And we never suspected
Iraq. It seems – and I realise this will come as a shock to many people – oil was a consideration before the invasion. Yeah, I know, me too. But apparently it was.
Government ministers discussed plans to exploit Iraq’s oil reserves in the months before Britain took a leading role in invading Iraq, documents have revealed.
The secret papers, obtained by an oil campaigner and published by The Independent, are minutes of meetings between senior oil executives and Labour cabinet members, and highlight for the first time the hollow nature of Western governments’ public denials of national self-interest in the decision to invade Iraq.
Still, at least it’s all coming out in the open now, eh?
Oh, wait, no it isn’t (my bold).
The documents, which have not been provided to the continuing Chilcot inquiry into Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war, appear to contradict statements made by Shell in 2003, just before the invasion, that reports of meetings between the oil giant and Downing Street about Iraqi oil were ”highly inaccurate”.
And it sounds like it wasn’t just the British government with it’s eyes on the black gold.
The published papers cover October and November 2002 and show that just five months before the invasion, Baroness Symons, then the British trade minister, told BP that the government believed British energy firms should take a share of Iraq’s enormous oil and gas reserves as a reward for Mr Blair’s military commitment to US plans for regime change.
The minutes reveal that she also agreed to lobby the Bush administration on behalf of BP because it feared being ”locked out” of discussions and deals purportedly being thrashed out between the US, France and Russia, and their oil companies.
Now I’m sure it wasn’t the only consideration – I expect some really thought Saddam had a hand in 9/11, and some really thought it’d be good for the Iraqi people, and some really thought we needed to finish the job left over from 1991, and some really thought they had weapons of mass destruction, and some really thought that Dubya was right to go after the man who tried to kill his ‘daddeh’.* In hindsight it doesn’t look now as if any of them were actually very good reasons, and a lot of people didn’t think much of them beforehand either. Oil got mentioned a lot from the word go but everybody in industry and governments alike protested that it wasn’t, no, really it wasn’t.
You can admit it now, fellas. It was a bit about the oil, eh? Might not have been the prime concern but it was a sufficiently attractive side benefit to have ministers bouncing about trying to broker the best deal for their nation’s companies. I’m sure that’s a great comfort to the families of dead coalition servicemen and women.
* One day the world will discover how to type in cod accents and the internet will be better for it.