How The Arab-Israeli Conflict Became Enmeshed
In The British Pursuit Of Middle Eastern Oil

Britain, Oil, And The Middle East
www.nlpwessex.org/docs/britainmiddleeast.htm
The History Channel
'Promises And Betrayals: Britain And The Struggle For The Holy Land'


History Channel Documentary
'Promises And Betrayals: Britain And The Struggle For The Holy Land'

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"This lucid film recounts the complicated history that led to the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. In the words of the former British Ambassador to Egypt, it is a story of intrigue among rival empires and of misguided strategies. It is often claimed that the crisis originated with Jewish emigration to Palestine and the foundation of the State of Israel. Yet the roots of the conflict are to be found earlier. In 1915, when the Allies were besieged on the Western front, the British wanted to create a second front against Germany, Italy and the Ottoman Empire. Turkish nationalism had spread to the rest of the Ottoman Empire and the British exploited this feeling. They promised Arab groups their own independent states, including Palestine. Secretly, the Allies planned to carve up the Ottoman Empire: France would get 'Greater Syria;' Britain would get Iraq for its oil and ports, and Haifa, to distribute the oil; Palestine would be an international zone; Russia would get Constantinople. The next British government under Lloyd George believed that 'worldwide Jewry' was a powerful force, and that the Jews in the new Bolshevik government could prevent the Russian army from deserting the Allied side. This mistaken strategy, along with other factors including the persuasiveness of Chaim Weitzman, led to the Balfour Declaration in 1917, which endorsed a national home for the Jews in Palestine. At the same time, the Arab leader Shariff Hussein was promised that Palestine would be part of a new Arab state. This contradiction has contributed to the ongoing struggle for control in the Holy Land."
With Prof. Lieven, London School of Economics; Prof. Choueiri, University of Exeter, and other academics
Britain and the Struggle for the Holy Land
Film Makers Library, Middle East Studies


The History Channel

'Promises and Betrayals: Britain and the Struggle for the Holy Land'
How the British double-dealing during WWI ignited the conflict between Arab and Jew in the Middle East. A disturbing picture of a duplicitous wartime government.


Broadcast Monday 14th March 2005 on History Channel - 53 Minutes
(Film first released 2004)
Producer/Director: Arense Kvaale for Content Productions; Executive Producer: Gulf Research Center; Distributor: Filmakers Library

To View Film On Line Click Here (YouTube)
Or Here (Real Player) Or Here (Real Player)

"At the beginning of the 20 Century King Edward VII ruled over a vast empire with interests in every part of the world. India became increasingly important because it was the second pillar of British power in the world. Moving the Indian army about was extremely important in extending British interests and British influence across the globe and the Suez canal was of course the quick way to do that. It's very important for the British geopolicital position to ensure the Suez canal remains safe and secure. With this aim in mind Britain had become the only European power to establish a major foothold in the Middle East, in the principalities around the Persian Gulf, in Aden, and in Egypt.... Pouring over a map of the Lavant, Sykes and Picot personally drew in the areas they wished to see under their control. Their secret deal amounted to the virtual carve up of the Middle East.... [France was to have Greater Syria and] ... the area... known as Iraq with its strategic ports, railways, and oil... was to be under British rule. ... Palestine.... was envisaged as an international zone, except for Haifa. What the British wanted was the oil of Iraq and they concentrated on getting Iraq and getting a way from Iraq to the Meditteranian in order to transport this oil. So they got Haifa on the Palestinian coast and they got most of Iraq. ... Unaware of these secret dealings behind their backs Hussein and Feisal proclaimed independence and in June 1916 attacked the Turkish troops... The Turkish garrason at Mecca was soon overun and the sea port at Jiddha seized... In a pincer movement Britain had launched a campaign from the south west to ensure control of the Suez canal and the Lavant, and from the South East it was fighting to secure the oil wells of Iraq... In the east the Ottoman area of Messoptamia, which included the oil fields of Mossul, was given to Britain as the mandate for Iraq. ... this was basically the importance of the Sykes-Picot agreement, to divide what was called the fertile crescent between Iraq and Syria, and let Britain get access to the oil of the area and be able to exploit it in the future...."
Promises & Betrayals
The History Channel & Gulf Research Center - Content Productions 2002
Broadcast Monday 14th March 2005 on History Channel - 53 Minutes

