Shatha Khalil *
The Middle East is of great importance to US policy and to shaping its future for many considerations, the most important of which are its oil and mineral resources and its geography, which is the heart of the world and the link between seas and oceans.
The interest of the United States in Iraq was not the result of the present stage, but rather since the emergence of the oil in Iraq, and its interest in its abundant wealth, especially the oil, not because of the small quantities in its territory, but also for the extended American industrial development which has taken wide dimensions where future studies confirmed the US need for oil which led to the search for other sources, serving its ambitions to control the world’s energy sources.
After the occupation of Iraq in 2003 by the United States of America, and talk about a new Iraq – different from the former in the thought and doctrine and orientation in this matter, which means that Iraq has a new role in its relationship with America and change the form of political consensus and convergence of strategic interests outlined by the plans set by the Ministry American defense, as Iraq has a pivotal role in it because of its strategic location and the wealth that will be used by the United States to its benefit.
The American vision towards Iraq took a new direction, especially after the events of 11 September, especially during the presidency of George W. Bush, accompanied by neo-conservatives who preached for , even before they took over the power , a new American century in which absolute control will be for one superpower over all and this is the United States.
The economic motive is one of the main reasons why the United States was motivated to the occupation of Iraq, which lies on huge reservoirs of oil, and it is estimated for Iraq by oil experts to keep the last barrel in the world under its territory after more than a hundred years after the depletion of the world oils.
The equation has two faces flowing in one tributary, a country that has a huge oil wealth, and the other aspiring to control the oil of others, and to achieve this , America has to possess the oil of Iraq (to correct the equation) according to the American view.
Iraq’s proven oil reserves are estimated at 112.5 billion barrels, equivalent to 12 percent of the world’s total reserves, while some experts believe that if Iraq resumed oil exploration, it would have twice its current reserves as the exploration works have been stopped since the beginning of 1980 and Iraq couldn’t resume exploration after that period because of the first and second Gulf Wars, and the international blockade imposed on it.
The Iraqi oil is characterized by a much lower production cost compared to other countries, such as US oil or North Sea oil. The cost of producing Iraqi oil is between $ 1 and $ 7, 0 while in the Caspian Sea it is between $ 7-8 and in the US reaches over $ 10.
While the United States production of oil has dropped significantly as it threatens its economy and strength, having produced in 1950 about 52% of world production, the decline in the past few years to only 10%, accompanied by a sharp rise in the rate of oil consumption.
In contrast, the United States imports nearly 60% of its oil needs and consumes 26% of world oil consumption alone, compared with Japan 7%, China 6%, Germany 6.3%, Russia 3.3% and the United Kingdom 2.2%.
The USA oil reserve is described as few, It is estimated that after a quarter of a century will be depleted. Therefore, the country that consumes the seventh of global production must look for energy sources that meet its increasing need for oil in the light of the failure of most of the sources of search for alternative energy of oil to solve the crisis of Western powers that felt It is hostage to oil resources located in (hostile) areas of Western and American policies.
Here, the occupation of Iraq will achieve more than one goal, for the United States where it provides a huge oil source and cheap, and most of the oil income will go to the US companies that have contracts to invest in Iraq.
In a simple calculation, if the price of a barrel of oil is 50 US dollars, the value of Iraqi oil will reach about 6 trillion dollars, most of which is supposed to go to the balance of US companies.
On the other hand, and most importantly, in the long run, the control of Iraq will make the United States a major influence in determining oil prices by strengthening its ability to exert pressure on OPEC’s major oil producers. It controls the production of Iraqi oil, then it will be able to increase it when there is a need to do so or reduce it whenever it wishes.
And it will use it to bargain other competing countries, especially China, which all studies indicate the increase in oil needs in light of the high growth rate between 8-10%. Here, China, whose annual consumption of oil by 1.5-2% will need new sources of oil to fill Needs and therefore we find that it has concluded trade agreements with Saudi Arabia to ensure its oil needs.
Accordingly, oil control is critical to global accumulation as a source of energy, a means of controlling international competitors, and an added value to trading, loaded with knowledge of the primary commodity.
Here are two basic conditions that must be different until they meet the objectives of the US occupation of Iraq, namely:
on the global level as the United States will be able to control the oil wells for a period of time, and make them in a better competitive position in the face of its partners in the Western world.
