Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The Price of OPEC: Column from May 28, 2004

With OPEC’s rejection of Saudi Arabia’s May 22 bid to raise oil output, I recall a very relevant article that appeared the previous day on National Review Online. Written by Lt. Gen. Thomas G. McInerney, retired assistant vice chief of staff of the Air Force, and Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely, retired US Army deputy commanding general, Pacific, it is titled: "Completing the Big Picture -Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the Holy Land." It excerpted from their book "Endgame: The Blueprint for Victory in the War on Terror."

The following is a quote from the article:

"If the House of Saud does not follow an American diplomatic lead to reform along the lines we've sketched, it could easily fall to an Islamist revolution. So the United States must dust off the contingency plans to meet that threat, which would mean invading Saudi Arabia, seizing its oil fields, production facilities, and tanker terminals, securing and isolating them from the Islamists — and defeating them with the assistance of the more Western-oriented princes, who need to be identified now, who can lead a counterrevolutionary opposition. Other Gulf States, like Qatar and Kuwait, would certainly come to our aid."

Defining the threat of an Al Qaeda takeover of Saudi Arabia and its oil fields the authors explain: "Al-Qaeda has many fighters and supporters within Saudi Arabia. As one analyst told us, only about 25 percent of the Saudi population wholeheartedly supports the royal family. Ironically, the inflexible Wahhabis Islam preached by Saudi-funded clerics in mosques, taught in Saudi-funded schools, and put into action by Saudi-supported Islamist groups around the world is what inspires the anti-monarchist forces. The chickens have come home to roost for the House of Saud. It now is fighting the very terrorism that it helped create."

Warning that ignoring the threat in Saudi Arabia would mean that Saudi Arabia could go the way of Iran the authors continued: "That might seem poetic justice to some, but the United States has an interest in Saudi reform rather than revolution. In the late 1970s, the United States stood by while the Shah of Iran fell and an Islamic republic took his place. That foreign policy mistake gave rise to the mullahs and eventually the Web of Terror that constitutes the greatest post-Communist threat to the Western world. The United States, therefore, cannot make the same mistake in Saudi Arabia that it did in Iran. We cannot let anti-American mullahs replace another monarchy in the Persian Gulf region."

The authors apparently know of what they write. The following appeared on "" on May 23:

"Due to their vast reserves of oil, Islamic countries have the political and economic power to vanquish the USA and its supporters. Islamic nations should, with the help of God and unity, rise and seize the reins of power in Islamic countries in order to gain control of their own material resources and wealth and inflict a crushing blow on the oppressors." recently posted an article titled "Seizing Arab Oil" which is on point. It was originally published in Harper's Magazine in March 1975. It was written by "Miles Ignotus" (Latin for unknown soldier). Some have speculated that Henry Kissinger was the actual author. "Seizing Arab Oil" addresses the threat that OPEC posed to the world economy following the 1973 oil embargo. The article is an in depth study of OPEC’s power and it’s threat and the available alternatives in handling the issue. The author systematically rejects all approaches other than military as being futile (it’s a worthwhile read) and goes on to describe in considerable detail an operation to invade Saudi Arabia and take control of its oil fields. Israel’s role in the invasion is laid out in fair detail and includes the use of its airfields by the United States and tandem flying by the Israeli Air Force during the attack as an outer guard for the United States Air Force.

With all that is happening now it is easy to forget recent terror attacks on Saudi Arabia and thus ignore the possible effects these attacks are having on Saudi and OPEC behavior. In the fall of 2003, terrorists struck in Riyadh, attacking a compound in which foreign workers were killed and wounded. More disturbingly, the attackers wore Saudi Arabian police uniforms and drove Saudi Arabian police cars. Then, more recently, on May 12, 2003, al-Qaeda struck in Riyadh, killing twelve people in suicide car bomb attacks. If indeed the chickens have come home to roost then the stakes -- like the price of oil -- have never been higher in this region.


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