'Promises and Betrayals: Britain and the Struggle for the Holy Land'
Longer Extracts - Transcript

"At the beginning of the 20 Century King Edward VII ruled over a vast empire with interests in every part of the world. India became increasingly important because it was the second pillar of British power in the world. Moving the Indian army about was extremely important in extending British interests and British influence across the globe and the Suez canal was of course the quick way to do that.   It's very important for the British geopolicital position to ensure the Suez canal remains safe and secure. With this aim in mind Britain had become the only European power to establish a major foothold in the Middle East, in the principalities around the Persian Gulf, in Aden, and in Egypt. Britain had annexed Egypt from Turkey's Ottoman empire in 1882 and by the time it was made a protectorate in 1914 Cairo had become the centre of British power in the Middle East. The presence of imperial troops in the region was of   vital strategic importance, for the Ottoman Empire under the Sultan, Mohamed IV, was in alliance with Britain's much feared rival Germany. Together with the Austro Hungarian empire these countries made up the central powers, and pitted against them were the three allies - Britain, France, and Russia ......

... the fate of the Ottoman empire was to be sealed by the outbreak of the first world war in August 1914... Britain's Prime Minister Asquith felt, that with the [war's] stalemate in Europe it was essential to widen the conflict... Britain's secret plan involved on the one hand a military diversion, and on the other devious use of diplomacy through bribery, subversion and double dealing. All these devices focused on the enemy's weakest link, Turkey's Ottoman Empire ... Britain exploited a new movement sweeping through the [Ottoman] empire, nationalism ... By the start of the first world war the antagonism between Arab and Turk had increased... By the summer of 1915 British intelligence confirmed that the Arab nationalist movement was the breakthrough the government was looking for... Both the British and the French started seducing various Arab leaders [with the promise of independence if they sided with the allies]. The idea was to tempt the Arabs into a revolt against their Ottoman overlords and create a diversion which would tie down the central powers in the Middle East... The new [Arab] army was commanded by the young and charismatic [Arab leader] Feisal who had captured the imagination of the Arab masses in the quest for Arab independence.  Yet even as Hussein and Feisal mobilised their troops, the British were preparing to sell them short. In London, in the spring of 1916, Britain was negotiating with France about the future shape of the Middle East. Behind close doors, Sir Mark Sykes of the British Foreign Office, had been meeting his French opposite number Francois George Picot....

Pouring over a map of the Levant, Sykes and Picot personally drew in the areas they wished to see under their control. Their secret deal amounted to the virtual carve up of the Middle East.... [France was to have Greater Syria and] ... the area...  known as Iraq with its strategic ports, railways, and oil...  was to be under British rule. ... Palestine.... was envisaged as an international zone, except for Haifa. What the British wanted was the oil of Iraq and they concentrated on getting Iraq and getting a way from Iraq to the Mediterranean in order to transport this oil. So they got Haifa on the Palestinian coast and they got most of Iraq.  ... Unaware of these secret dealings behind their backs Hussein and Feisal proclaimed independence and in June 1916 attacked the Turkish troops... The Turkish garrison at Mecca was soon overrun and the sea port at Jeddah seized... In a pincer movement Britain had launched a campaign from the south west to ensure control of the Suez canal and the Levant, and from the South East it was fighting to secure the oil wells of Iraq...

