- BP returned to Iraq in 2009 after a 35-year absence and was awarded a significant interest in the country’s largest oil field near British-occupied Basra
- BP has pumped 262m barrels of Iraqi oil since 2011
- Sir John Sawers, the UK’s first special representative to Iraq after invasion, has banked £1.1m since joining BP’s board in 2015
- Other UK oil “supermajor” Shell also won Iraq contract in 2009 as lead operator developing “super-giant” Majnoon oil field
BP has pumped oil worth £15.4bn in Iraq since 2011 when it began production in the country for the first time in nearly four decades, new analysis shows.
The new information comes on the 20-year anniversary of the beginning of the invasion of Iraq, which was judged to be illegal by the UN. However, neither US president George W Bush nor British prime minister Tony Blair, the leaders who prosecuted the war, have been subjects of a criminal investigation.
The invasion began in March 2003 and unleashed a catastrophic humanitarian disaster with an estimated 655,000 Iraqis killed in the first three years of conflict, or 2.5% of the population.
It was widely denounced as a war for oil on the part of the US and UK: Iraq holds the world’s fifth largest proven oil reserves. Iraq had no connection to the September 11th terrorist attacks which had taken place 18 months before and initiated the so-called “War on Terror”.
The data on BP’s post-invasion production in Iraq comes from the company’s annual reports and was calculated using the average annual price for a barrel of oil for each year of production.
From 2011-22, BP pumped 262m barrels of Iraqi oil.
Alan Greenspan, the consummate Washington insider and long-time head of the US central bank, has backed the position taken by many anti-war critics - that the invasion of Iraq was motivated by oil.
His claim comes in his newly published autobiography, The Age of Turbulence, in which he also castigates George Bush's administration for making "grave mistakes" in economic policy.
Sounding more like an activist than a lifelong Republican who worked alongside six US presidents, Mr Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, said in an interview with the Guardian that the invasion of Iraq was aimed at protecting Middle East oil reserves: "I thought the issue of weapons of mass destruction as the excuse was utterly beside the point."
Mr Greenspan said it was clear to him that Saddam Hussein had wanted to control the Straits of Hormuz and so control Middle East oil shipments through the vital route out of the Gulf. He said that had Saddam been able to do that it would have been "devastating to the west" as the former Iraqi president could have just shut off 5m barrels a day and brought "the industrial world to its knees".
In the book Mr Greenspan writes: "Whatever their publicised angst over Saddam Hussain's 'weapons of mass destruction', American and British authorities were also concerned about violence in the area that harbours a resource indispensable for the functioning of the world economy. I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil."
Asked to explain his remark, he said: "From a rational point of view, I cannot understand why we don't name what is evident and indeed a wholly defensible pre-emptive position."
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I’m just wondering if it troubles Mr. Greenspan at all that wars over resources in other countries are actually illegal. Mr. Greenspan has praised the rule of law, the importance of the rule of law, in his book. But in his statements about the reasons why this has not been publicly discussed, he has said that it’s not politically expedient at this moment. But it’s not just that it’s not politically expedient, Mr. Greenspan. Are you aware that, according to the Hague Regulations and the Geneva Conventions, it is illegal for one country to invade another over its natural resources?
ALAN GREENSPAN: No. What I was saying is that the issue which, as you know, most people who were pressing for the war were concerned with were weapons of mass destruction. I personally believed that Saddam was behaving in a way that he probably very well had, almost certainly had, weapons of mass destruction. I was surprised, as most, that he didn’t. But what I was saying is that my reason for being pleased to see Saddam out of office had nothing to do with the weapons of mass destruction. It had to do with the potential threat that he could create to the rest of the world.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yes, I realize that, but he was not simply deposed. The U.S. invaded Iraq, occupied it and took control over its resources. And under international law, that it is illegal to wage wars to gain access to other countries’, sovereign countries’, natural resources.
ALAN GREENSPAN: Yes. No, I’m fully aware of the fact that that is a highly, terribly important issue. And as I said in other commentaries, I have always thought the issue of what essentially amounts to what is often called preemptive, preventive action on the part of some countries to secure resources or something else like that, it’s an issue that goes back to the Cold War, when we had the very difficult moral dilemma of what do you do when you think a missile is coming in our direction and you’re not sure whether it’s an accident or not an accident. And that is a problem which I think is a deep moral problem in civilized society. And the issue is one which I don’t think we’re going to resolve very easily. And as you point out, yes, I am a believer in the rule of law, and I think it is a critical issue, not only for domestic economies, but for the world economy as a whole.
Sara* is one of the many survivors of the Islamic State's mass enslavement of Yazidis in northern Iraq and, since being rescued in 2017, still lives in a roadside tent as part of an informal IDP camp.
With limited support from the authorities, Western NGOs have become a lifeline for Sara and other displaced people.
However, there are now increasing concerns that a number of these NGOs have another purpose beyond merely providing aid - proselytising the Christian faith.
“The Christians teach us English in the camp and take us to a Duhok church for two hours between classes,” said Sara.
The Iraq’s Islamic Dawa Party described the decision of the Jordanian authorities to allow the Baath Party to resume political activities in Jordan as a “hostile and provocative act,” Iraqi Shafaq News reported on 26 May.
The Shia Dawa Party’s political office said in a statement that, “The Iraqis were surprised, shocked, and outraged by the news of the Jordanian government’s permission for the (Saddam’s Ba’ath) party to engage in political activity.”
On May 14, the Independent Electoral Commission in the Kingdom of Jordan approved the political participation of 27 new political parties, including the Arab Socialist Baath Party, whose Iraqi branch was led by long-time Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Iraqi political parties have expressed indignation after the Baath party’s licence was renewed in neighbouring Jordan.
The Iraqi Islamic Al-Dawa party, which is the party of Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, expressed “shock and outrage” at Amman’s move.
Jordan’s Independent Electoral Commission on 14 May approved the political participation of 27 political parties, including the Arab Socialist Baath Party, after changes to its electoral law required all existing political groups to be re-licensed to resume political activities in the country.