People & Power meets the Iraqi coastguard
It is estimated that oil smuggling is costing Iraq somewhere between two and a half and four billion dollars a year – as much as 10 per cent or more of Iraq's national wealth.

Much of the oil is spirited out of the country down the Shatt al-Arab waterway leading from Basra to the Gulf by criminal gangs and militias.

Out There News reports for People & Power from Basra on the efforts of the small, lightly-armed Iraqi coastguard to hunt down the smugglers who are wrecking Iraq's economy.

Fishermen have begun to sell their subsidised rations of diesel to the smuggling gangs. Since the days of Saddam Hussein, petrol, diesel and kerosene for cooking and heating have all been heavily subsidised. The fishermen can make much more money by selling their fuel than by catching fish.

We show that the reality is that as long as criminal gangs and militias are stronger than the government forces, the smugglers will continue to bleed Iraq dry.

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This episode of People & Power aired from 06 May 2007


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