By the spring of 1917 [the British] had reached the frontier of Palestine..... Although America had so far been neutral in the war, [the new Prime Minister] Lloyd George was convinced that could be changed. He believed there was one powerful group which might influence the American government. Lloyd George thought that the American decision whether to joint or not would depend critically on public opinion, and that Jewish support could tilt the scales in one direction or the other... A new Jewish nationalist movement, Zionism, had also been able to establish its headquarters in Berlin.  Zionism had originated in the 1880s, after Theodore Hertzel published a book espousing the virtues of a Jewish state... The end of the 19th century saw the rise of anti-Semitism all over Europe in Austria, in German, in France, but particularly in Eastern Europe, in Poland and in Russia .... societies in a number of Russian cities... started to promote, and to finance, and to sponsor, colonisation, emigration, to Palestine. Hertzel came to the conclusion that the Jews were not safe anywhere in Europe and the only solution was for the Jews to have a state of their own over which they could exercise sovereignty and where they would not be a minority... Scattered throughout the world since the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in the first century AD, many Jews had cherished the idea of returning one day to what their scriptures had told them was 'the promised land'....  the whole Jewish community [in Palestine]  by 1914 constituted barely 8% of the population...  By early 1917 Lloyd George's view of Jews as globally influential convinced him that Zionism was another nationalist movement which should be co-opted to the allied cause.... In October the British government received an intelligence report suggesting that Jews were a significant influence in the leadership of the Bolshevik party, the new revolutionary movement emerging as the dominant force in Russia. Lloyd George feared that these communists would take Russia out of the war. With the Americans still refusing to commit sufficient forces, he knew it was time to act. He instructed his foreign secretary Arthur Balfour to issue a pledge to capture the hearts and minds of the Jewish people: 'His Majesty's government would favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievements of this object.' The Balfour declaration was issued on November 2 1917,  just as British forces were occupying Palestine....

Yet Sharif Hussein has understood that Palestine had been promised as part of his deal for Arab independence... In fact, the only treaty Britain had signed in regard to Palestine was with the French, the secret Sykes-Picot agreement. On November 7, within a few days of the Balfour declaration, the Bolsheviks took power in Russia.... [However, the British assessment was incorrect as most Jews in the Bolshevik leadership were internationalists]. There were fifteen to twenty Jews in the higher echelons of the Bolshevik party. Most of them were anti-Zionist and soon after they came to power they issued a declaration to say that Zionism is a capitalist ploy... The wildly inaccurate intelligence report on which Lloyd George based his strategy was to have major implications for Britain. Within weeks Russia's new leaders did exactly the opposite of what he had expected. Not only did they pull out of the war,  they opened up the archives of the Tsarist foreign office and published the secret treaties. The very treaties Britain had engineered with her allies to carve up the Ottoman Empire, and to which Russia had been privy. That of course is a very great embarrassment to the western allies because the allies had been doing all sorts of deals behind the scenes in which they have handed out to each other large sections of the world, meanwhile openly preaching that they are fighting the war in defence of democracy and of course also telling, among others, the Arabs that they are supporters of self-determination for the peoples of the Ottoman empire... At that point, of course, the Arabs realised that not only had the British got their own particular interests for example in the ports of Palestine or in Iraq, but that they had promised other things to the French.... The future of Palestine in the Middle East formed part of Britain's pledge to France in the Sykes-Picot carve up.... [Moreover, in a confidential post war memorandum regarding Zionism Balfour wrote] "So far as Palestine is concerned the powers have made no declaration of policy which at least in letter they have not always intended to violate".... The Versaille peace conference [at the end of the war] was concluded on June 28, 1919, with the creation of the League of Nations.... It's covenant provided that the Arab and other territories ceded by the defeated Ottoman Empire should be administered by mandate,  which meant in effect, that Britain and France, were given the authority to impose their rule over the Arab territories.... [part]  became the British mandate for Trans-Jordan and Palestine.  In the east the Ottoman area of  Mesopotamia, which included the oil fields of Mossul, was given to Britain as the mandate for Iraq. ... this  was basically the importance of the Sykes-Picot agreement, to divide what was called the fertile crescent between Iraq and Syria, and let Britain get access to the oil of the area and be able to exploit it in the future.... the Balfour declaration promising Jews a homeland in Palestine had been incorporated into the British mandate at Versaille. Palestine was thus to be open for new European Jewish immigration..."

