ALLIANCE:Marxist-Leninist Issue 2: April 1992. Placed on web October 2001.



 This article was originally produced in 1992, as the Gulf War took place. It condemned both the Imperialist war and Hussein's barbaric anti-working class actions.
    It contains material, that in our view, is highly pertinent to today's situation. We therefore reproduce it today.
    It contains an analysis from both Alliance, and from the group Communist League (UK), that depicts the politics of Iran, Iraq, Oil, the Suez War and the build-up towards todays war of imperialist aggression against the Afghan people.

Continue down this page for the following items:
1) Uneven and Fluctuating Imperialist World Dominations;
2) Middle Eastern Struggles and the anti-Colonial Movement;
3) Anti-colonial Struggles in Colonial Countries;
4) Attempts of the Weak National Bourgeoisies of the Middle East to Find other Strategies to Fight Imperialism
5) Tactic Number One: Wahda and Nasserism - Pan-Arabism - A Political Combination of Weak National Bourgeosie
6) Tactic Number Two: Playing on Contradictions Between the Imperialists;
7) The Specific Case of Egypt;
8) Tactic Number 3: Economic Combination- OPEC a Weak Bourgeoisie attempts to Fight Back;
9) The Pseudo-Oil "Crisis" of the 1970's
10) The Iran-Iraq War- "War By Proxy" reprinted from Communist League; October 1980;
The "Islamic Revolution" In Iran
11) Aims of the US Led Coalition in the Gulf War;
12) "The Invasion of Kuwait"; Reprint of Communist League number 88a; August 1990; GO TO: INVASION OF KUWAIT
13) "The Setting Up of Iraq"; Reprint of Communist League number 80; October 1990; GO TO: SETTING UP OF IRAQ
14) "Imperialism Launches its' War"; Reprint of Communist League number 83; February 1991; GO TO IMPERIALISM LAUNCHES ITS WAR

Most progressives demanded an end to the war in the Gulf.
We were not blind to the vicious reactionary nature of President Saddam Hussein. Moreover we did not support his brutal invasion of Kuwait.
However the important question in our view, was whether this unequal war would result in a resurgent American imperialist domination of the world and the Middle East. This was, and remains the aim of the USA led coalition. This now directed at Libya.
    A military victory for the USA in the Gulf War was from the start very likely. Its’ political effect was to delay further the emancipation of the workers and peasants of the whole world. In particular those of the Middle East, including the Iraqis and Palestinians. The current sabre rattling that is taking place over Libya and the continued indifference to the starvation of Iraqis, reminds us that "Desert Storm" has not ended. In the author's opinion, the events of the Middle East in the 20th Century cannot make sense without insights gained from the Marxist-Leninist theory of revolution in colonial and semi-colonial countries.

    In this article the background of the attempts of the revolutionary bourgeoisie to steer a path between inciting the masses towards socialism, and yet being able to harness their strength to fight imperialism is presented. This led to the Iran-Iraq war. Also shown is the way in which the OPEC combination was hijacked by American imperialism. All these events are portrayed in the context of the current world economic trend to a new re-division of the world. One where US imperialism is struggling against currently economically stronger forces in Europe and Japan. This trend will culminate in a New World war.


In a subsequent issue we will analyse Libya in some detail. In the meantime,
The clear illegal manoeuvres of the American imperialists against Libya must be resisted by broad front coalitions.


 Over the last 10 years, there have occurred significant world events that form the background for this war. These concern the identity of the leader amongst the world imperialists. This position changes in the constant fight between imperialists for world domination. Lenin described this process as follows:

    In the last years there has been an increase in the competition for world markets. The tremendous crisis of over-production over the last 10-15 years has accentuated this and tends towards a re-division of world markets. Lenin asked: "Is there under capitalism any means of removing the disparity between the development of productive forces and the accumulation of capital on the one side, and the division of colonies and " spheres of influence " for finance capital (i.e. imperialism-Ed) on the other side -other than by resorting to war?" p.98.Ibid. The main events precipitating the Gulf War can be summarised as well:

i) The final disintegration of the pseudo-socialist Soviet Union empire in Eastern Europe. This led to a number of these countries re-entering the sphere of influence of Western capital. There has been intense competition for the markets represented by these countries. In this competition, the E.E.C. imperialists, in particular the Germans, seem to be favourably placed.

ii) Following W.W.II , the dominant capitalist imperialist nation was for a long period the USA, having displaced British imperialism. However there has been a steady decline of the US industrial base. This has resulted in a relative decline of its world significance as an imperialist power. The huge deficit finance of the USA reflects this. In addition to the failure of adequate re-investment of profits into the capital base, has been the enormous drain on reserves by its' American military hegemony . The necessity of using force to maintain its empire, has resulted in a further diversion of resources away from industry.

(See table 1 below).

