Review of F. William Engdahl’s Book
BRITAIN & THE MIDDLE EAST
As documented in F. William Engdahl’s book A Century of War – Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, Britain’s interest in the Middle East was piqued when her leaders realized that oil would replace coal as the energy source of the future. At the turn of the century Britain had no first-hand access to oil and was dependent upon America, Russia or Mexico for her supplies. This was quickly understood as an unacceptable situation and through intrigues involving British spy Sidney Reilly and Australian geologist and engineer William Knox d’Arcy.
Britain was able to secure drilling rights to Persian oil from Persian monarch Reza Khan. D’Arcy paid what amounted to $20,000 cash for rights to tap Persian oil until 1961, with a 16% royalty from all sales going to the Shah. The British company that Reilly persuaded d’Arcy to ally with then became known as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, which was a forerunner of the mighty British Petroleum (BP).
However, even with a supply of Persian oil, Britain was losing the race to secure Middle Eastern oil reserves to the Germans. In the years prior to World War I Germany had enjoyed an astonishing economic explosion and this was helped by her alliance with the Ottoman Empire which allowed her access to their vast reserves. In 1889 the Germans worked out an agreement to finance, through Deutsche Bank, a railway from Constantinople into Anatolia, and later in 1899 the final agreement for a complete Berlin-to-Baghdad railway was signed.
The British made sure that this rail link was never completed through the use of her ally Serbia, which stood in the middle of the German alliance that included Austro-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire. World War I is commonly understood as sparked by the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand by Serbian assassins.
Serbia did play a key part in World War I, but the conflict was not simply a result of this solitary event. The truth is that World War I was fomented by the British so that they could control oil, foreseen by their geo-strategists as the world’s most important emerging resource. In 1916, at the height of World War I, the British worked out an agreement with France, Italy and Russia known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement that carved up the Ottoman Empire into Western colonies. This secret agreement created the arbitrary boundaries of what are today the countries of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Kuwait.
Britain would control the oil-rich Persian Gulf through Iraq and Kuwait and would also receive Palestine and Jordan. France would receive Syria and Lebanon, Italy was promised parts of Anatolia and some Mediterranean islands and Russia was to get parts of Armenia and Kurdistan.
During the war Britain diverted more than 1.4 million troops from the Western Front to fight the Ottomans in the east. While the French lost 1.5 million dead and suffered 2.6 million wounded in the trenches the British gained victory after victory in the Middle East. After the war ended the British continued to maintain over a million troops in the area, and in 1918 the British General Allenby found that he was the de-facto military dictator over almost the entire Arab Middle East.
While T.E. Lawrence was directing the Arab revolt against the Ottomans on behalf of the British he had assured his Arab allies that Britain would honor their desires for independence, but after the war these promises were ignored. During the war the famous Balfour Declaration was also given. It was a letter between Lord Balfour and Lord Rothschild that promised official British endorsement of a Jewish state in Palestine. The plain fact is that the Arabs were cheated, betrayed and used in a British drive to gain control of the region that contained the world’s largest known oil reserves.
In the fight against the Ottoman Empire the British gained the support of two important Arab leaders. The first was Hussein I of the Hashemite dynasty, a dynasty that traced a direct lineage back to the prophet Mohammed. He was the ruler of the Hijaz area that included Mecca and Medina and the British hyped his “holy” status to maximize his popular support. The second prominent Arab leader that the British eventually brought into the fold was Ibn Saud, the leader of the tribal Wahhabi sect of central Arabia. Ibn Saud used his British financing to enhance his position as a religious figure and to buy the support of the Bedouins.
After the Ottomans were defeated and the Sykes-Picot and Balfour Agreements were revealed Hussein I realized the treachery that had defeated him and he abdicated his throne. His three sons Ali, Faisal and Abdallah then tried their luck at Arab rule.
Prince Ali took over the Hijaz but lost it in 1925 in his clash with the forces of the British-supported Ibn Saud. The Saudis have ruled Arabia ever since. The biggest mistake Britain made was losing interest in the Saudis and the Arabian deserts, allowing Standard Oil of California to come in and purchase the rights to search for oil in Saudi Arabia for $250,000 in 1933. Since that time the Saudi royal family has enjoyed a very special relationship with the United States.
