Ahmed Chalabi – Petroleum’s Point Man By William Bowles

4 January 2006

Ahmed Chalabi

He’s a criminal banker … He’s a swindler. He’s interested in getting money, and I suspect it’s all gone into his bank accounts and those of his friends – James E. Akins, former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Convicted fraudster, bagman, carpetbagger, (dis)informant, playboy, opportunist, failed mercenary army leader, go-between creature of imperialism, of one thing we can be sure, Ahmed Chalabi is a survivor by virtue of (almost) always being on the ‘right’ side.

Son of a wealthy Hashemite family with connections to British colonialism going back to the 1920s, he now occupies the most powerful position in the post-Saddam puppet hierarchy, head of the oil ministry, no doubt a position he has coveted for some time. And moreover, a position he has been groomed for by his US masters.

That Chalabi is a liar is on record. An internal New York Times e-mail reported by the Washington Post said Chalabi “has provided most of the front-page exclusives on WMD to our paper” and added that a team of U.S. troops searching for chemical and biological weapons in Iraq was “using Chalabi’s intel [intelligence] and document network for its own WMD work.”

We did not go and say that we have specific information about operational weapons of mass destruction. We did not vouch for any information. – Ahmed Chalabi, November 15, 2005

I would say to you that we gave very accurate information [to the US about WMD], and we produced people whom we handed over to the United States who told them very significant things. – Ahmed Chalabi, interviewed by Tom Brokaw, NBC News at the Council of Foreign Relations, June 10, 2003

“He’s deep in the Arab world and at the same time he is fundamentally a man of the West” says Max Singer, co-founder of the right-wing think-tank, the Hudson Institute. [1] Just how deep is open to question considering his miserable showing in the recent ‘elections’ in Iraq where he got an estimated 8,645 votes in the Baghdad area, well below the number needed to win a seat in the ‘government’. But the nature of a vote in an Iraq under occupation is very much a fluid concept, so the fact that he got all but wiped out probably doesn’t mean much. More important is the fact that Chalabi is as Singer says, fundamentally a man of the West and in particular, a man of the oil companies.

Much of the debate about Ahmed Chalabi, regardless of whose ‘man’ the political pundits think he is, whether the CIA’s or the DIA’s or the Israelis or the ‘neo-cons’, is irrelevant, Chalabi is first and foremost a creature of Big Oil. Precisely what role he plays in the process is revealed by his past and especially his connections to corporations like Exxon. He is on record as being the man who will deliver Iraq’s oil back to the West.

Unable to restrain himself, Chalabi blurted to the Washington Post that the INC intends to reward its American friends. “American companies will have a big shot at Iraqi oil,” he proclaimed. [2]

It is popular amongst Western pundits of both the left and the right, to talk of how Chalabi has ‘used’ the West to further his own ambitions and no doubt he has them, the question is, as with Israel, who is using whom?

No doubt Chalabi’s close associations with the so-called neo-cons, Wolfowitz, Perle, Ledeen, Cheney and so forth has given him unique access to the corridors of power that line the Beltway, but let us not be misled into thinking that Chalibi’s Armani-suited tail wags the imperial dog.

For example, we read of how Chalabi has been trying get the US to invade Iraq for years, thus his supplying of disinformation about WMD through his chosen conduit Judith Miller aka the New York Times, and whilst it is true that any and everything which would strengthen the hand of the imperium has been welcome fodder for the dogs of war, the plain and simple fact is that ever since Saddam nationalised the oil companies in 1972, Exxon, Shell et al have been trying to get their grubby hands on all that black gold once again. Chalabi has, over the past years, made sure that when it came to who was going to deliver it, he would be the man. So too, and for the same reasons, he has cultivated a close relationship with Zionist Israel, who also covet access to all that oil, long denied them by Iraq.

Exxon Mobil which made a profit of $9.9bn, the largest in US corporate history in the last quarter of 2005. Profit was up 75% and revenue rose 32% to more than $100bn and Shell, the second largest oil company which also posted a profit of $9 billion during the same period, stand to gain the most.

That oil is central to Western economic interests is a matter of historical record. Two world wars have been fought over oil and innumerable smaller ones over the control of related resources central to the unending expansion of capital accumulation and access to the markets necessary to keep capitalism a going concern. In stark contrast, the corporate media has done everything in its power to hide this reality from an increasingly sceptical public.

