News Release

Bush’s Plan — for Iraq’s Oil

The British newspaper The Independent reported in an in-depth story Sunday, titled “Future of Iraq: The Spoils of War — Blood and oil: How the West will profit from Iraq’s most precious commodity,” that: “So was this what the Iraq war was fought for, after all? As the number of U.S. soldiers killed since the invasion rises past the 3,000 mark, and President George Bush gambles on sending in up to 30,000 more troops, The Independent on Sunday has learnt that the Iraqi government is about to push through a law giving Western oil companies the right to exploit the country’s massive oil reserves.”

The following analysts who have been following the oil issue are available for interviews:

GREG MUTTITT
Muttitt is lead researcher at the British group Platform, a human rights and environmental group that monitors the oil industry. He is the primary author of the report “Crude Designs: The Rip-Off of Iraq’s Oil Wealth.” The Independent noted that Muttitt “said the new legislation was drafted with the assistance of BearingPoint, an American consultancy firm hired by the U.S. government, which had a representative working in the American embassy in Baghdad for several months. ‘Three outside groups have had far more opportunity to scrutinise this legislation than most Iraqis,’ said Mr. Muttitt. ‘The draft went to the U.S. government and major oil companies in July, and to the International Monetary Fund in September. Last month I met a group of 20 Iraqi MPs in Jordan, and I asked them how many had seen the legislation. Only one had.'”
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JOSHUA HOLLAND
Currently in New York City, Holland wrote the piece “Bush’s Petro-Cartel Almost Has Iraq’s Oil.” He said today: “While everyone is focusing on sectarian issues and how Iraq’s oil will be divided, the great unexamined issue is the degree to which Iraq’s extraordinary oil wealth will benefit Iraqis at all.”
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ANTONIA JUHASZ
A visiting scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, Juhasz recently wrote the piece “It’s Still About Oil In Iraq” in the Los Angeles Times and is author of the book The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time.

She said today: “With the announcement on Sunday that the Al-Maliki government is prepared to introduce a new oil law in Iraq that would transform Iraq’s currently nationalized oil system to one that is all but fully privatized and opened to foreign companies, U.S. oil companies and their fellows in the Bush administration may yet prove to be the ‘winners’ of the war in Iraq. Iraq’s national government will still ‘own’ its oil and run a national oil company; however, every function of the company will be privatized — thus forcing the national company to bear the risk, while the oil companies reap all the benefits: 30-year contracts, 75 percent of initial profits, and access to exploration, production and marketing of Iraq’s giant oil reserves.

“But oil companies aren’t the only potential corporate winners in Iraq. President Bush is set to announce Wednesday a new $1 billion program for reconstruction in Iraq focused on hiring Iraqi workers. Missing from his proposal is the fact that some 150 U.S. corporations have already received some $50 billion for reconstruction work which they have utterly failed to perform. The Bush administration should instead be canceling existing U.S. contracts, forcing companies to return all misspent funds, and turning [over] all of this work and money (plus a good deal more money) to Iraqi companies and workers and sending the U.S. corporations home.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167