- ZICHRON YAACO, Israel --
It is ironic that in the entire history of the Middle East conflict it
has always been the claim of the pro-Israel camp that, "the Arabs
view their history as one long conspiracy against them", when in fact-
such a view is completely accurate and the view that the Israeli side receives-
is not at all realistic.
- Unlike Israelis- Arab intellectuals aren't swayed by
the propaganda of their own national leaders. If Arab intellectuals complain
of exploitation and colonialism at the hand of the foreigners- this isn't
because of some "wild conspiracy theory that all Arabs have of foreigners"
but because it is the truth. Israelis would do themselves a favor by stop
arrogantly thinking their political culture is so much further advanced
than the "primitive Arabs" and realized that their perceptive
and perception of the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict is not accurate.
- So if one is dive into the history of the Arab world-
and leave the Arab-Israeli conflict aside for the moment- it would be helpful
to accept the Arab perception of reality.
- That reality is based on one simple principle: legitimate
Arabs leaders were never allowed to develop or surface because unless an
Arab national leader did what the foreigners wanted them to do- they found
themselves victim to a coup concocted by foreign elements- or branded as
a "radical Arab dictator" and thus a "threat to regional
security." As a "radical Arab threat" this served to bolster
the Israeli government's claim that "radical Arab leaders/nations
threaten the continued existence of the Jewish state.
- There have been about thirty-five coups and coup attempts
in the Middle East in the past 50 years. Only one of them came into being
without Western involvement. The absence of a system or an acceptable governing
group made it easy for the pro-American and pro-British army colonels to
do what they did- covertly. .
- Any proper review of modern Middle East history reveals
that except for Egypt, the boundaries of every state which emerged after
the First World War were drawn by European powers. Indeed, every Arab state
of the time was run by what Desmond Stewart (The Temple of Janus, p. 166)
calls as "client dynasty" or under the direct control of the
- Says Middle East scholar, Dr. Mohammed Daud Miraki :
"Most of the time, the elite controlling the governments of Muslim
states views their survival parallel to the interests of the elite in the
United States and her allies, and view the continuation of their hold on
power in their submission to the will of the United States." (essay
January 28th, 2003)
- In Richard Becker's October 2002 article: The Battle
For Iraqi Oil: US Corporate Skullduggery Since WW1, we learn about the
real history of the foreigners' involvement in the Arab Middle East:
- "In February 1919, Sir Arthur Hirtzel, a top British
colonial official, warned his associates: "It should be Bourne in
mind that the Standard Oil Company is very anxious to take over Iraq."
(Quoted in Peter Sluglett, Britain in Iraq, 1914-32, London, 1974)
- Becker continues: "In 1927, major oil exploration
got underway Huge deposits were discovered in Iraq and the Iraqi Petroleum
Company was created by Anglo-Iranian (today British Petroleum), Shell,
Mobil and Standard Oil of New Jersey (Exxon)- was set up. Within a few
years it had totally monopolized Iraqi oil production.
- During that same period the al-Saud family, with Washington's
backing, conquered much of the neighboring Arabian Peninsula. Saudi Arabia
came into being in the 1930s as a neocolonial of the United States. The
US embassy in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, was located in the Armco (Arab
American Oil Company) building. But the US oil companies and their government
in Washington weren't satisfied. They wanted complete control of the Middle
East oil, just as they had a near monopoly of the Western hemisphere's
petroleum reserves. This meant displacing the British, who were still top
dog in the region."
- In 1953, after the CIA coup that put the Shah in power,
the United States took control of Iran. By the mid-1950s, Iraq was jointly
controlled by the United States and Britain. Washington set up the Baghdad
pact- which included its client regimes in Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Iraq,
along with Britain, in 1955. The purpose of The Baghdad Pact was to oppose
the rise of Arab and other liberation movements in the Middle East."
- Rami Khouri, a syndicated columnist for The Daily Star
in Beirut, offers this view of the history of the Arab elite's ties to
- "We Middle Easterners (Arabs, Iranians, Turks, Israelis,
Kurds, and others) have a long track record of both arranging others, national
configurations and having our own rearranged by others. The modern Middle
East was largely configured by British and French who sought to ensure
their own colonial interests; they created new countries whose fundamental
assets and attributes often make little logical sense. One of the problems
we suffered after our last reconfiguration by the British and the French
around 1920 was that most of the Arab countries had closer relations with
London and Paris than they did with each other. The scheduled flights of
our national airlines went to Paris and London more frequently than they
went to other Arab capitals. This indicated that political and economic
ties with the former colonial powers were more important for the nascent
Arab ruling political powers than relations with other Arabs".
