Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Prominent Democratic Senator Calls For Iraqi Government To Be Voted Out; Why Iraqis Oppose The Oil Law

Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, has called for the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to be voted out of office, for failing to unify the occupied country.
"I hope that the Iraqi assembly, when it reconvenes in a few weeks, will vote the Maliki government out of office and will have the wisdom to replace it with a less sectarian and a more unifying prime minister and government,"
Reuters quotes the senator as saying. And
"There's a consensus that there is no military solution and there is only a political solution, and that's truer now than it has ever been, and the gridlock has got to end in that government if there's going to be a political solution," Levin said.
Levin doesn't explain what he means by "a political solution", but the implication is obvious, and so is the game. The game is called Blame The Victims and the implication is: Our military broke it; your government can fix it!

On a related matter,
Levin said he and [Sen. John Warner of Virginia, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee,] met with Gen. David Petraeus, who is to make a report on progress in Iraq in September. The White House said on Monday, the general will likely testify to Congress around September 11 or September 12.

[White House spokesman Gordon] Johndroe said the hearing date was not related to the anniversary of the 2001 attacks. The September 15 deadline for the report falls on a Saturday, making it necessary to testify earlier in the week, he said.
You don't think they would take advantage of the calendar in such an obvious way ... do you? Nah!!

How do I know this? Because basically, it is not in this administration's nature to take advantage of any of the opportunities that seem to fall into its lap on a regular basis. Is it?

Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle ran a good column in in which David Bacon explained why the Oil Law is so vigorously opposed:

Why Iraqis oppose U.S.-backed oil law: Workers think foreign firms will take over
Across the political spectrum in Washington, members of Congress are now demanding that the Iraqi government meet certain benchmarks, which presumably would show that it's really in charge. But there's a big problem with the most important benchmark: the oil law. It is extremely unpopular in Iraq.

Congress has been told the law is a way to share oil wealth among Iraq's regions and religious sects. Iraqis see it differently. They say the law will turn over the oil fields to foreign companies, giving them control over setting royalties, deciding production levels, and even determining whether Iraqis get to work in their own industry.

Under Washington's guidance, the Iraqi government wrote the oil law in secret deliberations. It needed secrecy to obscure the fact that it gives foreign corporations control over exploration and development in one of the world's largest oil reserves, through agreements called "production-sharing" contracts. Such deals are so disadvantageous that they have been rejected by most oil-producing countries, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and otherwise conservative regimes throughout the Middle East.
It's good to see a piece of this type and quality in a mainstream paper.
The leaders of the Iraqi opposition to the oil law are the industry's workers. In early June, the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions shut pipelines from the Rumeila fields near Basra, in the south, to Baghdad and the rest of the country. Their main demand was that oil remain in public hands, although they also sought to force the government to improve conditions for workers.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki responded by calling out units of the 10th Division of the Iraqi army and surrounding the strikers at Sheiba, near Basra. U.S. aircraft buzzed the strikers as well, while al-Maliki issued arrest warrants for the union's leaders. Facing the possibility, however, that the strike would escalate into shutdowns on the rigs themselves, cutting off oil exports, al-Maliki blinked. He agreed to hold off implementation of the oil law until October, giving the union a chance to propose alternatives.
There's a lot more and it's very good. Hint, hint.
U.S. legislators trying to impose the oil law might note that they are requiring the Iraqi government to betray one of the few reasons Iraqis have for supporting it - its ability to keep oil revenue in public hands.
the United States, which imposed a series of low-wage laws at the beginning of the occupation, looks bent on enforcing poverty.
the Bush administration, and the Baghdad government it controls, has outlawed collective bargaining

Iraqi nationalists make sharp accusations that the occupation has an economic agenda, including the wholesale privatization of the Iraqi economy. Paul Bremer, formerly head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, published lists in Baghdad newspapers of Iraqi public enterprises he intended to auction off. Arab labor leader Hacene Djemam bitterly observed, "War makes privatization easy: First you destroy society, then you let the corporations rebuild it."

Hassan Juma'a Awad, president of the oil workers federation, wrote a letter to the U.S. Congress on May 13. "Everyone knows the oil law doesn't serve the Iraqi people," he warned. The proposed new statute "serves Bush, his supporters and foreign companies at the expense of the Iraqi people. ... The USA claimed that it came here as a liberator, not to control our resources."
Well ... the USA has claimed a lot of things ...

One would almost have to be a magician to find any correlation in the mainstream media between the so-called "compromises" that the al-Maliki government "refuses to make" and the Oil Law.

But no one can doubt that they are one and the same.

And if the Oil Law were ever passed, even though it would drag the country beyond the brink of even greater chaos, no one can doubt that the bipartisan American raiding committee, led by both Democrat Carl Levin and Republican John Warner, would congratulate the Iraqi government on "finally" making the "compromises" so necessary to "peace" and "stability".