Zionism And British Interests In Palestine

"Unlike some wars, most analysts consider WWI a pointless conflict that resulted from diplomatic entanglements rather than some travesty of justice or aggression. Yet, it was catastrophic to a generation of Europeans, killing 14 million people.[31] The United States joined this unnecessary war a few years into the hostilities, costing many American lives, even though the U.S. was not party to the alliances that had drawn other nations into the fray. This even though Americans had been strongly opposed to entering the war and Woodrow Wilson had won the presidency with the slogan, 'He kept us out of war.'[32] Yet, In 1917 President Wilson changed course and plunged the U.S. into a tragic and pointless European conflict in which hundreds of thousands were killed and injured.[33] Over 1,200 American citizens who opposed the war were rounded up and imprisoned, some for years.[34] A number or reasons were publicly given for Wilson's change of heart, including Germany's submarine warfare, the sinking of the American passenger ship Lusitania, and the Zimmerman Telegram.[35] Historians also add pro-British propaganda and economic reasons to the list of causes, and most suggest that a number of factors were at play. While Americans today are aware of these facts, few know that Zionism appears to have been one of those factors. As diverse documentary evidence shows, Zionists pushed for the U.S. to enter the war on Britain's side as part of a deal to gain British support for their colonization of Palestine. From the very beginning of their movement, Zionists realized that if they were to succeed in their goal of creating a Jewish state on land that was already inhabited by non-Jews, they needed backing from one of the 'Great Powers.'[36] They tried the Ottoman Empire, which controlled Palestine at the time, but were turned down (although they were told that Jews could settle throughout other parts of the Ottoman empire and become Turkish citizens).[37] They then turned to Britain, which was also initially less than enthusiastic. Famous English Arabists such as Gertrude Bell pointed out that Palestine was Arab and that Jerusalem was sacred to all three major monotheistic faiths. Future British Foreign Minister Lord George Curzon similarly stated that Palestine was already inhabited by half a million Arabs who would 'not be content to be expropriated for Jewish immigrants or to act merely as hewers of wood and drawers of water for the latter.'[38] However, once the British were embroiled in World War I, and particularly during 1916, a disastrous year for the Allies,[39] Zionists were able to play a winning card. Zionist leaders promised the British government that Zionists in the U.S. would push America to enter the war on the side of the British, if the British promised to support a Jewish home in Palestine afterward.[40] As a result, in 1917 British Foreign Minister Lord Balfour issued a letter to Zionist leader Lord Rothschild. Known as the Balfour Declaration, this letter promised that Britain would 'view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people' and to 'use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object.' The letter then qualified this somewhat by stating that it should be 'clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.' The 'non-Jewish communities' were 90 percent of Palestine's population at that time, vigorous Zionist immigration efforts having slightly expanded the percentage of Jews living in Palestine by then.[41] The letter, while officially signed by British Foreign Minister Lord Balfour, was actually written by Leopold Amery, a British official who, it came out later, was a secret and fervent Zionist[42]. While this letter was a less than ringing endorsement of Zionism, Zionists considered it a major breakthrough as it cracked open a door that they would later force wider and wider open. These Balfour-WWI negotiations are referred to in various documents. For example, Samuel Landman, secretary of the World Zionist Organization, described them in a 1935 article in World Jewry: 'After an understanding had been arrived at between Sir Mark Sykes and [Zionists] Weizmann and Sokolow, it was resolved to send a secret message to Justice Brandeis that the British Cabinet would help the Jews to gain Palestine in return for active Jewish sympathy and for support in the USA for the Allied cause, so as to bring about a radical pro-Ally tendency in the United States.'[43] British Colonial Secretary Lord Cavendish, in a memorandum to the British Cabinet in 1923, reminded his colleagues: 'The object [of the Balfour Declaration] was to enlist the sympathies on the Allied side of influential Jews and Jewish organizations all over the world… and it is arguable that the negotiations with the Zionists…did in fact have considerable effect in advancing the date at which the United States government intervened in the war.'[44] Former British Prime Minister Lloyd George similarly referred to this deal, telling a British commission in 1935: 'Zionist leaders gave us a definite promise that, if the Allies committed themselves to giving facilities for the establishment of a national home for the Jews in Palestine, they would do their best to rally Jewish sentiment and support throughout the world to the Allied cause. They kept their word.' American career Foreign Service Officer Evan M. Wilson, who had served as Minister-Consul General in Jerusalem, writes that the Balfour declaration '…was given to the Jews largely for the purpose of enlisting Jewish support in the war and of forestalling a similar promise by the Central Powers [Britain's enemies in World War I]'.[45] The influence of Brandeis and other Zionists in the U.S. had enabled Zionists to form an alliance with Britain, one of the world's great powers, a remarkable achievement for a non-state group and a measure of Zionists' immense power. As historian Kolsky states, the Zionist movement was now 'an important force in international politics.'[46] After the war, the victors met in a peace conference and agreed to a set of peace accords that addressed, among many issues, the fate of Ottoman Empire's Middle East territories. The Allies stripped the defeated Empire of its Middle Eastern holdings and divided them between Britain and France, which were to hold them under a 'mandate' system until the populations were 'ready' for self-government. Britain got the mandate over Palestine. Zionists, including Brandeis, Felix Frankfurter, the World Zionist Organization, and an American delegation, went to the peace conference to lobby for a Jewish 'home'[47] in Palestine and to push for Balfour wording to be incorporated in the peace accords.[48] ..... Ultimately, the mandate over Palestine given to Britain supported the Zionist project and included the Balfour language. According to the mandate, Britain would be 'responsible for putting into effect the [Balfour] declaration … in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine….'[61].... The idea behind Zionism was to create a state where Jews worldwide could escape anti-Semitism.[62]"
History of the US-Israel Relationship, Part I
The Council For The National Interest, 18 August 2011


