Sunday, May 27, 2007

What Congress Really Approved: Benchmark No. 1: Privatizing Iraq's Oil for US Companies

By Ann Wright
t r u t h o u t | Guest Contributor

Saturday 26 May 2007

On Thursday, May 24, the US Congress voted to continue the war in Iraq. The members called it "supporting the troops." I call it stealing Iraq's oil - the second largest reserves in the world. The "benchmark," or goal, the Bush administration has been working on furiously since the US invaded Iraq is privatization of Iraq's oil. Now they have Congress blackmailing the Iraqi Parliament and the Iraqi people: no privatization of Iraqi oil, no reconstruction funds.

This threat could not be clearer. If the Iraqi Parliament refuses to pass the privatization legislation, Congress will withhold US reconstruction funds that were promised to the Iraqis to rebuild what the United States has destroyed there. The privatization law, written by American oil company consultants hired by the Bush administration, would leave control with the Iraq National Oil Company for only 17 of the 80 known oil fields. The remainder (two-thirds) of known oil fields, and all yet undiscovered ones, would be up for grabs by the private oil companies of the world (but guess how many would go to United States firms - given to them by the compliant Iraqi government.) Read complete article

Friday, May 25, 2007

Grassroots Peace Movement Decries Vote to Continue the Iraq War and Occupation

United for Peace and Justice, the nation's largest antiwar coalition, flooded Capitol Hill with phone calls calling on Congress to vote no on another $96 billion for the war in Iraq. "We know the switchboards have been jammed and Congress is hearing the message from voters loud and clear: Stop funding this war and bring the troops home. The problem is, most members of Congress are not listening to the people who elected them," said UFPJ National Coordinator Leslie Cagan.

UFPJ Legislative Coordinator Sue Udry commented on the feedback she has heard from those phone calls, "People have been dismayed to realize that Democrats and Republicans who have opposed the escalation of the number of troops in Iraq will still fund that escalation. Those who have decried the president's mismanagement of the war, are now willing to fund that mismanagement, with absolutely no accountability."

"The antiwar movement will not be silenced by this setback -- we will continue to organize and make our voices heard.

This Congress has the power to end the war and they must find the political will to accomplish what they were elected to do," said Judith Le Blanc, Co-Chair of UFPJ. The Congress now has set the framework for the next stage of struggle to end the war. UFPJ has called for its member groups to organize grassroots actions at congressional district offices, and even at the homes of those in Congress who have not stood firm in this round of Congressional wrangling. The antiwar movement will focus on local activities over the Memorial Day weekend, including peace contingents in parades, Iraq war veterans doing war reenactments in Manhattan, peace vigils and picnics.

UFPJ will hold a national assembly of its member groups in Chicago, June 22-24, to plan continued action and organizing against the war and occupation in Iraq.

Curfew Begins to Choke Samarra

Inter Press Service

Ali al-Fadhily*

SAMARRA, May 22 (IPS) - At least 10 residents have died as the result of a curfew imposed by the U.S.-backed Iraqi government, local doctors say.

Residents in this city of 300,000 located 125km north of Baghdad have been struggling to find food, water and medical supplies. Vehicles have been banned from entering or leaving the city since May 6.

The Iraqi government and the U.S. military imposed a strict curfew on the city that day after a suicide car bomb killed a dozen police officers, including police chief Abd al-Jalil al-Dulaimi. Samarra has been a hotspot of resistance to the U.S. occupation of Iraq since close to the beginning of the occupation in March 2003.

After the attack, U.S. and Iraqi forces encircled the city and sealed off all entrances with concrete blocks and sand bags.

Local people told IPS that the main bridge in the city has been closed, ambulances have not been allowed to reach people, and residents are facing an increasingly dire situation.

"We are being butchered here by these Americans," Majid Hamid, a schoolteacher in Samarra told IPS. "People are dying because we lack all of the necessities, and our government seems to be so happy about it." Read complete article posted on Dahr Jamail's website

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Iraq's Hydrocarbon Law – in whose interests?

By Ewa Jasiewicz, PLATFORM 23 April 2007 at

niqash is produced by an Arab-German-Kurdish team in Berlin and Amman. It is published in English, Arabic, and Kurdish. The project is funded by the German Foreign Ministry and supported by the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation.

A Hydrocarbon Law which advocates a radical restructuring of Iraq's oil industry was approved by the Iraqi cabinet in February. If passed by parliament, the law will mark a milestone in Iraqi history – a shift of Iraq's massive reserves from public to private hands. It could see private companies develop and profit from Iraq's oil for 15-30 year periods with virtually no possibility for the Iraqi state to renegotiate contractual terms and conditions.

The first draft of the oil law was produced to a timeline set by the International Monetary Fund. The IMF ordered, as a condition of debt relief, the issuance of an oil law by December 2006. This law had to open up Iraq oil (for the first time in over 30 years) to long-term investment by foreign oil companies. Finally produced in July 2006, the first to review it and comment on it were 9 multinational oil companies, the British government and US government. It would be eight months before the vast majority of the Iraqi parliament would even see it. Read complete article