[Originally published on July 24th, 2012 on Jadaliyya.]
by Ali Issa“No Blood For Oil” was a slogan featured on many a sign in demonstrations during the run up to the US-led invasion of Iraq, and throughout the early years of the occupation as global opposition to it grew. But as Iraq faded from the headlines in 2009, the struggle over its oil continued. In the following interview, Greg Muttitt, investigative journalist and author of the groundbreaking Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq (2012), discusses the attempts by occupying forces, multinational oil giants, and newly minted Iraqi “leaders” to privatize Iraq’s oil. Having worked directly with Iraq’s oil unions, Muttitt also describes the heroic role that Iraqi civil society played in challenging these efforts, how it all shook out and where it might be headed today, at an especially sensitive moment when the Iraqi labor movement is facing a series of fresh attacks. The audio interview was conducted on 13 July 2012, and what follows is an edited transcript.Ali Issa (AI): Based on the hundreds of US/UK documents you have unearthed, what were your findings about the role of oil in the Iraq War?
Greg Muttitt (GM): Unsurprisingly, the documentary record shows that oil was a central part of the strategic thinking behind the war, and consistently shaped the conduct of the occupation. My book is primarily about what happened during the occupation. The United States, Britain, and the “international community” were keen to see Iraq’s oil developed through foreign investment. It was not so much about helping out their own corporations—that was a secondary concern for them. What they wanted was to see foreign investment in Iraq as a starting point for opening up the other nationalized industries, especially of the region, so as to get oil flowing more quickly. Iraq’s oil sector had been nationalized since the 1970s. The nationalization took place mostly in 1972, and the final phases of it continued until 1975. Essentially, what they wanted to do was to reverse that: put multinational oil companies back in the dominant role in the Iraqi oil sector.