Persian Gulf Oil and Gas Exports Fact Sheet
US Department Of Energy, September 2004

Strait of Hormuz
In 2003, the vast majority (about 90%) of oil exported from the Persian Gulf transited by tanker through the Strait of Hormuz , located between Oman and Iran.
The Strait consists of 2-mile wide channels for inbound and outbound tanker traffic, as well as a 2-mile wide buffer zone. Oil flows through the Strait of Hormuz account for roughly two-fifths of all world traded oil, and closure of the Strait of Hormuz would require use of longer alternate routes (if available) at increased transportation costs. Such routes include the approximately 5-million-bbl/d-capacity East-West Pipeline across Saudi Arabia to the port of Yanbu, and the Abqaiq-Yanbu natural gas liquids line across Saudi Arabia to the Red Sea. The 15.0-15.5 million bbl/d or so of oil which transit the Strait of Hormuz goes both eastwards to Asia (especially Japan, China, and India) and westwards (via the Suez Canal, the Sumed pipeline, and around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa) to Western Europe and the United States.

Bab al-Mandab
Oil heading westwards by tanker from the Persian Gulf towards the Suez Canal or Sumed pipeline must pass through the Bab al-Mandab. Located between Djibouti and Eritrea in Africa, and Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula, the Bab al-Mandab connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. Any closure of the Bab al-Mandab could keep tankers from reaching the Suez Canal/Sumed Pipeline complex, diverting them around the southern tip of Africa. This would add greatly to transit time and cost, and effectively tie up spare tanker capacity. In December 1995, Yemen fought a brief battle with Eritrea over Greater Hanish Island, located just north of the Bab al-Mandab. The Bab al-Mandab could be bypassed by utilizing the East-West oil pipeline. However, southbound oil traffic would still be blocked. In addition, closure of the Bab al-Mandab would effectively block non-oil shipping from using the Suez Canal, except for limited trade within the Red Sea region.

Suez/Sumed Complex
After passing through the Bab al-Mandab, oil en route from the Persian Gulf to Europe must pass either through the Suez Canal or the Sumed Pipeline complex in Egypt. Both of these routes connect the Red Sea and Gulf of Suez with the Mediterranean Sea.
Any closure of the Suez Canal and/or Sumed Pipeline would divert tankers around the southern tip of Africa (the Cape of Good Hope), adding greatly to transit time and effectively tying up tanker capacity.

Other Export Routes
Small amounts of oil from the Persian Gulf were exported via routes besides the Strait of Hormuz in 2003. This oil was exported mainly via pipeline from Iraq's Kirkuk oil region to the Turkish port of Ceyhan and by truck to Jordan.

