The Torching of the Oil Wells

“A little known fact about the Gulf War is that one month before the Declaration of War on December 15th, 1990, Secretary of State, James Baker, signed the US Army report from the 352nd Civil Affairs Command on the New Kuwait (unclassified, and therefore available to those interested). This report describes in detail how extensively Kuwait will be destroyed, how the oil wells will be set on fire, and then how it will all be rebuilt ‘better than before’, with despotism, rather than democracy, even more strongly entrenched than it had been before. The report includes a list of US corporations who are to be assigned the profitable task of rebuilding Kuwait and extinguishing the oil well fires, as well as the Arab names they will be operating under.” Extra-Terrestrial Friends and Foes. George C. Andrews.

Kuwait’s oil wells, torched during the final phase of the 1991 Gulf War, were set ablaze by fast-moving strike teams of U.S. Special Forces, not by Iraqi troops, as reported at the time, according to a U.S. Army officer who was there. Smoke from the fires blocked sunlight for weeks, creating a near environmental disaster in the Mideast. After almost a decade, this observer has decided to break his silence and divulge what he has seen on condition that his identity remain protected.

His description of how the small Gulf emirate’s oil wells went up in flames matches the statements of the Iraqi government, whose top officials have long disclaimed responsibility for this incendiary sabotage operation. “We did not set the oil fields on fire,” said then-Iraqi Oil Minister Osama al-Hiti, to a SPOTLIGHT reporter in June 1992. “Why should we? Where was the profit?”

New evidence uncovered by the SPOTLIGHT supports al-Hiti’s version of events. “Iraq had no reason to destroy those wells,” says a Washington petroleum analyst, who has spent years in the Gulf. Iraqi troops were already withdrawing from Kuwait when its oil fields were swept by fire. “The Iraqi leaders had already realized that they would have to submit to an imposed settlement of that conflict,” he explained.

Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein and his top aides knew full well by then that they would be held economically and financially liable for any damages claimed by Kuwait in the aftermath of the Gulf War. Only President Bush and his inner circle stood to profit from the ravages inflicted on Kuwait’s petroleum installations, these sources have confirmed. “Bush, his sons and his cronies began to scheme to make vast personal fortunes from rebuilding Kuwaits infrastructure as soon as the Gulf war began — even before it began,” confirmed Rieter DeJongh, a Wall Street energy trader.

First oil firefighters, based in Texas, the home of President Bush, were enriched by putting the fires out. Next, construction firms had to rebuild the wells, then supply firms had to re-supply the sights. The Bushes corrupt scheme included driving from Kuwait competing energy companies such as the giant Deutsche Babcock conglomerate, which was bidding on a number of contracts coveted by the Bush consortium.

In the consensus of these sources, the economic consequences of wreaking devastation on Kuwait were clear: Iraq would have to pay for the damage — it is doing so right now — while President Bush and his people would profit from it. “I’d say that, all in all, the evidence tells us pretty convincingly the order to set Kuwait’s oil fields afire must have come, not from Saddam Hussein but from Bush,” concluded DeJongh. First Published in The SPOTLIGHT, August 2,1999.

Footnote: in the aftermath of the Gulf War it was found that there were around 700 oil-fires burning. Thick black crude oil poured into the shallow waters of the gulf. At the time there were predictions that it would take several years and many millions of dollars to put out the fires. Environmentalists spoke of the Gulf becoming a stagnant oil lake, devoid of marine life. That may have been an overly pessimistic assessment but even today some areas of the desert are still blackened by dried oil lakes. Some damaged facilities are beyond repair, which no doubt allowed Bush, Baker and their cronies in the oil business to make even bigger profits.