Mattis "We're Not In Iraq To Seize Anybody's Oil"

Tyler Durden's picture

In the latest distancing by Trump administration advisors from recent statements by the President, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Baghdad on an unannounced visit on Monday to discuss the war effort against ISIS, and said that the US military is not in Iraq "to seize anybody’s oil."

Secretary of Defence, James Mattis, arrives in Baghdad, February 20, 2017

Speaking to a small group of reporters traveling with him, Mattis was quoted by Reuters as saying “I think all of us here in this room, all of us in America, have generally paid for our gas and oil all along and I’m sure that we will continue to do so in the future."

On his first trip to Iraq as Pentagon chief, Mattis is set to assess the war effort against the Islamic State as Iraqi forces launch a new push to evict ISIS militants from their remaining stronghold in the city of Mosul. In Iraq, he is likely to face questions about Trump's remarks and actions, including a temporary ban on travel to the United States and for saying America should have seized Iraq's oil after toppling Saddam Hussein in 2003. Trump told CIA staff in January: "We should have kept the oil. But okay. Maybe you'll have another chance."

Trump later clarified his position in an ABC interview. The president said ISIS would not have become a global threat if it hadn’t taken over Iraq’s oil industry when the country was left weakened by the war.

“We should’ve kept the oil when we got out. And, you know, it’s very interesting, had we taken the oil, you wouldn’t have ISIS, because they fuel themselves with the oil. That’s where they got the money. They got the money… when we left, we left Iraq, which wasn’t a government.


“We created a vacuum and ISIS formed. But had we taken the oil, something else very good would’ve happened. They would not have been able to fuel their rather unbelievable drive to destroy large portions of the world,” Trump noted, while adding that Iraq’s oil could have been beneficial for the United States too, as the country’s budget has been drained by involvement in Middle East wars.

Mattis, however, flatly ruled out any such intent. "We're not in Iraq to seize anybody's oil," he told reporters traveling with him, although one wonders if the Bush presidential dynasty would have a strongly differing opinion.

His remarks are the latest example of his policy differences with Trump. Trump has acknowledged that Mattis did not agree with him about the usefulness of torture as an interrogation tactic but, in a sign of Mattis' influence, said he would defer the matter to his defense secretary.

The retired Marine general, who led American troops in Iraq, said he had sought an exemption from Trump's travel ban for Iraqis who served with U.S. troops, including translators. He said he had not seen a new executive order which the administration is considering. "But I right now am assured that we will take steps to allow those who have fought alongside us, for example, to be allowed into the United States," Mattis said. Mattis has also been more critical than Trump of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and distanced himself from Trump's labeling of the media as "the enemy of the American people," saying he had no problems with the press.

* * *

Mattis' visit comes one day after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the start of the ground offensive on western Mosul, where Islamic State militants are essentially under siege along with an estimated 650,000 civilians. Last week, Iraqi aircraft dropped millions of leaflets in western Mosul, calling on residents to get ready to welcome the Iraqi troops, as the siege on the militants continues.  The insurgents were forced out of the east of the city last month after 100 days of fighting.

In October, Iraqi forces, backed by the US-led international coalition, launched a campaign to retake Mosul. Last month the US-led coalition admitted to “unintentionally” killing at least 188 civilians in Syria and Iraq since 2014, when the airstrikes against Islamic State began. As of February 14, 2017, the US-led coalition had conducted a total of 18,250 strikes (11,102 Iraq / 7,148 Syria), the US Department of Defense reported.

The U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, has said he believes U.S.-backed forces will recapture both of Islamic State's major strongholds - Mosul and the city of Raqqa in Syria - within the next six months. The defense secretary's strategy review could lead to additional deployment of U.S. forces, beyond the less than 6,000 American troops deployed to both Iraq and Syria today.

Experts say the Pentagon may also look at increasing the number of attack helicopters and air strikes and bringing in more artillery, as well as granting greater authority to battlefield commanders fighting Islamic State.

Meanwhile, as Reuters adds, the future for U.S. forces in Iraq, and for Iraq's fragmented society, is unclear once the hardline Sunni group has been expelled from Mosul. Mattis told the Senate last month that the top U.S. goal in Iraq should be "to ensure that it does not become a rump state of the regime in Tehran", which has close ties with the Shi'ite political elite ruling Iraq.

