Oil Smuggling out of Basra

The part that really angers me , is DM and others had and demonstrated a solution for this in the immediate aftermath. I may have the timeline wrong, but didn't the CPA tell us we couldn't do things along the lines we'd been told we'd were there for in the first place?

Net result, local 'mafias' filled the void. Quelle suprise.
Von-Ryan said:

So we've really made a dent on this business then?
The interesting part (for me) is that this has been known about for a long time. But it doesn't make news.

Is that censorship, or crap reporting or both?

I think it's about crap reporting: too many journos with Sven Syndrome (Right War/Wrong Reasons = Anything Goes).

Ask yerself who is making £££ out of these smuggling ops?

Nobody with any interest in the governance of Iraq, or any part of thereof would have any interest . . . . obviously . . .

It fecking reeks. 8)

And no British soldier should die for it.
The CPA were utterly corrupt Pongo. There's been no metering of how much of the stuff has been coming out of the ground since we got there. This has been deliberate.
I saw a very damn fine Officer from my Regiment get a grip there Goodkurtz, a proper enlightened grip.

There are others much closer to Arrse who did similar. My understanding , is they were told to wind their necks in.

This was a case of British Officers doing everything we expect of them, and being told no. I do not know the reasons why , but I know the aftermath.
Oh I don't doubt you at all pongo. I know lots of British service people and Americans would have been of good heart, energy and initiative trying to help the Iraqis. It is one of the crying shames in the veritable waterfall of crying shames that is Iraq that at every turn the efforts of the good would have been underminded deliberatly by the powerful and the bad. Did you read the story of the U.S Lt. Col's posted by Stonker on the Bagdad thread?

One of the casualty lists not compiled, recorded and published monthly is the death and serious injury to idealism and good will in the hearts of men that happens with monotonous regularity with the cycle of each day.

Its a feature that of course happens in all wars, but in dishonest ones that kind of damage will happen all the quicker and be all the greater.
I echo PTP's earlier comments.

This situation has been allowed to happen, with the compliance of the CPA. I guess the question is whether this compliance was tacit or explicit?

As Iraqi oil installations came under British "control" during TELIC, key figures were well aware, that the resources to "secure" oil assets, were simply not there. It was also well known, that especially in Southern Iraq, that Shia tribes (some named in the Guardian article) had well established mechanisms for smuggling oil out of the Basra terminal area.

So, with simply too few men on the ground - we have "turned a blind eye" to this trade - Stonker is absolutely right, this is yet another area that does not get reported on. Hardly surprising, in essence, the smuggling / syphoning off, of fuel oils in this manner, has been a well established "black economy" in Southern Iraq since GW1, where the parlous state of Iraqi oil infrastructure was easily exploited by local tribes.

Goodkutz comment, relating to the lack of control / audit, is indicative of where the problem lies. And whilst, it's easy to say that the CPA is / was utterly corrupt, it is a little unfair on many of those working in it, but I fully understand the sentiment. My own view is that the lack of "moral courage / grip" on this by senior figures, both CPA and Mil has inevitably led to this type of story emerging - and I doubt this to be the story that will do the most damage.

I wonder what the future would have held, for the CPA figure who backbriefed the Cabinet Office in 2003, and said in words of one syllable that we simply did not have enough boots on the ground, to properly secure and control the oil assets?

In the event, the military commanders on the ground have had little way of influencing events, and in many ways, this lack of control, probably led to less confrontation between the military and extremist elements in the key tribes, and the emerging Sadr militias. Let's face it, what would you prefer to be doing - smuggling oil, and making money, or taking a pop at a military force, more than able (at that point) to respond robustly?

Again, the huge pity is that the British Miliitary and specifically, some well known personalities in the STRE's did a truly remarkable job in 2003, in actually getting the oil flowing again, and making sure that the country could start producing income.

I imagine there are a few people, reading the Guardian article, with a feeling of "why the feck did we bother?" - on the other hand, I don't think the smuggling of oil is the only topic that comes out Iraq, that results in this feeling.
My Dear Albrighter, if I had still had a heart left to break, posts like your one above would break it.
You sound like one of those many decent people who thought, (apart from a fib or two to get us there) that the Iraq adventure was a clean one.

It wasn't, it isn't.
Look how ordinary U.S. soldiers were encouraged to think of the 'Hajji' as being guilty for 9/11. This ensured that aggression and disorder would ensue. The disbanding of the Iraq Army wasn't a mistake. The repercussions were foreseen and desired. IT WAS A DELIBERATE POLICY.

The criminal nutters from the PNAC had seen what happened when communism collapsed in Russia. For a while there, there was a blasted economic landscape in which most people suffered but which offered golden opportunities for those who knew how to play it. A small cabal of Americans intended to bring this situation around and become the new oligarchs of Iraq.

