Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Real Reason We're In Iraq

We're sure it wouldn't be because Iraq has the 2nd largest oil reserves in the world

Hmm, how long have we been in Iraq, again? And why are we there?
It's taken some time to get an of inkling what could be the real reasons (besides Israel), which, even now, are being kept under wraps, but with this week's reports by the WaPo on Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force, & the almost-under-the-radar story of Iraqi oil workers protesting the new Iraq oil law (which is one of the benchmarks Bushco says that government must meet before the U.S. will entertain any notions of withdrawing), we start to get a fuller picture, but nobody is really talking about it, & the MSM, for the most part, has let the story slide.
According to the WaPo, in 2001 Cheney started convening the task force, relying heavily on fellow oil men:
"In all, about 300 groups and individuals met with staff members of the energy task force, including a handful who saw Cheney himself, according to the list, which was compiled in the summer of 2001. For six years, those names have been a closely guarded secret, thanks to a fierce legal battle waged by the White House. Some names have leaked out over the years, but most have remained hidden because of a 2004 Supreme Court ruling that agreed that the administration's internal deliberations ought to be shielded from outside scrutiny.
"One of the first visitors, on Feb. 14, was James J. Rouse, then vice president of Exxon Mobil and a major donor to the Bush inauguration; a week later, longtime Bush supporter Kenneth L. Lay, then head of Enron Corp., came by for the first of two meetings. On March 5, some of the country's biggest electric utilities, including Duke Energy and Constellation Energy Group, had an audience with the task force staff.
"British Petroleum representatives dropped by on March 22, one of about 20 oil and drilling companies to get meetings. The National Mining Association, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America and the American Petroleum Institute were among three dozen trade associations that met with Cheney's staff, the document shows.
"The list of participants' names and when they met with administration officials provides a clearer picture of the task force's priorities and bolsters previous reports that the review leaned heavily on oil and gas companies and on trade groups -- many of them big contributors to the Bush campaign and the Republican Party. But while it clears up much of the lingering uncertainty about who was granted access to present energy policy views to Cheney's staff, it does not entirely explain why the Bush administration fought so hard to keep it and other as-yet-unreleased internal memos secret."
At the very least, the lack of transparency should give us all cause to pause. Whether those same oil interests were given an extraordinary voice in formulating oil law in Iraq is a question unanswered.
The news this past week that Iraqi oil workers were renewing their protests over the proposed law on the grounds it gives foreigners (read us) too much control piqued this Demon's interest in it & prompted me to try to learn more about it. Details, however, are hard to come by, as The American Lawyer, trying in April to track down Ronald Jonkers, the American energy lawyer working behind the scenes in Iraq advising the Iraqis on the law, also learned.
"The new law attempts to balance the interests of the warring Sunni, Shiite, and Kurd factions, none of which necessarily correspond with those of the United States, nor those of the oil companies and law firms that make up a powerful U.S. constituency.
"So it would be hard to overstate the delicacy of Jonkers’s role. Neither he nor the U.S. Department of State would discuss exactly what Jonkers is doing in Iraq these days. The U.S. government would not even officially confirm that he’s there, although sources ranging from watchdog groups to a family member have confirmed his role to The American Lawyer. Jonkers did not return repeated calls and e-mail requests for comment. David Foley, a spokesman for the State Department, would say only that 'our guys are helping the Iraqis write their law and pass their law,'and that 'the hydrocarbon law is critically important.' Energy lawyers agree.
'“Pretty much all the major oil companies are taking a very close interest in the future potential in Iraq,' says Mathew Kidwell, a partner in the Dubai office of Fulbright & Jaworski. 'We have certainly had discussions with a number of our oil industry clients about the legal framework.'
