Mountain Politics

The Middle East – United States Timeline 1927-2003

This is a 2 1/2 minute history of the US/Saudi partnership. Taken from the movie, “The Kingdom”

Although ties with the middle east and the united States began as early as Andrew Jackson’s presidency, I will start this timeline around the time that oil became the primary natural resource of the region. It is this oil after all that has been the commodity for which so many lives have been lost. Below are excerpts from wikipedia and other sources in a timeline form to explain further.


Prior to discovery the TPC or Turkish Petroleum Company, later named the IPC Iraqi Petroleum Company was  comprised of shareholders from Deutsche Bank, National Bank of Turkey (a British concern), Armenian businessman Calouste Gulbenkian.British Government-controlled Anglo-Persian Oil Company, and US Business Interests.  Concessions were granted to TPC to drill for oil by Iraq for the consideration that the Iraqi government would receive a royalty for every ton of oil extracted, but linked to the oil companies’ profits and not payable for the first 20 years.


The Red Line Agreement is the name given to an agreement signed by partners in the Turkish Petroleum Company(TPC) on July 31, 1928. The aim of the agreement was to formalize the corporate structure of TPC and bind all partners to a “self-denial clause” that prohibited any of its shareholders from independently seeking oil interests in the ex-Ottomanterritory. It marked the creation of an oil monopoly, or cartel, of immense influence, spanning a vast territory. During these years the U.S. had good relations with the middle east countries and provided modern medicine practices and industrial assistance throughout the region. The US and Britain provided security assistance in the region throughout WW2 and after the war a new pact was made with new concessions given the two countries.


The Anglo-American Petroleum Agreement of 1944 was based on negotiations between the United States and Britain over the control of Middle Eastern oil. Below is shown what the American President Franklin D. Roosevelt had in mind for to a British Ambassador in 1944:

Persian oil … is yours. We share the oil of Iraq and Kuwait. As for Saudi Arabian oil, it’s ours.


1946: RUSSIA

President Harry Truman threatens to drop a “super-bomb” on the Soviet Union if it does not withdraw from Kurdestan and Azerbaijan in northern Iran.


The U.S. helps push through a UN resolution partitioning Palestine into a Zionist state and an Arab state, giving the Zionist authorities control of 54% of the land. At that time Jewish settlers were about 1/3 of the population.

1948: WAR

War breaks out between newly proclaimed state of Israel, and Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Syria, who had moved troops into Palestine to oppose the partition of Palestine. Israeli attacks force some 800,000 Palestinians–two-thirds of the population–to flee into exile in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Gaza, and the West Bank. Israel seizes 77 percent of historic Palestine. The U.S. quickly recognizes Israel.

1949: SYRIA

Syria became an independent republic in 1946, but the March 1949 Syrian coup d’état, led by Army Chief of Staff Husni al-Za’im, ended the initial period of civilian rule. Za’im met at least six times with CIA operatives in the months prior to the coup to discuss his plan to seize power. Za’im requested American funding or personnel, but it is not known whether this assistance was provided. Once in power, Za’im made several key decisions that benefitted the United States. He approved the Trans-Arabian Pipeline (TAPLINE), an American project designed to transport Saudi Arabian oil to Mediterranean ports.


U.S.-led military alliance expands into the Middle East with Turkey’s admission to NATO.

1953: IRAN

The CIA organizes a coup overthrowing the Mossadeq government of Iran after Mossadeq nationalizes British holdings in Iran’s huge oilfields. The Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, is put on the throne, ruling as an absolute monarch for the next 25 years–torturing, killing and imprisoning his political opponents.

Tensions between middle east countries among themselves and with the US continue to brew discontent. Oil is now the chief national interest of the US in the region. By 1957 the US had replaced Britain as the dominating foreign influence. the CIA continued to perpetrate coups both successful and failing and also began to sell arms to Israel, furthering tensions between the Arab states and the US.


The TPC cartel preceded easily by three decades the birth of another cartel, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which was formed in 1960.


U.S. supports a coup by the Ba’ath party (soon to be headed by Saddam Hussein) to overthrow the Qassim regime, including by giving the Ba’ath names of communists to murder. “Armed with the names and whereabouts of individual communists, the national guards carried out summary executions. Communists held in detention…were dragged out of prison and shot without a hearing… [B]y the end of the rule of the Ba’ath, its terror campaign had claimed the lives of an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 communists.”


In June 1967 Israel fought with Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in the Six-Day War. As a result of the war, Israel captured theWest Bank, Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula. The U.S. supported Israel with weapons and continued to support Israel financially throughout the 1970s. On September 17, 1970, with U.S. and Israeli help, Jordanian troops attacked PLOguerrilla camps, while Jordan’s U.S.-supplied air force dropped napalm from above.


