By Michael Brazel
Let’s talk about the attack on the oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia. This has the potential to be the critical flash-point not only in Middle Eastern affairs but in the world’s financial systems. This could snowball out from the deserts where our modern concept of civilisation and bring down the world as we know it. If that sounds serious, well it is.
If the flow of oil is hindered, and prices go up, then goods and services become more expensive. Transport costs go up, which means everything goes up which means access to everything gets harder. Which means access to basic necessities starts getting out of reach. Which means people start getting stressed and hungry and competitive. Which means a world as volatile as the petroleum at the root of the issue here.
It would be occurring at a time when markets are already fragile, and when people all over the world are polarised and suspicious and craving radical change.
Investors will start questioning the potential returns on their investments and stop investing. People will spend less and the world will head into a depression that will make the 1930s look meek. Partly because most people in the 1930s had never experienced the level of opulence many of us have come to expect of life.
As prices rise to cope with the stymied flow, the knock-on effects are felt as future projects start getting stalled. Creating the lethal scenario where ravenous corporations also start going hungry. And starved of their profits, they can be a most destructive beast. They will continue the trend of hoarding their wealth like gluttonous dragons and the people will continue their trend of wanting their dragon heads on spikes.
Meanwhile, back at the burning oil facilities, the Houthis, who have been fighting Saudi backed extremism in Yemen in what is currently the world’s cruellest and most extreme war have claimed responsibility for the attack. They have apparently flown ten relatively cheap military drones, worth $15,000 or so each into Saudi territory and attacked two of the world’s largest oil processing facilities, affecting half the world’s energy supplies.
Needless to say, this has made the US war-hawks very upset. And in true form, they are getting ready to attack Iran for something someone else has claimed responsibility for.
Yes, the Houthis do receive assistance from Iran in their war against Saudi backed extremism in their own country, but does that make Iran responsible? A Saudi prince could stub his toe on an oil pipeline and the US would accuse Iran and find some grainy black and white footage to “prove” it was responsible.
It would make sense to believe the Houthis when they claim responsibility for this attack. They are at war with the Saudi-led coalition, who have been vicious in Yemen and they have been involved in cross border attacks before. In fact, earlier this year, in at least two instances, Saudi forces have struck down drone attacks by the Houthis in their airspace. Add to this the fact that the Saudi government was just about to make Saudi Aramco, its national oil company public, a move that could be worth up to US$2 trillion, it would make a large-scale attack on infrastructure like this a perfect target.
But Mike Pompeo says no. The US establishment, including Democratic representatives say no. Our lying eyes deceive us. It was Iran. The Houthis they say, couldn’t possibly have the drone capabilities to have carried out such an attack, despite the fact they have previously been carrying attempted attacks of a similar nature.
So the Houthis say it was them. Iran says it wasn’t us. But the American administration is just itching to invade and is looking for any excuse possible. And there’s nothing like an attack on inanimate fossil fuels to get the US up in arms. They certainly don’t seem to get upset about the atrocities in Yemen.
Yemen has seen war crimes committed by both sides. The Houthis have plenty of civilian blood on their hands and have been responsible for laying landmines through vast tracts of land, attacking civilian areas and kidnappings. But the US executive branch seems intent on only coming down on the Houthi side, while ignoring the war crimes coming from the other side. The Saudi-coalition has been responsible for bombing weddings, hospitals, sanctions leading to famine and the use of cluster bombs, yet this doesn’t seem to raise the ire of the world’s petro-hyperpower. An average Tuesday for the American war machine.
It could be Yemen’s geo-political positioning. It sits right at the mouth of a critical transport hub in the Gulf of Aden, which is one of the key ways that Saudi oil enters the world market and continues to prop up the hegemony of the US petro-dollar.
It could be that the Saudi-led coalition, which is mostly regional states, also includes Academi, formerly Blackwater, which is essentially the world’s largest and most lethal mercenary force that is stationed in the US, and works both with and for the CIA making the US not only a behind the scenes force in the Yemen conflict but a direct participant. Blackwater cum Academi has basically been the US’s private militia, able to do the dirty work that even the US military isn’t willing to do. And that is saying something. They also provide a way for non-US citizens to get paid work as mercenaries for its imperial ambitions. And Erik Prince, its founder is the brother of insufferable Betsy DeVos, the Secretary for Education in the US.
While the Yemen war is considered a civil war, it has long been seen as a Saudi/Iranian proxy war. But taking into account the role of Academi, the funding and weapons supplied by the US, this shows the conflict in Yemen even more clearly to have been a proxy conflict between the US and Iran, and makes the more and more frequent claims that Iran is responsible for various political trigger events even more dubious. The US has been responsible for the destabilisation of the region for many years, is world-famous for lying themselves into invasions in the Middle East and as a consequence has directly overthrown many regional governments, including Iran, and yet we are supposed to trust their judgement.
Iran, as disturbing and problematic as their government is, has plenty of legitimate grievances against the US. Orwellian, intolerant and repressive, Iran is consistently being called out, and rightly so, for its oppressive policies and treatment of women and dissidents, let alone women dissidents, but in the Olympic decathlon of atrocious behaviour, when competing with their regular accusers, the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel, Iran would be in a real struggle to even get a place on the podium. So why are they so particularly irksome to the United States and its allies?
The US definitely struck the first blow in this very lop-sided and long conflict through a collaboration between the CIA and British intelligence services to depose the Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh in the 1950s when he wanted to nationalise Iranian oil supplies and secure the profits gained from its sale in order to benefit the Iranian people and not just companies like BP.
