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Friday, 21 December 2012

The United States Arab (Oil) Lobby

Historically, I can begin by saying that many members of the Truman Government opposed the partition of Israel and Palestine (both in 1948 and well before that). And it is here that we can note the vital importance of the Arab Oil Lobby on American policy. For example, the Defense Secretary of the Truman Administration, James Forrestal, argued that Zionist aims would threaten American oil supplies as well as the US’s overall position in the Middle East. More specifically, this was the era of Soviet power and the US Government were very worried that the Arab world might ally itself with the Communists (which much of it did) if the US rubbed-up the Arabs the wrong way. That wrong way was taking the “Zionist position” on Middle Eastern affairs. 

Because of oil, and the US’s strategic position in the Arab world, many in the US state thoroughly opposed the creation of the state of Israel; despite the mythology from Arabs, Muslims and leftists. (After all, don’t leftists say that “oil and money are everything to Americans”?)

I mentioned Truman. This American President particularly reacted negatively to what others called “the Jewish lobby”. He once talked about putting a match to all the demands of Jews to accept or encourage the foundation of the state of Israel.

This American love affair with the Arabs, or at least with Arab oil, began in the 1930s. It was then that oil was discovered in the Arab world. This of course meant that many US oil companies started sniffing around the arses of many Gulf Arab leaders.

In the 1950s, this American oil-interest burgeoned into a more political and strategic alliance with various Arab states. At this time, Iraq and Libya became the false friends of the United States. Egypt under Nasser, for example, was not so friendly with the US at this time. However, that too changed when Sadat assumed power in that country (in 1970).

By the 1970s America had become thoroughly dependent on Arab oil and it was then, in 1973 to be precise, that the Arabs first attacked the US. That is, the Arab states enforced an oil embargo on America. This severely damaged the American economy (plus much else). After this, the Arab states, or OPEC, attacked the US (plus the West) again by vastly increasing the price of its oil. This triggered a recession in America.

In more precise economic terms. In 1973 Arab oil accounted for 35% of US oil demand. In fact, by 2001, the situation was even more drastic (or Arab-dependent). In that year, 45% of all US oil demand was supplied by the Arab states. Specifically, in 2001, Saudi Arabia was the third most important supplier of oil to the US. Interestingly, considering the previous war in 1990/1, in 2001 Iraq was the sixth largest supplier of oil to the United States. As far as all the Persian Gulf states were concerned, they supplied 29% of all US petroleum imports.

This Arab oil-dependency was of course politically exploited. During the 1973 Israel-Arab War, Egypt’s President Sadat persuaded the Saudi King, Faisal, to threaten to withhold oil from the West. The thing is; that threat worked very well! After the threat every major American oil company backed the Arab position, both publicly and privately, and, from then on,  these companies systematically worked to weaken American government – and public - support for Israel.

More specifically, the ARAMCO consortium (which included Exxon, Mobil, Texaco and SOCAL) tried to block America’s emergency airlift during the said 1973 War. More incredibly, and unpatriotically, these companies also cooperated closely with Saudi Arabia in order to deny oil and fuel to the US Navy.
A more generally phenomenon, from 1973 onwards, was the fact that many major US oil companies systematically and vocally advocated the positions and demands of the Arab countries, specifically of Saudi Arabia.

The relationship also worked the other way. Many Saudi agents wormed their way into the beds of many US oil companies and suggested to them that they become activists on behalf of Saudi Arabia. None of this is surprising when you bear in mind the fact that hundreds of the biggest US companies do billions upon billions worth of business with the Islamic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. According to Hoag Levins, these US companies

“had [have] hundreds of subcontractors and vendors equally dependent on maintaining the good graces of Muslim leaders whose countries now collectively represent the single richest market in the world.” 

So much for the “Zionist Lobby” or the “Israel Lobby”. The truth can easily be seen as being the exact opposite of that. The journalist Steve Emerson makes this point:

“[Because of the Arab Lobby] [t]he result is the appearance of widespread, spontaneous support for the policies of Saudi Arabia and other Arab oil producers by American institutions ranging from universities to the Congress. The proliferation of vested ties has allowed special interests to be confused with national interests.

“Never before in American history has any foreign economic power been as successful as Saudi Arabia in reaching and cultivating powerful supporters all across the country. The Saudis have discovered that one quintessential American weakness, the love of money, and the petrodollar connection has become diffused throughout the United States.”

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