Washington and the ‘oil, Israel and terrorism’ trio

The United States does not need to deploy warships in the Middle East to sell iPhones and Chevrolet cars or to impose the spread of Starbucks in the region. Our market is not that valuable for American goods and it is not worth the wars. Nevertheless, there are three main reasons to keep the United States present in our region no matter how bored, frustrated or despaired the White House becomes. The trio principle of “oil, Israel and terrorism” is stronger than any other motive that could cause people to pack their bags and flee a region that is constantly on fire.

On April 30 1975, after the fall of the capital Saigon, the Americans departed South Vietnam. It was a long absence and they returned 30 years later as traders and tourists.

The U.S. lost the war in Vietnam and instead of fighting and holding on, they accepted the defeat and turned the page. The U.S. lost the war in Vietnam and thus, Vietnam is no longer mentioned in the U.S. except in Hollywood movies and the memoirs of war veterans.

Can they do it?

The Americans are now planning to leave Afghanistan; they have already withdrawn from Iraq and refused to enter Syria. They contented themselves with waging the war on al-Qaeda via unmanned drones. Can the U.S. government really turn off the light, leave and live in peace?

The truth is that, despite the failure of the United States in the management of political crises in the region, it has succeeded in its oil related mission

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

There are significant differences between the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia and the battles against Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and al-Qaeda. The most important difference is that escaping will not end the war, as it did in Saigon, unless it is done whilst imposing new measures to end the conflicts in the Middle East. This is difficult to achieve in a region that is constantly witnessing an explosive cocktail of conflicts whether historical, religious, political, tribal or economic. In Southeast Asia, the conflict was a political one: axes of the cold war, the West, China and the Soviet Union. As for the Middle East, the U.S.’s mismanagement of local crises has left a legacy of political vacuums in the region.

U.S. priorities

I will stress on three U.S. priorities that are preventing the White House from fleeing the Middle East. The first priority is oil; it is too important to be left to the chaos that will affect the economies of the world. The truth is that, despite the failure of the United States in the management of political crises in the region, it has succeeded in its oil related mission of ensuring a strong presence in world production and ensuring market stability. With the absence of the U.S., global oil production would be out of control and the ensuing chaos will torment world markets.

The second priority is Israel, because all U.S. administrations are committed to protecting Israel. The U.S. cannot contend itself with protecting Israel by taking off Iran’s nuclear claws. The sole solution is to keep on searching for an agreement that will end the conflict, and to carry on with their regional role to protect their ally. As for the third priority, it is the terrorism that constitutes a threat to the whole world, not just to the Iraq’s Anbar province, Syria’s Aleppo, or Yemen’s Aden. The war will last for a decade or two, against organizations like al-Qaeda, which proved to be capable of expanding, spreading and reaching the furthest points of the world.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Feb. 7, 2014.


Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:42 - GMT 06:42
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