Look at some of peripherals. If the Americans had been of good heart in their intentions to help rebuild the Iraqi nation they would have protected its ancient sites and antiquities. Iraq was the birth place of civilisation for fcuks sake!
And how better to help encourage Iraqi national pride in themselves and their nation than to protect these artifacts? By doing so the Americans would of also been showing the Iraqis that they the Americans respected them and their country. In other words it would have been one of the most major, long lasting and serious 'Hearts & Minds' operation that could have taken place.

Yet the U.S. policy has been one of what one can only concluded is deliberate neglect. They want Iraqis history thrown on the pyre. I really promise you, I'm not being 'excitable' when I say they wanted to year zero the place.

Now and again a poster or two will crop up on one thread or the other and comment on the usage that 'incompetence' is put to by the Americans.
It must constantly baffle those serving there thinking intentions are good how come there is ALWAYS shortages of resources, human and other, to do what it is that is both necessary and beneficial? But the American admin ensured that that situation should occur. That's why they sent out a whole string of young PNAC loyalists with a low grade of competence to run the CPA. There is nothing mistaken here. People were deliberately hired for their level of clueless incompetence. And if they were bible thumping god botherers, so much the better. Those kind of people were just the kind of dopes who wouldn't be able to detect contractor fraud and scamming going on right on under their noses.
(I personally knew this situation would arise, where good men's energies would be used in the service of great crime because I had read PNAC literature and had already been primed long ago into how this one works by reading Kurt Vonnegut who despaired that his worse nightmares were coming true shortly before he died.)

Its deliberate, behind a veil of Iraqi disorder and Coalition incompetence, with good men's hands full dealing with the fallout the real bad guys plans move forward a foot.
If the story of our involvement in Iraq was one of good intentions marred by mistakes at least sometimes things would also, as if by mistake go blindly right. But they never do.

The clue staring us in the face is the CONSITANCY of the 'incompetence'.

If I can dig out the article by an Iraqi who worked in a state owned cement company I'll post it. His story of the CPA's dealings with this one factory revealed the entirety of the CPA's commercial intentions viz a viz the Iraqi industrial sector.
In years to come these matters will become the matter of international war crimes trials as the CPA paid no attention whatsoever to Geneva's sanctions on what or what not an occupying force may do with the resource's of the occupied country.
Oh, and watch out. I have heard murmurings by neo cons that perhaps Iraq ought to be designated a 'failed state' all over again.

Since the time we got there through to now and for the foreseeable future, the only moons rising over Iraq are going to be bad ones.
Von-Ryan said:

So we've really made a dent on this business then?
Digging back, the New York Times published this piece about 3 weeks ago:
NYT - 12 May

Between 100,000 and 300,000 barrels a day of Iraq's declared oil production over the past four years is unaccounted for and could have been siphoned off through corruption or smuggling, according to a draft American government report. Using an average of $50 a barrel, the report said the discrepancy ...

Access it here (premium content - costs money)

Sadly, for some reason, I didn't pick up on it, so there's no precis over on the "90 Days to victory" thread.

It did lead me to this, however; a report published by the United States Government Accountability Office (they must have their work cut out for them lately :wink: )

Report No: GAO-07-827T
Conditions in Iraq Are Conducive to Fraud, Waste, and Abuse

Download Full Report(*.pdf)
From (dodgy) memory, USA press in general picked up on the report because of its reflections on levels of violence, rather than the oil smuggling and more general climate of corruption which it addresses.directly.

The opening summary (4 paragraphs) follows. Note how it clearly hints at the US DoD is denying information to Congress, misleading Congress over the effectiveness of US-trained Iraqi units, mismanaging contracts ($43m/year wasted on free meals for contractors who also receive a gummint-funded per-diem subsistence allowance FFS!!) and ignoring repeated recommendations of the GAO. In addition, by inference, GAO seems to be saying that - in the absence of good governance of the Equip and Train programme - DoD has no idea how much of the kit supplied by US taxpayers is being used to kill American and British troops.

You'd think Dubya would want to get his own house in order, before pointing the finger at Iran, wouldn't you?

(N.B. Emphasis in the text below is mine)
David M. Walker said:
David M. Walker said:

Despite U.S. and Iraqi efforts to shift a greater share of the country’s defense on Iraqi forces, the security situation continues to deteriorate. Poor security conditions have hindered the management of the more than $29 billion that has been obligated for reconstruction and stabilization efforts since 2003. Although the State Department has reported that the number of Iraqi army and police forces that has been trained and equipped has increased from about 174,000 in July 2005 to about 323,000 in December 2006, overall security conditions in Iraq have deteriorated and grown more complex. For example, the average number of enemy attacks rose from about 70 per day in January 2006 to a record high of about 180 per day in October 2006, the single worst month on record. In December 2006, the attacks averaged about 160 per day. Sectarian and militia influences in Iraqi security forces have added to the violence. Collectively, these conditions have hindered efforts to engage with Iraqi partners and demonstrate the difficulty in making political and economic progress in the absence of adequate security conditions.

