of the Iraqi industry will affect oil markets, and the functioning of Opec, in both of which we have a vital interest."

A "desirable" outcome for Iraqi's crippled oil industry, officials concluded, is:
"... an oil sector open and attractive to foreign investment, with appropriate arrangements for the exploitation of new fields."

The documents added that "foreign companies' involvement seems to be the only possible solution" to make Iraq a reliable oil exporter. This, however, would be "politically sensitive", and would "require careful handling to avoid the impression that we are trying to push the Iraqis down one particular path."

The extensive plans for postwar reconstruction that were pursued did not consider humanitarian and societal issues of any significance, focusing instead on maintaining the authoritarian structures of Saddam's brutal regime after his removal, while upgrading Iraq's oil infrastructure to benefit foreign investors. The US State Department had set up 17 separate working groups to work out this post-war plan. Iraq would be "governed by a senior US military officer... with a civilian administrator", which would "initially impose martial law", while Iraqis would be relegated to the sidelines as "advisers" to the US administration. The US envisaged "a broad and protracted American role in managing the reconstruction of the country... with a continued role for thousands of US troops there for years to come", in "defence of the country's oil fields", which would eventually be "privatised" along with "other supporting industries."

Eight years ago by a former senior British Army official in Iraq, Brigadier-General James Ellery CBE, the Foreign Office's Senior Adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad since 2003, now currently director of British security firm and US defence contractor, Aegis, confirmed the critical role of Iraqi oil reserves in alleviating a "world shortage" of conventional oil. The Iraq War has helped to head off what Ellery described as "the tide of Easternisation" – a shift in global political and economic power toward China and India, to whom goes "two thirds of the Middle East's oil." His remarks were made as part of a presentation at the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS), University of London:
Russia's production has peaked at 10 million barrels per day; Africa has proved slow to yield affordable extra supplies – from Sudan and Angola for example. Thus the only near-term potential increase will be from Iraq."

Whether Iraq began "favouring East or West" could therefore be "de-stabilising" not only "within the region but to nations far beyond which have an interest."

"Iraq holds the key to stability in the region", Ellery continued, due to its "relatively large, consuming population," its being home to "the second largest reserve of oil – under exploited", and finally its geostrategic location "on the routes between Asia, Europe, Arabia and North Africa - hence the Silk Road."

Iraq is now swiftly reclaiming its rank as one of the world's fastest-growing exporters, cushioning the impact of supply outages elsewhere and thus welcomed by OPEC. Back in 2008, Ellery had confirmed Allied ambitions to "raise Iraqi's oil production from 2.5 million bpd today to 3 million by next year and maybe ultimately 6 million barrels per day."

The primary motive of the war - mobilising Iraqi oil production to sustain global oil flows and moderate global oil prices - has, so far, been fairly successful according to the International Energy Agency.

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