The United States, the Gulf, and Oil in­ter­ests

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - By Saadula Aqrawi

The Per­sian Gulf is one of the most strate­gi­cally im­por­tant ar­eas in the world. The Strait of Hur­moz is the only sea pas­sage out of the Gulf into the open ocean. The United States and the Arab na­tions re­al­ize the bal­ance of power is the ma­jor guar­an­tee of se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity in the Gulf and the Mid­dle East.

U.S. for­eign pol­icy dic­tates the way it in­ter­acts with for­eign na­tions and sets stan­dards of in­ter­ac­tion for its or­ga­ni­za­tions, cor­po­ra­tions and cit­i­zens. The vol­ume of traf­fic through the Strait of Hur­moz makes it a cru­cial strate­gic lo­ca­tion for in­ter­na­tional trade, given that 20% of the world's petroleum—and more than 35% of the petroleum traded by sea—pass through it.

Many be­lieve the tra­di­tional bal­ance of power be­tween Iran and Iraq pro­vided se­cu­rity for the Arab states. Pro­po­nents of this view hold that fol­low­ing the over­throwal of Iraq’s Baathist regime and the growth of Iran’s role and in­flu­ence in the re­gion, the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity ought to es­tab­lish a new bal­ance of power to re­strain the Is­lamic Repub­lic of Iran and thereby pre­serve re­gional se­cu­rity. Fol­low­ing its fail­ure to re­de­fine the po­si­tion of the new Iraq in terms of a new bal­ance of power, the United States has tried to play such a role in the re­gion it­self. Con­se­quently, U.S. ef­forts to min­i­mize Iran’s role within the con­text of the new bal­ance of power have cre­ated another se­cu­rity dilemma in the Arab Gulf.

From the out­set of the Iraq cri­sis in 2003, Iran and the United States have never stopped com­peted with one another in their ef­forts to in­sti­tu­tion­al­ize and en­hance their new roles in the re­gion. To­day, ac­tions that Wash­ing­ton con­sid­ers se­cu­rity-en­hanc­ing are re­garded by Tehran as bring­ing in­se­cu­rity to the re­gion. Wash­ing­ton’s con­tin­ued con­cen­tra­tion on the bal­ance of power risks dis­rupt­ing nat­u­ral power equa­tions and po­ten­tially ex­ac­er­bat­ing the con­flict be­tween Iran and the United States and other re­gional states. If, how­ever, the United States can ac­cept an Ira­nian role in the re­gion’s new se­cu­rity ar­chi­tec­ture in the form of a bal­ance of se­cu­rity, Wash­ing­ton and Tehran could reach an ac­com­mo­da­tion that might ad­vance the in­ter­ests of all con­cerned, in­clud­ing both re­gional and trans-re­gional ac­tors in the Gulf.

The U.S. cur­rently pro­duces about 40% of the oil that it needs. Since U.S. oil con­sump­tion con­tin­ues to rise and its oil pro­duc­tion con­tin­ues to fall, this ra­tio is likely to fall still fur­ther. The U.S. has iden­ti­fied de­pen­dence on im­ported oil as an ur­gent na­tional se­cu­rity con­cern. Given that an es­ti­mated two-thirds of the world's proven oil re­serves are to be found in the Gulf, the Gulf re­gion was first pro­claimed of na­tional in­ter­est to the United States dur­ing World War II. Petroleum is of cen­tral im­por­tance to mod­ern ar­mies, and as the world's lead­ing oil pro­ducer at that time, the United States sup­plied most of the oil used by the Al­lied ar­mies. Many U.S. strate­gists were con­cerned that the war would dan­ger­ously re­duce the U.S. oil sup­ply, and con­se­quently sought to es­tab­lish good re­la­tions with Saudi Ara­bia, a king­dom with large oil re­serves.

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