TABLE 1. Military spending as a % public spending in the major industrialised countries. 1961-80.

                                                    1961-70          1971-80

USA                                                     44                      25
UK                                                        17                     14
France                                                    19                      8
West Germany                                        16                    11
Canada                                                    17                     8
Japan                                                         6                     5

(B.Bellon and J.Niosi : "The decline of the American economy" Montreal. 1988. From UN Statistical Year book.)

iii) The surge in the fortunes of the German and with them the other European nations. German capital was able to capture this leading position for 2 primary reasons. Firstly after the massive destruction of its' industrial base following WW II, it had to re-tool. But this led to a competitive advantage as it did this along the latest technological lines. To accomplish this it initially used Marshall Aid, from the USA, who was interested in creating a market for its' goods. Since the last 30 years Germany has also poured relatively more capital into modernising its' plants. This stands in contrast to British and US capital. The second reason for its advance has been the constitutional and Allied insistence on not having a large standing highly equipped armed forces. More capital was therefore available for its' industrial base.
    However recently German imperialism faces major difficulties. Despite the attraction of the markets of the Eastern European countries, emerging from USSR imperialist domination, there are some disadvantages. These entail a major need for capital investment, and to "re-educate " the workers in the normal brutal practices of capitalism.

As David Marsh headlines his article in the Financial Times, "The locomotive risks derailment":

"2 years of powerful economic expansion provided the financial thrust for reunification turning the country into a growth motor for the rest of Europe. Now with the outlook darkened by war, recession in the important export markets of the US and Britain, and soaring deficit at home, the German locomotive is risking derailment ..massive Bonn government transfers to shore up incomes and support investment in East Germany ( which makes up 90 % of the united country's GNP ) - an estimated DM150 bn for 1990 and 1991 - have been quickly flowing back across the Elbe to fill companies order books in the West ..politicians have warned that east German states are close to financial collapse."
Financial Times 4th Feb 1991
    Marsh also points out that the German deficit as a proportion of GNP higher this year in Germany than in the USA.
    See Graph 1 below.

Graph 1

 iv) The emerging strength of the Japanese imperialists. The same reasons that favour German capital, have operated on behalf of the Japanese capitalist class. The amazing speed of recovery of Japan and Germany in the fight for industrial production is shown below, in table 2.

TABLE 2.  Share of world manufacturing value added selected industrialised countries. 1948-81. (%)

USA                                             57                             30                                22
France                                             --                               --                                  5
West Germany                                 4                             11                                  9
Italy                                                 --                            --                                    3
Japan                                                1                              6                                 11
Britain                                             10                             6                                     2
Canada                                             --                           --                                    2

( Bellon and Niosis : Ibid , p.29. Source UN Industrial development organisation and Handbook of industrial statistics; 1984.)

 v) Complicating matters has been a new phenomenon of previously colonial countries beginning to exert some presence on the world market. The Newly Industrialised Countries (N.I.C.) such as South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Portugal - have further eroded the potential markets of the world. In many of these countries "their" productive capacity is really owned by Multi-national companies. This then really represents superpower productive capacity. However some of these nations really own their own productive capacity. But the extent to which they can challenge the super imperialists is limited. This is because imperialist agencies such as the IMF and GATT restrict their capital and access to world markets in order to favour the super imperialists.

vi) The temporary world failure of socialism, as represented by the recent victory of the revisionists in Albania. Foreign capital is now pouring into Albania, with the assistance of the IMF. As well as representing a new market for the imperialists, it also finally removes from potential inspiration for the working classes of the world a model of socialism. The recent media distortions and lies concerning Albania demonstrate how vital this denigration was for the imperialists.

    There has been a more intense fevered competition amongst the super power imperialists. Their current strategy involves combination into super-trading blocs. Thus the European Economic Community attempts to group the smaller European countries to fight the larger USA by combination. In response the USA has begun the creation of a vast Free Trade Zone that already embraces Canada and the USA and very shortly Mexico. Their next move will be to enroll the NIC's of South America. All this has sharpened the antagonisms regarding markets.

    This underlies the recent pointed debates about markets. It is pertinent to recall here that the last round of GATT ended in a dismal failure for the USA. The US had attempted to enforce its' will against the Europeans on US agricultural products entering Europe. The export penetration of the Japanese has been fought by the USA and Europeans ineffective restriction of markets. Added to this has been the relative invulnerability of the Japanese home markets- a source of much irritation to the other superpowers.

In this trade conflagration, the relative dependency of the Europeans and Japanese on Middle Eastern oil will not have been unnoticed by the USA.

"Only 23 % of the total energy requirements of the USA are met by oil imports, whereas this percentage is 92% for Japan and 67% for West Germany."
(The Economist , July 8th, 1978). Magdoff H and Sweezy P.M. New York 1981. " The Deepening Crisis of US capitalism. p. 96.

