March 28, 2006

Declassified Iraqi Intel Documents Reveal Ties to French State Owned Oil Company

Loik Le Floch-Prigent.jpgAnother translated Iraqi intel document has been released which implicates a French state run oil company in efforts to stop the U.S. led invasion of Iraq. Document: ISGZ-2004-028179 as translated here ties two European businessmen convicted in France's largest corruption scandal to the Saddam Hussein regime. The first is Loik Le Floch-Prigent, the former head of the French state owned oil company Elf-Aquitaine, convicted of fraud and bribery late in 2003. His conviction revolved around a scandal involving bribes and kickbacks to various corrupt oil rich governments around the world. His conviction also implicated the Socialist government of Francois Mitterrand in the scandal. Because Elf-Acquitaine is a state owned enterprised, it has long been thought to be a secret arm of French diplomacy.

In 1994, under the leadership of Loik Le Floch-Prigent, the French oil company negotiated lucrative contracts with Iraqi Oil Minister Safa al-Habobi, giving Elf-Acquitaine exclusive rights to the Majnoon oil fields on the border with Iran. Another French government owned company, Total SA--which would later merge with Elf-Acquitaine--was given rights to another oil field. The contracts were worth $100 billion over seven years but were conditioned on the U.N. sanctions being lifted. The major share of oil pumped during the oil-for food regime was done by the now merged Elf-Total SA & Russia's Gazprom.

France, then, had considerable financial interests in seeing that no U.S. invasion took place, and Loik Le Floch-Prigent's former company would be the main conduit for that gain. In January 2003, when this document was written, Le Floch was an independent energy consultant, presumably working for one or another of the French state owned companies.

dietier_holzer.jpgDieter Holzer is a German lobbyist connected to the French company. He helped arrange the sale of the East German Leuna oil refinery, during the privatization of formerly Communist run state enterprises, to Elf-Acquitaine during the early 1990s. Holzer is said to have ties to the German intelligence community and was convicted of taking kickbacks in the Elf scandal in November 2003.

From the translated Iraqi intel files. Emphasis mine & my comments in brackets. The entire document is not republished, only those parts which I felt needed more commentary:

The Republic of Iraq

The Intelligence Apparatus

The respectful Mr Director of the Apparatus

Subject: The Frenchman Le Floch and the German Dieter Holzer

In the date of 10/1/2003 [this date is January 10, 2003 & uses the common international dating system] the two mentioned above arrived to the country in visit for two days only and they did during their stay with the following activities:

1. They met with the deputy of the Industry and minerals ministry and they spoke with him about the possibility of building the non working factories since the year 1991 and provide the country with the spare parts that the ministry needs in the domain of industry. [Clearly, they were lobbying on behalf of French interests to complete the projects started in the early 1990's. Part of the deal brokered by Le Floch during his tenure as head of the state owned company was that his company agreed to restore the oil infrastructure damaged in the Gulf War.]

2. They met with Mr. Ghazi Faysal the chairman of the department First Political Department in the foreign ministry and they spoke with him about the following subjects:

I'll break from the document for this important information. According to the CIA, Ghazi Faysal:
Worked to build Tariq under the OMI after MSE was destroyed in the first Gulf war. Served as the director of Tariq until moving to al-Basel center....

Ghazi Faisal had instructed the researchers to avoid synthesis of organophosphorus compounds as it might cause them difficulties with the UN, according to ISG interviews with Tariq scientists, and a senior scientist claimed he did not know of any synthesis of phosphorus based compounds.

The Tariq Company, also referred to as the Tariq Facility and formerly the Tariq State Establishment, encompassed several facilities near Fallujah...a research site in Baghdad ....and several storage locations. Tariq was subordinate to the former Muthanna State Establishment (MSE) chemical weapons (CW) research, production and storage facility near Samarra before it was destroyed. It has a long history of ties to Iraq’s CW program, and throughout the 1990s continued to house key CW scientists and maintain basic capabilities to produce at least some CW precursor chemicals. Iraq renovated key processes and reinitiated production of basic chemicals in 2000.

