||Mary Kaldor, Terry Lynn Karl and Yahia Said
- - - - - - download - - - - - -
Iraq is sitting on top of the second-largest proven oil reserves in the world. It may possess up to a quarter of total world reserves, and it has the potential in the future to become the world's largest oil exporter. Supporters of the war, while denying that military action in Iraq was initiated to control its oil, do assert that these massive reserves are of vital strategic interest to the West, and thus the installation of a friendly regime in Iraq is essential for national security. Overthrowing Saddam Hussein, creating a stable state in Iraq and opening up its oil for exploitation, they argue, are central to a broader effort to secure access to global oil resources, especially in the energy heart of the world - the Middle East/Central Asian region. Most opponents of the war cite Iraq's immense resources as a significant factor in the onset of war, and criticise the willingness of some Western governments to kill Iraqis and risk the lives of their own citizens to secure access to these resources. Whatever role security of oil supplies played in the thinking of policy makers, three years after the invasion it is evident that the global energy supply is neither more stable nor more secure. Iraq's oil output and exports have barely reached their low pre-war levels, while the war itself and the associated instability it has generated in the region has sent oil prices soaring to new heights. Despite promises to the contrary, they have stayed high over an extended period of time. As Iraq threatens to descend into chaos and become like another ungovernable Afghanistan, Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups are now in a better position to disrupt oil supplies from the entire region.