Iraq, Still About Oil

The situation in Iraq is coming to a head. Oil workers have been on strike for three days and are being threatened by the Iraqi government and surrounded by the Iraqi military. The Parliament passed a resolution urging an end to the U.S. occupation and has refused to act on the oil law the U.S. is demanding. Both the Democrats in Congress and the Bush Administration have united around the passage of the oil law as the top benchmark for the Iraqi government.

If these trends continue it will become evident to the world what this war was about all along: oil. Even the U.S. media will have to publish an honest analysis of the Iraq oil law and why Iraqis are resisting it.

Perhaps the greatest threat to the U.S. occupation came this week when the Iraq Parliament passed a law opposing the continuation of the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq. The law requires the parliament’s approval of any future extensions of the mandate, which have previously been made by Iraq’s prime minister. Law makers say they plan on blocking the extension of the coalition’s mandate when it comes up for renewal six months from now. The last time the UN mandate was extended Prime Minister Maliki acted without consultation with the parliament, and they reacted angrily. Now, they are acting before the mandate can be extended to make their voices heard.

The parliament has not acted on the oil law submitted to them on February 26th despite aggressive U.S. pressure. The Democratic leadership in Congress joined with President Bush to make passage of the law the top benchmark to show success of the government. Both Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Gates have made recent trips to the region to urge passage of the law. But, the parliament is resisting — even threatening to take a vacation rather than pass the oil law.

In Congress, Dennis Kucinich has tried to raise the issue of the unfairness of the oil law in a Democratic caucus meeting. Rep. David Obey erupted in anger and name calling at Kucinich’s suggestion that the benchmark requiring passage of the oil law was part of the theft of Iraq’s primary resource. Kucinich did not respond to Obey’s angry name calling but instead made an hour long speech describing the Iraq oil law and how it would result in U.S. oil companies controlling their market and reaping most of the profits from Iraqi oil.

Iraq oil workers seeing this U.S. pressure have taken their own action. Members of the union have been on strike since Monday 4th June. Among the union’s demands is consultation on the proposed oil law, which the union opposes. On Tuesday, al-Maliki warned that he would meet threats to oil production “with an iron fist.”

Maliki issued arrest warrants for leaders of the union on a charge of “sabotaging the economy.” The warrant specifically names Hassan Juma’a Awad, the leader of the 26,000-strong Federation of Oil Unions, and three other leaders of the Federation.

If Maliki follows through on his “iron fist” promise and uses the military against the oil workers it will be evident to all Iraqis that he puts the demands of U.S. occupation forces ahead of the needs of the oil workers. It will also become obvious that he is willing to turn over Iraq’s oil to western oil companies rather than meet the needs of the Iraqi people. His already fragile government will lose support and may fall presenting the occupation forces with new political problems. The dividing line between the government and the people, with the government on the side of the occupation will also become evident and violence will likely escalate against the U.S. and Iraqi army and police. The oil law may unite the resistance and focus their energy on the occupation.

U.S. Labor Against the War has been hosting a tour for two Iraqi oil worker leaders. Their visit has been pretty much ignored by the U.S. media but has been reported by David Swanson on Swanson reports a visit to Capitol Hill where one congressman seemed unable to listen to her views. Rep. Dennis Moore (D-KS), said what many members of Congress believed: violence would escalate if the U.S. left Iraq and the civil war between Sunni and Shia’a has been going on since before the U.S. occupation. Iraqi Electrical Utility Workers Union President Hashmeya Muhsin Hussein tried to explain that the civil war began after the occupation and that violence would be reduced if the U.S. withdrew from Iraq. But Moore seemed unable to grasp this. There was very little media in attendance, Swanson reports that a reporter from Telesur (the only large camera in the room) asked why Hashmeya believes the U.S. is still in Iraq. She cited oil and other resources, and the creation of large military bases. “I don’t mean that the American people want these things, I mean the administration. We consider the American people friends.”