Here is the strategic role of Iraq in America’s plans for the Middle East
Which will achieve the American project itself, and the new role of Iraq as a focal point in its strategy for the “New American Century”.
American strategist Michael Hudson believes that Iraq will have a positive role in the American strategy in the region and the whole world as it will be a starting point and a generalized experiment in the Middle East aimed at transforming its societies into a democratic on the political level and liberal on the economic level noting that America did not come to Iraq to stay for two days and then to leave or even to be defeated or even to surrender and handover the banner to the others , this is confirmed by “Bush when he said in his address to the General Assembly of the United Nations on September 19, 2006:” Our mission is not over and we tell the Iraqi people that we will not leave you and we will not give up you for building a free nation. ”
The question that comes to mind: What role can be played by a new Iraq in the US strategy?
Our analysis reveals that the US occupation of Iraq is basically an application of the national security strategy adopted by the Bush administration in September 2002, and the application of the principle of preventive strikes, so that it can be said that Iraq was an important test yard for this new strategy. The Bush administration seeks to exploit its occupation of Iraq in achieving Goals exceeded the narrow Iraqi context, and will achieve targets to be overlapped in accordance with the complex process with the planned features for the role of the new Iraq, by maintaining a military presence in Iraq that will achieve the political, economic and military goals for it, and Iraq will have a pivotal role in achieving those goals.
The essence of the US strategic vision is that the change that took place in Iraq was just a first step to rearrange the situation in the Middle East.
In this case, Iraq would be a model for the Arab and Middle East countries that threaten or their interests are contrary to the interests of the United States.
Therefore, the role of Iraq is a basis for permanent American bases and an important basis for American start to achieve its objectives in other regions. In other words, Iraq will be a major foothold for the United States of America.
Iraq is the key US base in the region, and for the first time in its history is linked to a kind of military alliance with the United States after Iraq remained away from American alliances.
Here, the role of Iraq will be a tool of strength and pressure in the hands of the United States towards other countries, whether oil or non-oil.
Experts believe the impact of Iraq’s role in revitalizing the US economy through reconstruction and investment, but this role will remain linked and aware of the extent of US progress in Iraq, and the extent of the United States success in restoring the required security and achieve the economic well-being of Iraqis, and earn their satisfaction by fulfilling the promises that the American administration has made it. Otherwise, the American project will fail miserably in Iraq, and the failure could be extended to other regions.
The experts confirm that the survival of the situation as it is now in Iraq will be a serious obstacle to the American project, and will turn the role of the new Iraq from a positive role to serve the US strategy to a negative role against the American project, based on the American hegemony alone on the world accompanied by dependency and control of others to American wishes , and the achievement of global goals through force as a means to achieve the goal instead of failed diplomacy, which the neo-conservatives see as an obstacle to American hegemony.
Therefore, the future of the American situation in Iraq, as planned, will be an arena for the implementation of the new US strategy in the Middle East, and Iraq has been chosen to be the arena for more than one reason or an argument and to achieve more than one interest .
Iraq has an important strategic position and itsenormous economic and oil wealth is a booty for the US and because the US does not choose only the arenas that are prepared practically to accept the shocks , so it chose Iraq which had been weakened by an international embargo since 1991 and its weapons have been destroyed by the Security Council resolutions following the Kuwait war. The US has succeeded in its first steps by occupying Iraq and move to achieve its expansionist and economic ambitions in the region.
Hence, the new role for the new Iraq was drawn, but this role remained dependent on the extent of American success in Iraq.
The Arab Spring in some Arab countries achieves the American strategy
The Arab Spring has managed to achieve some of the features of the new Middle East that America aspires to. The countries that have witnessed the Arab Spring are still suffering from internal conflict and political, economic and security problems, as in Syria, Libya and Egypt. In the light of this ongoing conflict in these States, US will be able to conduct the policies of these countries in accordance with its interests in the region.
And with the arrival of Donald Trump to the US presidency, the seriousness of US policy in the region culminated; because Trump is classified as the extreme right, and the danger of this man to rely on two main strategies:
First: the acquisition of Gulf funds directly or indirectly as much as possible as it happened with the deal of arms and agreements and commercial investments with Saudi Arabia, which exceeded 400 billion US dollars.
Second, the most dangerous is to perpetuate the momentum of sectarian conflict in the region, which means dividing the region into small states in practice through a Sunni- Sunni, and Shiite-Shiite conflict and a broader Shiite-Sunni conflict.
Economic Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies