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Friday, 18 October, 2002, 20:54 GMT 21:54 UK
Iraq oil contracts 'to be reviewed'
Iraqi oil field
Many suspect America's main interest in Iraq is its oil

Three of the main Iraqi opposition groups involved in discussions on the future of Iraq say that a post-Saddam Hussein government would insist on the review of all oil contracts with the country.

However, they dismiss suggestions that America will get the lion's share of the lucrative contracts.


Nobody will welcome the Americans if they come as a colonial power

Dr Adel Abd al-Mahdi
Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq
According to the Cyprus-based Middle East Economic Survey, senior officials in the Iraqi opposition expect that a future government will need to take a fresh look at all contracts signed by the current regime in Baghdad.

Dr Salah al-Sheikhly of Iraqi National Accord said that many of them were not in Iraq's best interests and had been negotiated in order to gain political, rather than economic, benefits.

Baghdad has reached agreements with Russia and France as well as a number of countries which are not automatic choices when it comes to oil exploration, including Vietnam and Syria.

Iraq has the second-biggest oil reserves in the world and the potential for development is immense, but the country's oil sector has suffered from a chronic lack of investment and maintenance over the past decade.

Opposition leaders are agreed that Iraq will need both the investment and the modern technology which foreign companies can provide.

Guarded support

There is a general assumption in the Arab world that a post-Saddam government might reward the United States for its role in overthrowing the regime by awarding most of the contracts to American oil companies.

The suggestion is dismissed by Dr Adel Abd al-Mahdi of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

"Nobody," he said, "will welcome the Americans if they come as a colonial power."

Opposition leaders - including those representing the Kurds - also say they want to keep the country's oil industry centralised.

This consensus indicates - for the moment at least - that the various groups making up the Iraqi opposition are committed to keeping the country united.


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11 Oct 02 | Middle East
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