Oil and World Politics: The real story of today’s conflict zones: Iraq, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ukraine and more
Oil also called, black gold, is both a driving force as well as a bone of contention between the world states. It is through this search for oil and gas that almost all major companies leave their cozy confinements in their countries and risk exploration for this in every part of the world.
Since the end of the 19th century, it is a major commodity and player in international trade and politics. World powers use every hook and step to allure those countries that are abundant with this natural endowment.
Political, economic, and military coercion and enticement were used to get this black gold for themselves at their own will and cost. The Middle East was and still is a major arena for these wranglings.
The Petroleum Game plays a critical role in coveting or dissuading countries from one investor or bloc to another one. Oil roulette never stops and players bet on it for their jackpot!
John Foster this book discusses how world powers use different tactics and means for this oil. Being an energy economist with 40 years of experience in the field he goes deep to untangle how Afghanistan, Iraq, Venezuela, Ukraine, and many other places are paying the price for these natural endowments.
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It was this oil hunger and politics that Washington along with its allies invaded Iraq in the name of the Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD) which Senator Hillary Clinton called to protect the vital US interests in Iraq.
The same disaster was wrought on Syria which Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the tragedy of the 21st century. The two proposed gas pipelines, one coming from Qatar and passing through Syria and Turkey exporting gas to Europe, the second gas pipeline originating from Iran and going through Iraq and Syria to sell gas to Europe sealed the fate of the Syrian people. The regional and global political rivalries and interventions to control and took their lion’s share bode ill for Syrians.
Despite Ayatollah Khomeini and Khamenei’s religious rulings forbidding the making and use of nuclear weapons the US and West always blame Tehran for bomb-making. But the real story behind all this is again oil. After lifting sanctions in 2016, Iran raised its oil export to a pre-sanctions level of 2.5 million barrels per day.
Moreover, Tehran opted for Yuan and euros instead of petrodollars reducing its dependency on Washington and the dollar.
The US and NATO bombing of Libya in 2011 was another attempt to tackle an oil-rich African country for themselves. After the assassination of President Qadafi and the dismantling of his socialist government, Libya was thrown into a quagmire of bloodshed, poverty, political, and economic insecurity that even today rage the country even today.
It has become a transit camp for illegal migrants to Europe majority of whom loses their life by drowning in the Mediterranean Sea. President Obama called it the worst day of his presidency to intervene in Libya accusing his allies France and the United Kingdom as well for this failure. The price paid and still paying by Libyans for this failed intervention!
Shipping is the most cost effective and easy as compared to other modes of transportation and has always been used by nations in recent history. The International maritime routes are veins on which all international trade is carried out.
The Suez Canal, the Strait of Mandab, the Strait of Hormuz, the South China Sea, and the Strait of Malacca are vital points not only for trade but also for petroleum transportation from the Middle East to Western countries. Nearly all oil maritime trade routes are clashing points both regional and world powers vying for their control over them. Another geo-politicized pipeline example is Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, TAPI, which for more than 30 years remained a see-saw of regional and political rivalry between different stakeholders.
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Washington sees it as a vent to reduce Moscow and Beijing’s influence in this region while Russia finds it to be a strategic loss for itself if Turkmenistan successfully exports its gas to these three countries. India and Pakistan tussles also have negatively affected this pipeline.
Likewise, Moscow’s intervention in Crimea is posed as the tsarist policy of President Putin. The US government was interested to organize the Ukrainian opposition parties and politics for their interests. Both Washington and Moscow want to keep Ukraine in their sphere of influence.
As Russia has the world’s fifth-largest gas reserves. The Russian oil and gas company, Gazprom, which facilitated the energy supplies to Ukraine and Europe was an energy-button that could be any time switched off by Moscow to blackmail them!
West and US want more than one energy-lines to secure their interests and reduce their dependency on Moscow. Ukrainian 2013 agreements with Shell, ExxonMobil, and Chevron cautioned Russia to intervene and manage Ukrainian politics for its interests. The ongoing Ukraine-Russia war since February 2022 is the continuation of this oil, politics, and influence between the West, the US, and Moscow.
The first decade of the 21st century saw the direct or indirect intervention of the US and the West in countries possessing oil reserves. OPEC was a major player in global trade and politics since 1955 for the first time witnessed an erosion of its influence by the untapped discovery of shale and gas reserves.
The use of petrodollars and Washington for it for its strategic interests led Iran, Russia, and China to make bilateral and multilateral energy and trade arrangements with countries for themselves to cut aside the US hold.
Global warming and environmental hazards also lead to curbing carbon emissions resulting in changing values and dynamics of oil, politics, and its role.
The 10 chapters of the book give a stunning read to its reader how pawns are moved back and forth by world powers to get energy-lines and leverage for themselves.
Murtaza Kaleem an educator, freelance writer, movie-watcher, melodious music listener and an avid reader about International Relations and World Politics with a decade long experience of education and teaching to students of different sociological and economic backgrounds. My social links are;