"I'm saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: The Iraq war is largely about oil." – Alan Greenspan
On Friday night, Greg Muttitt of the Hands Off Iraqi Oil group spoke at Next To Nowhere in Liverpool about the ongoing privatisation of Iraqi oil, and resistance to it.
No-one who attended seemed to be in any doubt Iraq's oil was the main reason for the invasion nearly five years ago, and Greg gave us some detail on the subject, something he has been extensively researching for a long time. He described himself as being "optimistic" about the country's future, precisely because of the oil unions' attempts to derail the "imperialistic" plans of the United States and UK.
The proposed oil law was drafted by the Bush administration and consultants BearingPoint in 2006, and was passed by the occupiers' puppet cabinet, led by Nouri al-Maliki, in February last year. Since then, Maliki has struggled to get it through parliament, something which has exasperated Republicans and Democrats alike, leading to talk of the need for a 'strongman' in some quarters.
Under the law, two thirds of Iraq's oil fields would be exploited by western oil companies, who would reap profits from the estimated 115 billion barrels of oil, over a period of a few decades. Small wonder the US is currently building permanent military bases in the country.
Despite oil unions being made illegal by Paul Bremer (Bush's first civilian dictator in Iraq), and facing military threats and arrests, the oil workers have taken successful strike action, winning wage increases from the US authorities. Now they are campaigning for Iraqi oil wealth to remain in Iraqi hands, and for an end to the occupation. A great strength of this working class action is that it has brought Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurd together, whereas the occupation's strategy has been one of 'divide and conquer' from the very beginning. This class unity is the only way that sectarianism is going to be defeated, in Iraq or anywhere else.
Hands Off Iraqi Oil have called a day of action against oil companies for Saturday, 23rd February. Since A to B marches have clearly failed to stop the bloody conquest in Iraq (and the threatened one against its oil-rich neighbour Iran), direct action should be part of a new strategy against war and the profit system which creates it.
Express your solidarity with Iraqi workers, and strike a blow against the war machine at the same time!