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Egypt Under Empire, Part 3: From Nasser to Mubarak

Egypt Under Empire, Part 3: From Nasser to Mubarak

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

Originally published at The Hampton Institute

Egyptians Prepare In Tahrir Square For The First Anniverary Of The Revolution

Part 1: Working Class Resistance and European Imperial Ambitions

Part 2: The “Threat” Of Arab Nationalism

Between 1952 and 2011, Egypt was ruled by three military dictators: Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak. Nasser placated labour unrest and imposed many social programs that benefited the population. Sadat subsequently began to break down the ‘social contract’ with Egyptian society, and when Mubarak came to power in 1981, the following three decades witnessed the imposition of a neoliberal order, complete with crony-capitalists, corrupted bureaucracies and a repressive police force. Three decades of increased poverty, polarized wealth and power, and increased labour unrest all laid the groundwork for the 2011 popular uprising.

As Nasser came to power in Egypt in 1952, he successfully crushed labour militancy in the country, and even executed two labour leaders as a symbol of the new regime’s lack of tolerance for radical labour actions. Nasser engaged in a power struggle for a brief period, before assuming complete power in 1954, at which point independent political organizations were banned and he “ushered in a populist-corporatist pact between labour and the state,” in which “the state controls the bulk of the economic, political, and social domains, leaving little space for society to develop itself and for interest groups to surface, compete, and act autonomously.”[1]

Labour groups were organized “into a limited number of singular, compulsory, non-competitive, hierarchically ordered and functionally differentiated categories.” In 1957, the government created the General Federation of Egyptian Trade Unions (GFETU), monopolizing labour unions under the government, purging the radical leaders and co-opting the moderates. Since this period, “trade unions have functioned as an arm of the state rather than as democratic representatives of workers.” Thus, labour activism and actions largely subsided throughout the 1950s and 60s.[2]

Despite violent repression of independent political organizations, communists and militant labour groups, Nasser became incredibly popular both within Egypt and across the wider Arab world. He established a one-party state and a large security apparatus “to crush any and all dissent.” However, his articulation and actions related to Arab nationalism and Arab socialism – the twin pillars of his ‘revolution’ – sought to free Egypt and the Arab world from imperial domination, and to undertake a social revolution domestically as “part of an informal social contract where the population accepted constraints on its political freedom in exchange for the promise of higher living standards and a stronger nation.”[3]

A large network of social services was established, which “provided employment, education and healthcare, as well as subsidized transportation and food.” This program also entailed “spending large sums of money on the military, which was seen as the protector of the nation from external enemies.” These social programs helped to “create a modern middle class” in Egypt.[4] The allegiance of the middle class to the authoritarianism of the regime was secured by the government guaranteeing state employment to all university graduates.[5]

Nasser also implemented major agrarian reforms, which between 1952 and 1961, “redistributed about one seventh of the country’s cultivable land from large landowners… passed on to the landless and near landless fellahin rather than kept for direct use by the state.” This led to an “improvement of rural incomes and agricultural production,” and attempted to undermine the influence of the large landowning class of Egyptians.[6]

With the defeat of Egypt in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Nasser’s government suffered a humiliating defeat, and Nasser’s death in 1970 led to the emergence of a new dictator, Anwar Sadat, also emerging from the military, who ruled the country from 1970 until 1981. Undertaking a policy of ‘de-nasserisation,’ Sadat sought to undo many of Nasser’s more progressive policies, earning him the favour of the West. Among such policies were to return the “confiscated” land to the large landowners within Egypt by employing an ‘open door’ market-oriented program called infitah. The intifah helped to create the conditions for a real estate and credit boom, ultimately adding to Egypt’s foreign debt as the country became increasingly dependent upon foreign financing and ‘investment.'[7]

The infitah – or “opening” – wrote Hibbard and Layton, “offered an alternative vision of economic development to that of Arab socialism;” beginning a process of liberalization and an influx of Western capital, “to integrate Egypt into the Western capitalist system.” Sadat’s policies also oversaw the gradual elimination of Nasser’s social programs and “the abandonment of Nasser’s anti-imperialism.” The country quickly became more trade dependent, having to import staple foods, and foreign financing was limited to non-productive sectors of the economy. Egypt increasingly exported its labour to the Persian Gulf, which helped to reduce the problems of unemployment at home, and increased the country’s reliance upon remittances from its foreign workers sending their wages back home. In 1974, labour remittances, oil exports, tourism, foreign aid and the Suez Canal accounted for nearly a third of Egypt’s foreign income, a number that exploded to 75% in 1980. A new commercial elite developed with extensive ties to the state, while economic inequality between the rich and the rest of society accelerated.[8]

Such policies did not occur without resistance, however, with opposition emanating from academics, state bureaucrats and workers, with strikes and “popular unrest” occurring throughout the mid-1970s, with a major transport worker strike in 1976 and large bread riots in 1977. Sadat responded to the labour unrest and food riots by sending in the military to crush the protests. Sadat oversaw the construction of an alliance between the large landowning class, the business class, and the conservative religious elite, and even sought to build ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. Further, Sadat rebuilt ties with the United States, and even established an alliance and peace treaty with Israel, negotiated by the Carter administration in the U.S. as the 1979 Camp David Peace Accords. With that, Sadat lost a great deal of popular support, and Egypt’s Islamists rejected him. Sadat was ultimately assassinated by an Islamist group in 1981.[9]

In 1981, Hosni Mubarak then took control of Egypt, also emerging from within the military and continuing the trend of maintaining the military dictatorship established since 1952, and deepening the economic ‘reforms’ begun under Sadat. Under Mubarak, the military and economic elites became more closely integrated, and with the imposition on the Emergency Law following Sadat’s assassination, Mubarak wielded more authoritarian power, suspending the constitution and dismantling the rights of citizens, also allowing for “detention without charge, press censorship and other restrictions on civil liberties.” A new – parallel – legal system was constructed, relying upon military courts, purportedly for use against ‘terrorists’ but used to persecute any and all forms of political opponents.[10]

Mubarak oversaw – during the 1980s and 1990s – a massively expanded entrenchment of neoliberal economic and social reforms in Egypt. Mubarak also pursued a major campaign against Islamists, who were making political gains with segments of the population by capitalizing on the poverty and popular anger toward the government, largely brought on as a result of the economic reforms. Mubarak’s Egypt thus became a major human rights violator, all the while receiving immense financial and military aid from Western governments, namely, the United States. The role of the security services – in particular the police forces under the control of the Interior Ministry – became more predominant throughout Mubarak’s rule, with torture and other abuses widespread.[11]

The military plays a very large role in the economy as well, and under Mubarak, military officials were appointed as regional governors, village chiefs and put in charge of state-run companies. The military itself has undertaken large land expropriations, runs companies and factories, giving it a major role to play in manufacturing, agriculture, construction, gas and consumer industries. The military, however, keeps most of its economic activities secret, and does not pay taxes while often using “conscripted labourers” for its workforce.[12]

Mubarak began to implement further ‘reforms’ to the agrarian sector along neoliberal lines during the 1980s. The Agriculture Minister Yusuf Wali began implementing agriculture sector liberalization policies in 1986, working “hand in hand with USAID and the World Bank.” The U.S. stressed “market-oriented” reforms and promoted export-led growth, as USAID invested $1.26 billion in the agricultural reforms. These reforms continued over the 1990s, and resulted in widespread dispossession of small farmers and a further alliance between economic and military-political elites.[13]

The major neoliberal reforms in Egypt arrived under Mubarak with the signing of a 1991 Economic Restructuring and Adjustment Program with the IMF, demanding liberalization of trade and prices, privatization, and labour ‘flexibility,’ as well as the removal of several social safety net measures.[14]

The ‘new economic elite’ that emerged in Egypt as a result of the IMF’s programs of the 1990s were closely tied to the ruling party, the National Democratic Party (NDP), and Mubarak’s son, Gamal, who headed the NDP. Prominent businessmen became more influential in policy-making circles and “the number of businessmen elected to Egypt’s parliament increased from 8 in 1995 to 150 by 2005.”[15] Public spending on social services was dramatically cut, state-owned industries were privatized and employees fired, resulting in “staggering hardships for the majority.”[16]

As labour was under sustained attack, they fought back, with twice as many labour protests in the 1990s than took place during the 1980s. With the 1991 IMF program, Egypt was firmly entrenched in a neoliberal ‘order,’ which would accelerate over the following two decades. Fifteen years following the IMF program’s beginning – by 2006 – Egyptian workers had been subjected to continuous hardships and exponentially increased their resistance to it.[17]

The privatization program led to the unprecedented plundering of the Egyptian economy into the hands of relatively few economic elites. Out of 314 state-run companies, 209 were privatized by 2005, “leading to a massive displacement of public sector workers, and with it a further weakening of the struggling labour movement.” The number of workers employed by public sector companies was cut in half between 1994 and 2001. The IMF praised the privatization program in 2006 for having “surpassed expectations.” Wealth and power was concentrated “in the hands of a tiny layer of the country’s elite,” and a few large conglomerates dominated the major sectors of the economy. As Henry Veltmeyer wrote, “Mubarak – and the Egyptian state as a whole – represented an entire capitalist class.”[18]

Neoliberal reforms were further implemented under Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif (2005-2011), which saw businessmen take a more direct role in managing the state, with six major government ministries being run by six major businessmen in the areas of trade and industry, housing, transportation, health, agriculture and social welfare. Taxes were dramatically cut for corporations and elites and dramatically increased for the rest of the population. Corruption and embezzlement of public funds was rampant as the privatization programs effectively subsidized “the private sector at the expense of the nation as a whole.”[19]

The costs of food, fuel and transportation skyrocketed, while Prime Minister Nazif instructed protesting Egyptians to “grow up.” Thus, in 2006, Egypt witnessed a new wave of labour unrest.[20] Independent forms of worker organization re-emerged and in 2006 alone, “there were 220 major strikes involving tens of thousands of workers in the largest strike wave that Egypt had seen in decades,” and which were increasingly linking up with peasant movements protesting against the large landowners.[21]

In 2006, a three-day strike of workers at a weaving and spinning factory in El-Mahalla was “a major turning point in the history of the Egyptian workers’ movement,” marking a total work-stoppage and for a much longer duration than strike action prior and helped in the formation of new workers associations with more democratic accountability, directly challenging the state monopoly over unions.[22]

The strike was “the largest and most politically significant industrial strike since a dispute in the same workplace in 1947,” having roughly 24,000 workers participating, with over 10,000 occupying the factory for three days and nights, and on the fourth day the government granted a concession by offering a 45-day bonus. This set off a wave of worker protests and strikes across the country over the following years. Between 2006 and 2009, an estimated 1.7 million workers participated in protest actions, including private and public industrial workers, postal workers, educational administrators, workers in transportation, tax collection, healthcare, and other sectors. The recent years of labour unrest has been referred to as “the largest social movement in over half a century” taking place within Egypt.[23]

Between 2006 and 2008, Egypt recorded annual growth rates of 7%, and in 2009 – while much of the world was experiencing negative growth – Egypt recorded a 4.6% growth rate. However, between 2008 and 2009, poverty in Egypt increased from 20% to 23.4%, while roughly 40% of Egyptians live on less than $2 per day, one-third of the population is illiterate, and youth make up roughly 90% of the unemployed. Thus, while the neoliberal reforms of the previous three decades produced high growth rates, “it has [also] led to worsening living standards for the majority of the population and the increased concentration of wealth in the hands of a tiny minority.”[24] Between 1998 and 2010, there were between 2 and 4 million workers who took part in between 3,400 and 4,000 strikes and other labour actions.[25] There were 266 strikes and labour actions in 2006, 614 in 2007, and they reached roughly 1,900 in 2009.[26]

As strikes escalated, the demands for higher wages and more democratic union representation evolved into demands for the end of the Mubarak regime (and the neoliberal reign of Prime Minister Nazif). One strike organizer in 2007 told a radio program, “We are challenging the regime.” At strikes, workers were chanting, “We will not be ruled by the World Bank! We will not be ruled by colonialism!” Images of signs at protests circulated, reading, “Down with the Government. We want a Free Government.” One strike leader who was arrested in 2007, said upon his release: “We want a change in the structure and hierarchy of the union system in this country… The way unions in this country are organized is completely wrong, from top to bottom. It is organized to make it look like our representatives have been elected, when really they are appointed by the government.”[27]

The second Palestinian Intifada in 2000 helped spawn new social movements within Egypt. The Cairo Conference was held in 2002 in an attempt to organize disparate social groups around two main shared positions: anti-neoliberalism and anti-war. In 2004, this led to the formation of the Kefaya (“Enough”), the Egyptian Movement for Change.[28] This was aided along by a major demographic change within the country, where by 2011, roughly 52% of Egypt’s population was under the age of 25, and it was this group which disproportionately lacked employment, with roughly 95% of post-secondary educated youth being unemployed or working in fields unrelated to their education with very low pay. It was this demographic which became increasingly mobilized around non-ideological movements such as Kefaya, organizing a series of anti-Mubarak protests between 2004 and 2005, demanding democracy and accountability. The younger members of this group then established the April 6 Movement, “an organization that emerged in support of the 2008 strike by textile workers in Mohalla al-Kubra.”[29]

A number of other social groups and protests organizations emerged from 2004 onwards, including Students for Change, Youth for Change, University Professors for Change, Workers for Change, Artists for Change, and the People’s Campaign for Change, among many others. In 2005, as Kefaya organized a massive anti-Mubarak protest, an organization of Egyptian intellectuals was formed as the National Assembly for Democratic Transition. Lawyers, journalists and other professions increasingly took part in protests.[30]

The April 6 Youth Movement began to support the Mahalla workers’ strike in 2008, with founder Ahmed Maher having started a Facebook page that quickly reached over 70,000 members. As support grew, the government crack down ensued, with roughly 500 activists arrested over the following two months, including Maher (who was also tortured).[31]

Since the Mubarak government made it illegal to hold meetings of more than five people, with a heavy-handed approach to information control and news censorship, Facebook and other Internet-based social media platforms quickly became very popular among young Egyptians. Roughly one in nine people in Egypt have Internet access, and 9% of those who have access used Facebook, making it the most visited website in the country, following Google and Yahoo. The Facebook page for the April 6 movement, reported the New York Times in 2009, was the page “with the most dynamic debates” among young Egyptians, “most of whom had never been involved with politics before joining the group.” The Facebook page provided a venue for young Egyptians “to assemble virtually and communicate freely about their grievances.”[32]

The United States has been a major sponsor of the Egyptian dictatorship, giving it extensive leverage with the regime. Between 1948 and 2011, the U.S. provided Egypt with a total of $71.6 billion in bilateral foreign aid (most of which consisted of an annual aid package of $1.3 billion in military aid from 1987 to present), and since the peace treaty with Israel was signed in 1979, Egypt has been the second-largest recipient of U.S. ‘aid’ in the world (after Israel).[33]

Another large international sponsor of the Egyptian dictatorship was the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which also heaped praise upon the Tunisian dictatorship of Ben Ali prior to its overthrow. In a 2010 report on Egypt, the IMF noted that the country had been following the Fund’s advice on economic reforms, though continued to recommend “phasing out energy subsidies” and increasing privatizations. The IMF further noted that, “the relationship between Egypt and the World Bank Group has been transformed and markedly improved over the last few years as a result of the progress Egypt has made in implementing reforms.”[34]

In 2010, labour unrest continued throughout the country, with one strike organizer telling the press in May of 2010, “The government represents the marriage between authority and money – and this marriage needs to be broken up… We call for the resignation of Ahmad Nazif’s government because it works only for businessmen and ignores social justice.”[35]

Egypt was clearly on the edge of an uprising, all that was required was a ‘spark’ – which came in the form of the Tunisian uprising in December of 2010 and January of 2011. With the overthrow of the long-time dictator, Ben Ali, in Tunisia, Egyptians were motivated to mobilize against Mubarak.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada. He is Project Manager of The People’s Book Project, head of the Geopolitics Division of the Hampton Institute, Research Director for Occupy.com’s Global Power Project and hosts a weekly podcast show at BoilingFrogsPost.

Notes

[1] Rabab El-Mahdi, “Labour protests in Egypt: causes and meanings,” Review of African Political Economy (Vol. 38, No. 129, September 2011), page 390.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Scott Hibbard and Azza Salama Layton, “The origins and future of Egypt’s revolt,” Journal of Islamic Law and Culture (Vol. 12, No. 3, October 2010), pages 198-199.

[4] Ibid, page 199.

[5] Rabab El-Mahdi, op. cit., page 390.

[6] Ray Bush, “Coalitions for Dispossession and Networks of Resistance? Land, Politics and Agrarian Reform in Egypt,” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (Vol. 38, No. 3, December 2011), page 395.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Scott Hibbard and Azza Salama Layton, “The origins and future of Egypt’s revolt,” Journal of Islamic Law and Culture (Vol. 12, No. 3, October 2010), page 200.

[9] Ibid, pages 200-201.

[10] Ibid, pages 201-202.

[11] Ibid, pages 202-203.

[12] Angela Joya, “The Egyptian revolution: crisis of neoliberalism and the potential for democratic politics,” Review of African Political Economy (Vol. 38, No. 129, September 2011), page 372.

[13] Ray Bush, op. cit., pages 396-397.

[14] Angela Joya, op. cit., page 370.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Scott Hibbard and Azza Salama Layton, op. cit., page 202.

[17] Rabab El-Mahdi, op. cit., page 395.

[18] Henry Veltmeyer, “Unrest and Change: Dispatches from the Frontline of a Class War in Egypt,” Globalizations (Vol. 8, No. 5, October 2011), page 612.

[19] Angela Joya, op. cit., pages 370-371.

[20] Rabab El-Mahdi, op. cit., page 395.

[21] Henry Veltmeyer, op. cit., page 612.

[22] Rabab El-Mahdi, op. cit., pages 397-399.

[23] Ibid, pages 387-388.

[24] Henry Veltmeyer, op. cit., page 611.

[25] Joel Beinin, “Egyptian Workers and January 25th: A Social Movement in Historical Context,” Social Research (Vol. 79, No. 2, Summer 2012), page 326.

[26] Ibrahim Awad, “Breaking Out of Authoritarianism: 18 Months of Political Transition in Egypt,” Constellations (Vol. 20, No. 2, 2013), page 278.

[27] Joel Beinin, op. cit., page 331.

[28] Angela Joya, op. cit., pages 368-369.

[29] Scott Hibbard and Azza Salama Layton, “The origins and future of Egypt’s revolt,” Journal of Islamic Law and Culture (Vol. 12, No. 3, October 2010), pages 206-207.

[30] Angela Joya, op. cit., page 369.

[31] Ellen Knickmeyer, “Fledgling Rebellion on Facebook Is Struck Down by Force in Egypt,” The New York Times, 18 May 2008:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/05/17/ST2008051702711.html

[32] Samantha M. Shapiro, “Revolution, Facebook-Style,” The New York Times, 22 January 2009:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/25/magazine/25bloggers-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

[33] Jeremy M. Sharp, “Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations,” Congressional Research Service, 27 June 2013: page 9.

[34] Patrick Bond, “Neoliberal threats to North Africa,” Review of African Political Economy (Vol. 38, No. 129, September 2011), pages 483-484.

[35] Joel Beinin, “Egyptian Workers and January 25th: A Social Movement in Historical Context,” Social Research (Vol. 79, No. 2, Summer 2012), page 339.

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Egypt Under Empire, Part 2: The “Threat” of Arab Nationalism

Egypt Under Empire, Part 2: The “Threat” of Arab Nationalism

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

The following is Part 2 of my series, “Egypt Under Empire,” originally posted at The Hampton Institute

Part 1: Working Class Resistance and European Imperial Ambitions

Arabnationalism

In 1945, the British agreed to renegotiate the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936, with the British seeking to protect their large military presence with their base at the Suez Canal. The negotiations had become frustrated with the Egyptians demanding the unconditional removal of all British troops, a prospect that was reviled by both the British and Americans, who were first and foremost interested in maintaining their imperial hegemony over the region.[1] One of the major threats to Western imperial domination of the Middle East and North Africa (and thus, of Asia and Africa more generally) was the “rising tide” of Arab Nationalism.

Arab Nationalism was considered a threat for a number of reasons: it presented the possibility of small countries being able to unite as a common force, chart their own paths and determine their own sovereignty, remain ‘neutral’ in the Cold War, and threaten the West’s control of the region’s oil resources and transport routes long considered vital to energy, trade, and military expansionism. In short, Arab Nationalism was a threat precisely because it presented an ‘alternative’ for the poor nations and peoples of the world to follow, an independent form of nationalism not tied to or dependent upon the imperial powers, instead seeking to unite the ‘Third World’ – with its vast natural resource wealth and strategic locations – and thus, could potentially bring the downfall of Western imperial domination of the world.

