Jan 29, 2004 10:12 pm


According to this exclusive ABC News report, it appears that oil contracts were awarded to quite a few individuals by the regime of Saddam Hussein from 1997 until 2003," conducted under the aegis of the United Nations' oil-for-food program, which was designed to allow Iraq to sell oil in exchange for humanitarian goods." A document found among the files of the Iraqi Oil Ministry in Baghdad lists around"270 prominent individuals, political parties or corporations in 47 countries [that were] given Iraq oil contracts instantly worth millions of dollars," constituting what financial investigator John Fawcett has called"a political slush fund that was buying political support for the regime of Saddam Hussein for the last six or seven years."

The ABC report states:"Investigators say none of the people involved would have actually taken possession of oil, but rather just the right to buy the oil at a discounted price, which could be resold to a legitimate broker or oil company, at an average profit of about 50 cents a barrel." Among the prominent individuals named in the files were opponents of the US policy in Iraq:

- Indonesia President Megawati Sukarnoputri,"who received a contract for 10 million barrels of oil — about a $5 million profit."

- The son of the Syrian defense minister received 6 million barrels, worth about $3 million.

- George Galloway, a British member of Parliament, slated to receive 19 million barrels of oil, a $90.5 million profit.

- France, which was"the second-largest beneficiary" of these oil contracts,"with tens of millions of barrels awarded to Patrick Maugein, a close political associate and financial backer of French President Jacques Chirac."

-"The single biggest set of contracts," reports ABC,"were given to the Russian government and Russian political figures, more than 1.3 billion barrels in all — including 92 million barrels to individual officials in the office of President Vladimir Putin. Another 1 million barrels were contracted to the Russian ambassador to Baghdad, 137 million barrels of oil were given to the Russian Communist Party, and 5 million barrels were contracted to the Russian Orthodox Church."

Let's put all of this in perspective. There is nothing new about the intersection of pecuniary and political interests. So, it is no surprise to find French, Russian, and Syrian interests, who opposed the US campaign in Iraq, to be in bed with the Hussein regime — just the way the US slept with Hussein back in the 1980s, and the way the US sleeps with the Saudis today. It is amusing, however, when the US cries"foul" over these transactions, reducing all foreign government policies to the cash nexus. After all, the cash nexus never influences US foreign policy. Never.

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