    One main contradiction has dogged the Middle East since the end of WW II. This is between the working classes and the developing capitalist class of the Middle Eastern nations. Linked has been a second contradiction - that between imperialists and the developing capitalists. Finally, over this were further contradictions between the imperialists themselves. After WW II there were explicit deals between the British and US in the area regarding future developments:

"In response to Winston Churchill's questions about America's interests in Iranian oil, Franklin Roosevelt wrote in March 19434 that: "I am having the oil studied by the Department of State and my oil experts, but please do accept my assurances that I am not making sheep's eyes at your oil fields in Iraq or Iran." Churchill responded: "Thank you very much for your assurances about no sheep's eyes at our oil fields in Iran and Iraq. Let me reciprocate by giving you the fullest assurances that we have not thought of trying to horn in upon your interests or property in Saudi Arabia."
James A. Bill: "The Eagle and the Lion - The tragedy of Iranian-American Relations". New York , 1988. p.29
    Nonetheless, British Imperialism was past its' zenith and US imperialism was waxing strong. Conflict between them was bound to become meshed with the anti-colonial movement.


    When imperialism settled into its' colonies it used local indigenous rulers and leading individuals as their surrogates. This tactic became especially important when the revolutionary movements in the colonies appeared to be successful in fighting off the imperialists. These indigenous agents were usually buyers and traders whose livelihood depended upon the Imperialists. Often landed feudal gentry were also allied to imperialism. They were termed comprador bourgeoisie.

"In China, a native servant employed as head of the native staff, and as agent, by European houses."
Shorter Oxford Dictionary, Oxford 1988."
    Inevitably some indigenous capitalists wished to displace imperialism and its' compradors; in order to retain all the colony's profits for itself. They were termed national bourgeoisie.

    Usually very weak they had to enlist the aid of the masses i.e. working classes and peasantry. The national bourgeoisie of the Middle East initially struggled against British and French; then USA imperialism.

    But as articulated by Lenin and Stalin, these bourgeoisie flinch from the final step towards national emancipation. They cannot contemplate the full unleashing of mass movements for fear of arousing socialist movements. Though class coalitions of national bourgeoisie with working class organizations were created, these were only temporary. Worse they were prone to sabotage by the national bourgeoisie. For the working class organisations it was imperative to remain independent, even in a United Front.
    Organisations claiming to represent the working class took part in coalitions heedless of this, and led the working classes into massacres. The ultimate failure of the working class to organise along correct lines meant that the anti-imperialist struggle in the Middle East was never taken towards completion. After World War II  therefore, the weak national bourgeoisie of the Middle East attempted to overcome their weaknesses by several tactics - all unsuccessful.

These are detailed below; and culminated in a movement of cartelisation for oil selling - OPEC. All these attempts were ultimately unsuccessful.



    Given the fear of rousing the working class movement too far, only a vacillating movement against imperialism was possible for the national bourgeoisie. Ultimately the national bourgeoisie capitulated in the face of social revolution. This allowed the imperialist powers to retard the development of the states concerned. Even where these states nationalised the major resource in the area (oil) the imperialist consortiums were able to dictate their demands (See below for the case of Iran).

    Despite these failures, the nascent bourgeoisie of the area continued to harbour resentment against imperialism. To compensate for their unwillingness to fully enroll the working classes, they attempted to unite across national borders. This entailed a mystical Pan-Arabism which initially took the form of Nasserism. Starting in the context of a nationalist movement in Egypt alone, it struck a renewed hope for liberation from imperialism throughout large sections of the Middle East.

    As a strategy to contain the mass movement it emphasised notions of an "Arab peoples" - denying any class content. Revisionism in the ex-Communist Parties of the area had effectively deprived the working class of capable leadership. Nasserism was only able to consolidate itself because the Egyptian workers party was under the influence of revisionist leaders.

    The Nasserite movement aimed at WAHDA (An Arabic term for union). Wahda called for the unity of several different struggling national bourgeoisie against imperialism. It avoided the social revolution by using nationalistic demagogic slogans. Effectively a class coalition was created consisting of different national bourgeoisie.

    Ultimately Pan-Arabism failed as there was a dominant national bourgeoisie, which tried to create "comprador" relations with the other weaker national bourgeoisie. This dominant national bourgeoisie was Egyptian, and it was led by Nasser. It was successful for a time, as evidenced by the short-lived creation of the United Arab Republic- consisting of Egypt and Syria. However the dominant Egyptian bourgeoisie could not suppress the Syrian national bourgeoisie of the coalition. The experiment thus failed.


The imperialists had for long squabbled amongst themselves as to how to divide up the Middle East. French and British supremacy in the Middle East was surreptitiously attacked by USA imperialism. After the death of Stalin the hegemony of revisionism in the USSR was rapidly completed. With the overthrow of socialism in the Soviet Union, the relations between the Soviet Union and dependent nations became imperialist. This was exemplified by the relations within the Warsaw Pact nations. In the semi-colonial and colonial nations, the USSR attempted to act as a brake on Western imperialism. This resulted in a struggle between US and Soviet social imperialism for control of these areas, including the Middle East.

