Who “Got” Iraqi Oil?

Who “Got” Iraqi Oil?

Not the US.

Dick Cheney collaborated with US major oil companies in a plot to at least take over operating the oil production in Iraq, OPEC’s second largest producer and exporter, if not get to own the oil itself outright (which has not happened as oil in the ground was and remains owned by the Iraqi government, which is the way it is in pretty much all OPEC members).  Of all people, Juan Cole and many other progressives agreed that the war was all about controlling Iraq’s oil.  So the US overthrew Saddam Hussein, but then what followed was civil war and discombobulation, and oil production was seriously disrupted for a long time, with those US oil companies not getting any business for a long time.

Of course, Donald Trump has repeatedly argued that the worst thing about the Iraq war was that “we did not get thee oil.”  Of course, the only reason he has left any troops in northeastern Syria is that somwbody told him there is oil there and he should leave troops there to keep terrorists from getting at the oil.  So there we have US troops occupying some of these wells, although there is basically no way they will ever be operated by US companies, much less owned by them.  Trump is deluded if he thinks “we have got” that oil.

So what about now?  According to the Iraqi Oil Ministry, there are 23 foreign corporations operating in the Iraqi oil sector.  Four of these are Chinese, three are Russian, and one is American: Exxon Mobil.  Last year Exxon Mobil reduced its workforce in Iraq due to security issues.

But now Russian interests are increasing their presence.  Yesterday Simon Watkins reported that the Russian Oil Ministry has announced that several Russian oil companies are planning to spend US$20 billion in Iraq.  That this is happening reflects a shift in attitudes in Iraq as well.  Watkins reports that the Iraqi leadership is upset by two things coming out of the US.  One is Trump’s sudden abandonment of the Kurds in northeastern Syria.  The other, of course is Trump’s attack without justification that killed both Iran’s General Soleimani as well as Iraqi General al-Muhandis.

Trump may want Iraqi oil and think that this is the most important reason for US being involved there.  But his own actions have led to US companies being shut out in favor of Russian ones.

Barkley Rosser