As early as 1943, in light of the massive oil reserves in Saudi Arabia, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8926 which declared that, “the defense of Saudi Arabia [is] vital to the defense of the United States.”[2] In 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt wrote a memo to the American Director of Economic Operations in the Middle East in which he made clear, “The Middle East is an area in which the United States has a vital interest.” That interest, of course, was oil. Roosevelt made clear that Middle Eastern oil belonged to the Western imperialist nations and not the Middle East itself, as he wrote that “the objective of the United States” in the Middle East “is to make certain that all nations are accorded equality of opportunity,” and that “special privileges… should not be afforded to any country or its nationals.” This was, of course, indirectly referring to France and especially Great Britain, the imperial hegemons of the Middle East at the time. The “equality of opportunity” to exploit the resources of the Middle East was simply referring to the expansion of America’s “vital interest” in the region.[3]

American interest in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East more broadly did not die with Roosevelt. His successor, Harry Truman, was just as eager to “open the door” to the Middle East. A 1945 memorandum to President Truman written by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs in the U.S. State Department, Gordon Merriam, stated: “In Saudi Arabia, where the oil resources constitute a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history, a concession covering this oil is nominally in American control.”[4] Adolf A. Berle, one of Franklin Roosevelt’s closest advisers, particularly in relation to the construction of the post-War world, years later remarked that controlling the oil reserves of the Middle East would mean obtaining “substantial control of the world.”[5]

After the British left India in 1947 and Palestine in 1948, their largest military base outside Great Britain was on Egypt at the Suez Canal Zone. Yet, in 1947, the Labour government was determined to maintain “a firm hold in the Middle East.” Bilateral talks were held between the British and the Pentagon in 1947 in which they discussed the region, some twenty countries, in which the two powers recognized the region as “vital” to their security interests and agreed to “parallel policies.” This was agreed to by the newly-formed National Security Council (NSC), though the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) were hesitant, fearful that American forces would be drawn into the Middle East at a time when the size of the forces were being decreased while the demands of the emerging empire were increasing. Thus, the JCS stipulated that the “British should continue to maintain primary responsibility for the defense of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.”[6] In 1947, even the U.S. State Department agreed that while “the security of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East… is vital to the security of the United States,” America’s security in the region depended upon the “strong strategic, political, and economic position” of Britain in the region.[7]

As the British Empire continued its decline in influence, and the Soviet Union continued its increase in influence, the Americans became especially concerned with an expanded Soviet presence in the Middle East. In the early 1950s, Secretary of State Dean Acheson sought to exert control over the region “through the coordination of American, British, and indigenous [local Arab dictator] efforts under a concept of the defense of the Middle East as a whole.” Top State Department officials presented the plan to the Pentagon, who agreed, but were hesitant to commit troops to the region, instead favouring the building up of local allies (i.e., to establish strong regional proxies), and recommended the U.S. invite Turkey into NATO in an effort to move the strategic objectives forward. President Truman promptly invited Turkey into NATO in 1951.[8]

In 1951, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State George McGhee stated, “We wish to keep the area on our side where it is clearly cooperating with us, or to bring it firmly onto our side where it is wavering.”[9] That same year, the Egyptian parliament – frustrated with the British – abrogated the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty in the face of widespread popular demands within the country, frustrating plans for a joint American and British military command of the region, which they wanted to establish within Egypt.[10]

As tensions rose, fighting broke out between British and Egyptian forces, with mass protests and unrest in the streets across the country. It was at this point that the Egyptian army’s ‘Free Officers’ intervened and orchestrated the bloodless coup in 1952.[11] The Americans were warned beforehand about the possibility of a coup, and expressed support for Nasser and the coup officers, feeling that they were “pro-Western,” though the U.S. Ambassador in Egypt added that they were “woefully ignorant of matters economic, financial, political, and international.”[12]

As the Americans sought closer ties to Egypt, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles went to meet with Nasser, who explained that any alliance with the West – built upon the concept of the Cold War’s ‘struggle’ against Communism – would require the British to leave Egypt entirely. Nasser explained that for Egyptians, the main enemy was imperialism, not communism. He told Dulles, “I would become the laughingstock of my people if I told them they now had an entirely new enemy, many thousands of miles away, and that they must forget about the British enemy occupying their territory. Nobody would take me seriously if I forgot about the British.”[13]

The United States continued to attempt to gain the favour of Nasser and the regime in Egypt, noting its strategic importance to the domination of the entire region. The CIA established ties with Nasser’s government in 1953, passing money to the regime, which Nasser (correctly) interpreted as a bribe. Nasser accepted the American approaches to his regime, hoping to keep the U.S. comfortable, though he articulated a ‘non-aligned’ position for Egypt, choosing neither the side of the Soviet Union or the U.S. in the Cold War. The Americans had to accept this position, as they were bluntly told by Nasser’s closest adviser: “You will never be able to get the oil of the Middle East if its people do not side with you… Either you win us forever, or you lose us forever.” The U.S. attempted to ‘win’ favour, by providing funding through the World Bank for the construction of the Aswan Dam.[14]

Nasser’s suspicions grew, however, when World Bank funding came with ‘conditions’ which would allow for concessions to the British and Americans, specifically regarding the Suez Canal. Nasser felt the World Bank was cooperating with “the imperialist nations,” who were getting in the way of his attempted project to build a modern society for Egypt: to achieve a social revolution. Nasser then announced an arms deal with the Soviet Bloc in 1955, prompting the US and UK to cancel their funding of the Aswan Dam.[15]

By 1956, the State Department acknowledged – in internal documents – that, “there seems little likelihood the US will be able to work with Nasser in the foreseeable future.” British Prime Minister Anthony Eden had even stated that he wanted to “destroy” Nasser. A State Department official noted in July of 1956 that, “Nasser is pursuing policies in the Near East opposed to reasonable U.S. objectives.”[16] As the U.S. ended funding for the Aswan Dam, Nasser announced that Egypt would fund the project by nationalizing the Suez Canal. The British and French were furious, with Anthony Eden cabling President Eisenhower that they had to “be ready… to use force to bring Nasser to his senses.” The French compared the nationalization of the Suez Canal to Hitler’s seizure of the Rhineland, but the Americans remained hesitant to resort to military action, fearing that undertaking such a response would ‘compromise’ their position in the region. The British and French told the Americans that “military action is necessary and inevitable,” and hoped for U.S. support.[17]

A special national intelligence estimate shared with the National Security Council in the United States noted that Nasser’s decision had “greatly strengthened his position, not only as leader of Egypt, but also as the spokesman and symbol of Arab nationalism throughout the Middle East.” The decision to nationalize the Suez Canal “has won wild acclaim from the Egyptian population, warm support from the greater part of the Arab world, and approval from the USSR.” The intelligence estimate noted: “Nasser’s action has strengthened anti-Western, anticolonial, and nationalist trends throughout the area, and if successful, will encourage future moves toward early nationalization or other action against foreign-owned oil pipelines and petroleum facilities.”[18]

Referring to Nasser’s nationalization as a “dramatic act of defiance,” the intelligence document explained that this will “have an intoxicating effect on Arab nationalist sentiment,” and subsequently, “certain Arab states may be encouraged, both by example and persuasion, to take similar anti-Western actions.” All of these threats and possible actions “would be increased in the event of intervention by Western military forces or a substantial increase in Western arms shipments to Israel.”[19]

A State Department policy paper from early August 1956 referred to Nasser as “an international political adventurer of considerable skill with clearly defined objectives that seriously threaten the Western world.” The State Department concluded: “Nasser intends to make full use of the resources of the Arab world, notably the Suez Canal and the oil, the resources and turmoil of the entire African continent, and the support of Muslims in Indonesia, China, Malaya, Siam, Burma and elsewhere” in order “to wield a power without limit.” Thus, the State Department noted, “it must be concluded that Nasser is not a leader with whom it will be possible to enter into friendly arrangements of cooperation or with whom it will be possible to make any feasible accommodations.” Nasser did not seek to become “a stooge of the Kremlin,” but rather, to take “a more ambitious” role as a “third force,” which would ultimately “be as inimical to the interests of the West as those of the Kremlin.”[20]

The State Department paper went on to acknowledge that the regional resentment of populations against the West was legitimate in the historical context of Western colonialism and empire, but that it would be necessary to prevent the region coming together, to ‘divide and conquer.’ In the policy paper’s own words, the State Department acknowledged that “the hatreds, frustrations and resentments of the people of the Middle East and Africa certainly exist and there is no easy way of dealing with the problems which they create.” Tellingly, the report continued: “it is to the interest of the West that they be dealt with as nearly separately as possible and that no leader… be permitted to merge the emotions and resources of the entire Middle East and Africa into a single onslaught against Western civilization.” Thus, the West would have to implement “policies designed to reduce… Nasser as a force in the Middle East and Africa.” The memo bluntly concluded: “it is in U.S. interests to take action to reduce Nasser’s power.”[21]

Still, however, fear of the popular reaction in the Arab, Muslim and African world prevented the United States from supporting military intervention in Egypt, as “anticolonial and anti-Western tendencies would be greatly reinforced and resentment of the continued presence of Western power elements in the Middle East would be intensified,” according to a National Intelligence Estimate.[22]

In late October of 1956, the Israelis, British and French began their attack and invasion of Egypt. In a meeting with his National Security Council, Eisenhower declared, “How could we possibly support Britain and France if in doing so we lose the whole Arab world?”[23] The United States and the USSR both publicly and internationally condemned the European-Israeli invasion of Egypt, demanded a ceasefire and a withdrawal of troops. The event was considered a victory first and foremost for Nasser’s Egypt, then for the Soviets and Americans, and a major defeat for the waning influence of the French and British in the region (and not to mention, increased hostility toward Israel, largely viewed as a Western imperial proxy in the region).

Nasser’s influence was especially increased following the Suez Crisis. Nasser’s support for nationalist movements in North Africa, particularly Algeria, increasingly became cause for concern. Pro-Western governments in the Middle East stood on unstable ground, threatened by the ever-expanding wave of Pan-Arab nationalism and indeed, Pan-African nationalism spreading from North Africa downward.

The United States, however, noting the power vacuum created by the defeat of Britain and France in the conflict, as well as the increasing support from the Soviet Union for nationalist movements in the region as elsewhere, had to decide upon a more direct strategy for maintaining dominance in the region. As President Eisenhower stated in December of 1956, as the Suez Crisis was coming to a final close, “We have no intention of standing idly by… to see the southern flank of NATO completely collapse through Communist penetration and success in the Mid East.” Secretary Dulles stated in turn, that, “we intend to make our presence more strongly felt in the Middle East.” Thus, the Eisenhower Doctrine was approved in early 1957, calling for the dispersal of “$200 million in economic and military aid and to commit armed forces to defend any country seeking assistance against international communism,” explaining that, “the existing vacuum… must be filled by the United States before it is filled by Russia.”[24]

Support for the Eisenhower doctrine in 1957 came from the pro-Western governments [aka: dictatorships] of Libya, Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, while opposition was strongest amongst Syria and Egypt. Nasser suggested that the Eisenhower Doctrine was “a device to re-establish imperial control by non-military means,” and he would thus “have nothing to do with it and felt it was directed at Egypt as much as at any communist threat.”[25]

Indeed, Nasser was correct, as internal State Department policy planning papers reflected. While a great deal of the rhetoric from internal documents and public statements was directed at dealing with the threat of ‘communism’ and the Soviet Union’s influence in the region, Nasser and Egypt figured prominently in the internal discussion among U.S. policy-makers, noting the threat of a ‘Third Force.’ Thus, as the State Department noted, “efforts to counter Soviet penetration” of the region “must include measures to… circumscribe Nasser’s power and influence.” The U.S. was adamant that it must avoid “suspicion that our aim is to dominate or control any of the countries or to reimpose British domination in a different form,” and thus, “our actions will be largely self-defeating if they create a general impression that our objective is to directly overthrow Nasser.”[26] It may be worth noting that the document said that while they wanted Nasser gone, the issue was simply that they did not want to give the “impression” (appearance) that they wanted him gone. Thus, the guise of stemming the spread of ‘communism’ became increasingly useful in a strategic context.

A National Security Council Operations Coordinating Board report from 1957 acknowledged that there had “been increasing manifestations of an awakened nationalism” in the Arab world, largely emerging in response to “a desire to end both real and imagined vestiges of the mandate and colonial periods.” Since the historic colonial powers of the region “were from Western Europe, this nationalism has assumed generally an anti-Western form” which has “created opportunities for Soviet exploitation” which has “placed the United States in a difficult position.” The “sympathy” that the United States has towards those who want to overthrow the oppressive structures of empire and domination – which is to say, the rhetoric of the American system as being supportive of democracy and liberation – often runs “into sharp conflict with actions required to maintain the strength of the Western alliance and to support our closest allies,”[27] who happen to be ruthless tyrants.

While Britain and France viewed this nationalism “as a threat to their entire position in the area,” the United States felt that while such nationalism “represents a threat to the West,” it viewed it “as an inevitable development which should be channeled, not opposed.” While acknowledging that Nasser would “remain the leader of Egypt” for some time, the objective of the United States would be to determine “the degree to which it will actively seek to curb Nasser’s influence and Egyptian activities in the Near East and Africa.”[28]

A 1958 National Security Council report on the ‘Long-Range U.S. Policy Toward the Near East’ noted that the region was “of great strategic, political, and economic importance to the Free World,” by which they meant, the Western imperial powers. This was especially true because the region “contains the greatest petroleum resources in the world and essential facilities for the transit of military forces and Free World commerce,” such as the Suez Canal. Thus, the report noted, “it is in the security interest of the United States to make every effort to insure that these resources will be available and will be used for the strengthening of the Free World,” with the added benefit of the fact that the “geographical position of the Near East makes the area a stepping-stone toward the strategic resources of Africa.”[29]

The NSC document noted that, “In the eyes of the majority of Arabs the United States appears to be opposed to the realization of the goals of Arab nationalism,” believing “that the United States is seeking to protect its interest in Near East oil by supporting the status quo and opposing political or economic progress.” The status quo, of course, was to support ruthless dictators who impoverished their populations and gave their nation’s resources over to Western imperial powers. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, has a much better reputation within the Arab world, supporting the cause of Arab nationalism without demanding the same allegiance in the Cold War struggle that the U.S. was demanding of its autocratic allies in the region. Thus, “the prestige of the United States and of the West has declined in the Near East while Soviet influence has greatly increased.” The U.S. and Soviet Union were largely divided on issues related to Israel-Palestine, Arab nationalism and self-determination, U.S. support for its “colonial” allies in Western Europe, and the “widespread belief that the United States desires to keep the Arab world disunited and is committed to work with ‘reactionary’ [i.e., authoritarian] elements to that end.”[30]

These beliefs, the report went on to note, were essentially true. The United States “supports the continued existence of Israel” and “our economic and cultural interests in the area have led not unnaturally to close U.S. relations with elements in the Arab world whose primary interest lies in the maintenance of relations with the West and the status quo in their countries,” identifying the rulers of Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Jordan as obvious examples. The report even acknowledged that the “police-state methods” employed by communist governments “seem no worse than similar methods employed by Near East regimes, including some of those supported by the United States.”[31]

Acknowledging that the region had “extremes of wealth and poverty,” the Arab people largely blamed “external factors” such as “colonialism,” and “a desire on the part of the West to keep the Arab world relatively undeveloped so that it may ultimately become a source of raw materials.” The NSC also acknowledged that because of the U.S. alliance with the Western European colonial powers through NATO, “it is impossible for us to avoid some identification” with colonialism. However, the NSC noted, “we cannot exclude the possibility of having to use force in an attempt to maintain our position in the area,” though such force may only preserve Western interests “with great difficulty.”[32]

Instead of “attempting merely to preserve the status quo,” the NSC document suggested, the United States should “seek to guide the revolutionary and nationalistic pressures throughout the area into orderly channels which will not be antagonistic to the West and which will contribute to solving the internal social, political and economic problems of the area.” However, this still required the United States to “provide military aid to friendly countries to enhance their internal security and governmental stability,” or in other words, to preserve the status quo. However, when a “pro-Western orientation is unattainable,” the document recommended to “accept neutralist policies of states in the area” and that the U.S. should “provide assistance… to such states.”[33]

In terms of the ‘threat’ posed by Pan-Arab nationalism, the NSC report recommended that the U.S. publicly proclaim “support for the ideal of Arab unity,” but to quietly “encourage a strengthening of the ties among Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Iraq” in order to “counterbalance Egypt’s preponderant position of leadership in the Arab world” to support the political and economic power of “more moderate” states such as Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Sudan and Iraq. The United States still had to “be prepared” to use force, however, in order “to reconcile vital Free World interests in the area’s petroleum resources with the rising tide of nationalism in the area.”[34]

The National Security Council Planning Board produced a report in July of 1958 which noted a difference of views within planning circles, one of which was that the U.S. “must face up to the fact that Arab nationalism is the dominant force in the Arab world, and that it has assumed a radical form symbolized by Nasser.” Further, because “we back regimes which seem out of step with it, or otherwise seek to retard its impact, we are going to appear to oppose it.” Thus, the NSC put forward one suggestion that, “we must adapt to Arab nationalism and seek to utilize it, if we are to retain more than a steadily declining influence in the Arab world.”[35]

Another view of the matter, the NSC paper articulated, was that, “because of the many disparities between our interests and the demands of radical Arab nationalism, the United States cannot afford to accommodate it,” as Nasser’s brand of Pan-Arab nationalism “may be virtually insatiable; it mat not stop its march until it has taken over large parts of Africa,” and thus, accommodation “may only bring a still more rapid loss of Western influence.” Ultimately, the NSC document noted, “if we choose to combat radical Arab nationalism and to hold Persian Gulf oil by force if necessary, a logical corollary would be to support Israel as the only strong pro-West power left in the Near East.”[36] In other words, the United States would support Israel as a buffer against the spread of Arab nationalism.

Two days after the NSC document was issued, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles stated – during a meeting of the National Security Council – that, “Arab nationalism was like an overflowing stream – you cannot stand in front of it and oppose it frontally, but you must try to keep it in bounds. We must try to prevent lasting damage to our interests in the Near East until events deflate the great Nasser hero myth,” and that “we must try to deflate that myth.” President Eisenhower chimed in during the meeting, suggesting, “we could support self-determination by the Arabs as far as the internal governments of the various countries were concerned. Since we are about to get thrown out of the area, we might as well believe in Arab nationalism.”[37]

The following month, in August of 1958, a Special National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) noted that many pro-West dictatorships in the region were experiencing major crises, such as Lebanon and Jordan (both of which the U.S. sent troops to that year), or having been overthrown (such as Iraq), or forced to make accommodations to Nasser (such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait), and thus, noted the NIE: “the Western-supported conservative governments of the Middle East have seen their influence and authority slip away.” Arab nationalism, the NIE noted, “is a movement of long standing, with great emotional appeal, aimed at a renaissance of the Arab peoples and the restoration of their sovereignty, unity, power, and prestige.” Thus, while pro-West governments publicly spoke out against Western imperialism, they continued to maintain ties to the imperial powers “because they needed Western support in order to stay in power.”[38]

The radical nationalist governments, on the other hand, “were far more distrustful of the West, more determined to eradicate the remaining Western controls over Arab political and economic life, and far more serious about achieving (rather than simply praising) the goal of Arab unity.” Further, these radical regimes “added a doctrine of social revolution and reform to the older tenets of Arab nationalism, and thus came into conflict with the traditional upper classes and social and economic systems of the Arab world on which the conservatives’ power rested.” Ultimately, the NIE noted, “it is necessary to think of Nasser and the mass of Arab nationalists as inseparable” and that “no rival is likely to challenge him unless he suffers a series of defeats.”[39]

An NSC planning board paper from late August suggested that the United States should “seek to contain radical pan-Arab nationalism from spilling out beyond the Near East and undermining other pro-Western regimes.”[40]

Indeed, few things are more frightening to imperial powers than the possibility of a good example. If a comparably small and poor country like Egypt could successfully defy the United States, France, Britain, Israel and the Soviet Union – to not become a proxy of any major power – and to chart its own path in international affairs and attempt a ‘social revolution’ at home, the rest of the world – the majority of the world being poor and living in Africa, Asia and Latin America – are paying attention. If Egypt could do it, so could they. What’s more, if the Arab countries could unite, then the African countries could unite, defying the fallacious borders carved up by European empires and creating powerful regional forces of their own.

In short, it amounts to a type of domino theory which was articulated by the Pentagon and other imperial planning bodies in the United States to justify their massive wars in Indochina and beyond, except instead of fearing the spread of Communism – with countries caving one by one (like dominos) to the appeal of the Soviet Union – the reality of the threat was much greater: a successful attempt of independent nationalism would encourage more to follow.

This is no less true today than it was when Nasser was in power. Perhaps the most important quote regarding the spread of Arab Nationalism in the 1950s – from the perspective of American imperial strategists – was when the NSC declared in 1958 that the United States should “seek to guide the revolutionary and nationalistic pressures throughout the area into orderly channels which will not be antagonistic to the West and which will contribute to solving the internal social, political and economic problems of the area.” Indeed, one could imagine such a statement appearing almost verbatim in the internal documents of the Obama administration related to Egypt’s ongoing revolution.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada. He is Project Manager of The People’s Book Project, head of the Geopolitics Division of the Hampton Institute, Research Director for Occupy.com’s Global Power Project and hosts a weekly podcast show at BoilingFrogsPost.

Notes

[1] Peter L. Hahn, “Containment and Egyptian Nationalism: The Unsuccessful Effort to Establish the Middle East Command, 1950-53,” Diplomatic History (Vol. 11, No. 1, January 1987), pages 25-26.

[2] Maurice Jr. Labelle, “‘The Only Thorn’: Early Saudi-American Relations and the Question of Palestine, 1945-1949,” Diplomatic History (Vol. 35, No. 2, April 2011), pages 259-260.

[3] Letter from President Roosevelt to James M. Landis, American Director of Economic Operations in the Middle East, Concerning the Vital Interest of the United States in the Middle East, Foreign Relations of the United States, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, 6 March 1944.

[4] Report by the Coordinating Committee of the Department of State, “Draft Memorandum to President Truman,” Foreign Relations of the United States, Diplomatic Papers, The Near East and Africa, Vol. 8, 1945, page 45.

[5] Lloyd C. Gardner, Three Kings: The Rise of an American Empire in the Middle East After World War II (The New Press, 2009), page 96; Noam Chomsky, “Is the World Too Big to Fail?” Salon, 21 April 2011: http://www.salon.com/2011/04/21/global_empire_united_states_iraq_noam_chomsky/

[6] Toru Onozawa, “Formation of American Regional Policy for the Middle East, 1950-1952: The Middle East Command Concept and Its Legacy,” Diplomatic History (Vol. 29, No. 1, January 2005), pages 120-121.

[7] Peter L. Hahn, op. cit., page 24.

[8] Ibid, pages 28-29.

[9] Toru Onozawa, op. cit., pages 125-127.

[10] Peter L. Hahn, op. cit., pages 34-35.

[11] Ibid, pages 36-39.

[12] H.W. Brands, “The Cairo-Tehran Connection in Anglo-American Rivalry in the Middle East, 1951-1953,” The International History Review (Vol. 11, No. 3, August 1989), pages 446-447.

[13] Ibid, pages 451-452.

[14] Barry Rubin, “America and the Egyptian Revolution, 1950-1957,” Political Science Quarterly (Vol. 97, No. 1, Spring 1982), pages 76-80.

[15] Amy L. S. Staples, “Seeing Diplomacy Through Bankers’ Eyes: The World Bank, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Crisis, and the Aswan High Dam,” Diplomatic History (Vol. 26, No. 3, Summer 2002), pages 410-414.

[16] Geoffrey Warner, “The United States and the Suez Crisis,” International Affairs (Vol. 67, No. 2, April 1991), pages 304-308.

[17] Ibid, pages 308-309.

[18] Document 40, “Special National Intelligence Estimate,” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1955-1957, Vol. 16, Suez Crisis, 31 July 1956.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Document 62, “Paper by the Secretary of State’s Special Assistant (Russell),” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1955-1957, Vol. 16, Suez Crisis, 4 August 1956.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Document 175, “Special National Intelligence Estimate,” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1955-1957, Vol. 16, Suez Crisis, 5 September 1956.

[23] Document 455, “Memorandum of Discussion at the 302d Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, November 1, 1956, 9 a.m.,” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1955-1957, Vol. 16, Suez Crisis, 1 November 1956.

[24] Peter L. Hahn, “Securing the Middle East: The Eisenhower Doctrine of 1957,” Presidential Studies Quarterly, (Vol. 36, No. 1, March 2006), pages 39-40.

[25] Ibid, page 41.

[26] Document 161, “Paper Prepared in the Bureau of Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs and the Policy Planning Staff,” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1955-1957, Vol. 12, Near East Region; Iran; Iraq, 5 December 1956.

[27] Document 178, “Operations Coordinating Board Report,” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1955-1957, Vol. 12, Near East Region; Iran; Iraq, 22 December 1956.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Document 5, “National Security Council Report,” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Vol. 12, Near East Region; Iraq; Iran; Arabian Peninsula, 24 January 1958.

[30 – 34] Ibid.

[35] Document 35, “Paper Prepared by the National Security Council Planning Board,” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Vol. 12, Near East Region; Iraq; Iran; Arabian Peninsula, 29 July 1958.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Document 36, “Memorandum of Discussion at the 374th Meeting of the National Security Council,” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Vol. 12, Near East Region; Iraq; Iran; Arabian Peninsula, 31 July 1958.

[38] Document 40, “Special National Intelligence Estimate,” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Vol. 12, Near East Region; Iraq; Iran; Arabian Peninsula, 12 August 1958.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Document 42, “Paper Prepared by the National Security Council Planning Board,” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Vol. 12, Near East Region; Iraq; Iran; Arabian Peninsula, 19 August 1958.

Economic Warfare and Strangling Sanctions: Punishing Iran for its “Defiance” of the United States

Economic Warfare and Strangling Sanctions: Punishing Iran for its “Defiance” of the United States

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

The economic sanctions imposed upon Iran are having the desired effect of punishing the population through hunger and economic strangulation, making life miserable for the many. As tensions increase between the “international community” (the West) and Iran, talk of war is in the air. For years, sanctions have been imposed upon Iran in an attempt to devastate its dependence upon the oil industry for 80% of its revenues. The West seeks ‘regime change,’ and we hear a never-ending proliferation of proclamations from Western leaders about respecting democratic rights and freedom for Iranians, in lambasting the Iranian government for its human rights record, portraying it as a state sponsor of terrorism, and, of course, that Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons with a stated goal of wanting to ‘wipe Israel off the map.’

The propaganda has been consistent and increasingly desperate, and the claims are dubious at best, often relegated to the realm of blatant lies. Gazing through the propaganda, however, we must ask some important questions: what are the effects and purpose of sanctions? What has Iran done to make it the primary target of Western imperialism? Why is Iran such a ‘threat’ to the ‘world’?