In this context, frequently the various timorous struggling national bourgeoisie would switch "temporary masters".

    Being ultimately interested in control of "their own" profit, the national bourgeoisie were correctly viewed as unreliable by the imperial super-powers. Nonetheless they were used as pawns by the super powers in order to control the area. This allowed the national bourgeoisie some limited bargaining power. Ultimately this strategy was also doomed to failure in effecting the national revolution.

    American policy recognised the strength of the anti-colonial movements. Their plan was to disrupt the movement by using the compradors. To further blunt the movement they used the veneer of neutrality offered by the United Nations. John Foster Dulles, US Secretary of State, said just prior to the Suez War :

    After the Suez War, the USA and the USSR were the chief powers contending in the area. Each super power developed its' primary sphere of influence. Since neither power was able to totally control the area, they were for long periods at a time, quite content for an armed stalemate. This characterised that infamous war by proxy between Iraq and Iran. It also characterised the internecine wars that tore apart Lebanon.

    The major states in the area that were spheres of influence for the Soviet Union were Iraq, Syria, Egypt [at least until Nasser's death], Yemen and Libya. These countries often had a mask of "socialism ".
    The main countries supporting the USA were Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and under Sadat - Egypt.

    Examples of a national bourgeoisie that tried to play one imperialist off against another include Egypt under Nasser, Iraq [under Hussein] and Syria [under Assad].

    Due to the serious demise of the fortunes of the Soviet imperialists in the late 1980's, the USA was able to exert a far more dominant role than previously, and for the first time saw an opportunity to be unopposed. It tested the waters for an exertion of its' direct military presence in the Arab world by bombing Libya.

    The case of Egypt illustrates how a balancing act did win short-term gains for the nationalist bourgeoisie. But ultimately it could not succeed.

    In Egypt the nationalist faction was represented by the Free Officer Movement, to which Nasser belonged. This movement, was supported initially by the USA, as a weapon against the British superpower:

    The aims of the Free Officer movement were to allow a degree of modernisation and development; and to get rid of the British military occupation of Egypt. Even the first goal was unacceptable to either the British, or to those who took their place, the USA. But the USA did help the Free Officers in forcing the British to evacuate their 70,000 strong troops. However Eisenhower ensured a clause in the Anglo-Egyptian Agreement that entitled Britain to reoccupy the Suez zone with "Egypt's agreement", in the case of an attack on Egypt by any outside power." Hiro Ibid p.298.

    Nasser from then on used both the US and UK imperialists for financing. But to retain his independence and to get the "best deal" Nasser also asked for financing from the revisionist Soviets. Even the provision of Soviet arms via Czechoslovakia did not deter the West

    The Western imperialists feared that Egypt was becoming drawn into the USSR sphere of influence. This was a more urgent fear for the weaker British than for the USA. Marked pressure on the USA to tangibly support this policy, came from Antony Eden (then Conservative Prime Minister of Britain). Winston Aldrich, the US ambassador to London said:     Eisenhower, as his diary showed had already recognised that this was a doomed policy. He concluded that Egypt was moving away from the likely control of the USA, and that the Saudis should be firmly lassoed into the USA sphere:     Nasser finally overstepped the lines by recognising the People's Republic of China in May. By the 20th July, both the USA and the British rescinded their offers of aid. Now Nasser retaliated by nationalising the Suez Canal. This provoked uproar from the French owners (Universal Suez Maritime Canal Company) and the British and Israelis. These powers planned an attack upon Gaza aiming at taking the Suez Canal (Hiro Ibid. p.64). These moves were not supported by the USA, who according to Eden himself were verbally offering him:     But Eden was deliberately misleading the USA about his full aggressive intentions. Eisenhower had written to Eden that:     The war was launched and went - from the military perspective - as expected. But the USSR strongly condemned the war of aggression launched by Britain, France and Israel. The USA at the United Nations, also strongly condemned the invasion and called for a cease-fire. Behind closed doors they prompted speculation against sterling by U.S. Federal Reserve Bank selling and refused IMF and USA financial aid. Further, the USSR threatened to enter the war: These moves ensured the withdrawal of the Three-Nation intervention.

    This fiasco for British and French imperialism signaled their retreat from the Middle East as imperialists independent of the USA. America then was able to fill what Eisenhower described as a "vacuum" in the Middle East. Eisenhower's Doctrine promised to aid any Middle Eastern state seeking protection against "overt armed aggression from any nation controlled by international communism", (cited Hiro p.299).