They then installed, supported and worked with Shah Reza Pahlavi, helping to establish his secret police and even instituting, ironically enough, Iran’s original nuclear infrastructure. The Shah was one of America’s closest allies until he was overthrown in the 1979 Islamic Revolution, that in many ways was a direct reaction to American interference in the country and region.
In the devastating Iran-Iraq war that lasted from 1980 to 1988 and took over half a million lives, the US-backed Iraq under the then less famous and somehow less demonic Saddam Hussein, supplying him with the chemical weapons he used in that war against Iranian soldiers.
In the last twenty years, the US and its allies have overthrown countries to the left and right of Iran, namely Iraq and Afghanistan, but also Libya. And what the US hasn’t done, Saudi Arabia has, spreading Wahabist extremism throughout the region and directly funding many of the groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS that are supposedly the enemies of the all that the US stands for. Groups that are fundamentalist Sunni, directly opposed to Shia Iran.
Then with the advent of Donald Trump, and his petty reluctance to be associated with anything Obama did, the US pulled out of the JCPOA, the multi-lateral treaty that actually saw Iran agree to term that prevented them, not only from developing nuclear weapons, but also from further developing nuclear energy. This was a monumental agreement that was a pathway for Iran to reintegrate into the international community and allay some of the tensions felt around its nuclear ambitions.
This was a slap in the face of Iran, who had been upholding its end of the deal, and also of all the other countries who were instrumental in achieving the JCPOA and who have not been impressed by the US’s unilateral treaty breaking.
Since the breaking of the deal, the tone towards Iran has reverted to the pre-Obama, Bush administration “Axis of Evil” approach. It has become increasingly provocative and defamatory, appearing for all intents and purposes to be peppering the public up in preparation for war while putting Iran a corner where they are more and more likely to respond with a move that can be painted as aggressive by the US and its allies. This is no surprise considering the people Trump has surrounded himself with, including until very recently John Bolton, an architect of the Iraq war and someone considered a godfather of the Neo-Conservative movement.
But Trump himself is not a foreign policy man. He is not driving the war machine. He probably couldn’t care less about any of this let alone know the history of it. If he could secure a new nuclear deal with Iran, as he has recently been trying to do, it would probably only be so he could include a real estate clause where he could slap his name on a piece of prime real estate in Tehran. In reality, much of the aggressive rhetoric towards Iran seems to be being driven by Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Israeli government, warhawks like Bolton and Pompeo within the US executive and military industrial complex and Saudi desires to implement regional Sunni supremacy.
So when the US claims Iran is antagonistic, is aggressive, is responsible for destabilisation, it sounds like words practised in front of a mirror. The hypocrisy of it is biblical. And taking it seriously, considering their modus operandi is lying their way into wars in order to secure the petro-dollar and prevent a paradigm shift away from the global heterodoxy of American exceptionalism and market domination, would require some serious cosmic-scale grains of salt.
They are searching for any pretext at all that justify an invasion of Iran, a country of 80 million or so people. They are using all the propaganda means at their disposal to try and lube up the international community for the violent entry they are desperately wanting to make. They aren’t looking to invade Saudi Arabia. A country that beheads people on the regular, is currently responsible for the world’s worst humanitarian crises and less than a year ago, murdered Jamal Khashoggi, an American journalist, then chopped him up into little pieces and carried his remains out in bags while his fiance waited in a car outside. And they certainly aren’t going to invade Israel. They won’t even withhold a penny from them no matter how many war-crimes they commit or how egregious their treatment of the Palestinians is. They want to invade Iran. Not for humanitarian concerns. Not even for retaliation. For business. For imperial ambition. For oil. For the bottom line. For control.
We are living through the last days of industrialism as we know it. We are living in the twilight of the American Empire. And we are watching as they seek to control every last drop of oil in order to maintain hegemony at any cost. The same people trying to lie us into this war are the ones public denying climate change is a threat while strategising for how they can best profit from it in private. Our future is of little consequence in their vision. Their identity is tied up in securing what they perceive to be personal glory in the long term and personal gain in the short term. They are burning the world and us along with it and gas-lighting the world as they do.
And we as Australians will be made complicit. We are neck deep in the carnage of the Western Imperialism in the Middle East in genera–not surprising considering we are born of the same impulse–but in specific, we have Australian military working within the Saudi coalition. We have Australian companies supplying weapons systems to the Saudi coalition.
We have sent a warship over in order to help “contain” Iran. To sustain the sanctions that are literally aimed at starving the Iranian population into insurgency. Much like we helped prop up the sanctions and oil-for-food program in the ’90s which again quite literally crippled the Iraqi people.
But what a euphemism such as containment means in reality, the true objective behind such a move, the reason we invest our military and personnel, is to secure the flow of oil in order to prop up our lavish lifestyles, to serve our imperial overlords and further the destruction of our own planet in the process.
We all know what these wars have been about. Even those who don’t know the specifics can all see oil dripping from between the lines. Oil seeping from the writing on the wall. You pretty much taste petroleum in every mouthful of bullshit we are served. But soon, unfortunately, we will be feeling the crunch ourselves, rather than offshoring the destructiveness associated with our lucky country to the war-torn Middle East. We may want to blame others. We may want to jump on the US bandwagon and point the finger at Iran. But make no mistake, we are not the victims, we are minor villains in this story. Sycophants sucking up to the big boss in the hopes of maintaining our supply of crumbs. Crumbs we are willing to trade millions of lives and the fate of our world for.
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