International and oil politics behind America’s plans for Iraq and the region

Developing Just Leadership

Zafar Bangash

Ramadan 26, 1423 2002-12-01

Occupied Arab World

by Zafar Bangash (Occupied Arab World, Crescent International Vol. 31, No. 19, Ramadan, 1423)

A lethal brew of raw imperial ambition and personal greed, not the claims of US president George Bush that he intends to eliminate Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, is behind the drive for a renewed onslaught on Iraq. While Bush and his coterie of warriors are pretending to give the UN weapons inspectors a “chance” to do their work, the fact is that America’s cowboys have already decided to attack Iraq. Both Baghdad and Washington are using the time provided by the inspectors’ arrival in Baghdad on November 26 to achieve their different agendas. Iraq hopes to delay the US’s attack to a time when it will be difficult for American soldiers to operate in the oppressive desert heat, which begins to sting by early March; the Americans want the time to assemble a large enough force to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam, although the US attack is likely to use the pattern of the assault on Afghanistan last year.

In this cat-and-mouse game between Saddam and Bush, the zionists are also involved on the side of America, although their unexpected election has thrown a spanner in the plan. This, however, will merely delay the planned attack, which was conceived as much in Tel Aviv as in Washington, not prevent it. America’s zionist lobby has virtually taken over the Pentagon, and usurped large parts of American foreign and military policy decision-making processes. Such hardcore warriors as Richard Perle, chairman of the Pentagon’s Defence Policy Review Board, defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, and vice president Dick Cheney, are the leading hawks in this new crusade. Ironically, in the Bush team the most hawkish elements were draft-dodgers during the Vietnam War, including Bush himself. These latter-day warriors are being cheered on by their equally hawkish counterparts in the US media, who are projecting this war as a video game that will be a walkover. Maybe so, but only a brave soul would make a certain prediction of the future. Yet the US is determined to achieve total global domination.

This mindset was revealed yet again on September 20, when the Bush team issued its blueprint for complete domination and ceaseless military interventions. The title of the comprehensive policy statement is “The National Security Strategy of the United States.” This outlines the hawks’ ambitions for America to remain the world’s sole superpower, with political, economic and military dominance of the whole world. The stated policy of the US is to dissuade “military competition” and prevent any other world entity or union of states “from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equalling, the power of the United States.” The zionists, acting as cheerleaders for this ambition, are urging Washington to attack Iraq to fulfill its global agenda. Speaking in London, Richard Perle spelled this out when he said that if Bush did not attack Iraq he would lose face. This was a veiled warning from a well-known American zionist that Bush would lose zionist support were he to give in to anti-war pressure in the US, which is increasing steadily.

However, the zionists themselves have demonstrably failed to curb the two-year intifada in Palestine, despite resorting to lethal force and extreme brutality. Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, better known as the “Butcher of Beirut”, is a close friend of Bush, whom he advises on foreign and military matters. Sharon aims to change the Middle Eastern landscape by imposing his own agenda, which includes the expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank and Ghazzah. The ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Palestine – the “final solution” of the “Palestine problem” – would go hand-in-hand with the imposition of a US military regime in Iraq and a possible union with Jordan through confederation. Jordan has its own ambitions on Iraq, where a Hashemite monarchy was overthrown when the Ba’athists took over in a coup in 1958.

The Americans are driven by a desire to control the Middle East completely, in the manner of the British and French colonialists at the beginning of the last century. If this means overthrowing client- regimes in such places as Saudi Arabia and Jordan, because they are getting in the way of Pax Americana, then so be it. Iraq is the first stage in the new crusade of the twenty-first century because it is easy to demonise Saddam. No doubt he is a nasty creature, and few would shed any tears were he to depart from the scene, but what might follow him worries people. It is now becoming clear that, in the manner of the Afghan mercenaries of the Northern Alliance, who were bribed to overthrow the Taliban in Afghanistan, the US plans to use the Kurds of Northern Iraq.

Iraq is in effect split into three parts as a result of the allied “no-fly zones.” These have no sanction either in international law or the UN Charter, but then the US has never been constrained by legal niceties. By promising the Kurds not only greater autonomy, which they already have, but perhaps even an independent state, the US plan could cause immense turmoil in the Middle East. At a stroke it would lead to instability in Iran, Syria and Turkey, each with its own restive Kurdish population. Turkey has pursued a staunchly secular pro-US agenda, yet this may not be enough to ensure its territorial integrity. The recent victory of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) would be presented as proof that the Turks are beginning to display signs of Islamic awareness, if the US felt in need of an excuse of any sort.