In December of 2006, the United Nations imposed the first of four rounds of sanctions upon Iran to keep Iran in line with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The NPT has 189 states signed onto it, including five nuclear states, all permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom – which binds nations to not develop nuclear weapons, to achieve complete disarmament of the weapons they have, and to pursue only peaceful nuclear enrichment. In 1996, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that, “the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be illegal under international law,” and would constitute a war crime.[1]

Four nuclear states remain outside of the NPT: North Korea, India, Pakistan, and Israel, the only nuclear nation in the Middle East. Under the NPT, the five nuclear states are bound by law to disarm their nuclear weapons, which of course they have not done. The United States has since the end of World War II (when it dropped two atomic bombs on Japan) additionally threatened to use nuclear weapons against nations, largely ‘Third World’ states, over thirty times, including in Korea, Vietnam, and more recently, Iran.[2]

George Bush rapidly expanded the United States’ development of nuclear weapons and even included nuclear ‘first-strike’ options in military and strategic plans, all of which was in gross violation of international law.[3] When Obama became president, he delivered a speech in Prague announcing “America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” The following year Obama signed an agreement with Russia (the START Treaty) which planned for a 30% reduction in nuclear weapons by 2020, limiting their deployed warheads to 1,550.[4] In other words, it reflected ‘the illusion of progress’ in small, incremental, long-term and largely toothless efforts to reduce the nuclear arsenals. Imagine yourself and another individual each have three guns and eighteen bullets, but then you sign an agreement stipulating that in seven years, you will have two guns and twelve bullets… are you now safer from the risk of being shot or shooting someone else? It only takes one bullet, one gun, to kill a person. So too does it only take one nuclear weapon, one delivery system, to kill millions.

Immediately thereafter, Obama then pledged “to spend $180 billion dollars over the next 10 years to upgrade and modernize the nuclear weapons complex so that more weapons can be produced if necessary.” In May of 2010, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference took place in New York City, attempting to reaffirm the three pillar agreement aimed at: non-proliferation, disarmament, and peaceful nuclear energy. The Non-Nuclear Weapons States (NNWS) pushed for a 2025 deadline for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, which was of course dashed by the nuclear states, which instead agreed to “accelerate concrete progress” toward disarmament, essentially, a meaningless statement. The Final Report, however, emphasized, much to the distaste of the United States, “the importance of Israel’s accession to the Treaty and the placement of all its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards,” and called for the creation of a 2012 “nuclear-free zone in the Middle East in an attempt to pressure Israel to relinquish its undeclared nuclear arsenal.” Iran has expressed support for a nuclear-free Middle East and is a signatory to the NPT, though Israel refused to participate in the NPT. The United States of course responded to the singling out of Israel and omission of Iran as “deplorable,” and National Security Adviser James L. Jones stated that, “because of the gratuitous way that Israel has been singled out, the prospect for a conference in 2012 that involves all key states in the region is now in doubt and will remain so until all are assured that it can operate in a unbiased and constructive way.”[5]

While the United States is in violation of the NPT, and Israel is not even a signatory, Iran is actually in compliance with the NPT. In 2005, the United States National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), compiled by all sixteen U.S. intelligence agencies (yes, there are sixteen of them!), stipulated that, “even if Iran decided it wanted to make a nuclear weapon, it was unlikely before five to ten years, and that producing enough fissile material would be impossible even in five years.” A 2007 NIE stated, “with high confidence that in fall 2003 Tehran halted its nuclear weapons programme … Tehran had not started its nuclear weapons programme as of mid-2007.” Further, the NIE admitted that, “we do not know whether [Iran] currently intends to develop nuclear weapons.” The nuclear watchdog of the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) consistently issued reports declaring it found no evidence of nuclear weapons facilities upon its inspections inside Iran, and referred to such accusations as “outrageous and dishonest.”[6]

One may assume, however, that this is old news, and things may have changed since 2007. U.S. Secretary of Defense and former CIA Director Leon Panetta stated in an interview in January of 2012, “Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No. But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability. And that’s what concerns us.” Panetta added, of course, “I think the international strategy here, and this really has been an international strategy to apply sanctions, to apply diplomatic pressure on them, to try to convince Iran that if… they want to do what’s right, they need to join the international family of nations and act in a responsible way.” He added, “”I think the pressure of the sanctions, I think the pressure of diplomatic pressures from everywhere — Europe, United States, elsewhere — is working to put pressure on them, to make them understand that they cannot continue to do what they’re doing.” And of course, what’s a statement on Iran without the additional threat of reaffirming that the United States does not “take any option off the table.”[7] James Clapper, the Director of the National Intelligence Council (which oversees all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies), stated on 31 January 2012 that, “We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.”[8]

In November of 2011, the IAEA released a new assessment of Iran’s nuclear capabilities, which was quickly grasped onto by the Western media and politicians as evidence that past reports were wrong and that Iran was seeking to develop nuclear weapons. CNN had a headline, “IAEA report to detail efforts by Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.”[9] The Wall Street Journal described it as the “most detailed assessment to date about Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons,” and claimed that, “It lays to rest the fantasies that an Iranian bomb is many years off, or that the intelligence is riddled with holes and doubts, or that the regime’s intentions can’t be guessed by their activities.”[10]

In reality, however, analysts who actually studied the report instead of repeating politically-motivated statements derived from politically-blinding interpretations, stated that, “There is nothing in the report that was not previously known by the major powers.” In regards to nuclear weapons capabilities mentioned in the report, the bulk of the report, noted Julian Borger in the Guardian, “is historical, referring to the years leading up to 2003.” So while the report acknowledged, as earlier reports did, that there was a weapons program up until 2003, it also again acknowledged that it was stopped that same year.[11] A nuclear Iran, therefore, was “neither imminent nor inevitable,” and there “has been no smoking gun when it comes to Iran’s nuclear weapons intentions,” regardless of the absurdities of the Wall Street Journal.[12]

Since 2006, the United Nations Security Council has imposed four sets of sanctions on Iran in Resolutions 1737, 1747, 1803 and 1929, which “seek to make it more difficult for Iran to acquire equipment, technology and finance to support its nuclear activities. They ban the sale to Iran of materiel and technology related to nuclear enrichment and heavy-water activities and ballistic missile development, restrict dealings with certain Iranian banks and individuals, stop the sale of major arms systems to Iran (Russia has cancelled the sale of an anti-aircraft missile system) and allow some inspections of air and sea cargoes.”[13]

On March 5, 2012, the IAEA chief, Yukiya Amano, said he had “serious concerns” over Iran’s nuclear program and its ambitions.[14] It’s interesting to note, however, that in a ‘Confidential’ diplomatic cable from the U.S. State Department in 2009, American diplomats discussed Amano’s appointment to head the IAEA, and stated that he “displayed remarkable congruence of views with us on conducting the Agency’s missions,” and speaking to an American Ambassador, Amano “thanked the U.S. for having supported his candidacy and took pains to emphasize his support for U.S. strategic objectives for the Agency.” Though, Amano informed the Ambassador, “that he would need to make concessions to the G-77, which correctly required him to be fair-minded and independent, but that he was solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.”[15]

So, as Amano emphasized that he would need to “make concessions to the G-77” in an attempt to present himself as “fair-minded and independent,” it should be asked: what is the G-77 and why is it a cause for concern? The G-77 is a group of ‘developing’ nations, organized as a coalition of nations at the UN, originally composed of 77 nations upon its founding in 1964, but today consisting of roughly 132 member countries, essentially consisting of the entire ‘Global South’ – Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Closely related to the G-77 is the Non Aligned Movement (NAM), a grouping of countries that consider themselves to not be aligned with any one power bloc in the world, founded in 1961, now with 120 members and 17 observer nations, largely overlapped with that of the G-77, again representative of the majority of the world’s population.

Why are these organizations significant in relation to Iran? The answer is simple: they support Iran and it’s right to peaceful nuclear development. In 2006, the Non Aligned Movement called the United States “a grave threat to world peace and security,” explaining that the U.S. “is attempting to deprive other countries of even their legitimate right to peaceful nuclear activities.”[16] That same year, Iran received the support of the G-77 in pursuit of peaceful nuclear ambitions, as stipulated in the NPT.[17] In 2008, the NAM “backed Iran’s right to peaceful uses of nuclear power,” which was obviously contradictory to the “claims that most of the international community wanted Iran to stop enrichment.”[18]

In 2010, as the United States was attempting to secure support for sanctions against Iran from Brazil, one of the fastest growing economies and most admired countries of the non-aligned world, Brazil, under the leadership of Lula da Silva, came out in support of Iran’s nuclear program. As one Brazilian diplomat stated, “When Brazil looks at Iran it doesn’t only see Iran, it sees Brazil too.”[19] The New York Times then described this move to block sanctions against Iran as a “Spot on Brazilian Leader’s Legacy.” This was because Turkey and Brazil reached a deal with Iran to exchange uranium, which was described by the UN as “a step toward a negotiated settlement.” So, naturally, the move was attacked by the Western powers and their media stenographers.[20]

A 2010 public opinion poll of the Arab world indicated that 57% of those polled felt that if Iran acquired nuclear weapons, it would be good for the stability of the Middle East. On top of that, 77% of respondents felt that Iran had a right to its nuclear program, which was especially high in Egypt, which polled at 97% in favour of Iran pursuing its right to a nuclear program, followed by Jordan at 94%. If Iran acquired nuclear weapons, 82% of Egyptians polled believed it would be beneficial for the Middle East. The two countries which were polled as posing the greatest threat to the Middle East were Israel at 88% and the United States at 77%, while Iran was viewed as a one of the two major threats to the region by only 10% of respondents, equal to those who viewed Algeria as a major threat.[21]

A follow up poll in 2011 indicated that Iran increased as one of the region’s two major perceived threats, from 10% to 18%. From those polled, 64% said that Iran had a right to its nuclear program, while 25% felt that it would be a positive thing for the Middle East if Iran had nuclear weapons. While Iran was seen as one of the major threats to the region, with 18%, Israel remained as the largest threat at 71% and the United States at 59%. Mahmoud Ahmadinajad was tied for second as the most admired world leader tied with Hasaan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah at 13%, while Turkey’s leader Recep Erdogan got first place with 22%. Meanwhile, Barack Obama received 4%, falling below King Saud, Saddam Hussein, and Hugo Chavez, but just above Fidel Castro.[22]

The main solution that isn’t being discussed, however, was the one agreed to at the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review in establishing a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. In a major poll of Israeli public opinion, less than half of Israelis support a strike on Iran, while 65% said it would be better if neither Israel nor Iran had a nuclear weapon, with 64% supporting the idea of a nuclear free zone in the region, which would mean Israel giving up its nuclear weapons. 60% of Israelis also favoured “a system of full international inspections” of the country’s nuclear arsenal, “as a step toward regional disarmament.”[23]

So what is the threat posed by Iran, if not that of nuclear weapons?

In 2010, the Pentagon’s report to Congress stressed that Iran’s strategy in the region was not one of aggression, as our media and politicians would have us believe, but in fact, was a “deterrent strategy.” The report stated, “Iran’s nuclear program and its willingness to keep open the possibility of developing nuclear weapons is a central part of its deterrent strategy.” The U.S. approach to Iran, then, “remains centered on preventing it from obtaining nuclear weapons and on countering Iran’s influence in the Middle East.”[24] Iran itself has claimed that it “pursues a defensive and deterrent strategy.”[25] Why is the concept of ‘deterrence’ so important? As the United States and Israel continually frame Iran as being a “destabilizing” force in the region, they portray Iran as an aggressor and threat to security and stability with desires for regional domination and the destruction of entire nations. The fact that the Pentagon itself admits that Iran’s strategy is one of “deterrence” stipulates that Iran does not desire domination, but defense. So why is this a threat? It’s simple: America is the global empire, and as such, it has an assumed ‘right’ to dominate the entire world. Thus, the prospect of a nation “defending” itself or establishing a “deterrent” capability directly threatens American political-strategic and economic dominance of the entire world.

There is an important imperial concept to understand here: namely, the threat of a good example. This is a concept which is as old as empire, quite literally, and manifests itself in the concept that any nation which defies the empire has the ability to “set a good example” for other nations to defy the empire. This “threat” is all the greater if the nation is smaller and seemingly more insignificant, for if even a tiny little nation can successfully defy the empire, any nation could do it.

An excellent example of this concept is with Cuba. The Cuban Revolution in 1959 threw out the American puppet dictator and the monopoly of industry and banking held by Morgan and Rockefeller interests. The main problem with Cuba to the United States was not that it was Communist, per se, but, as explained in a 1960 National Intelligence Estimate, Cuba provided “a highly exploitable example of revolutionary achievement and successful defiance of the US.”[26]

Since the United States seemed unable to overthrow Castro through covert military means, it was decided to use sanctions. Castro, however, had widespread popular support, and as Under Secretary of State Douglas Dillon feared at the time the Eisenhower administration was discussing the possibility of sanctions, they “would have a serious effect on the Cuban people.” However, he quickly changed his mind about caring about the Cuban people, and stated, “we need not be so careful about actions of this kind, since the Cuban people [are] responsible for the regime.” As the Assistant Secretary of State, Rubottom, added, “We have gone as far as we can in trying to distinguish between the Cuban people and their present government, much as we sympathize with the plight of what we believe to be the great majority of Cubans.” The sanctions imposed on Cuba were not designed to affect the regime directly, but rather to subject the Cuban population to hardship in the hopes that it would destroy Castro’s popular support and they would overthrow the regime. President Eisenhower remarked that, “if [the Cuban people] are hungry, they will throw Castro out.” The “primary objective” of the sanctions, explained Eisenhower, was “to establish conditions which will bring home to the Cuban people the cost of Castro’s policies and of his Soviet orientation.” CIA Director Allen Dulles added that, “a change in the sentiment of the lower classes… would only occur over a long period of time, probably as a result of economic difficulties.” Thomas Mann, the Assistant Secretary of State, agreed, explaining that sanctions would “exert a serious pressure on the Cuban economy and contribute to the growing dissatisfaction and unrest in the country.”[27]

President Kennedy continued with this line of thinking, feeling that the embargo on Cuba would rid the country of Castro as a result of the “rising discomfort among hungry Cubans.” General Edward Lansdale, who was responsible for managing covert operations against Cuba, explained that the objective of the covert operations were “to bring about the revolt of the Cuban people,” and that these actions were to “be assisted by economic warfare.” The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Lester Mallory declared that, “The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support… is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship.” And thus, Mallory continued, “every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba” in order “to bring about hunger, desperation and [the] overthrow of the government.” The Assistant Secretary of State Rubottom added that the approach was designed “in order to engender more public discomfort and discontent and thereby to expose to the Cuban masses Castro’s responsibility for mishandling their affairs.”[28]

Nowhere are the devastating effects of sanctions more evident than in Iraq, between 1990 and 2000. The embargo “was intended to prevent anything from getting through to Iraq,” and “appeared to support the contention that the UNSC [United Nations Security Council] was using famine and starvation as potential weapons to force Iraq into submission.” These sanctions which began in 1990, were quickly followed up with the U.S. attack on Iraq in 1991, which destroyed Iraq’s entire infrastructure.[29] Margaret Thatcher explained the objectives of the American and British assault against Iraq in 1991, stating that the objective was “not to limit things to a withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait but to inflict a devastating blow at Iraq, ‘to break the back’ of Saddam and destroy the entire military, and perhaps industrial, potential of that country.”[30]

After the Gulf War, more sanctions were imposed upon Iraq, lasting the rest of the decade, and resulting in the deaths of roughly 1.5 million Iraqis, 500,000 of which were children.[31] The New York Times was an ardent supporter of the sanctions, even stating that the UN “had enjoyed one of its greatest successes in Iraq.”[32] Denis Halliday, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq overseeing the sanctions program resigned in 1998, calling the sanctions “a totally bankrupt concept” which “probably strengthens the leadership and further weakens the people of the country.” Upon his resignation, Halliday stated, “Four thousand to five thousand children are dying unnecessarily every month due to the impact of sanctions because of the breakdown of water and sanitation, inadequate diet and the bad internal health situation.”[33] Just over a year later, Hans von Sponeck, Halliday’s replacement as UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, resigned in protest “at the impact of the sanctions on the civilian population.” The following day, another high UN official, the head of the UN World Food Program in Iraq, Jutta Purghart, resigned in protest.[34]

Madeleine Albright, who was Secretary of State and prior to that, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations during the Clinton administration, was thus at the centre of the decisions and policies to place sanctions on Iraq. When she was asked in an interview if the deaths of over half a million Iraqi children were worth the price of sanctions, Albright replied, “This is a very hard choice, but we think the price is worth it.”[35]

In February of 2012, the United States and the European Union imposed new sanctions on Iran targeting its oil sales. Between 2006 and 2010, the United Nations had imposed four sets of sanctions on Iran, including “a ban on the supply of heavy weaponry and nuclear-related technology to Iran, a block on Iranian arms exports, and an asset freeze on key individuals and companies. Resolution 1929, passed in 2010, mandates cargo inspections to detect and stop Iran’s acquisition of illicit materials.” In late January of 2012, the EU “approved a ban on imports of Iranian crude oil, a freeze of assets belonging to the Central Bank of Iran, and a ban all trade in gold and other precious metals with the bank and other public bodies,” and “agreed to phase in the oil embargo.”[36]

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner went to Japan to attempt to pressure the Japanese to reduce their oil imports from Iran, as well as applying pressure on the Chinese to do the same. Japan relies upon Iran for 10% of its oil imports, and is the second largest customer for Iranian oil in the world, accounting for 17% of Iranian oil exports. China, the primary customer for Iranian oil, accounts for 20% of Iranian exports, India in third place with 16%, followed by Italy at 10%, South Korea at 9%, and 28% to other areas.[37] China, however, continues to oppose trade sanctions on Iranian oil.[38]

In response to the sanctions on Iran, Saudi Arabia has increased its output oil production levels to a level not seen since the late 1970s, in an attempt to balance the global supply of oil. As one oil industry analyst explained, “Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are already close to their maximum production level, so it will all be up to Saudi Arabia.”[39] Meanwhile, Iran is struggling to find new customers to purchase roughly 500,000 barrels of oil a day to make up for the loss of exports due to sanctions, what amounts to nearly 25% of Iran’s exports in 2011.[40]

Oil is an important resource to control if a nation, like the United States, seeks to dominate the entire world. A 1945 memorandum to President Truman written by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs in the U.S. State Department, Gordon Merriam, stated: “In Saudi Arabia, where the oil resources constitute a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history, a concession covering this oil is nominally in American control.”[41] Adolf A. Berle, one of Franklin Roosevelt’s closest advisers, particularly in relation to the construction of the post-War world, years later remarked that controlling the oil reserves of the Middle East would mean obtaining “substantial control of the world.”[42]

As sanctions kicked in for Iran, the country immediately began to struggle to pay for basic food imports, such as “rice, cooking oil and other staples to feed its 74 million people.” The sanctions, thus, are “having a real impact on the streets of Iran, where prices for basic foodstuffs are soaring.” In early February, Malaysian exports of palm oil – “the source of half of Iran’s consumption of a food staple used to make margarine and confectionary” – was stopped due to Iran apparently being unable to pay for the imports. Iran had also defaulted on payments for rice from India, its top supplier of the staple food, and Ukrainian shipments of maize were cut in half.[43] Iran has now been attempting to purchase large quantities of wheat to stock up on food supplies as the sanctions will further wreak havoc on the economy.[44]

In the days of the British colonial empire, there was a saying in the diplomatic circles, “Keep the Persians hungry, and the Arabs fat.” Sanctions on Iran, explained the New York Times, “are turning into a form of collective punishment,” which while supposedly designed to deter Iran’s nuclear ambitions, tends to reflect the idea that “Western politicians also seem to believe that punishing the Iranian people might lead them to blame their own government for their misery and take it upon themselves to force a change in the regime’s behavior, or even a change in the regime itself,” just as was desired in Cuba. In fact, the sanctions, just as in Cuba, negatively effect the very middle class and pro-Western population which the West seeks to urge to overthrow the prevailing regime. Just as in Cuba then, it is likely that the result will be emigration out of the country by the middle class, strengthening the regime in power, and punishing the population into hunger.[45]

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada, writing on a number of social, political, economic, and historical issues. He is also Project Manager of The People’s Book Project. He also hosts a weekly podcast show, “Empire, Power, and People,” on BoilingFrogsPost.com.

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Notes

[1]            Ronald C. Kramer and Elizabeth A. Bradshaw, “US State Crimes Related to Nuclear Weapons: Is There Hope for Change in the Obama Administration?” International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice (Vol. 35, No. 3, August 2011), pages 245-246.

[2]            Ibid, page 246.

[3]            Ibid, pages 248-249.

[4]            Ibid, pages 249-250.

[5]            Ibid, pages 250-252.

[6]            Phyllis Bennis, “We’ve seen the threats against Iran before,” Al-Jazeera, 18 February 2012: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/02/201221510012473174.html

[7]            Kevin Hechtkopf, “Panetta: Iran cannot develop nukes, block strait,” CBS News, 8 January 2012: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3460_162-57354645/panetta-iran-cannot-develop-nukes-block-strait/

[8]            Tabassum Zakaria, “Iran may or may not be building nuclear weapon, but they’re keeping their options open: U.S. intelligence chief,” The National Post, 31 January 2012: http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/01/31/iran-may-or-may-not-be-building-nuclear-weapon-but-theyre-keeping-their-options-open-u-s-spy-chief/

[9]            Elise Labott, “IAEA report to detail efforts by Iran to develop a nuclear weapon,” CNN, 6 November 2011: http://articles.cnn.com/2011-11-07/middleeast/world_meast_iran-iaea-report_1_nuclear-weapon-iranian-nuclear-facilities-nuclear-program?_s=PM:MIDDLEEAST

[10]            Opinion, “If Iran Gets the Bomb,” The Wall Street Journal, 10 November 2011: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204224604577027842025797760.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

[11]            Julian Borger, “The IAEA report: what does it really mean and will it lead to war with Iran?”, The Guardian, 9 November 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/julian-borger-global-security-blog/2011/nov/09/iaea-nuclear-iran-israel1

[12]            Greg Thielmann and Benjamin Loehrke, “Chain reaction: How the media has misread the IAEA’s report on Iran,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 23 November 2011:

http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/features/chain-reaction-how-the-media-has-misread-the-iaeas-report-iran

[13]            BBC, “Q&A: Iran nuclear issue,” BBC News, 23 January 2012: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-11709428

[14]            Alex Spillius, “Iran: watchdog says suspicious activities continue at blocked sites,” The Telegraph, 5 March 2012:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/9124478/Iran-watchdog-says-suspicious-activities-continue-at-blocked-sites.html

[15]            US Embassy Cables, “New UN chief is ‘director general of all states, but in agreement with us’,” The Guardian, 2 December 2012:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/230076

[16]            CBC, “Non-aligned nations slam U.S.,” CBC News, 16 September 2006:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2006/09/16/nonalign.html

[17]            JESSICA T. MATHEWS, “Speaking to Tehran, With One Voice,” The New York Times, 21 March 2006:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/21/opinion/21mathews.html

[18]            World Briefing, “Nations back right to nuclear power,” The Chicago Tribune, 31 July 2008:
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2008-07-31/news/0807300925_1_nuclear-program-freeze-uranium-enrichment-nuclear-power

[19]            ALEXEI BARRIONUEVO and GINGER THOMPSON, “Brazil’s Iran Diplomacy Worries U.S. Officials,” The New York Times, 14 May 2010:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/15/world/americas/15lula.html

[20]            ALEXEI BARRIONUEVO, “Iran Deal Seen as Spot on Brazilian Leader’s Legacy,” The New York Times, 24 March 2010:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/25/world/americas/25brazil.html

[21]            2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll: Results of Arab Opinion Survey Conducted June 29-July 20, 2010, The Brookings Institution, 5 August 2010:

http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2010/0805_arab_opinion_poll_telhami.aspx

[22]            The 2011 Arab Public Opinion Poll, The Brookings Institution, 21 November 2011:

http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2011/1121_arab_public_opinion_telhami.aspx

[23]            SHIBLEY TELHAMI and STEVEN KULL, “Preventing a Nuclear Iran, Peacefully,” The New York Times, 15 January 2012:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/16/opinion/preventing-a-nuclear-iran-peacefully.html?_r=2&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

[24]            John J. Kruzel, “Report to Congress Outlines Iranian Threats,” American Forces Press Service, 20 April 2010:

http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=58833

[25]            Press TV, “’Iran pursues deterrent defense strategy’,” Press TV, 22 September 2011:
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/200611.html

[26]            Document 620. Special National Intelligence Estimate, “Prospects for the Castro Regime,” 8 December 1960.

