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ISBN: 9781771861830-09

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From: Israel, A Beachhead in the Middle East


Chapter Nine focuses on Saddam Hussian. During the 1970s, Saddam used Iraq’s oil wealth to pursue ambitious programs of social reform and economic uplift, earning him the plaudits of the cofounder of the Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party, Michel Aflaq. In June 1972, Saddam nationalized the Iraq Petroleum Company, a move that was enthusiastically supported throughout Iraq, including by his most bitter local opponents.10 Saddam declared, “Our wealth has returned to us.” Radio Baghdad, voice of the Iraqi government, broadcast the revolutionary message of ‘Arab oil for the Arabs.’ Of Arab countries endowed with oil, it was only Iraq, under Saddam, and Libya, under Gaddafi, that implemented policies independent of the West to use their oil income to improve the lives of the common people. By contrast, the Persian Gulf oil monarchies directed their countries’ oil wealth to the West while skimming off a percentage for themselves. Nasser was gone, but there was a new Arab socialist leader on the scene whose doctrine— that the Arab world and Arab oil belonged to the Arabs—was objectionable to the profit-making imperatives of US investors and therefore needed to be challenged.



Stephen Gowans

Stephen Gowans is an independent political analyst whose principal interest is in who influences formulation of foreign policy in the United States. His writings, which appear on his What’s Left blog, have been reproduced widely in online and print media in many languages and have been cited in academic journals and other scholarly works.