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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Does the US military intend to stay indefinitely in Iraq?

CSMS Magazine Staff writersWhile presidential candidates debate whether to start bringing ground troops home from Iraq, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday that new construction of a permanent base in the Gulf is currently underway. According to the Journal, this new fact “suggests that one footprint of U.S. military power in Iraq isn’t shrinking anytime soon: American officials are girding for an open-ended commitment to protect the country’s oil industry.”The US Navy backed by British and Australian commandos, is building the base to guard two oil-export platforms in Iraqi waters at the northern end of the Persian Gulf, Wall Street Journal reported. Already, soldiers from these countries mentioned above are now stationed at the Khawr al Amaya oil terminal, protecting it and the neighboring Al Basrah oil terminal, facilities critical for any significant expansion of tanker shipments of Iraqi oil to the world market.Pentagon insists that the new oil-terminal base is not a permanent US facility, and that it will eventually be turned over to Iraqi forces. But Vice Admiral Kevin Cosgriff, commander of US naval forces in the Gulf, who was quoted in the Jounal explains that “Iraqi forces are a long way from being able to take over the mission. They are going to need help for years to come.”If they are going to need help for years to come, who is going to provide this help? Certainly it has to be the Americans. The Journal confirms that “US, British and Australian military officers will control Iraq’s oil export shipping for the indefinite future. US sailors live on both the Khawr and Al Basrah terminals behind chain-link fences that keep out all Iraqis, except the oil workers who actually operate the facilities, and a handful of Iraqi Marines who work as guards under the direction of an Australian commodore, the overall commander of the facility.”The Journal went further in explaining the dual mission of the new base. While the primary aim is to safeguard oil-export installation, “the new outpost also offers a convenient perch from which to monitor Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps… The naval component of the Revolutionary Guards Corps operates from a partially submerged barge and crane visible on clear days.”Remember the British sailors captured earlier this year by Iranian forces? According to an article published Tuesday by Patrick Martin on the WS website, “the sailors were among those participating in the oil-protection mission—a fact that was suppressed in the media accounts at the time. That incident ended when the British prisoners made statements admitting they had crossed into Iranian waters and then were sent home. A similar episode involving American soldiers could well provide a pretext for a full-scale US military strike against Iran.”Observers believe that The Khawr and Al Basrah facilities combined, if working at their capacity, could load nearly two million barrels a day, about 2.4 percent of current world requirements. To justify the significant role of the new base, Vice Admiral Cosgriff told the Journal, “As a contributor to an increasingly inelastic supply, that is a significant percentage. That isn’t just an Iraq issue, that’s a global economic-stability issue.”Reading these comments makes it hard to ignore the geopolitical and economic interests at the heart of the US conquest of Iraq. For some time, the White House, the congressional Democrats and the American news media alike have been seeking to downplay or suppress the role of oil, claiming that the war is being waged to fight “terrorism” and establish democracy in Iraq, “when its major purpose is to rob the Iraqi people of their country’s principal natural resource, and give US and British multinationals first crack at the world’s third largest oil reserves.”Iraq’s former oil minister, Thamir Ghadhban, who still advises the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on energy issues, told a US audience Friday that Iraq planned to nearly triple oil production over the next eight years, from the present 2.2 million barrels a day to six million barrels per day.Speaking at Stanford University, Ghadhban said, “Iraq is one of the least-explored countries among the major oil producers,” citing plans to explore for oil in the western desert (Anbar province) as well as the traditional oil-producing regions in the north and south. Iraq has 112 billion barrels in proven oil reserves, but UN estimates have placed its probable but as yet unproven reserves at 214 billion barrels, perhaps the world’s largest pool of untapped oil.The oil ministry reported last week that daily crude oil production in October hit a three-year high of 2.7 million barrels a day, of which 1.8 million barrels were exported. Hussein al-Shahristani, the oil minister, said that crude production should reach 3 million barrels daily by the end of the year.It is becoming more and more difficult for the US elite to camouflage the true role of the US mission in Iraq. The coming months will be extremely tough for family members of US service men and women, who long for the return of their loved ones, but will be told that their sons, daughters, husbands or wives will have to remain in a country that does not want them and where its population is prepared to resist occupation forces for as long as it takes.  Also see Moqtada al-Sadr: The terrible headache to US plan in Iraqand Iraq: The beat goes on and on and The execution of Saddam Hussein: Was justice served?

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