Thursday, March 15, 2007

The "O-Word" Lifting its Ugly Head

It only took two or three years and several thousands of dead or wounded US and Iraqi men and women, but a diplomatic effort finally got off the ground, sort-of, aiming at negotiating an end to hostilities. It's not polite to say it out loud, but it seems clear that unless and until they cried "Uncle" our policy was to keep their feet to the fire for a good deal on behalf of Big Oil. No need to be prissy about these things. After all the fluff is blown away the term "interests" translates more into economic realities than humanitarian impulses to be charitable.

Comes now the Senate with an eye on the bottom line...
Do we really want to get our troops out and bring an end to the war in Iraq, or do "national interests" link our commitment to the profit margins of the petroleum industry?

The Iraqi Cabinet's approval of a draft law privatizing the country's oil industry was hailed as a political milestone by the Bush Administration last month, but critics are now blasting a House bill that makes the law a precondition for continued U.S. military support.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) called for the removal of the Iraqi hydrocarbon law, as it is called, from a supplemental war appropriations bill to be considered on the House floor next week, saying that the law "is a concerted effort to ensure that American oil companies are granted access to Iraqi oil fields."

The hydrocarbons law, which must still be passed by the Iraqi parliament, is one of six "performance measures" that Baghdad would have to meet in order to receive more funding from Congress this year, UPI reports. Failure by the Iraqi parliament to meet these benchmarks would result in redeployment of U.S. troops.

Kucinich called for reconsideration of the benchmark in a Monday letter to House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-WI) and plans to propose an amendment on the House floor next week that would remove it from the supplemental. By requiring enactment of the law by the Iraqi government, "democrats will be instrumental in privatizing Iraqi oil," his website quoted him as saying.

Kucinich's amendment "in all likelihood is not going to get past the Rules Committee," a congressional staffer told, adding that the Congressman had not actively sought his colleagues' support for the amendment.

As Iraqslogger reported previously, the draft hydrocarbon law empowers Iraq's regional governments to negotiate production contracts with international oil companies, while calling for national distribution of oil revenues on a per capita basis.

But other provisions in the law undercut this revenue-sharing plan, opening Iraq's oilfields to foreign control, writes Antonia Juhasz in a New York Times op-ed:
"The 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. The Iraq National Oil Company would have exclusive control of just 17 of Iraq's 80 known oil fields, leaving two-thirds of known — and all of its as yet undiscovered — fields open to foreign control."

The draft legislation is expected to encounter stiff opposition in Parliament from the Iraqi Accordance Front and the Iraqi National slate, as well as Iraq's oil unions, which represent tens of thousands of workers, UPI reports.

The Bush Administration "has been aggressive in shepherding the oil law towards passage," writes The New York Times' Juhaz, and has made the law a performance benchmark for the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

It's not clear whether Kucinich's proposal to strike the law will garner much attention on the House floor, as no one in Congress has yet publicly supported him. Robert Naiman writes in the Huffington Post, "It's quite plausible that with a little public attention and lobbying, this amendment could pass."

Love that term: Iraqi hydrocarbon law.
Makes it sound like some kind of clean environment effort on the part of tree-huggers, doesn't it? Reducing greenhouse emmissions, maybe?
When I read stuff like this it makes me want to throw up.

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