UK attacked Iraq for oil - poll

10 March 2008 - 4:50pm
Press release

In the ICM poll, commissioned by the anti-poverty group War on Want, "to gain control of Iraq's oil" is the top motive cited for the invasion, ahead of disarming Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, removing Saddam Hussein over human rights, or to stop Iraq supporting international terrorism.

The same holds true among supporters of all the three main political parties, according to the survey of British voters, undertaken in the run-up to the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

The poll comes before national demonstrations on Saturday (15 March) in London, Glasgow and around the world to mark the anniversary of the conflict.

It is published on the day people holding shares in British oil corporation BP receive a huge increase in their dividend as the company, along with Shell and other oil firms, seeks to control the development, production and depletion of Iraq's oil reserves.

War on Want says Iraq would lose billions of pounds in oil income under proposals which the UK and US governments are pressing the Baghdad administration to sign.

Two in three Iraqis oppose these plans, according to a survey published last year by development and human rights organisations, including War on Want, Platform and Oil Change International. This majority of Iraqis would prefer the oil to be developed and produced by Iraqi public sector companies.

Since 2003 both Shell and BP have lobbied for control of Iraq's oil and steered Iraqi oil legislation for the past 20 months. Both companies worked on Iraq's hydrocarbon law and had access to the text for eight months before Iraqi MPs received copies.

Iraqi trade unions say the law will allow oil companies power over new fields for 25 years, with the country's economy run by overseas firms. According to the unions, the proposed law would surrender Iraq's economic sovereignty, undermine the development of Iraq's workforce and increase unemployment.

Ruth Tanner, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: "Five years on from the invasion, people are clear that oil was the real reason Britain attacked Iraq. Now companies such as BP and Shell are lining up to take control of Iraq's oil for a generation. Iraqi oil should be used to rebuild Iraq, not to swell the profits of oil multinationals."

 


NEWS HOOKS:
  • Fifth anniversary of the Iraq war
  • Saturday, 15 March 2008 - global demonstrations, including London and Glasgow

NOTES TO EDITORS:

  • According to the poll, 25% of people identify taking control of Iraq's oil as the actual purpose for Britain going to war, compared to 17 per cent who think its motive was disarming Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Another 16 per cent feel Britain embarked on war to remove Saddam Hussein over human rights. And 10% say the UK launched hostilities to stop Iraq supporting international terrorism. A further 19% attribute the war to "another reason", while 13% don't know.
  • ICM interviewed a random sample of 1004 adults aged 18 upwards by telephone between 27 and 28 February 2008. Interviews were conducted across Britain and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information is available at www.icmresearch.co.uk. People holding BP shares today (10 March) receive a 31 per cent rise in the quarterly dividend to 13.525 cents.
  • London campaigners will assemble in Trafalgar Square at 12 noon on Saturday (15 March) for the demonstration to mark the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war. Glasgow protestors will gather at 11.30 am in Blythswood Square. The demonstrations are organised by the Stop the War Coalition, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the British Muslim Initiative.
  • Journalist and author Naomi Klein will address a London public meeting on 19 May about the corporate takeover of Iraq, organised by War on Want and other groups in the Hands Off Iraqi Oil campaign.

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media office (+44) (0)20 7549 0584 or (+44) (0)7983 550728

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