Interesting. Back to the document:
A. The German Holtzer confirmed that Chancellor Shroeder does not like the Leader President [Saddam Hussein] but he still oppose the war and it is because of his stand on this he won the latest elections and in case his stand changes this will lead to his loss of the Chancellery and that he hot replacement is ready to win the position and he is the economy minister the German Clement from the ruling Socialist German Party. [So, even though Schroeder wasn't a big Saddam fan, he had to oppose the war since flip-flopping would mean his government would fall]

B. He mentioned that a meeting in Beijing in the beginning of this month was held between the Prime minister of China and the German Chancellor Schroeder in the occasion of the opening project for the fast train and the latter was asked about the information that was obtained by the Chinese intelligence and it says that Iraq has moved his mass of destruction weapon to Syria and the German Chancellor told him that the German intelligence did not indicate this. And after two days the US state secretary went to Damascus to check on this with the Syrian government that in turn denied this news.. [So, the Chinese thought that Saddam was moving his WMD to Syria, but German intelligence could not confirm it and the Syrians denied it to then Sec. State Powell]

C. He suggested the idea of bringing the Pope John Paul II to visit the country because this visit cause Bush Junior to lose his balance and that he has good relation with the originally German (Ratzinger) in the Vatican and that the latter has influence has influence through waving the card of the financial support that Germany give to the Vatican and it is estimated to be (around 6 billions dollars yearly). [Odd that Ratzinger, who is now the Pope, was seen as a way to influence the Pope's to oppose the war. In my estimation, John Paul II was one of the few politicians who opposed the war on purely philisophical grounds]

D. He indicated that Chirac became a honorary President of Europe not through elections but through popularity since most of the countries of Europe oppose the war but this man is not courageous and he needs the support of Iraq and for example present what proves that his weapons of mass destruction were destroyed. [Ha! Jacques Chirac 'not courageous'. Indeed. So Chirac needed proof, even though his own intelligence agencies were asserting that Iraq had WMD]

C. He express the readiness of French and German companies to execute projects in Iraq as long as the necessary moneys are guaranteed to execute these projects because its revenue decreased lately due the decrease of oil exports. [Again, France is waiting to do business again with Iraq as soon as the sanctions are lifted. What is so odd is how the Left cannot seem to see that the alternative to war was the sanctions, which were quickly eroding under pressure from countries like France that had a financial interest in seeing them lifted.]

3.In our meeting with the German Holzer he spoke about the following subjects:

A. He was shown a secret report prepared by the French Army Chief of Staff who presented to Jacques Chirac warning him of the losses that the French troops suffered in Spain and Germany during Napoleon campaigns because the participation of France in the possible war against Iraq will let her suffer huge human losses because it is impossible getting the Iraqi President by aerial bombing and that the entering in street fights will be a disaster for them. [French army trying to scare themselves out of participating in war? ]

B. He intend to buy a residential house in Baghdad under the name of his wife where as his wife is Palestinian and that he visited one of the houses in Arsat and he paid the house own (150) 150 thousand dollars but the latter asked for 300 thousand dollars. [Was Holzer thinking of skipping town to avoid prosecution and moving to Iraq? Sure sounds like it.]

There's more here.

What is so interesting about this is the depths of the relationship between the French oil company and Iraq and just how blatantly obvious it is that France's national interests were not served by the Iraq war. As I've argued dozens of times here, the Democratic arguement that Bush's failure to gain UN approval and to draw in a larger coalition for the Iraq war was a failure of diplomacy is utter nonsense. Nations go to war because they believe it is in their national interests, and coalitions form when those interests are aligned. No amount of diplomacy or talking can realign those interests. Whether or not Madeline Albright was Sec. of State or Al Gore was President of the United States mattered not one iota. Iraq was not a failur of diplomacy, it was a failure to have allies with mutual interests. Nothing more, nothing less.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 08:02 PM | Comments |