Monday, July 16, 2007


How strange. It seems that Iraqi oil workers don't want the US or any other foreign power to take control of the country's natural resources - and thus aren't happy with a proposed law which allows just that. So what did those nasty workers do? They took to the streets to protest.

But haven't they heard about the benchmarks?

Draft legislation on the distribution of oil wealth in Iraq was approved by the Iraqi cabinet on last week and could go to parliament for review as early as the next few days.

Besides those protesting workers, six Nobel Peace Prize Laureates have released a statement in opposition to the legislation. The laureates include Betty Williams, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Rigoberta Menchu, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi and Wangari Maathai. The statement read in part "The Iraq Oil Law could benefit foreign oil companies at the expense of the Iraqi people, deny the Iraqi people economic security, create greater instability, and move the country further away from peace."

But what about those benchmarks?

The Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions also (IFOU)opposes the the proposed Iraqi Hydrocarbon Law, which it says surrenders Iraq’s economic sovereignty to multinational oil companies. Iraq’s oil has been in the public sector for the past four decades.

While visiting Britain, Hassan Jumaa Awad al Assadi who is the President of the 26,000 strong union said, ‘The British people need to hear about the occupation’s planned theft of Iraqi oil disguised as ‘The Hydrocarbon Law’.

But hasn't he heard about those benchmarks.

The following is from the Times of London.

Iraqis protest draft oil law

BASRA, Iraq - About 300 oil industry workers gathered in Iraq’s main oil port of Basra today to protest a draft law that they said would allow foreigners to pillage the country’s wealth.

"To compensate for the military and political failure of the US administration in Iraq, this administration is trying to control the country’s wealth," the organisers said in a statement distributed to reporters.

"If this is endorsed by the parliament it would abolish sovereignty and hand over the wealth of this generation and the generations to come as a gift to the occupier," the statement said.

The protesters, employees of the Oil Pipelines Company, wore black surgical masks over their faces and carried banners and black coffins with the word "freedom" written on the sides.

At issue is a clause in the draft hydrocarbon law allowing for production-sharing agreements with foreign oil companies, which many Iraqis see as a throwback to an earlier era of colonial exploitation.

"This law, in fact destroys the achievements of the Iraqi masses and especially the Law number 80 of 1961 and the nationalisation of 1973," the statement said.

The law from 1961, part of a bundle of socialist reforms issued by then-Prime Minister Abdul Karim Qassim, sharply limited foreign involvement in the oil sector.

US officials see the passing of the draft hydrocarbon law - aimed at equitably distributing Iraq’s oil proceeds - as a crucial benchmark of the country’s political process and a key component of national reconciliation.

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