    This explicit threat effectively blocked any regional Wahda-Unity attempts. It was sufficiently elastic to interpretation to be acceptable, yet threatening enough to deter Egypt in particular. The Eisenhower Doctrine:

    As the circumstances became clear to the nationalist bourgeoisie of Nasserite Egypt, they were forced to become dependant again – this time upon the USSR.

Despite the early hopes of the Nasser forces in Egypt, they had now become compradors for the USSR.

    The economic relations of exchange of raw goods (cotton) for finished products (military) and economic "aid" - dictated a colonial type relationship with the USSR. (Hussein. Ibid. p.286).

To counter the threat of a growing and "excess" USSR influence, the USA then unleashed war.

    The USA moving through their client states wished also to check the national bourgeoisie. The USA heavily endorsed the Israelis as a lynch pin in the area. The USSR acted as a countervail in the cases of Syria and Egypt. The USA and Britain now heavily armed Israel. Egypt and Syria signed a joint defence treaty fearing an Israeli attack. They were quite right. When King Hussein of Jordan joined the Egyptian - Syrian defence Pact on 30 May, Dean Rusk then American Secretary of State clearly signaled war, saying:

    The USA knew the likely outcome of such a war. As President Johnson put it to an aide:     The Israelis launched a pre-emptive strike on the eve of a peace mission to Washington by Vice-President Zakaria Mohieddin.

    Nasser's forces were crushed.

    This sealed the future role as a key agent of the USA in the area of Israel.

    The creation of OPEC in 1960 was another attempt by the weak indecisive national bourgeois to find a third way. One that did not rely on either the active involvement of the masses, nor a path of total capitulation to the imperialists.

    OPEC attempted to bargain, or to horse trade; by forming a combination, or a cartel. This was designed to deal with the cartel of the major Oil companies- the Seven Sisters. These simply had to refuse to buy oil from any producer country that tried to challenge the price offered. The price "posted" was agreed to by all Seven Sisters.

    But in retaliation, the imperialists recognized that even nationalisation could not help if the producer country could not market the oil. This tactic was used viciously against Iran.

    The oil producing nations varied in the intensity with which they fought the Seven Sisters and the imperialist nations. In 1960 one of the weakest was Iran, ruled by the Shah Pahvlavi whose compliance to the USA was assured following CIA intervention in 1951.

    This had been necessary to prevent the nationalist Muhammed Mussadiq effecting nationalisation of Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AICO) later the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. Musaddiq believed that:

    But in fact, Mussadiq clearly was not a fully committed nationalist. The mass movement was compelling him to go further than he perhaps would have otherwise. As John Foster Dulles said in February 1953 :     When he became Prime Minister of the Majlis (the Iranian Parliament) in April 1951, he inherited a Bill that nationalised AICO. Refusing to rescind it, he was held to ransom by AICO which refused to allow Iran to sell its oil on the international market:     The British then persuaded the USA to participate in a putsch, termed Operation Boot by the British and Ajax by the US. The Chief British operative, Major C.M.Woodhouse was conscious of difficulties in getting the US to take part :     Fully involved in the putsch was General Norman Schwarzkopf, former US adviser to the Iranian Gendarmerie ( J. A. Bill. Ibid, p. 90). He was the father of the US General of the same name, in the 1991 Gulf War of aggression.

    The 1953 anti- Musaddiq coup resulted in the Shah of Iran being bought back to Iran. He understood fully who had placed him on the Peacock Throne, and remained thereafter much indebted to US imperialism. Musaddiq was treated with relative leniency - he was not killed, but after 3 years in jail, was allowed to return to his home village Ahmadabad under house arrest (J.A.Bill Ibid p. 101).

    This episode was to influence tactics in the Middle East for some years. The national bourgeoisie had been warned that nationalisation was not adequate to ensure marketing of the oil from the producer nations without the cooperation of the Seven Sisters.

    An alternative was needed.

    The cartel strategy was first proposed by the national bourgeoisie of Venezuela, in 1959, after they regained power following the earlier successful military pro-USA comprador coup of 1948.

    The military coup in favour of the USA, had been precipitated 12 days following an act promulgated by the national bourgeoisie of the Venezuelan state, which had imposed a 50-50 split of the profits from oil, between Venezuela and the oil companies.

    The military coup was staged by elements in favour of a comprador relationship with the USA. After the coup, the new dictatorship favoured the interests of the US imperialists and dispensed new major oil concessions to the oil companies.

    Despite this failure of the Venezuelan national bourgeoisie, the "50-50 rule" became standard in dealings with oil-exporting nations. For instance Aramco (Arabian American Oil Company ) used this formula in Saudi Arabia in 1950. (J.A.Bill, op cit, p. 61). However this still left considerable super-profits for the Seven Sisters.