A power struggle appears to be taking root between Iraq's Shi'ite leaders. Influential cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who is openly hostile to Washington's policies in the Middle East, has begun mobilizing supporters ahead of parliamentary and provincial elections.

Sadr on Monday said the government should demand the withdrawal of U.S. and allied forces after the battle of Mosul. "The Iraqi government has to demand that all occupying and so-called friendly forces leave Iraq in order to preserve the prestige and the sovereignty of the state," he said. Sadr's main rival is former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, a pro-Iranian politician re-emerging as a possible kingmaker or even for a return to the premiership itself.

With Mattis' star status in the international arena rapidly rising, and threatening to soon eclipse that of his boss, it is unclear if Trump will be content to hand over the reigns of foreign policy to his defense secretary even as Rex Tillerson seemingly struggles to decide if he is part of the Trump/Bannon or Pence/Mattis axis, or if Trump will seek to pressure the views of retired Marine Corps general into converging with his own.

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D Nyle's picture

We'll just Charge them to use our Rigs, lol

jcaz's picture

LOL- it's cute how he says that ISYS "was just formed from this vacuum we left"-  gosh, golly that just happened like, out of the blue, we had no idea this would happen....

RogerMud's picture

When somebody says that, you can be sure they mean exactly the opposite.

pods's picture

He's 100% correct. They are not going to steal their oil.

They are just going to make sure it is priced in and traded for in dollars.


Gazooks's picture

well, they can kiss that shit goodbye



RIP Petro $

Il Dottore's picture
Il Dottore (not verified) Gazooks Feb 20, 2017 10:28 AM

He's 100% correct. We are in the Middle East to satisfy Our Reigning Israeli Likudists.

Paying with our taxes, sending our soldiers.

Now call me anti semite you motherfuckers

Stainless Steel Rat's picture
Stainless Steel Rat (not verified) Il Dottore Feb 20, 2017 10:28 AM

We're not here for the oil.  We're just here to rewrite the constitution to allow 100% foreign ownership of your oil resources during the time of our provisional government.

Manthong's picture

OK, so we are in Iraq to fight terrorism.

Take the oil anyway.

TePikoElPozo's picture

still picking pozos since 1985

new game's picture

shit show carries on.  moar death and destruction. moar debt pilled on the 20 trillion. Who is in charge of this shit show? lol, not a fucking thing has changed,. ask russia, iran and china. ask the "enemies" the last three presidents created. simple shit maynard...

new game's picture

then follow the food chain to this very narrow state called the chosen people...

cheka's picture

there to protect the nyc.opec cartel

saddam was busting his quota - so had to go

the oil game is all about suppressing production -- hence a cartel was installed and is defended with war

ne-tiger's picture

Then WTF are we doing there?

brianshell's picture

Nominated for best comment.

ich1baN's picture

You guys know the saying.... old men talk, young men die... the rest is politics.

i poop pink ice cream's picture

No one can call you an "anti-semite". This is going to come as a surprise to most people but...

Most Jews alive today are NOT semites (i.e. NOT descendents of the Semitic people who lived and today live in the Middle East).


On the other hand, Palestinians ARE semites.

That means most Jews today (not Semites) are themselves ANTI-semitic because of their slavelike treatment of the Palestinians.

Oy Vey !!



Razor Burn&#039;d Capitalist's picture

Hardly anti-semite.....


I'd say just blinded by the light.


The Irony was/is the meme that it was Obama to be the next Lincoln.....always chuckled at ...CIA dont eat cash cows.


Cynicles's picture

No Rothschild central bank?

Leave the light on for the US military to fix that. 

Il Dottore's picture
Il Dottore (not verified) pods Feb 20, 2017 10:26 AM


Dugald's picture



But, as we are here, we may as well look after your oil being as what we is so good at everything we touch....riiiight?

The central planners's picture

We all already know that its about bring democracy, freedom and good ol western values. What does he think that we are ignorants. Cmon we watch CNN.

The central planners's picture

Bullshit they do it for GOD. Gold Oil and Drugs.

halcyon's picture

Mattis, GFY you lying sack of shit. At least Darth Vader (Dick Cheney) was honest about it.


