April 17, 2004

French Oil Deals With Saddam

French companies and government officials were doing pretty well with the U.N.-Iraq Oil-For-Food program, but those millions were small stuff compared to the money they stood to make if they could get U.N. sanctions lifted, and finalize two oil deals worth 100 billion dollars that they had negotiated with Saddam.

This is not exactly news, but not too much has been written in U.S. media about this potential gravy train for France, that made them so desperate to keep Saddam in power. Kenneth Timmerman is the author of a new book called "The French Betrayal of America", and here he gives an interview to Frontpage Magazine's Jamie Glazov, and talks about those French motives :

If you read the French press, or the glowing accounts of Chirac's opposition to the U.S. effort to build an international coalition to oust Saddam Hussein that appeared here in America, you might actually believe that the French were standing on principle.

I reveal that Chirac was defending something quite different when he sent his erstwhile foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, around the world to buy votes against America at the United Nations. Chirac was determined to maintain Saddam Hussein in power so that two extraordinarily lucrative oil contracts, negotiated by the French, could go into effect...

The deals were negotiated separately by CFP Total and by Elf Aquitaine during the mid to late 1990s. At the time, both companies were state-controlled. They have since been privatized and combined into the world’s second largest oil giant, TotalFinalElf.

Through my sources, I obtained a copy of one of these contracts. It spans 154 pages, and grants the French exclusive right to exploit one of Iraq’s largest oil fields at Nahr al-Umar for a period of twenty years. Under the deal, the French were given 75% of the revenue from every barril of oil they extracted – 75%! That is absolutely stunning. Not even during the pre-OPEC days were foreign oil operators granted such extravagant terms...

...those two deals were worth $100 billion to the French. That’s 100 billion good reasons for Mr. Chirac to keep Saddam in power.

You have to stand in line to investigate a scandal involving Chirac or the French government, but as far as I know there's not even anything illegal being alleged here with the oil deals. But is there anyone left on the planet still claiming that French opposition to regime change in Iraq was based in something other than economic and political self-interest?

Posted by dan at April 17, 2004 1:00 AM