News Release

Oil Law * Outlawing Unions * Iraq Benchmarks

The Washington Post published an article yesterday on the proposed Iraq Oil and Gas Law. The piece quotes Issam al-Chalabi, a former Iraq oil minister: “This was a very bad move by the Americans to push for this law. … Now it looks like … the Americans are after oil — they will bring their Exxons and Chevrons and they will control our oil again.”

BEN LANDO
Available for a limited number of interviews, Lando is energy editor for UPI and is now covering a major conference on Iraqi oil in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. His most recent piece is “Iraq Oil Law (Still) Coming Soon” and he has just launched the web page IraqOilReport.com.

MICHAEL EISENSCHER
Available for a limited number of interviews, Eisenscher is national coordinator for U.S. Labor Against War, a coalition of U.S. labor unions which has been supporting the Iraqi oil worker unions. He said today: “The Iraq Federation of Oil Unions is leading popular resistance in Iraq to the hydrocarbon [oil] law being pressed upon the Iraqi parliament by the U.S. government and International Monetary Fund. In just the last week, the union led a coalition of civil society organizations in a demonstration against the law in Basra.

“In response to the oppositional role the union is playing, the Iraqi oil minister Hussein Shahristani issued a decree in July to all the state-owned oil companies directing them not to have dealings with the oil workers union, basically declaring the oil workers union to be illegal. In taking this action, Shahristani cited a Saddam-era law — which was continued under Paul Bremer and since — that bans unions and bargaining in public sector enterprises. This potentially sets up union officials to be targeted not just by militias and so-called terrorists, but by the official arms of the state unless the oil minister’s decree
is reversed.”
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ANTONIA JUHASZ
Juhasz is the author of the book The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time and is with the group Oil Change International. She said today: “The vultures are circling in expectation of the oil law’s passage and the privatization of much of Iraq’s oil. Chevron signed a new deal last month for Iraq’s Majnoon field, the fourth largest in the country. ConocoPhillips has a deal for Iraq’s largest field, West Qurna. Executives from all of the U.S. and world’s largest oil companies are meeting in Dubai with Iraq’s oil minister and ministry officials to hammer out deals.”

Earlier this year, Juhasz wrote the oped “Whose Oil Is It, Anyway?” which appeared in the New York Times .
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ROBERT NAIMAN
National coordinator and senior policy analyst at Just Foreign Policy, Naiman wrote the recent article “ For the Record, Congress Never Passed a Benchmark to Privatize Iraq’s Oil“.
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RAED JARRAR
Currently in Washington, D.C., Jarrar is Iraq consultant for the American Friends Service Committee. He said today: “The proposed Oil and Gas Law is aimed at privatizing Iraq’s oil and opening the doors for multinational companies to sign long-term contracts controlling Iraq’s oil resources and infrastructure. In addition, the Oil and Gas Law threatens Iraq’s unity by decentralizing the major authorities related to petroleum operations. Many analysts believe that Iraqi separatist leaders — Sunnis and Shias and Kurds — are using this law to implement their separatist agenda aimed at splitting Iraq into three sectarian/ethnic regions. Furthermore, the Oil and Gas Law will cause the Iraqi people to lose hundreds of billions of dollars to foreign oil companies through the 37-year contracts due to the unconventional type of contracting this law legalizes called the Production Sharing Agreements.

“I am against imposing any kind of ‘benchmarks’ on the Iraqi government or any other governments, but if we wanted to impose such benchmarks we have to understand that benchmark (iii) [Sub-Section A, Section 1314 of the FY2007 Supplemental Appropriations Act] is being used by the administration to push the Oil and Gas Law, which has almost
nothing to do with revenue sharing among Iraq’s sectarian groups, and everything to do with creating highly profitable opportunities for multinational oil corporations and threatening Iraq’s unity. The Law of Financial Resources, on the other hand, was designed to ‘guarantee the management, disbursement and monitoring of the federal financial resources in an efficient and transparent manner, to achieve a just and fair distribution for these resources and for ensuring a reserve for the coming generations.’ It’s a different law that doesn’t seem to attract
that much attention or lobbying by anyone.”
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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.