The  Potential Importance Of Syria As A Transit Route

"The State Department has secretly funded Syrian opposition groups, according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, The Washington Post reported on Monday. The cables show that the State Department has funneled as much as $6 million since 2006 to a group of Syrian exiles to operate a London-based satellite channel, Barada TV, and finance activities inside Syria, the Post said. Barada TV began broadcasting in April 2009 but has ramped up operations to cover the mass protests in Syria that began last month as part of a long-standing campaign to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad the Post said. The U.S. money for Syrian opposition figures began flowing under President George W. Bush after political ties with Damascus were frozen in 2005, the newspaper said. The financial backing has continued under President Barack Obama, even as his administration sought to rebuild relations with Assad, the Post said. In January, the White House posted an ambassador to Damascus for the first time in six years. The article said it is unclear whether the United States was still funding Syrian opposition groups, but the cables indicate money was set aside at least through September 2010. An uprising against Assad's authoritarian rule have spread across large parts of the country. Rights groups put the death toll at more than 200 people. Syrian authorities blame the violence on armed gangs. The previously undisclosed cables show that U.S. Embassy officials in Damascus became worried in 2009 when they learned that Syrian intelligence agents were raising questions about U.S. programs, The Washington Post said. An April 2009 cable signed by the top-ranking U.S. diplomat in Damascus at the time read Syrian authorities 'would undoubtedly view any U.S. funds going to illegal political groups as tantamount to supporting regime change,' the Post reported. 'A reassessment of current U.S.-sponsored programing that supports anti- factions, both inside and outside Syria, may prove productive,' the cable said."
U.S. secretly backed Syrian opposition: report
Reuters, 18 April 2011

"As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.... He said it with reproach--with disbelief, almost--at the breadth of the vision. I moved the conversation away, for this was not something I wanted to hear. And it was not something I wanted to see moving forward, either. ... I left the Pentagon that afternoon deeply concerned."
General Wesley Clark
'Winning Modern' Wars - Public Affairs, 25 September 2003

<<<---- To USA and Europe
Iraqexport2.JPG (46229 bytes)

Blue = Pre-War Iraqi Oil Transit Route To Meditteranian Via Arabian Peninsula And Suez Canal (Suez Cannot Take Largest Tankers)
Red = Post-War Potential Alternative Routes To Meditteranian coast via Jordan and Syria

"Israel stands to benefit greatly from the US led war on Iraq, primarily by getting rid of an implacable foe in President Saddam Hussein and the threat from the weapons of mass destruction he was alleged to possess. But it seems the Israelis have other things in mind. An intriguing pointer to one potentially significant benefit was a report by Haaretz on 31 March that minister for national infrastructures Joseph Paritzky was considering the possibility of reopening the long-defunct oil pipeline from Mosul to the Mediterranean port of Haifa. With Israel lacking energy resources of its own and depending on highly expensive oil from Russia, reopening the pipeline would transform its economy.... All of this lends weight to the theory that Bush's war is part of a masterplan to reshape the Middle East to serve Israel's interests. Haaretz quoted Paritzky as saying that the pipeline project is economically justifiable because it would dramatically reduce Israel's energy bill. US efforts to get Iraqi oil to Israel are not surprising. Under a 1975 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the US guaranteed all Israel's oil needs in the event of a crisis. The MoU, which has been quietly renewed every five years, also committed the USA to construct and stock a supplementary strategic reserve for Israel, equivalent to some US$3bn in 2002. Special legislation was enacted to exempt Israel from restrictions on oil exports from the USA. Moreover, the USA agreed to divert oil from its home market, even if that entailed domestic shortages, and guaranteed delivery of the promised oil in its own tankers if commercial shippers were unwilling or not available to carry the crude to Israel. All of this adds up to a potentially massive financial commitment. The USA has another reason for supporting Paritzky's project: a land route for Iraqi oil direct to the Mediterranean would lessen US dependence on Gulf oil supplies. Direct access to the world's second-largest oil reserves (with the possibility of expansion through so-far untapped deposits) is an important strategic objective."
Oil from Iraq : An Israeli pipedream?
Jane's Foreign Report, 16 April 2003

"Israel's finance minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, predicted yesterday that the British-era oil pipeline from Iraq's northern oilfields through Jordan to the Israeli port city of Haifa would be reopened. 'It won't be long when you will see Iraqi oil flowing to Haifa,' Mr Netanyahu told a group of British investors in London. 'It is just a matter of time until the pipeline is reconstituted and Iraqi oil will flow to the Mediterranean.'"
Iraq-Israel oil pipeline 'to reopen'
Daily Telegraph, 21 June 2003

