Secret memos expose link between oil firms and invasion of Iraq
(The Independent) -- by Paul Bignell --
Plans to exploit Iraq's oil reserves were discussed by government ministers and the world's largest oil companies the year before Britain took a leading role in invading Iraq, government documents show.
The papers, revealed here for the first time, raise new questions over Britain's involvement in the war, which had divided Tony Blair's cabinet and was voted through only after his claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
The minutes of a series of meetings between ministers and senior oil executives are at odds with the public denials of self-interest from oil companies and Western governments at the time.
The documents were not offered as evidence in the ongoing Chilcot Inquiry into the UK's involvement in the Iraq war. In March 2003, just before Britain went to war, Shell denounced reports that it had held talks with Downing Street about Iraqi oil as "highly inaccurate". BP denied that it had any "strategic interest" in Iraq, while Tony Blair described "the oil conspiracy theory" as "the most absurd".
But documents from October and November the previous year paint a very different picture.
Five months before the March 2003 invasion, Baroness Symons, then the Trade Minister, told BP that the Government believed British energy firms should be given a share of Iraq's enormous oil and gas reserves as a reward for Tony Blair's military commitment to US plans for regime change.
The papers show that Lady Symons agreed to lobby the Bush administration on BP's behalf because the oil giant feared it was being "locked out" of deals that Washington was quietly striking with US, French and Russian governments and their energy firms.
Minutes of a meeting with BP, Shell and BG (formerly British Gas) on 31 October 2002 read: "Baroness Symons agreed that it would be difficult to justify British companies losing out in Iraq in that way if the UK had itself been a conspicuous supporter of the US government throughout the crisis."
The minister then promised to "report back to the companies before Christmas" on her lobbying efforts.
The Foreign Office invited BP in on 6 November 2002 to talk about opportunities in Iraq "post regime change". Its minutes state: "Iraq is the big oil prospect. BP is desperate to get in there and anxious that political deals should not deny them the opportunity."
After another meeting, this one in October 2002, the Foreign Office's Middle East director at the time, Edward Chaplin, noted: "Shell and BP could not afford not to have a stake in [Iraq] for the sake of their long-term future... We were determined to get a fair slice of the action for UK companies in a post-Saddam Iraq."
Whereas BP was insisting in public that it had "no strategic interest" in Iraq, in private it told the Foreign Office that Iraq was "more important than anything we've seen for a long time".
BP was concerned that if Washington allowed TotalFinaElf's existing contact with Saddam Hussein to stand after the invasion it would make the French conglomerate the world's leading oil company. BP told the Government it was willing to take "big risks" to get a share of the Iraqi reserves, the second largest in the world.
Over 1,000 documents were obtained under Freedom of Information over five years by the oil campaigner Greg Muttitt. They reveal that at least five meetings were held between civil servants, ministers and BP and Shell in late 2002.
The 20-year contracts signed in the wake of the invasion were the largest in the history of the oil industry. They covered half of Iraq's reserves – 60 billion barrels of oil, bought up by companies such as BP and CNPC (China National Petroleum Company), whose joint consortium alone stands to make £403m ($658m) profit per year from the Rumaila field in southern Iraq.
Last week, Iraq raised its oil output to the highest level for almost decade, 2.7 million barrels a day – seen as especially important at the moment given the regional volatility and loss of Libyan output. Many opponents of the war suspected that one of Washington's main ambitions in invading Iraq was to secure a cheap and plentiful source of oil...MORE...LINK
BP denied that it had any "strategic interest" in Iraq, while Tony Blair described "the oil conspiracy theory" as "the most absurd".
Chris Moore comments:
One after another, the historical dominoes are falling on the evil conspiracies of a cabal of profoundly evil people surrounding neolib/neocon Washington's wars of aggression in the Middle East, and the "paranoid" conspiracy theorists are being proven absolutely correct time and again.
At this point, it is a near certainty that history in the end will show that a conspiracy of oil imperialists, war profiteers, Zionists, and neocon/neolib ideologues used the 9/11 attacks (themselves highly suspicious) to lie America into Middle Eastern wars to serve the monetary and ideological interests of a narrow band of insatiably greedy, shamelessly usurious, extremely cynical and hopelessly treasonous "elite" parasites who feed upon the American and Western body politic like leeches bleeding dry a dying corpse.
It is parasites like these who have been feeding on the West for decades now, and who merely upped the ante and their blood intake with the Iraq war conspiracy.
Anyone interested in why America is in the toilet and the entire West is dying a slow, excruciating, nihilistic, alienated and meaningless death need only look at the Parasite Class right under their nose.
The beauty, though, is that the historical record is increasingly clear on who is who and what is what, and the guilty have left their fingerprints all over the corpse, hence can be tracked down and held accountable for their crimes against America, the West, the peoples of the Middle East, and humanity in general.