Friday, May 25, 2007

Kucinich: Congress Endorses Blackmail of Iraq

Ohio Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich's congressional website posted the following press release.

Kucinich: Congress Endorses Blackmail of Iraq

Washington, May 24 - WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) hosted a news conference this afternoon with Antonia Juhasz, visiting scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, and Denice Lombard, U.S. Labor Against the War, to discuss implications of Congress insisting on benchmarks in the Iraq supplemental that include passage of the Iraqi “hydrocarbon act.” The hydrocarbon act forces the Iraqis to privatize their oil. Below are the remarks from his speech:

“The Democrats will have an opportunity today to vote in support of, or against, the blackmail of Iraq. A vote for the benchmarks is a vote to demand the privatization of Iraqi oil.

“The House of Representatives will consider yet another version of the Iraq war funding legislation. Not only will Congress give the President another blank check, despite the new Democratic majority, Congress will also endorse the blackmail of Iraq.

“The benchmarks in today’s war supplemental force the Iraqis to privatize their oil industry by demanding passage of the Iraqi “Hydrocarbon Act.” The war supplemental blocks over a billion dollars in reconstruction funds if the Iraqis refuse to comply.

“This administration has misled Congress into thinking that pending Iraqi legislation before their Parliament is about fair distribution of oil revenues. In fact, except for three scant lines, the entire 33-page hydrocarbon law creates a structure to facilitate the privatization of Iraq’s oil.

“The truth is that the “Hydrocarbon Act” will open Iraq’s oil reserves to foreign investors, giving them, and not the Iraqi people, the ability to develop the majority of Iraq’s 80 known oil fields. The Iraq National Oil Company would maintain control of only approximately 17 of these oil fields.

“If this happens, Iraq will be the only country in the Middle East that does not maintain government control of its own oil industry.

“The wealth of Iraq, their rich oil resources, should remain in the hands of Iraq for the benefit of the Iraqi people.

“Passage of any legislation that includes insisting that the Iraq Government push the passage of a hydrocarbon act puts this Congress on record to promote privatizing Iraq's oil.

“Congress must stop all attempts by the Administration to allow multinational oil companies to take over Iraq’s oil resources.

“This is equivalent to blackmail and sends a strong message that the United States is not in Iraq to help the Iraqi people or defend democracy, but that this war is solely about oil.

“I would like to believe that this war has not been about oil. I would like to believe that there was some kind of a righteous cause connected to what we did; but I know better, and the proof is in this Hydrocarbon Act.

“I am here to say that there is another path that can be taken, and that path is part of H.R. 1234, a bill that I have written that would enable the war to end by Congress determining that no more money will go for this war, telling the administration that it must open up diplomatic relations with Syria and Iran, and moving in a direction where we put together an international peacekeeping and security force that would move in as our troops leave.

“And then we set the stage for real reconciliation that cannot come with the U.S. serving as an occupying army.

“We have a moral responsibility to the Iraqi people whose country we have ravaged with war to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars of damage.

“Congress must put a stop to the exploitation of Iraq and ensure reconstruction of a nation now in shambles.”

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