Formerly assistant general counsel for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, "a U.S. agency that provides financing and political risk insurance to American businesses investing overseas, often in energy projects in high-risk, war-torn environments like Iraq’s,"...Jonkers followed that gig as a "project finance lawyer at Clifford Chance from 2003 to 2005, [where he] structured energy projects in Russia and telecommunications systems in Bangladesh, among other deals. He did similar cross-border finance work at Hills Stern & Morley. (He’s been on leave from the firm since heading to Iraq more than a year ago.) So Jonkers is well versed in the sorts of oil laws that American businesses and their lawyers hope will emerge in a new Iraq."
"Since setting passage of the oil law as a benchmark for the Iraqi government in January, President George W. Bush has emphasized that the draft law, which was only made public in March, would distribute oil revenues evenly throughout the country on the basis of population, rather than where the oil is produced. While that’s widely seen as key to preventing factional conflict, that provision was already part of the Iraqi constitution, ratified in October 2005.
"What’s really new about the law is that it would open the Iraqi oil industry’s doors wide open to foreign investment. Under Saddam Hussein, foreign investment was strictly limited, as it is in most major Middle Eastern oil-producing countries. Under the new law, the Iraq National Oil Company would have exclusive control of only about 17 of Iraq’s approximately 80 known oil fields. The law would also allow the government to negotiate different kinds of exploration and production contracts with foreign oil companies, including Production Sharing Agreements, or PSAs. Energy lawyers favor these because they allow oil companies to secure long-term deals and book oil reserves as assets on their company balance sheets. A report on the future of Iraq’s oil industry from the International Tax and Investment Center, an industry organization whose board includes senior officials of the world’s largest publicly held oil and oil services companies, as well as partners from five Global 100 firms, confirms that’s exactly what the energy industry has been pressing for.
"So far, Fulbright’s oil company clients are pleased with the draft law. 'The consensus seems to be that, from what we’ve seen, it’s a good first step,' says Jeremy Sheldon, partner in Fulbright’s London office.
"But there is opposition to the law from a wide swath of Iraqi interests. Many fear it will hand over to foreigners too much control over Iraq’s most prized natural resource. A group of Iraqi oil experts wrote an open letter to the Iraqi parliament complaining that the law’s emphasis on quickly attracting foreign investment could lead the government, now weak from the ongoing war, to seal long-term deals with foreign companies that are not in the long-term interest of the country. Production contracts, for example, could remain in effect for decades. If a future government tried to change the law or terms of signed contracts, it could land in costly international arbitration, where conflicts over such contracts are usually decided. "
"The resurgent Iraqi trade unions have also come out against the law. The Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, representing about 26,000 workers in the industry, could pose a serious obstacle by threatening to shut down oil production, something the federation has done three times since it formed in 2003.
"Critics worry about the multinationals’ commitment to the country (or lack thereof). Under the proposed law, foreign companies would not have to invest their earnings in Iraq, hire Iraqi workers, or partner with Iraqi companies.
"Critics also resent the secrecy surrounding the process. Not only were negotiations behind closed doors, but the proposed law wasn’t publicly available until recently, although the British and American governments, and many oil companies, were given early drafts, says Greg Muttitt, codirector of Platform, a London-based oil industry watchdog: 'Iraqi civil society has been excluded from the process. Even Iraqi MPs are seeing the law for the first time now.' "
Besides being so disappointed & disillusioned to learn that the reason we overthrew Saddam wasn't the WMD's, the presence of Al-Queda, the mobile biological warfare labs, or even the fact that, as George said, "he was a bad man," your Demon will be tracking this site for further news: Price of website keeps track of the issues. Sign up for e-mail alerts.

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Blogger Dusty said...

This is great! How come you don't cross post it at Sirens?

11:45 PM  
Blogger Demon Princess said...

Hey Dusterella,

Short answer: because it's a pain in the ass! I didn't get the gadget gene. (That would be why I drive a Honda, too ~ I just get in, fire it up, & we go. I don't have to relearn how to drive everytime I want to go somewhere new). Blogger has its tics, weirdnesses & shortcomings, but I've figured out how to work around them.

Once upon a time, it was simple to copy posts from Blogger to WordPress ~ no more. However, with your kind encouragement, I'm trying...

6:27 PM  

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