Iraq's Oil is a National Wealth, Not a Sectarian Weapon

  • 5 March 2006

As if the sectarian, ethnic and religious "ammunition" was not sufficient to aggravate tensions and violence in Iraq, the Shiite "Al-Fadeela Party" (member of the Unified Iraqi Alliance that has garnered the largest number of parliamentary seats) has added a more deadly armament to its arsenal, namely the "oil weapon". Ibrahim Al-Jafari, the party's nominee for the premiership of the new government, has threatened to cut-off southern Iraq's oil supplies to the north, in the wake of the growing differences between various parties in the political process.

It is true that a major portion of Iraq's oil comes from the south of the country. Yet, it is equally true that Iraq's southern, central and northern regions are integral parts of the country, which are inhabited by citizens enjoying equal rights and privileges. Therefore, wherever oil may be found in the country it remains the property of all Iraqis, who should collectively enjoy its benefits as long as they agree to live together in one country. Circumstances may necessitate the grant of special privileges to some oil-producing regions, but these should be governed by economic and national interests rather than sectarian or ethnic considerations. Besides, such measures should take place within the framework of a general development plan and should not be used as a bargaining chip or as a threat to other regions.

The risk to cut-off oil supplies from the south of the country will only widen the present divisions between the various regions of Iraq. Besides, it will aggravate sectarian and ethnic divisions, as the problems will be linked to the main source of revenue and the basis for future development. The threat to deprive a particular region of the revenues is tantamount to leaving it backward and deprived. This does not augur well for the future.

All Iraqi sects and ethnic groups, without exception, have suffered equally under Saddam's rule, even if his regime ostensibly promoted a particular sect. Hence, it is the right of all Iraqis to share in the fruits of a new era and benefit from the expected phase of development.