Saturday, October 16, 2004

The Robbery Of Iraq

In Naomi Klein's latest piece in the Guardian, she writes about the continued reparations "freed" Iraq pays for Saddam's 1991 invasion of Kuwait - and contrasts it with what was actually spent for Iraqis (rather than on security and on stuffing up US-imposed authorities):

Next week, something will happen that will unmask the upside-down morality of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. On October 21, Iraq will pay $200m in war reparations to some of the richest countries and corporations in the world. a condition of the ceasefire that ended the 1991 Gulf war, Saddam agreed to pay damages stemming from the invasion... What is surprising is that even after Saddam was overthrown, the payments from Iraq have continued.

Since Saddam was toppled in April, Iraq has paid out $1.8bn in reparations to the United Nations Compensation Commission... Of those payments, $37m have gone to Britain and $32.8m have gone to the United States... the vast majority of those payments, 78%, have gone to multinational corporations, according to statistics on the UNCC website...

...Halliburton ($18m), Bechtel ($7m), Mobil ($2.3m), Shell ($1.6m), Nestlé ($2.6m), Pepsi ($3.8m), Philip Morris ($1.3m), Sheraton ($11m), Kentucky Fried Chicken ($321,000) and Toys R Us ($189,449). In the vast majority of cases, these corporations did not claim that Saddam's forces damaged their property in Kuwait - only that they "lost profits" or, in the case of American Express, experienced a "decline in business" because of the invasion and occupation of Kuwait...

Despite the $18.4bn of US tax dollars allocated for Iraq's reconstruction, the Washington Post estimates that only $29m has been spent on water, sanitation, health, roads, bridges, and public safety combined. And in July (the latest figure available), the Department of Defence estimated that only $4m had been spent compensating Iraqis who had been injured, or who lost family members or property as a direct result of the occupation...

I have only one thing to add. It is a sky-high hypocrisy to argue that oil contracts are void with regime change, but reparations for a war fought by the deposed regime are not.


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