Post-Saddam Iraq: linchpin of a new oil order

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In these quiet days between Christmas and New Year’s, when few are paying attention to the news, it seems the pieces are beginning to fall definitively into place for an Iraqi war. TheNew York Times today reports that the Saudis have quietly agreed to the use of their air bases in such a war, and the Green Party German Foreign Minister has for the first time indicated that Germany could possibly vote for a war against Iraq in the Security Council, even if not contributing troops to it. The Los Angeles Times reports today on an increasing military build up in the Gulf area and yet another leaked, ever-revised plan for the prosecution of a “swift” war, beginning with a staggering, “intense and focused” air campaign.

To read more of this LA Times piece click here

The British paper The Independent reports that the Navy has just issued “prepare to deploy” instructions to two aircraft carrier groups and two amphibious assault groups, and “this weekend visiting US officials put the final touches in Ankara to a financial compensation package for Turkey, which would play a central part in the blitzkrieg-like war Pentagon planners have in mind.” In other words Turkey has been bought. (And — though who cares — the same paper warns of a potential humanitarian disaster, reporting in a separate piece, “Aid agencies have warned that one million refugees could flee Iraq if Britain and America do not pull back from war,” a story I couldn’t find this morning in the New York Times, the LA Times or the Washington Post, though looking on line I might have missed it.)

To read more of the Independent build-up piece click here

To read more of the Independent refugees piece click here

My own guess is that, with a couple of weeks of jawing, arm-twisting, threatening, and bribing in the wake of Blix’s report to the Security Council on January 27, the US is likely to get some version of the UN resolution it wants, allowing for war against Iraq by sometime in the last two weeks of February. All this demonstrates the power of the globe’s only hyperpower.

As Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs comments in a front page piece today, “For a Wary White House, A Conflict, Not a Crisis”:

“In the case of Baghdad, the United States is preparing to go to war with a country that has just readmitted a hundred or so United Nations weapons inspectors. In the case of Pyongyang, the White House has said it has no intention of resorting to the military option, even though Pyongyang has just ordered the last three U.N. inspectors to leave.”

To read more of Dobbs click here

To belabor a point I’ve long been making, weapons of mass destruction are not the essential factor in the Iraqi war equation. And the essential factor — or at least an essential factor — is oil. Below I include a completely essential background piece on oil and Iraq — exactly what you need to know. It comes from the increasingly interesting Foreign Policy in Focus web site and it’s essentially a research paper (with footnotes), the sort of thing any newspaper anywhere could have done without dispatching a reporter to anyplace more exotic than the web and the library. Will we go to war in February without a major American paper even creating an Iraqi/Middle Eastern oil beat? Probably. Tom

Post-Saddam Iraq:

Linchpin of a New Oil Order

By Michael Renner

Worldwatch Institute
A Foreign Policy in Focus Report
January 2003

Only in the most direct sense is the Bush administration’s Iraq policy directed against Saddam Hussein. In contrast to all the loud talk about terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and human rights violations, very little is being said about oil. The administration has been tight-lipped about its plans for a post-Saddam Iraq and has repeatedly disavowed any interest in the country’s oil resources. But press reports indicate that U.S. officials are considering a prolonged occupation of Iraq after their war to topple Saddam Hussein. It is likely that a U.S.-controlled Iraq will be the linchpin of a new order in the world oil industry. Indeed, a war against Iraq may well herald a major realignment of the Middle East power balance.

Oil Forever

The Bush administration’s ties to the oil and gas industry are beyond extensive; they are pervasive

Michael Renner <[email protected]> is a Senior Researcher at Worldwatch Institute and a policy analyst for Foreign Policy In Focus (online at

To read more of New Oil Order click here