America’s New Middle East Empire

NEW YORK – Arms inspections are a ‘hoax,’ said Tariq Aziz, Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister, in a forthright and chilling interview with ABC News last week, ‘war is ‘inevitable.’ Aziz is the smartest, most credible member of President Saddam Hussein’s otherwise sinister regime – my view after covering Iraq since 1976.

What the US wants is not ‘regime change’ in Iraq but rather ‘region change,’ charged Aziz. He tersely summed up the Bush Administration reasons for war against Iraq: ‘oil and Israel.’

Aziz’s undiplomatic language underlines growing fears across the Mideast that the Bush Administration intends to use a manufactured war against Iraq to redraw the political map of the region, put it under permanent US military control, and seize its vast oil resources.

These are not idle alarms. Senior administration officials openly speak of invading Iran, Syria, Libya, and Lebanon. Influential, pro-Israel neo-conservative think tanks in Washington have deployed small army of ‘experts’ on TV urging the US to remove governments deemed unfriendly to the US and Israel. Washington’s most powerful
lobbies – the oil and Israel lobbies – are urging the US seize Mideast oil and crush any regional states that might one day challenge Israel’s nuclear monopoly or regional superpower dominance.

The radical transformation of the Mideast being considered by the Bush Administration is potentially the biggest political change since the notorious 1916 Sykes-Picot Treaty in which victorious Britain and France carved up the Ottoman-ruled region. Under review at the highest level:

*Iraq is to be placed under US military rule. Iraq’s current leadership, notably Saddam Hussein and Tarik Aziz, will face US drumhead courts martial and firing squads. Iraq will be broken up into three, semi-autonomous regions: Kurdish north; Sunnis center;
Shia south. Iraq’s oil will be exploited by US and British firms. Iraq will become a major customer for US arms. Turkey may get a slice of northern Iraq around the Kirkuk and Mosul oil fields. US forces will repress any attempts by Kurds to set up an independent state. A military dictatorship or kingdom will eventually be created.

The swift, ruthless crushing of Iraq is expected to terrify Arab states, Palestinians, and Iran into obeying US political dictates.

*Independent-minded Syria will be ordered to cease support for Lebanon’s Hizbullah, and allow Israel to dominate Jordan and Lebanon, or face invasion and ‘regime change.’ The US will anyway undermine the ruling Ba’ath regime and young leader, Bashir Asad, replacing him by a French-based exile regime. France will get renewed influence in Syria as a consolation prize for losing out in Iraq to the Americans and Brits. Historical note: in 1949, the US staged its first coup in Syria, using General Husni Zai’im to overthrow a civilian government.

*Iran will be severely pressured to dismantle its nuclear and missile programs or face attack by US forces. Israel’s rightist Likud Party, which guides much of the Bush Administration’s Mideast thinking, sees Iran, not demolished Iraq, and its principal foe and threat, and is pressing Washington to attack Iran once Iraq is finished off. At minimum, the US will encourage an uprising against Iran’s Islamic regime, replacing it with either a royalist government or one drawn from US-based Iranian exiles.

*Saudi Arabia – Current White House thinking is to keep the royal family in power, but compel it to become more responsive to US demands, and to clamp down on its increasingly anti-American population. If this fails, CIA is reportedly cultivating senior Saudi Air Force officers who could overthrow the royal government and bring in a compliant military regime like that of Gen. Musharraf in Pakistan. Or, Saudi Arabia could be portioned; the oil-rich eastern region would be made into another American protectorate, like Kuwait or Qatar, while the western portion, with Islam’s holy places, could be left to the Saudis or a new Hashemite dynasty.

*The most important Arab nation, Egypt – with 40% of all Arabs – will remain a bastion of US influence. The US controls 50% of Egypt’s food supply, 85% of its arms and spare parts, and keeps the military regime of Gen. Husni Mubarak in power. Once leader of the Arabs, Egypt is keeping a very low profile in the current Iraq
crisis, meekly cooperating with US war plans.

*Jordan – A US-Israeli protectorate. Its royal family, the Hashemites, are being considered as possible figurehead rulers of US-occupied ‘liberated’ Iraq; more remotely, for Saudi Arabia and/or Syria. The British Empire put the Hashemites on the thrones of Transjordan and Iraq after WWI.

*Lebanon – To become an Israeli protectorate and commercial center dominated by Maronite Christian rightists.

*The Gulf Emirates and Oman: former British protectorates, now American protectorates, in effect, tiny colonies.

*Libya – Madcap Col. Khadaffi remains on Washingtn’s black list and is marked for extinction once bigger game is bagged. The US wants Libya’s high-quality oil. Britain may reassert its former influence here.

*Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia – Short of revolution, will remain loyal western satraps under highly repressive, French-backed royalist and military regimes.

*Yemen – Former British imperial base at Aden, and former French base at Djibouti, will become important permanent US bases.

*Palestine – The White House hopes Palestinians will be cowed by Iraq’s destruction, and forced to accept US-Israeli plans to become a self-governing but isolated native reservation surrounded by Israeli forces.

The lines drawn in the Mideast by old European imperial powers are now to be re-drawn by the world’s newest imperial power, the United States. But, as veteran soldiers know, even the best strategic plans become worthless once real fighting begins.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2002
Courtesy Henry Makow P.hD