Magazine article New Internationalist

Oil and the Islamists: George Caffentzis Uncovers Connections between Arabian Oil and the Desperate Acts of 11 September

Magazine article New Internationalist

Oil and the Islamists: George Caffentzis Uncovers Connections between Arabian Oil and the Desperate Acts of 11 September

Article excerpt

The hidden civil war within the oil-producing countries from Algeria to Iran may help to provide a context for the brutal attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The role of the US has been the crucial factor in the region, as exemplified by the devastation of Iraq, unstinting US support for Israel, the US Government's proprietary attitude to oil resources in the Middle East, and the building of US bases in Saudi Arabia, Islam's most sacred land.

The result has been deep divisions within the ruling elites which pit pro- American governments - often consisting of royal dynasties in the Arabian Peninsula - against dissidents who, in the name of the Qur'an, accuse them of being corrupt, of squandering the region's resources, of selling out to the US, of having betrayed Islam. These dissident fundamentalists have used their wealth to create a multinational network of groups stretching through every continent, and offered an alternative 'social contract' to the poor of North Africa, the Middle East and West Asia.

From Cairo's bread riots of 1976, through the uprisings in Morocco and Algeria of 1988 - both crushed in bloodbaths - to the more recent anti-IMF riots in Jordan (and the list is much longer), it is evident that it has become more and more difficult for poor sectors of the population to survive. The fundamentalists have attempted to win over people in urban areas through providing basic necessities such as schooling and healthcare that have been suffering as a result of cuts in government subsidies and programs dictated by the World Bank and IMF. It is the Islamic fundamentalist networks, for example, that organize healthcare and education in the Palestinian 'territories', almost functioning as an alternative government to the PLO at grassroots level.

But Islamic fundamentalism also continues to have an attraction within the ruling circles of the wealthiest Muslim nations. This internal contradiction has created a tangled net of consequences which is now embarrassing many not just in the governments of the Middle East, but in the US Government too. For they have financed and trained the very generation of dissidents who are now so violently turning against them. On the one side, a portion of Middle Eastern oil revenues has been used to fund assaults on symbols of the New World Order; on the other, the US Government financed and trained many members of this dissident branch of the Middle Eastern ruling classes in its effort to destabilize the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

Many of those who have been brought back into power in George W Bush's administration were the ones who were responsible, during his father's presidency, for the training and financing of the very organizations they now hunt under the banner of 'terrorism'. The executive dynasties in both the US and Saudi Arabia must both be worried about family members who have been compromised by their past connections to the networks they now claim to be responsible for the events of 11 September - and this includes the US President's family. For example, The Wall Street Journal of 28 January reported that George Bush Senior works for the bin Laden family business in Saudi Arabia through the Carlyle Group, an international consulting firm - as do other close associates of the President like former Secretary of State James Baker.

The 11 September attacks were, however, symptoms of desperation, not of power, resulting in a devastating US military response with predictable results: the destruction of thousands of Islamic fundamentalist militants along with tremendous collateral damage to the people of Afghanistan and probably other countries in North Africa, the Middle East, and West Asia. Who on the ground can survive in such a maelstrom? Indeed, the actual perpetrators and their accomplices, whoever they are, must have been very desperate to take such a risk with their own network and the lives of millions of people of the region. …

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