News from the Arab Press

The American Thirst For Oil

By Asaf Zilberfarb | The Media Line

February 11, 2019

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Al-Araby al-Jadeed, London, February 8

There is simply no way to quench the American thirst for oil. Oil is one of few things the Americans are willing to go to war for, as the late King Hussein of Jordan once remarked. The second thing is Israel’s security. In the wake of the American wars, the curse of oil continues to haunt the countries that hold the world’s largest reserves. A Gulf diplomat told me that this oil curse made the sovereign decisions of oil-producing countries dependent on American will. It has also subjected many of these governments to the whims and demands of multinational corporations and wealthy individuals. It therefore remains unclear whether oil is a curse or a blessing. We have seen the case of Iraq, one of the top five countries with the highest proven oil reserves. The oil curse has plagued Iraq ever since the discovery of its first oil field in the northern city of Kirkuk a century ago. Even when the Iraqi government managed to evade the dictates imposed upon it by private corporations, it remained beholden to American interests. And when it finally nationalized its oil industry, Washington felt threatened and decided to invade the country. We can also witness Venezuela as today, which Christopher Columbus once described as “the paradise of the earth.” With oil fields equivalent to a quarter of the world’s proven reserves, Venezuela should have been one of the richest countries in the world. America has pursued Caracas’ oil ever since the beginning of the century, as it wanted it to join a crescent that includes Canada and Mexico, which would help meet the need for oil, especially in light of instability in the Middle East. While successive U.S. administrations have not publicly expressed their desire for total control of Venezuelan oil (Washington receives about a third of Venezuela’s oil production, accounting for 7% of its oil imports), the idea has remained on the table. James Baker, the Secretary of State under President George H.W. Bush, said at a meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations that the administration was considering lobbying to help political leaders in Mexico and other Latin American countries who favor opening up the energy sector to foreign investment. He was specifically referring to Venezuela. Thus, the goal of controlling Venezuelan oil is not a new idea in Washington. Although Caracas continues to meet Washington’s demand for oil, successive U.S. administrations have not been satisfied with less than complete control over Caracas’ oil extraction, production and marketing. This has now become a declared policy of the Trump administration. It is for this reason that Trump has worked to topple President Maduro’s regime. The purpose is to address the American thirst for oil, which, from the American point of view, necessitates that the rulers of the oil countries be completely subjected to Washington’s will. – Abd al-Latif al-Saadoun

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