Is Iraq an economic battleground?

Before launching his war to topple Saddam Hussein’s regime, George Bush, the former US president, promised a strong independent Iraq. Instead the country has become a bloody battleground for regional and international forces, not to mention al-Qaeda. Today US, Israeli, Turkish, Saudi Arabian and Syrian forces compete to shape Iraq’s political landscape.

Sometimes this competition is fought with brute force and sometimes by proxy through Iraqi political parties and armed groups. The prize is Iraq’s geopolitical value as a lynchpin of Gulf stability and its huge oil reserves.

While on the economic front, US companies have all but surrendered their quest to monopolize Iraq’s oil; Chinese companies have signed at least three deals in recent weeks, and have emerged as Iraq’s single largest investor in the oil and gas sector. Concerned Iraqi nationalists condemn this interference but predict that Iraqi nationalism will eventually sweep away all this meddling.

A spokesman from A.A.I.B. Insurance Brokers, a company specialising in Iraq observes; perhaps we should remember the words of Deng Xiaoping the Chinese politician who led the country to towards a market economy during the 80-‘s and early 90’s with his “socialist market economy” model. He is generally credited with advancing China into becoming one of the fastest growing economies in the world for over thirty years and vastly raising the standard of living of hundreds of millions of Chinese. He once said “I don’t care if it’s a white cat or a black cat. It’s a good cat so long as it catches mice.”

So in the case of Iraq, it’s not important what colour the cat is – which companies develop the oil and gas sector. What is important is that extra employment is created, oil exports are boosted, and substantial funds flow into the coffers of the Iraqi Finance Ministry.

The people need to see that the oil and gas sector is refurbished and developed quickly, safely and efficiently.

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