Monday, April 10, 2006

From The Washington Times Insight Magazine

The Washington Times Insight Magazine
Issue Date: April 10-16, 2006
Posted On: 4/10/2006

Collins: Why control of Iraq’s oil matters

Commentary by U.S. Rep. Mac Collins

Recently, I had dinner with Prince Turki Al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, and one of the other guests asked the Prince an interesting question. The guest was a prominent Georgia Democrat and he wondered aloud “why the Republicans didn’t just admit that the war in Iraq was all about oil?”

I sat back, so as not to interrupt the gentleman, and then asked the Prince a question of my own: “Keeping in mind the strength of al Qaeda in Iraq today, and their relationship with Syria and Iran. What would it mean to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia if the United States prematurely withdrew its troops from Iraq and their government was to fall leaving the nation’s oil wealth in the hands of al Qaeda?” Prince Turki then looked me in the eye and said, “It would not be good. The United States must stay in Iraq.” Today, when we ask the question, “why must the United States keep our troops in Iraq?” The answer to that question is: “oil” and who controls that energy resource.

Those calling for the United States to withdraw troops from Iraq have a very short memory of just how Saddam Hussein used his vast oil profits. Iraq’s oil wealth was routinely used to purchase chemical weapons of mass destruction, which he used against his own people in Iraq’s Kurdish north. In the south, Saddam used his national oil treasure to put down a Shiite rebellion by destroying entire towns and draining the marshlands upon which the local population was dependant upon for their very survival. Those crimes against humanity were made possible by Saddam’s total control of Iraqi oil and the profits he received from Western oil consumption.

Saddam Hussein further used Iraq’s oil riches to support international terrorism. He routinely paid the families of Palestinian homicide bombers $25,000 as “incentive” for impoverished Palestinian youth to carry out terrorist attacks on Israelis. Furthermore, the 9/11 Commission Report uncovered that, “Bin Laden himself met with a senior Iraqi intelligence officer in Khartoum in late 1994 or early 1995.” The report also indicated that Saddam had personally approved of the meeting with Osama bin Laden. While this report does not show a direct connection between Saddam and the 9/11 attacks, it is clear that the Iraqi government and bin Laden had direct contact prior to the September 11 atrocities.

Despite Saddam’s creative use of Iraq’s oil proceeds to conduct genocide against his own people and fund international terrorism, there was still more than enough money left over for him to build massive palaces for himself and his extended family. It should also not be forgotten that these palaces were built during a time while his own people were suffering from starvation and a lack of essential medical care during the United Nations’ corrupt “oil for food” program. The United States’ liberation of Iraq put an end to this madness and introduced democracy to the oppressed people of this nation.

By supporting Iraq’s fledgling democracy with the United States’ military might, we are preventing the Iraqi government from falling into the hands of al Qaeda. Today, al Qaeda in Iraq, under the command of Abu Musaab al Zarqawi, is conducting a well-funded and organized insurgency movement. Zarqawi’s terrorist movement is being directly funded by Iran and supporters throughout the radical Islamic world with the hope of overthrowing Iraq’s newly elected democratic government. The reality is that if the United States were to withdraw from Iraq prematurely, then al Qaeda would likely succeed in overthrowing the Iraqi people’s new democratic government. Such an outcome would place Iraq’s oil wealth directly under the control of al Qaeda. There is no doubt that if this scenario were to be played out the resulting power vacuum would be devastating to Middle Eastern stability.

With Iraq’s oil wealth under the control of bin Laden and Zarqawi, al Qaeda would have a free hand to promote insurgency movements against the governments of the United States and our allies in the region, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Israel. Bin Laden’s dream of establishing a new Caliphate under his control would be well on its way to reality. The end result would be economic and political chaos in both the United States and Europe as a result of our over dependence on Middle Eastern oil. It would also bring the front in the war against terror from the streets of Iraq to our homeland, a scenario never before dealt with in modern times and undeniably catastrophic to our nation’s security.

- Rep. Mac Collins, Georgia Republican, is a former member of the United States House of Representatives. Mr. Collins served 12 years in Congress, and in the Republican leadership of the House as a member of the Republican Steering Committee and as Deputy Majority Whip. He was also a member of the Ways and Means Committee and the Intelligence Committee.