Our ongoing work has identified weaknesses in the $15.4 billion program to support the development and sustainment of Iraqi security forces. Sectarian divisions have eroded the dependability of many Iraqi units, and a number of Iraqi units have refused to serve outside the areas where they were recruited. Corruption and infiltration by militias and others loyal to parties other than the Iraqi government have resulted in the Iraqi security forces being part of the problem in many areas instead of the solution. While unit-level transition readiness assessments (TRA) provide important information on Iraqi security force capabilities, the aggregate reports DOD provides to Congress based on these assessments do not provide adequate information to judge the capabilities of Iraqi forces. The DOD reports do not detail the adequacy of Iraqi security forces’ manpower, equipment, logistical support, or training and may overstate the number of forces on duty. Congress will need additional information found in the TRAs to assess DOD’s supplemental request for funds to train and equip Iraqi security forces. GAO has made repeated attempts to obtain U.S. assessments of Iraqi forces without success. These data are essential for Congress to undertake an independent and informed assessment of Iraqi forces’ capabilities, funding needs, and results. Further, DOD and MNF-I may be unable to ensure that all of the equipment obtained for the Iraqis reached the intended recipients. It is also unclear what accountability measures DOD has applied to the train-and-equip program for Iraq.

DOD’s heavy reliance on contractors in Iraq, its long-standing contract and contract management problems, and poor security conditions provide opportunities for fraud, waste, and abuse. First, military commanders and senior DOD leaders do not have visibility over the total number of contractors who are supporting deployed forces in Iraq. As we have noted in the past, this limited visibility can unnecessarily increase costs to the government. For example, at a contractor accountability task force meeting we attended in 2006, an official from the Army Material Command noted that an Army official estimated that about $43 million is lost every year on free meals provided to contractor employees who also receive per diem. Second, DOD lacks clear and comprehensive guidance and leadership for managing and overseeing contractors. In October 2005, DOD issued, for the first time, department-wide guidance on the use of contractors that support deployed forces. Although this guidance is a good first step, it does not address a number of problems we have repeatedly raised. In October 2006, DOD established the office of the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Program Support to serve as the office with primary responsibility for contractor support issues. However, as we noted in our December 2006 report, it is not clear to what extent this office serves as the focal point dedicated to leading DOD’s efforts to improve its contract management and oversight. Third, key contracting issues have prevented DOD from achieving successful acquisition outcomes. There has been an absence of well-defined requirements, and DOD has often entered into contract arrangements on reconstruction efforts and into contracts to support deployed forces that have posed additional risk to the government. Moreover, DOD does not have a sufficient number of oversight personnel, which precludes its ability to obtain reasonable assurance that contractors are meeting contract requirements efficiently and effectively at each location where work is being performed. Further, a lack of training hinders the ability of military commanders to adequately plan for the use of contractor support and inhibits the ability of contract oversight personnel to manage and oversee contracts and contractors in Iraq.

Iraqi capacity and commitment to manage and fund reconstruction and security efforts remains limited. Since 2003, the United States has obligated about $29 billion to help Iraq rebuild its infrastructure and develop Iraqi security forces to stabilize the country. However, key goals have not been met. The Iraqi government has not sustained reconstruction and security efforts, in part because Iraqi government institutions are undeveloped and lack needed management and human resource skills according to U.S. officials. Key ministries face challenges in staffing a competent and non-partisan civil service, fighting corruption, and using modern technology. The inability of the Iraqi government to spend its 2006 capital budget also increases the uncertainty that it can sustain the rebuilding effort.
Now, go and enjoy your sunday lunch (but you'll have to get rid of the nasty aftertaste this leaves in your mouth first) 8)
I am in agreement with previous posters, the entire situation is orchestrated, in regards to oil smuggling the refusal to fund basic Oil flow monitoring equipment (only 2 million dollars and standard on ALL of the worlds Oil shipping facilities) means that no one knows how much Oil is being pumped or sold or what.

Sure beats flying Heroin around to finance ops.
Reminds me a bit of Chechnya. Every little warlord with his own oil racket.
armchair_jihad said:
I am in agreement with previous posters, the entire situation is orchestrated, in regards to oil smuggling the refusal to fund basic Oil flow monitoring equipment (only 2 million dollars and standard on ALL of the worlds Oil shipping facilities) means that no one knows how much Oil is being pumped or sold or what.

Sure beats flying Heroin around to finance ops.
You bet. And with all those nasty regulations in place prohibiting banks from laundering money what a sweet new way to clean up filthy dosh.
Pay the smugglers with the filth and collect clean green when the oil gets to the broker.
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