Iraq for Sale

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It is now official and legal; the country is literally up for sale. Iraq’s economy is now open to foreign investors in every industry but oil; the paradoxical approach to the issue of oil will be examined later. The US appointed Iraqi Finance Minister Kamel al-Keylani announced the news on behalf of the illegal and foreign invaders –” naturally — since the ordinary Iraqi population has not elected Mr al-Keylani. Should an authority without legitimacy from the Iraqi masses be making such crucial decisions, or is this what the Bush and his cohorts (Neo-Cons) meant by establishing “Democracy” and “return Iraq to the Iraqis”? Perhaps “democracy” means to prepare Iraq to be devoured by its multinationals and corporations; incidentally those companies happen to provide a lot of “funding” (bribes) to these political parties. The news was announced on Sunday in a meeting held in Dubai, organised by the International Monetary fund (IMF), where other leading financiers like the World Bank, G7 countries and other private institutions were also present — a real Capitalist paradise.

This perhaps marks the beginning of the process of mortgaging the country to these financial institutions and multinationals. Create the debt syndrome. Something similar was already tabled earlier, the idea of reconstructing Iraq with its vast oil resources. The catch being that the finance would be in the form of a loan with interests, which would be handed on a plate to the US based financiers, most of the candidates have good connections to the members of the US State department and the Pentagon, like Bechtel, Chevron and Halliburton. As for the issue of foreign investment, which means a net outflow of the resources from the country since the profit ultimately end up in the pockets of the foreign investors outside Iraq.

Furthermore, in the course of the investment, the precious raw materials of the country may simply get consumed or utilised in a manner that may not serve the long-term interests of! Iraq. In any case, Iraqi oil should not be used for reconstruction; they have already paid for their own oil with their blood. The WMD have not been found, which was the legal pretext for the war — absence of which confirms that the war was definitely illegal — hence Iraq should be reconstructed with the reparation money that it is entitled to receive from the US and Britain. If the UN is supposed to be an independent international organisation why does it not account the belligerent nations for its crimes? But to the contrary it is trying to legitimise the illegal occupation.

So it appears that Mr al-Keylani is facilitating the penetration of the domestic market by the large US multinationals, something that was recently attempted at the WTO meeting in Cancun by forcing the “Singapore issues” upon the poorer nations. Although he announced “opening” Iraq up to the foreign investors, a closer scrutiny at some point would reveal that the US based companies would end up with most of the contracts, as is the case already. So again like the US version of democracy, it would be open but more open for some. Trade liberalisation and free market does have its merits however it does not necessarily mean that the recipient of the benefit will go to the right party. Simply because it is a free market does not necessarily mean it is a fair market, which distributes wealth equitably, and ensuring the protection and survival of the weakest. As one economist remarked, the purpose of! the free market is simply to be efficient and function. The question to pose is, if the US is so keen on trade liberalisation (free market), why then does it practice protectionism by giving huge subsidies to its own industries? She is always eager to open up someone else’s economy to flood it with her own capital (investment), goods and services. Opening up Iraq’s economy to the foreign investors, who are well equipped with greater resources and expertise will be able to out manoeuvre everyone else in the domestic market.

Thus preventing the growth of Iraq’s industry in a manner that would secure the interest of Iraq and undermine its sovereignty. In reality all of these schemes are geared towards speeding up the recovery of the cost of the war with a little profit at the end, just like the first Gulf war. This move was expected but never the less was a surprise due to its timing, since the issue of transferring power to the Iraqis has not yet been resolved at the UN. Basic ! amenities like water, electricity and a functioning civil administration has yet to be established. Similarly many are anticipating Iraq’s new governing council to declare the establishment of formal ties with Israel. Chalabi has many good friends within JINSA and IPAC. Adnan Pachachi has already discussed the matter with the Israeli authorities in person.

Coming back to the issue of oil, one unnamed Arab minister stated that it was a deliberate move to demonstrate that the US did not come for oil. Hence this is the explanation for its exclusion, a decision that was based on Political consideration as opposed to an economic one. This however implies that there is an implicit acknowledgement that the rest of the Iraq’s economy is being handed over to the US on a plate, which is not a problem since it was not singled out prior to the war, unlike the lucrative oil. Why the Arab minister chose to remain unnamed in making the statement? Is there something to be ashamed about or does it indicate a sense of guilt? Finally, if the US has not come for oil, then surely that will be self-evident from the behaviour of the US in Iraq. Why the need to announce it in this manner and resort to such antics? Could it be that the US behaviour has already confirmed its oil interests by the fact that the oil fields and oil ministries were one of the few places that were never hit by the US forces and were the first to be protected and secured? Then as usual Halliburton and Bechtel were awarded the lucrative contracts on a plate without a rival bid; this is simply part of the war booty. All of this substantiates the view that oil was a factor in this war but not necessarily a primary one.

The US does not need or want to open up Iraq’s oil resources for foreign investment (that is other companies except for the US multinationals), competition is the last thing the US would want and she is quiet happy with the status quo. Since the oil is being controlled by the US appointed authority, its quantity, and price will be determined by the US behind the scene. The only problem is dealing with those who are blowing up the pipeline to disrupt the oil supply.

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