During the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) imposed an embargo against the United States in retaliation for the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military and to gain leverage in the post-war peace negotiations. Arab OPEC members also extended the embargo to other countries that supported Israel including the Netherlands, Portugal, and South Africa. The embargo both banned petroleum exports to the targeted nations and introduced cuts in oil production. Several years of negotiations between oil-producing nations and oil companies had already destabilized a decades-old pricing system, which exacerbated the embargo’s effects. Gasoline sales were rationed in the US during this period.


Demonstrations against the Shah commenced in October 1977, developing into a campaign of civil resistance that included both secular and religious elements[12][13][14] and which intensified in January 1978.[15] Between August and December 1978 strikes and demonstrations paralyzed the country. The Shah left Iran for exile on January 16, 1979, as the last Persian monarch, leaving his duties to a regency council and an opposition-based prime minister. Ayatollah Khomeini was invited back to Iran by the government,[16][17] and returned to Tehran to a greeting by several million Iranians.  U.S. President Jimmy Carter designates the Persian Gulf a vital U.S. interest and declares the U.S. will go to war to ensure the flow of oil. In response to Soviet military maneuvers on Iran’s northern border, Carter secretly puts U.S. forces on nuclear alert and warns the Soviets they will be used if the Soviets intervene.


U.S. begins arming and organizing Islamic fundamentalist “Mujahideen” in Afghanistan. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski writes, “This aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention,” drawing the Soviets into an Afghan quagmire. Over the next decade the U.S. alone passed more than $3 billion in arms and aid to the Mujahideen, with another $3 billion provided by the U.S. ally Saudi Arabia. Osama Bin Laden leads the Mujahideen. Soviet troops invade Afghanistan–which the U.S. rulers considered a “buffer state” between the Soviet Union to the north and the strategically important states of Iran and Pakistan to the south–overthrowing the Amin government and installing a more pro-Soviet regime.


Islamic militants, backed by the Khomeini regime, seize the U.S. embassy in Teheran and demand the U.S. return the Shah to Iran for trial. The Embassy and 52 U.S. personnel are held for 444 days; this international embarrassment prompts new U.S. actions against Iran–including an abortive rescue attempt.  As the Carter administration tries to bully Iran into surrendering the U.S. hostages, supporters of presidential candidate Ronald Reagan cut a secret deal with the Islamic Republic: promising that the Reagan administration will allow Israel to ship arms to Iran if Iran continues to hold the hostages during the coming presidential campaign to cripple Carter’s campaign for re-election. (Gary Sick)


Iraq invades Iran with tacit U.S. support, starting a bloody eight-year war. The U.S. supports both sides in the war providing arms to Iran and money, intelligence and political support to Iraq in order to prolong the war and weaken both sides, while trying to draw both countries into the U.S. orbit.


Reagan along with Oliver North and others against sanctions sold arms to Iran in order to keep soviet forces from taking hold and influencing the region. The U.S. secretly ships weapons to Iran, including 1,000 TOW anti-tank missiles, Hawk missile parts, and Hawk radars. The weapons are exchanged for U.S. hostages in Lebanon, and in hopes of increased U.S. leverage in Iran. The secret plot collapses when it is publicly revealed on November 3, 1986, by the Lebanese magazine, Al-Shiraa.


When a bomb goes off in a Berlin nightclub and kills two Americans, the U.S. blames Libya’s Qaddafi. U.S. bombers strike Libyan military facilities, residential areas of Tripoli and Benghazi, and Qaddafi’s house, killing 101 people, including Qaddafi’s adopted daughter.


The Iraqi regime launches mass poison-gas attacks on Kurds, killing thousands and bulldozing many villages. The U.S. responds by increasing its support for the Iraqi regime.

July 1988: A cease-fire ends the Iran-Iraq war with neither side victorious. Over 1 million Iranians and Iraqis are killed during the 8-year war.


The last Soviet troops leave Afghanistan. The war, fueled by U.S.-Soviet rivalry, has torn Afghanistan apart, killing more than one million Afghans and forcing one-third of the population to flee into refugee camps. More than 15,000 Soviet soldiers die in the war.

