photo credit : jo


The War For Oil
by Jo Abbess
22nd May 2008

The Metro newspaper, delivered for free to commuters in London carried this astonishing news report today :-

"Burma rejects US aid offer over fears for oil : Burma has shunned a proposal for US ships to deliver aid for its cyclone survivors over fears America may steal oil reserves. The country's ruling junta claims the offer 'comes with strings attached' that are 'not acceptable' to Burmese people, according to reports. Aid flown on US planes with military personnel on board has been accepted but the junta would not allow warships and helicopters to deliver relief supplies."

If this report is accurate, this would go some way to explaining the astonishing refusal of the Burmese leadership to refuse aid, which has been baffling me ever since Nargis blew the country to smithereens.

Surely, I thought, no ruling classes could refuse international aid in the case of a weather-based catastrophe. I didn't quite go along with the much-repeated accusation that the Burmese junta must be so very evil to refuse aid for their people. I just could not believe that.

Now it seems I have hit upon the underlying reason for this apparently bizarre restriction : the Burmese rulers fear losing their birthright : the value of petroleum found in their national territory.

Now that quite puts the boot on the other hoof. If, as the report suggests, the Americans are offering aid with conditions, presumably conditions about access to "mineral" resources, then who, in fact, are the callous administration ?

More on this from USA Today :-

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-05-21-burma-us_N....
"Burma's state-controlled media said that U.S. helicopters or naval ships were not welcome to join the relief effort. The New Light of Myanmar newspaper said accepting military assistance "comes with strings attached" that are "not acceptable to the people of Myanmar." The report cited fears of an American invasion aimed at grabbing the country's oil reserves. Burma's xenophobic leaders appear to have long feared an invasion by the United States, a concern that some analysts believe prompted the junta's abrupt decision in 2005 to move the capital from Rangoon to the remote city of Naypyitaw, which is equipped with bunkers."

ADDENDUM

24th May 2008

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/7418206.stm

Cautious response to Burma pledge : Aid agencies have given a cautious welcome to the announcement that Burma's leaders will allow all foreign relief workers into cyclone-hit areas...The change in the Burmese generals' hardline position on access came after a meeting on Friday between UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Burma's senior general, Than Shwe. After talks in Burma's remote capital, Nay Pyi Daw, Mr Ban said Burma would now allow the delivery of aid "via civilian ships and small boats". But his wording suggested that the US, British and French warships waiting off the coast with supplies may not be able to dock.


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