[27]            Louis A. Pérez, Jr., “Fear and Loathing of Fidel Castro: Sources of US Policy Towards Cuba,” Journal of Latin American Studies (Vol. 34, No. 2, May 2002), pages 240-241.

[28]            Ibid, pages 241-242.

[29]            Abbas Alnasrawi, “Iraq: Economic Sanctions and Consequences, 1990-2000,” Third World Quarterly (Vol. 22, No. 2, April 2001), pages 208-209.

[30]            Yevgeni Primakov, “The Inside Story of Moscow’s Quest For a Deal,” Time Magazine, 4 March 1991.

[31]            Abbas Alnasrawi, “Iraq: Economic Sanctions and Consequences, 1990-2000,” Third World Quarterly (Vol. 22, No. 2, April 2001), page 214.

[32]            Brian Michael Goss, “‘Deeply Concerned About the Welfare of the Iraqi People’: The Sanctions Regime Against Iraq in the New York Times (1996-98),” Journalism Studies (Vol. 3, No. 1, 2002), page 88.

[33]            Patrick Cockburn, “UN aid chief resigns over Iraq sanctions,” The Independent, 1 October 1998:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/un-aid-chief-resigns-over-iraq-sanctions-1175447.html

[34]            Ewen MacAskill, “Second official quits UN Iraq team,” The Guardian, 16 February 2011:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2000/feb/16/iraq.unitednations

[35]            John Pilger, “Squeezed to Death,” The Guardian, 4 March 2000:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2000/mar/04/weekend7.weekend9

[36]            BBC, “Q&A: Iran sanctions,” BBC News, 6 February 2012:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-15983302

[37]            BBC, Japan ‘to reduce Iran oil imports’, BBC News, 12 January 2012:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-16523422

[38]            Bloomberg News, “Iran Sanctions Don’t Determine China’s Oil Needs, Official Says,” Bloomberg, 4 March 2012:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-04/iran-sanctions-don-t-determine-china-s-oil-needs-official-says.html

[39]            Javier Blas and Jack Farchy, “Iran sanctions put Saudi oil output capacity to the test,” The Financial Times, 29 February 2012:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/66031696-62ef-11e1-b837-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1oGemzKru

[40]            JAVIER BLAS AND NAJMEH BOZORGMEHR, “Iran struggles to find new oil customers,” The Globe and Mail, 20 February 2012:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/iran-struggles-to-find-new-oil-customers/article2343996/

[41]            Report by the Coordinating Committee of the Department of State, “Draft Memorandum to President Truman,” Foreign Relations of the United States, Diplomatic Papers, The Near East and Africa, Vol. 8, 1945, page 45.

[42]            Lloyd C. Gardner, Three Kings: The Rise of an American Empire in the Middle East After World War II (The New Press, 2009), page 96; Noam Chomsky, “Is the World Too Big to Fail?” Salon, 21 April 2011: http://www.salon.com/2011/04/21/global_empire_united_states_iraq_noam_chomsky/

[43]            Reuters, “Iran struggles to pay for basic foods as sanctions kick in,” Irish Times, 9 February 2012: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2012/0209/1224311519827.html

[44]            Michael Hogan, “Iran in talks to buy Russian, Indian wheat,” Reuters, 5 March 2012:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/05/grain-iran-idUSL5E8E593J20120305

[45]            Hooman Majd, “Starving Iran Won’t Free It,” The New York Times, 2 March 2012:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/03/opinion/starving-iran-wont-free-it.html

 

The U.S. Strategy to Control Middle Eastern Oil: “One of the Greatest Material Prizes in World History”

The U.S. Strategy to Control Middle Eastern Oil: “One of the Greatest Material Prizes in World History”

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

NOTE: The following is a research sample from The People’s Book Project. It is unedited and in draft format, but is intended as an excerpt of some of the research that is going into the book. This research sample is drawn from a recently written chapter on the history of American imperialism in the Middle East and North Africa. Please support The People’s Book Project by contributing a donation to The People’s Grant to reach the target goal of $1,600 to fund two major chapters in the book on a radical history of race and poverty.

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In the midst of World War II, Saudi Arabia secured a position of enormous significance to the rising world power, America. With its oil reserves essentially untapped, the House of Saud became a strategic ally of immense importance, “a matter of national security, nourishing U.S. military might and enhancing the potentiality of postwar American hegemony.” Saudi Arabia welcomed the American interest as it sought to distance itself from its former imperial master, Britain, which it viewed with suspicion as the British established Hashemite kingdoms in the Middle East – the old rivals of the Saudis – in Jordan and Iraq.[1]

The Saudi monarch, Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman al Saud had to contend not only with the reality of Arab nationalism spreading across the Arab world (something which he would have to rhetorically support to legitimate his rule, but strategically maneuver through in order to maintain his rule), but he would also play off the United States and Great Britain against one another to try to ensure a better deal for ‘the Kingdom’, and ensure that his rivals – the Hashemites – in Jordan and Iraq did not spread their influence across the region. Amir (King) Abdullah of Transjordan – the primary rival to the Saudi king – sought to establish a “Greater Syria” following World War II, which would include Transjordan, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine, and not to mention, the Hejaz province in Saudi Arabia. The image and potential of a “Greater Syria” was central in the mind of King Abdul Aziz. The means through which the House of Saud would seek to prevent such a maneuver and protect the ‘Kingdom’ was to seek Western protection. As the United States had extensive oil interests in the Kingdom, it seemed a natural corollary that the United States government should become the ‘protector’ of Saudi Arabia, especially since the British, long the primary imperial hegemon of the region (with France a close second), had put in place the Hashemites in Transjordan and Iraq.[2] For the Saudis, the British could not be trusted.

The Saudi King rose to power and established the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1927 and made formal ties with the United States in 1931. An oil concession was soon granted to the Rockefeller-owned Standard Oil of California, and thereafter, large quantities of oil were discovered in the Kingdom, thus increasing the importance of the Saudi monarch. This was especially true during World War II, when access to and control over petroleum reserves were of the utmost importance in determining the course of the war. In 1943, President Franklin Roosevelt acknowledged as much when he signed Executive Order 8926, which stated that, “the defense of Saudi Arabia [is] vital to the defense of the United States.”[3] United States Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, several months earlier, suggested to President Roosevelt that the United States be more involved in organizing oil concessions in Saudi Arabia not only for the war effort, but “to counteract certain known activities of a foreign power which presently are jeopardizing American interests in Arabian oil reserves.” That “foreign power” was Great Britain. In fact, there was immense distrust of British intentions in the Middle East, and specifically in Saudi Arabia, on the part of the State Department’s Division of Near East Affairs (NEA). A great deal of this tension and antagonism, however, emerged from Saudi diplomacy which sought to play off the two great powers against one another in the hopes of securing for itself a better deal.[4]

Anthony Eden, the British Foreign Secretary (and later Prime Minister), wrote to Prime Minister Winston Churchill in September of 1943 that, “our difficulty is to keep the Americans in line,” in relation to Saudi Arabia. As Roosevelt’s Executive Order categorized Saudi Arabia as “vital to the defense of the United States,” this allowed Saudi Arabia to qualify for the Lend-Lease program during the war, reducing Saudi dependency upon the British, and which included arms sales to the Kingdom. Following this event, British Foreign Office officials lamented, “We would not dream of entertaining a direct application for arms from a South American country for example, without at once consulting the American arms representative in London and deferring to his views.” This, of course, was a reference to Latin America in the context of the Monroe Doctrine – America’s “backyard” – and thus, was implying, that the Middle East was Britain’s “backyard.”[5]

Adolf A. Berle, Roosevelt’s Assistant Secretary of State explained to the British the objective of American designs for the Middle East. As Simon Davis summarized, European imperial “spheres of influence were to give way to open political and economic circumstances in which Americans interests were not to be demarcated by other great powers.”[6] In short, it was to be the demise of formal imperialism for the rise of informal empire, led by the United States. The “open political and economic circumstances” desired by American officials were in no small part influenced by petroleum concerns. Technical studies had been undertaken which pointed to the Middle East as the most oil-rich region in the world. At the time, Saudi Arabia was the only country in which American oil interests had established themselves prior to World War II. The British had actually approached the United States on behalf of the House of Saud in the early 1940s to secure funds for the Saudi government, as the British were stretched thin by the war in Europe. The United States had at first rejected the proposals, suggesting that Saudi Arabia was British responsibility. The American Minister in Cairo, Alexander Kirk, complained that such a move suggested to the Arab world that the United States was “resigning to the British all initiative in the Near East generally and in Saudi Arabia particularly.” The Saudis then approached American oil companies for support in 1942, who in turn approached the State Department’s Division of Near East Affairs, raising fears that leaving “responsibility” for the Near East and Saudi Arabia to the British would eventually mean a loss of oil concessions in Saudi Arabia to British interests. At the same time, Saudi officials were also quietly approaching the British to increase their interest in the Kingdom, suggesting that the Americans were attempting to maneuver the British out of the Near East. The Saudi Foreign Minister told a British official in December of 1942 that, “although [King Ibn Saud’s] relations with United States are friendly both in themselves and because United States is Britain’s ally… yet his relations with United States could never be so close and friendly as with His Majesty’s Government with whom he has so many interests in common.”[7]

A deceptive diplomatic game between the United States, Great Britain, and Saudi Arabia ensued. As the Americans shifted their interest in Saudi Arabia in 1943, Gordon Merriam, the assistant chief of the State Department’s Division of Near Eastern Affairs suggested in January of 1943 that the possibility of the British pushing their way into America’s oil concessions in the Kingdom after the war “has been very much on our minds.” Secretary of State Cordell Hull wrote that, “It should be kept clearly in mind that the expansion of British facilities serves to build up their post-war position in the Middle East at the expense of American interests there.”[8]

Britain, however, was not trying to exclude the United States, but to include it in an Anglo-American approach to the region. British Foreign Office documents stressed that the British were “by no means prepared to sacrifice a century of hard-earned political influence in the Middle East to their upstart American cousins,” however, the British sought to “coopt rather than preempt US interests.”[9] Churchill even wrote to Roosevelt to stress “the fullest assurance that we have no thought of trying to horn in upon your interests and property in Saudi Arabia.” The British even acknowledged in their internal correspondence that, “it seems probably that sooner or later the United States will become the foreign power most concerned with Saudi Arabian affairs.” The aim of the British, then, was not to expand their influence at the expense of the Americans, but to maintain their influence as the U.S. increased its own.[10]

In July of 1944, British diplomat Lord Halifax wrote to the United States, “We have made it perfectly plain that we have no wish to oppose increased American influence in Saudi Arabia so long as it does not seek to crowd us out. But it would be helpful if the Americans would realize that they cannot hope to achieve overnight quite the same position that we have built up over long years.” The United States was pressuring Britain to replace their representative in Saudi Arabia, S.R. Jordan, over State Department fears that Jordan was the primary British antagonist of expanding American influence in the Kingdom. Jordan was ironically, at that time, writing in cables to the British that, “Strategically, it would appear that we have little to fear from the presence of increasing US participation in Saudi Arabian affairs.” What became most frustrating to the British, however, was not the expansion of American power, but rather the perspective of Americans at the State Department (with fears stoked by the oil companies and Saudis) that the British were trying to keep the US out of Middle Eastern affairs. As the British Minister of State in the Middle East, Lord Moyne, observed, “I am afraid it is another of the many cases we have had in the Middle East where the local American idea of cooperation is that we should do all the giving and they all the taking.” As the British realized the Saudi role in creating these fears among the Americans, Moyne wrote, “It has subsequently turned out that the Finance Minister and the King’s Syrian advisers have been furnishing misleading figures and exploiting their position for political ends.”[11]

In 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt wrote a memo to the American Director of Economic Operations in the Middle East in which he made clear: “The Middle East is an area in which the United States has a vital interest.” That interest, of course, was oil. Roosevelt made assurances that Middle Eastern oil belonged to the Western imperialist nations and not the Middle East itself, as he wrote that “the objective of the United States” in the Middle East “is to make certain that all nations are accorded equality of opportunity,” and that “special privileges… should not be afforded to any country or its nationals.” This was, of course, indirectly referring to France and especially Great Britain, the imperial hegemons of the Middle East. The “equality of opportunity” to exploit the resources of the Middle East was simply referring to the expansion of America’s “vital interest” in the region.[12]

In 1945, the British were increasingly frustrated with the American approach to Middle East relations. Some internal documents from the British Foreign Office reflected the varied positions of their diplomats:

The Americans are commercially on the offensive… we shall enter a period of commercial rivalry, and we should not make any concession that would assist American commercial penetration into a region which for generations has been an established British market.

For some years the United States have been showing an increasing interest in the Middle East. They worried us by an obstructive and disapproving attitude, the basis and reason of which remained obscure… On the American side there is the lively conviction that the USA have the right to go where they wish and to the extent that they wish… But we, on our side, feel that the Americans, irrespectively of any suspicion on their part that we are trying to exclude them, are trying by means that seem to us both aggressive and unfair to build up a position for themselves at our expense, or at any rate without regard to our established interests.[13]

It seemed, then, that both the Americans and the British feared and suspected each other of attempting the same thing: to increase their own influence in the region and decrease that of the other power. The Saudis, in the middle, were playing a game between two great powers in the hopes of securing their own interests. And they had good leverage which allowed them to play such a game: oil.

There was continuous reference to Britain’s apparent ‘right’ to the Middle East, drawing the comparison to the United States Monroe Doctrine (of 1823) declaring a U.S. ‘right’ to Latin America. As one British official wrote, “The U.S. hasn’t invited us to share her influence in Panama… we are entitled to our Monroe Doctrine in the Arab countries.”[14]

In 1945, President Roosevelt held a formal meeting with the Saudi King aboard the USS Quincy. The issue of Palestine was an important one in discussions, and was viewed as a major challenge to the cause and potential of Arab nationalism across the Middle East. Roosevelt informed Aziz that the U.S. would make “no decision altering the basic situation of Palestine… without full consultation with both Arabs and Jews,” and that, “he would do nothing to assist the Jews against the Arabs and would make no hostile move to the Arab people.” Aziz, in the meeting, also stressed the issue of Syrian and Lebanese sovereignty, seeking to ensure they kept separate from a potential Hashemite “Greater Syria,” to which Roosevelt ensured that if Saudi sovereignty were ever under threat, the United States would undertake “all possible support short of the use of force.”[15]

King Ibn Saud asked Roosevelt, inquiring on the future of Saudi-US ties, “What am I to believe when the British tell me that my future is with them and not with America? They constantly say, or imply, that America’s principal interest in Saudi Arabia is a transitory war-interest… and that America, after the war, will return to her preoccupations in the Western Hemisphere… and that Britain alone will continue as my partner in the future as in the early years of my reign.” To this, Roosevelt assured the King that the United States would maintain an interest and added that the America wanted freedom and prosperity for all, while the British wanted “freedom and prosperity” which was marked: “Made in Britain.” The King replied, “Never have I heard the English so accurately described.”[16]

American interest in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East more broadly did not die with Roosevelt. His successor, Harry Truman, was just as eager to “open the door” to the Middle East. A 1945 memorandum to President Truman written by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs in the U.S. State Department, Gordon Merriam, stated: “In Saudi Arabia, where the oil resources constitute a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history, a concession covering this oil is nominally in American control.”[17] Adolf A. Berle, one of Franklin Roosevelt’s closest advisers, particularly in relation to the construction of the post-War world, years later remarked that controlling the oil reserves of the Middle East would mean obtaining “substantial control of the world.”[18]

For King Abdul Aziz, his main concerns continued to be focused on his rivals, the Hashemites, and the possibility of “Greater Syria.” This naturally increased his interest in promoting the Palestinian cause of self-determination, and thus also put him at odds with the United States on issues related to Palestine. Abdul Aziz had spoken out against policies in Palestine, and was increasingly framing himself as the leader of the Arab world. The rivalry between the Arab kingdoms of Transjordan and Iraq on one side, and Saudi Arabia on the other, prevented the Arabs from uniting on the issue of Palestine. The American Minister to Saudi Arabia, James Rives Childs, warned that, “Unless we proceed with the utmost circumspection in considering all phases of the possible repercussions of the Palestinian question… we may raise difficulties for ourselves in this most strategic area of vital national interest which will plague the United States constantly in years to come.” However, while King Abdul spoke out publicly against Western interference in Palestine, he privately informed American officials that he intended “never to let Palestine interfere with his relations with the United States… I’m talking big because everyone else is… it seems to be the most effective course.”[19]

King Abdul was increasingly worried about the British possibly supporting Jordan’s King Abdullah in his plan for a “Greater Syria” as they sought to end the British Mandate in Palestine and find a new alternative to the “Palestinian question.” Between 1946 and 1947, Saudi princes relayed the King’s concern to President Truman that there existed a British conspiracy with the Hashemites to depose him and destroy the Saudi dynasty. The State Department informed the Saudis that the United States had no information “which would cause it to believe that the British government was giving support to any scheme for the extension of British influence in the Middle East through the establishment of a Greater Syria.” Abdul Aziz was not convinced, and felt “that the development of strong economic ties with the United States offers the greatest possible available insurance from invasion.” As the British handed the Palestine Mandate to the United Nations in 1947, the Saudi King relayed to the United States that the question of Palestine, and thus ‘Greater Syria,’ was “the only thorn in Saudi-American relations.”[20] However, as the United Nations partitioned Palestine, despite Saudi protests against the United States on the issue, King Abdul Aziz wrote:

I occupy a position of preeminence in the Arab world. In the case of Palestine, I have to make a common cause with the other Arab states. Although the other Arab states may bring pressure to bear on me, I do not anticipate that a situation will arise whereby I shall be drawn into conflict with friendly western powers over this question.[21]

In 1948, after a great deal of diplomatic back-and-forth on the Palestine issue, the Arab states invaded after months of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population by militant Zionists in the British Mandate. Saudi Arabia, together with Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and even Jordan and Iraq, invaded Palestine immediately after the Zionists declared the State of Israel in May of 1948. However, as the Arabs were distrustful of one another, their incursion was doomed to failure, and they grossly underestimated the military strength of the Zionists, which was built up under the British Mandate.

The United States took a stated position of neutrality amid the conflict, in order to prevent upsetting its relations with the Arab world, which already were so damaged as a result of recognizing the state of Israel, an act which had created immense protest and condemnation from the State Department. In January of 1949, a cease-fire was signed between Israel and Egypt, and Israel emerged the obvious victor in the 1948-49 war. Thereafter, the United States lifted its arms embargo to the Middle East to provide the Saudis with military aid. The United States had emerged from the birth of Israel with a deeply scarred image in the Arab world, and with that, increased fear over Soviet expansion into the area led the U.S. to conclude that it had to support “strong men” in the region, such as Abdul Aziz. In 1949, a U.S. survey mission was sent to Saudi Arabia to examine the potential for building up a strong Saudi military force. King Abdul desired “a military force equal to or greater than the forces [of] Jordan and Iraq.” The U.S. mission recommended “the training and equipping of a Saudi defensive force totaling 43,000 officers and men, composed of 28,000 combat troops and 15,000 Air Force support and logistic personnel.”[22] Thus, a strong Saudi-American relationship was established as one of the main outposts of U.S. influence in the Middle East, control over oil, and containment of the Soviet Union.

The aim, as articulated by State Department strategists, was to maintain “substantial control of the world” through control of Middle Eastern oil: “one of the greatest material prizes in world history.” In a 1948 State Department Policy Planning Paper written by George Kennan – the architect of the ‘containment’ policy toward the USSR – it was explained that following World War II, America held 50% of the world’s wealth, yet had only 6.3% of the world’s population, a “disparity [which] is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia,” thus, destined to create “envy and resentment.” The real task for America, then, wrote Kennan:

is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction.[23]

 

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Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada, writing on a number of social, political, economic, and historical issues. He is also Project Manager of The People’s Book Project. He also hosts a weekly podcast show, “Empire, Power, and People,” on BoilingFrogsPost.com.

Notes

[1]            Maurice Jr. Labelle, “‘The Only Thorn’: Early Saudi-American Relations and the Question of Palestine, 1945-1949,” Diplomatic History (Vol. 35, No. 2, April 2011), page 257.

[2]            Ibid, pages 257-258.

[3]            Ibid, pages 259-260.

[4]            Barry Rubin, “Anglo-American Relations in Saudi Arabia, 1941-45,” Journal of Contemporary History (Vol. 14, No. 2, April 1979), page 253.

[5]            Simon Davis, “Keeping the Americans in Line? Britain, the United States and Saudi Arabia, 1939-45: Inter-Allied Rivalry in the Middle East Revisited,” Diplomacy & Statecraft (Vol. 8, No. 1, 1997), page 96.

[6]            Ibid, page 97.

[7]            Barry Rubin, “Anglo-American Relations in Saudi Arabia, 1941-45,” Journal of Contemporary History (Vol. 14, No. 2, April 1979), pages 254-255.

[8]            Ibid, page 256.

[9]            Simon Davis, “Keeping the Americans in Line? Britain, the United States and Saudi Arabia, 1939-45: Inter-Allied Rivalry in the Middle East Revisited,” Diplomacy & Statecraft (Vol. 8, No. 1, 1997), pages 97-98.

[10]            Barry Rubin, “Anglo-American Relations in Saudi Arabia, 1941-45,” Journal of Contemporary History (Vol. 14, No. 2, April 1979), pages 257-258.

[11]            Ibid, pages 260-261.

[12]            Letter from President Roosevelt to James M. Landis, American Director of Economic Operations in the Middle East, Concerning the Vital Interest of the United States in the Middle East, Foreign Relations of the United States, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, 6 March 1944.

[13]            Amikam Nachmani, “‘It’s a Matter of Getting the Mixture Right’: Britain’s Post-War Relations with America in the Middle East,” Journal of Contemporary History (Vol. 18, No. 1, January 1983), pages 120-121.

[14]            Ibid, page 117.

[15]            Maurice Jr. Labelle, “‘The Only Thorn’: Early Saudi-American Relations and the Question of Palestine, 1945-1949,” Diplomatic History (Vol. 35, No. 2, April 2011), pages 260-261.

[16]            Simon Davis, “Keeping the Americans in Line? Britain, the United States and Saudi Arabia, 1939-45: Inter-Allied Rivalry in the Middle East Revisited,” Diplomacy & Statecraft (Vol. 8, No. 1, 1997), pages 125-126.

[17]            Report by the Coordinating Committee of the Department of State, “Draft Memorandum to President Truman,” Foreign Relations of the United States, Diplomatic Papers, The Near East and Africa, Vol. 8, 1945, page 45.

[18]            Lloyd C. Gardner, Three Kings: The Rise of an American Empire in the Middle East After World War II (The New Press, 2009), page 96; Noam Chomsky, “Is the World Too Big to Fail?” Salon, 21 April 2011: http://www.salon.com/2011/04/21/global_empire_united_states_iraq_noam_chomsky/

[19]            Maurice Jr. Labelle, “‘The Only Thorn’: Early Saudi-American Relations and the Question of Palestine, 1945-1949,” Diplomatic History (Vol. 35, No. 2, April 2011), pages 264-265.

[20]            Ibid, pages 266-268.

[21]            Ibid, page 270.

[22]            Ibid, pages 274-279.

[23]            George F. Kennan, “Review of Current Trends U.S. Foreign Policy,” Report by the Policy Planning Staff, 24 February 1948.

