News Release

Will the Iraq Oil Bill Increase Violence in Iraq?


The lead story in the New York Times today is headlined “A Draft Oil Bill Stirs Opposition from Iraqi Blocs; Sunnis and Kurds Balk; Benchmark in Danger…” The piece states that the proposed Iraqi oil law “establishes a framework for the distribution of oil revenue” and that “the White House was hoping for quick passage to lay the groundwork for a political settlement among the country’s ethnic and sectarian factions.”

Juhasz is a Tarbell Fellow at Oil Change International and a visiting scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies.

She said today: “The Democratic leadership is … focusing on ‘benchmarks’ that the Iraqis must meet. Chief among these benchmarks is the requirement that Iraq pass a new national oil law. Contrary to the spin used to sell this benchmark to both the American and Iraqi public, this so-called ‘revenue sharing plan’ for Iraq’s oil is but a minor portion of the new oil law — it’s three sentences, which haven’t even been agreed upon, in a 40-page document I doubt most members of Congress have read. The major provisions of the REST of the law turn over the Iraq oil industry to quasi-privatization and foreign ownership. So the Democrats who are demanding that the Iraqis pass this oil law are — knowingly or not — doing the bidding of Big Oil.”

Juhasz wrote the piece “Whose Oil Is It, Anyway?” which appeared on the New York Times oped page on March 13. In it, she noted: “The administration has highlighted the law’s revenue sharing plan … But … [t]he law would transform Iraq’s oil industry from a nationalized model closed to American oil companies except for limited (although highly lucrative) marketing contracts, into a commercial industry, all-but-privatized, that is fully open to all international oil companies.”

Juhasz is author of the book The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time.
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Iraq consultant for the American Friends Service Committee, Jarrar wrote the recent piece “The New Oil Law Will Increase Violence in Iraq,” which states: “The new oil law is a direct intervention in Iraq’s domestic policies. It will result in nothing more than increasing the Iraqi-Iraqi imposed violence, and the Iraqi occupation fight. The best oil law is the law that the Iraqis will choose after the last U.S. soldier leaves.” Jarrar translated the proposed law into English.
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Eisenscher is national coordinator for U.S. Labor Against War, a coalition of U.S. labor unions which has been cooperating with Iraqi oil worker unions.

He said today: “The [proposed] oil law has been sold to members of Congress as a measure designed to assure that the proceeds from the sale of oil are shared by all Iraqis. On its face, few would argue with that. But because few, if any, members of Congress have actually read the law, they are not aware of its real purpose. …

“This oil law is not the product of a deliberative process by Iraqis within Iraq. It was not conceived by Iraqis at all. It was imposed upon the Iraqi Council of Ministers by the Bush administration with cooperation from the International Monetary Fund with instructions to submit it to the Iraqi parliament for approval. The law had its origins in a report prepared by a group of oil industry executives and consultants provided to the Bush administration before the invasion of Iraq.”
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A PDF version of the oil law is also available at the Kurdistan Regional Government web page.

Also see the blog Hands Off Iraq Oil organized by PLATFORM, a British human rights and environmental group that monitors the oil industry.

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