A Fatal Friendship? (III)

Part I, Part II

The U.S. trap for Saddam Hussein

It is known that control over the oil resources of the Persian Gulf states, which produce almost half of the hydrocarbons consumed in the world, is one of the key elements of the U.S. global domination strategy. Such control allows the Americans to effectively manipulate prices in the markets of these raw materials, to have an appropriate impact on the monetary institutions in Western Europe, Japan and China, the main competitors of the USA in the system of world economic relations. At the same time the promotion of this doctrine faces the opposition of various factors at the regional level. The Khomeini regime in Iran has become one of the active pockets of resistance to the American offensive in the region. The collapse of the Shah’s regime allied to Washington in Iran, the expulsion of Americans from the country, the seizure of American diplomats in Tehran and the failure of the special operation to free them: all this hurt the ego of the Americans, seriously affected the image of the US in the region and put into question the ability of this great power to protect the interests of oil-producing Arab countries in the Persian Gulf.

The war between Iraq and Iran, which began in September 1980, gave America a golden chance not only to regain its lost position in the region, but also to try to weaken the new Iranian regime with the help of the Iraqis. The White House decided to support Iraq, which meant direct aid and support for S. Hussein. The Reagan administration demonstrably removed Iraq from the list of “terrorist regimes” and restored diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1984, which had been severed by Baghdad in 1967. At the direction of the White House, the Pentagon made regular deliveries of U.S. weapons and U.S. companies of equipment and “dual-use” goods, including components for chemical weapons, to Iraq. The intermediary was a well-known American arms dealer Sarkis Soganalyan, who was in constant contact with Iraqi leaders and signed contracts for the supply of American weapons. During the visit of Iraqi Minister of Commerce M. Saleh to Washington in the fall of 1987, the Americans promised to favorably consider the Iraqi request for the supply of air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles. For the 1988-1989 fiscal year, the U.S. loaned Iraq one billion dollars. The Americans regularly provided Baghdad with intelligence about the location of Iranian troops, obtained by American AWACS planes. Thus, according to the General Staff of the Iraqi Army, in January 1988, the U.S. informed through its channels about the concentration of a large Iranian military group for an offensive near Basra.

Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein gestures during his trial in Baghdad on October 10, 2006

Despite broad statements by the White House and State Department that the U.S. was interested in a peaceful resolution of the Iran-Iraq conflict, according to then-Governor of California D. Dukmejian, the U.S. administration pursued the exact opposite goal: to support the military actions until the exhaustion of both parties as much as possible and, eventually, to return the lost positions in Iran and strengthen its influence in Iraq. In furtherance of this line, the Americans secretly supplied Iran through Israel with Hawk anti-aircraft missiles and TOW anti-tank missiles.

After the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, the question arose as to whether a continued American military presence in the Persian Gulf was justified. By this time, both warring countries were devastated and needed to raise large sums of money to rebuild their economies. Besides, Iraq, with its army of millions, its chemical weapons and means of their delivery, its well-functioning state apparatus, and its solid economic opportunities could become a potential threat to the USA and its strategic ally in the Middle East, Israel. The Americans were particularly irritated by another speech by S. Hussein, in which he threatened to “burn Israel”.

Apparently, at that time a plan to use Baghdad to justify further increase of the American military presence in the Persian Gulf, to deepen allied relations with Saudi Arabia and the Emirates and to strengthen the leading role of the USA in the Middle East began to take shape in Washington.

The Americans directly or through their agents in the Iraqi leadership began to convey to Hussein the idea that the money to restore the economic potential of Iraq (about $ 150 billion) can be obtained only by raising oil prices, as well as by writing off $ 50 billion of Baghdad’s debt by the Arab Gulf countries and giving him new loans. At the same time, the Americans, through the Persian Gulf countries allied with them, tried to get the prices of oil to go down under the pretext of the need to slow down the pace of reconstruction of the Iranian economy.

to be continued

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