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In November 2007, President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki signed a “Declaration of Principles” without the approval of the U.S. Congress or the Iraqi Parliament. This document outlined military and economic commitments between the two countries.
(White House Photo: Bush and Maliki signing the Declaration of Principles, Nov. 26, 2007)
Later, this Declaration was broken into two agreements, to be ratified by July of this year. One, the Status of Forces Agreement, concerns the military part of the Declaration and has received the most attention in the blogosphere. The other, called the “Strategic Framework Agreement,” concerned “Cultural and Economic ties”, that is to say, oil.
The New York Times is tomorrow reporting that U.S. oil majors are getting back into Iraq as of June 30. This appears to me to indicate that the second half of the Declaration is succeeding.
By ANDREW E. KRAMER
Published: June 19, 2008
BAGHDAD – Four Western oil companies are in the final stages of negotiations this month on contracts that will return them to Iraq, 36 years after losing their oil concession to nationalization as Saddam Hussein rose to power.
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The deals, expected to be announced on June 30, will lay the foundation for the first commercial work for the major companies in Iraq since the American invasion, and open a new and potentially lucrative country for their operations.
This April article from Truthout explains the background and the meaning of the events related in tomorrow’s NYT article:
By Maya Schenwar, TruthOut.org. Posted April 7, 2008.
While the portion of the Declaration that suggests a permanent US military presence in Iraq has garnered much attention, the agreement also proposes another goal: to solidify “economic ties” between the two countries and grant the US preferential treatment in trading with Iraq.
— snip —
This article provides a good backgrounder on the current situation. I suggest reading the whole thing. Continuing:
The Maliki administration has also done its share of dodging Parliament’s prohibition on international oil investment. Long-term contracts may be off limits, but short-term contracts stop just short of illegal, and Iraq’s executive branch is swooping in on that loophole.
“You have the oil minister trying to sign two-year contracts with the oil companies, to demonstrate that the Maliki government is working with oil companies, even if Parliament is not,” Juhasz said [Antonia Juhasz, a fellow at Oil Change International].
The New York Times article closes with a reference to the oil execs’ understanding of history:
But the company is clearly aware of the history. In an interview with Newsweek last fall, the former chief executive of Exxon, Lee Raymond, praised Iraq’s potential as an oil-producing country and added that Exxon was in a position to know. “There is an enormous amount of oil in Iraq,” Mr. Raymond said. “We were part of the consortium, the four companies that were there when Saddam Hussein threw us out, and we basically had the whole country.”