the Disillusioned kid: Making a Killing
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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Making a Killing

The Grauniad on Monday carried a report which revealed that "HSBC today reported 2004 profits of $17.6bn (£9.1bn), a record for a UK bank". Now in and of itself this isn't that interesting. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's quite dull. Perhaps even very dull. Nonetheless, I took the time to read the whole report to see if it made any mention of the company's interest in Iraq. Corporate Watch note, "Together with Standard Chartered (1 Aldermanbury Sq, London) one of the three foreign banks to have been granted a licence to operate in Iraq. HSBC also owns 46.5% of the British Arab Commercial Bank which is looking to collect $100 million from Iraq," and point readers in the direction of this encounter with a top advisor to the company. Surprise, surprise the bastion of the 'anti-war press' says nothing about any of this.

That's not to say there wasn't anything of interest there. The report also pointed to impressive profits for Shell (£9.3bn in 2004, despite having announced in January of that year that they had overstated their reserves). Why is this interesting? Because Shell is another company moving into the Iraqi quagmire in the hopes of making a killing. In May of last year they announced that they intend "to establish a material and enduring presence in Iraq."

Now I'm not suggesting that Iraq has been a major factor in these companies' success over the last year. In fact, the situation on the ground might suggest that quite the opposite is true. What I am trying to point out is the mountain the anti-war movement has to climb if it wants to influence the war profiteerers, in my opinion an crucial task for anyone concerned about Iraqi self-determination.

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