The Origins of Imperial Israel: A Buffer Against Arab Nationalism

The Origins of Imperial Israel: A Buffer Against Arab Nationalism

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall

NOTE: The following is Part 1 of a 2-part sample on the ‘Origins of Imperial Israel’ from a chapter on the American Empire in an upcoming book by Andrew Gavin Marshall, supported through The People’s Book Project. Please support the Project to help the book come into being.

See some other samples from the book, and if you like what you see, please donate:

The American Empire in Latin America: “Democracy” is a Threat to “National Security”

The Council on Foreign Relations and the “Grand Area” of the American Empire

The Rockefeller World: The Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission

Education or Domination? The Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford Foundations Developing Knowledge for the Developing World

An Education for Empire: The Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford Foundations in the Construction of Knowledge

Please support The People’s Book Project and donate today!

 

Part 1

Israel emerged in the post-War period due to a great many complex domestic and international political reasons: to provide a place to direct the Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, to allow the British to formally end the Mandate over Palestine which they held as their empire was crumbling, and to serve as a ‘buffer state’ for Western nations in the Middle East, a region of the world which was identified as a necessity to control in order to secure its vast oil resources and strategic position in relation to the East. America in the post-War period, however, was deeply divided in its strategic-imperial circles on whether or not to support the State of Israel, which did not become a stated and strong policy until the later 1950s. The State Department, in particular, full of individuals who were familiar with the politics and changes in the Middle East, were worried that support for Israel would threaten America’s interests in the region by antagonizing the Arab states and ruining America’s good reputation following the War. Others, however, won out in the end, largely by arguing that such a state in the Middle East would be a significant support to American interests, acting as a powerful ‘buffer’ against the spread of Arab nationalism and Pan-Arabism. In its first years, Israel walked a balance of receiving support from both the United States and the Soviet Union. With the rise of Nasser in Egypt, however, America saw its imperial interest in supporting Israel.

The notion of a “Jewish State” as a ‘buffer’ for the West had been a long-held desire among imperial strategists and was even a popular means of promoting the Zionist cause from leaders within the Zionist movement. In the early 20th century, the Zionists, keenly aware of the British and French imperial rivalry in the Arab East, “knew how to convince London of the value of a British-controlled Jewish buffer-state in Palestine for the protection of the Suez Canal and imperial communications to India.”[1] In 1907, the London Colonial Conference emphasized the increasing interest in establishing a ‘buffer state’ for British imperial interests in the Near East. The Conference agreed “to establish a strong but alien human bridge in the land that links Europe with the Old World which would constitute, near the Suez Canal, a hostile power to the people of the area and a friendly power to Europe and its interests.”[2]

British imperial strategists were increasingly alarmed with the growing “Arab Awakening” emerging in the context of Arab indigenous nationalism. These fears of a growing and developing Arab nationalism informed British Prime Minister Campbell Bannerman when he stated at the 1907 Colonial Conference:

Empires are formed, enlarged and stabilized so very little before they disintegrate and disappear… Do we have the means of preventing this fall, this crumbling, is it possible for us to put a halt to the destiny of European colonialism which at present is at a critical stage?[3]

The answer Bannerman received from the commission he established to look at the question, was that it was necessary

[to fight] against the Union of popular masses in the Arab region or the establishment of any intellectual, spiritual or historical link between them… [and thus recommended] all practical ways of dividing them as such as possible should be taught, and one way of doing so would be to construct a powerful, human ‘barrier’ foreign to the region – a bridge linking Asia and Africa – thus creating in this part of the world, and near the Suez Canal, a force friendly towards imperialism and hostile towards the inhabitants of the region.[4]

The report submitted to Prime Minister Henry Campbell-Bannerman recommended the following actions:

1) To promote disintegration, division and separation in the region.

2) To establish artificial political entities that would be under the authority of the imperialist countries.

3) To fight any kind of unity – whether intellectual, religious or historical – and taking practical measures to divide the region’s inhabitants.

4) To achieve this, it was proposed that a “buffer state” be established in Palestine, populated by a strong, foreign presence which would be hostile to its neighbors and friendly to European countries and their interests.[5]

In 1917, the British issued the Balfour Declaration as a statement of support for the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine (though it also stipulated that it was not to disadvantage or remove the Arab inhabitants of the land). In 1922, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution endorsing the Balfour Declaration, though the State Department subsequently issued a notice stating that the resolution “did not constitute a commitment to any foreign obligation or entanglement.”[6] In 1936, the Arabs resorted to armed resistance within Palestine, and the British responded by crushing them. During World War II, under the British Mandate of Palestine, the Zionists were “forming, training and arming their forces under the ‘British Shield’.” At the same time, during the War, Zionists increasingly focused on promoting their cause in America, taking note of the declining influence of Britain and rising dominance of America.[7]

It was during the 1940s that America increasingly recognized the importance of the oil resources of the Middle East to the developing plans and concepts of American global hegemony following the War. Thus, American approaches to the region were “developed within an anti-Arab nationalist and hegemonic framework designed to protect American access to oil.”[8]

The Zionist leadership recognized this vital interest to the United States, and thus began to promote the Zionist cause along similar lines of securing American access to Middle Eastern oil. In the 1940s, American oil companies were largely against the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine, which they viewed as inimical to their interests in the region. In 1933, the Saudi King had granted the Rockefeller-owned Standard Oil exclusive rights over Saudi oil prospecting and extraction in the east of the country. The eventual formation of the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco) as a joint venture between the House of Saud and Standard Oil (the House of Rockefeller) took place in 1943. The oil companies stressed the importance of American security over and for Saudi Arabia. Zionist leaders in America held several meetings with oil company executives in an attempt to secure their support for a Jewish state, but to little avail. In fact, an oil industry publication, Oil Weekly, editorialized in 1946 that, “a Jewish state established with American support might endanger the ability of the US to assure a steady supply of oil from the Middle East.”[9]

In 1946, an agreement was established between the American government and Aramco to build a pipeline between the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean coast, though this ran into problems with the U.S. Congress blocking such efforts, leading Aramco to decide to build the pipeline separate from U.S. involvement. As it was deduced, “the best place to offload the oil would be Haifa bay in the north of Palestine, and an agreement to this effect was signed with Sir Allan Jordan Cunningham, the British High Commissioner for Palestine.” Zionists, simultaneously, sought to advocate the pipeline project as necessarily transporting through areas of Jewish settlement in Palestine, and thus, the promotion of a Jewish state along the pipeline route “would introduce a stable element loyal to the United States into the project,” and reduce security costs for America.[10]

A confidential memo produced for the Jewish Agency in Palestine in 1947, in close proximity of the United Nations partition of Palestine, was titled, “The Jewish National Home and American Oil in the Middle East,” which stated that the purpose of the Zionist movement:

was to establish in Palestine a democratic society whose citizens would enjoy the living standard of advanced western states, in an economy based on modern agriculture, industry and scientific development.[11]

In 1945, a profoundly prophetic article was written by an American philosopher, William Ernest Hocking, in the journal The Muslim World, in which he explained the emerging conflict of “Arab Nationalism and Political Zionism.” Hocking stressed that with the increased pressures in the U.S. Congress to support the Zionist cause, America may be rushing into a situation which it does not fully understand, stressing the need to weigh humanitarian concerns for the remaining European Jews following the Holocaust with the political objectives that exist in the complex circumstances of the Middle East, “and consider to what extent the proposed means will serve the humanitarian end, and to what extent it will serve other ends.” While acknowledging that “a place or places of refuge for Jews driven from Europe must be provided,” the question of Palestine needs a wider context.[12]

In examining the economic conditions upon which the Jews would find themselves thrust into within Palestine, Hocking explained that for a country roughly the size of New Hampshire, only half of the land is cultivable, and yet, planners desired “a program of intensive industrialization” to be undertaken. Hocking questioned the viability of imposing a “forced industrialization” on a location with little rainfall, requiring imported fuel, and few water resources as “an appropriate center for an industry based on the resources of the wider Near East.” Further, Hocking noted that while the notion of Palestine as the natural home for the Jewish people is based upon religious principles, “a Palestine heavily industrialized is a Palestine defaced from this point of view for Jew, Moslem, and Christian alike,”[13] as industrialization would be an affront to the spiritual significance of the location for all peoples.

Asserting that the reasons for the support of a Jewish state are not humanitarian, but political, Hocking examined how the Jewish National Fund in Palestine had increasingly deprived land from Arab labourers, as land granted to Jewish settlers was, by law, only allowed to be cultivated by Jewish labourers, and thus, it “cease[d] automatically to be a place of possible residence or work to those [Arab] laborers.” As Sir John Simpson reported on that matter:

It ceases to be land from which the Arab can gain any advantage either nor or at any time in the future… He is deprived forever from employment on that land… Nor can anyone help him by purchasing the land and restoring it to common use. The land is in mortmain and inalienable.[14]

Thus, wrote Hocking, “the Arab masses as a whole have felt their relative position deteriorating,” and the true question, then, was “of the attitude of the slowly advancing power,” that is, the Zionist power. “Its strength, intelligence, cash backing, splendid equipment, render it in Arab eyes the more formidable” because of this exclusionary and discriminatory attitude: “Hence they have come to face the future with concern.” As to the question, increasingly discussed within the West, as to why the Arabs and Muslims cannot simply grant this small piece of land to the Jews and go elsewhere, Hocking explained:

Those who are promoting this view do not explain what they propose to do with the extensive religious establishments of Islam in Palestine, including the great mosques and various schools. These establishments are not, like those of the Christians, primarily of a memorial nature: they are important educational and devotional centers for a living religion, within the region of its central activity. To maintain such establishments a considerable local population is required and assumed: to deport the million Arabs to Iraq would be another way of strangling these institutions.[15]

Further, in terms of those arguments which favour deportation due to the “immense domain” of the Arab people, Hocking explained that the domain, in fact, is mostly desert, with the “cultivable portions” being strewn around the rim, “whose northern arch is known as the Fertile Crescent.” Thus, the advantages of Palestine for Jew and Arab alike come from its position on the Mediterranean coast:

Commercially it belongs to the European Area. Palestine stands in an important strategic position between Europe and the budding industrial development, not so much of Palestine itself as of the lands behind Palestine, Arab lands which are entering on a new economic era… If the future economic importance of Palestine is to be, as I surmise, commercial rather than agricultural or industrial, its prosperity will depend to a large extent on its relations to this growingly important hinterland. And vice versa, the prosperity of that hinterland might depend to a considerable extent on its relations with the financial powers, the warehouses, and the commercial lanes centering in Palestine and vicinity.[16]

This emphasizes the notion of a Jewish state in Palestine as a buffer between the West and the Near East, between the imperial powers and the growing spread of Arab nationalism. Thus for the Arabs, leaving Palestine to exclusive Zionist control would “amount to acceptance of a barrier between them and Europe at the outset of their newer national career.” Yet, even with all of the Palestinian and Arab desires for, like the Jews themselves, a “new beginning,” they are increasingly portrayed as “nomadic,” “backward,” and “half-civilized,” ignoring the fact that “it was the Arabs who for six hundred years preserved the classical culture of Greece for a dark Europe,” or that they are still emanating out of the oppressive domination of four centuries of Turkish rule. Thus, what was being asked of the Arabs was to accept their entire potential for progress as being entirely dependent upon the political state of Zionism, which had thus far shown enormous animosity and disregard for the Arab peoples within Palestine. Hocking concluded by writing:

I believe the political Zionists at this moment as distinct from the cultural Zionists who have built the noble Hebrew University and who know what a National Home must be, – I believe the political Zionists to be the chief enemies of the cause of Zionism as well as of the Jewish interests in the world of tomorrow. What can they hope to gain by extricating their brethren from the prejudices of Europe only to build a community in Palestine which has to be protected by Western force (and if we intervene, then by American force also) because it is cradled in an environment of distrust and fear cultivated by their own methods of realizing a misplaced nationalistic ambition?[17]

In the Truman administration in 1947, as the United Nations recommended the partition of Palestine into two states, the CIA released an assessment of the situation in one of its first major reports, which predicted that if a Jewish state were created, “war would break out between Arabs and Jews, and the Arabs would win.” While the former turned out to be true, the latter, of course, did not. However, without stating it outright, the CIA report essentially led to the assumed conclusion that, as Thomas Lippman wrote, “partition would be detrimental to the long-term interests of the United States and would ultimately augment rather than alleviate the suffering of the world’s Jews.”[18]

The United States, in 1947, had reached a point where a decision finally had to be made on the issue of a Jewish state in Palestine. Within Palestine itself, Jewish gangs (such as the Hagana, the Irgun, and the Stern Gang), “were waging a guerrilla war against the British,” and thus, the issue became central to the United Nations and global politics. In the White House, some of Truman’s closest advisers supported the Zionists, though his national security and foreign policy advisers, especially within the State Department, had opposed partition and the formation of a Jewish state, arguing that, “such an outcome would alienate the Arabs, jeopardize American strategic and economic interests throughout the Middle East, open the door to the political penetration of the Arab world by the Soviet Union, and possibly lead to the loss of the American oil bonanza in Saudi Arabia.” As the State Department chief for the Bureau of Near East and Africa Affairs, Loy Henderson, wrote to Acting Secretary of State Dean Acheson in 1945:

In case the government of the United States should continue to press for the mass immigration of Jews into Palestine at this time, on humanitarian or other grounds, much of the work done in the Near East in recent years in building up respect for, and confidence in, the United States and in increasing American prestige, will be undone… The mere resentment of the Near Eastern peoples towards the United States on the ground that we have decided to disregard the Arab viewpoint with regard to Palestine would be unpleasant… It would be much more serious, however, if we should give them ground to believe that we do not live up to our firm promises already given.[19]

Henderson here was referring to the promise from the United States to engage in “full consultation” with the Arab states, primarily Saudi Arabia, in the lead up to any potential decision the United States would make on the issue. As the CIA report emphasized, partition would “solve nothing and would only intensify support for Zionist expansion,” and the report further stressed the importance of regional implications for the Arab states:

Arab nationalism is the strongest political force in the Arab world. It grew up in secret societies under Ottoman rule, came out into the open in the Arab Revolt of World War I, and has been the major factor in the independence movement in the Arab world ever since. Because of the strong ties between the various Arab states, political developments in any one country are of vital concern to Arabs everywhere. Palestinian independence is, consequently, the major aim not only of the Palestinian Arabs but also of Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, Transjordanians, Egyptians and Saudi Arabians. It would be political suicide for any Arab government to ignore this situation.[20]

Tellingly, the report also predicted that the Arabs “fear that the Jews will consolidate their position through unlimited immigration and that they will attempt to expand until they become a threat to the newly won independence of each of the other Arab countries.” The CIA felt that this perception was, indeed, correct: “In the long run no Zionists in Palestine will be satisfied with the territorial arrangements of the partition settlement.” The CIA felt that such a partition would inevitably create “instability and hostility” in the Arab world.[21] In the immediate aftermath of partition, the CIA report predicted that “war would break out” between the Arabs and the Jews, that the Jewish populations in other Arab nations would be in danger, “American oil interests would be damaged,” and that the Zionists would “continue to wage a strong propaganda campaign in the US and Europe,” and that, “whatever the actual circumstances may be,” the Arabs would, said the report, “be accused of aggression,” which would “doubtless continue to influence the US public, and the US government [could], consequently, be forced into actions which [would] further complicate and embitter its relations with the entire Arab world,” and finally, the Soviet Union could make considerable political gains in the region as a result. Further, the report stated that eventually the Arabs could turn to “religious fanaticism,” which could become “an extremely powerful force.”[22]

Where the report was wrong, however, was in predicting that the Jewish state would fail in a war with the Arab states, having mistakenly underestimated the organizational capabilities of the military Zionist groups in Palestine, as well as over-estimating the cooperation of the Arab states, which actually had many suspicions of one another. As early as 1943, a special envoy dispatched by President Roosevelt to the Arab leaders to discuss Palestine, Colonel Harold Hoskins, stated that, “only by military force can a Zionist state be imposed upon the Arabs.”[23] This logic, of course, was not lost upon the Zionist military and strategic leaders, who had immense national ambitions.

These ambitions, however, were not merely political, but racial. In a disturbing parallel with the Nazi German state from which many European Jews would later escape to the Holy Land, several Zionist leaders were themselves drawing up plans for a program of ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Palestine. As Israeli historian Ilan Pappé documented, Plan D, as it was called, “was the fourth and final version of vaguer plans outlining the fate that was in store for the native population of Palestine.” The first three plans involved obscure and vague means for dealing with the Palestinians, whereas the fourth plan – the final plan – was a detailed military document written and plotted out by less than a dozen Zionist leaders, led by David Ben-Gurion. Plan D was emphatic and adamantine in its purpose: to remove the Palestinian population from the land. Ethnic cleansing, as defined by the U.S. State Department, is “the systematic and forced removal of the members of an ethnic group from communities in order to change the ethnic composition of a given region.”[24] By definition, then, the Zionist leaders were preparing a plan for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

 

Andrew Gavin Marshall is an independent researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada, writing on a number of social, political, economic, and historical issues. He is also Project Manager of The People’s Book Project.

Please help spread the word about the Project and the book by joining the Facebook Page.

 

Notes

[1]            Ibrahim Ibrahimi, “Review: The Making of the Jewish State,” Journal of Palestine Studies (Vol. 1, No. 1, Autumn 1971), page 122.

[2]            Adnan Amad, “History and Fiction in Boasson’s Comments on Galtung,” Journal of Peace Research (Vol. 10, No ½, 1973), page 151.

[3]            Anwarul Haque Haqqi, West Asia Since Camp David (Mittal Publications, 1988), pages 104-105.

[4]            Ibid, page 105.

[5]            Robert I. Rotberg, Israeli and Palestinian Narratives of Conflict: History’s Double Helix (Indiana University Press, 2006), page 220.

[6]            Michael C. Hudson, “To Play the Hegemon: Fifty Years of US Policy Toward the Middle East,” Middle East Journal (Vol. 50, No. 3, Summer 1996), pages 333-334.

[7]            Ibrahim Ibrahimi, “Review: The Making of the Jewish State,” Journal of Palestine Studies (Vol. 1, No. 1, Autumn 1971), pages 124-125.

[8]            Ibrahim I. Ibrahim, “The American-Israeli Alliance: Raison d’etat Revisited,” Journal of Palestine Studies (Vol. 15, No. 3, Spring 1986), page 23.

[9]            Zohar Segev, “Struggle for Cooperation and Integration: American Zionists and Arab Oil, 1940s,” Middle Eastern Studies (Vol. 42, No. 5, September 2006), pages 820-821.

[10]            Ibid, pages 822-823.

[11]            Ibid, pages 824-825.

[12]            William Ernest Hocking, “Arab Nationalism and Political Zionism,” The Muslim World (Vol. 35, No. 3, July 1945), page 216.

[13]            Ibid, pages 216-217.

[14]            Ibid, pages 219-220.

[15]            Ibid, page 220.

[16]            Ibid, pages 220-222.

[17]            Ibid, pages 222-223.

[18]            Thomas W. Lippman, “The View From 1947: The CIA and the Parititon of Palestine,” Middle East Journal (Vol. 61, No. 1, Winter 2007), page 17.

[19]            Ibid, pages 18-19.

[20]            Ibid, pages 19-21.

[21]            Ibid, pages 21-22.

[22]            Ibid, pages 22-23.

[23]            Ibid, pages 25-26.

[24]            Ilan Pappé, “The 1948 Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine,” Journal of Palestine Studies (Vol. 36, No. 1, Autumn 2006), pages 6-7.

Are We Witnessing the Start of a Global Revolution?

Are We Witnessing the Start of a Global Revolution?
North Africa and the Global Political Awakening, Part 1
Global Research, January 27, 2011

For the first time in human history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive… The resulting global political activism is generating a surge in the quest for personal dignity, cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world painfully scarred by memories of centuries-long alien colonial or imperial domination… The worldwide yearning for human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the phenomenon of global political awakening… That awakening is socially massive and politically radicalizing… The nearly universal access to radio, television and increasingly the Internet is creating a community of shared perceptions and envy that can be galvanized and channeled by demagogic political or religious passions. These energies transcend sovereign borders and pose a challenge both to existing states as well as to the existing global hierarchy, on top of which America still perches

The youth of the Third World are particularly restless and resentful. The demographic revolution they embody is thus a political time-bomb, as wellTheir potential revolutionary spearhead is likely to emerge from among the scores of millions of students concentrated in the often intellectually dubious “tertiary level” educational institutions of developing countries. Depending on the definition of the tertiary educational level, there are currently worldwide between 80 and 130 million “college” students. Typically originating from the socially insecure lower middle class and inflamed by a sense of social outrage, these millions of students are revolutionaries-in-waiting, already semi-mobilized in large congregations, connected by the Internet and pre-positioned for a replay on a larger scale of what transpired years earlier in Mexico City or in Tiananmen Square. Their physical energy and emotional frustration is just waiting to be triggered by a cause, or a faith, or a hatred

[The] major world powers, new and old, also face a novel reality: while the lethality of their military might is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historic low. To put it bluntly: in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people.[1]

– Zbigniew Brzezinski

Former U.S. National Security Advisor

Co-Founder of the Trilateral Commission

Member, Board of Trustees, Center for Strategic and International Studies

An uprising in Tunisia led to the overthrow of the country’s 23-year long dictatorship of President Ben Ali. A new ‘transitional’ government was formed, but the protests continued demanding a totally new government without the relics of the previous tyranny. Protests in Algeria have continued for weeks, as rage mounts against rising food prices, corruption and state oppression. Protests in Jordan forced the King to call on the military to surround cities with tanks and set up checkpoints. Tens of thousands of protesters marched on Cairo demanding an end to the 30-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Thousands of activists, opposition leaders and students rallied in the capitol of Yemen against the corrupt dictatorship of President Saleh, in power since 1978. Saleh has been, with U.S. military assistance, attempting to crush a rebel movement in the north and a massive secessionist movement growing in the south, called the “Southern Movement.” Protests in Bolivia against rising food prices forced the populist government of Evo Morales to backtrack on plans to cut subsidies. Chile erupted in protests as demonstrators railed against rising fuel prices. Anti-government demonstrations broke out in Albania, resulting in the deaths of several protesters.

It seems as if the world is entering the beginnings of a new revolutionary era: the era of the ‘Global Political Awakening.’ While this ‘awakening’ is materializing in different regions, different nations and under different circumstances, it is being largely influenced by global conditions. The global domination by the major Western powers, principally the United States, over the past 65 years, and more broadly, centuries, is reaching a turning point. The people of the world are restless, resentful, and enraged. Change, it seems, is in the air. As the above quotes from Brzezinski indicate, this development on the world scene is the most radical and potentially dangerous threat to global power structures and empire. It is not a threat simply to the nations in which the protests arise or seek change, but perhaps to a greater degree, it is a threat to the imperial Western powers, international institutions, multinational corporations and banks that prop up, arm, support and profit from these oppressive regimes around the world. Thus, America and the West are faced with a monumental strategic challenge: what can be done to stem the Global Political Awakening? Zbigniew Brzezinski is one of the chief architects of American foreign policy, and arguably one of the intellectual pioneers of the system of globalization. Thus, his warnings about the ‘Global Political Awakening’ are directly in reference to its nature as a threat to the prevailing global hierarchy. As such, we must view the ‘Awakening’ as the greatest hope for humanity. Certainly, there will be mainy failures, problems, and regressions; but the ‘Awakening’ has begun, it is underway, and it cannot be so easily co-opted or controlled as many might assume.

The reflex action of the imperial powers is to further arm and support the oppressive regimes, as well as the potential to organize a destabilization through covert operations or open warfare (as is being done in Yemen). The alterantive is to undertake a strategy of “democratization” in which Western NGOs, aid agencies and civil society organizations establish strong contacts and relationships with the domestic civil society in these regions and nations. The objective of this strategy is to organize, fund and help direct the domestic civil society to produce a democratic system made in the image of the West, and thus maintain continuity in the international hierarchy. Essentially, the project of “democratization” implies creating the outward visible constructs of a democratic state (multi-party elections, active civil society, “independent” media, etc) and yet maintain continuity in subservience to the World Bank, IMF, multinational corporations and Western powers.

