Black gold in safe hands

Ahmed Chalabi, former Pentagon favourite, failed coup leader, alleged spy for Iran and provider of false information regarding Iraq’s WMDs, is back. As acting Iraqi oil minister. The mind boggles. The oil fields were “secured” almost before the invasion began and yet more than two years after the invasion, oil revenues are reaping not a fraction that was predicted.

Deputy Secretary of Defence, Paul Wolfiwitz, told the U.S. House Budget Committee on February 27, 2003 that oil exports would pay for the reconstruction of post-invasion Iraq: “It’s got already, I believe, on the order of $15 billion to $20 billion a year in oil exports, which can finally – might finally be turned to a good use instead of building Saddam’s palaces. It has one of the most valuable undeveloped sources of natural resources in the world. And let me emphasize, if we liberate Iraq those resources will belong to the Iraqi people, that they will be able to develop them and borrow against them.”

One can safely interpret “borrow” to mean the rapid arrival of massive financial loans on the condition that privatisation of natural resources and essential services are undertaken by Western multinationals.

But I digress. The Sydney Morning Herald’s Paul McGeough reports today on the suffering of Iraqi children due to the effects of depleted uranium.

McGeough writes: “The rest of the world vowed to help Iraq after the ousting of Saddam Hussein. Billions ofdollars have been set aside and because Basra is Iraq’s only city by the sea, hundreds of military and civilian supply convoys thunder past its hospitals, heading to Baghdad and other centres as part of a huge military and reconstruction effort.

“But few trucks stop at these hospitals. A few did pull up outside the Al-Sadr Teaching Hospital a month ago and dumped donated second-hand hospital equipment from Japan in the forecourt. But no one knows how to install it all – so the delivery just gathers dust and its flat surfaces have become an extension of the waiting room for day patients.”

Chalabi’s reputation is so sullied that his appointment throws into question the agendas behind the endorsement of a government by the National Assembly. Already, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari’s connections to Iran remain unclear.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

Site by Common