Friday, April 27, 2007

Stealing from the Poor and Giving to the Rich

The plundering of Iraq's wealth, first by the UN and now by Iraq's new Green Zone czars, is the biggest, most shameful financial-political scandal of our times.

By Ramzy Baroud

".....As Mr von Sponeck spoke, I reflected on my lengthy interview with Iraq's former Ambassador to the United Nations Mohamed Al-Duri. Al-Duri, being interviewed for the first time by English-language media since taking up his post at the UN, revealed to me in early 2001, in equally shocking detail, what sanctions had done to his country and people. He claimed that the UN was a key part of the problem. Led by two countries, the US and Britain, the UN Oil for Food Programme and the "humanitarian" mission it established in Iraq was reducing Iraqis to beggary, robbing the country blind and mis-managing funds, whereas the large bulk fuelled UN-related missions and operations, with needy Iraqi families receiving next to nothing. He spoke of the manipulation of Iraq's wealth for political purposes and alleged that the UN was a tool in the hands of the US government, aimed at encouraging widespread popular dissatisfaction with Saddam's government, before the country was dragged into war.....

The robbery in Iraq hardly discontinued after the "liberation". On the contrary, it intensified beyond belief. The US Government Accountability Office uncovered appalling discrepancies in the US military administration's handling of money: uncountable billions went missing; hundreds of contractors fully paid but the work never done; layer upon layer of shady companies, mercenaries and sub-contractors (Halliburton and its subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root but mere illustrations). In partnership with the new rulers of Iraq, these corporations are stealing the wealth of the once prosperous nation, leaving it in shambles.

And now, the Iraqis are facing enormous pressure to approve the Iraqi oil and gas law. The draft bill, according to Iraqi MP Nureddin Al-Hayyali, would give "50 per cent of the Iraqi people's oil wealth to foreign investing oil firms". The nationalisation of the country's oil industry in 1972 is being reversed. The robbery that began in the early 1990s continues unabated. Shameful as it is, Iraq's new rulers are stealing from the poor and giving the spoils to the rich."

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