Ralph Lewis, senior consultant for Chevron Texaco, once stated, “The trick in the Middle East is to keep it stirred up.”
Lewis’ comments mirror statements made in a CFR publication titled, The Middle East in the New World Economic Order. The article appeared in the CFR’s Foreign Affairs, read religiously at the State Department. The most telling sentence reads, “The US wants maximum tension between Middle East OPEC countries.”
The Iran/Iraq War decimated both OPEC price hawk countries, but the “maximum tension” wasn’t over yet. US war ships crowded into the Persian Gulf. A massive US militarization of Saudi Arabia and the GCC countries was under way. The stench of war was in the air again. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait had loaned Saddam Hussein $120 billion to prosecute his war in Iran. Now the creditors came calling.
With oil prices in the gutter due to GCC overproduction, Iraq was forced to embark on a massive privatization campaign, selling off state assets to obtain the hard currency needed to pay off its debts. This hit at the heart of the Iraqi people who took pride in the nationalization of the Iraqi Petroleum Company, previously owned by the Four Horsemen. For decades Iraq had guarded its resources from multinational corporations, becoming the most modern and prosperous nation in the Middle East. Now the international bankers were swarming like vultures. Iraq’s agricultural sector was sold to the highest bidder, leaving many farmers impoverished. Labor unions were banned. Foreign investment, disallowed since 1964, flowed into the country. Local elites bought up state-owned factories. 
In 1989 the US/Iraq Business Forum was established. Facilitating its formation was Kissinger Associates, a private consulting firm founded by Henry Kissinger. President Bush Sr. had just taken office. He included two former directors of Kissinger Associates in his cabinet, Undersecretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger and National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft.
The US/Iraq Business Forum was the vehicle through which US corporations gained access to the newly liberalized Iraq economy. Its members included Bechtel, Fluor, GM, Texaco, Occidental Petroleum, Westinghouse and AT&T. That same year Atlanta-based Banca Nacionale de Lavaro (BNL) approved $3 billion in loans to arm Saddam. More than $360 million in US taxpayer money ended up in Gulf International Bank, a Saudi/Iraqi venture in Bahrain. BNL’s International Advisory Board included David Rockefeller who, according to economist Paul Adler, met on at least three occasions with Saddam Hussein.  Chase Manhattan led a consortium that financed the US/Iraq Business Forum. 
Iraq’s attempts at privatization proved a dismal failure. State assets were auctioned off for pennies on the dollar, oil prices remained low and Iraq spent the little money it made through the sales rebuilding an Iraqi economy devastated by the war with Iran, which left 750,000 Iraqis dead.  Saddam Hussein took a left turn, ala Noriega, and railed against US imperialism.
In 1776 the British East India Company set up headquarters at what is now Kuwait. When Kuwaiti members of the al-Sabah clan helped Ottoman Turks quell uprisings in southern Iraq, the Shiek of Muntafiq tribe gave the al-Sabahs date groves near Fao and Sufiyeh in southern Iraq. Kuwait was seen as highly strategic by the British in protecting their Indian Ocean sea lanes. By 1900 the British had cut a deal with Mubarek al-Sabah, carving Kuwait out of Iraq and making it a British protectorate. The vast majority of people who lived there opposed the British plan, wanted to remain part of Iraq and have always considered Kuwait to be part of Iraq’s Basra Province. 
For decades Iraqi leaders have challenged the legitimacy of the 1920’s Sykes-Picot Agreement, through which the British and French created Kuwait as a British Protectorate. Iraqis were never consulted when this “gentleman’s agreement” was signed. Kuwait became an important provider of oil to the West and petrodollar banker for the world economy. Former British Foreign Secretary Selwyn Lloyd stated that Kuwaiti oil money was propping up the British pound. A running joke on Wall Street asks, “Why do the US and Kuwait need each other?” The answer, “Kuwait is a banking system without a country. The US is a country without a banking system.”
In 1937 and again in 1946 the Iraqi Communist Party called strikes at Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) headquarters in Kirkuk. Since BP was IPC’s major owner, the British sent troops to put down the strikes. Half a million acres of land in Kut province was taken over by the British lackey al-Yasin brothers. By 1958 1% of landowners in Iraq controlled 55% of the land.  In the 1950’s IPC was at the center of an oil boom in Iraq. Its many tentacles included Basra Petroleum and Mosul Petroleum. Chevron, Texaco, Exxon, Mobil, Gulf and RD/Shell were cut into IPC after the Four Horsemen signed the Red Line Agreement.
The 1952 revolution in Egypt that deposed the Farouk monarchy and brought nationalist leader Gamel Abdel Nasser to power inspired a series of uprisings in Iraq aimed at IPC and the Iraqi monarchy. In 1958 King Faisal was assassinated along with numerous members of the royal family. The Iraqi monarchy, long a puppet of the British Empire, was deposed. The US and the British acted quickly to ensure installation of another puppet in the form of General Nuri es-Said. The US and Britain convinced es-Said to sign the Baghdad Pact, part of which called for official recognition of Kuwait. Another part of the deal authorized Iraqi forces to be sent to Lebanon to prop up the unpopular pro-Western government of Camille Chamoun. 
