I attended the Socialist Resistance conference on the Middle East today. Instead of giving a detailed take on the day I want to concentrate on the talk given by Ewa Jasiewicz, who I have heard speak before at Labour Against the War (LAtW) and Iraq Occupation Focus events. Anyway, if you want to get a full flavour of the day I am sure Cecil B. Mac Uaid will be putting up the edited highlights of day on his blog.
Ewa represented the organisations Platform and Hands Off Iraqi Oil. She spoke about the impending Hydrocarbon Law that was put together by Iraqi technocrats overseen by the Bush administration and the IMF. It is expected to become law in May. If not, the Bush and the oil companies administration will be very very unhappy!
This law is utterly pernicious as it favours production sharing agreements that can last up to 25-40 years or indefinitely. There are "stabilisation clauses" that mean that the government won't be able to change tax rates or pass any new laws that affects the oil company profits. It is in reality, control of the oil from the Iraqis to the oil companies. This will in effect overide Iraqi sovereignity. This new law will be de facto privatisation. Iraq has the 3rd largest oil reserves and 12th for oil production. It is a lucrative business with western Oil companies grabbing up to 75% of the profits.
The Federation of Oil Unions in Iraq are bravely fighting this law. In a joint statement with other Iraqi trade unionists:
"The handing of control over oil to foreign companies, whose aims is to make big profits at the expense of the Iraqi people, and to rob the national wealth, according to long-term, unfair contracts, that undermine the sovereignity of the state and the dignity of the Iraqi people"..
There is strike action planned by the oil workers once this law is passed (May/June) and there will be inevitable bloodshed and to be blunt, a killing spree orchestrated by the goon squads employed by the oil companies. Ewa stressed the importance to show solidarity with the oil workers. The union has grown from 23,000 to 26,000 within the past couple of months.
Other initiatives to protest against this vile law is demonstrating outside BP AGM, flood emails to Blair and Beckett and there is an EDM tabled by MP Katy Clark that has received support of 24 MPs (including 1 Tory!). The need to raise awareness is imperative as Iraqi oil will go the same way as Colombia and Nigeria where violent repression including murder is used to crush opposition including trade unionists.
To the pro-war left, isn't it time you protested against the plundering of Iraqi oil as it goes against your principle of bringing "freedom" to the Iraqi people?