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 Saturday, 25 January, 2003, 18:19 GMT
What is America's interest in Iraq's oil?
War sceptics have repeatedly questioned whether oil is a motivating factor behind the world's most powerful nations - especially the United States - turning their attention on Iraq.

With the world's second largest oil reserves, Iraq is in a prime position to help supply the global market, but is in desperate need of foreign investment after two decades of war and sanctions.

The US has said it would hold Iraq's oilfields "in trust" for the Iraqi people in the event of a US-led invasion.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said the United States was examining different ways of managing Iraq's oil fields if America invaded the country.

"If we are the occupying power, [Iraq's oil fields] will be held for the benefit of the Iraqi people," he said.

What is the US's interest in the oil fields of Iraq? Do you think oil is a motivating factor for war? Or is the US committed to safeguarding Iraq's oil for the Iraqi people?

This Talking Point is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The Bush administration is foaming at the mouth

Laurie, Miami Beach, USA
It is and always has been about oil. The Bush administration has close ties to the oil industry. It is this administration not the people that is foaming at the mouth over the second largest oil reserve in the world.
Laurie, Miami Beach, USA

It has never really been about oil. I wish the world would stop being scared and start to support the US. We pulled Europe from the ruins of WWII. If the EU had even said that it supports the US, Saddam would be scared into getting out of power. He would see the world is against him. Not just the US and UK. I am so ashamed right now to call France and Germany allies.
Ken, USA

Ken USA: Tony Blair and Bush are hell bent on starting war against the poor people of Iraq. I do not agree with Saddam but the West created him. For your information there is very little support here in the UK for the Bush and Blair Iraq oil war, in other words Tony Blair, not the public, is Bush's ally.
M Charles, UK

The primary reason is oil and the secondary reason is the defence of Israel

Paul Papadopoulos, Athens, Greece
The Gulf is the most important single source of world energy and will become increasingly so in the next few decades. The Bush family have a vested interest in control over world oil supplies to avoid or mitigate the effects of any future Arab oil boycott as happened in 1973. There is no moral reason for the projected war in Iraq - the primary reason is oil and the secondary reason is the defence of Israel. The cost is borne by the world's people, including the Americans who will be subjected to more not less acts of terror after the war.
Paul Papadopoulos, Athens, Greece

Obviously there is no justification behind the US's intention of attacking Iraq. I believe whatever oil interest the US may have in Iraq is secondary because they know how best to make Saddam compromise over this by pumping out more oil. The US's primary interest in this war has to do with the protection of Israel which sees Saddam's Iraq as a major threat to its existence.
Tijani Umar, Abuja, Nigeria

If it was about oil, wouldn't the US just do a deal with Saddam? A lot easier.
Steve, UK

Howard's views that the Iraqi people and their democratically elected government will be able to manage their own oil assets is unfortunately not backed by history. Pity the US government didn't think the same way when Iran's democratically elected government of the 1950s decided to nationalise its oil industry. The US engineered a coup installing the phoney Shah of Iran as dictator, a person as bad as Saddam Hussein, who the US also in its wisdom supported when the Shah was overthrown by the people of Iran. The common thread in all the misdeeds is your country.
Ilyas, UK

Once we are involved in the war, that will just be something the US government hopes to control

Denise, USA
I do not believe that the US's main motive behind the war is oil. If this were the case, why doesn't the US exploit the oil fields of Venezuela? Such action would be made easier with the economic and political hardship that country faces. Could we say the US is committed to safeguarding Iraq's oil? I would not bet a penny on that. I think once we are involved in the war, that will just be something the US government hopes to control. It will be a consequence of the events, not a stimulus.
Denise, USA

The Bush Administration is going to war in Iraq to take control of Iraqi oil. We know North Korea has nuclear weapons, yet we don't threaten them with war; meanwhile, Iraq is rumoured to have some chemical weapons, and they have a sword over their head. The only difference in the two scenarios is that there isn't much oil on the Korean Peninsula.
Dan, Boston, USA

Obviously oil is a spoil of the war in Iraq, but the point is to get rid of Saddam

Mickey O'Rourke, Boston, USA
Oil may be an issue in this war, but it is not the main issue. Stability is the US's concern. Our intelligence knows about Saddam's WMD and his plans for them. The Iraqi people need to know what it is like to live in a free society without a big brother watching over you. Obviously oil is a spoil of the war in Iraq, but the point of the war is to rid the region of Saddam.
Mickey O'Rourke, Boston, USA

When legitimate government is restored to Iraq, it should the business of the Iraqi people and their government to learn how to manage their oil assets. Those who claim the US interest in Iraq is solely about oil are mistaken. There is no great oil shortage in the world today and it surely would be cheaper to lift sanctions and buy Iraqi oil in an open market than to obtain it by conquest.
Howard, USA

I guess the proof will be in the eating. If America's intentions are honest, then it will buy post-war Iraqi oil at a price comparable to pre-war OPEC oil. If dishonest, then it will use its occupying influence to get a good price and make a very tidy profit. Remember - if a country makes a financial gain from a war, then you have to wonder what its reasons for starting that war really were.
Stephen Speed, UK

There certainly would be no invasion plans were it not for oil

JB, USA
Although Iraq's oil fields may not be the only reason for the invasion planned by Bush and Blair, there certainly would be no invasion plans were it not for the oil.
JB, USA

The oil issue weighs heavily in the decision to attack Iraq, but it's not the main concern in dealing with Iraq, and it should not be used as an excuse to divert attention from the fact that Hussein's regime has sought and continues to seek weapons of mass destruction. I for one support any move to overthrow Saddam!
Nicolas Canal, Colombia

The US will steal the Iraqi oil, and next winter it will invade South Africa in a bold attempt to corner the diamond trade! I realise there are sceptics out there who think the US is just a big, guzzling, unholy, rude barbarian of a nation, but does any sane, rationally-inclined person believe the US will claim the oil as spoils of war? I can't tell if the people who espouse such nonsense really believe it or are merely propaganda puppets.
Chris, USA


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