Commentary. The West depends on oil. The Gulf monarchies depend on weapons. This is why the US Senate would not block the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia. And it’s the reason our allies have made an enemy of Iran.

Our dependence on Gulf oil has created monsters

Will we ever break free of our dependence on the Gulf monarchies? Not in the next few decades. The problem is the close link between the oil monarchies and the sale of Western weapons. This is why the Iranian Islamic Republic has been made into an enemy: to fuel tensions in the Gulf and encourage arms deals with Gulf monarchies. This is also the true reason behind the failure of the US Senate to block the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia: an $8 billion portion of a contract Trump signed for $110 billion.

Along with the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, this has been Trump’s most important strategic move. He has made Saudi Arabia—currently run by the murderous Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the man behind the Khashoggi assassination—the second prong (the other being the Jewish state) of the new regional security system that is planned to extend all the way to the Mediterranean.

He won’t let the body of a mere journalist stand in the way of these plans—and perhaps not even the possible testimony against the Saudis of the alleged mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the Pakistani Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has been in Guantanamo since 2006 and who would be willing to confess everything to the Americans in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.

Trump’s second step was to strangle Iran economically with sanctions and then bring the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un to his side. Kim has a respectable nuclear arsenal (unlike Iran) and powerful missiles, which one day might no longer be pointed at South Korea or Japan, but at China. That’s what Trump’s stroll across the 38th parallel means: the step-by-step legitimization of a regime and an arsenal to keep China at bay, which in turn is more and more nervous about what is happening in Hong Kong, perhaps not entirely coincidentally.

The role of Europe and Italy is also interesting to ponder: Prime Minister Conte’s last speech at the conference of ambassadors at the Foreign Ministry was so pro-American that not even Andreotti and Cossiga would have dared to give it, in terms so humiliating for our history and our national culture. On the one hand, we have France and Britain, who are, together with the US, among the largest suppliers of weapons to the Saudis, and who have been fueling the war in Yemen, despite Macron’s continuous lies on the subject. Of course, there are national, European and international regulations governing the arms trade, but ambiguity still seems to reign on this particular issue. 

We Europeans—including Italy, with the bombs produced by the Germans in Sardinia and shipped off to Riyadh—are delivering weapons to these democracy-hating warmongers with the excuse that they are for “defensive purposes.” The hypocrisy has risen to an extraordinary level, and no one in Italy is willing to give any answers: neither the Defense Minister nor the Foreign Minister, both reduced to ghostly presences that can’t even muster a reaction to what is happening in what is essentially our backyard, Libya, where we’re operating a hospital and have a presence of 300 soldiers in Misrata.

All they’re willing to say is that “we’re not in danger.” This is peak hypocrisy, because those to whom we’re selling weapons, the Saudis and the Emirates, have sided with Haftar, the enemy of the government in Tripoli, which we theoretically support.

At the strategic and military level, there is also another reason—an economic one—which ensures that we will be more and more beholden to the dictatorships of the Gulf. Egypt under General el-Sisi is in the hands of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, who are holding him up financially, particularly in connection with the planned Suez Corridor, the tunnel under the Suez Canal which will move people and goods under the Red Sea. Cairo will become a mere outpost of the Saudis. Although Egypt has withdrawn from the Middle East Strategic Alliance, a kind of Arab NATO, General el-Sisi is in fact only managing to survive with the aid of the Gulf states and the Americans, as well as the treaty with Israel, which is helping him in Sinai against the jihadists. Egypt has become a sort of common ward of the neighborhood.

With the money coming from the Gulf monarchies, Egypt is also at the center of a new energy strategy, both on a local level, with the discovery of offshore gas fields at Zhor and Nur, and also internationally, with the Aphrodite gas field in Cyprus and Leviathan field in Israel. The project is that of the “East-Med Pipe,” a gas pipeline which will connect the Israeli fields with Italy, passing through Cypriot and Greek waters. 

This also explains why Turkey, indifferent about possible European sanctions, is inflaming the Eastern Mediterranean with its prospecting vessels, which are not shy about going all the way to the beaches of Kastelorizo. And this is why Greece, which once upon a time was pro-Arab, has decided to pursue closer ties with Israel, a new (and much more fierce) protector of the European Union.

This is why there are tensions in the Gulf and the Mediterranean, and why they’re not going to end. This is also why we will never rid ourselves of our dependence on the absolute monarchies of the Gulf, Israel and the United States: they are now ineluctable features of our business of survival, making others pay for our development with wars and human lives.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Your weekly briefing of progressive news.

You have Successfully Subscribed!