Prince Faisal, who had worked with T.E. Lawrence and conquered Damascus from the Ottomans, made a claim to rule French-governed Syria in 1920, but the French ended this attempt after just four months. Faisal then retreated to Britain and a year later he was recycled when he, a Sunni prince, was given the predominantly Shia territory of Iraq to govern as king. Faisal I ruled until his death in 1933. His son Ghazi ruled Iraq until he died in 1939, followed by Ghazi’s son Faisal II, the last king of Iraq, who was killed in a military coup in 1958.
The Hashemite dynasty continues to this day only through the third of our trio of Hussein’s sons. Prince Abdallah was given the land of Trans-Jordan to govern in 1921 and as king he maintained a strong pro-British stance, despite the treachery displayed to his father. Abdallah understood that there was no future in contradicting his masters, and the British used him to check the fury of his own population as the British desire to establish a Jewish state in Israel came into focus. King Abdallah was killed in the Al Aqsa Mosque in 1951, and his sixteen year old grandson Hussein took the throne. King Hussein ruled until his death in 1999, and his son King Abdullah now rules the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
The main point that must be understood from the historical record, as it relates to the main focus of this article, is the cynical manner in which the religion of Islam has been used by the British Empire to further British political goals. In the book by Arab historian Said Aburish, A Brutal Friendship – The West and the Arab Elite, the author identifies three distinct phases of Islam’s relationship with the West within the 20th Century.
The first phase, according to Aburish, was the phase immediately after World War I. The Arab leaders had been cheated and betrayed, but they were still dependant upon the British to allow them any type of rule over the Arab masses. Ibn Saud was the leader of the Wahhabi sect, and the British acknowledged his influence as a religious figure and funded his conquest of all of Arabia.
The Hashemites were the strongest traditional Arab force, but their back was broken when Ibn Saud threw them out of Mecca and Medina. In their “pity” the British then placed Abdallah and Faisal over Jordan and Iraq. These Hashemite princes were outsiders, to say the least, but the British played the religion card for all it was worth and justified their actions to the Arab people through the Hashemite lineage that traced back to Mohammed. Certainly any Arab would be happy to be ruled by a “holy” clan like the Hashemites!
The British used Islam in Palestine as well when, in 1921, they engineered the election of their choice, Haj Amin Husseini, a descendant of Mohammed, to the post of Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. In Palestine almost all of the elite Arab families quickly found it profitable to be pro-British, and the Grand Mufti maintained this stance as well, at least up until 1936 when the imminent establishment of a Jewish Israel forced him to finally support the desires of his people.
Regarding the first phase of Islam’s relationship with the West Aburish writes, “All political leadership of the time depended on Islam for legitimacy and all political leaders were pro-British. Islam was a tool to legitimize the rule, tyranny and corruption of Arab leaders. To the West, Islam was acceptable; it could be and was used.” This phase of elitist domination of the Arab people, using Islam as the legitimizing factor, could not continue indefinitely. The force that rose up to counter it was secular Arab nationalism and it eventually revolved around the person of Gamal Abd-al Nasser of Egypt.
This movement sought to free the Middle East from Western domination and at the same time it was cynical of the Islam that had been used so successfully to prop up and justify elitist rule. We will identify the second phase of Western-Islamic relations that began with the rise of Arab nationalism, but first we must take a brief historical look at Egypt.
Myron Stagman from the Global Research, May 31, 2010, said in his review of a book titled A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order by William Engdahl (be sure it’s the revised 2004 edition) is MUST reading. Very good history, and finally we have an author who comprehends both history and economics !! A CENTURY OF WAR: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, William Engdahl. London: Pluto Press, revised 2004 (orig. 1992)
The distinguished economist and historian William Engdahl provides must reading with this book. A Century of War once again proves Santayana’s dictum, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” (And proves George Bernard Shaw’s corollary, “We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.”)
The theme running throughout the book is the ruthless corporate and governmental pursuit of the magic moneymaker, Oil. And the unremitting subversion and wars to seize black gold. Engdahl describes the US and UK corporations and governments as international predators, occasionally as rivals (in earlier times), but normally as an axis of financial and military power bent on capturing the petroleum resources of the world.
