The fight for oil

By Ritu Tiwari on June 24, 2014

US-led the war against Iraq on 20 March 2003, which was followed by 9 year’s long fighting in the region (Nayna J Jhaveri n.d.). Prior to the war, the US government claimed that Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Consequently, they were pressing the military in Iraq for controlling such activities. The Bush administration claimed that Hussein’s regime was supporting terrorists and was abusing human rights which can be harmful to its neighbour countries and was also found responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Granting to the US government, their nation and citizens were in peril, therefore in 2002, they passed an order for Iraq’s government to support UN weapon inspectors to search and verify WMD in Iraq (Nayna J Jhaveri n.d.). The US government supported that all terrorist actions handled by Al-Qaeda were with the support of Iraq and thus the objective of the Iraq war was to remove funding of terrorists by Iraq.

Nevertheless, the claims made by the US Government could not be proven as they could find no WMDs’ on site. The aim of the Iraq war was then foreseen by three concepts:

  1. US global strategy.
  2. Us stronghold in the Middle East.
  3. Bush’s strategy behind the changing rulership in Iraq, which explains the threat to the US in its strategic situation in the Middle East (Hinnebusch 2007).

The Bush administration began the invasion of Iraq after the 9/11 attack. Though it could not be proved a memo was prepared by the US Sec. Rumsfeld on Nov. 27, 2001, which specified the war between the US and Iraq (Nayna J Jhaveri n.d.).

Background to the outbreak of war

UN Inspectors could not find any WMDs’ on-site neither they could find any proof against Hussein’s regime in connection with the Al-Qaeda through their verification process (Nayna J Jhaveri n.d.). Even so, according to the US, this cannot prove that Iraq was not supporting terrorists due to an unfinished verification process which needed more time. In 1991 it was found that Iraq was involved in nuclear, biological and chemical programs but it did not lift that program before. Other countries allied with the US  also claimed that Saddam Hussein was sponsoring terrorist attacks through al-Qaeda and was promoting WMDs’ but no proof was found in connection to these claims (Hinnebusch 2007).

So why was Iraq attacked?

Initially, it was stated by Tommy R. Frank and Sec. Rumsfeld that the primary motives behind the Iraq war were that the US wanted to:-

  1. End Saddam Hussein’s regime.
  2. Eliminate weapons of mass destruction from Iraq.
  3. Arrest all terrorists from Iraq.
  4. Find some proof of a terrorist connection with Iraq.
  5. To see proof of WMD, global connection.
  6. Offer funding for the Iraqi citizens.
  7. End Kurdish genocide.
  8. Create self-government to support Iraqi citizens (Nayna J Jhaveri n.d.).

President of Australia John Howard said that the Iraq invasion by the US was due to its demand for Iraq’s oil reserve (Duffield 2005). In the middle east only Iraq possesses the highest quantity of oil reserve now. The US desired to remove its dependency on foreign oil and wanted to create its dominance on the oil market globally (Duffield 2005).

Importance of oil for the US and its allies

The US is depended on the oil from a very ancient time for its economy, whether it is mining or manufacturing (Hejny & Nielsen 2003). Costs of daily used products also depend on the price of oil. US biggest demand for oil is generated by its military forces which play an indispensable part in the US position among the Middle Eastern countries (Hejny & Nielsen 2003).

US’s plan of action

The US has its dominance into different economic sectors of many countries. However, due to its dependency on the Middle Eastern countries for oil, it is lacking its dominance in this sector. The US imports oil from different Middle East countries in substitution for its security to those countries (Hinnebusch 2007). The US imports oil from Saudi Arabia for fulfilling its oil demand. But Saudi Arabia itself has a higher domestic demand for oil, which results in a reduction in its oil reserve. After the Afghanistan war oil prices shot up and acute shortages were foreseen in the US and with its allies (Hinnebusch 2007).

However, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan (after the war), were followed by poor relationships with Iraq. This resulted in poor relations with the US as well. The US needed to create a good relationship with Iraq, but it was not possible in the presence of Saddam Hussein as the leader. The most significant threat to the US as if the US fails in fulfilling its oil needs,  it may induce a security hazard for the US and large oil reserve enforces Iraq to establish a substantial military power in comparison to the US in the middle east (Hinnebusch 2007).

Thus, for getting rid of this threat, the US made a scheme to change the rulership of Iraq and to create its dominance on the oil market globally. The foremost measure in this manner was to place a Shia leader in place of Saddam Hussein to create a sound relationship with Iraq. The US placed a Shia leader in place of Saddam Hussein and provided military support in Iraq (Hinnebusch 2007). The US confirmed Iraq’s involvement in the 9/11 attacks and announced a war against Iraq’s regime. Later the US captured Saddam Hussein and he was executed by Iraq’s new Shia government (Nayna J Jhaveri n.d.). This helped the US to remain powerful among Middle Eastern countries.