US Ready to Intervene in Gulf War

by Joe Stork , Martha Wenger
published in MER125

The current phase of the war between Iran and Iraq has prompted a level of US military intervention in the Gulf region that is new and unprecedented in both qualitative and quantitative terms, and holds the risk of a more direct combat role on Iraq’s behalf. Since early 1983, the stalemate in the war appeared to be working in Iran’s favor. Its greater weight in terms of population and economic resources gave it the edge in a strategy of attrition. Beginning in the fall of 1983, Iraq threatened to counter by attacking Iran’s oil exporting capacity. This campaign finally began in March and April 1984, with missile attacks against oil tankers near Iran’s Kharg island loading facility.

Chronicle of the Gulf War

published in MER125

The war between Iran and Iraq is approaching its fourth anniversary. In its duration, large numbers of casualties and physical damage, this war already ranks as one of the most serious armed conflicts since World War II. Several Iranian cities and numerous towns have been destroyed, and the city of Basra, Iraq’s second largest, has been under serious threat for a year or more. Both countries have extensive industrial and oil exporting facilities in the war zone which have been heavily damaged in the fighting. Economic losses in both countries are calculated in many tens of billions of dollars. Iran claimed in May 1983 that it had suffered $90 billion in economic damages.

Getting to the War On Time

The Central Command

by Martha Wenger
published in MER128

Fifty thousand troops move across the desert in 100 degree-plus temperatures. F-18 jet fighters scream through the air and strafe the rock and sand below. Tanks maneuver over rough terrain to pound enemy positions. A buzzer goes off in a soldier’s helmet: The computer-guided laser network at the Army National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California, is telling this soldier that in a real war he would be dead.

Hangover Time in the Gulf

by Ghassan Salameh
published in MER139

After a decade of soaring revenues and frenetic spending, the six “Eldorado” states of the Gulf (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates—the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council) are now in a tight economic and financial squeeze. Experts and analysts in the Gulf and around the world are feverishly studying the consequences of this new phase, including its political implications. Symptoms which began to show up back in 1982 are now quite apparent in the litanies of international experts and the lives of the countries’ six million immigrant workers.

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Owen, Migrant Workers in the Gulf

by James Paul
published in MER141


Roger Owen, Migrant Workers in the Gulf (London: Minority Rights Group, Report No. 68, 1985).


Today, as oil prices plunge, the six million foreign workers in the Gulf are feeling the crunch. Roger Owen's new survey of Gulf migrant workers is especially welcome, for the future of Gulf societies in this new era is closely bound up with the question of these foreign workers.

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Pakistan and the Central Command

by Jamal Rashid
published in MER141

Congress this fall will begin reviewing a new six-year US aid package to Pakistan totaling more than $4 billion. Crucial to the outcome is Pakistan’s military role in the Gulf. Pakistan’s military missions in 22 countries in the Middle East and Africa make it the largest exporter of military manpower in the Third World. Its role in the Gulf has a direct bearing on Washington’s strategy in the region, on the future security role of the Gulf Cooperation Council and on Pakistan’s own internal political dynamic.

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The Palestinian Diaspora of the Gulf

by Eric Rouleau
published in MER132

Editor’s Note: A longer version of this article appeared as a three-part series in Le Monde, June 15-17, 1982. It appears here by permission of the author. Since the article was written, the economic cutbacks in the Gulf have reduced jobs available to the Palestinians and also affected the Palestinian bourgeoisie. Remittances to Palestinian institutions (including the PLO) are now less than they were. The crisis in the PLO since the Lebanon war has also deprived the Palestinian community of its main interlocutor and defender with the Gulf regimes. In spite of these changes, the Palestinians remain an important and influential community in the Gulf and in the Palestinian diaspora, as Eric Rouleau makes clear.

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Prospects for the Gulf

by Joe Stork
published in MER132

All of the small Arab states of the Persian Gulf are now well into their second decade as independent political entities. Bahrain, Qatar and the seven principalities making up the United Arab Emirates became independent in 1971. Kuwait’s independence goes back another decade. Oman, though never a colony, traces its present regime to the British-induced palace coup of 1970. Whether because of or in spite of the startling explosion of wealth in the 1970s, because of or in spite of the fall of the shah and the war between Iran and Iraq, they have survived as states and their regimes have displayed unanticipated continuity. The turbulence of the 1970s roared around them, as around the eye of a storm.

The New Bourgeoisie of the Gulf

by James Paul
published in MER142

A blue helicopter flies out over the harbor at Nice, landing gently on an enormous yacht of teak and mahogany, swaying gently at anchor. The passengers step out: A correspondent and photographer from the Spanish photo magazine Hola! are arriving to get a feature story on ‘Adnan Khashoggi, flamboyant Saudi millionaire, reputed to be one of the world’s richest men. Khashoggi emerges to greet them in a white suit, then shows them around his plush vessel, introduces his beautiful Italian wife and gestures to the many white telephones from which he does business all over the world. Amid the grandeur, Khashoggi admits he has recently had a few setbacks: A business deal in Salt Lake City has lost some $70 million. But overall business is prospering, he reports.

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Italy to the Gulf—and Back

by Diane Johnstone
published in MER151

Aside from the two superpowers, whose superpower most observers believe to be waning, there is a third, potential superpower haunting Western Europe -- which is Europe itself. If only it could get it together. And what better occasion to get together than to protect “our oil” from the awful ayatollahs?

Last September 15, a fleet of eight Italian warships, including three minesweepers and three frigates, set sail for the Gulf, amid cheers and protests. On the eve of the sailing, Defense Minister Valerio Zanone explained the strategic significance of the controversial decision: “it establishes a European connection outside the geographical limits of NATO.”

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