Abdel Nasser al-Mahdawy
New Iraq Center Advisor
Translated by Shaimaa Shedeed
One of the most prominent facts that has been prevailed after occupation until 2018 is the fiasco in achieving the least limit of normal living standards in Iraq. Not only were the Iraqi people aware of this reality but also previous officials themselves acknowledged the same fact during their tenure. Among the statements said by senior religious and political officials was the statement made by previous Deputy Prime Minister about the former regime capability to achieve what successors after occupation couldn’t achieve.
In fact, early governments that were during the US power have some excuses for retardation such as scarcity of tools and US projects that controlled the Iraqi political arena in addition to the security one. However, after the US had withdrawn and then delivered Iraq to pro-Iran sectaria system, it was clear that system couldn’t make any decision unless taking the US green light. For instance, Maliki’s visit to Washington after the US withdrawal from Iraq by the end of 2011 was in order to take permission to target Vice President Tareq al-Hashimy and to exclude the political opponents from Arab Sunnis faction, since then, the political process in the state of components has depended on the Shiite constituent after excluding significant leaders of Arab Sunnis such as al-Hashimi and al-Eissawi.
Actually, excluding the strong political competitors wasn’t due to personal interests for the decision makers then because they were in good relations with those Sunnis. The story was that those Sunni competitors were against the achievement of specific regional and international interests on the account of Iraq, in other words, they would stand as an obstacle in front of both US and Iranian agendas. For example, the electric power file that triggered a wave of anger oppositions in the Iraqi arena and outraged the mob in the southern governorates who protested against the corrupt and corruption. This is the reason behind the change of the political equation tendencies after the elections of the year of 2018.
The governmental failure in providing basic services lies in two perspectives; the first one is internal and connected to the corruption system controlling the rule that supports its own interests on the account of the public interest while the second perspective focuses on these parties whose target was only to rule rather than to work for the Iraqi public interest as it was working according to an agenda included regional and international interests on the account of the state’s interests.
There are two evidences on the aforementioned claim. The first one is based on a real situation such as the statement made by previous prime minister Bahaa al-Aragi in al-Sharkeyya News channel on October 26, 2018 when he tackled the power file. During his tenure, the government had a plan to exit the Iraq electricity crisis through the investment file. According to al-Aaragi, Iran was among those who impeded this plan because it would harm its interests. This is the URL of the episode that anyone can easily check to review this statement. The second evidence relies on the mind and logic. It is about the investment in al-Mansoureya field in Diyala which is considered one of the hugest fields in the Middle East with Akaz field in Anbar. The Iraqi oil Ministry announced in 2010 the referral of al-Mansoureya field in Diyala to three companies including Turkish TPIO Company, Kuwaiti Kuwait Energy company and Korean Kokaz to invest in it. Upon the contract of this investment project, 37% of gas production would go to the Turkish company TPIO and 22,5% would be for Kuwaiti Kuwait Energy company while 15% would be for Korean Kokaz while Iraqi Naft al-Wasat would have percentage of 25%.
Dramatically, This plan that was wasn’t capable of blocking the plans of the first regional actor in Iraq as the field in addition to its neighboring rods were occupied by the terrorist ISIS although the field area was surrounded by the military forces and located few kilometers away from the highway that links Iran with Baghdad. This highway was itself secured by the military and emergency units. In addition, the distance between the project area and Baghdad wasn’t more than 100 kilometers, which raises a question about how this area could fall in the terrorism grip for long months?! Even when the terrorism had been expelled, the entire project was suspended according to the official statements of the Iraqi state. According to the oil expert Hamza al-Gawahry who negated any attempts to disrupt the project, gas Mansoureya field in Diyala needs a rehabilitation process will take five years.
Other sources stated that there were regional efforts to disrupt the investment in such field as it was deemed the hugest field whose production would change the international production rate and would put the state in a privileged position in terms of gas production. Meanwhile, Previous Diyala parliament representatives said that there were regional states were concerned about Iraqi capabilities in the natural gas field, thus, regional actor indirectly sought for aborting the investment and production processes in order to keep its forefront position in gas production sector in the world from one hand and to keep Iraq importing gas and electricity on the other hand. Surely, everyone knows that regional state that exports gas and electricity through Diyala so we aren’t in need to mention its name!
Eight years after, in other words, after the end of the five-year dead line, former Oil Minister Jabbar al-Laeiby made a statement in July 31, 2018 that he assigned the national companies the task of outlining urgent plans to develop the gas Mansoureya field with by national arms after the prevarication and failure of foreign companies in developing it since 2010.
At the meantime, Oil Ministry spokesperson Assem Gehad stated that investment in gas Mansoureya field which was estimated with more than three billion cubic feet is an important step to add a new quantity of gas fortunes to the national production rate, which will cover a great part of the needs off gas Mansoureya station of electric power production and will reduce the rate of exportation of gas. Besides, it will save hard currencies for the federal treasury and will save job opportunities for the governorate’ inhabitants in the private sector companies that will be engaged in carrying out some services relevant to the project. The question now should be where were these officials during these eight years after referring the project to international companies? Today while these officials accuses the international companies of prevarication and the matter of investment nationally is being reviewed, is it applicable if the Iranian regime keeps controlling the Iraqi decision?
This was a sole example on a sole field, what about dozens of oil fields that could bring gas but have been being burnt for long years although it could be invested to save electric power if it is really and seriously offered by the Iraqi government that imports the gas and electricity from Iran for 18 years. If the free will was there even with the corrupt, the issue of electricity would be solved within two or three years.
In this context, I shall recall a story that in 2010 when a Korean investing company in the field of energy visited Diyala in to persuade the local officials with investment in the oil and gas fields of the governorate but the governor sent them to the Oil Ministry whose reaction was the refusal. In his oil licenses route then, Oil Minister Hussein al-Sharihastani met with Diyala governor in Istanbul on the conference sidelines and the governor directly asked the minister for opening the oil tube field that links Naft Khana in Diyala with Masfa aldawra in Baghdad as it serves Iraq. Naft Khana field is a common field among Iran, Qasr Shirin, Iraq and Khanaqin but ironically this line was only used by the Iranian side and disabled by Iraq. The minister frankly informed the governor that he knew that the oil was smuggled to Iran adding that there were violations committed by the inhabitants which impeded the process of opening the line. The Minister then refused opening the line and the line actually was opened after so long time. No doubt, all what was happening was for Iran’s interests on the account of interests of Diyala and Iraq.