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Unravelling the Carbon Web is a project by PLATFORM. We work to reduce the environmental and social impacts of oil corporations, to help citizens gain a say in decisions that affect them, and to support the transition to a more sustainable energy economy.

Hands Off Iraqi Oil - Campaign Against Iraqi Oil Rip Off Launched in UK

Development, environment, human rights and anti-war groups have come together to launch a campaign against the “rip off” of Iraqi oil by western companies.

‘Hands Off Iraqi Oil’ is part of an international coalition, which is also gearing up in the US and Italy, as well as Iraq.

In the UK, The Hands Off campaign comprises radical development charity War on Want, oil industry watchdog PLATFORM, investigative researchers Corporate Watch, long-term Iraq campaigners Voices UK, debt-relief watchdog Jubilee Iraq, anti-occupation network Iraq Occupation Focus and Naftana, the UK support group for the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions.

The launch comes just days after the Iraqi cabinet – under intense pressure from the USA and UK and the International Monetary Fund – approved a draft oil law which would transfer control over the majority of Iraq’s huge reserves from the public sector to multinational companies, for the first time in 35 years.

The law would allow contracts to be signed with the companies, which would give them exclusive rights to extract oil for up to 20 years.

The campaign supports the view of much of Iraqi civil society that the current oil law, and contracts signed under it, would surrender Iraq's sovereignty and economic future to foreign interests. The UK campaign will target British oil majors Shell and BP, warning them to keep their ‘Hands Off’ the spoils of war.

Ewa Jasiewicz, researcher and campaigner at PLATFORM said:

‘Deals signed under this law should be regarded as a form of robbery. Iraq’s oil in this context is war loot, for which hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died. Oil companies pushing for contracts now should be regarded as war profiteers; partners in the stealing of Iraq’s future’.

Louise Richards, Chief Executive at War on Want, said:

‘We stand in solidarity with all workers in the Iraqi oil industry at this crucial time in their struggle. Iraq’s trade unionists have consistently been denied any say in the future of their country’s oil sector, despite their strong and reasoned opposition to privatisation. We salute and support them in their opposition to the theft of Iraq’s oil resources.’

A sister campaign has also been launched in Italy. Another is about to launch in the USA.

Both are co-ordinating with Hands Off in the UK. The Italian campaign is pressurizing Italian oil company ENI to back out of the bidding process for contracts under the law.

Paola Gasparoli, Iraq Project Manager at Un Ponte Per says: ‘

We are asking our government which is the main stakeholder in ENI to oppose any attempt to dispossess Iraq of its’ resources. To allow the sell-out of Iraqi oil whilst sending money for humanitarian aid and reconstruction is more than farcical, it is immoral. Iraq’s oil and gas is not yet privatised – it is now more important that ever to support Iraqi unions and the Iraqi general public in opposing this law’.

The US campaign will target oil company Chevron, including picketing their offices on 20 March, the fourth anniversary of the start of the war.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, trade unions – as well as members of parliament and oil experts – are organising against the oil law. In a recent statement to the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Hassan Jum’a Awad, leader of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions said:

‘I particularly say to America “Hands Off Iraqi Oil”. This wealth belongs to the people of Iraq and the decent people of the world’.

See for information and updates