    The national bourgeoisie of Venezuela recognised that a key factor in their defeat during prolonged negotiations had been the erosion of Venezuela's selling power by Middle East oil. Oil companies when faced with demands for a fairer distribution of profit had simply expanded production from the Middle East. The leader of the "horse trading" strategy, Perez Alfonzo had:

    After the national bourgeoisie of Venezuela returned to power in 1959, they again took up the cause of combination.

    Now they had support in the Middle East, from the Director of the Permanent Oil Bureau, Mohammed Salman of Iraq. This had been set up by the Arab League in 1953.

    A secret agreement known as the Maadi Pact was concluded at the first Oil Arab Congress in Cairo on 16th April 1959. The reaction to the open Congress session was skeptical by the oil business:

    However the secret Maadi Agreement between the UAR, Iraq, Venezuela, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia included the following:     The most energetic member of this group, Perez Alfonso arranged that the USSR would support the OPEC move. This was important because the Oil companies were constantly citing the USSR's tariff policy as a pretext to justify their own decision to cut prices. (P.Terzian, Ibid p.34).

    After an initial disbelief, the major oil companies, led by Shell, tested resistance by announcing cuts in the posted prices of oil that they were prepared to pay. The vigorous resistance they met, along with announcements of a meeting of producer nations at Baghdad in September, 1960, induced them to withdraw their price cuts. The Financial Times concluded:

However efforts to involve the Middle East nations in effective combative combination were doomed to failure. Since combination had to involve countries ruled by comprador bourgeoisie (e.g. Saudi Arabia and Iran as well as countries ruled by national bourgeoisie (e.g. Iraq).

    The Baghdad Meeting in September 10th 1960 started off tense. The Venezuelan nationalists were in the midst of fending off a coup at home. Even more dramatic was the fact that the Iraqi nationalist President Kassem was also besieged by a coup. He arrived for an honourary dinner, wearing 2 revolvers in his belt! But tension rose as it was clear that Iran was blocking agreement on going further than the agreement reached at Maadi. The Irani representative Fuad Ruhani had been given:

    Suddenly on 14 th September the Shah sent new instructions. This agreed to the creation of a permanent organisation. Moreover, the Shah even had a name for it - The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC ).

    This about face indicated a new tack on the part of the Oil Companies. That was to accept the inevitability of the cartel, but to emasculate it from within. OPEC was hijacked-

    As Perez Alfonso found when he met the directors of the Seven Sisters:

    Theoretically the OPEC countries were in a very strong position controlling 82 % of world crude exports. But The Times accurately saw the situation:     In addition the oil imperialist companies and their nations had the marketing and distribution monopoly, and in addition began to exploit other sources of oil. The comprador states were key to the strategy of the oil companies. Saudi Arabia was and is a reactionary state with elements of mystic Muslim feudalism. It is a key state representing USA interests in the Middle East.

As the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural resources commented:

    At critical times the Saudis have refused to allow the OPEC to raise prices in accordance with the demand of the more nationalistic of the OPEC countries such as Iraq and Libya. Saudi Crown Prince Fahd has pretentiously revealed his unwillingness to be an effective member of the cartel :     Nor is it surprising that given the membership of nations like Saudi Arabia in OPEC, that OPEC could not reflect the interests of the oil producing national bourgeoisie. As Henry Kissinger commented :     In fact as, the manufactured oil crisis of the 1970's shows, OPEC was transformed into an agency that performed objectively in the interests of the USA imperialists.     It is widely believed that it was the pressure of the OPEC countries that led to a dramatic price rise and so called " oil crisis 'in the 1970's. Certainly determined nationalist countries like Libya and Algeria increased the pressure inside OPEC for a price rise. The rise in prices can be seen in Graph 2  below :

 Graph 2 GRAPH 2

    Though the oil exploring countries had a definite interest in a price rise, their effectiveness as a cartel has already been shown to be limited, due to the inclusion of "weak" member state such a Saudi Arabia. In reality, the manipulation of oil prices has followed the various requirements of the Seven Sisters, the minor oil companies and the USA monopoly capitalists.     The problems of the Major Seven Sisters, were compounded by the competition they now faced:     Added to this was the high cost of extraction from areas such as Alaska and the North Sea. This posed a problem for the major Oil companies. The oil crisis was therefore "manufactured", to raise the available oil profits to a point where it would become economically viable to begin extraction from the oil shales of the USA. This entailed the profit interests of both the major oil companies and their smaller rivals who were not in the cartel known as the Seven Sisters.

    At this time despite the apparent oil shortage, the oil companies had stocked up supplies, in many tankers that lay outside New Jersey in the midst of the so-called shortage as prices were driven up by the companies.

