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Oil and Natural Gas in Conflict The Middle East


Articles and Documents

2013 | 2011 | 2009 |2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001


All Is Not Well in Northern Iraq's Oilfields (January 21, 2013)

Like in many conflicts around the world, the presence of oil is raising the stakes and the tensions in Kirkuk, Iraq’s ethnic Kurdish region. Baghdad currently disputes the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) control over Iraq’s northern oil field. The Kurdish security forces are patrolling the loosely defined border, with strict orders from the KRG to block the entrance of Iraqi military forces. The KRG relies heavily on revenue from these oil fields to support its growing autonomy from Baghdad. Earlier this year, a Kurdish truck delivered crude oil to the Turkish port of Mursin, marking the first time the KRG has exported oil directly to world markets. This dispute was exacerbated by the US administration during the Iraq War, which pushed for an independent Kurdish State for the benefit of multinational oil companies. (Al Jazeera)


Afghanistan’s Energy War (October 5, 2011)

Ten years of war in Afghanistan have made the country increasingly unstable, and a new energy agenda threatens to worsen the situation. Unknown to most Afghans, the 2009 Hydrocarbon Law has transformed their oil and natural gas sector from state-owned to all but fully privatized. Production-sharing agreements have been launched, granting western oil companies extremely long-term contracts and greater control, ownership, and profits than other models. The contracts would not require foreign companies to invest earnings in the Afghan economy, partner with Afghan companies, or share new technologies. Negotiations for a Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline are also progressing rapidly, with plans emerging for a 7,000-person Afghan “pipeline security force” to keep Afghanistan “open for business.” (Foreign Policy in Focus)

The Land of Gas and Honey (September 15, 2011)

Discovery of large oil reserves off the coast of Israel could generate greater insecurity in a volatile region. Israel presumably has no intentions of sharing this source of revenue with the Palestinian Authority, even though Palestinians in Gaza suffer from daily power cuts. Underwater gas could also become a minor territorial claim exploited to perpetuate the Lebanese-Israeli conflict. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has vowed to retaliate against any attempt to “steal” Lebanese natural resources. In addition, emerging clashes between Cyprus and Lebanon over the offshore gas could provide an opening for Turkey to retaliate against Israeli intransigence over the flotilla raid and other contentious issues. (Foreign Policy)

In Iran, Natural Gas Price Increases Stirring Anger (April 12, 2011)

Iranian citizens are complaining about the rising prices of gas as a result of President Ahmadinejad’s recent cut in government subsidies. Prices are increasing so rapidly that many Iranians can’t afford to pay. Ahmadinejad’s action, aimed at stimulating economic growth, was one that previous governments were disinclined to take as it could cause greater political backlash that could topple the regime.  (The Washington Post)

Oil and Other Markets Get Increasingly Nervous Over Egyptian Crisis (February 2, 2011)

As Egyptian political unrest continues, observers are concerned over its influence on the price of oil, and potentially other goods. While Egypt is not an oil producer, its Suez Canal is the most direct shipping route between Europe and Asia, and the Red Sea-to-Mediterranean pipeline is used to deliver oil from the Persian Gulf to Europe. Oil prices have risen over concerns that further conflict could disrupt shipping and spread to greater oil producing countries. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)


Afghanistan and the New Great Game (August 12, 2009)

Controlling Eurasian fossil fuels and their transportation is a key motive for the American military presence in Afghanistan. Afghanistan borders Turkmenistan, the second largest producer of natural gas in the world. Consequently, Afghanistan is priceless real estate for the construction of gas pipelines to transport the gas securely out of Turkmenistan. The US desires these new pipelines that will bypass the traditional routes, which flow through Russia and Iran. (Toronto Star)

War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza's Offshore Gas Fields (January 8, 2009)

Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research suggests that by invading Gaza, Israel intended to obtain sovereignty over rich Palestinian gas fields. A considerable amount of gas, located off the Israeli- Gazan coastline belongs to Palestine and in 1999 a British gas company (BG Group) signed a deal with the Palestinian Authority to explore these reserves. The Israeli government is now taking advantage of the power vacuum created by the Fatah- Hamas split by negotiating only with BG and ignoring Palestine's authority over the gas supply.




