Denials that the Iraq war was about oil came from those who led the campaign. Tony Blair, the British prime minister, said on 15 January 2003, two months before the invasion, that the war was not about oil.

 

Those who try to describe the war on Iraq as "for the oil", are often ridiculed and labelled as shallow, conspiracy theorists and intellectually bankrupt.

 

Douglas Fieth, US under-secretary of defence, said on February 11, 2003: "Only someone ignorant of the easy-to-ascertain realities could think that the United States would profit from such a war, even if we were willing to steal Iraq's oil which we emphatically are not going to do."

 

Al-Chalabi believes the oil was not
the main motive for Iraq war

Charles A Kohlhaas, a former professor of petroleum engineering at the Colorado School of Mines, US, says in one of his commentaries, War in Iraq - not a one for oil: "Nothing demonstrates the political and moral bankruptcy of the American liberal left more clearly than the current attempt to portray military action against Iraq as for the oil."

 

Oil thief

Some analysts say that portraying the US as an oil thief who wants to line up his tankers at Iraqi ports, fill them free of charge and ship fuel back to America is too simplistic.

 

Ali Hussein Bakeer, a Jordanian analyst, says: "The war on Iraq, as with many wars fought across history, was fought for several reasons.

 

"The US does not want the oil for itself in the current stage; we know it can easily get its oil needs from the oil countries in the western hemisphere.

"The US has strategic targets to achieve by dominating Iraq's oil, which are to have a card against the rising powers in Asia, India and China who are competing world's main oil demanders. And the second target is to secure Israel's oil needs according to the Israel-United States Memorandum of Understanding of 1975."

Peaceful renewals 

The memorandum, signed on September 1, 1975, says: "Israel will make its own independent arrangements for oil supply to meet its requirements through normal procedures. In the event Israel is unable to secure its needs in this way, the United States Government, upon notification of this fact by the Government, of Israel, will act as follows for five years, at the end of which period either side can terminate this arrangement on one year's notice."

The memorandum has been renewed every five years.

Muttitt: the process should be for
the benefit of Iraqis not oil companies

On June 20, 2003, Binjamin Netanyahu, then Israeli finance minister, spoke in London to a group of investors saying that Iraqi oil would flow through Jaffa oil pipeline sooner or later.

Netanyahu told Reuters that the Israeli government was in negotiating the reopening of Mosul-Jaffa oil pipeline, which was shut off in 1948 upon the creation Israel.

Greg Muttitt, in his study "The rip-off of Iraq's oil wealth" published in November 2005 by Platform, an environmental and social development organisation, believes that the war on Iraq was after oil and profit.

The study says: "The US and UK have worked hard to ensure that the future path for oil development chosen by the first elected Iraqi government will closely match their interests. So far it appears they have been highly successful: production-sharing agreements, which were first proposed by the US State Department group, have emerged as the model of oil development favoured by all the post-invasion phases of Iraqi government."

Fadil al-Chalabi, an Iraqi oil expert at the Centre for Global Energy Studies in London, does not consider production-sharing to be a threat to his country's oil wealth. He believes that it is merely part of the international oil business.

 

"Such agreements had been discussed even during Saddam's era, and I personally attended them as an oil expert. It is purely an investment process," he said.

 

"Oil is Iraq's only main resource for hard currency, and it should be used to recover the country's economy from the destruction done by 12-year UN sanctions and wars.

 

"Oil might be a reason for the war but it is not the main one."  

 

Agreement and disagreement

Muttitt agreed with al-Chalabi in principle but disagreed on the impact of the production-sharing deals.

 

"The US has strategic targets to achieve by dominating Iraq's oil, which are to have a card against the rising powers in Asia, India and China .... Second target is to secure Israel's oil needs according to the Israel-United States Memorandum of Understanding of 1975."

Ali Hussein bakeer, Jordanian political analyst

"The way those agreements are done guarantees huge profits to oil companies at the expense of Iraqi people, and we think the process should be for the benefit of Iraqis not oil companies," he said.

 

Al-Chalabi does not rule out the Israel theory.

 

"I personally met the former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, James Akins, before the war, and asked him why the war? He told me because [Ariel] Sharon and the pro-Israel neocons wanted it," he said.

 

"This fact is illustrated in the book the High Priests of War; the book proves that the neocons planned and launched the [Iraq] war."

Ramzy Salman, a senior Iraqi oil expert and one of the founders of Iraq's oil infrastructure after the nationalisation of Iraqi oil in 1971, said oil cannot in any way be separated from war plans.

"How can we say oil was not one of the most important if not the most important motive behind US's war on Iraq?" Salman said.

"When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, George HW Bush, who was then the US president, was concerned over oil more than the violation of international law. He said that the US wouldn’t let one country control 20% of world's oil reserves."