Fall from Grace

With the dust still settling over the debris that remained of the World Trade Centre a familiar icon protruded amidst the twisted and broken rubble. For a country that so closely identifies with the Christian faith then this symbol served as a beacon of hope when all had seemed lost.

When 19 young men from various middle eastern countries, financed by the Al-Qaeda network took control of four American Airline flights they left a scar in history that has gone on to claim the lives of countless other people around the globe.

A little over 2 months after the attacks President George W Bush declares North Korea and Iraq the ‘Axis of Evil’ during his state of union address. America and its allies turned its attention on Iraq and despite cooperating with arms inspections it is invaded and conquered.

14 years later the death toll far exceeds that of 9/11. 4421 US and 179 UK soldiers were killed, with the casualties for Iraq running into the hundreds of thousands, some estimates even say millions.

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Iraq and its people paid the ultimate price for the 9/11 attacks but what was its connection? Of the 19 men that hijacked the planes 15 were from Saudi Arabia, 2 from the United Arab Emirates, 1 from Egypt and 1 from Lebanon. The head of the organization that financed the operation, Osama Bin Laden’s location was unknown but was believed to be hiding in Pakistan. There was no specific connection between Iraq and the 9/11 attacks at all, so why did America invade?

The official reason given was a fear that Iraq was developing Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD’s) and that they feared these could be sold onto terrorist organisations for use against America. Iraq already had a history of using such weapons during its 8-year conflict with Iran. Intelligence reports strongly suggested that Iraq was still developing WMD’s and had also begun developing a nuclear program. Iraq denied the existence of such a schedule and the weapons and UN inspections did not reveal anything. Still America was not convinced and their allies across Europe agreed that WMD’s must be present and military action was unanimously agreed upon.

Perhaps the real reason came in the form of the vast oil reserves in the country that Saddam Hussein and Iraqi law prevented any of the western companies having access. Here was a country whose oil levels could be considered the 5th largest in the world behind Venezuela, Canada, Iran and Saudi Arabia and it was easily and cheaply accessible.

In the many years since the conflict ended no evidence of WMD’s were ever found yet within months the previously state-owned oil company had been replaced by the western oil leviathans such ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP and Shell.

Now with Iraq annexed and the oil fields under the USA control these companies moved in and started extracting oil.

The whole process had been part of a long-term plan; it was these same companies that had actively bankrolled the election campaign for George Bush in 2000 handing over more money than they had done previously. Once Bush was elected an energy committee was formed and discussions started on how they were going to gain access to Iraq’s oil.

Bush’s first Treasury secretary, Paul O’Neill who was eventually fired for disagreeing too much said in 2004

“Already by February (2001), the talk was mostly about logistics. Not the why (to invade Iraq), but the how and how quickly.”

Iraq's Rumalia oil field. 2009.
Iraq’s Rumalia oil field. 2009.

14 years on and the troops have left, but the oil is still under the control of the multinational companies. Other countries such as China and Russia who could have been quite vocal about the situation have also been offered favorable contracts to extract Iraq’s resources. Production of oil has increased with over 3 million barrels a day being produced yet 80% of this is exported and many people in Iraq do not have access to basic services such as water and electricity.

The facts are this, America and its allies went to war without UN authorisation and in doing so obtained the rights to the vast surplus of oil that exists in Iraq. Its detractors in the East were placated with their own large slice of this Middle Eastern pie and the only losers were the Iraqi’s. They may have been liberated from a totalitarian dictatorship who brutality slaughtered his own citizens for fun and now have an elected government and live in a democratic society but only at the expense of the countries most valuable natural resources.

In the end was that a price worth paying?

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