Friday, Mar. 19, 2010

August 2008
Fighting the Bill

"It is inexcusable for U.S. taxpayers to continue to foot the bill for projects the Iraqis are fully capable of funding themselves. We should not be paying for Iraqi projects, while Iraqi oil revenues continue to pile up in the bank."

Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, on a GAO report that found Iraq had only spent a fraction of the $79 billion it had earned in oil revenue

A report from the Government Accountability Office reveals that soaring oil prices will leave the Iraqi government with a cumulative budget surplus of as much as $79 billion by the end of the year, though only a fraction of that has been spent on reconstruction costs. With the U.S. having already spent $48 billion to rebuild Iraq and the economy showing signs of recession, the revelation rankles leading senators like John Warner and Carl Levin. It doesn't help matters that the report finds that Iraq has several billions of dollars earning interest in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In the same month, the Iraq government signs its first major oil deal with a foreign country since the 2003 invasion. The contract with the China National Petroleum Corporation to develop the Ahdab oil field southeast of Baghdad over a 22-year period is reportedly worth up to $3 billion. The field could produce as many as 115,000 barrels a day, and plans to begin pumping are slated for 2011. Meanwhile, during one of the hottest weeks of the year, six Shi'ites headed to the holy city of Karbala are killed in three attacks in three consecutive days. And on Aug. 23, gunmen fatally shoot Kamal Shyaa Abdullah, a high-ranking official in the Ministry of Culture who had refused protection because he disliked the fuss of bodyguards.