Iraq Ready To Let USA Take Its Oil in Exchange for Peace - 10 February, 2003

Iraq is also ready to sign a multibillion-dollar deal with Russia

Iraq might allow American and British companies to work on its oil fields. This statement was released by Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammed Mahdi Saleh to Russian media outlets. The only thing that Americans and British have to do for that is to stop their bellicose actions against Iraq. The Iraqi minister pointed out that Baghdad does not maintain any relations either with London or with Washington. There would be no obstacles to establish normal relations with the USA and Great Britain, if those  countries stopped their bellicose actions against Iraq. Everything that is required for that is a little bit of good will and mutual respect. The minister said that the situation about Iraq would change fundamentally because of that. On the other hand, is the USA interested in such a change? For the time being, it deems that the American president is completely sure of the fact that he is getting all Iraqi oil soon anyway, with the help of his missiles and marines.

This is, probably, the case, for which Iraq prepared very good suggestions for Russia. Mohammed Mahdi Saleh said that Iraq was ready to sign a long-term program of cooperation  with Russia. As it was said, Iraq would be willing to sign the deal at any time that is good for Russia.

The program is meant for the period of ten years, it is evaluated  in 40 billion dollars. As a matter of fact, it should have been signed in 2001. However, the improvement of Russian-American relations and Russia’ support of the American struggle with international terrorism made the Iraqi government adjourn the deal. In addition to that, Iraq was disappointed with the way Russia wanted to countersign such a massive cooperation. Mohammed Mahdi Saleh complained of the fact that Russia set out its readiness to sign the deal on the level of ministers for oil and gas. To all appearances, Iraq is not happy with such a low level of counteraction. The minister stated that Iraq would like to raise the significance of the program and to sign it on the level of prime ministers. The minister said that the program was prepared, waiting for signatures to be put down. The most important thing at the moment is to make Russia agree.

Indeed, after the conflict regarding the participation of the Russian company LUKOIL in the development of the Iraqi oil field Western Kurna-2, the Iraqi side resumed concluding oil contracts with Russian companies. There was a contract concluded with the Russian company Soyuzneftegaz in the middle of January (to develop Rafidain field in southern Iraq). The second contract gave a right to the Russian company Stroitransgaz to develop Block Four in Iraq's Western Desert. This company obliged to fulfil the contract completely right during the time of UN international sanctions. Experts pointed out that Block Four oil field is one of the largest oil deposits in Iraq; it is comparable to Western Kurna oil deposit.

Yet, it seems that Russia does not believe that Iraq is capable of guaranteeing the observation of Russian economic interests in the Persian Gulf. Moscow is more drawn to talk about the future of its oil companies with the USA. However, a lot of experts believe that Russia’s vague position on the matter does not allow it to make the USA observe its interests in Iraq anyway. The present American administration understands only the military language at the moment. Furthermore, America is in need of a considerable political and military victory despite the fact that the Iraqi oil is the major reason of the American aggression. George W. Bush needs Saddam Hussein’s head, while Russia backs up the peaceful plan to disarm Iraq, following the French and the German stand on the issue. This position can not but irritate Washington officials. That is why, Russia is not likely to guarantee its interests in the Persian Gulf. According to experts’ estimates, if the army operation in Iraq is successful, there will be no point for the United States to make a room for Russia in the Iraqi oil business. The Iraqi oil will allow the USA to overcome the consequences of the economic setback in the country. America will not be subjected to oil prices fluctuations in contrast to all other countries.

Needless to mention that Russia is not supposed to ignore Hussein’s generous gifts, so to speak. However, Russia does not believe that the Iraqi leader will be able to survive this crisis. Experts believe that Russia’s investments in Iraq are not that considerable. Russia’s most significant “assets” are the Iraqi debt, which is evaluated in the sum of up to eleven billion dollars. Oil projects failed to accumulate comparable sums since their implementation happened during the period of anti-Iraqi sanctions.

Akhtyam Akhtyrov

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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Author`s name Olga Savka