Tuesday, October 19, 2004


Vested Interests....

More on the Oil for Food (and rich people to vote for Iraq) scandal: (Otherwords, why Kerry's Global Test might be selling out to the highest bidder instead of doing the right thing)

The ISG report may not have discovered the presence of WMD’s in Iraq, but it sure uncovered a mother lode of corruption within the UN management of the “Oil-For-Food” program. From 1997 right up the US invasion, Iraq received over $5.7 billion dollars from illicit oil sales and $4.4 billion in other kickbacks from companies and individuals from various countries including UN Security Council members like Russia, France and China. Russia received nearly twice as many contracts as did France. Major oil companies were also involved to some extent as well although their actions were not illegal. An Iraqi newspaper listed over 270 individuals and entities worldwide who were recipients of illicit oil vouchers. The UN Secretariat itself while charged with overseeing the program profited up to $1.4 million from oil commissions.

Violations of the sanctions were not just limited to oil. Many foreign agencies shipped sophisticated military equipment in violation of the embargo placed on Iraq. The principle suppliers were N. Korea and Belarus. But the list also included, Jordan, China, India, South Korea, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Cyprus, Egypt, Lebanon, Georgia, Poland, Romania, Taiwan, Italy, and Turkey. Per the ISG report, Saddam established “a network of Iraqi front companies, some with close relationships to high-ranking foreign-government officials…in order to procure illicit goods, services, and technologies for Iraq’s WMD-related, conventional arms, and/or dual-use goods programs.” Syria was Iraq’s “primary conduit for illicit imports.” Oil contracts were used to purchase Russian made antiaircraft gun barrels, missile components, and missile guidance electronics. The ISG report also details negotiations by Iraq with N. Korea and China over missile weapons technology.

So confident was he in his ability to manipulate UN members, Saddam bragged in 2000, “We have said with certainty that the embargo will not be lifted by a Security Council resolution, but will corrode by itself?” Duelfer concludes, “By 2000-2001, Saddam had managed to mitigate many of the effects of sanctions and undermine their international support. By his cunning, Saddam had reduced the effects of the sanctions and was well on his way to gaining consensus to having them lifted entirely. He was able to ”siphon off billions” to upgrade his military and build palaces. The Oil for Food revenues allowed Saddam the funds to restart his chemical-weapons research.

Journalist Claudia Rosett wrote the UN program “provided cover for Saddam to steal, smuggle, deal and bribe his way back toward becoming precisely the kind of entrenched menace” that the UN is supposed to prevent. Saddam’s Oil-for-Food allowed Saddam to replenish his empty coffers, firm up his networks for hiding money and buying arms, corrupt the U.N.’s own debates over Iraq, greatly erode sanctions and deliberately prep the ground for further rearming, including the acquisition of nuclear weapons. As set up and run by the UN, Oil-for-Food devolved into a depraved and increasingly dangerous mockery of what was advertised by the UN as a relief program for the sick and starving Iraqis.”

Why are we going it alone?

President Bush has been thoroughly chastised for going into Iraq without the authorization of the UN Assembly without a larger coalition. Kofi Annan even stated the war was “illegal” according to the UN charter and has not made the world any safer. In 2003, China, Germany, France and Russia had little interest in seeing Saddam eliminated due to lucrative profits in maintaining the status quo. Dick Cheney described Saddam’s success in “corrupting the program in such a way that he was trying to buy support from countries outside Iraq so they would support lifting sanctions imposed on Iraq.”

France is Iraq’s largest trading partner handling more than 22.5 percent of Iraq’s imports. The Oil-For-Food program generated some $1.5 billion dollars in business. Tariq Aziz, the Iraq former deputy prime minister, reported to the ISG the “primary motive for French co-operation” was to secure lucrative oil deals when UN sanctions were lifted. The French oil company, TotalFinaElf had been promised oil exploration rights to develop the Majnoon field in western Iraq containing an estimated 30 billion barrels of oil. The French assured Saddam that it would use its veto power against vote to attack Iraq. Saddam also tried to influence other Security Council Members with the power to veto American plans for war.

Germany was reportedly doing $350 million in direct trade with Baghdad and another $1 billion through third parties. Saddam appreciated Germany’s “firm positive stand in rejecting the launching of a military attack against Iraq.” Chancellor Schroeder was re-elected due to his strong opposition to America’s Iraq policy.

Russia handles about 5.8 percent of Iraq’s imports and did between $500 thousand and one million dollars worth of business during the last six months of 2001 under the Oil-for-Food program. Russia’s LUKoil Company had been promised a $4 billion, 23-year contract to rehabilitate 15 billion barrel West Qurna field in southern Iraq. A $40 billion agreement would allow exploration throughout western Iraq.

China also does about 5.8 percent of Iraq’s imports. The China National Oil Company in conjunction with China North Industries Corp. had negotiated a 22-year deal for future exploration of the Al Ahdab field in southern Iraq.

Source: Opinion Editorials.com

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