Conspiracy theories abound … Others claim it [the invasion of Iraq] was inspired by oil … [This] theor[y is] largely nonsense. The Independent April 16, 2003.

Let me deal with the conspiracy theory idea that this is somehow to do with oil. There is no way whatever if oil were the issue that it would not be infinitely simpler to cut a deal with Saddam – Tony Blair, The Times 15 April, 2003

Of course, it takes a conspiracist to know one and Tony Blair is an excellent example. Cut a deal? Such glib comments hide the reality that buying oil on Iraqi terms is simply not acceptable to the West. Again, the historical record tells it all, ‘deals’ are no good if the oil is not owned by the West a reality that Blair is all too aware of. As long as countries such as Iraq, Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia own and control the one key resource upon which the West is totally dependent, Bush and Blair and the corporations whose interests they represent will do anything to regain ownership of it including invasion and occupation, engineering coups, whatever it takes.[3]

The oil ‘crisis’ of the early 1970s, precipitated by the nationalisation of the major sources of oil in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran, which ended the supply of cheap oil for the West, has never been forgiven by the major oil corporations such as Exxon and Shell. Ever since, the West has done everything in its power to regain control.

“Even in Saudi Arabia, all we can do is buy their oil,” says an American oil company official. U.S. companies, this executive confirmed, want to return to greater direct control, perhaps through so-called production-sharing agreements that would give them both a direct stake in the oil fields and a greater share of the profits. [4]

In 2002 right-wing think tank, the Heritage Foundation published a document “The Future of a Post-Saddam Iraq: A Blueprint for American Involvement,”[5] which advocated a plan for the privatization of Iraq’s oil, creating three separate companies for southern Iraq, the region around Baghdad and the Kirkuk fields in northern Iraq, with additional companies to operate pipelines and refineries and to develop Iraq’s natural gas.

[The war] has nothing to do with oil, literally nothing to do with oil. – Donald Rumsfeld, 11/14/02, CBS News

The divisions within the US power elite is about how best to get hold of Iraq’s oil. It explains why Chalabi has been in and out of favour over the past three years as the strategic plan to steal Iraq’s oil unravelled. But all’s well that ends well, and by hook or by crook, Chalabi has at long last succeeded in getting what his masters wanted; to be in charge of giving away Iraq’s oil. The objectives outlined in the Heritage Foundation document has at long last been realised,

Washington and London plan to fast-track billions of dollars worth of oil contracts as soon as possible in the new year and well before the new parliament gets its political footing. Ahmed Chalabi, now chairman of Iraq’s Energy Council and czar of the country’s oil riches, has been preparing for this moment for a long time. He and his cronies have prepared a new oil law, highly favorable to the likes of Exxon and BP, and they will submit it immediately to the new parliament. Under the watchful eye of the ‘multinational force,’ contracts for fabulous oilfields like Majnoon are being readied and will soon be signed. – James Paul, Executive Director of the Global Policy Forum, November 9, 2005

Why the US in particular has set so much store on Chalabi is, at first sight puzzling as his track record so far is not particularly inspiring whether it was his disastrous Iraqi National Congress-led ‘uprising’ in Kurdish Iraq in 1996 or his attempts to import a US-backed ‘army’ into Iraq following the capture of Baghdad in 2003, or his supply of disinformation to Judith Miller of the New York Times regarding Iraq’s non-existent WMD. Until that is, one considers that almost alone amongst the quislings in Baghdad, he has unique access to both the key strategic planners in Washington and to Big Oil. In all likelyhood, Chalabi’s tiff with Paul Bremer was about the disastrous post-invasion situation. But that’s all behind the pirates now.

Chalabi’s cheerleaders include the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). “Chalabi is the one that we know the best,” says Shoshana Bryen, director of special projects for JINSA, where Chalabi has been a frequent guest at board meetings, symposia and other events since 1997. “He could be Iraq’s national leader,” says Patrick Clawson, deputy director of WINEP, whose board of advisers includes pro-Israeli luminaries such as Perle, Wolfowitz and Martin Peretz of The New Republic. [6]

Well whatever, one thing is clear, Chalabi is absolutely typical of the kind of individual the US have backed in innumerable countries that have defied US objectives, including ironically Saddam Hussein himself. If US backing for Chalabi reveals anything it is the cynical manipulation by US imperialism of individuals such as Chalabi, who although having his own agenda, largely I suspect personal aggrandizement and an over-inflated sense of his own importance in the scheme of things, is merely a pawn in a much larger game.