1990-1992: GULF WAR 1

April Glaspie, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, meets with Saddam Hussein, who threatens military action against Kuwait for overproducing its oil quota, slant drilling for oil in Iraqi territory, and encroaching on Iraqi territory–seriously harming war weakened Iraq. Glaspie replies, “We have no opinion on the Arab- Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.”
Iraq invades Kuwait. The U.S. seizes the moment to assert its hegemony in the post-Soviet world and strengthen its grip on the Persian Gulf: the U.S. condemns Iraq, rejects a diplomatic settlement, imposes sanctions, and prepares for an all-out military assault on Iraq.
After a 6-month military buildup, the U.S.-led coalition launches “Operation Desert Storm.” For the next 42 days, U.S. and allied planes pound Iraq, dropping 88,000 tons of bombs, systematically targeting and largely destroying its electrical and water systems. On February 22, 1991, the U.S. coalition begins its 100-hour ground war. Heavily armed U.S. units drive deep into southern Iraq. Overall, 100,000 to 200,000 Iraqis are killed during the war.
Shi’ites in the south and Kurds in the north rise up against Hussein’s regime in Iraq. The U.S., after encouraging these uprisings during the war, now fears turmoil and instability in the region and refuses to support the rebels. The U.S. denies the rebels access to captured Iraqi weapons and allows Iraqi helicopters to attack them.
Iraq withdraws from Kuwait and agrees to a UN-brokered cease-fire, but the U.S. and Britain insist that devastating sanctions be maintained. The U.S. declares large parts of north and south Iraq “no-fly” zones for Iraqi aircraft.


U.S. Marines land near Mogadishu, Somalia, supposedly to ensure humanitarian relief and “restore order.” But the U.S. also plans to remove the dominant warlord, Mohammed Aidid, and install a more pro-U.S. regime. In June 1983, after numerous gun battles with Aidid forces, U.S. helicopters strafe Aidid supporters, killing scores. In October, when U.S. forces attempt to kidnap two Aidid lieutenants, a fierce gunbattle breaks out. Five U.S. helicopters are shot down, 18 U.S. soldiers killed and 73 wounded, while 500 to 1000 Somalians are killed and many more injured.

March 1992: U.S. Defense Department drafts new, post-Soviet “Defense Planning Guidance” paper stating, “In the Middle East and Southwest Asia, our overall objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the region and preserve U.S. and Western access to the region’s oil.”


U.S. brokers a “peace” agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization at Oslo, Norway. The agreement strengthens Israel and U.S. domination, while leaving Palestinians a small part of their historic homeland, broken up into isolated pieces surrounded by Israel. No provisions are made for the return of the four million Palestinian refugees living outside of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.

1993: U.S. launches missile attack on Iraq, claiming self-defense against an alleged assassination attempt on former president Bush two months earlier.


World Trade Center bombing was a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, carried out on February 26, 1993, when a truck bomb was detonated below the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. The 1,336 pounds (606 kg) urea nitratehydrogen gas enhanced device[1] was intended to send the North Tower (Tower 1) crashing into the South Tower (Tower 2), bringing both towers down and killing tens of thousands of people.[2][3] It failed to do so but killed six people and injured more than a thousand.[4]

1995: The U.S. imposes oil and trade sanctions against Iran, reinforcing sanctions in effect since 1979, for alleged sponsorship of ‘terrorism’, seeking to acquire nuclear arms and hostility to the Middle East process. (BBC, CSM)

1995: With U.S. backing, Turkey launches a major military offensive, involving some 35,000 Turkish troops, against the Kurds in northern Iraq.

1998: Congress passes the “Iraq Liberation Act,” giving nearly $100 million to groups attempting to overthrow the Hussein regime.

1998: Claiming retaliation for attacks on U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, President Clinton sends 75 cruise missiles pounding into rural Afghanistan –supposedly targeting Osama Bin Laden. The U.S. also destroys a factory producing half of Sudan’s pharmaceutical supply, claiming the factory is involved in chemical warfare. The U.S. later acknowledges there is no evidence for the chemical warfare charge.

December 16-19, 1998: The U.S. and Britain launch “Operation Desert Fox,” a bombing campaign supposedly aimed at destroying Iraq’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs. For most of the next year, U.S. and British planes strike Iraq every day with missiles. (BBC)

1999: The U.S. Department of Defense shifts command of its forces in Central Asia from the Pacific Command to the Central Command, underlining the heightened importance of the region, which includes vast oil reserves in and around the Caspian Sea.

2001: Tenth anniversary of the U.S. war on Iraq: sanctions are still in place and the UN estimates that 4,500 children are dying per month from disease and malnutrition as a result. The U.S. planes, which have flown over 280,000 sorties in Iraq over the past decade, continue to attack from the air. In the past two years, over 300 Iraqis have been killed in these bombings.


SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 World Trade Center Attack by 2 commercial airliners. Both Towers collapse killing thousands of Americans.


U.S. begins bombing Afghanistan, as the first act of war in “Operation Enduring Freedom”–the U.S. “war against global terrorism.”

2003:  IRAQ WAR

War with Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein



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