It appears that both of these strategies are being simultaneously imposed in the Arab world: enforcing and supporting state oppression and building ties with civil society organizations. The problem for the West, however, is that they have not had the ability to yet establish strong and dependent ties with civil society groups in much of the region, as ironically, the oppressive regimes they propped up were and are unsurprisingly resistant to such measures. In this sense, we must not cast aside these protests and uprisings as being instigated by the West, but rather that they emerged organically, and the West is subsequently attempting to co-opt and control the emerging movements.

Part 1 of this essay focuses on the emergence of these protest movements and uprisings, placing it in the context of the Global Political Awakening. Part 2 will examine the West’s strategy of “democratic imperialism” as a method of co-opting the ‘Awakening’ and installing “friendly” governments.

The Tunisian Spark

A July 2009 diplomatic cable from America’s Embassy in Tunisia reported that, “many Tunisians are frustrated by the lack of political freedom and angered by First Family corruption, high unemployment and regional inequities. Extremism poses a continuing threat,” and that, “the risks to the regime’s long-term stability are increasing.”[2]

On Friday, 14 January 2011, the U.S.-supported 23-year long dictatorship of Tunisian president Ben Ali ended. For several weeks prior to this, the Tunisian people had risen in protest against rising food prices, stoked on by an immense and growing dissatisfaction with the political repression, and prodded by the WikiLeaks cables confirming the popular Tunisian perception of gross corruption on the part of the ruling family. The spark, it seems, was when a 26-year old unemployed youth set himself on fire in protest on December 17.

With the wave of protests sparked by the death of the 26-year old who set himself on fire on December 17, the government of Tunisia responded by cracking down on the protesters. Estimates vary, but roughly 100 people were killed in the clashes. Half of Tunisia’s 10 million people are under the age of 25, meaning that they have never known a life in Tunisia outside of living under this one dictator. Since Independence from the French empire in 1956, Tunisia has had only two leaders: Habib Bourguiba and Ben Ali.[3] The Tunisian people were rising up against a great many things: an oppressive dictatorship which has employed extensive information and internet censorship, rising food prices and inflation, a corrupt ruling family, lack of jobs for the educated youth, and a general sense and experience of exploitation, subjugation and disrespect for human dignity.

Following the ouster of Ben Ali, Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi assumed presidential power and declared a “transitional government.” Yet, this just spurred more protests demanding his resignation and the resignation of the entire government. Significantly, the trade union movement had a large mobilizing role in the protests, with a lawyers union being particularly active during the initial protests.[4]

Social media and the Internet did play a large part in mobilizing people within Tunisia for the uprising, but it was ultimately the result of direct protests and action which led to the resignation of Ben Ali. Thus, referring to Tunisia as a “Twitter Revolution” is disingenuous.

Twitter, WikiLeaks, Facebook, Youtube, forums and blogs did have a part to play. They reflect the ability “to collectively transform the Arab information environment and shatter the ability of authoritarian regimes to control the flow of information, images, ideas and opinions.”[5]

We must also keep in mind that social media has not only become an important source of mobilization of activism and information at the grassroots level, but it has also become an effective means for governments and various power structures to seek to manipulate the flow of information. This was evident in the 2009 protests in Iran, where social media became an important avenue through which the Western nations were able to advance their strategy of supporting the so-called ‘Green Revolution’ in destabilizing the Iranian government. Thus, social media has presented a new form of power, neither black nor white, in which it can be used to either advance the process of the ‘Awakening’ or control its direction.

Whereas America was publicly denouncing Iran for blocking (or attempting to block) social media in the summer of 2009, during the first several weeks of Tunisian protests (which were largely being ignored by Western media), America and the West were silent about censorship.[6] Steven Cook, writing for the elite U.S. think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, commented on the lack of attention being paid to the Tunisian protests in the early weeks of resistance prior to the resignation of Ben Ali. He explained that while many assume that the Arab “strongmen” regimes will simply maintain power as they always have, this could be mistaken. He stated that, “it may not be the last days of Ben Ali or Mubarak or any other Middle Eastern strongman, but there is clearly something going on in the region.” However, it was the end of Ben Ali, and indeed, “there is clearly something going on in the region.”[7]

France’s President Sarkozy has even had to admit that, “he had underestimated the anger of the Tunisian people and the protest movement that ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.” During the first few weeks of protests in Tunisia, several French government officials were publicly supporting the dictatorship, with the French Foreign Minister saying that France would lend its police “knowhow” to help Ben Ali in maintaining order.[8]

Days before the ouster of Ben Ali, Hillary Clinton gave an interview in which she explained how America was worried “about the unrest and the instability,” and that, “we are not taking sides, but we are saying we hope that there can be a peaceful resolution. And I hope that the Tunisian Government can bring that about.” Clinton further lamented, “One of my biggest concerns in this entire region are the many young people without economic opportunities in their home countries.”[9] Her concern, of course, does not spur from any humanitarian considerations, but rather from inherent imperial considerations: it is simply harder to control a region of the world erupting in activism, uprisings and revolution.

The Spark Lights a Flame

Tunisia has raised the bar for the people across the Arab world to demand justice, democracy, accountability, economic stability, and freedom. Just as Tunisia’s protests were in full-swing, Algeria was experiencing mass protests, rising up largely as a result of the increasing international food prices, but also in reaction to many of the concerns of the Tunisian protesters, such as democratic accountability, corruption and freedom. A former Algerian diplomat told Al-Jazeera in early January that, “It is a revolt, and probably a revolution, of an oppressed people who have, for 50 years, been waiting for housing, employment, and a proper and decent life in a very rich country.”[10]

In mid-January, similar protests erupted in Jordan, as thousands took to the streets to protest against rising food prices and unemployment, chanting anti-government slogans. Jordan’s King Abdullah II had “set up a special task force in his palace that included military and intelligence officials to try to prevent the unrest from escalating further,” which had tanks surrounding major cities, with barriers and checkpoints established.[11]

In Yemen, the poorest nation in the Arab world, engulfed in a U.S. sponsored war against its own people, ruled by a dictator who has been in power since 1978, thousands of people protested against the government, demanding the dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down. In the capitol city of Sanaa, thousands of students, activists and opposition groups chanted slogans such as, “Get out get out, Ali. Join your friend Ben Ali.”[12] Yemen has been experiencing much turmoil in recent years, with a rebel movement in the North fighting against the government, formed in 2004; as well as a massive secessionist movement in the south, called the “Southern Movement,” fighting for liberation since 2007. As the Financial Times explained:

Many Yemen observers consider the anger and secessionist sentiment now erupting in the south to be a greater threat to the country’s stability than its better publicised struggle with al-Qaeda, and the deteriorating economy is making the tension worse.

Unemployment, particularly among the young, is soaring. Even the government statistics office in Aden puts it at nearly 40 per cent among men aged 20 to 24.[13]

On January 21, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Albania, mobilized by the socialist opposition, ending with violent clashes between the police and protesters, leading to the deaths of three demonstrators. The protests have been sporadic in Albania since the widely contested 2009 elections, but took on new levels inspired by Tunisia.[14]

Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom stressed concern over the revolutionary sentiments within the Arab world, saying that, “I fear that we now stand before a new and very critical phase in the Arab world.” He fears Tunisia would “set a precedent that could be repeated in other countries, possibly affecting directly the stability of our system.”[15] Israel’s leadership fears democracy in the Arab world, as they have a security alliance with the major Arab nations, who, along with Israel itself, are American proxy states in the region. Israel maintains civil – if not quiet – relationships with the Arab monarchs and dictators. While the Arab states publicly criticize Israel, behind closed doors they are forced to quietly accept Israel’s militarism and war-mongering, lest they stand up against the superpower, America. Yet, public opinion in the Arab world is extremely anti-Israel, anti-American and pro-Iran.

In July of 2010, the results of a major international poll were released regarding public opinion in the Arab world, polling from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. Among some of the notable findings: while Obama was well received upon entering the Presidency, with 51% expressing optimism about U.S. policy in the region in the Spring of 2009, by Summer 2010, 16% were expressing optimism. In 2009, 29% of those polled said a nuclear-armed Iran would be positive for the region; in 2010, that spiked to 57%, reflecting a very different stance from that of their governments.[16]

While America, Israel and the leaders of the Arab nations claim that Iran is the greatest threat to peace and stability in the Middle East, the Arab people do not agree. In an open question asking which two countries pose the greatest threat to the region, 88% responded with Israel, 77% with America, and 10% with Iran.[17]

At the Arab economic summit shortly following the ousting of Ben Ali in Tunisia, who was for the first time absent from the meetings, the Tunisian uprising hung heavy in the air. Arab League leader Amr Moussa said in his opening remarks at the summit, “The Tunisian revolution is not far from us,” and that, “the Arab citizen entered an unprecedented state of anger and frustration,” noting that “the Arab soul is broken by poverty, unemployment and general recession.” The significance of this ‘threat’ to the Arab leaders cannot be understated. Out of roughly 352 million Arabs, 190 million are under the age of 24, with nearly three-quarters of them unemployed. Often, “the education these young people receive doesn’t do them any good because there are no jobs in the fields they trained for.”[18]

There was even an article in the Israeli intellectual newspaper, Ha’aretz, which posited that, “Israel may be on the eve of revolution.” Explaining, the author wrote that:

Israeli civil society organizations have amassed considerable power over the years; not only the so-called leftist organizations, but ones dealing with issues like poverty, workers’ rights and violence against women and children. All of them were created in order to fill the gaps left by the state, which for its part was all too happy to continue walking away from problems that someone else was there to take on. The neglect is so great that Israel’s third sector – NGOs, charities and volunteer organizations – is among the biggest in the world. As such, it has quite a bit of power.[19]

Now the Israeli Knesset and cabinet want that power back; yet, posits the author, they “have chosen to ignore the reasons these groups became powerful,” namely:

The source of their power is the vacuum, the criminal policies of Israel’s governments over the last 40 years. The source of their power is a government that is evading its duties to care for all of its citizens and to end the occupation, and a Knesset that supports the government instead of putting it in its place.[20]

The Israeli Knesset opened investigations into the funding of Israeli human rights organizations in a political maneuver against them. However, as one article in Ha’aretz by an Israeli professor explained, these groups actually – inadvertently – play a role in “entrenching the occupation.” As the author explained:

Even if the leftist groups’ intention is to ensure upholding Palestinian rights, though, the unintentional result of their activity is preserving the occupation. Moderating and restraining the army’s activity gives it a more human and legal facade. Reducing the pressure of international organizations, alongside moderating the Palestinian population’s resistance potential, enable the army to continue to maintain this control model over a prolonged period of time.[21]

Thus, if the Israeli Knesset succeeds in getting rid of these powerful NGOs, they sow the seeds for the pressure valve in the occupied territories to be removed. The potential for massive internal protests within Israel from the left, as well as the possibility of another Intifada – uprising – in the occupied territories themselves would seem dramatically increased. Israel and the West have expressed how much distaste they hold for democracy in the region. When Gaza held a democratic election in 2006 and elected Hamas, which was viewed as the ‘wrong’ choice by Israel and America, Israel imposed a ruthless blockade of Gaza. Richard Falk, the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Inquiry Commission for the Palestinian territories, wrote an article for Al Jazeera in which he explained that the blockade:

unlawfully restricted to subsistence levels, or below, the flow of food, medicine, and fuel. This blockade continues to this day, leaving the entire Gazan population locked within the world’s largest open-air prison, and victimized by one of the cruelest forms of belligerent occupation in the history of warfare.[22]

The situation in the occupied territories is made increasingly tense with the recent leaking of the “Palestinian Papers,” which consist of two decades of secret Israeli-Palestinian accords, revealing the weak negotiating position of the Palestinian Authority. The documents consist largely of major concessions the Palestinian Authority was willing to make “on the issues of the right of return of Palestinian refugees, territorial concessions, and the recognition of Israel.” Among the leaks, Palestinian negotiators secretly agreed to concede nearly all of East Jerusalem to Israel. Further, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (favoured by Israel and America over Hamas), was personally informed by a senior Israeli official the night before Operation Cast Lead, the December 2008 and January 2009 Israeli assault on Gaza, resulting in the deaths of over 1,000 Palestinians: “Israeli and Palestinian officials reportedly discussed targeted assassinations of Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists in Gaza.”[23]

Hamas has subsequently called on Palestinian refugees to protest over the concessions regarding the ‘right of return’ for refugees, of which the negotiators conceded to allowing only 100,000 of 5 million to return to Israel.[24] A former U.S. Ambassador to Israel and Egypt lamented that, “The concern will be that this might cause further problems in moving forward.”[25] However, while being blamed for possibly preventing the “peace process” from moving forward, what the papers reveal is that the “peace process” itself is a joke. The Palestinian Authority’s power is derivative of the power Israel allows it to have, and was propped up as a method of dealing with an internal Palestinian elite, thus doing what all colonial powers have done. The papers, then, reveal how the so-called Palestinian ‘Authority’ does not truly speak or work for the interests of the Palestinian people. And while this certainly will divide the PA from Hamas, they were already deeply divided as it was. Certainly, this will pose problems for the “peace process,” but that’s assuming it is a ‘peaceful’ process in the first part.

Is Egypt on the Edge of Revolution?

Unrest is even spreading to Egypt, personal playground of U.S.-supported and armed dictator, Hosni Mubarak, in power since 1981. Egypt is the main U.S. ally in North Africa, and has for centuries been one of the most important imperial jewels first for the Ottomans, then the British, and later for the Americans. With a population of 80 million, 60% of which are under the age of 30, who make up 90% of Egypt’s unemployed, the conditions are ripe for a repeat in Egypt of what happened in Tunisia.[26]

On January 25, 2011, Egypt experienced its “day of wrath,” in which tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets to protest against rising food prices, corruption, and the oppression of living under a 30-year dictatorship. The demonstrations were organized through the use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook. When the protests emerged, the government closed access to these social media sites, just as the Tunisian government did in the early days of the protests that led to the collapse of the dictatorship. As one commentator wrote in the Guardian:

Egypt is not Tunisia. It’s much bigger. Eighty million people, compared with 10 million. Geographically, politically, strategically, it’s in a different league – the Arab world’s natural leader and its most populous nation. But many of the grievances on the street are the same. Tunis and Cairo differ only in size. If Egypt explodes, the explosion will be much bigger, too.[27]

In Egypt, “an ad hoc coalition of students, unemployed youths, industrial workers, intellectuals, football fans and women, connected by social media such as Twitter and Facebook, instigated a series of fast-moving, rapidly shifting demos across half a dozen or more Egyptian cities.” The police responded with violence, and three protesters were killed. With tens of thousands of protesters taking to the streets, Egypt saw the largest protests in decades, if not under the entire 30-year reign of President Mubarak. Is Egypt on the verge of revolution? It seems too soon to tell. Egypt, it must be remembered, is the second major recipient of U.S. military assistance in the world (following Israel), and thus, its police state and military apparatus are far more advanced and secure than Tunisia’s. Clearly, however, something is stirring. As Hilary Clinton said on the night of the protests, “Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.”[28] In other words: “We continue to support tyranny and dictatorship over democracy and liberation.” So what else is new?

According to some estimates, as many as 50,000 protesters turned out in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other Egyptian cities.[29] The protests were met with the usual brutality: beating protesters, firing tear gas and using water cannons to attempt to disperse the protesters. As images and videos started emerging out of Egypt, “television footage showed demonstrators chasing police down side streets. One protester climbed into a fire engine and drove it away.”[30] Late on the night of the protests, rumours and unconfirmed reports were spreading that the first lady of Egypt, Suzanne Mubarak, may have fled Egypt to London, following on the heels of rumours that Mubarak’s son, and presumed successor, had also fled to London.[31]

Are We Headed for a Global Revolution?

During the first phase of the global economic crisis in December of 2008, the IMF warned governments of the prospect of “violent unrest on the streets.” The head of the IMF warned that, “violent protests could break out in countries worldwide if the financial system was not restructured to benefit everyone rather than a small elite.”[32]

In January of 2009, Obama’s then-Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the greatest threat to the National Security of the U.S. was not terrorism, but the global economic crisis:

I’d like to begin with the global economic crisis, because it already looms as the most serious one in decades, if not in centuries … Economic crises increase the risk of regime-threatening instability if they are prolonged for a one- or two-year period… And instability can loosen the fragile hold that many developing countries have on law and order, which can spill out in dangerous ways into the international community.[33]

In 2007, a British Defence Ministry report was released assessing global trends in the world over the next 30 years. In assessing “Global Inequality”, the report stated that over the next 30 years:

[T]he gap between rich and poor will probably increase and absolute poverty will remain a global challenge… Disparities in wealth and advantage will therefore become more obvious, with their associated grievances and resentments, even among the growing numbers of people who are likely to be materially more prosperous than their parents and grandparents.  Absolute poverty and comparative disadvantage will fuel perceptions of injustice among those whose expectations are not met, increasing tension and instability, both within and between societies and resulting in expressions of violence such as disorder, criminality, terrorism and insurgency. They may also lead to the resurgence of not only anti-capitalist ideologies, possibly linked to religious, anarchist or nihilist movements, but also to populism and the revival of Marxism.[34]

Further, the report warned of the dangers to the established powers of a revolution emerging from the disgruntled middle classes:

The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx.  The globalization of labour markets and reducing levels of national welfare provision and employment could reduce peoples’ attachment to particular states.  The growing gap between themselves and a small number of highly visible super-rich individuals might fuel disillusion with meritocracy, while the growing urban under-classes are likely to pose an increasing threat to social order and stability, as the burden of acquired debt and the failure of pension provision begins to bite.  Faced by these twin challenges, the world’s middle-classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest.[35]

We have now reached the point where the global economic crisis has continued beyond the two-year mark. The social repercussions are starting to be felt – globally – as a result of the crisis and the coordinated responses to it. Since the global economic crisis hit the ‘Third World’ the hardest, the social and political ramifications will be felt there first. In the context of the current record-breaking hikes in the cost of food, food riots will spread around the world as they did in 2007 and 2008, just prior to the outbreak of the economic crisis. This time, however, things are much worse economically, much more desperate socially, and much more oppressive politically.

This rising discontent will spread from the developing world to the comfort of our own homes in the West. Once the harsh realization sets in that the economy is not in ‘recovery,’ but rather in a Depression, and once our governments in the West continue on their path of closing down the democratic façade and continue dismantling rights and freedoms, increasing surveillance and ‘control,’ while pushing increasingly militaristic and war-mongering foreign policies around the world (mostly in an effort to quell or crush the global awakening being experienced around the world), we in the West will come to realize that ‘We are all Tunisians.’

In 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr., said in his famous speech “Beyond Vietnam”:

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.[36]

This was Part 1 of “North Africa and the Global Political Awakening,” focusing on the emergence of the protest movements primarily in North Africa and the Arab world, but placing it in the context of a wider ‘Global Awakening.’

Part 2 will focus on the West’s reaction to the ‘Awakening’ in this region; namely, the two-pronged strategy of supporting oppressive regimes while promoting “democratization” in a grand new project of “democratic imperialism.”

Notes

[1]        Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Global Political Awakening. The New York Times: December 16, 2008: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/16/opinion/16iht-YEbrzezinski.1.18730411.html; “Major Foreign Policy Challenges for the Next US President,” International Affairs, 85: 1, (2009); The Dilemma of the Last Sovereign. The American Interest Magazine, Autumn 2005: http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=56; The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership. Speech at the Carnegie Council: March 25, 2004: http://www.cceia.org/resources/transcripts/4424.html; America’s Geopolitical Dilemmas. Speech at the Canadian International Council and Montreal Council on Foreign Relations: April 23, 2010: http://www.onlinecic.org/resourcece/multimedia/americasgeopoliticaldilemmas

[2]        Embassy Tunis, TROUBLED TUNISIA:  WHAT SHOULD WE DO?, WikiLeaks Cables, 17 July 2009: http://www.wikileaks.ch/cable/2009/07/09TUNIS492.html

[3]        Mona Eltahawy, Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution, The Washington Post, 15 January 2011: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/14/AR2011011405084.html

[4]        Eileen Byrne, Protesters make the case for peaceful change, The Financial Times, 15 January 2011: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/82293e38-20ae-11e0-a877-00144feab49a.html#axzz1C08RDtxu

[5]        Marc Lynch, Tunisia and the New Arab Media Space, Foreign Policy, 15 January 2011: http://lynch.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/01/15/tunisia_and_the_new_arab_media_space

[6]        Jillian York, Activist crackdown: Tunisia vs Iran, Al-Jazeera, 9 January 2011: http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/01/20111981222719974.html

[7]        Steven Cook, The Last Days of Ben Ali? The Council on Foreign Relations, 6 January 2011: http://blogs.cfr.org/cook/2011/01/06/the-last-days-of-ben-ali/

[8]        Angelique Chrisafis, Sarkozy admits France made mistakes over Tunisia, The Guardian, 24 January 2011: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/24/nicolas-sarkozy-tunisia-protests

[9]        Hillary Rodham Clinton, Interview With Taher Barake of Al Arabiya, U.S. Department of State, 11 January 2011: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2011/01/154295.htm

[10]      Algeria set for crisis talks, Al-Jazeera, 8 January 2011: http://aljazeera.co.uk/news/africa/2011/01/2011187476735721.html

[11]      Alexandra Sandels, JORDAN: Thousands of demonstrators protest food prices, denounce government, Los Angeles Times Blog, 15 January 2011: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2011/01/jordan-protests-food-prices-muslim-brotherhood-tunisia-strike-thousands-government.html

[12]      AP, Thousands demand ouster of Yemen’s president, Associated Press, 22 January 2011: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g3b2emEy39Bn52Z_haypKxNPGMSw?docId=d324160638a74e84b874baeada16bb4c

[13]      Abigail Fielding-Smith, North-south divide strains Yemen union, The Financial Times, 12 January 2011: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c7c59322-1e80-11e0-87d2-00144feab49a.html#axzz1C08RDtxu

[14]      EurActiv, ‘Jasmine’ revolt wave reaches Albania, 24 January 2011: http://www.euractiv.com/en/enlargement/jasmine-revolt-wave-reaches-albania-news-501529

[15]      Clemens Höges, Bernhard Zand and Helene Zuber, Arab Rulers Fear Spread of Democracy Fever, Der Spiegel, 25 January 2011: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,741545,00.html

[16]      Shibley Telhami, Results of Arab Opinion Survey Conducted June 29-July 20, 2010, 5 August 2010: http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2010/0805_arab_opinion_poll_telhami.aspx

[17]      Shibley Telhami, A shift in Arab views of Iran, Los Angeles Times, 14 August 2010: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/aug/14/opinion/la-oe-telhami-arab-opinions-20100814

[18]      Clemens Höges, Bernhard Zand and Helene Zuber, Arab Rulers Fear Spread of Democracy Fever, Der Spiegel, 25 January 2011: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,741545,00.html

[19]      Merav Michaeli, Israel may be on the eve of revolution, Ha’aretz, 17 January 2011: http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/israel-may-be-on-the-eve-of-revolution-1.337445

[20]      Ibid.

[21]      Yagil Levy, Israeli NGOs are entrenching the occupation, Ha’aretz, 11 January 2011: http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/israeli-ngos-are-entrenching-the-occupation-1.336331?localLinksEnabled=false

[22]      Richard Falk, Ben Ali Tunisia was model US client, Al-Jazeera, 25 January 2011: http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/01/201112314530411972.html

[23]      Jack Khoury and Haaretz Service, Two decades of secret Israeli-Palestinian accords leaked to media worldwide, Ha’arets, 23 January 2011: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/two-decades-of-secret-israeli-palestinian-accords-leaked-to-media-worldwide-1.338768

[24]      Haaretz Service and The Associated Press, Hamas urges Palestinian refugees to protest over concessions on right of return, Ha’aretz, 25 January 2011: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/hamas-urges-palestinian-refugees-to-protest-over-concessions-on-right-of-return-1.339120

[25]      Alan Greenblatt, Palestinian Papers May Be Blow To Peace Process, NPR, 24 January 2011: http://www.npr.org/2011/01/24/133181412/palestinian-papers-may-cause-blow-to-peace-process?ps=cprs

[26]      Johannes Stern, Egyptian regime fears mass protests, World Socialist Web Site, 15 January 2011: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/jan2011/egyp-j15.shtml

[27]      Simon Tisdall, Egypt protests are breaking new ground, The Guardian, 25 January 2011: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/25/egypt-protests

[28]      Ibid.

