Subject: One-Page Gulf History From: David Morgan, President of VANA
1600-1914: OTTOMAN TURK EMPIRE, what is now Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel & Kuwait, were part of the Turkish Empire. The opening of the Suez canal by the British & French in 1869 and Germany's Berlin to Baghdad railroad in 1903 challenged the backward 300-year-old Empire; but these European empire builders soon fell to fighting each other in the: 1914-1918: GREAT WAR or WORLD WAR I: when the Turkish Empire, allied to Germany, was attacked by the British: 1. from bases in Egypt to protect the Suez Canal; 2. in Mesopotamia (Iraq) to protect oil supplies there, and in Persia, on which the British navy depended following its conversion from coal to oil in 1913; 3. in the Sinaii & N. Arabia where a guerilla war was organized in the desert by a British officer, Lawrence of Arabia. He helped the tribes to unite to expel the Turks and then build an Arab nation, but: 1919: following the defeat of Germany & her ally Turkey, Britain & France carved up Turkey's Arab empire; Britain took the E. part & created Iraq, Kuwait & Jordan, and Palestine was offered to the Jews (by Balfour); France took the NW corner and created Syria and Lebanon; Arabia to the South was considered useless desert, its vast oil potential still unknown. 1919-1956: BRITISH & FRENCH EMPIRES: in Iraq, British, French & American oil Companies took valuable oil fields, secured by Britain's army & RAF, whose job it was to `pacify' the country: "The Arab and Kurd now know what real bombing means in casualties and damage; they know that within 45 minutes a full-sized village can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed or injured", Arthur "Bomber" Harris reported after an RAF bombing raid in 1924 [the man whose statue now stands in Whitehall by the Cenotaph for his vigorous promotion of the mass-murder in WWII in Hamburg, Dresden...]. France in Syria favoured the Christian minority on the coast, but were strongly resisted by the 80% Moslem population; Arab rebellions in 1925-6 were crushed by the French using artillery, tanks & a/c against Damascus; Palestine saw major Arab-Jewish clashes in '29 & '37, as Jewish immigration grew inexorably under confused British policy. 1939-1956: WORLD WAR II weakens Britain & France; 1946, French troops leave Syria & Lebanon, but Britain maintains a strong hold on the Suez Canal and Gulf oil with major bases; but after the Suez Crisis ('56), when Nasser of Egypt nationalized the Canal & the conspiracy by France, Britain & Israel to attack Egypt failed through lack of U.S. support, Britain largely withdrew her military from the Middle East. 1956-PRESENT: U.S. EMPIRE; growing U.S. oil assets in the Gulf had been protected by British force since 1919, but in the 50's the U.S.A. began to take over; in 1951 Dr. Mossadegh was elected to power in Iran and nationalized the the highly profitable British oil industry; Mossadegh was overthrown in '53 in a coup engineered by the CIA (run by Norman Schwarzkopf Sr.); Shah Pahlevi, backed by U.S. power, ruled until 1979, while Iran became the main U.S. Cold War base in the Gulf; under the U.S. puppet Shah, "Iran had the highest rate of death penalties in the world, no valid system of civilian courts & a history of torture which is beyond belief."(M. Ennals, Sec.Gen. Amnesty Int). 1958:Iraq's pro-western government is ousted by army under Kassim and the oil industry is nationalized. 1961: Kuwait, an oil rich sheikdom protected by the British, who drew its borders, is given independence by the British. 1968: Saddam Hussein seizes power in Iraq. 1979, Jan 16: Shah flees from Iran after defeat by the one power that he & the U.S.A. could not crush, the Moslem Mullahs led by Ayatollah Khomeini. 1979, Nov 4: U.S. Embassy in Teheran in its 22 acre grounds is seized and 46 hostages taken--no U.S./British base in Gulf for first time in 65 years. 1980 Sept 22: IRAQ attacks IRAN with the support of the U.S.A., Britain & the USSR; over one million were killed in this war, with no U.N. action. 1988 Aug: Ceasefire, patrolled by the U.N. (including Canadian) troops. 1990 Aug 2: Iraq seizes Kuwait; Aug 6, major U.S. troop move to the Gulf. 1991 Jan 16: Desert Storm-- US/British forces return to the Gulf.