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Dear CASI In the small print of the article it reads: "Leaks from the state department's "future of Iraq" office show |Washington plans to privatise the Iraqi economy and particularly the state- |owned national oil company. Experts on its energy panel want to start with |"downstream" assets like retail petrol stations. This would be a quick way |to gouge money from Iraqi consumers. Later they would privatise exploration |and development." Does anyone know where we can get a copy of the state department's "future of Iraq" plans? Thanks -Rania | |============ |No one here believes this is a humanitarian war | |Jonathan Steele in Damascus |Monday March 31, 2003 |The Guardian <http://www.guardian.co.uk/> | |In this highly politicised city where anger over the invasion of Iraq |alternates with pride in the resistance, there is one sure way to |lighten the mood. Suggest that George Bush and Tony Blair launched their |war because of Saddam Hussein's suspected weapons of mass destruction. |Hoots of derision all round. Whether they are Syrians or members of the |huge Iraqi exile community, everyone here believes this is a war for |oil. In nearby Jordan and across the Arab world the view is the same. | |Some suggest a second motive - Washington's desire to strengthen Israel. |Under one theory US hawks want to break Iraq into several statelets and |then do the same with Saudi Arabia, to confirm the Zionist state as the |region's superpower. Others cite Donald Rumsfeld's recent comments about |Iran and Syria as proof that war on Iraq is designed to frighten its |neighbours, who happen to be the leading radicals in the anti-Zionist |camp. | | |Oil is the war aim on which all Arabs agree. While the Palestinian |intifada is resistance to old-fashioned colonialism with its seizure and |settlement of other people's land, they see the Iraqi intifada as |popular defence against a more modern phenomenon. Washington does not |need to settle Iraqi land, but it does want military bases and control |of oil. | | |Many Arabs already define this neo-colonial war as a historic turning |point which might have as profound an effect on the Arab psyche as |September 11 did on Americans. Arabs have long been accustomed to seeing |Israeli tanks running rampant. Now the puppet-master, arrogant and |unashamed, has sent his helicopter gunships and armoured vehicles to |Arab soil. | | |The US has mounted numerous coups in the Middle East to topple regimes |in Egypt, Iran and Iraq itself. It has used crises, like the last Gulf |war, to gain temporary bases and make them permanent. In Lebanon it once |shelled an Arab capital and landed several hundred marines. But never |before has it sent a vast army to change an Arab government. Even in |Latin America, in two centuries of US hegemony, Washington has never |dared to mount a full-scale invasion to overthrow a ruler in a major |country. Its interventions in the Caribbean and Central America from |1898 to 1990 were against weak opponents in small states. Three years |into the new millennium, the enormity of the shift and the impact of the |spectacle on Arab television viewers cannot be over-estimated. Is it an |image of the past or future, they ask, a one-off throw-back to Vietnam |or a taste of things to come? | | |Blair sensed Arab suspicions about the fate of Iraq's oil when he |persuaded Bush at their Azores summit to produce a "vision for Iraq" |which pledged to protect its natural resources (they shrank from using |the O word) as a "national asset of and for the Iraqi people". No |neo-colonialism here. | | |Unfortunately, the small print is different, as could be expected from |an administration run by oilmen. Leaks from the state department's |"future of Iraq" office show Washington plans to privatise the Iraqi |economy and particularly the state-owned national oil company. Experts |on its energy panel want to start with "downstream" assets like retail |petrol stations. This would be a quick way to gouge money from Iraqi |consumers. Later they would privatise exploration and development. | | |Even if majority ownership were restricted to Iraqis, Russia's grim |experience of energy privatisation shows how a new class of oil magnates |quickly send their profits to offshore banks. If the interests of all |Iraqis are to be protected, it would be better to keep state control and |modify the UN oil-for-food programme, which has been a relatively |efficient and internationally supervised way of channelling revenues to |the country's poor. | | |Drop the controls on Iraq's imports of industrial goods. End the rule |that all food under the programme has to be imported, thereby penalis |ing Iraqi farmers and benefiting rich exporters in Canada, Australia and |the US. But maintain the programme for several years to keep helping the |60% of Iraqis who depend on subsidised food (it will be more after this |war) rather than channel revenues to a new Iraqi government or a World |Bank-administered trust fund which will be under pressure to pay it to |US construction companies to repair the infrastructure which Bush's war |machine has destroyed. US and UK taxpayers should finance the peace as |they have financed the war. Iraqi oil earnings must stay out of US and |British hands. | | |If Downing Street has a better grasp than Washington of the need not to |appear to be occupying Iraq, it was equally misinformed about Iraqis' |views of invasion. Both governments confused hatred of Saddam with |support for war. War has its own dynamic, trapping millions in the |desperate business of daily survival. Naturally they blame US and |British troops for the chaos. Yet, even before the first bomb fell, most |Iraqis were against "liberation" by force. | | |People living under Saddam Hussein's rule do not give opinions easily |but British and US officials should have done a better job of talking to |Iraqis in Jordan and Syria who are in close touch with their families in |Iraq. | | |On the eve of the war, I interviewed 20 Iraqis in Amman individually or |in groups of two or three friends for an hour each on average. They |included Sunni and Shia, property owners, artists, factory workers and |several unemployed. Most were fierce critics of the Iraqi president. But |on the over-riding issue of whether Bush should launch a war, a majority |was opposed. Nine were against, four were torn and only seven were in |favour. Now that war is no longer a theoretical option but a reality |affecting every Iraqi at home and abroad, patriotic feelings are |stronger. | | |Western governments apparently confined their research to people with a |narrow vested interest. They financed exiled politicians who want a |share in US-supplied power and then talked to them as though they were |independent. They listened to businessmen eager to cash in when the US |privatises the economy. They were fascinated by nostalgic Hashemite |monarchists. | | |The voices of the poor and the professional classes were not deemed of |interest, although these are the people who benefited from the surge in |social investment from 1975-85 and later fell back under sanctions. |London and Washington convinced themselves that Saddam Hussein had |ruined the economy without asking whether Iraqis shared this view. If |they now divert Iraq's oil revenues, they will be following a long |tradition of blunder and exploitation. | | |firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com> | | _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk