Argentina and Britain: still at war - Macleans.ca

Argentina and Britain: still at war

The countries are still battling over ownership of the Falklands

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Argentina and Britain: still at war

Who said the Falklands War was over? Argentina and Britain are once again bickering over the Islands, with the former alleging that the latter is trying to steal oil from the disputed territory.

The conflict comes as Desire Petroleum, a British oil company, on Monday began exploratory drilling off the coast of the Falklands, where it is believed that up to 60 billion barrels of oil and 51 trillion cubic feet of gas may be trapped under the earth’s crust. Argentina claims those reserves as its own, and has become increasingly aggressive since cancelling a deal with Britain to share the development of offshore resources as a protest against British companies’ oil and gas explorations in 2007. Argentina’s government also decreed last week that any ship crossing through its waters must have a permit to reach the Falklands.

The decision is “not only a defence of Argentine sovereignty but also of all the resources” in its waters, says presidential chief of staff Anibal Fernandez. Because Argentina considers the Falklands to be within its territory, it could potentially mean a blockade of the islands.

“This is nothing new,” counters Emma Edwards, the British MLA in charge of the Falklands Islands’ oil resources. “It’s just another way they’re trying to ruin our economy.” The British government is promising to protect the sovereignty of the Falklands, and has 1,000 troops, three ships and four jets in the area. But, in the end, says Edwards, the whole kerfuffle is probably little more than a ploy to distract Argentines from a poorly performing economy and a major finance scandal involving the chief of the country’s central bank. “Whenever their economy goes south they roll out the [Falklands] issue. We’re getting quite used to it.”