[29]      MATT BRADLEY, Rioters Jolt Egyptian Regime, The Wall Street Journal, 26 January 2011: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704698004576104112320465414.html

[30]      Catrina Stewart, Violence on the streets of Cairo as unrest grows, The Independent, 26 January 2011: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/violence-on-the-streets-of-cairo-as-unrest-grows-2194484.html

[31]      IBT, Suzanne Mubarak of Egypt has fled to Heathrow airport in London: unconfirmed reports, International Business Times, 25 January 2011: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/104960/20110125/suzanne-mubarak-of-egypt-has-fled-to-heathrow-airport-in-london-unconfirmed-reports.htm

[32]      Angela Balakrishnan, IMF chief issues stark warning on economic crisis. The Guardian: December 18, 2008: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/dec/16/imf-financial-crisis

[33]      Stephen C. Webster, US intel chief: Economic crisis a greater threat than terrorism. Raw Story: February 13, 2009: http://rawstory.com/news/2008/US_intel_chief_Economic_crisis_greater_0213.html

[34]      DCDC, The DCDC Global Strategic Trends Programme, 2007-2036, 3rd ed. The Ministry of Defence, January 2007: page 3

[35]      Ibid, page 81.

[36]      Rev. Martin Luther King, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence. Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City: http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45a/058.html

Creating an “Arc of Crisis”: The Destabilization of the Middle East and Central Asia

Creating an “Arc of Crisis”: The Destabilization of the Middle East and Central Asia
The Mumbai Attacks and the “Strategy of Tension”
Global Research, December 7, 2008

Introduction

The recent attacks in Mumbai, while largely blamed on Pakistan’s state-sponsored militant groups, represent the latest phase in a far more complex and long-term “strategy of tension” in the region; being employed by the Anglo-American-Israeli Axis to ultimately divide and conquer the Middle East and Central Asia. The aim is destabilization of the region, subversion and acquiescence of the region’s countries, and control of its economies, all in the name of preserving the West’s hegemony over the “Arc of Crisis.”

The attacks in India are not an isolated event, unrelated to growing tensions in the region. They are part of a processof unfolding chaos that threatens to engulf an entire region, stretching from the Horn of Africa to India: the “Arc of Crisis,” as it has been known in the past.

The motives and modus operandi of the attackers must be examined and questioned, and before quickly asserting blame to Pakistan, it is necessary to step back and review:

Who benefits? Who had the means? Who had to motive? In whose interest is it to destabilize the region? Ultimately, the roles of the United States, Israel and Great Britain must be submitted to closer scrutiny.

The Mumbai Attacks: 11/26/08

On November 26, 2008, a number of coordinated terrorist attacks occurred across India’s main commercial city of Mumbai, which lasted until November 29. The attacks and three-day siege that ensued left hundreds dead, and roughly 295 others injured. Among the dead were a Briton, five Americans and six Israelis.[1]

Asserting the Blame

The 60-hour siege that engulfed Mumbai was reportedly undertaken by just ten, well-trained “commando killers.” Most blame has fallen on the heels of the group known as Lashkar-e-Taiba.[2]

At first, a previously-unheard of organization, known as the Deccan Mujahideen, took responsibility for the terror attacks when it sent emails to several news outlets a mere six hours after the fighting began. However, much skepticism remained about whether the group actually even exists.[3]

British intelligence then claimed that the attacks had the “hallmarks” of Al-Qaeda as it was undertaken in an effort to target westerners, similar to the 2002 Bali Bombings. British intelligence officials suggested the attacks were in “retaliation” for the recent US air attacks of suspected Al-Qaeda camps in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region, and that India was chosen as the target because that is where Al-Qaeda has “sufficient resources to carry out an attack.”[4]

On November 28, India’s foreign minister said the attackers were coordinated “outside the country,” in a veiled reference to Pakistan.[5] India’s Prime Minister also blamed the attacks on militant groups based in Pakistan, which are supported by the Pakistani government.[6]

Then, the focus was put directly on the group, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant Pakistani-based organization responsible for past attacks in India. American intelligence early on pointed the finger at this group, as well as identifying the Pakistani ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) as its supporter.[7]

The Lashkar-e Taiba (LeT)

It is important to identify what the LeT is and how it has operated historically. The group operates out of the disputed territories between India and Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir. It has close ties with the Pakistani ISI, and is largely known for its use of suicide attacks. However, aside from its links to the ISI, it is also closely allied with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The LeT is even referred to as the “most visible manifestation” of Al-Qaeda in India. It has branches across much of India, Pakistan, and in Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, South East Asia, and the United Kingdom. It primarily gets its funding from Pakistani businessmen, the ISI and Saudi Arabia. The LeT also took part in the Bosnian campaign against the Serbs in the 1990s.[8]

All the above-mentioned connections make the LeT the most desirable outfit to blame for the Mumbai attacks, as its Al-Qaeda connections, international presence and historical precedents of terror attacks set it up as the perfect target. Much like with Al-Qaeda, the LeT’s international scope could serve as a basis for taking a “war against LeT” to the steps of many countries, thus further serving the interests of the Anglo-American “War on Terror.”

Militant Islam and Western Intelligence – The Case of Yugoslavia

The LeT has not operated independently of Pakistani influence and finances. It’s close relationship with the ISI must be viewed in context: the ISI has a close relationship with Western intelligence agencies, primarily those of Great Britain and the United States. The ISI has effectively acted as a conduit for Anglo-American intelligence operations in the region since the late 1970s, when the Afghan Mujahedeen were created in collusion with the CIA. Out of this collusion, lasting throughout the 1980s until the end of the Soviet-Afghan War in 1989, Al-Qaeda was created, as well as a series of other militant Islamic organizations.

It is often stated that the CIA then discontinued its relationship with the ISI, and in turn, that the militant Islamic organizations broke off from their Western intelligence sponsors to declare war against the West. However, the facts do not support this. The ties remained, but the strategy changed. What changed was that in the early 1990s, the Cold War ended, and Russia no longer was the “Evil Empire,” and thus the excuse for an exacerbated defence budget and imperialist foreign policy receded. As George H.W. Bush declared, it was during this time that we would see the formation of the “New World Order.” And with that, there was a need for a new, elusive enemy, not in the form of a nation, but a seemingly invisible enemy, international in scale, thus taking the war to an international arena.

So in the early 1990s, Western intelligence maintained its ties to these Islamic terrorist groups. Yugoslavia is a very important case to analyze in relation to current events. The break-up of Yugoslavia was a process undertaken by Anglo-American covert interests with the aim of serving their imperial ambitions in the region. In the early 1980s, the IMF set the stage in Yugoslavia with its Structural Adjustment Programs, which had the effect of creating an economic crisis, which in turn created a political crisis. This exacerbated ethnic rivalries, and in 1991, the CIA supported the Croat move for independence.

In 1992, with the start of the Bosnian War, Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists began operating with the ethnic Bosnian Muslim minority in fighting the Serbs. In turn, these Al-Qaeda affiliated groups were supported with training, arming, and finances by German, Turkish, Iranian and US intelligence agencies; with additional financial support from Saudi Arabia. In 1997, the Kosovo War began, in which the militant-terrorist-drug trafficking Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) began fighting against Serbia, with training, arms and financial support from the US and other NATO countries. The CIA, German intelligence, the DIA, MI6 and British Special Forces (SAS) all provided training and support to the KLA.

Yugoslavia – Before and After Balkanization

The aim was in breaking up Yugoslavia, using ethnic rivalries as the trigger for regional conflict and ultimately war, leading to the dissolution of Yugoslavia into several countries, justifying a permanent US and NATO military presence in the region. [See: Breaking Yugoslavia, by Andrew G. Marshall, Geopolitical Monitor, July 21, 2008]

The Lashkar-e Taiba’s participation in the Bosnian War against Serbia would have in turn been financed and supported by these various Western intelligence agencies, thus serving the interests of Western Imperialist states; primarily those of Great Britain and the United States.

The LeT and Western Intelligence

The LeT has a sordid history of involvement with Western intelligence agencies, primarily those of Great Britain.

With the London 7/7 bombings [July 7, 2005] in which three underground stations and a double-decker bus had bombs explode on them; many of the suspected terrorists had interesting connections to Pakistan. For example, one of the suspects, Shehzad Tanweer, had apparently “attended a religious school run by the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)” while in Pakistan. Due to the LeT’s ties with Al-Qaeda, this allowed for the conclusion to be drawn that Al-Qaeda may have played a part in the London bombings, which were initially blamed on the international terrorist organization. The LeT also has close ties with the Jemaah Islamiyyah (JI),[9] an Indonesian terrorist organization, which was blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings, which also targeted tourists in Indonesia.

The Bali Bombings

Interesting to note, however, is that in the early 1990’s, when the Jemaah Islamiyyah (JI) was officially formed into a terrorist organization, it developed close ties with Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. Further, the organizations founders and leaders played a significant role in recruiting Muslims to join the Afghan Mujahideen in the war against the Soviets during the 1980’s, which was covertly directed and supported by US, British and various other Western intelligence agencies. The JI wouldn’t exist “without the CIA’s dirty operations in Afghanistan.” A former Indonesian President stated that one of JI’s key individuals was also a spy for the Indonesian intelligence agency, and that Indonesian intelligence played a more central role in the Bali bombings than the JI itself.

Bali Bombings

The JI itself, had reportedly been infiltrated by the CIA, Israeli Mossad, and that “the CIA and the Mossad, assisted by the Australian Special Action Police (SAP) and the M15 of England, are all working towards undermining Muslim organizations in an attempt to weaken the Muslims globally.” Further, one of JI’s key planners of the Bali bombings, Omar al-Faruq, was reportedly a CIA asset, and even senior Indonesian intelligence officials believed the CIA was behind the Bali bombings. The CIA subsequently “guided” Indonesia’s investigation into the bombings, which found the JI, and the JI alone, responsible for the attacks. [See: Andrew G. Marshall, The Bali Bombings. Geopolitical Monitor, November 15, 2008]

London 7/7

Much of the focus of the London bombings of July 7, 2005 (7/7), was focused on the “Pakistani connection.” The suspected bombers had all visited Pakistan, and apparently developed contacts with groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Lashkar-e Taiba. However, a less known and less publicized connection yields some very interesting information. The suspected mastermind of the London bombings, Haroon Rashid Aswat, had visited all the suspected bombers leading up to the attacks. Phone records revealed that there were “around 20 calls between him and the 7/7 gang, leading right up to those attacks.” Why is this significant? Because Haroon Rashid Aswat, apart from being an Al-Qaeda operative, also happened to be an MI6 agent, working for the British intelligence. Haroon also made his appearance on the scene of Islamic terrorism when he was in Kosovo in the 1990’s, where he “worked for British intelligence.”[10]


The Liquid Bomb Plot

Another event which brought to the forefront a “Pakistani connection” was the August 2006 London liquid bomb plot, in which terrorists supposedly were plotting to blow up nearly a dozen Atlantic airliners bound for major US cities.

The Pakistani ISI apparently helped in “uncovering” the liquid bomb plot, aiding the British in their roundup of suspects, and “tipped-off MI5.” One of the Pakistani groups accused of some involvement in the liquid bomb plot was the Lashkar-e Taiba.[11]

However, again, the suspected terrorists had been “infiltrated” and spied on by British intelligence for over a year. Further, the supposed ringleader of the bomb plot, Rashid Rauf, a dual British-Pakistani citizen, was pinpointed as the ringleader by both British and Pakistani intelligence, and was the link between the plot and Al-Qaeda. Rauf also has close ties with the ISI, and apparently had the plot approved by Al-Qaeda’s number two in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who formerly worked for the CIA during the Soviet-Afghan war. The ISI had arrested Rashid Rauf following the “exposure” of the liquid bomb plot, yet, in 2006, the charges against him were dropped, and in 2007, he amazingly escaped Pakistani custody, having “managed to open his handcuffs and evade two police guards.” [See: Andrew G. Marshall, Liquid Bomb Plot. Geopolitical Monitor: October 27, 2008]

Clearly, if the LeT is discovered to be responsible for the Mumbai attacks, its connections to Western intelligence agencies should be more closely examined and subject to investigation. The ISI, throughout its history, has not been the key player in supporting various terrorist organizations, rather, it can be more accurately described as a conduit for Western intelligence agencies to covertly fund and support terrorist organizations in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Terrorizing India

We must examine the current attacks with a backdrop of reviewing recent terror attacks in India.

1993 Bombay Bombings

March 12, 1993, Bombay (today, Mumbai) experienced a coordinated attack of 13 explosions, which killed over 250 people. A man with close connections to Osama bin laden and Al-Qaeda, Dawood Ibrahim, was believed to have been the mastermind of the attacks. He has also financed several operations of the Lashkar-e Taiba, and was believed to be hiding out in Pakistan, and receiving protection and support from the Pakistani ISI, which in 2007, reportedly arrested him. [See: Andrew G. Marshall, Political Destabilization in South and Central Asia: The Role of the CIA-ISI Terror Network. Global Research: September 17, 2008]

Mumbai Bombings, July 11, 2006: 7/11

Over 200 people were killed in Mumbai when seven bombs exploded within 11 minutes of one another on several trains. Blame for the attacks was placed with the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and the Lashkar-e Taiba (LeT), both of which have close ties with the ISI. The ISI was subsequently blamed for organizing the attacks, which were then carried out by the LeT and SIMI. The bombings led to the postponement of India-Pakistan peace talks, which were set to take place the next week. [Ibid]

Indian Embassy Bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan: July 7, 2008

On July 7, 2008, a bomb exploded at the Indian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing over 50 people, and injuring over 100 others. The Afghan government and the Indian intelligence agency immediately blamed the ISI, in collaboration with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, of planning and executing the attack. Reports on the bombing suggested that the aim was to “increase the distrust between Pakistan and Afghanistan and undermine Pakistan’s relations with India, despite recent signs that a peace process between Islamabad and New Delhi was making some headway.”

Indian Embassy in Kabul

In early August, American intelligence agencies supported the claim that members of the ISI helped plan the attack, which they based upon “intercepted communications,” and that, “American officials said that the communications were intercepted before the July 7 bombing, and that the C.I.A. emissary, Stephen R. Kappes, the agency’s deputy director, had been ordered to Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, even before the attack.” Interestingly, “a top Central Intelligence Agency official traveled to Pakistan [in August] to confront senior Pakistani officials with information about support provided by members of the ISI to militant groups.” However, the CIA knows of these connections, as it has actively supported and financed these covert ISI connections with terrorist organizations. So, what was the real purpose of this top CIA official’s visit to Pakistan?

Days after the CIA released this information to the New York Times, the US accused Pakistan of undermining NATO’s efforts in Afghanistan by supporting Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and further, “Mike Mc-Connell, the director of national intelligence, and [CIA director] Hayden asked Musharraf to allow the CIA greater freedom to operate in the tribal areas,” and was threatened with “retaliation” if he did not comply. [See: Andrew G. Marshall, Political Destabilization in South and Central Asia: The Role of the CIA-ISI Terror Network. Global Research: September 17, 2008]

The ISI and the CIA

Again, if the ISI is to be blamed for the recent Mumbai attacks, as it has played a part in several attacks and support of terrorism throughout its history, it is important to identify its relationship with the CIA.

The CIA developed close ties with the ISI in the late 1970s, as the CIA used the ISI as a “go-between” for CIA support of the Afghan Mujahideen. This relationship was also pivotal in supporting the Afghan narcotics trade, which again is rampant. The relationship between the two agencies continued throughout the 1990s, in areas such as Chechnya, Yugoslavia and India. [See: Michel Chossudovsky, Al Qaeda and the “War on Terrorism”. Global Research: January 20, 2008]

A week prior to the 9/11 attacks, the head of Pakistan’s ISI was on a visit to Washington, D.C., where he met with several key policy figures, such as Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage; Senator Joseph Biden, who is going to be Obama’s Vice President; and with his counterparts in the CIA and Pentagon, and several other officials. He was in Washington right up to and after the 9/11 attacks, and was engaged in several key consultations with US officials, pledging support for the US War on Terror instantly. However, the very same Chief of the ISI also happened to have previously approved of wiring $100,000 to the lead 9/11 hijacker, Mohammed Atta, which was also confirmed by the FBI. Thus, the ISI suddenly became a financier of the 9/11 attacks. Yet, no action was taken against the ISI or Pakistan, apart from the ISI Chief being fired upon this revelation making it into the media.

ISI Chief Lt.-General Mahmoud Ahmad

Of significance is that this ISI Chief, Lt.-General Mahmoud Ahmad, was approved as head of the ISI by the US in 1999. From then, he was in close contact and liaison with top officials of the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and the Pentagon. [See: Michel Chossudovsky, Cover-up or Complicity of the Bush Administration? Global Research: November 2, 2001]

Collaboration between the ISI and CIA did not end with these disturbing revelations. In 2007, it was reported that the CIA was arming and funding a terrorist organization named Jundullah, based in Pakistan’s tribal areas, with the goal of “sowing chaos” in Iran. Jundullah not only is funded and armed by the CIA, but has extensive ties to Al-Qaeda, and the ISI, as the CIA’s financial support for the group is funneled through the ISI, so as to make it more difficult to establish a link between the CIA and the terrorist outfit. [See: Andrew G. Marshall, Political Destabilization in South and Central Asia, op cit ]

As Michel Chossudovsky pointed out in his article, India’s 9/11, “In September, Washington pressured Islamabad, using the “war on terrorism” as a pretext to fire the ISI chief Lieutenant General Nadeem Taj,” and Pakistani “President Asif Ali Zardari had meetings in New York in late September with CIA Director Michael Hayden.” Following these meetings, “a new US approved ISI chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha was appointed by the Chief of the Army, General Kayani, on behalf of Washington.”

Anglo-American-Israeli Intelligence and India

In mid-October, American intelligence agencies warned Indian intelligence warned India about an attack “from the sea against hotels and business centers in Mumbai.” Even the Taj Hotel, which became the key area of fighting, was listed as a specific target.[12] In late November, “India’s intelligence services had delivered at least three precise warnings that a major terrorist attack on Mumbai was imminent.”[13]

Immediately following the attacks, it was reported that, “Unprecedented intelligence cooperation involving investigating agencies and spy outfits of India, United States, United Kingdom and Israel has got underway to crack the method and motive behind the Mumbai terrorist massacre, now widely blamed on Islamist radicals who appeared to have all four countries on their hit list when they arrived on the shores of India.” Specifically, “Investigators, forensic analysts, counter-terrorism experts and spymasters from agencies the four countries are converging in New Delhi and Mumbai to put their heads, resources, and skills together to understand the evolving nature of the beast.”

Further, “Washington suggested sending US Special Forces for on-the-ground operations in Mumbai but New Delhi declined the offer, saying its own forces could take care of the situation.” This unprecedented intelligence cooperation was based upon the understanding that, “the manner in which the terrorists who attacked Mumbai are reported to have singled out Americans and Britons, besides pointedly occupying a Jewish center, has revealed that their agenda was wider than just domestic discontent or the Kashmir issue.”[14]

Shortly after the attacks began, it was reported that FBI agents were quickly flown to Mumbai to help in investigating the Mumbai attacks.[15] Israel also offered to send in its “crack commandos to Mumbai to rescue Israeli hostages held in a Jewish centre,” which was refused by India, which led to Israeli media criticizing India’s response to the attacks as “slow, confused and inefficient.”[16]

The Terrorists

Hours after the attacks began on November 26, it was reported that two terrorists were killed and two others were arrested.[17] Later on, reports surfaced in which Indian police had killed four of the Mumbai terrorists and arrested nine of them.[18] The international media was full of this reported capture of nine terrorists.

Interestingly, by November 29, the story had changed. All of a sudden, Mumbai cops had only “nabbed” one terrorist. This person has effectively become the nail-in-the-coffin for laying the blame at Pakistan’s door. As soon as this person was caught, he began to sing like a canary, and said that, “all [the] terrorists were trained in marine warfare along with the special course Daura-e-Shifa conducted by the Lashkar-e-Taiba in what at once transforms the nature of the planning from a routine terror strike and into a specialized raid by commandos.” He also stated that the terrorists “were made to believe by their Lashkar bosses that they were not being sent on a suicide mission and that they would be coming back alive.” He also revealed the names of his fellow terrorists, all of them Pakistani citizens.[19]

Along the same lines, another very interesting mystery of the Mumbai massacre is the early reports of British involvement. Shortly following the outbreak of violence, Indian authorities stated that, “Seven of the Mumbai terrorists were British Pakistanis,” and that, “two Brits had been arrested and another five suspects were from the UK.” Further, Blackberry phones found on the suspects contained “a lot of content” connecting them with the UK.[20] The Chief Minister of Mumbai had early on reported that, “two British-born Pakistanis were among eight gunmen seized by Indian commandos who stormed buildings to free hostages.”[21]

On December 1, the Daily Mail reported that, “As many as seven of the terrorists may have British connections and some could be from Leeds and Bradford where London’s July 7 bombers lived.” As a result of these revelations, Scotland Yard anti-terrorist detectives were sent to Mumbai “to assist in the investigation.” There was also speculation that one particular British Al-Qaeda suspect may have helped plan the assault, and just happened to be killed a week earlier in Pakistan by the CIA. That person was Rashid Rauf.[22] This is the same Rashid Rauf who was at first declared the mastermind of the London liquid bomb plot, who had close ties with the ISI and Al-Qaeda, who was subsequently arrested by the ISI, and then miraculously “escaped” from Pakistani custody. Barely a week before the Mumbai Massacre, Rauf was reportedly killed by a CIA drone attack on a militant Islamic base in Pakistan’s tribal region.

Early on, there was an incident in which a taxicab was blown up in Mumbai, with the driver and passenger killed. The taxi started moving through a red light when the car bomb exploded, which ended up saving the lives of “hundreds,” as opposed to if the car had moved when the light was green and intersection was full. This ensured that the only ones who died were those in the taxi.[23] This sparked an investigation into whether the driver “was aware that his car was loaded with explosives.”[24]

Why is this significant? Because this closely resembles tactics used in Iraq since the Anglo-American occupation of the country, employed by both US and British intelligence and special forces in an effort to sow chaos and create civil strife and war. [See: Andrew G. Marshall, State-Sponsored Terror: British and American Black Ops in Iraq. Global Research, June 25, 2008]

Means, Modus Operandi and Motive

Means

While the possibility that Pakistan and the ISI (or Lashkar-e Taiba) are responsible for the Mumbai attacks should be taken into consideration, given precedence and means, we must allow ourselves to contemplate other possibilities.

While India and the west are placing the blame for the attacks on Pakistan’s ISI and the Lashkar-e Taiba, the Pakistani press is reporting on another possibility.

