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Iraq - An ancient troubled country exploited by corrupt Western leaders for its oil.

Updated on September 8, 2016
Map of Iraq and surrounding countries
Map of Iraq and surrounding countries
Iraq landscape
Iraq landscape
Iraq landscape - Kurdistan
Iraq landscape - Kurdistan

With the final withdrawal of British and American troops from Iraq it may be opportune to examine the events leading up to and after the first Gulf War.

History repeats itself - My observations, however, take nothing away from the dedication and bravery of our military personnel, at the sharp-end, but I have nothing but contempt for the so called strategy, which owes little to the concerns of the Iraqi people and everything to the personal glory seeking of two rather pathetic bullies.

The saga of British, French and American involvement in Mesopotamia (Iraq) dates back to before the Great War.

Dependence on the extraction of crude oil and production from America and Mexico was a strategic embarrassment to the might of the British Empire.

During the period of hostilities, oil was perceived to be a key military asset, driving new generations of warships, trucks, tanks and aircraft. In fact demand grew so rapidly that a serious shortage developed during 1917/8.

Britain already controlled the newly discovered oil in Persia (Iran) through the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, but it needed greater supplies to ensure the Empires future needs. Mesopotamia shared similar geology so it seemed very likely that similar quantities of oil might be available. However, the prospecting rights were held by the Turkish Petroleum Company and consequently, just prior to the outbreak of war joint participation was negotiated with British and German companies. The war ended this partnership and the German allied Ottoman Empire was open to British attack.

The supply of oil became crucial to the British war effort and Sir Maurice Hankey advised the Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour that the oil reserves of Mesopotamia had become a first class war aim. Unfortunately under the secret Sykes-Picot Accord (prematurely dividing up the assumed to be defeated Ottoman Empire) of 1916, Britain had ceded much of the oil producing area of Northern Iraq to the French. In August 1918, Balfour told the Prime Ministers of the British Dominions that “Britain must be the guiding spirit in Mesopotamia” and that “he did not care under what system we keep the oil”. To achieve this, the British forces continued to advance for several days after the armistice and captured the Northern city of Mosul, thus outmanoeuvring the French. To say the French were displeased was an understatement and during the Versailles Peace Conference David Lloyd George and Georges Clemenceau nearly came to blows, only separated by the US President Woodrow Wilson. The matter was finally settled in the secret San Remo Agreement of 1920 when the USA and France agreed that Britain should have political control over all Mesopotamia and France should be given the German quarter share in the Turkish Petroleum Company. However, this left America with nothing and relations between the US and London cooled rapidly. The upshot was a famous accord known as the “Red Line Agreement” under which a US consortium with just under a quarter of the shares jointly agreed to develop fields in the Middle East marked on the map by a red line. Britain retained the lion’s share with nearly a half while the lesser powers were rewarded with a quarter each. The people of Iraq were not consulted and received no benefit from the discovery.

In order to maintain control of the oil rich area the British predated Saddam Hussein in the use of chemical weapons against the Iraqi people. In the summer of 1920 General Sir Aylmer Haldane authorised the use of gas shells against the tribesmen of the Euphrates to “excellent moral effect”. This conflict cost nearly 9000 Arab lives. Winston Churchill, as Colonial Secretary from 1921 advocated the use of bombers to control the dissident tribesmen and for nearly 10 years the RAF continuously bombed the oil-rich and mountainous north-east region Kurdish rebels. Indeed he urged that mustard gas bombs should be used in these raids, but mercifully, for technical reasons they were not used. However, despite protests from one senior officer delayed action bombs were used to the detriment of the children who had developed a passion for playing with the “duds”. In 1924 distinguished Air Commodore Lionel Charlton resigned his post in protest at the continued bombing and increasing innocent victims. Despite promising not to damage his career, the Air Ministry went back on their word and “retired” him in 1928. Certain officers seemed to enjoy their work and Arthur Harris (later known for his bombing campaigns against Germany in WW2) became known to his friends as “Bomber” and his enemies as “Butcher”. He boasted in 1924 that he could wipe out a Kurdish village within 45 minutes, killing or injuring one third of its population with just 4 or 5 machines. Indeed this form of “Police Bombing” was extended to Tran Jordan, the Pathan tribesmen of NW frontier India, Aden and the Nuer people of Southern Sudan. Unbelievably the Chief of Air Staff, Sir Hugh Trenchard wrote a paper in early 1920, when fearing a political revolution in Britain that RAF bombers could “suppress industrial disturbances or uprisings” in England itself. Churchill demanded that Trenchard never refer to it again (at least not in writing)

Britain’s influence in Iraq was enduring and until 1958 most imports came from the UK and a British company dominated the oil resources until 1972.