Let us go through portions of the book in outline, paraphrasing fashion (although sometimes quoting), showing its thrust and sweep. [Bracketed comments will be mine; emphases also mine]:early 20th century — Serbia as the first line of defense of UK eastern possessions. [hence the strategic position of the Balkans, and the unfortunate position of Serbia — see 1990’s US-UK subversion and war against Yugoslavia, and demonisation of the excellent nationalistic leader, Milosevic, who refused the IMF’s kiss-of-death funding]
By 1902, large reserves of petroleum believed to exist in Iraq and Kuwait, soon to be validated
1913 — British Government secretly buys up a majority share ownership of Anglo-Persia Oil (later called British Petroleum). “From this point, OIL was the core of British strategic interest.”
World War I — Petroleum began to effect a military revolution. “In the last phase of the War, a staggering 12,000 barrels of oil per day were used in the final British-French-American offensives.”
In the Middle East, Britain falsely promised independence to Arab leaders if they revolted against the Ottoman empire. [T.E. Lawrence knew this at the time, unlike in the film Lawrence of Arabia.] 100,000 Arabs lost their lives in the successful revolt. Britain took over much of oil-rich
Britain, covertly owning Royal Dutch Shell as well as BP, moves for oil supremacy in a petroleum world hitherto dominated by the USA Rockefeller family’s Standard Oil corporations
The Anglo-American corporations/governments close ranks against all comers. [see the notorious Lockhart Plot, the assassination of German Foreign Minister Walter Rathenau, etc., plots and mysterious deaths over the decades]
A secret pact between US-UK corporations creates the world’s most powerful economic syndicate which agrees to set a secret world cartel price for oil [of course, at an astronomically high price relative to cost; and of course the number of criminal felonies involved in this are as high as the prices]
American oil corporations [Rockefeller Standard Oil group plus the Mellon family’s Gulf Oil, which is today controlled by the Rockefellers] secured Saudi Arabian oil. [a State Department official called this “one of the greatest material prizes in history”.] late 1940s:
America uses the Marshall Plan to enrich US oil corporations, and establish them [and other US big businesses] in Europe.
“Anglo-American oil companies controlled incredibly cheap Middle East supplies, and held captive markets in Europe, Asia, Latin America and North America.”
Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh took on Anglo-American Oil [seeking to exploit Iranian oil for the benefit of the Iranian people].
Two years of unrelenting Anglo-American economic warfare against the country [as would be done with Iraq prior to the US-UK invasion, and earlier in Yugoslavia], and the subversion of key support for the parliamentary government, ended in a CIA-British secret service coup d’etat in 1953.
They installed [the brutal and feared regime of] Reza Shah Pahlevi.
Italy: Oil Minister Enrico Mattei [anticommunist resistance hero and “the most important individual in Italy”, responsible more than anyone for the “Italian economic miracle” –New York Times] also sought to make his country independent of the Anglo-American Cartel.
In October 1960, Mattei blew fuses inside offices of US-UK Oil Cartel and in the White House and 10 Downing Street. “Mattei was in Moscow… Moscow and the vast Russian petroleum resources became [reminiscent of the assassinated German Minister Rathenau ‘s situation in the 1920s] the focus of European negotiations.”
Once again the Anglo-Americans stood dead opposed to success of negotiations with Moscow [and the collapse of their illicit cartel].
“On Oct 27, 1962, under circumstances which to this day stir speculation and charges of sabotage, the private airplane carrying Mattei crashed after taking off from Sicily en route to Milan, killing all three on board.”
“Perhaps it was merely a coincidence that CIA chief John McCone, at the time of Mattei’s suspicious death, held more than $1 million in shares in Standard Oil of California (Chevron).”
At the time of his death, Mattei had been preparing for a trip to meet with President Kennedy who was then pressing the US oil companies to reach an agreement with Mattei.
Nov 22, 1963 President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. “New Orleans Judge Jim Garrison years later continued to insist that the murder was carried out by the CIA, with the aid of selected organized crime figures.” [The CIA are essentially Rockefeller interest employees, only serving the U.S. government when Washington’s aims do not divurge significantly from Rockefeller interests. Such divergence has rarely if ever happened, however, except when Kennedy was president.]
