Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Iraq: bombing, law, oil, war

I'm going to go backwards, then forwards, just to pull together a couple of old things about the Coalition's active violation of international law to create an excuse for its war and its failure to fulfil its moral and legal role as protector of the Kurdish community in northern Iraq, by allowing the Turkish military's bombing of Kurdish villages, with the the role of oil or energy security in the choice to go to war, which is also old, but new in its public recognition by those who conducted and continue to conduct the war.

(I realise that I'm very late to this, particularly when I think how long ago it was that a friend paid both Robert Newman and I the dubious compliment of telling me that, 'you'd like it', but I briefly had sufficiently good internet access and thought it was appropriate to mention here, that "the history of oil" is very worth watching, for the history lesson if nothing else.)

On the 19th of June 2005, Michael Smith had reported that:
British and American bombing raids on Iraq in the run-up to war "to put pressure on the regime" was illegal under international law, according to leaked Foreign Office legal advice.

The advice was first provided to senior ministers in March 2002. Two months later RAF and USAF jets began "spikes of activity" designed to goad Saddam Hussein into retaliating and giving the allies a pretext for war.
Still, already in 2000, Thomas E. Ricks had reported in the Washington Post that:
'In early 1999, said Mike Horn, who flew F-15s in two tours of duty in Northern Watch, "sometimes we flew in such a way that we provoked them to shoot at us." Under the operation's rules of engagement, they could not bomb unless the Iraqis fired upon them first.'
Smith went on to say:
However, the leaked Foreign Office legal advice, which was also appended to the Cabinet Office briefing paper for the July meeting, made it clear allied aircraft were legally entitled to patrol the no-fly zones over the north and south of Iraq only to deter attacks by Saddam's forces on the Kurdish and Shia populations....
They may have deterred attacks by Saddam's forces, however, they failed to deter attacks on Kurds and indeed facilitated them:
[Northern Watch F-15 pilot Mike] Horn said that on more than one occasion he and his comrades received a radio message that "there was a TSM inbound"--that is, a "Turkish Special Mission" heading into Iraq. Following standard orders, the Americans turned their planes around and flew back to Turkey.

"You'd see Turkish F-14s and F-16s inbound, loaded to the gills with munitions," he said. "Then they'd come out half an hour later with their munitions expended."

When the Americans flew back into Iraqi airspace, he recalled, they would see "burning villages, lots of smoke and fire."
Smith continued:
The increased attacks on Iraqi installations, which senior US officers admitted were designed to "degrade" Iraqi air defences, began six months before the UN passed resolution 1441, which the allies claim authorised military action. The war finally started in March 2003.
On the 5th-6th of July 2007, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) relayed that:
"Energy security is extremely important to all nations throughout the world, and of course, in protecting and securing Australia's interests," he [Australian Minister for Defence Dr. Brendan Nelson] said.
The Australian Associated Press (AAP) noted that:
Defence Minister Brendan Nelson said today oil was a factor in Australia's contribution to the unpopular war, as "energy security" and stability in the Middle East would be crucial to the nation's future....

"The entire (Middle East) region is an important supplier of energy, oil in particular, to the rest of the world... Australians and all of us need to think well what would happen if there were a premature withdrawal from Iraq?"

.... "For all of those reasons [to prevent sectarian Sunni-Shia violence, to provide security, to support the ally, the USA and to prevent terrorism in Australia], one of which is energy security, it's extremely important that Australia take the view that it's in our interests... to make sure we leave the Middle East and leave Iraq in particular in a position of sustainable security."
Sturcke neatly concluded his article in the Guardian:
Iraq has the world's third largest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia and Iran, according to the BP statistical review of world energy 2007. War opponents argued long before hostilities began in March 2003 that the US administration's main interest in toppling Saddam was to loosen the grip of Saudi Arabia and the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) on global oil prices.
Now, the Coalition may be telling the truth, inasmuch as it didn't want to get the oil, so much as stop others - especially Russia and China - getting it, but these facts continue to reveal the Coalition governments' betrayal of their citizens and their democracies and their and the corporations' sacrifice of their own community's and other communities' - both military and civilian - lives, in the pursuit of profit and power.

AAP (Australian Associated Press). 2007: "Oil behind Iraq War: Nelson". Sydney Morning Herald, 5th July. Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/oil-behind-iraq-war-nelson/2007/07/05/1183351331164.html

ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 2007: "Govt splits on Iraq war oil link". ABC, 6th July. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/07/05/1970982.htm

Smith, M. 2005: "British bombing raids were illegal, says Foreign Office". The Times, 19th June. Available at: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article535045.ece

Sturcke, J. 2007: "Oil a factor in Iraq conflict, says Australian defence minister". The Guardian, 5th July. Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/australia/story/0,,2119110,00.html

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