On November 29, the Pakistan Daily reported that, with a stiff side of anti-Israel rhetoric, that the Mumbai attack would be used “as justification for a US invasion of Pakistan.” It reported that the Israeli Mossad “has mobilized since 2000 in the Jammu and Kashmir areas of India, where the Indian government has been pursuing a ‘security’ issue with regard to the Kashmiri people.” It quoted a Times of India article that reported, “Israeli counter-terrorism experts are now touring Jammu and Kashmir and several other states in India at the invitation of Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani to make an assessment of New Delhi’s security needs. The Israeli team, headed by Eli Katzir of the Israel Counter-Terrorism Combat Unit, includes Israeli military intelligence officials and a senior police official.” There was also a reported agreement on “closer India-Israeli cooperation on all security matters.”[25]

Modus Operandi

Shortly after the start of the attacks in Mumbai, a Russia counter-terrorism presidential envoy stated that, “The terrorists in the Indian city of Mumbai, who killed more than 150 people and injured over 300, used the same tactics that Chechen field militants employed in the Northern Caucasus.” He elaborated, “These tactics were used during raids by militant Chechen field commanders Shamil Basayev and Salman Raduyev against the towns of Buddyonnovsk and Pervomaiskoye. For the first time in history the entire towns were terrorized, with homes and hospitals seized. The Mumbai terrorists have learned these tactics well.”[26]

Shamil Basayev, one of the Chechen rebel leaders, as well as many of the other Chechen leaders, were trained by the CIA and ISI in Afghanistan, in CIA-run training camps during the Soviet-Afghan war of the 1980s.[27]

Motive

On December 2, former ISI Chief Hameed Gul, said that the “Mumbai incident is an international based conspiracy to deprive Pakistan of its atomic power. Talking to a private TV channel on Friday, he said that to involve Pakistan in the incident reflected that some forces wanted to declare Pakistan a fail[ed] state as somehow it had become necessary to make Pakistan kneel down in order to snatch its atomic power away.” He elaborated that the method of attacks, and how the militants executed them, “seemed impossible without internal support.” He continued in stating that the “US wanted to see [the] Indian army in Afghanistan to disintegrate the country,” and referred to recent US maps showing a divided Pakistan in four parts, and that making Pakistan “kneel down” before the IMF was “part of a pre-planned trick.”[28]

As astonishing and outlandish as these claims may seem, the US has a long history of turning on its allies when they seek to become self-sufficient and developed, such as with Saddam Hussein and Iraq in the early 1990s. Also, it is vital to note the role of the IMF and World Bank in creating economic crises, and thus, political-social-ethnic instability, which invariably has led to all out ethnic war, genocides and “international interventions,” in countries such as Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

The International Financial Institutions (IFIs) often create the conditions for political instability, while covert Western intelligence support to disaffected and radical groups creates the means for rebellion; which then becomes the excuse for foreign military intervention; which then secures an imperial military presence in the region, thus gaining control over the particular region’s resources and strategic position. This is the age-old conquest of empire: divide and conquer.

Interesting to note is that in 2008, “Pakistan was again seeking IMF help. On Nov. 25, it won final approval on a $7.6 billion loan package after foreign reserves shrank 74 percent to $3.5 billion in the 12 months ended on Nov. 8.”[29] This loan was approved a day before the Mumbai attacks began. On December 4, it was reported that, “Tough conditions of International Monetary Fund (IMF) have now started surfacing as IMF and the Government of Pakistan (GoP) agreed to discontinue oil import support, eliminate power subsidies and budgetary support of the government, public and private entities. IMF and GoP have agreed to phase out the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBPs) provision of foreign exchange for oil imports.” On top of this, “further steps will be taken during the remainder of the fiscal year to strengthen tax enforcement. Moreover, fuel prices will continue to be adjusted to pass through changes in international prices.” Further, “The programme envisages a significant tightening of monetary policy.”[30]

The results of these conditionalities are predictable: Pakistan will lose all subsidies; fuel prices will drastically rise, as will food and other necessary commodity prices. At the same time, a tightening of monetary policy and World Bank/IMF control over Pakistan’s central bank will prevent Pakistan from taking measures to curb inflation, and the cost of living will skyrocket as the currency value plummets. All this is going on while taxes are increased and expanded greatly, and public jobs such as bureaucratic positions, education, etc., are downsized or altogether disbanded. Money will likely continue to flow to the ISI and Army, which will create discontent among Pakistan’s deprived and disillusioned. A military coup would be likely, followed by rebellion en masse, which would in turn pit the various ethnicities against one another. This could lead to either a war against India, ultimately ending with a consolidated national security state to act as a conduit for Anglo-American imperial ambitions, such as in Rwanda; or, it could result in ethnic conflict and wars, ultimately ending up in the break-up of Pakistan into smaller states divided among ethnic lines, such as in Yugoslavia. Or, it could end with a combination of the two, a divided, warring, region engulfed in crisis.

The break up of Pakistan is not a far-fetched idea in terms of Anglo-American strategy. In fact, the plan for the destabilization and ultimately, balkanization of Pakistan has originated in Anglo-American-Israeli military strategic circles. As I previously documented in Divide and Conquer: The Anglo-American Imperial Project [Global Research, July 10, 2008], the destabilization and balkanization of the near-entire Middle East and Central Asia has been a long-held strategy for the Anglo-America-Israeli Axis since the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Divide and Conquer

This concept evolved in strategic planning circles in the late 1970s in response to regional nationalist tendencies in the Middle East and Central Asia, as well as a perceived threat of growing Soviet influence in the region. The central aim of these strategic thinkers was to secure Middle Eastern oil and Central Asian gas reserves and pipeline routes under the control of the Anglo-Americans. Control over these vital energy reserves is a strategic as much as economic concern, as most of the world gets its energy from this area; so those who control the energy, control who gets it, and thus, control much of the world. The economic benefits of Anglo-Americans controlling the regions energy reserves cannot be analyzed separately from strategic interests, as they are one and the same. Anglo-American oil companies gain control of the oil and gas, while the British and American governments install puppet regimes to look after their interests; and to act as proxies in creating conflicts and wars with countries of the region who act in their own national interest, as opposed to acting under the guidance of and submission to the Anglo-Americans.

Arc of Crisis

After the 1973 oil shocks, which were, in fact, promoted and covertly orchestrated by Anglo-American banking and oil interests, the oil producing nations grew very wealthy, such as Iran. As well as this, countries like Afghanistan were becoming increasingly leftist and progressive. Fearing possible alliances developing between Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries with the Soviet Union, as well as the even greater threat of these countries becoming truly independent, taking control of their own resources for the good of their own people; Anglo-American strategists turned to what is called the “Arc of Crisis.”

The “Arc of Crisis” describes the “nations that stretch across the southern flank of the Soviet Union from the Indian subcontinent to Turkey, and southward through the Arabian Peninsula to the Horn of Africa.” Further, the “center of gravity of this arc is Iran.” In 1978, Zbigniew Brzezinski gave a speech in which he stated, “An arc of crisis stretches along the shores of the Indian Ocean, with fragile social and political structures in a region of vital importance to us threatened with fragmentation. The resulting political chaos could well be filled by elements hostile to our values and sympathetic to our adversaries.”[36]

Anglo-American strategy in the region thus developed and changed at this time, as “There was this idea that the Islamic forces could be used against the Soviet Union. The theory was, there was an arc of crisis, and so an arc of Islam could be mobilized to contain the Soviets. It was a Brzezinski concept.”[37] Bilderberg member, Bernard Lewis, presented a British-American strategy to the Bilderberg Group during the 1979 meeting, which, “endorsed the radical Muslim Brotherhood movement behind Khomeini, in order to promote balkanization of the entire Muslim Near East along tribal and religious lines. Lewis argued that the West should encourage autonomous groups such as the Kurds, Armenians, Lebanese Maronites, Ethiopian Copts, Azerbaijani Turks, and so forth. The chaos would spread in what he termed an ‘Arc of Crisis,’ which would spill over into the Muslim regions of the Soviet Union.”[38] Since the Soviet Union was viewed as a secular and atheist regime, having oppressed religion within its sphere of influence, the rise of radical Islamic influence and governments in the Middle East and Central Asia would ensure that Soviet influence would not enter into the region, as radical Muslims would view the Soviets with more distrust than the Americans. The Anglo-Americans positioned themselves as the lesser of two evils.

Bernard Lewis was a former British intelligence officer and historian who is infamous for explaining Arab discontent towards the West as not being rooted in a reaction toward imperialism, but rather that it is rooted in Islam; in that Islam is incompatible with the West, and that they are destined to clash, using the term, “Clash of Civilizations.” For decades, “Lewis played a critical role as professor, mentor, and guru to two generations of Orientalists, academics, U.S. and British intelligence specialists, think tank denizens, and assorted neoconservatives.” In the 1980s, Lewis “was hobnobbing with top Department of Defense officials.”[39] Lewis wrote a 1992 article in Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, titled, “Rethinking the Middle East.” In this article, Lewis raised the prospect of another policy towards the Middle East in the wake of the end of the Cold War and beginnings of the New World Order, “which could even be precipitated by fundamentalism, is what has of late become fashionable to call ‘Lebanonization.’ Most of the states of the Middle East – Egypt is an obvious exception – are of recent and artificial construction and are vulnerable to such a proc ess. If the central power is sufficiently weakened, there is no real civil society to hold the polity together, no real sense of common national identity or overriding allegiance to the nation-state. The state then disintegrates – as happened in Lebanon – into a chaos of squabbling, feuding, fighting sects, tribes, regions and parties.”[40]

Bernard Lewis’ Redrawn Map of the “Arc of Crisis”

A Foreign Affairs article of 1979, the journal put out by the powerful Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), discussed the Arc of Crisis: “The Middle East constitutes its central core. Its strategic position is unequalled: it is the last major region of the Free World directly adjacent to the Soviet Union, it holds in its subsoil about three-fourths of the proven and estimated world oil reserves, and it is the locus of one of the most intractable conflicts of the twentieth century: that of Zionism versus Arab nationalism.” It explained that US strategy in the region was focused with “containment” of the Soviet Union as well as access to the regions oil. [41]

It was in this context that in 1979, as Zbigniew Brzezinski later admitted, “According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.” He claimed that, “We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.” What a perfect example of what George Orwell would call “double-speak,” saying that the Americans “didn’t push the Russians to intervene” but rather, “increased the probability that they would.” In other words, they “pushed” them to intervene.[42]

This is when the Mujahideen were created, and through this, Al-Qaeda, and a variety of other radical Islamic groups which have come to plague global geopolitics since this era. Terrorism cannot be viewed, as it often is, in such a simple manner as “non-state actors” reacting to geopolitics of nations and corporations. In fact, many terrorist groups, particularly the largest, most well organized, extremist and violent ones, are “proxy state actors,” receiving covert support – through arms and training – by various state intelligence agencies. They are not simply “reacting” to geopolitics, but are important players in the geopolitical chessboard. They represent the perfect excuse for foreign militaristic adventurism and war; domestic tyranny in the form of developing police states to control populations, stifle dissent and create a totalitarian base of control.

As the San Francisco Chronicle wrote in September of 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, “The map of terrorist sanctuaries and targets in the Middle East and Central Asia is also, to an extraordinary degree, a map of the world’s principal energy sources in the 21st century. The defense of these energy resources — rather than a simple confrontation between Islam and the West — will be the primary flash point of global conflict for decades to come.” Further, it stated: “It is inevitable that the war against terrorism will be seen by many as a war on behalf of America’s Chevron, ExxonMobil and Arco; France’s TotalFinaElf; British Petroleum; Royal Dutch Shell and other multinational giants, which have hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in the region.”[43] Indeed, where Al-Qaeda is present, the US military follows, and behind the military, the oil companies wait and push; and behind the oil companies, the banks cash in.

Balkanizing the Middle East

In 1982, Oded Yinon, an Israeli journalist wrote a report for a publication of the World Zionist Organization in which he advocated, “The dissolution of Syria and Iraq into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon [which] is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front. Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run, it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel.”

In 1996, an Israeli think tank with many prominent American neo-conservatives, issued a report in which they advocated for Israel to “Work closely with Turkey and Jordan to contain, destabilize, and roll-back some of its most dangerous threats,” among them, to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

In 2000, the Project for the New American Century, an American neo-conservative think tank, published a report called Rebuilding America’s Defenses, in which they openly advocated for an American empire in the Middle East, focusing on removing the “threats” of Iraq and Iran.

Shortly after the US invasion of Iraq, prominent members of the Council on Foreign Relations had begun advocating the break-up of Iraq into at least three smaller states, using Yugoslavia as an example of how to achieve this.

In 2006, the Armed Force Journal published an article by retired Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters, which called for the redrawing of the borders of the Middle East. He first advocated the breakup of Iraq, and that, “Saudi Arabia would suffer as great a dismantling as Pakistan,” and that, “Iran, a state with madcap boundaries, would lose a great deal of territory to Unified Azerbaijan, Free Kurdistan, the Arab Shia State and Free Baluchistan, but would gain the provinces around Herat in today’s Afghanistan.”

Describing Pakistan as “an unnatural state,” he said, “Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier tribes would be reunited with their Afghan brethren,” and that it “would also lose its Baluch territory to Free Baluchistan. The remaining “natural” Pakistan would lie entirely east of the Indus, except for a westward spur near Karachi.” He even made up a helpful little list of “losers” and “winners” in this new great game: as in, who gains territory, and who loses territory. Among the losers are Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the West Bank and Pakistan. And Peters made the startling statement that redrawing borders is often only achieved through war and violence, and that “one other dirty little secret from 5,000 years of history: Ethnic cleansing works.”

Conclusion

Ultimately, the aims of the Mumbai attacks are to target Pakistan for balkanization. The question of who is responsible – either the ISI, largely rogue of Pakistan’s civilian government and under the authority of Anglo-American intelligence; or separate Indian terrorists, likely supported by the same Anglo-American intelligence community – while important, is ultimately a secondary consideration in comparison to the question of Why?

The Who, What, Where, and When is a show for public consumption; masked in confusion and half-truths, designed to confuse and ultimately frustrate the observer – creating a sense of unease and fear of the unknown. The WHY, on the other hand, is the most important question; once you discover the why, the who, where, what, and when begin to fall into place, and create a full picture.

If the Mumbai attacks were designed to be blamed on Pakistan – as they likely were – and thus, to possibly start a war between Pakistan and India – which is now a growing reality – what is the ultimate significance of knowing if it was the ISI or Indian elements responsible? Albeit, this is important to know, however, when it comes to understanding the motives behind the attacks, it pales in comparison.

Pakistan is a strategic lynch-point in the region. Pakistan borders Iran, Afghanistan, India and China. It lies directly below the Central Asian republics of the Former Soviet Union, which are rich in natural gas resources. With NATO’s war in Afghanistan, and the Anglo-Americans in Iraq, and American forces in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the occupation of Pakistan would position Western imperial militaries around Iran, the central Middle Eastern target. With the balkanization of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, destabilizing forces would cross the borders into Iran, ultimately creating the conditions for political and social collapse within the country.

A conflict between Pakistan and India would not only have the effect of dismantling Pakistan, but would also greatly deter India’s rapid economic and social development as the world’s largest democracy, and would force it to come under the influence or “protection” of Western military might and International Financial Institutions. The same is likely for China, as destabilization would cross Pakistan’s borders into the most populated country on earth, exacerbating ethnic differences and social disparities.

A large Anglo-American military presence in Pakistan, or, alternatively, a NATO or UN force, combined with the already present NATO force in Afghanistan, would be a massive military strategic position against advancement of China, Russia or India into the region. With China’s massively increasing influence in Africa threatening Anglo-American and European domination of the continent, a massive military presence on the border of China could act as a powerful warning.

The Mumbai attacks do not aid India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, or any nation within the region. The beneficiaries of the Mumbai Massacre are in London and New York, in the boardrooms and shareholders of the largest international banks; which seek total control of the world. Having dominated North America and Europe for much of recent history, these bankers, primarily Anglo-American, but also European, seek to exert their total control over the world’s resources, currencies, and populations. There are many concurrent strategies they are employing to achieve this end: among them, the global financial crisis, to reign in and control the world economy; and a “total war” in the Middle East, likely escalating into a World War with Russia and China, is the perfect tool to strike enough fear into the world population to accept an over-arching supranational governance structure – to ensure no future wars occur, to ensure stability of the global economy – a utopian vision of a single world order.

The problem with utopias is that they are “ultimate ideals,” and if humanity has learned anything in its history on this planet; it is that perfection is impossible, be it in the form of an “ideal person” or an “ideal government;” humanity is plagued by imperfections and emotion. Accepting our imperfections as a species is what can make us great, and understanding that a utopian ideal is impossible to achieve is what can allow us to create the “best possible” society we can have. All utopias attempted throughout history have always turned into dystopias. We must learn from humanity’s history of sordid flaws; and only when we accept that we are not perfect, and cannot ever become perfect, in person or in politics, are we free to become humanity at it’s most advanced and at its most noble.

Notes

[1]        Damien McElroy and Rahul Bedi, Mumbai attacks: 300 feared dead as full horror of the terrorist attacks emerges. The Telegraph: November 30, 2008: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/3536220/Mumbai-siege-300-feared-dead-as-full-horror-of-the-terrorist-attacks-emerges.html

[2]        Andrew Buncombe and Jonathan Owen, Just ten trained terrorists caused carnage. The Independent: November 30, 2008: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/just-ten-trained-terrorists-caused-carnage-1041639.html

[3]        Maseeh Rahman, Mumbai terror attacks: Who could be behind them? The Guardian: November 27, 2008: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/27/mumbai-terror-attacks-india8

[4]        Hasan Suroor, U.K. intelligence suspects Al-Qaeda hand. The Hindu: November 28, 2008: http://www.hindu.com/2008/11/28/stories/2008112860481700.htm

[5]        Press TV, India links Mumbai attackers to Pakistan. Press TV: November 28, 2008: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=76797&sectionid=351020402

[6]        Agencies, India blames Pakistan for Mumbai attacks. Gulf News: November 28, 2008:
http://www.gulfnews.com/world/India/10263289.html

[7]        Mark Mazzetti, U.S. Intelligence Focuses on Pakistani Group. The New York Times: November 28, 2008:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/29/world/asia/29intel.html?_r=3&em

[8]        SATP, Lashkar-e-Toiba: ‘Army of the Pure’. South Asia Terrorism Portal: 2001:

http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/india/states/jandk/terrorist_outfits/lashkar_e_toiba.htm

[9]        Gethin Chamberlain, Attacker ‘was recruited’ at terror group’s religious school. The Scotsman: July 14, 2005: http://news.scotsman.com/londonbombings/Attacker-was-recruited-at-terror.2642907.jp

[10]      Michel Chossudovsky, London 7/7 Terror Suspect Linked to British Intelligence? Global Research: August 1, 2005: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=782

[11]      Michel Chossudovsky, The Foiled UK Terror Plot and the “Pakistani Connection”. Global Research: August 14, 2006: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=2960

[12]      Richard Esposito, et. al., US Warned India in October of Potential Terror Attack. ABC News: December 1, 2008: http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=6368013&page=1

[13]      Praveen Swami, Pointed intelligence warnings preceded attacks. The Hindu: November 30, 2008: http://www.hindu.com/2008/11/30/stories/2008113055981500.htm

[14]      Chidanand Rajghatta, US, UK, Israel ramp up intelligence aid to India. The Times of India: November 28, 2008: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/World/India_gets_intelligence_aid_from_US_UK/articleshow/3770950.cms

[15]      Foster Klug and Lara Jakes Jordan, US sends FBI agents to India to investigate attack. AP: November 30, 2008: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gsTS09Q-pwO8Q0F_68FHwrmhCJOgD94OA5A80

[16]      IANS, Israeli daily critical of India’s ’slow’ response to terror strike. Thaindian News: November 28, 2008:
http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/world-news/israeli-daily-critical-of-indias-slow-response-to-terror-strike_100124946.html

[17]      IANS, Two terrorists killed, two arrested in Mumbai. Thaindian News: November 27, 2008: http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/world-news/two-terrorists-killed-two-arrested-in-mumbai_100124003.html

[18]      Agencies, Four terrorists killed, nine arrested. Express India: November 27, 2008: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Four-terrorists-killed-nine-arrested/391103/

[19]      ToI, Arrested terrorist says gang hoped to get away. The Times of India: November 29, 2008: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Arrested_terrorist_says_gang_hoped_to_get_away/articleshow/3771598.cms

[20]      Mark Jefferies, Mumbai attacks: Seven terrorists were British, claims Indian government. Daily Record: November 29, 2008: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/2008/11/29/mumbai-attacks-seven-terrorists-were-british-claims-indian-government-86908-20932992/

[21]      Jon Swaine, Mumbai attack: ‘British men among terrorists’. The Telegraph: November 28, 2008: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/3533472/Mumbai-attack-British-men-among-terrorists.html

[22]      Justin Davenport, et. al., Massacre in Mumbai: Up to SEVEN gunmen were British and ‘came from same area as 7/7 bombers’. The Daily Mail: December 1, 2008: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1089711/Massacre-Mumbai-Up-SEVEN-gunmen-British-came-area-7-7-bombers.html

[23]      Debasish Panigrahi, Taxi with bomb jumped signal, saving many lives. The Hindustan Times: November 28, 2008: http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/FullcoverageStoryPage.aspx?id=505311b6-974c-4d7b-87bb-8b5e29333299Mumbaiunderattack_Special&&Headline=Taxi+with+bomb+jumped+signal%2c+saving+many+lives

[24]      Vijay V Singh, Was taxi driver aware of bomb in car? The Times of India: November 29, 2008: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Cities/Mumbai/Was_taxi_driver_aware_of_bomb_in_car/articleshow/3770989.cms

[25]      PD, The Israeli Mossad False Flag Opperation Strikes In Mumbai. Pakistan Daily: November 29, 2008:
http://www.daily.pk/world/asia/8383-the-israeli-mossad-false-flag-opperation-strikes-in-mumbai.html

[26]      RT, Mumbai terrorists used Chechen tactics. Russia Today: November 29, 2008: http://www.russiatoday.com/news/news/33921

[27]      Michel Chossudovsky, Who Is Osama Bin Laden? Global Research: September 12, 2001: http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO109C.html

[28]      PD, Former ISI Chief Mumbai incident international conspiracy to deprive Pakistan of atomic power. Pakistan Daily: December 2, 2008:
http://www.daily.pk/local/other-local/8426-former-isi-chief-mumbai-incident-international-conspiracy-to-deprive-pakistan-of-atomic-power.html

[29]      Yoolim Lee and Naween A. Mangi, Pakistan’s Richest Man Defies Terrorism to Expand Bank Empire. Bloomberg: December 3, 2008:
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=aI3f99JIujV4&refer=home

[30]      Sajid Chaudhry, Inevitable conditionalities of IMF start surfacing. The Daily Times: December 4, 2008:
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2008\124\story_4-12-2008_pg5_1

[31]      Patricia Goldstone, Aaronsohn’s Maps: The Untold Story of the Man who Might Have Created Peace in the Middle East. Harcourt Trade, 2007: pages 21-22

[32]      Patricia Goldstone, Aaronsohn’s Maps: The Untold Story of the Man who Might Have Created Peace in the Middle East. Harcourt Trade, 2007: page 22

[33]      Niall Ferguson, Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power. Perseus, 2002: pages 193-194

[34]      Herbert R. Lottman, Return of the Rothschilds: The Great Banking Dynasty Through Two Turbulent Centuries. I.B. Tauris, 1995: page 81

[35]      Patricia Goldstone, Aaronsohn’s Maps: The Untold Story of the Man who Might Have Created Peace in the Middle East. Harcourt Trade, 2007: pages 22-23

[36]      HP-Time, The Crescent of Crisis. Time Magazine: January 15, 1979:
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,919995-1,00.html

[37]      Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America. University of California Press: 2007: page 67

[38]      F. William Engdahl, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New  World Order. London: Pluto Press, 2004: page 171

[39]      Robert Dreyfuss, Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. Owl Books, 2005: page 332-333

[40]      Bernard Lewis, Rethinking the Middle East. Foreign Affairs, Fall 1992: pages 116-117

[41]      George Lenczowski, The Arc of Crisis: It’s Central Sector. Foreign Affairs: Summer, 1979: page 796

[42]      Le Nouvel Observateur, The CIA’s Intervention in Afghanistan. Global Research: October 15, 2001:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/BRZ110A.html

[43]      Frank Viviano, Energy future rides on U.S. war: Conflict centered in world’s oil patch. The San Francisco Chronicle: September 26, 2001:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/09/26/MN70983.DTL