“Kennedy, in issue after issue, ran at odds with the East Coast’s powerful financial and political interests.”
Ecological Agenda — “The American oilman present at the May 1973 Saltsjobaden meeting of the Bilderberg group, Robert O. Anderson, was a central figure in the implementation of the ensuing Anglo-American ecology agenda. It was to become one of the most successful frauds in history.”
Anderson and his Atlantic Richfield Oil Co. [related to the Standard Oil corporations] funneled millions of dollars through their Foundation into select organisations to target nuclear energy [which was considered a threat to oil at that time — now it appears to be controlled by the oil corporations, or President Bush would not have promoted it].
“One of the prime beneficiaries of the largesse was a group called Friends of the Earth which was organized in this time with a $200,000 grant from Anderson.
One of the earliest actions of Anderson’s Friends of the Earth was an assault on the German nuclear industry through such antinuclear actions as the anti-Brockdorg demonstrations in 1976.
“FoE had ‘friends’ in very high places in London and Washington.”
“By the time of the Kissinger oil shock of 1973-74 [a 400% price increase], a massive antinuclear propaganda offensive could be launched.”
[See George Monbiot’s very important article in the Guardian, 4 September 2001, “Sleeping with the Enemy: Consumer and environmental groups are getting into bed with big corporations”. In the case of Friends of the Earth, the organization was actually founded by a big oil-cartel corporation, and its board of directors habitually reflect the control of planet earth’s premier polluters. From my own personal experience as well, it can be asserted that Friends of the Earth can be an extremely deceptive and dangerous NGO.]
“Who really controlled OPEC? Only the politically naive could believe that Arab countries would suddenly be allowed to exercise independence on issues of such importance to British and American interests.”
India and Pakistan: nationalistic prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, their policies sought to extricate their countries from the grip of Western cartels, particularly Oil [Gandhi sought to accordingly organise much of the Third World — both die violently. [Rathenau, Mattei, Gandhi, Bhutto, President Kennedy, his brother Robert, Martin Luther King – not to mention untold millions of names unknown to us who are victims in Oil wars – all of these U.S.-UK Oil cartel opponents (or incidental victims) die violently.]
Imposing the NEW WORLD ORDER — “Thatcher’s ‘economic revolution’ intended the beneficiaries to be the international financial interests of the City of London, and the powerful companies grouped around Shell, BP and their allies.”
Third World Debt — IMF funding for the Third World is the Kiss of Death. IMF, global policeman enforcing payment of “usurious debts through the imposition of the most draconian austerity in history.”; crucial voting bloc of IMF firmly controlled by an American-British axis [banks interlocked with the Oil corporations].
Debtor nations caught in a death trap, only way out is “surrender national sovereign control over their economies, especially valuable resources”.
IRAQ, 1990s — manufactured pretext by Thatcher and Bush governments to establish direct military presence at the choke point of world’s, particularly Europe’s, petroleum supplies. [As George W. Bush would engineer a pretext to invade Iraq as did his forbear, 9/11 this time.]
US ambassador in Baghdad, April Glaspie, enticed Iraq to invade Kuwait, after which came the US-UK attack on Iraq which resulted in their firm military presence in the Middle East.
Earlier, Washington had secretly encouraged Saddam Hussein to invade Iran, feeding false information about the ‘ease’ of victory.
YUGOSLAVIA must be brought into the IMF version of free-market reform. NATO would secure the deal that an economic destabilisation campaign had begun.
“Full spectrum domination”, the U.S. military’s phase for American global domination goal, including cyber space and outer space, to establish “the New World Order” [the term very probably adapted from Adolf Hitler’s “the New Order” ]
Long before September 11, Bush Government decided to target Iraq and Afghanistan, “anti-Terrorism” to replace the now defunct “anti-Communism” as the excuse for aggressive military interventions.
Iraq War, 2003 — years of economic destabilisation prior to outright military invasion, as with Yugoslavia. [Given the history of the US-UK Oil Cartel and their enforcing Governments, this war was quite predictable.]
[Footnote from Myron Stagman,Incessant U.S.-UK Oil Cartel wars for oil are not always just to capture more oilfields for exploitation. The Cartel fears an independent source of oil which might put petroleum on the market at a price well below the Cartel’s astronomically-high price.]