- Khouri contends there is nothing inherently wrong with
being rearranged; peoples, societies, and states do it all the time, to
themselves and to others. "However our experience in the Arab world
indicates that if the people being reconfigured have a say in the process,
and their new national map corresponds to their identities and aspirations,
the resulting reconfigured region may prove both satisfying to its citizens
and state within the global context," he argues. "The British
and the French did not do this around 1920, and left behind a mess of fragile,
often violent, states. That episode resulted in unsatisfactory, intemperate
Arab statehood in many cases, a terrible modern legacy of security states,
and tensions that finally exploded into political terror in the 1990s and
beyond." (February 13th, 2003)"
- If one really wants to understand how the Arabs view
the west, they should read "A Brutal Friendship" (St. Martin's
Press, New York, 1997) by the well-known Arab journalist, Said Aburish.
- Aburish claims there are no legitimate regimes in the
Arab Middle East. The House of Saud, King Hussein of Jordan, Presidents
Husni Mubarak, Saddam Hussein, Hafez al-Assad, Yaser Arafat and the remaining
minor Arab heads of state run various types of dictatorships. They depend
on phony claims to legitimacy while representing small special interest
groups- minorities whose members owe their allegiance to them rather than
the state as the representative and guardian of the interests of the people.
- The result is religious, tribal, army-based or hybrid
ruling cliques and leaders who have one thing in common: they are opposed
to the desire of the majority of the Arab people to develop legitimate
governments. By overlooking the absence of legitimacy and affording dictatorships
unqualified recognition, the foreign powers directly and indirectly, supports
the paramount of individual leaders, army groups, sects, clans and families
who run the Middle East and determine its shape and direction. Aburish
claims that perpetuating Western political hegemony and protecting economic
interests from real or imagined threats take precedence over considerations
- Aburish believes that it isn't Islam the West is battling,
but the notion of populist, popular political movements which represent
a threat to the West's clients and interests. The bad image the West creates
for them isn't meant to explain them; it is meant to justify declaring
war on them.
- He explains: "The ruling groups in the Middle East
use income from oil and their armed forces (including the security forces)
to stay in power. Because the West controls or influences the acquisition
of arms which make the armed forces effective and because it manipulates
the oil market through oil companies which decide where to buy, refine,
distribute and use the income generated from oil, it relies on both tools
to determine the policies of these countries. This is why the West, in
cooperation with friendly regimes and against the wishes of the unfriendly
ones, seeks to perpetuate its monopoly of both businesses. The rich Arab
states were discouraged from developing their petrochemical industries,
moving into refining and distribution, investing in the industries of the
West or any moves towards a more equitable distribution of wealth."
- On the subject of what the rich oil states did with their
newfound wealth, Aburish explains: "The surplus from oil was linked
to the world capital market controlled by US, British and French banks.
Placing the surpluses in Western banks ensured the continued use of money
to fuel Western economies, to act as the primary lenders in the world financial
market, and meant that the depositor countries realized less benefit than
is available through different routes. There was no attempt to use the
surpluses to develop the Middle East and whatever small money trickled
through towards regional development was comparatively small."
- Regardless of how the mainstream media ignores the role
oil plays in the conflict in the Middle East, the fact is if the Middle
East had no oil reserves- there probably never would have been a Middle
East conflict for the past 75 years.
- As to where this policy of the British (and later the
Americans) originated, we needn't look further than a series of meetings
held in Britain starting in 1905 headed by Prime Minister Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman.
From this, a High Committee was formed. It specialized in matters of colonialism
consisting of members from the participating states, of leading historians,
social, economic and agricultural analysts, scholars, geologists and experts
in oil and gas. The members of this committee met in London in 1907. The
final decisions made by the conference were threefold:
- 1) Separating the Muslim lands in the East from those
in the West, making their unity more difficult.
- 2) - Planting a new enemy for the Muslims on their lands,
in the first Qiblah and the third of the Holiest Mosques. This would draw
their attention to a new enemy, focusing all their energies on defeating
him and in turn weakening their capability of resisting Western aggression,
causing them to forget what occurred during the days of the Crusades.
- 3) Establishing an advanced base for the disbelieving
colonialists, at the head of them Britain, to protect their interests,
implement their plans and schemes and ensuring the outflow of natural resources
from the region, as well as the import of their goods and products into
the markets of the region
- The goal of the colonialist powers- then and now- is
to keep Arab peoples backwards by not enabling them to elect popular leaders-
and to control the vast mineral wealth that the Arabs were fortune enough
- Joel Bainerman writes on Middle East political and economic
issues from Israel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and
his published archive of articles and essays can be viewed at <http://www.joelbainerman.com/>www.joelbainerman.com