December 18, 2011
Despite the US's declared withdrawal of its military personnel and contractors out of Iraq, Washington has prepared to control the country's rich oil reserves in any case, shared Ranjit Singh Kalha, former India's ambassador to Iraq in the 1990s. Having spent $3 trillion in Iraq, a country with harsh weather conditions (+50 C most of the time) and absolutely nothing valuable but oil reserves, the Americans simply cannot give up the plentiful and very high quality oil they went there for. "It takes $1.50 to take out this oil that's just below the surface. Anybody who has access to this oil can be a game changer -- as far as the politics of oil is concerned," Ranjit Singh Kalha concluded. The problem Americans encountered in Iraq is that once given "some symbols" of democracy, the Iraqi voted for a Shia-led government. The headache is that the Shia traditionally have close links with Iran, the core territory of this affiliation. "That is the present dilemma. If you withdraw from Iraq completely, you leave this vast oil wealth of Iraq in the hands of Shia (Iran-oriented) government. And therefore it upsets the political balance in the Middle East," Ranjit Singh Kalha explained. He said that to counter such adverse developments the US will have almost 20,000-strong embassy in Baghdad (the largest US embassy in the world) and consulates in Basra, Kerkuk and in northern Kurd-inhabited territory, each consulate 1,000-strong. "Americans cannot afford to be completely absent from Iraq," the former ambassador argued, adding he does not see any lessening of American influence in Iraq. Iraq is a multi-confessional country and to curb religious extremism all previous country's rulers had to be very tough with the population, the diplomat stressed. In Saddam's Iraq most of the military and law enforcement was Sunni and the rule of law was first of all a rule of military power preventing sectarian violence. Today's Iraq is ruled by Shia government which does not have the necessary experience of ruling with an iron fist, so the country risks a full fledged civil war to start at any time given. American troops will not go far from Iraq -- they will be re-deployed to next door Kuwait.