Arab Economics After the Gulf War

by Yahya Sadowski
published in MER170

On February 6, 1991, Secretary of State James Baker admitted before the House of Foreign Affairs Committee that economic factors, particularly widespread Arab resentment that oil wealth was not more equitably distributed, had played a role in the dynamics leading to the Gulf war and would remain one of the primary “sources of conflict” in the region. To ease these tensions, he proposed the creation of an economic organization through which oil-rich states could fund the reconstruction and development of their poorer neighbors. [1] The following day, Baker advocated the creation of a multinational “Middle East Development Bank” to attain these objectives. [2]

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Oil and the Gulf War

by Paul Aarts , Michael Renner
published in MER171

No blood for oil! The rallying cry of many of those who took to the streets in protest against the Gulf war is simple. Is it too simple? “Even a dolt understands the principle,” said one unnamed US official, “We need the oil. It’s nice to talk about standing up for freedom, but Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are not exactly democracies, and if their principal export were oranges, a mid-level State Department official would have issued a statement and we would have closed Washington down for August.” [1]

OPEC Since the Gulf War

by Fareed Mohamedi
published in MER176

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Books on Oil

by Majid Alsayegh
published in MER180

Simon Bromley, American Hegemony and World Oil (Pennsylvania State, 1991).

Daniel Yergin, The Prize (Simon and Schuster, 1990).

These two books present a historical account of the development of the international oil industry and the struggle for control of oil over the past century. Both authors take the position that oil is a strategic commodity which has played a critical role in the strategies of nations and multinational corporations, but their perspectives and conclusions are substantially different.

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The Saudi Economy: A Few Years Yet Until Doomsday

by Fareed Mohamedi
published in MER185

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The Saudis, the French and the Embargo

by Fareed Mohamedi , Roger Diwan
published in MER193

The successful maintenance of a near total embargo on Iraq owes to a number of factors, ranging from geography to post-Cold War global economies. Iraq’s limited access to the sea can be easily monitored, while its record of regional aggression has deprived Baghdad of local friends. Despite some breaches of the export embargo involving high-ranking officials in both countries, Iran is not going to give Iraq much economic relief. The same goes for Syria. Turkey and Jordan, Iraq’s two lifelines to the outside world, cannot risk more than limited and calibrated breaches of the embargo because of their own susceptibility to US pressures.

The Taliban, the Shari'a and the Pipeline

Rivalries and Power Plays in Afghanistan

by Olivier Roy
published in MER202

Underlying the appearance of the Taliban movement, first of all, are factors internal to Afghan society, in particular the discrediting of the government and the “commandos” born out of the resistance to Soviet intervention. The rapid expansion of the militia, culminating with the conquest of Kabul on September 26, 1996, cannot be understood without considering the direct support of Pakistan, abetted by the US and Saudi Arabia, as part of a larger project to export fossil fuels from Central Asia to Western markets via Afghanistan and Pakistan, bypassing Iran and Russia.

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