After several reports that US may go to war with Iran, we now have reports that the US will join talks that include Syria and Iran. This surprising change is attributed in International Herald Tribune to the new Iraqi Oil Law:
"Iraqi officials had been pushing for such meetings for months now, but Bush officials refused to sign on until the Iraqi government reached agreement on guidelines for nationwide distribution of oil revenues and foreign investment in the country's immense oil industry, administration officials said."
One version of the draft is available here.
"First, according to Article 1 all oil and gas in Iraq is controlled by the new Iraqi Federal Oil and Gas Council. And according to Chapter II, Article 5 the purpose of this Council will be to "To assist the Council of Ministers in creating Petroleum policies and related plans, arranged by the ministry in coordination with the producing provinces and regions, and to put important legislations for exploration and production..." There's nine other responsibilities of this council, all basically insuring that any exploration, development, and production of any oil/gas in Iraq is controlled by this group.
Now who will sit on this Council? Here's the fun part, it will be headed by the Prime Minister with other members consisting of:
"1- Federal Government’s Ministers from the ministries of oil, treasury, planning, and cooperative development.
2- The director of the Iraqi central bank
3- A regional government minister representing each region.
4- A representative from each producing province not included in a region
5- Executive managers from important related petroleum companies including the national Iraqi oil company and the oil marketing company
Yes, that's right. Oil company executives will sit at the table to decide how to develop Iraq's oil/gas fields. And the Iraqi national oil company is just one of many oil executives with a seat at the table--they don't receive any preferential treatment. I mean why should they?--they're only the Iraqi national oil company and we're only talking about developing Iraqi oil and gas? If you want to see some fantastic corporate profits, imagine if Exxon sat on the board that controlled the third largest oil fields in the world..."
More reports here, here, and here.
Oil seems to be still a large part of the game. Since Bush has less than two years to go, who will continue the game? Presumably the national interests.
Update 1: More at maxspeak.
Update 2:Suzanne Goldenberg atThe Guardian has a different interpretation. Excerpt:
"It is being called George Bush's Come to Jesus moment. As in the midlife realisation that led Mr Bush to give up alcohol and embrace Christianity, the president in his sixth year in the White House has undergone another radical conversion, abandoning an ideological foreign policy for a more pragmatic approach, foreign policy experts say."