"Israel's geographic location between the Arabian peninsula and the Mediterranean Sea offers the potential for an alternative oil export route for Persian Gulf oil to the West. At present, these oil exports must travel either by ship (through the Suez Canal or around the cape of Africa), by pipeline from Iraq to Turkey (design capacity 1.5-1.6 MMBD), or via the Sumed (Suez-Mediterranean) Pipeline (capacity 2.5 MMBD).... As a result of its geographic location, Lebanon was once a refining center for crude oil that was exported from Iraq and Saudi Arabia by pipelines to two Lebanese coastal refineries, Zahrani in the south, and Tripoli in the north. However, due to years of internal and regional political unrest and war damage, these refineries have not been operational. The Tripoli refinery has been closed since 1982.... The Trans Arabian Pipeline (Tapline) was originally constructed in the 1940s with a capacity of 500,000 bbl/d, and intended as the main means of exporting Saudi oil to the West (via Jordan to the port of Haifa, then part of Palestine, now a major Israeli port city). The establishment of the state of Israel resulted in diversion of the Tapline's terminus from Haifa to Sidon, Lebanon (through Syria and Lebanon). Partly as a result of turmoil in Lebanon, and partly for economic reasons, oil exports via the Tapline were halted in 1975. In 1983, the Tapline's Lebanese section was closed altogether. Since then, the Tapline has been used exclusively to supply oil to Jordan, although Saudi Arabia terminated this arrangement to display displeasure with perceived Jordanian support for Iraq in the 1990/1 Gulf War. Despite these problems, the Tapline remains a potential export route for Persian Gulf oil exports to Europe and the United States. At least one analysis indicates that the transportation cost of exporting oil via the Tapline through Haifa to Europe would cost as much as 40 percent less than shipping by tanker through the Suez Canal. In early 2005, rehabilitation of the Tapline at an estimated cost of $100 to $300 million was one of the strategic options being considered by the Jordanian government to meet oil needs. The pipeline between the Syrian port of Banias and the 'Strategic Pipeline' in Iraq, which connects its northern and southern oil infrastructure, has been inoperative since the war began in March 2003. Another international pipeline option under consideration for the future involves a pipeline which would run from Haditha in Iraq to an export terminal at Aqaba in Jordan. The proposed $2 billion project would have a capacity of 1.2 million bbl/d, and would facilitate an increase in exports from Iraq once additional production capacity is developed."
Country Brief - Eastern Mediterranean Region
US Energy Information Administration, August 2005

"The flow of oil from Mosul was redirected from Haifa to Syria after the British Mandate for Palestine expired in 1948. There were several attempts to renew the flow of oil to Haifa in subsequent years. One such effort occurred during the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s, after Syria acceded to a request from Iran to block the flow of Iraqi oil to the Mediterranean. (Iran was then preventing oil tankers from moving Iraqi oil via the Persian Gulf.) The prime minister at the time, Yitzhak Shamir, proposed to Iraq to renew the flow of oil through the pipeline to Haifa. Hanan Bar-On, then the deputy director-general of the Foreign Ministry, confirmed yesterday that Israel was involved in talks during the mid-1980s on a plan for an Iraq-Jordanian pipeline to the Red Sea port of Aqaba. Among the participants in these talks was Donald Rumsfeld, then an adviser to U.S. president Reagan and currently secretary of defense. The American corporation Bechtel was slated to build the pipeline. According to the deal, which eventually fell through, Israel was to receive about $100 million a year via former Israeli businessman Bruce Rappaport in return for a commitment not to oppose the construction or operation of the new pipeline. In 1987, energy minister Moshe Shahal reportedly looked into the idea of helping Iraq export its oil via the Golan Heights to Haifa. But this plan also failed to materialize."
The Pipeline to Haifa
Counterpunch, 1 April 2003

"The United States has asked Israel to check the possibility of pumping oil from Iraq to the oil refineries in Haifa. The request came in a telegram last week from a senior Pentagon official to a top Foreign Ministry official in Jerusalem. The Prime Minister's Office, which views the pipeline to Haifa as a 'bonus' the U.S. could give to Israel in return for its unequivocal support for the American-led campaign in Iraq, had asked the Americans for the official telegram. The new pipeline would take oil from the Kirkuk area, where some 40 percent of Iraqi oil is produced, and transport it via Mosul, and then across Jordan to Israel. ... There is also a pipeline running via Syria that has not been used in some three decades."
US Checking Possibility of Pumping Oil from Northern Iraq to Haifa, via Jordan
Haaretz, 25 August 2003