    This tactic was portrayed as the work of the OPEC cartel. But the general line was clearly supported by the oil companies:

    But the USA Government representing the combined monopoly capital had its' own reasons for seeing a price rise: The USA interests in the raising the price of oil revolved around three main issues,     As Odell points out: German industry had already caused problems for the Major oil companies by flirting with the Russians. USA Government pressure had been required to prevent further erosion of the European markets: In this context it is of significant aid to the USA imperialists that the USSR is unable to exploit its' oil reserves owing to the enormous dislocation in the state.     The USA Senate recognised the oil demand in Europe and Japan as a vital issue for the general policy to be followed by the USA in the Middle East:     Towards the close of the war, the US Government took a markedly pro-Iraqi stance despite a so-called "official neutrality". So much so that:     To follow the twists of the Iraq-Iran war, with the complexity introduced by the internal struggle in Iran, we reprint here an analysis that has been found helpful. It was first printed in October 1980 by the Communist League (UK) and is quite informative.
The Iraqi-Iranian War

    The Iraqi government declared its war aims to be

    In these days of imperialism in decay, it is rare for a local war between two under-developed states to occur unless it serves the interests of one or other of the big imperialist powers.

    Viewed as a "war by proxy", 'the war between Iraq and Iran might seem at first glance to be one between a Soviet-backed Iraq and an American-backed Iran, since Iraq has a Treaty of Friendship with the Soviet Union and most of its arms are of Soviet origin, while most of Iran’s arms are of US origin.
    Such a conclusion would, however, be erroneous.
    Since the arming of these states by the respective superpowers, each has changed its' international orientation.
    Iraq has moved out of the Soviet neo-imperialism into that of US imperialism, while the regime in Iran has adopted a stance, which appears to be anti-American. Although the United States has declared its "neutrality" in the war, the Iraqi invasion of Iran is in fact, openly supported by certain Arab states which are dependent upon US imperialism:

    On September 30th., after the war was well-under way, the US government agreed to send four Airborne Warning and Control Aircraft (AWAC’s) to Saudi Arabia, which was publicly supporting Iraq, while:     On the other hand,     However, the Soviet Union's satellite Arab states of Syria and Libya are reported to be secretly sending arms by air to Iran secretly because the strength of Arab nationalism is such that they consider it inexpedient to be seen supporting a Persian against an Arab nation.     By the end of 1978 -- above all when the working class moved into action in the oilfields -- it had become clear that mass opposition had grown beyond the power of the brutal pro-American regime headed by the Shah to control. The more far-sighted representatives of the ruling landlord and comprador bourgeois classes saw that there was a real danger of their wealth and power being swept away in a national-democratic revolution led by the national bourgeoisie.

    In order to save themselves, therefore, the representatives of these ruling classes strove to take over the leadership of the revolutionary movement so as to divert it into the channels of what was called an "Islamic Revolution", one which would be limited in scope to the replacement of imperial regime by (at least in the initial period) a dictatorship of the reactionary Moslem clergy.

    In the month following the departure of the Shah in January 1979, therefore, an "Islamic Republic" was established which took the form of a dual power. One facet of the apparatus of power was in the hands of the mullahs and ayatollahs, headed by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, controlling the government, the parliament, the judicial system, and the para-military "Revolutionary Guards". The other facet of the apparatus of power was in the hands of the national bourgeoisie, headed by Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, controlling the Presidency and the regular armed forces. The mood of the masses was such that the clergy, to retain their influence were compelled to mouth anti-American slogans.

    Despite its "anti-Americanism", the new regime in Iran was acceptable to Washington as a short-term measure, since it enabled the landlords, and comprador bourgeois to save themselves from the wrath of the Iranian people, and it was upon these classes that any future neo-colonial regime dependent upon the USA must be based.

    In the long-term, however, the requirements of Washington in relation to Iran could only be met by a new military dictatorship which could resume open dependence upon the USA.

    However, a successful military coup required that the Iranian masses should become dissatisfied with the existing regime.

    The Khomeini regime introduced a series of measures of the most reactionary character: women were forced to wear the chador (the full-length black veil), polygamy was legalised for men, the right of divorce was removed from women, the minimum age for the marriage of girls was reduced from 18 to 13.

    But such mediaeval measures were not enough. The US imperialists needed some pretext to exert maximum pressure upon Iran if discontent was to reach the point where a military coup would be likely to be successful.

    On October 22nd, 1979 the US government provocatively admitted the hated ex-Shah to the United States, and on November 4th, "in reprisal" the US Embassy in the Iranian capital of Tehran was occupied by "students" loyal to Khomeini and a number of its diplomats detained as "hostages", allegedly for the return of the ex-Shah and his wealth to Iran.

    The principle of the inviolability of diplomats and diplomatic buildings is a cardinal principle of relations between civilised states and this terrorist action was quickly opposed by President     Bani-Sadr on behalf of the Iranian national bourgeoisie, as:

    Like all acts of terrorism, the taking of the hostages assisted the forces against which it was said to be directed. It enabled the Carter Administration to build up an aggressive nationalist hysteria at home, to mobilise international opinion against Iran, to freeze Iranian assets in the US, to launch a military "rescue" operation against Iran, and to blockade the country.