In 1958 es-Said was deposed in a coup led by nationalist Army officers loyal to Abdul Karim Qassim. The Paris weekly L’Express reported, “The Iraqi coup was inspired by the CIA in a move to appease the nationalists. The CIA saw Qassim as containable and preferable to more radical elements who were fast gaining support among the Iraqi people”. Initially members of the Communist Party were banned from Qassim’s Cabinet.
Under pressure from the burgeoning left, Qassim dissolved the Iraqi monarchy and cultivated ties with the Soviet Union and China. He withdrew from the Baghdad Pact and called for the incorporation of Kuwait into Basra Province. He lifted a ban on the Iraqi Communist Party and they became a major force in his government. He formed the state-run Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC), making Iraq the first Middle East country to nationalize Four Horsemen assets. In 1961 Qassim passed Law 80 which repossessed 99.5% of IPC’s unexplored lands and called for the annexation of Kuwait.
Big Oil had seen quite enough. By 1960 Sydney Gottlieb of CIA’s Technical Services Division hatched a plan to assassinate President Qassim.  A low-intensity terror campaign was organized by CIA using Nationalist and Ba’ath Parties to attack the Iraqi Communist Party, the most formidable leftist party in the region. The CIA gave its stooges lists of leftist leaders to be targeted. In 1961 Kuwait declared independence, taking Iraq’s only upriver port at Basra. US troops were rushed to Lebanon and UK forces to Jordan.
In 1963 CIA agent Bruce Odell arranged an airlift of arms to a right-of-center Ba’ath Party cell in Baghdad. The Ba’ath operatives unleashed a wave of terror which featured countless massacres of civilians. The CIA’s point man, whose right-wing Ba’ath faction emerged victorious after assassinating Qassim in 1963, was Saddam Hussein.  According to an April 17, 2003 wire story from Indo-Asian News Service, the CIA spirited Saddam out of Iraq after the assassination and put him up in a Cairo hotel for a few nights. Adb al-Salam Arif was installed as President. His first decree repealed Law 80. The Four Horsemen were back in the IPC saddle.
In 1967 IPC drilled several wells with 50,000 barrel/day potential. They hid these findings from the Iraqi government. When the news leaked the Iraqi people were outraged. Arif followed their lead. He nationalized Iraq’s banks and insurance companies, along with thirty-two other large firms. Iraq passed Laws 97 and 123, which gave the state-run INOC a bigger role in Iraq’s oil industry, including an exclusive right to develop the North Rumaila oilfield next to Kuwait. Houston-based Brown & Root had built the IPC oil terminal at Fao which serves North Rumaila, while the German company Mannesman built IPC’s Kirkuk-Dortyol pipeline. Now the multinationals were running for cover as an angry Iraq broke off relations with the US.
A year later leftist President al-Bakr was fighting off the CIA-backed Patriotic Union of Kurdistan faction led by Jalal Talibani, while Mustafa Barzani’s loyalist Kurd troops attacked IPC facilities near Kirkuk. A March 11, 1970 Iraqi government decree rewarded Barzani’s Kurds with autonomy over the northern provinces of Kirkuk and Dohuk. In 1971 Iraq broke ties with Iran after the Shah was found to be aiding Talibani’s faction on behalf of the CIA. In 1972 al-Bakr nationalized IPC. In 1973 Basra Petroleum was nationalized. By December 1975 all foreign holdings in Iraq were nationalized.  Talibani is now President of US-occupied Iraq.
Syria led countries in the region in following the Iraqi example. The IPC nationalization was wildly popular and bolstered the al-Bakr government, which now formed the Iraqi Company for Oil Operations (ICOO) to market INOC petroleum overseas. ICOO signed supply agreements with Japan, India, Brazil, Greece and many Warsaw Pact nations. From 1973-1978 Iraqi oil revenues went from $1.8 billion/year to $23.6 billion/year. 
Iraq implemented strict currency controls to prevent the international bankers from trashing their dinar. They introduced import restrictions so foreign currency wasn’t wasted on frivolous luxury items. Iraq became a respected leader of the price hawk faction of OPEC. It was setting a global example in its bid to free itself from bondage to the international banker mafia who wanted al-Bakr’s head. After a failed 1975 coup attempt against al-Bakr, Iraqi police found US dollars in possession of the plotters. 
Over four decades Big Oil and their CIA henchman had tried to quell the nationalist urge of the Iraqi people. Success was minimal and their puppet regimes short-lived. Saddam Hussein’s regime looked promising to the international bankers. He clamped down on nationalist parties, killing and deporting the most radical elements. He invaded revolutionary Iran on orders from Zbigniew Brzezinski. He opened the Iraqi economy to Western multinationals. But when the Saudis and Kuwaitis began pressing Saddam for repayment of $120 billion in Iranian war loans, which were originally called grants, Saddam bristled. The US told the al-Sabah monarchs to hold the line, pushing Saddam onto the well-worn socialist path of the Iraqi people.
Dean Henderson is the author of five books:Big Oil & Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf: Four Horsemen, Eight Families & Their Global Intelligence, Narcotics & Terror Network, The Grateful Unrich: Revolution in 50 Countries, Das Kartell der Federal Reserve, Stickin’ it to the Matrix & The Federal Reserve Cartel. You can subscribe free to his weekly Left Hook column @www.hendersonlefthook.wordpress.com