Sunday, May 15, 2005


The Oil of Nassiriya – Peacekeeping and Business

This document was from an investigative report from RAI News 24, “In the Name of Oil” by Sigfrido Ranucci. I’m translating the article on this televised report from La Repubblica. It was in the print version and is now longer on line.

Peacekeeping and business: and investigative report from RAI News 24 goes to the origins of the Italian mission in Iraq, “Antica Babilonia” and the oil of Nassiriya. In a dossier of the government written six months before the war the Iraqi province had been indicated as a strategic location for Italy.

Italian soldiers at Nassiriya

ROME – We are in Iraq for the oil. Certainly for humanitarian purposes and to safeguard the immense archaeological patrimony of that country – as the name of the mission “Antica Babilonia” is not a random choice – but the black gold plays a part, oh how it plays a part. The investigative report of Sigfrido Ranucci, broadcast today on (satellite) RAI News 24, with documents at hand, tries to demonstrate this fact. It’s not accidental that our soldiers are positioned at Nassirya and not elsewhere, because the capital of the Shiite province of Dhi Qar was precisely the place where they had been sent. Why? Because we knew how wealthy in oil that zone is. Largely desert, but literally floating on a sea of that most precious liquid that moves the world.

An old agreement between Saddam and ENI (National Oil Co.), which dates form the second half of the 90s, for the extraction of a consistent oilfield (2.5-3 billion barrels) in the zone of Nassiriya is enough to at least bring about some suspicions. As well as the doubt that has insinuated in the study commissioned by the Ministry for Productive Activities, six months prior to the outbreak of the war, to Professor Giuseppe Cassano, docent of Economic Statistics at the University of Teramo. A dossier in which there is the confirmation that we must not let the occasion slip by in case of war and to be based at Nassiriya, “If we don’t want to lose,” Cassano writes, “a 300 billion dollar deal”. So, what is the problem? many might ask. At the end of the day what’s wrong with having taken part in such a costly and risky mission, that something comes to us in the end? Safeguard “also” the success of our oil business, suggests the undersecretary of Productive Activities Cosimo Ventucci, interviewed by Ranucci, is an “intelligent” choice.

Sure, it would have been enough to admit it, this is the thesis of Ranucci, and to respond to the Parliamentary interrogations about it without hiding behind bland formulas. To admit that in reality the reason of oil was much more important that the humanitarian ones: “I tired to busy myself with reconstruction projects,” denounced Marco Calamai, who had been working with the Governor of Nassiriya for a period of time, “but the reconstruction never really took off. America exported democracy in words, but in effect they have impeded that it grows from the base”. Our military police have in the meantime escorted barrels of oil and done surveillance of oil wells. And the terrorist strike of Nassiriya, as the correspondent from the paper Il Sole 24 Ore, Claudio Gatti had written the day after the strike, it wasn’t directed against our military contingent, but against ENI.

On the other hand, Iraq is the true safe if oil on our planet. With quantities that according to Benito Livigni, former manager of the American Gulf Oil Company, and later of ENI, are said to be superior to those of Saudi Arabia: “According to one estimate, the reserves of Iraq should total up to 400 billion barrels of oil, and not the 116 which has always been used. In the country there are vast desert zones which are not exploited”. (13 May 2005)


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