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Issue #1739      July 13, 2016

Redrawing the map

For many decades British and French imperialist interests dominated the Middle East. With the break-up of the Ottoman Empire and following WW1, the spoils were divided up and new states carved out by these two powers. French power predominated in Syria and Lebanon. British power held absolute sway in Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

The colonisation of regions of the world.

When Bush launched the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the US objective was not simply to seize control of Iraqi oil but all the oil resources of the Middle East and if this involved the redrawing of the political map in the face of rising anti-American sentiments, this would also be done.

Today the four biggest and most powerful petroleum corporations in the world are based in Britain and the US: Exxon-Mobil, Shevron-Texaco, British Petroleum-Amoco and Royal Dutch-Shell.

This in part explains why the Blair government so enthusiastically lined up with the US objectives of war and re-division. It also explains the resistance to do so at the time of France and Germany. They were being excluded and as a by-product, the Euro as a currency was being weakened against the US dollar.

At the time of the Iraq war preparations Sasha Lilley, an independent producer and correspondent for Free Speech Radio News, reported on an interview with then British Labour Party Member of Parliament George Galloway. He confirmed that the aims of the US and Britain went well beyond replacing the Iraqi leader.

Lilley quotes Galloway as saying: “They include a recasting of the entire Middle East, the better to ensure the hegemony of the big powers over the natural resources of the Middle East and the safety and security of the vanguard of imperialist interests in the area – the State of Israel. And part of that is actually redrawing boundaries.”

Galloway was vice-chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party Foreign Affairs Committee and, said Lilley, had close relations to Britain’s Ministry of Defence. “Galloway says that British Ministers and former Ministers are primarily focused on the break-up of Saudi Arabia and Iraq in the wake of an attack against Saddam Hussein, but are also discussing the possible partition of Egypt, Sudan, Syria and Lebanon.

“These officials have become taken with the realisation that the borders of the Middle East are recent creations dating back only to WW1 when Britain and France divided the region between themselves.”

This dividing up of the region by imperial powers led to the creation of the states of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq among others. Under the aegis of Britain, the modern state of Saudi Arabia emerged in the late 1920s, absorbing the hitherto separate eastern, central and western regions – including the holy sites of Mecca and Medina – of what constitutes the country today.

The partition of the Middle East was partially driven by the oil conglomerates of the time.

Lilley also raised the question of the destabilisation of the region with war on Iraq in which “radical anti-American protesters move to overthrow their governments and the US intervenes to prevent the emergence of such hostile regimes. The US long ago granted itself permission to intervene in Saudi Arabia if the House of Saud were threatened by internal revolt, and this could be extended elsewhere under the licence of the ‘war on terrorism’.”

What was being talked about was a reorganisation, or redistribution of boundaries in the Middle East and a re-colonisation by the US and Britain. Such thinking was not only prevalent in British government circles but also in the US.

Securing the realm

The former Under-Secretary of Policy at the US Department of Defence (July 2001 - August 2005), Douglas Feith wrote with others a document headed “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”.

He advised the Israeli government to “work closely with Turkey and Jordan to contain, destabilise, and roll back some of its most dangerous threats”, including attacking Lebanon and Syria.

“Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing and even rolling back Syria”, stated the document.

Apart from using the war on Iraq as an opportunity to attack Syria “Israel could once and for all settle the ‘Palestinian question’ by expelling the Palestinian population to Jordan as many in Israel have been advocating”, noted Sasha Lilley.

Imperialism war strategist and former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger summed up the sentiment held by the US administration’s thinking in the opening to his “Does America Need a Foreign Policy”, with the words, “the US is enjoying a pre-eminence unrivalled by even the greatest empires in the past”.

In an article in a publication called Re-Ordering the World, on the long-term implications of the September 11, 2001 attack on the US, published by the Foreign Policy Centre in Britain, whose patron was then British PM Tony Blair and whose President was former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, Robert Cooper, an adviser to Tony Blair, said, “The challenge to the post-modern world [the successful states] is to get used to the idea of double-standards.

“Among ourselves, we operate on the basis of laws and open cooperative security. But when dealing with more old fashioned kind of states outside the post-modern continent of Europe, we need to revert to the rougher methods of an earlier era – force, pre-emptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary to deal with those who still live in the 19th century world of ‘every state for itself’.”

Cooper goes on to propose a return to colonialism and imperialism. “Empire and imperialism are words that have become terms of abuse in the post-modern world. Today there are no colonial powers willing to take on the job, though the opportunities, perhaps even the need, for colonisation is as great as it ever was in the 19th century.”

Cooper talked about “a new kind of imperialism”.

He said that if states wished to benefit “they must open themselves up to the interference of international organisations and foreign states”.

He goes on to cite the example of Kosovo where intervention resulted in not only the on-going presence of foreign forces but the imposition of police, judges, prison officers, central bankers, 100 NGOs and many others who also remain on an on-going basis.

The UN is involved in the establishment, training and financing of this infrastructure.

Cooper dresses up his vision of re-colonisation with warm-sounding terms such as “cooperative empire”, “dedicated to liberty and democracy”.

The post-modern states, by that meaning Britain and the US in the first place, will colonise the “failed states” in a new world “which is open for investment and growth”.

The Middle East is just the beginning.

Next article – Dingo

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