Iraqis want full access to oil revenues

Iraq’s US-appointed Governing Council (IGC) is sending a delegation to the United Nations on Wednesday, to demand greater power in a planned handover of “sovereignty” on 30 June.

Iraq's oil infrastructure harmed by 13-year-UN sanctions
Iraq's oil infrastructure harmed by 13-year-UN sanctions

The Iraqi delegation will ask the UN to grant Iraqis full authority on Iraqi oil revenues. Iraq used to export 3.2 million barrels a day, compared to the current 1.8 million.

The IGC flexed its muscles on Tuesday as Italy and Poland, staunch US allies over the Iraq war and major troop contributors, urged Washington to give Iraqis real power over the running of their country.

 “We want to be sure that there will be a clear breakthrough in the Iraqi situation that will truly give sovereignty,” Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told Rete 4 TV as he flew to the United States to meet President George Bush.

Berlusconi, under voter pressure to distance himself from Bush’s policies on Iraq, joined Poland in signalling support for greater UN involvement to ensure full sovereignty for Iraqis.

Ukraine, another leading contributor to US-led forces in Iraq, said its parliament would vote on Wednesday on whether the former Soviet republic should withdraw its soldiers after opposition parties won a ballot to put the issue on the agenda.

Kuwait Reparations

Limitations on economic sovereignty, notably control over the world’s second-biggest oil reserves and international negotiations over a new UN resolution to approve the US handover plan, prompted Iraq to send representatives to New York.

Berlusconi is under pressure to abandon his alliance with Bush  

Berlusconi is under pressure to
abandon his alliance with Bush  

“Iraq must have a say in the next UN resolution,” Deputy Foreign Minister Hamid al-Bayati told Reuters. “Iraq must be fully in charge of its resource wealth.”

Iraq still owes about $280 billion in reparations for Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, a vast sum compared to the $9 billion its ravaged oil industry has earned since the US-led invasion in March last year.

Planning Minister Mahdi al-Hafidh, a candidate for prime minister in the interim government, said “It is unjust for Iraq to pay for the crimes of Saddam with its future.”

Washington wants an international board that monitors Iraq’s oil accounts to remain in place after the 30 June handover.

Iraq has paid $20 billion throughout the 13-year US-UK inspired UN sanctions. UN’s oil-for-food programme ruled out that Iraq would pay 25% of its limited oil revenues in compensation to Kuwaitis.

The 25% was decreased by UN to 5% after the toppling of Saddam Hussein last year. But Iraqis say it is not enough.

“Iraqis had paid enough already, we should not pay for Saddam Hussein’s wars” al-Bayati said.

Iraq owes most of the $280 billion to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, but Iraqis say those two have restored most of their financial claims between 1990-1996, as they exported huge amounts of oil when Iraq was banned from oil exportation.   

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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