One of the primary reasons given by our hypocritical masters for the “liberation” of Iraq was the possession of WMD (weapons of mass destruction). A joke circulates widely in MOD circles along the lines “We know Saddam has WMD because we keep the receipts !”

In 1985 a British subsidiary company, Uhde Ltd, built a £14m plant – Falluja 2, to be run by their German masters, which had the capability to produce epichlorohydrin and phosphorous trichloride (mustard and nerve gas). It was known at the time that Saddam was gassing Iranian troops in their thousands, but both the business and the outcome suited our purposes at the time. Trade Minister Paul Channon (now Lord Kelvedon) instructed the ECGD department to keep the details secret from the public. In fact the British taxpayer had to compensate the German company to the tune of a third of a million pounds because the final checks were interrupted in 1990 by the outbreak of the first Gulf war. In February of this year Falluja 2, featured in Colin Powell’s reason for going to war against Iraq.

Irrespective of the moral duty to free people, wherever they may be, from cruel and repressive regimes, the hypocrisy of Blair and Bush is staggering. During the period 1987 to 1988, the United States and Britain was fully aware that Saddam Hussein was repeatedly spreading poisonous gases on Kurdish villages to put down persistent rebellions. In the largest single attack, the town of Halabja was targeted in March 1988 were approx. 6800 Kurds were killed. Information from retired US intelligence officers confirmed that:

1. The USA knew Iraq carried out the attack on Halabja

2. Whilst being fully aware it was Iraq, the USA blamed Iran and US diplomats were instructed to say so.

As a result of this the international community failed to hold the regime in Iraq to account.

At the time Iraq was launching repeated chemical gas attacks against Iranian troops and Iranian Kurd villages. In addition Iraq had just commenced counterinsurgency attacks (Anfal) against its own rebellious Kurds, which resulted in the systematic killing of some 100,000 men, women and children.

The USA continued to support Iraq, who it considered the lesser of the two evils and under the National Security Directive 114 – 1983, continued to provide billions of dollars in loan guarantees and credits. Sensing that he had carte blanche, Saddam’s regime turned to more lethal chemical agents (Tabun and Sarin). During this period and up to 1994, Donald Rumsfeld had authorised, during the Reagan and H W Bush administration, the supply of biological agents, including Anthrax, Bubonic plague and cluster bombs supplied through a CIA front company (Cardoen) based in Chile. Britain and Germany meanwhile just satisfied themselves with supplying conventional weapons. The attack on Halabja was the culmination, but unfortunately for USA/UK the Iranians rushed the western media to the town and showed the mayhem on prime time western TV. Initially the US claimed “Iran too was involved” and it took seven weeks for the UN Security Council to censure the attack, even then using neutral language condemning the use of chemical weapons by both Iran and Iraq. Feeling safe Iraq actually increased its use of chemical weapons until the end of the war and beyond under the “Anfal” campaign. Some of those who engineered the cover-up are back in power under the current Bush administration.

Why, you may ask did the USA/UK support Iraq against Iran ?

When the Iran/Iraq war started in September 1980, it was an attack by Iraq across the Shatt al Arab waterway, that leads to the Persian Gulf. At the time there was no diplomatic relations with either Baghdad or Tehran and quite frankly nobody cared if a dictatorship wanted to decimate an Islamic Fundamentalist regime. However, by mid 1982, Iraq was on the defensive and Iranian troops were within a few miles of Basra. US intelligence was concerned that a breakthrough at Basra would destabilise Kuwait, the Gulf States and even threaten Saudi Arabia and by doing so, threaten US oil supplies. To prevent an Iraqi defeat, USA provide battlefield intelligence, but the true extent is enshrined in National Security Decision Directive 114 – 26th November 1983. The actual content of this directive is still classified but is known to include the statement that the USA would “do whatever is necessary and legal” to prevent Iraq losing to Iran.

I am not naïve enough to expect that all powerful nations do not make outrageous and inhumane decisions to maintain their position However, I also know that the Iraq question could have been resolved without the loss of life and destruction, albeit relatively restrained. Much of the collapse of the Iraq military has been achieved by the covert security services assassination and bribery campaign. The bombing and show of force, had it be known, was primarily window dressing and to satisfy the desire for revenge by the American people for WTC and to bolster Blair’s ego as a saviour of the worlds morals. In my humble estimation politicians of any political colour, given half a chance of power, are the scum of the earth, to put it mildly.

© 2012 Peter Geekie


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