Though his staged photo-op on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in San Diego harbor was about five years premature, the “Mission Accomplished” banner unfurled behind President Bush has now come true.

The four biggest Western oil companies are negotiating their return to Iraq. By the end of the month, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Total will have completed agreements with the sovereign Iraqi government (the one we keep propped up) to return after nearly 40 years.

Patrick Cockburn, writer for The Independent, reports: “The deals are for repair and technical support the Oil Ministry in Baghdad said yesterday [June 19]. The return of ‘Big Oil’ will add to the suspicions of those in the Middle East who claimed that the overthrow of Saddam was secretly driven by the West’s desire to gain control of Iraq’s oil. It will also be greeted with dismay by many Iraqis who fear losing control of their vast oil reserves.”

Mission Accomplished has become a reality. The West now has access to Iraq’s reserves, which are believed to be second only to Saudi Arabia (origin of most of the 9/11 hijackers and U.S. partner in the War on Terror).

The Western oil companies worked night and day to get back to the oil fields of Iraq. Some four decades ago Saddam Hussein’s Iraq nationalized the oil fields, forcing them out. After Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990 the U.N. imposed sanctions on Iraq, keeping foreign oil companies out.

With U.S. occupation forces all over Iraq, the oil companies now must feel it is safe to return. Our president and vice president say it is going well in Iraq, in spite of the 2007 military surge has not accomplished the main goal of the Iraqi Parliament becoming a functioning body.

News reports continue to come of our president urging Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to sign an agreement keeping American military in Iraq for decades. Such a treaty should be discussed in our Congress.

Business News reports Iraq is currently exporting 2.1 million barrels per day. They expect revenues of $70 billion this year. The Baghdad government has $50 billion in the Federal Bank of New York.

Besides the Parliament’s inaction, the Iraqi government has yet to provide its people with electricity, water supplies and security. I find it difficult to believe they can control the demands these oil companies will put on them.

Even Sen. John McCain seems to imply this war in Iraq has been over oil. He said: “My friends, I will have an energy policy which will eliminate our dependence on oil from Middle East that will then prevent us from having ever to send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East.”

We were given many reasons for invading Iraq: We were spreading democracy to the Middle East; getting rid of a dictator; saving Israel; making the world safer; saving America from the terrorists, etc.

The return of “Big Oil” will add to the suspicions the real reason was entirely something else.

Britt Towery is a free-lance writer in San Angelo, Texas.

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