The Perennial Battle For Iraq's Oil

Why They Really Hate Us
Anglo-American Access To Middle East Oil
Is What It Has Always Been About Since At Least 1913

'Democratic' Britain, Not Saddam, First To Gas The Kurds - Ordered By Churchill In 1920
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Britain, Oil, And The Iraq War 2003

"Plans to exploit Iraq's oil reserves were discussed by government ministers and the world's largest oil companies the year before Britain took a leading role in invading Iraq, government documents show. The papers, revealed here for the first time, raise new questions over Britain's involvement in the war, which had divided Tony Blair's cabinet and was voted through only after his claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The minutes of a series of meetings between ministers and senior oil executives are at odds with the public denials of self-interest from oil companies and Western governments at the time. The documents were not offered as evidence in the ongoing Chilcot Inquiry into the UK's involvement in the Iraq war. In March 2003, just before Britain went to war, Shell denounced reports that it had held talks with Downing Street about Iraqi oil as 'highly inaccurate'. BP denied that it had any 'strategic interest' in Iraq, while Tony Blair described 'the oil conspiracy theory' as 'the most absurd'. But documents from October and November the previous year paint a very different picture. Five months before the March 2003 invasion, Baroness Symons, then the Trade Minister, told BP that the Government believed British energy firms should be given a share of Iraq's enormous oil and gas reserves as a reward for Tony Blair's military commitment to US plans for regime change. The papers show that Lady Symons agreed to lobby the Bush administration on BP's behalf because the oil giant feared it was being 'locked out' of deals that Washington was quietly striking with US, French and Russian governments and their energy firms. Minutes of a meeting with BP, Shell and BG (formerly British Gas) on 31 October 2002 read: 'Baroness Symons agreed that it would be difficult to justify British companies losing out in Iraq in that way if the UK had itself been a conspicuous supporter of the US government throughout the crisis.' The minister then promised to 'report back to the companies before Christmas' on her lobbying efforts. The Foreign Office invited BP in on 6 November 2002 to talk about opportunities in Iraq 'post regime change'. Its minutes state: 'Iraq is the big oil prospect. BP is desperate to get in there and anxious that political deals should not deny them the opportunity.'  After another meeting, this one in October 2002, the Foreign Office's Middle East director at the time, Edward Chaplin, noted: 'Shell and BP could not afford not to have a stake in [Iraq] for the sake of their long-term future... We were determined to get a fair slice of the action for UK companies in a post-Saddam Iraq.' Whereas BP was insisting in public that it had 'no strategic interest' in Iraq, in private it told the Foreign Office that Iraq was 'more important than anything we've seen for a long time'.   BP was concerned that if Washington allowed TotalFinaElf's existing contact with Saddam Hussein to stand after the invasion it would make the French conglomerate the world's leading oil company. BP told the Government it was willing to take 'big risks' to get a share of the Iraqi reserves, the second largest in the world.  Over 1,000 documents were obtained under Freedom of Information over five years by the oil campaigner Greg Muttitt. They reveal that at least five meetings were held between civil servants, ministers and BP and Shell in late 2002. The 20-year contracts signed in the wake of the invasion were the largest in the history of the oil industry. They covered half of Iraq's reserves – 60 billion barrels of oil, bought up by companies such as BP and CNPC (China National Petroleum Company), whose joint consortium alone stands to make 403m ($658m) profit per year from the Rumaila field in southern Iraq.' Mr Muttitt, whose book Fuel on Fire is published next week, said: 'Before the war, the Government went to great lengths to insist it had no interest in Iraq's oil. These documents provide the evidence that give the lie to those claims. We see that oil was in fact one of the Government's most important strategic considerations, and it secretly colluded with oil companies to give them access to that huge prize.' Lady Symons, 59, later took up an advisory post with a UK merchant bank that cashed in on post-war Iraq reconstruction contracts. Last month she severed links as an unpaid adviser to Libya's National Economic Development Board after Colonel Gaddafi started firing on protesters. Last night, BP and Shell declined to comment."
Secret memos expose link between oil firms and invasion of Iraq
Independent, 19 April 2011


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