The Times had an article over the weekend on the various ways Iraqi militias and insurgents skim and scam the country’s oil revenues for funding. This morning, in a delayed reaction to the piece, it occurred to me that it might explain why we don’t hear much about insurgents targetting the oil infrastructure anymore. The only dedicated reporting I could come up with was this pretty extensive listing, called Iraq Pipeline Watch, which anecdotally confirms that attacks against infrastructure seemed to taper off in the middle of last year, replaced largely by attacks against infrastructure security forces. There’s a caveat at the bottom of the page stating that the list is now only updated sporadically, but the incident reports seem to bear out the analysis for the period when it was still actively updated. But the trend, if accurate, would definitely suggets that the goal is no longer to disrupt production, but to appropriate it.
On a related note, the AP reports that the insurgency is also funding itself through the sale of looted Iraqi antiquities on the black market. As Don Rumsfeld so aptly put it, Stuff happens.