Al Qaeda and Energy Security
Even though Tony Blair and George Bush did their best to legitimize the invasion of Iraq, one message that was clearly spelt out is the West has an insatiable appetite for oil and they’ll go to all lengths to satisfy it. America is currently trying to reduce its dependence on Middle East oil but achieving this feat might take decades. The Arab oil embargo imposed on the US in 1973 exposed their Achilles heel and the current foreign policy in the Middle East is indicative of the lengths to which the US will go to protect its oil interests.
Looking at Saudi Arabia, the country practically feeds the US economy yet the Bush and Obama governments have continued to ignore the role of the Saudis in the September 11th terrorist attacks. It’s common knowledge that some of the terrorist were trained in Saudi Arabia and a couple of rich families in this nation continue to fund terrorist activities. Adding to this, the West has always spoken harshly about countries which impose Sharia law but little is said about Saudi Arabia (White, 2009, p 18).
The main reason is the Saudi Royal Family has continued to play its position in supporting every American Administration since the days of Ronald Regan to the current administration. US Interests Looking at the other side of coin, Afghanistan was about to be flattened by the US military after the 9/11 attacks but another distraction emerged; Iraq. The reasons surrounding the invasion of Afghanistan was to neutralize the threat of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Before the 9/11 attacks, Saddam Hussein wasn’t even in America’s radar when weighing their existential threats.
After 9/11 Iraq was portrayed as a hotbed of terrorism and Al Qaeda had already gained foothold. This seems highly unlikely if one considers the cultural history of the Arab world. Iraq predominantly practices the Sunni brand of Islam, which is also quite predominant in Saudi Arabia. Its neighbor Iran practices the more radical Shiite brand of Islam. Some of the most radical Islamic terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Al Qaeda can all trace their routes to Shiite Islam (Marsella, 2003, p 15).
Therefore, it would have made a lot more sense to invade Iran to neutralize Al Qaeda since the country has been known to openly support Hezbollah in Lebanon. But what did the US do? They invaded Iraq. There are a number of “legitimate reasons” as to why they dethroned Saddam but the reality is Iraq was sitting on the largest crude oil reserves outside Saudi Arabia and Saddam Hussein wasn’t playing along like the Saudi Royal Family. Once the sectarian violence subsided and the threat of Al-Qaeda “eliminated”, the Iraqi oil fields were auctioned off to Western oil companies.
It seems the objective of invading Iraq was achieved. Just recently, Yemen has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. The Yemeni army was involved in serious clashes with rural tribes and the reasons were never clearly stated. However, this “new conflict” has taken the shape of the new “war on terror”. According to international news sources, radical Islamic elements have been crossing the border in their thousands. Some of these fighters were linked to Al-Qaeda and their reasons for fighting the Yemeni government/army aren’t quite clear.
Unofficial sources claim that the conflict in Yemen is sectarian related and it was simple a case of turf wars amongst the rural tribes. The entry of the Yemeni army into the conflict only exacerbated the situation because most of these rural regions are neglected by the government; sending an army to quell a situation that may have been sparked by government inactions in the past isn’t the best choice. The question that needs to be asked is how does Al-Qaeda fit into the Yemeni conflict?
Yemen is not a major oil producer like Saudi Arabia and Iraq but oil accounts for 90% of its exports. Their major advantage is they are a non-OPEC member and whichever oil deals the country will sign with the US won’t be affected by the politics of OPEC (fluctuating prices) or even the political turmoil of the wider Middle East. Gaining a foothold in this nondescript nation will be a tall order for the US but, it’s an achievable feat of the so called Al-Qaeda extremism continues to flourish.
Should this happen, the US can always use its military, under the guise of fighting terrorism, to topple the regime or install a government which will preserve US oil interests. Conclusion This theory might seem far-fetched but it’s more than a coincidence that almost all oil producing nations are grappling with some form of political upheavals. From Nigeria to Venezuela, and even Sudan to Guinea Bissau, all these nations are hardly stable democracies and the elected governments all have a tendency to engage in corrupt activities (Forest, 2006, p 45).
It can be hypothesized that the US tolerates the installation and maintenance of these unstable governments and in the near future, they will justify their involvement by basing their facts on the existence of terrorist elements within these countries. Convincing the general public that Al-Qaeda or other radical elements exist in a stable country like Norway (major oil and gas producer) is next to impossible. However, calling Hugo Chavez a firebrand or linking Ahmedinajad to terrorist activities is a much easier affair.
White, Jonathan (2009). Terrorism and Homeland Security (6th ed. ). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. Pp 18-27 Marsella, A. J (2003) Terrorism: Reflections on issues, concepts, and directions, Moghaddam, F. M. and Marsella, A. J. , Eds. Understanding Terrorism: Psychosocial Roots consequences, and interventions, Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, pp 11-48 Forest James J. F, Sousa Matthew V. (2006) Oil and terrorism in the new Gulf: framing U. S. energy and security policies for the Gulf of Guinea. Lexington Books. Pp 44-56Sample Essay of Edusson.com