Matt Simmons' Bombshell: The Impending Decline of Saudi Oil Output (June 27, 2005)

The Bush administration and US oil experts base their energy strategy on one simple mantra: Saudi Arabia's oil fields can satisfy rising demand. But author and oil investor Matt Simmons refutes these claims soundly, arguing instead that Saudi Arabian oil output will inevitably decline in the near future. In this book review, Michael Klare warns that no other country has the reserves to match Saudi oil production. Ignoring such signs could fuel conflict and further devastate the world economy. (TomDispatch)



Beijing Looking To Tehran to Fuel Its Booming Economy (November 10, 2004)

China's "booming" economy means greater energy needs, and oil imports have doubled in the past five years. Beijing seeks energy agreements with Tehran, in part to "ease its dependence on relatively pro-American governments" in the Middle East. Iran needs both foreign investment and a political ally in its battle with Washington over nuclear development. China is a veto-wielding member of the Security Council, and after signing oil and gas agreements with Tehran, has spoken against bringing Iran to the Security Council over its uranium enrichment program. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Why the United States Supports the State of Israel (October 7, 2004)

This Power and Interest News Report article asserts that Washington uses Israel as a "US battleship in the Middle East" in order to stop oil-rich countries such as Iraq and Iran from becoming regional powers who could threaten oil resources for the West. Israel fears that a strategically important, oil-rich country like Iran could "dwarf Israel's power and suppress [its] foreign policy leverage in the Middle East." Both Israel and the US have threatened Iran, and demand for oil combined with Tehran's growing power could spark a military struggle or a new arms race in the region.

Irrelevant? OPEC Is Sitting Pretty (October 3, 2004)

OPEC is set to grow increasingly important in the world energy market due to its grip on the majority of the world's oil reserves. The five Persian Gulf members - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Iran - are the richest in reserves. As alternative sources dwindle and "oil from the gulf [becomes] steadily more indispensable to the American economy," the US will find its relations with the Middle East more complex and difficult. (New York Times)

As Threats to Oil Facilities Rise, US Military Becomes Protector (June 30, 2004)

Claiming to protect offshore oil wells from sabotage by terrorists, the United States assumed the role of "oil police" in the Persian Gulf. The Wall Street Journal argues that the US Coast Guard's presence in the Gulf is only one part of a "globe-spanning and open-ended US campaign" to guard the world's oil resources, a campaign that involves the work of US military forces in the Caucusus, Columbia and Yemen.

Dumping Crude (March 12, 2004)

This article argues that US insatiable need for oil from oil-rich regions, and its desire to protect its self-interest, have contributed to the political instability and conflicts in these regions, in turn fueling global terrorism. (

Conservatives Use Oil to Keep Heat on Mideast (March 9, 2004)

In order to secure its long-term oil interests and to weaken the Middle East's oil dominance, Washington conspired to launch a "cutting world oil prices campaign" and to steer away from the region's oil. This article argues such a campaign could eliminate the possibility of an Arab oil "threat" to the US and therefore strengthen US hegemony in the region. (Inter Press Service)

Running Out of Oil - and Time (March 7, 2004)

This Los Angeles Times article contends that increased competition between major global powers for scarce oil supplies will potentially lead to "a new kind of political conflict—the energy war." Although oil production has not yet reached a critical level, the author urges countries to actively seek alternatives to oil to avoid possible future conflicts over these resources.

