U.S. is mixing its interest in oil with the global fight against
terrorism, leading French analysts say.
Plans to overthrow Saddam Hussein have little to do with the fight
against terrorism, said Francois Lafargue, professor of geopolitics at
the University of Saint-Quentin in Paris, and an expert on Iraq. Control
of the world’s main oil reserves are the chief strategic objective, he
The Middle East produces 65 percent of the world’s oil, and Iraq is
known to have the second-largest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia.
Experts believe that Iraq, which has not been intensively explored,
could produce far more. Iraqi oil is also cheaper to produce. A barrel
of oil costs 70 cents in Iraq, and up to $8 in Central Asia, Mr.
“By controlling the oil fields in the Middle East, the
would obtain a huge leverage on countries dependent on foreign oil,
especially the People’s Republic of
Mr. Lafargue said. “By the year 2020,
will have to get half its oil imports from the
The U.S. wants to curb China’s military and political ambitions, most
The U.S. is not primarily interested in Iraqi oil for itself, Mr.
Lafargue added. “Less than a third of oil consumed in the U.S. comes
from the Gulf,” he said. The main suppliers to the U.S. are Latin
American and sub-Saharan African countries such as Mexico, Venezuela,
Angola and Nigeria, he argued.
Bertrand Le Gendre, leading foreign affairs commentator with the daily
Le Monde, said U.S. intentions “smell of oil.” Secretary of State
Colin Powell quietly visited Angola and Gabon, two of the main
oil-producing sub-Saharan countries in August to obtain guarantees that
the U.S. “could count on them in case an invasion of Iraq sends oil
prices skyrocketing,” Mr. Le Gendre said.
Angola has been ruled since 1975 by the formerly Marxist government of
Jose Eduardo dos Santos “which the U.S. has for many years wanted to
send to hell,” said Mr. Le Gendre. Gabon has been ruled since the late
1960s by Omar Bongo who seized power in a bloody coup. The governments
of both countries are accused of corruption.
The U.S. wants an Iraqi regime under its control to counter the new
tensions with Saudi Arabia and control new sources of oil, according to
Mr. Le Gendre. Discovering that most of the Sept. 11 terrorists were
Saudis has meant that “the pact of cooperation sealed in 1945 by U.S.
President Franklin Roosevelt and Saudi King Ibn Saud is over,” he
“We cannot say that the Saudi regime itself was involved in the
attacks,” said Jean-Charles Brisard, a French intelligence expert who
has extensively researched Saudi collaboration with so-called Islamic
terrorism. Mr. Brisard is working as an investigator in the judicial
action for compensation launched in New York by relatives of the Sept.
11 victims. “But we, and the prosecution in New York, have evidence that
individuals directly linked to the Saudi state apparatus financed
organizations associated with terrorism,” he said.
Brisard co-authored a book last year, “Osama bin Laden, The Forbidden
Truth,” on the links between Osama bin Laden and Saudi officials. The
book said the administration of President George Bush blocked
investigations of its own secret services on terrorism because they
affected U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia.
The book said that until August of last year, the U.S. was talking to
the Taliban about construction of a pipeline from the oil fields in
Central Asia through Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean. The negotiations
failed and the Sept. 11 events ended any further attempts.