The recent comments by representatives of the Bush administration that the U.S. presence in Iraq will be much like the U.S. presence in South Korea — which has lasted 50 years — is relevant to the oil law because U.S. oil companies are seeking 30 year contracts in Iraq. Thus, having a strong U.S. military presence in Iraq will help to assure enforcement of those contracts.

The “coming out” of oil as the central goal of the invasion and occupation of Iraq is going to make the occupation more difficult. And, coming at a time when Bush is escalating the number of troops to approximately 200,000 it is going to assure more violence, and more death. The chant, mocked at the beginning of the invasion by many, “no war for oil” is now becoming to be seen for what it is: the truth. And it will be a truth seen by the entire world.

Kevin Zeese co-directs Popular Resistance and is on the coordinating council for the Maryland Green Party. Read other articles by Kevin, or visit Kevin's website.

11 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. atheo said on June 8th, 2007 at 10:36am #

    Had my doubts but…

    I was just begining to wonder why America was still in Iraq. Now with the proposed hydrocarbon law it is clear (who can doubt a proposed document?). It should be obvious to all that the US is doing the world a favor by keeping the oil flowing and bringing this vital resource to the global marketplace. These Iraqis never wanted to participate in the global economy. Why, it will be so much more efficient, removing their oil under occupation that I’m sure that the shareholders of Total, Statoil, and BP will see the benefits as well as consumers. It’s too bad that Saddam Hussein wouldn’t sell oil and we had to pay so much for it before Bush saved our access to it. I was starting to oppose the war, but since Iv’e become aware of peak oil, I think it’s just something that has to be.

  2. Professor Smartass said on June 9th, 2007 at 4:48pm #

    I’ve written my senators & congressman dozens of times about this as well relevant committee chairs, but with a handful of exceptions in the house, elected Democrats aren’t talking about it.

    At this point, it looks like they are complicit in sending our troops to their death to get the best possible deal for the big oil companies.

    And do you think they will ever pay us back for the favor?

  3. Mulga Mumblebrain said on June 9th, 2007 at 5:32pm #

    Congratulations Atheo. Either you are a genius of sly, sardonic humour, or represent the archetype of ‘Western Civilization’ in its greed and indifference to the fate of untermenschen. What’s a couple of million dead Iraqis next to ‘our American way of life?’. I’m still at a loss which to believe. Still the ‘War for Oil’ Denialists, so often Climate Change Denialists as well (what is this problem the Right has with reality?), will just have to work that much harder on their transparent disinformation and propaganda.

  4. atheo said on June 10th, 2007 at 8:01am #

    Congrats Mulga!

    The purpose of my comment was to expose the idiocy of the “war for oil” meme being pushed by the fake left media. I’m disappointed that nobody bothered to address the factual and logical problems as Econ did in his response:

    “Bush has hardly saved US access to the Iraqi oil when you consider the economic consequences of ill-advised actions.

    This is the sort of moronic thinking you hear from the ignorant jews in the US media.

    Bush has done more to wreck the US economy than anyone thought possible.

    Oil was $23 a barrel before the moronic Bush invaded Iraq and it is now near $70 a barrel after peaking near $80.

    Just looking at the economic consequences of the invasion and you can see why the jew-war in Iraq has been economically self-defeating for the US. The war has also been militaryily self-defeating for the US where after 4 years the US still can’t secure Baghdad and the war has destroyed over $300 billion in US high tech military junk.

    Iraq has been UNABLE to produce more than $2 billion a month in oil revenue because the resistance has cut the flow of oil. The less than $2 billion a month in revenue is due in part to the rise in prices in oil revenue and not a rise in volume or quantity of oil produced.

    Yet the moronic US is spending $10-20 billion a month in just the direct costs on the failed war. Indirect costs such as the interest on the debt for all the money borrowed to pay for the failed war, the medical costs of tens of thousands wounded and crippled soliders, the replacement cost of destroyed equipment, and the opportunity cost of using the money to reindustrialize the failing and collasped US economy will be over $1 trillion.

    Combined direct and indirect costs will be over $2 trillion and Iraq oil will never cover this cost.

    The ignorant zionists plotting war never took a course in economics.

