The International Energy Agency, the western countries’ oil watchdog, said on Friday that last month Iraq produced more than 3m barrels a day, the highest since the US-led invasion nearly a decade ago. At the same time, Iranian oil output fell below the 3m b/d level for the first time in more than 20 years, dropping to 2.9m b/d in July. Saudi Arabia, which pumped 10m b/d in July, remains Opec’s largest oil producer.
It’s not just oil production. GDP growth is also explosive, growing at 9.9 percent in 2011, which beats China and is one of the fastest growth rates in the world.But violence is also on the rise. There are assassinations, kidnappings, and bombings somewhere in Iraq almost every day. Prime Minister Maliki, ignoring his own promises to share power with other political groups, has instead arrested and intimidated his rivals. “Corruption is rampant,” writes Kevin Sullivan in a long analysis in the FT, “and people complain that bribery is the only way to get a job, a building permit or a government contract.”Has anything changed for the better after the invasion and withdrawal of American troops, and without the hated Saddam? New folks are in the seats of power in Baghdad, and there are many Iraqis who have seized the chance for a new beginning to become financially successful international businessmen and women. But many others feel nothing has changed, or even that things are worse. Electricity is scarce. Jobs are rare. Violence is a constant fear.Yet many Iraqis think the only way the country can go is up. With the oil flowing freely once again, many hope that money, jobs, electricity, and other services will begin to flow freely too.