On one level it reveals just how little the US planners really know about the situation in the Middle East but then this is not surprising given that they rely largely on a parasitic intelligence operation called the CIA that in turn relies on an army of paid informants who it is clear from all the evidence available to us, will tell their paymasters pretty much whatever it is they want to hear in exchange for the greenback.

Philip Agee’s accounts of his time with the CIA in Mexico and in Angola are indicative of the way the CIA functions, typical of any bureaucratic organisation, where ‘results’ guarantee promotion, results being the number of reports generated about communists, terrorists or whatever, with those in Washington in no position to verify such accounts and in any case, it is the larger strategic objectives that count, such reports are all grist for the mill regardless of their accuracy.

… Secret CIA operations constitute the usually unseen efforts to shore up unjust, unpopular, minority governments, always with the hope that overt military intervention … will not be necessary. The more successful CIA operations are, the more remote overt intervention becomes, and the more remote become reforms. Latin America in the 1960s is all the proof one needs.
Philip Agee, Inside the Company: CIA Diary

So, if the imperium needs a justification for an invasion, there are sure to be people willing to supply them with just what they need to hear—for a price. Such was the case with Chalabi’s INC which until the Kurdish debacle in 1996 had received at least $100 million from the CIA and since that time unknown amounts through Republican Party slush funds channelled through the Iraq Liberation Act, and from the Defence Intelligence Agency, his replacement ‘mentor’ since being dropped by the CIA following the Judith Miller ‘revelations’. One figure puts it at around $70 million much it, according to accounts, disappearing into the personal bank accounts of Chalabi’s cronies.

Regardless of what the Western media continue to peddle regarding the role of oil in the invasion and occupation of Iraq—that putting oil at the centre of the occupation exists only in the fevered imaginations of a clique of conspiracists—there is no doubt that central to US Middle East policy is the oil. After all, should it become common knowledge that the entire propaganda campaign was designed precisely to mask the USUK’s real intentions—grabbing Iraq’s oil—then there could be no justification either for the invasion or for the continued occupation.

“I would say that especially the U.S. oil companies … look forward to the idea that Iraq will be open for business.” [5]

The in-depth report, ‘Crude Designs’, which I wrote about recently, reveals the true nature of the occupation’s real intentions and reveals just how long-standing these objectives have been in place. Our number one objective should be to expose the imperial designs of the US and the UK. Set within this context, Ahmed Chalabi is merely one link in a long chain that leads back to Big Oil.

Notes

1. Robert Dreyfuss, “Tinker, Banker, NeoCon, Spy,” The American Prospect vol. 13 no. 21, November 18, 2002.
2.ibid
3. See The Great Game, review by William Bowles of A Century of War – Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order by William Engdahl
4. op cit
5. “In Post-War Iraq, Use Military Forces to Secure Vital U.S. Interests, Not for Nation-Building” and you can’t put it plainer than that. http://www.heritage.org/Research/MiddleEast/bg1589.cfm
http://www.heritage.org/Research/MiddleEast/bg1632.cfm
http://www.heritage.org/Research/MiddleEast/bg1633.cfm
6. See note 1 above.

Some further reading

AHMED CHALABI – OIL MAN IN BAGHDAD William Bowles, 18 April, 2003

MORE ABOUT CONSPIRACIES AND OIL William Bowles 22 April, 2003

Oil in Iraq: the heart of the Crisis, James A. Paul, Global Policy Forum December, 2002

And for an example of the kind of thinking that drives the pirates see, Rumsfeld: It Would Be A Short War, Nov. 15, 2002

There are many sources which highlight the centrality of oil to US foreign policy eg,
http://www.rice.edu/projects/baker/Pubs/Studies.htm

Or check out this source on oil as being at the heart of the US policy on the Middle East,
http://www.sundayherald.com/28285

In Iraqi War Scenario, Oil Is Key Issue

Peter Dale Scott’s book Drugs, Oil and War

US dollar hegemony has got to go, by Henry CK Liu, Asia Times Online

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