4 Jul. 2007

It was ALWAYS about the OIL!!!

In May 2003, just two months after the beginning of hostilities in Iraq, an interesting little group of people had an interesting little meeting in London:
The participants discuss a bid by BHP Billiton, Australia’s largest company, for Halfayah, one of Iraq’s largest undeveloped oil fields. The document, prepared by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs, summarizes the meeting, held at Stoke Lodge, Australia’s diplomatic headquarters in the UK. The gathering brought together former UK Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind (serving in this case as a BHP lobbyist), Australian Foreign Affairs Minster Alexander Downer, Australia’s High Commissioner to the UK Michael L’Estrange (the equivalent of ambassador), and top managers from BHP Billiton (the world’s largest mining corporation). Copies of these minutes (marked “Confidential”) were sent to the Australian Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade, and officials within the Australian Office of National Assessment – the intelligence services. The main subject of the meeting is described in the heading as “BHP Billiton Rights to Halfayah Oilfield Iraq.”
Afer encouragement from Malcolm Rifkind, Alexander Downer agreed to lobby Washington and Baghdad to help BHP Billiton secure the Halfayah field, which holds over $200 billion in oil deposits. Here's the documentary proof (PDF).

If the real aim of the war was to liberate Iraqis, why were Downer and BHP making such deals with Washington and the US Consul in Baghdad, Paul Bremer?

The minutes note that Downer warned that “the question of oilfields would be a sensitive one in Iraq,” because it “played into sensitivities over the war.” He also said that the Australian government “has said sincerely that it had not joined the Coalition forces on the basis of oil” and that it is “the Iraqis themselves who should be awarding the contracts.” So why is he attending a secret meeting in London, with no Iraqis present?

Downer also agreed to lobby the Iraqi Oil Ministry, but this was under the control of Washington stooges like Ahmed Chalabi at the time. It is clear that Downer's real concern here was one of public perception: obviously, it had to LOOK LIKE the Iraqis were the ones handing out the contracts.