Monday, July 23, 2007

FROM ROOTLESS COSMOPOLITAN: Iraq: The Slimiest Benchmark

  • And the most concrete litmus test cited for establishing Iraqi bona fides appears to be the passing of the draft oil law
  • Washington is not hiding its belief that passing of the oil law a primary test for the viability of the Maliki government.
  • But in the great Rove-ian tradition of Orwellian political communication, ...
  • An oil law whose primary beneficiaries appear to be the major U.S. oil companies has become, in Rove-speak, the foundation-stone of national reconciliation in Iraq —
  • the U.S. media for the most part dutifully parrots the idea that the purpose of the law is to ensure an equitable distribution of oil revenues between Iraq’s regions, defined as they are by ethnicity and sect.
  • But that, in fact, is a relatively minor part of the oil law.
  • “the draft law in fact says little about sharing oil revenues among Iraqi groups and a lot about setting up a framework for investment that may be disadvantageous to Iraqis over the long term.” (CSM)
  • The law aims to set a framework for investment by outside oil companies, including favorable production-sharing agreements that are typically used to reward companies for taking on risk, he says. (former Iraqi oil minister Issam Al Chalabi)
  • “We know the oil is there. Geological studies have been made for decades on these oil fields, so why would we let them [international firms] have a share of the oil?” he adds.
  • “Iraqis will say this is solid proof that Americans have staged the war … because of this law.”
  • Indeed, the opposition to the law inside Iraq appears to have united a broad political spectrum, ranging from mainstream Sunni parties and nationalist groups backing the insurgency to the Sadrists and the national trade union of Iraqi oil workers.
  • as Antonia Juhasz pointed out in a remarkable New York Times op ed, the draft law in fact would take Iraq entirely out of the international mainstream by putting ownership and control of its oil reserves in the hands of foreign companies
  • what good is a law that makes for a more equitable distribution of Iraqi oil profits at the same time as ensuring that the lion’s share of those profits go to foreign oil companies

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