The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

The war on Lebanon and the battle for oil

I received this interesting article form my friend Ryan O’Kane, a postgraduate historian in London, who specializes in the strategic framework behind US foreign interventions. The article, followed by Ryan’s comment, exposes some facts that can in part explain the current Israeli war on Lebanon, with some more far-reaching contribution to Rice’s recently announced (Not-That)-New-Middle-East plan.
The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil
by Michel Chossudovsky
July 26, 2006

“Is there a relationship between the bombing of Lebanon and the inauguration of the World's largest strategic pipeline, which will channel more a million barrels of oil a day to Western markets?

Virtually unnoticed, the inauguration of the Ceyhan-Tblisi-Baku (BTC) oil pipeline, which links the Caspian Sea to the Eastern Mediterranean, took place on the 13th of July, at the very outset of the Israeli sponsored bombings of Lebanon…

The BTC pipeline totally bypasses the territory of the Russian Federation. It transits through the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Georgia, both of which have become US "protectorates", firmly integrated into a military alliance with the US and NATO. Moreover, both Azerbaijan and Georgia have longstanding military cooperation agreements with Israel. In 2005, Georgian companies received some $24 million in military contracts funded out of U.S. military assistance to Israel under the so-called ‘Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program’….

The bombing of Lebanon is part of a carefully planned and coordinated military road map. The extension of the war into Syria and Iran has already been contemplated by US and Israeli military planners. This broader military agenda is intimately related to strategic oil and oil pipelines. It is supported by the Western oil giants which control the pipeline corridors. In the context of the war on Lebanon, it seeks Israeli territorial control over the East Mediterranean coastline.�

You can read the full article here.

Ryan had also few thoughts to share on the subject...
The BTC route is the most strategically important pipeline route in the West’s energy security plan. It effectively neuters Russian moves to re-establish its Soviet sphere of influence and dominate the energy rich Caspian region. Such moves would make Europe utterly dependent on Russia for its energy supplies, create a Russian strategic alliance extending beyond Central Asia into Iran and the Gulf, and thereby give it a cheap and secure energy route to Asia – deepening the strategic rapprochement between Russia and China (and potentially India, Pakistan and Afghanistan). These potentials are hugely worrying for the supremacy of the transatlantic alliance led by America and potentially catastrophic for the oil/dollar dominated global economic status quo.

The Bush administration’s new ‘great game’ is being played as a zero-sum game. In an age of energy scarcity, each gain for ‘them’ is an economic, political and security loss for ‘us’. With such high stakes it should be unsurprising that “energy security� has become the new buzzword in foreign policy circles throughout the world. The commercial construction of strategic pipelines like the BTC have therefore become fully integrated with political and military strategies for securing their routes.

The BTC serves the immediate goal of reducing European dependence on Russian energy supplies, but the full potential of the route can only be realised through a parallel political strategy. Blocking the Russia-Iran-China strategic energy alliance requires the political and economic isolation of Iran. In addition to the threat to oil prices a globally enforced sanctions regime would require Russian and Chinese consent and is therefore unlikely. Military intervention, involving the “protection� of Iranian oil flows, or political pressure exerted by the threat of military action seem to be the only two options left on the table.

Israel’s attempt to castrate Hezbollah and Syria is certainly satisfying the latter and could plausibly escalate into the former if Iran refuses to play ball. Yet, as the article above points out, the plan to link the BTC with Israel’s Red Sea port Eilat is a further level of integration between the BTC energy security strategy and the current bombardment of Lebanon. An integration that could position Israel as a major stakeholder in the coming BTC energy bonanza.

The zero-sum great game is a race, in this case between Russia and America, to see who can organise their sphere of influence quicker to deliver a safe route from the Caspian to the fastest growing energy markets in the world – Europe and Asia. Russia already got a head start with Europe, America is not about to allow that to happen again with Asia.

[Also keep yours eyes on the emerging conflicts in Georgia and in Somalia – both of these take place on the same “greater� BTC route…]