So, it was about the oil. Or at least oil was a big consideration in how we went about reacting to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.


According to a report in the Independent, there were discussions between ministers and oil companies about how to exploit Iraqi oil in a post Saddam Hussein Iraq in the year before the invasion took place.

It is reported that the minutes of meetings contradict the public denials made at the time that oil was in no way a factor in the invasion it was, we were told, all about weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

At the time BP said it was 'highly inaccurate' that the company had conducted meetings with Downing Street about Iraqi oil and also that it had no 'strategic interest' there either. Tony Blair, the UK Prime Minister at the time, called these allegations an 'absurd' oil conspiracy theory.

According to the report the papers show that Lady Symons agreed to Lobby the Whitehouse on BP's behalf as BP thought they would be left out of any post regime change deals leaving TotalFineElf to benefit if their pre-war contract remained in place after the dust had settled.

In fact the Foreign Office appears to have had some meetings with BP.

After one meeting in October 2002 Edward Chaplin, the Foreign Office's Middle East director at the time, noted: "Shell and BP could not afford not to have a stake in [Iraq] for the sake of their long-term future… We were determined to get a fair slice of the action for UK companies in a post-Saddam Iraq."

The Foreign office it seems also invited BP to talk about any Iraq Opportunities on 6th November 2002, with the minutes saying "Iraq is the big oil prospect. BP is desperate to get in there and anxious that political deals should not deny them the opportunity."

The Second Gulf War started in 20th March 2003.

According to the 1,000 or so documents that oil campaigner Greg Muttitt (author of Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq – Amazon) gained under the Freedom of Information Act, BP and Shell had at least five meetings in late 2002 with officials and ministers.

In the end we see that the largest oil deals were made after the war involving half of Iraq's reserves. Mr Muttitt said, quoted in the Independent article, "Before the war, the Government went to great lengths to insist it had no interest in Iraq's oil. These documents provide the evidence that give the lie to those claims.

"We see that oil was in fact one of the Government's most important strategic considerations, and it secretly colluded with oil companies to give them access to that huge prize."

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