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By JAMES GLANZ
New York Times
Published: July 6, 2004
HOR AL AMAYA OIL TERMINAL, Iraq, July 1 � The oil wealth that Iraq is counting on as its best hope for a stable future flows through rattling pipelines to lonely, rusting depots 15 miles offshore, so isolated that an armada of American, British and Australian warships is circling them to prevent the threat of waterborne suicide attackers.
Even little fishing dhows that ply the waters of the Persian Gulf have been guarded against, since attackers in three boats sped toward Khor al Amaya and its larger sister terminal, Al Basra, and blew themselves up on April 24.
The vulnerable site is crucial to Iraq’s economic future, and an attack could be catastrophic to the environment as well as the Iraqi oil industry, American military and industry officials say.
“Every day I tell them � I say, look, guys, in the grand scheme of things there may be no other place where our armed forces are deployed that has a greater strategic importance,” said Capt. Kurt Tidd, commander of the Fifth Fleet task force that is protecting the terminals, as he bounced over the waves on a small rigid-hulled inflatable boat toward the Khor terminal’s platform.