The BBC (via Daou Report) is reporting that beseiged oil minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum has resigned, and that the government has suspended him from duties for 30 days. “The government” has called on Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi, who already heads the oil council, to become Iraq’s Oil Minister. (Chalabi got a whopping 0.89 percent in the election.)

As Media Girl blog noted on Dec. 27 about a WaPo article, “[Chalabi] wins less than 1% of the exile voters and is shut out of parliament, but he’ll still have ‘an important role‘. Isn’t that a comforting thought?” More from the BBC:

Mr Bahr al-Uloum had publicly objected to fuel price rises. [ED: No! Must make money! Bad Bahr! Bad! Economy good! Iraqis must pay! Bad, bad Bahr!] Iraq’s largest oil refinery has been shut since the weekend following death threats to tanker drivers. A ministry spokesman told reporters that “production in the north, centre and south is about to suffocate”.

The closure has jeopardised power supplies across northern Iraq and is costing the ministry $20m (£12m) a day. […]

Mr Bahr al-Uloum, the eldest son of independent Shia cleric Mohammed Bahr al-Uloum, is a petroleum engineer who previously served as oil minister in the first post-war cabinet between September 2003 and June 2004.

Perhaps most important in this story is the last paragraph: “Although billions of dollars have been spent on infrastructure since Saddam Hussein’s regime was toppled, fuel and electricity production have not reached the levels maintained before the invasion.”

In a handy summary box, the BBC cites stats from the Brookings Institute:

  • Daily crude oil production: 2.07m barrels
  • Daily export: 1.25m barrels, leaving 0.82m for domestic consumption
  • Pre-war production peak (estimated): 2.5m barrels
  • Current production goal: 2.5m barrels (revised down from 2.8-3m in Feb 2005)

Lowering expectations. We’re used to that. The press taught us that that was the way to view George Bush and his administration.

A couple time-travel thoughts from some people in the know:

“Baghdad should not be expected to deliberately provoke military confrontations with anyone. Its interests are best served now and in the immediate future by peace. Revenues from oil sales could put it in the front ranks of nations economically. A stable Middle East is conducive to selling oil; disruption has a long-range adverse effect on the oil market which would hurt Iraq. Force is only likely if the Iraqis feel seriously threatened. It is our belief that Iraq is basically committed to a non aggressive strategy, and that it will, over the course of the next few years, considerably reduce the size of its military. Economic conditions practically mandate such action. There seems no doubt that Iraq would like to demobilise now that the war [with Iran] has ended. The Ba’ath Party argue that they should be allowed to invest in economic recovery and industrialisation so that they can become productive again and pay off their debts.”

    – ‘Iraqi Power and US Security in the Middle East’, a study issued in February 1990 by the Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College

“Secure supplies of energy are essential to our prosperity and security. The concentration of 65 percent of the world’s known oil reserves in the Persian Gulf means we must continue to ensure reliable access to competitively priced oil and a prompt, adequate response to any major oil supply disruption.” [And if we’re the disruptors in the region, what then?]

    – from ‘National Security Strategy of the United States’, White House publication, March 1990 (Both quotes from “The Fire This Time“)

No wonder that, “[s]ince the election of the Shia slate that will hold power for four years, dedicated to an Islamic state allied with Iran, [President Bush] and his advisers have fallen eerily silent,” writes Sidney Blumenthal. An “election of the Shia slate that will hold power for four years, dedicated to an Islamic state allied with Iran” — and which Larry Johnson predicted here on December 9th in “A Very Shia Christmas” — is hardly conducive to goals like stability and oil production, or the administration’s own “special” goals for the region.

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