In Quest for Energy Security, US Makes New Bet: on Democracy (February 4, 2004)

With US companies trying to secure long-term energy supplies, Washington has changed its Middle East strategy from maintaining political stability in the region to changing the political system in individual countries. The US uses the war on terror as an excuse to put "reliable" regime into place, as the case of Iraq has illustrated. (Wall Street Journal)

US, China Are on Collision Course Over Oil (February 2, 2004)

With China's increasing dependence on oil supplies in the Middle East, the US has perceived China as a major competitor for both energy and influence in the region. Washington is pushing Beijing to shift from oil into other sources of energy so as to reduce future conflicts, and to ensure continued US hegemony in the region. (Los Angeles Times)



International Petroleum Enterprises Report on Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia (January, 2003)

This report, entitled "Reopening of Upstream Oil and Natural Gas to Foreign Interests: Views and Actions of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia," is the result of a fourteen-month investigation by International Petroleum Enterprises (IPE), an independent research and consulting firm. It analyzes the policy views and potential actions of the key oil producers in the Persian Gulf regarding the reopening of their upstream oil and natural gas to foreign interests.

Is Syria next on the US hit-list? (April 14, 2003)

The US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, has tried to restart an old pipeline that ran from Iraq to Israel during the mid-1980, but all attempts have failed. This article explains why the US needs a "regime change" in both Iraq and Syria. (Hindustan Times)

As Regime Crumbles, Battle for Oil Begins (April 11, 2003)

"It's their oil; it's their resources," says US Vice-President Dick Cheney, while at the same time his former company landed a £600 million contract for initial oil field repairs. A former head of Shell's US subsidiary will likely become the chief adviser to the Iraqi oil industry. "Such a US-led approach troubles some oil analysts," reports the Telegraph.

In the Pipeline: More Regime Change (April 5, 2003)

Israel seriously plans to restart an oil pipeline that once transferred oil from Iraq to Israel. According to an Israeli minister, the US would back this project, but its realization would also require Syria's consent, putting Damascus on the list of US targets. (Asia Times)

War Could Be Big Business for Halliburton (March 23, 2003)

When it comes to making money from a war in Iraq, few can match the firepower of the company once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, says Reuters. The company, which develops oil fields and drills for oil all over the world, has well-established connections and government relationships.



Agreement On US 3.2 Billion Gas Pipeline Project (December 28, 2002)

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan signed an agreement for a gas and oil pipeline passing through the three countries. After pursuing the project for years, US oil giant Unocal reached a deal with Afghanistan's current president, a former Unocal consultant. (Truthout)

Growing US Need for Oil From the Mideast Is Forecast (December 26, 2002)

Recognizing US dependence on foreign sources of oil, governmental studies predict more reliance on oil imported from the Persian Gulf for 2020 and acknowledge the need to diversify the US energy policy. (New York Times)

US Oil Still Pours From a Mideast Barrel (October 22, 2002)

This article analyzes different sources of oil and gas for the West, concluding that as demand increases, there will be more reliance on Middle Eastern oil. (New York Times)

From the Barrel of Oil (October, 2002)

Geopolitics increasingly involves control of natural resources, as industrialized countries and their rich oil companies depend on oil to fuel the global economy. Down to Earth shows how "oil politics dictates international relations."

War on Terrorism Has Oily Undercurrent (September 3, 2002)

This article argues that competing commercial interests hide behind the war on terrorism. While the public, through the media, see warn-torn people and land in Afghanistan, energy companies see potential profits. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

West's Greed for Oil Fuels Saddam Fever (August 11, 2002)

The US attack against Iraq is turning into an oil war, argues The Observer. But would ousting Saddam safeguard Iraq's oil for the West? Not likely.

Iraq and the New Great Game (August 5, 2002)

Rahul Mahajan writes that Washington's reasons for attacking Iraq, such as the threat of weapons of mass destruction, are not the US top priority. "The US seeks nothing less than the establishment of complete control over all significant sources of oil," he argues. (

The Pressure Is On to Play the Oil Card (April 10, 2002)

Countries such as Iraq, Libya, and Iran are threatening to cut off oil production to protest Israeli incursions into Palestinian territory. If many other OPEC countries follow suit, the result could be destabilizing for the world economy. (Los Angeles Times)



Saudi Stability on Borrowed Time (December 14, 2001)

Recently declining oil revenues threaten the current Saudi regime, which is sustained largely on petrodollars and America military intrusion. As economic stagnation, declining oil revenue and reduced government spending fuel social frustration, dissatisfaction could quickly give way to upheaval. (Stratfor)


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