    The blockade placed Iran in the position where it was unable to obtain spare parts for its’ predominantly American military equipment so that, in the event of war it could (in the opinion of the Pentagon’s "military experts") offer only short-term military resistance to an invader. Then, so went the plan - in the circumstances of ignominious defeat and the reactionary character of the Khomeini regime, the climate would become highly favourable for a military coup by "patriotic" and "progressive" officers.

IRAQ MOVES "WEST"     In July 1968 a military coup established in Iraq a military dictatorship headed by Major-General Ahmed, representing primarily the Iraqi national bourgeoisie. The al-Bakr regime moved the country out of its former orbit of dependence to US imperialism, but internal and international pressures compelled it to seek dependence in doing so on the principal rival of the USA, Soviet neo-imperialism, which became Iraq's main source of "aid" and arms.

    But during the early 1970s the US imperialists undertook a radical reorientation of their foreign policy in the Middle East. As the Communist League (then the Marxist-Leninist Organisation of
Britain) pointed out during the Middle East war of October 1973:

    This reorientation of policy on the part of the US imperialists had repercussions throughout the Middle East. It led in Iraq, as in Egypt to a split in the ruling Arab capitalist class, but by the spring of 1975 the pro-US wing had emerged victorious. In March 1975 an agreement was signed between Iraq and Iran by which the front between the two states in the Shatt-al-Arab was moved from the eastern bank to mid-channel. In return the Iranian government ceased its support for the Kurdish national liberation movement within Iraq, and enabled the Iraqi government forces to wage a successful offensive against the Kurdish liberation forces.

    In May 1975 Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who had now brought Egypt into relations of dependence upon US imperialism, visited Iraq and was granted loans of $115 million.

    From this time Iraq moved into ever closer dependence upon US imperialism and unleashed its war against Iran in September 1980 as a proxy for the American imperialists.

    With regard to the second of these US war aims, "The Times" notes, that Princess Ashraf, sister of the late Shah, and Shapour Bakhtiar, the last Prime Minister appointed by the Shah, have in recent months made a number of trips to Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, and that on October 2nd.; Bakhtiar left Paris by a special Iraqi Airways plane for a secret destination.
("The Times", October 3rd., 1980; p. 8).

    The newspaper further reports that a committee of former Iranian generals, headed by Field-Marshal Aryana, Chief of Staff under the Shah, has been set up in London to plan a military regime for Iran, since:

    And the "Financial Times" agrees with this analysis:     as does Egypt's pro-American President:     But to date, the US war aims have not been achieved. The hard pressed Iranian forces have fought back doggedly to resist every inch of the Iraqi advance:     As always, the imperialists underestimated the importance in war of the spirit of men who believe they are fighting for the independence of their country against a foreign invader.

    Furthermore, the American backed Iraqi invasion has had one effect opposite to that intended: it has strengthened the position of the Iranian national bourgeoisie relative to that of the reactionary clergy:

    This change in the balance of power within Iran has brought, about conditions where negotiations are proceeding between the Iranian and United States governments on the release of the American "hostages". With the American Presidential election only a few days away, the Carter administration has declared its willingness to make concessions demanded by Iran short of giving significant military assistance to that state.
    The war continues at the time of writing".


ALLIANCE Continues:

11) The Aims of the US led coalition In the Gulf War

There have been several proffered reasons for the Gulf war breaking out at the time it did.

    This cannot be accepted. There have been numerous similar predations by powerful nations. The most recent of course being the USA actions in Panama and Grenada. Leaving these aside, a whole host of actions in the past have been ignored. The Financial Times summarise these well in a recent article entitled: "Dogged by double standards". - Financial Times. Feb 2, Feb 3, 1991.     This ignores the nature of the reactionary semi-feudal state of Kuwait. Moreover it does not explain why it was that the USA lured Iraq into invading (see below).     This cannot be correct since:     These need to take into account the fact that the USA enticed Iraq into this belligerence and lured Iraq into a trap:     Even the pro- war New York Times admitted in an editorial: "Oil certainly lies at the heart of the gulf crisis." 27.01.91.

    Financial analysts agreed with this notion. Thus Mr. Tracey Herrick of Jefferies and Co, brokers in Wall Street:

    President Bush himself pointed out in his address before a joint session of Congress Sep 11th:     Because of the extraordinary dependency of Japan, it is particularly vulnerable in its economic performance Middle Eastern oil. THE ENSUING WAR EVENTS ARE WELL KNOWN.



12) "The Invasion of Kuwait"; Reprint of Communist League number 88a; August 1990; GO TO:Kuwait 1
13) "The Setting Up of Iraq"; Reprint of Communist League number 80; October 1990; GO TO: Iraq 1
14) "Imperialism Launches its' War"; Reprint of Communist League number 83; February 1991; GO TO Gulf War