Informed observers think that the US attack will probably be launched some time in mid-January. The current issue of Newsweek magazine (December 2) has outlined a possible post-Saddam scenario in Iraq. Such reports are meant to persuade the public, both at home and abroad, to believe that Saddam’s overthrow is inevitable, that it is highly desirable, and that it would serve everyone’s interests. French and Russian objections to the US-British attack against Iraq have been assuaged by American assurances that their oil interests will be protected in a post-Saddam Iraq. It is the control of oil that is fuelling America’s appetite for war. According to James Ridgeway of the New York-based Village Voice newspaper (October 15, 2002), Iraq has been supplying 9 percent of the US’s oil needs, despite the trade sanctions. “Until this spring, we were buying half of all Iraq’s oil exports,” wrote Ridgeway.

Bush has reportedly assured Russian president Vladimir Putin that Moscow will be compensated for its US$12 billion in outstanding loans to Iraq and for the $4 billion owed Moscow for transporting Iraqi oil. The French have also received private assurances that they will not lose oil concessions. “We have no operations right now, as it isn’t legally possible,” said Tomas Fell of TotalFinaElf, a giant French oil-concern that is eager to develop two fields in southern Iraq. “If we could legally operate in Iraq we would be very interested in working there.” Meanwhile, the Washington Post has reported that Ahmed Chalabi, the US state department’s favourite to replace Saddam, held meetings with executives of three American oil-giants in Washington in October. He assured them of a lion’s share in the development of Iraq’s massive oil reserves, which are second only to Saudi Arabia’s.

Another meeting of oil executives and political pundits is planned in England later this month (December). In attendance will also be Shaikh Zaki Yamani, the former Saudi oil minister. There are strong indications that part of the American strategy is to destroy the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), because it is beginning to show signs of unity and coordination and is able to exercise some control over production as well as price levels.

The attacks on Saudi Arabia in the US media, since September 11, 2001, are meant to scare the Saudi royal family into toeing the American line. The Saudis have been reluctant to endorse the US war on Iraq, insisting that they will not permit their bases to be used for any assault on Iraq. This may be designed to defuse public anger in the kingdom, where anti-American feelings are running high as a result of the rough treatment meted out to Saudi citizens in the US, as well as because of widespread sympathy for Usama bin Ladin. If the war takes place, the US will be able to force the Saudis to fall into line. The allegations of November 25 that princess Haifa al-Faisal, wife of Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, paid some of the hijackers, are meant to pile up the pressure on the Saudis. Criticism of the royal family is becoming more frequent and increasingly personal.

There is, however, another process at work. Saudi crown prince Abdullah has responded to approaches from Iran for a more balanced policy. The two OPEC giants might be extremely influential if they could coordinate their oil policy. They could cause havoc in the market if they so wish. More importantly, both understand that America is conducting a vicious campaign to dominate the entire Middle East. If Washington succeeds in its policy against Iraq, then Iran, Syria or Saudi Arabia as well as Pakistan (because of its nuclear potential) will be next in the firing line. In fact, Washington has made no secret of its intention to target Iran’s Islamic government, and Israeli zionists have already started claiming that Iran is an even “bigger threat” than Iraq. The zionists would like nothing better than to see the US attack Iran directly, because they accuse Tehran, together with Syria, of supporting Hizbullah in Lebanon and the Islamic groups fighting the occupiers of Palestine.

Meanwhile, right-wing American think-tanks are formulating various plans for the carve-up of spoils in post-Saddam Iraq. Last September Ariel Cohen of the Heritage Foundation, an extreme right-wing outfit with close links to the Bush regime, presented a plan for the distribution of Iraq’s oil, in which American companies would be major beneficiaries. In Heritage Foundation’s model, presented in “The Future of a Post-Saddam Iraq: A Blueprint for American Involvement,” Cohen suggests the privatization of Iraq’s oil industry, and warns that France, Russia and China are likely to find that an INC-led government would not honour their oil contracts.

Beyond these grandiose plans lies an even murkier agenda: the personal greed of many of Bush’s own men, such as Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. They stand to benefit personally from any war with Iraq, because companies of which they are directors and shareholders have already cornered huge contracts with the US military and oil companies. For their personal gain these men are risking the children of ordinary Americans. Their own offspring will benefit from the blood of not only countless thousands of Iraqis but also perhaps that of American citizens. Never before has a more cynical policy been put into practice than is intended for the Middle East by the current US government.

Should Bush and his minions succeed in Iraq, it is almost certain that the entire Middle East will go up in flames. As Walter Cronkite, a former CBS News anchorman, has warned, the Bush team is pushing the world towards a nuclear holocaust. Few in America, however, are paying any attention to Cronkite’s warning. This is not the kind of talk that America’s superhawks want to hear, or want to allow the American public to be permitted to hear.

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