HowdyDoody's picture

The original mission name was a dead giveaway - Operation Iraq Liberation.

jcaz's picture

....Not just anyone's oil- just yours....

Ignatius's picture

These wars and Iraq in particular are about Israel and the neocon agenda, not oil.

Remember "Operation Iraqi Liberation": OIL?  That's the clue that's meant to be found.  Why?  Because it throws the curious off the scent.  It makes us feel good because, being so smart you see, we can say "See, O-I-L, it's all about oil."  Then it was changed to "Operation Iraqi Freedom": O-I-F.  Like, "Oh my, we must change it else they'll think it's about oil."  Subterfuge -- they pick their acronyms VERY carefully.

The oil companies didn't falsify the Iraqi WMD intelligence, the neocons did.

I woke up's picture

Yeah right, if they are saying that you can expect the exact opposite intentions

BorisTheBlade's picture

Not quite. It is a question of terminology, the right term is not "take", but "secure". See, if oil was secure the first time, there would be no ISIS.

Pretorian's picture


HRClinton's picture

Correct. We are not stealing anything. It's not stealing, if you can jack their laws.

And don't forget that western Iraq and eastern Syria are designated transit zones for Qatari gas pipelines to Turkey. Which would reduce EU's dependence on Russian gas.

Petrodollars, oil, gas, Russia. Same as always.

SMC's picture

WTF. All the US lives lost in Iraq, fighting for lies... dying for nothing.


John C Durham's picture

That's exactly right as I witnessed those events.

Mattis isn't saying anything wrong here, however.

Ima anal sphincter's picture

Uh..... how about the 1.5 MILLION Irag citizens...... oops, I meant insurgents.

(Everyone should have the right to die of old age. Anyone who infringes on that right...... should have theirs removed.)

SMC's picture

Bullshit. Since you feel so strongly about it, I look forward to reading about how you are among the first "boots on the ground" to return.

Everyone should have the right to die of old age? Why? None of us "deserve" anything special or have any "rights" other than what we earn.

Miss Informed's picture

Why even try to be human? Just shoot the place up if you think you can get away with it. "Bring it on" said our fearless president. Maybe he should be "among the first boots on the ground".

MAGAtron's picture

Sweetie, he IS first 'boots on the ground' for our (the American people not some political party) side. And if you don't think that's putting himself at risk enough your clearly not paying attention. His 'fearlessness' may be just the result of weaponized narcissism, but he is clearly not afraid to die for the cause. We may agree or disagree with any of his ideas or methods to get where he wants us to go, but only a fool could fail to see his own personal conviction.

Miss Informed's picture

Last I heard he was teaching Sunday School in Crawford, chopping at weeds with a machete and making off kilter oil paintings. Secret Service on hand at all times. What valor! Unless you think he deserves a medal for living with extraordinary cognitive dissonance. Conviction is what he deserves not what he has.

Ima anal sphincter's picture

@SMC..... everyone has the right to be a dumb-ass. You've done a mighty fine job of exercising yours.

Miss Informed's picture

President Bush got up on the aircraft carrier with the "Mission Accomplished" banner and threw a party. It's over, we won over there. This all must be "just a few dead enders" right?

TRM's picture

We ARE here to make sure you ONLY SELL OIL FOR USA DOLLARS

orangegeek's picture

That's correct.


The less that Europe can transact, the better.

Pumpkin's picture

There to install a central bank.

steve2241's picture

What a dumbbell.  Jesus.  The taxes from some poor schmuck working in a coalmine in Kentucky pays this asshole's salary.  Take their fucking oil asshole! 

Trucker Glock's picture

"Oil?  Who said anything about oil?  You cookin', bitch?"  - Black Bush (Chappelle)

TeaClipper's picture

The companies extracting the oil give lie to this BS. Also lets talk about what happened to Iraqi and Libyan gold shall we?

illuminatus's picture

So exactly why are' we' in Iraq? And don't tell me it's to liberate those poor Iraqui people and bring them democracy.

Miss Informed's picture

Must be the "weapons of mass destruction". Still looking for them. Must be there somewhere....