US invaded Iraq because of oil: Laureate

The Nation - Monday, April 11, 2005

America invaded Iraq two years ago not simply because it was ruled by a dictator, but because it has oil. So claimed Shirin Ebadi, winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize yesterday.

“Yes, Saddam is a dictator, but is he the only one in the world? There are many dictators in the world but they don’t all have oil.”

Ebadi’s remarks came during a dialogue with 40 members of Thai society at the Dusit Thani hotel. The event was hosted by the Vienna-based International Peace Foundation and Forum Asia.

When asked what she had done to oppose the US invasion of Iraq, the laureate-who is the first female Muslim to win a Nobel Peace Prize – said she had denounced the US actions many times.

“Saddam was dictator and had to be eliminated. However, I wish that he had been overthrown by Iraqi people, not American forces,” she said, adding that the price Iraqi people have paid has been extreme.

“More than 100,000 Iraqis have been killed. Museums have been looted and homes have been destroyed. If the US helped Iraqi people, the cos would be much lower.”

Ebadi added that even today, electricity and water are still unavailable to many Iraqi as a result of the invasion.

“Almost every day in the media you witness death and killings. There’s no security for people. Yet from the first day of the occupation, the oil was pumping”.

Ebadi was also asked whether Iran was trying to develop nuclear weapons. The former judge – ousted during the Islamic revolution in 1979 – said she was lucky not to be a government official. “I’m fortunate that I’m not part of the Iranian government, therefore I’m not in a position to know the truth.

“Human being will never achieve happiness by [having] atomic [weapons] and there’s no need for atom bombs in America, Israel or Iran.”

Ebadi later told The Nation that she didn’t think America would attack Iran, but “if it happens, Iranian people will strongly oppose them”.