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  • Tuesday, July 01, 2008

    Friendship Across Frontiers

    The hasty attempt by the US/UK administration in post occupation to persuade the docile Iraqi-in-Government to formalise the Hydro Carbon Law remains undiminished. Particularly in the absence of tangible security and improvements of living standards to the Iraqi people. The Law was resented and rejected by most Iraqi oil experts on the basis that this law is biased as it is believed that the original formulation, was by experts from Exxon – Mobil – BP, but fronted by Iraqis!! The other objections were focused on the production sharing contract which understandably is suited for high risk production field rather than to the Iraqi discoveries which enjoy low risk and low production costs (approx 1US$ per bbl). Also the duration of these contracts are longer than economically envisaged as acceptable (maximum 15 years).

    More importantly is that the essence of the peoples “national pride”, was profoundly overlooked by the occupier and the Iraqi-in-Government. That Iraq since nationalisation in 1972 has proved and capably managed these resources. Now to undermine the achievement of nationalisation is rather difficult to accept by most, although all of the previous contractual concerns are not beyond reasonable negotiation. The reality remains that Iraq’s oil industry at present has been forced to acquire outside finance and expertise due primarily to the neglect of the 13 years of sanctions causing deterioration in training, coupled with the recent forced migration of most oil experts and trained manpower, particularly in the field of drilling and exploration. Indeed although most Iraqi oil experts favour phased fields development and technical assistant contracts this option is no longer viable due primarily to the aforesaid reasons. Also most departments within the Ministry of Oil have suffered between 2003-2008 a drastic loss of technical experts, exploration records and data. The collective experiences which were cultivated since 1972 to enhance the functions of a successful nationalised industry are no longer readily available, coupled with the lack of political enthusiasm for upholding the “national interest” among the Iraqi-in-Government, has paved the way to this new Hydro Carbon Law being enforced in order to reverse the sovereign oil industry back into private foreign ownership.

    Since 1972 the oil has been a major factor in determining the US/UK foreign policy towards the Middle East. The motive by Iraq to reject a foreign control of production has been its demise, particularly as Iraq remains the only country among the Arab oil producing countries, to manage and operate successfully their industry entirely by the indigenous technical manpower. The use of the political oil power by the Iraqi Government has obstructed the US and the UK Government in furthering their regional economic privileges effectively. Iraq’s ability to utilise the oil revenues unhindered (for only five years) to embark on a major industrialisation, free health care, eradication of poverty, transport and free education programmes and subsequently coupled with successfully utilising the oil as a political power to challenge the US Aid Programme in influencing friends in Africa, Lebanon and Jordan. These maverick development programmes and foreign policies have not only concerned the US/UK but also the Gulf leadership and the Saudi. Where in 1980 Iraq persuaded the Saudis reluctantly to utilise their combined oil influence in halting the US from recognising an annexed Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist entity. Iraq’s consistent support for the Palestinian struggle and the proper utilisation of oil revenues in progressive and strategic development initiated a justifiable fear by all the oil Arab producing leadership and ultimately paved the way for their support to the 2003 war to achieve a regime change in order to safeguard their long term abuse of oil revenue and hold to power.

    Iraq also remains as the only oil producing country to have its oil fields not fully developed. Their development was hindered by the eight years of Iraq-Iran war, which benefited neither but served the interests of the Zionist entity. This war, which was supported politically and financially by the permanent members of the Security Council and the Gulf Sheikdom, had a diverse consequence by halting Iraq’s ability in developing their essential social programme and ultimately placed Iraq’s economy in a vast debt to the (US/UK influenced) Gulf Sheikdom. Furthermore, the 13 years of sanctions has caused a tremendous loss of life to the majority of the population and hardship to the Iraqi people, in anticipation by the US/UK Governments that these draconian measures, ultimately would influence a regime change and the reversal of the 1972 national initiative of nationalisation.

    However, the future successful implementation of the law remains to be unclear, undetermined and dependent on many factors emanating within Iraq and those influenced by Iran and US/UK. Iraq, since 1972, has experienced the benefit of the freedom to control their oil resources and financial gains and this stigma will be difficult to sway away from, particularly as nationalisation has provided the Iraqi people with independence, self-motivation, pride and rejection of the free market consumerism adopted by the leadership of other Arab oil producing countries. Nowhere in the history of occupation has there been such a concentration of vast US/UK money, military manpower and determination by the occupier. Nowhere has their failure been more dramatic. Indeed the Hydro Carbon Law and the occupation are too unpopular to be able to defeat the Arab Nationalism.

    Kind regards,

    Riad El-Taher