Bolton's Gone but an Oil War Could Be About to Start
Lindsey German: Bolton’s departure hasn’t lessened the danger of war
The highlight of my week was the sacking of John Bolton as Trump’s national security adviser. Bolton is an ideological warmonger, one of the original neocons with their Project for a New American Century, and an architect of the Iraq war. He has long advocated war on Iran, and this summer we have seen a ‘tanker war’ between Iran and the US centred in the Strait of Hormuz. He visited Boris Johnson only last month to urge further British involvement in military patrols of Hormuz.
Bolton’s departure hasn’t lessened the danger of war. Indeed, a new flashpoint threatens even more instability. On Saturday, explosive drones attacked the Abqaiq oil processing plant in Saudi Arabia, causing major fires in the Khurais oil field. The attack was supposedly carried out by the Houthis in Yemen, in response to the conflict there where Saudi Arabia is bombing (ably abetted by the British military which supplies weaponry and advises on targets), and enforcing a blockade which is leading to famine and shortages of basic necessities.
However, according to an article in Middle East Eye the attacks were actually launched from Iraq, a much closer site to the Saudi target.
The US government has lost no time in blaming this attack on Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted: ‘Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply’. It is certainly a very serious attack. In the aftermath, oil and gas production fell by half in the country which is the world’s largest oil exporter. This amounts to 5% of global oil supply. This will have economic effects, pushing up the price of crude oil, but it will also have political consequences.
The push to isolate Iran dates from the decision of Trump to break the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear deal which was agreed by various governments including the five permanent members of the UN security council – the US, China, Russia, France and Britain – plus Germany and the EU. Since then, US imposed sanctions have been tightened and there have been a series of incidents any of which could have escalated to military conflict.
Iran’s support in the region is considerable, ranging from the Houthis in Yemen to Hezbollah in Lebanon (recently attacked by Israel), to its neighbouring Iraq. So any conflict involving any of these is regarded as justification for US intervention against Iran.
The Iraqi government has denied involvement, and must be dreading a wider war which will embroil it in direct conflict, when it still bears the terrible scars of the last war. Yet that looks exactly where we are heading.
Conflict over oil also raises the possibility of putting pressure on the already fragile world economy. Even with Bolton gone, we may be in for a new round of oil wars.