Thursday, July 05, 2007

Aussie Defence Minister Admits Iraq War is About the Oil

And then promptly gets his fingers slapped for saying it.

Via the BBC:

Australian Defence Minister Brendan Nelson has admitted that securing oil supplies is a key factor behind the presence of Australian troops in Iraq.

He said maintaining "resource security" in the Middle East was a priority.

But PM John Howard has played down the comments, saying it was "stretching it a bit" to conclude that Australia's Iraq involvement was motivated by oil.

Right - "stretching it a bit".

This is thought to be the first time the Australian government has admitted any link between troop deployment in Iraq and securing energy resources.

But Prime Minister John Howard was quick to play down the significance of his defence minister's comments.

"We didn't go there because of oil and we don't remain there because of oil," he told a local radio station.

"A lot of oil comes from the Middle East - we all know that - but the reason we remain there is that we want to give the people of Iraq a possibility of embracing democracy," he added.

Flowers. Candy. Purple thumbs.

But even "untold riches" don't tell the whole story. Depending on how Iraq's petroleum law shakes out, the country's enormous reserves could break the back of OPEC, a wet dream in Western capitals for three decades. James Paul predicted that "even before Iraq had reached its full production potential of 8 million barrels or more per day, the companies would gain huge leverage over the international oil system. OPEC would be weakened by the withdrawal of one of its key producers from the OPEC quota system." Depending on how things shape up in the next few months, Western oil companies could end up controlling the country's output levels, or the government, heavily influenced by the United States, could even pull out of the cartel entirely.

Both independent analysts and officials within Iraq's Oil Ministry anticipate that when all is said and done, the big winners in Iraq will be the Big Four -- the American firms Exxon Mobile and Chevron, the British BP Amoco and Royal Dutch Shell -- that dominate the world oil market.

Meanwhile, the status of Iraq's proposed oil law which has been approved by the Iraq government's cabinet now - and which has been pushed so hard by Washington - is still up in the air with Moqtada al Sadr decrying the foreign ownership provisions again on Thursday as a threat to Iraq's sovereignty.

But fear not al Sadr, this is all about democracy, not oil.

Related: Stop the Iraq Oil Law

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