The sabotage attacks that have crippled Iraq's oil pipelines and refineries for the past three years are now being used to aid a vast smuggling network that is costing the Iraqi government billions of dollars a year, senior Iraqi and American officials here say.
Once thought to be only a tool for insurgents to undermine the government, the pipeline attacks have evolved into a lucrative moneymaking scheme for insurgents and enterprising criminal gangs alike. Ali Al Alak, the inspector general for the Oil Ministry, said the attacks are now orchestrated by both groups to force the government to import and distribute as much fuel as possible using thousands of tanker trucks.
In turn, the insurgents and criminal gangs - distinguishing among them has become increasingly problematic - have transformed the trucking trade into a potent tool for smuggling.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Excellent article from the International Herald Tribune on how Attacks on Iraq oil industry aid vast smuggling scheme .