US Plan for the "Great Middle East"
For the Americans, to lay their hands on Iraqi oil is getting more
difficult. The hope they had placed on Ahmed Chalabi who had promised marvel
to the US oil lobby and the Israelis has vanished. It is rather obvious that
they cannot protect the pipeline designed to flow oil from Iraq to Haifa. Furthermore,
the Arabs and the Turkmen will not be easily expelled from Kirkuk (1).
The neo conservator project of carving a "zone of prosperity"
in the Middle East financed by Iraqi oil to benefit essentially the Israelis,
has been swept over. The United States may have an alternative solution though
as much uncertain. It boils down to toppling the regime of Bashar Al Assad and
setting up a Kurdish State in the north of Iraq.
In May 2001, the Energy Policy Development Group headed by Dick Cheney demanded
that the "energy security" be a prime objective of the foreign
and trade policy of the Administration. It thus provided a justification in
the name of "vital interests" for the forthcoming aggression against
Iraq. Since then, the United States are at war….and they shall stay at
war for, according to James Woolsey, director of the CIA under Bill Clinton
" several decades …for oil" (2). To-day,
despite its downward oil production, Syria has become a target because it stands
in the way of the crossing of Kurdish pipelines which purportedly will turn
Haifa into a Mediterranean Rotterdam and because the Syrian leadership is not
prepared to recognize Israel.
Israel and Iraqi Oil
Ever since 1948 when Israel was created, Israeli politicians have been dreaming
of the reopening of the Kirkuk-Haifa pipeline and they tried their best to succeed
even to the point of dealing with the "devil" that is…Saddam
Hussein himself (3).
When Syria closed the pipeline Kirkuk-Baynas, in 1982, in order to back Iran
in its war against Iraq, Yitzak Shamir seized the opportunity to suggest to
Baghdad that it should export its oil through Haifa. The Iraqi president refused.
Hanan Bar-on, under-director at the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs, came
up again two years later by endorsing a Bechtel project to build a pipeline
Kirkuk-Aqaba which Donald Rumsfled went to "sell" to Saddam Hussein
in December 1983 and March 1984. The latter turned it down once more.
In 1987, Moshe Shahal, Israeli minister of Energy, had a survey made
on the possibility of exporting oil to Haifa but, this time, through the Golan.
The outbreak of the Gulf war of 1991 put an end to it.
It is only with the vote of the Iraq Liberation Act under Bill Clinton
in October 1998 that the question of the transport of Iraqi oil was again on
the agenda. The opposition groups to Saddam Hussein were from thereon officially
financed and the Israelis set their heart on Ahmed Chalabi who had been dropped
by the CIA and the State Department and who was eager to start a new career.
They invited him to Tel Aviv where he promised to enter into diplomatic relations
with Israel when in power and to reopen the Kirkuk-Haifa pipeline. His nephew,
Salem – later in charge of the debaasification - struck a friendship
with Benjamin Netanyahou with whom he agreed to pay compensation to the Jews
who had left Iraq in the 50’s. It is said that 30 billions dollars was
the figure earmarked to be paid in oil.
"Shekhinah" and "Matador" Operations
Along with the bombing of Baghdad in 2003, the US Command launched the "Shekhinah"
Operation, (God Presence in Hebrew) (4) to get hold
of the portion of the Haifa pipeline. British and Australian SAS and US Special
Forces took up positions near the pumping stations H1 and H3, between Al Haditha
and the Jordanian border. After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, their quarters
were turned into military bases and both H1 (renamed Haifa 1) (nicknamed
"the Korean Village") and H3 (Haifa 3) have a small airport.
However, in Iraq, nothing goes according to the wishes of the neo-conservators.
The star of Ahmed Chalabi is on the wane and his nephew accused of murder is
compelled to flee Baghdad. Diplomatic relations are no longer the order of the
day. The growing strength of the resistance jeopardizes the restoration of the
pipeline to Haifa and leads the Israelis to revise their schemes. They bet on
the "Syrian option", that is a change of regime in Damascus. Two projects
popped up: the Mossul-Haifa pipeline and the section of the pipeline linking
the terminal to Kirkuk-Banyas which would be connected behind the Syrian border
or at the level of Homs.
In June 2005, the Americans carried out the "Matador" Operation
near the Syrian border in the neighbourhood of Al Qaim as well as in the North,
along the route Mossul- Tell Afar-Sindjar allegedly to eliminate "Zarqaoui"
and his followers. They cleared all around the H1, H2 and H3 bases to be used
in the event of an invasion of Syria. The battle of Tell Afar actually directed
against the Turkmen hostile to the looting of their natural resources by the
Kurds turned out to be a massacre of civilians like in Fallujah.
The Kurdistan or the 6th World Oil Power ?
Setting up an independent Kurdish State in the north of Iraq is part and parcel
of the US "Big Middle East" project. However it is common knowledge
that a viable Kurdish State needs to include Kirkuk, its oil and gas fields.
