News Release

Iraqi Unions Attack Oil Privatization


United Press International is reporting: “Five Iraqi trade union federations have condemned federal oil law negotiations for being too corporation-friendly.”

The wire service quoted Hasan Jum’a, president of the Federation of Oil Unions, as saying: “This law has a lot of problems. It was prepared without consulting Iraqi experts, Iraqi civil society or trade unions.” [Full article]

Dow Jones reports: “Iraqi trade unionists criticized the major role for foreign companies in the draft law, which specifies that up to two-thirds of Iraq’s known reserves would be developed by multinationals, under contracts lasting 15 to 20 years. The negotiations for a new Iraq hydrocarbon law continued this week with the circulation of a draft law that recommends the government sign production sharing agreements and other service and buyback contracts.”

The following policy analysts are available for interviews:

Muttitt met with Iraqi union leaders while in Amman this week and has just returned to London. He is lead researcher at the British group Platform and primary author of the report “Crude Designs: The Rip-Off of Iraq’s Oil Wealth,” which outlines the structure of production sharing agreements.

Muttitt said today: “The opposition by Iraq’s powerful trade unions will dismay the U.S. government, which is keen to see the law in place by the end of the year. Since the summer, U.S. officials have been calling for an oil law to encourage foreign investment in Iraq’s oil — a call reiterated by the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group in its report last week. …

“In a joint statement, the trade unions rejected ‘the handing of control over oil to foreign companies, whose aim is to make big profits at the expense of the Iraqi people, and to rob the national wealth, according to long-term, unfair contracts that undermine the sovereignty of the state and the dignity of the Iraqi people.’ The statement added that this was a ‘red line’ they would not allow to be crossed.”
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Director of 50 Years Is Enough, Dossani said today: “In announcing its agenda for the privatization of Iraqi oil, the Baker-Hamilton report leaves no doubts as to what the U.S. must achieve in order to call its mission successful. It is an agenda laid out by U.S. corporate interests, by what will benefit their bottom line in a world of shrinking oil reserves. By these terms, what President Bush and others are calling a U.S. victory would be a defeat for the Iraqi people who have struggled for decades to control their own fates, their own destinies and their own resources.”

“The institutions that the report suggests should enforce these policies are the same institutions that are in charge of ensuring that corporate profits take priority over public need in the rest of the world, namely, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.”
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For background see “Iraq War and Oil,” an Institute for Public Accuracy news release.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167