    This Iraq war makes no economic sense. The costs are exceeding the benefits and you have dumb US taxpayer impoverishing themselves in the long run to pay for it.

    How long can the moronic US continue a money losing game?

    Second, the rise in oil prices has forced the bankruptcy of GM, Ford and their suppliers as Americans stopped buying their gas guzzling junk as gas prices rose.

    Third, the rise in gas prices in the US means that the people living on fixed incomes or living pay check to pay check can’t even afford to get to Great-Wal Mart for all the cheap imported Chinese junk there and consumption (70% of GDP) has been falling rapidly. ”
    Actually, I believe that Econ overstates oil revenues, most of which do go into running Iraq anyway. My rough calculation is that it costs the U.S. $1,000 for every barrel of oil lifted. The most expensive oil on the planet by a factor of 40.

  5. peter said on June 10th, 2007 at 9:01am #

    check out this video of bush’s oil war

  6. Deadbeat said on June 10th, 2007 at 1:06pm #

    The “War For Oil” focus is an attempt by liberal Zionist to divert any notions of the influence of Zionism on U.S. foreign policy. Why do you think that United for Peace and Justice help to split the peace movement. They deplore any analysis of the role of Zionism.

    The “Oil Law” is in keeping with the neocons tenets of privatization as well as weakening any rivals to Israel. It is a deplorable that Zionism — the 21st century racism — is trying to be swept under the rug by liberals.

  7. Deadbeat said on June 10th, 2007 at 1:08pm #

    Another point that is overlooked is that the oil companies did not support the invasion of Iraq. They saw that as a disruption to their business and fomenting bad relations. Read James Petras for a more complete analysis.

  8. atheo said on June 10th, 2007 at 1:56pm #

    @ Deadbeat

    I watched as big oil stocks declined while the market in general moved up, in the run up to the invasion. Gains due to the unpredicted outcome are beside the point. As Petras points out, US based oil firms are losing market share in Iran due to zionist imposed sanctions. Zeese is disapointing in his simpleminded or propagandistic denial of the fact that US Middle East policy is driven solely for zionism at the expense of all but the MIC.

  9. Deadbeat said on June 10th, 2007 at 5:49pm #


    Absolutely. That is the real reason why the elites (such as Jimmy Carter_ have written critiques on Israel. We are witnessing a split among elites on Middle East policy especially as Middle East policy has weaken U.S. imperial goals. The problem right now is that the pro-Israel faction dominate the media, both political parties, and parts of the left.

    I remember that as little as 10 years ago you could not even engage in any critique of Zionism on even a left-wing list. It was a time when even leftist was trying to use Louis Farrakan as an example of “black racism”. This is when I realized not even the “left” could be “trusted”. Or another way to say it was that Zionism (rasism) pervaded “leftist” thinking. And was doing all it can to conceal Zionism (racism) effects on U.S. policy both domestic and foreign.

  10. atheo said on June 10th, 2007 at 7:29pm #

    @ Deadbeat

    It seems like the zionists have full spectrum dominance of US politics, incuding such diverse entities as the Green party, the people over at zmag, various maoists, Kucinich and the republicrats etc…
    A while back, in my small community, somebody put a notice in the paper suggesting the formation of a group to share articles and view dvds on human rights and politics. I sent him a link to a DV piece about Islamic prisoners caught up in the fake gwot. He e-mailed back asking if I was some kind of nut and telling me that he was Jewish. I can only assume that Ostrovsky’s claim about sayanim is accurate.

  11. Vierotchka said on June 11th, 2007 at 7:31am #

    Professor Smartass said “It should be obvious to all that the US is doing the world a favor by keeping the oil flowing and bringing this vital resource to the global marketplace.”

    What nonsense! Keeping the oil flowing is tantamount to increasing the fire of global warming while slowing down research and manufacture of clean energy technologies. It is also pandering to the wasteful and destructive American life-style and consumerism which depend entirely on exploiting, enslaving, impoverishing and even widespread killing of the populations of the poor nations of the world. Shameful.