Saturday, May 14, 2005
His support for the war in Iraq cost Silvio Berlusconi his parliamentary majority in the April elections, and the following report is not likely to boost his popularity:
Italian troops were sent to Iraq to secure oil deals worth 300 billion dollars, and not just for post-war humanitarian purposes, an Italian television report by RAI claimed on Friday.
The 20-minute report, broadcast by RAI News 24, the all-news channel of the Italian state-owned network, is based on interviews and official government documents.
In it, the Silvio Berlusconi administration is accused of picking the Nasiriyah area to safeguard a 1997 deal signed by Italy’s largest energy producer, ENI, and former dictator Saddam Hussein.
A government report compiled months before the war broke out recommends that Italy, in case of conflict, should secure the region of Nasiriyah and the nearby area of Halfaya, south of Baghdad, so as to secure “a deal worth 300 billion dollars”.