Therefore, Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, - the two Kurdish leaders
reconciled for the time being- hold as priorities that the Kurdish region
comprise Kirkuk, the Sulimaniya-Sindjar region be " ethnically cleansed"
and the oil exploration be extended.
To that end, Kurdish militias keep on terrorizing unwanted populations- Arabs,
Turkmen, Assyrians, Bedouins, Chammars- to make them understand that they
have no place in to-morrow Kurdistan. A common ground is being sought with the
Yezidis which Barzani considers as Kurds, but who first of all control the Sindjar
mountainous area overlooking the route of the Mossul-Haifa pipeline.
The ethnic balance in Kirkuk has already been modified in view of the next
local referendum on the fate of the city due in December 2007. Yet it is difficult
to forecast how the Kurds, -without resorting to violence- can drive the Turkmen
out of the region. They number 2 to 3 millions across an area of 25 000 sq2
from the Iranian border, south of Halabja- to Kut and Tell Afar (5).
Furthermore, Turkey will never accept it.
The new Kurdish State, if it comes into being, will rank 6th in the oil industry.
.At least, this is what the Kurdish oil experts pretend. In that perspective,
the development of fields discovered by the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) in
the 50’s and 60’s is hurriedly carried out without Baghdad having
a say, specially in Chamachamal (to the east of Kirkuk), Raq Taq 1
and 2 (near Koi Sinjak) and Demir Daagh (15km to the north-west
As early as May 2003, Jalal Talabani who rules the Sulemaniya region has allowed
Petoil and General Energy, both Turkish companies, to set up offices at Taq
Taq. They later on took as partners the Kurdish group Eagle and Heritage
Oil Corporation, a Canadian company headed by Micael Gulbakian, grand son of
the mythical Callouste Gulbakian, nicknamed "Mister 5%", to extend
their exploration. In November 2005, a new stage was crossed with the permit
granted by Massoud Barzani to the Norwegian company DNO for prospecting at Tawuke
a field covering forty kilometres to the east of Zakho which would fulfil all
Jalal Talabani, though "President" of Iraq, remained unmoved
when Hussein Al Sharistani, adviser to the Ayatollah Sistani (6)
and spokesman of the "National Assembly" threatened to consider
as nil and void all contracts for exploration and production signed without
the consent of the Iraqi Ministry of Oil (7). He knows that
he has the full backing of the United States and of Israel.
Destabilization of Syria
The destabilization process against Syria becomes very clear against the US-Israel
plans for the transport of Iraqi oil. So it goes for the position of France.
As in Afghanistan where the war was conducted for the sole purpose of letting
a passage for a pipeline, the United States want to have an allied regime in
Damascus which will ensure that the Haifa terminal is well provided in "Kurdish"
Under these circumstances, the question raised is whether the murder of Rafiq
Hariri has something to do with oil. A section of the Kirkuk-Banyas pipeline
ends up at Tripoli where the Americans are pressing for the construction of
a strategic military base. The former Lebanese Prime Minister was said to be
opposed to the project (8). Sheikh Abdel Amir Kabalan, vice-president
to the Higher Shia Council of Lebanon was right in advising the Belgian Magistrate
Serge Brammertz, taking over from to Detlev Mehlis, "to open all files
and in all directions, without the burden of the inquiry being on one party
(1) La poudrière de Kirkouk, Gilles Munier, (AFI-Flash
N° 40, 27-1-05 (The Kirkuk thinderbox, Gilles Munier )
(2) Report on the Annual Policy Forum of the American Council
on Renewal Energy (ACORE)
(3) The Pipeline to Haifa , Minister Dreams of Iraqi Oil par
Akiva Eldar (April 2001) http://www.counterpunch.org/eldar04012003.html
(4) The operation was inspired by an Israeli project postponed
in 2003. This is the reason why its code name was taken from the Torah. It goes
back to the "Shekhinah" who would have gone back to Heavens after
the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple by the Mesopotamian King Nabuchodonosor,
in 567 B.C
(5) Letter of Dr. Hassan Aydenly- President of the Defence
Committee for the Rights of the Iraqi Turkmen to the daily Le Monde. http://members.lycos.nl/soitum/Le_monde.pdf
(6) Adviser to the Iraqi Commission for Atomic Energy up to
1979. He offered his support to Colin Powell who accused Saddam Hussein of having
weapons of mass destruction. In an interview in Al Sharq Al Awsat (15/4/2001),
he stated that, save for the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq would have disposed of the
atomic bomb "within six months". http://www.voltairenet.org/article9210.html
(7) Kurds challenge Baghdad over oil-exploration rights, David
Axe (The Washington Times- 14/1/2006). http://www.uruknet.info/?s1=2&p=19630&s2=15
(8) Who then killed Rafic Hariri? Gilles Munier (AFI-Flash
n° 42- 21/12/05) http://www.oulala.net/Portail/article.php3?id_article=1701&v
(9) L’Orient-Le Jour (21/1/2006)