As the American government, led by the Bush Administration, fights its so-called "War On Terror" with plans to invade and overthrow Iraq, America's steadfast ally in this endeavor continues to be the British government of Tony Blair. The following study will take a look at the history of the region that America has become entangled in, a region that used to be, and to some degree still is, almost entirely controlled by Britain. Is this current "War On Terror" truly a war to bring freedom to the region and to promote traditional American ideals, or is it a power-play to solidify global American hegemony? And what does Britain have to gain?
Britain appears to be our greatest ally but it must be understood that British geo-strategists are the masters of political manipulation and subversion. Even as the physical British colonial empire was declining in the first half of this century they were already building the framework for a completely global empire based on the legacy of Cecil Rhodes utilizing the resources of the super-capitalists and financiers of New York and London. These elites may be predominantly British and American in nationality, but they reject democracy and the American Constitution and work against the best interests of British, American and international citizens. By studying the history of the Middle East, and the elitist manipulation of it, we can perhaps predict what is to come after this last final push of the American Empire.
I. Britain Takes the Middle East
II. Britain and Egypt
III. The Overthrow of Iran's First Democracy
IV. The British War Against Nasser
V. Islam Turns Against the West
VI. Afghanistan, Pakistan, the ISI and the BCCI
I. Britain takes the Middle East
As documented in F. William Engdahl's book A Century of War - Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, Britain's interest in the Middle East was piqued when her leaders realized that oil would replace coal as the energy source of the future. At the turn of the century Britain had no first-hand access to oil and was dependant upon America, Russia or Mexico for her supplies. This was quickly understood as an unacceptable situation and through intrigues involving British spy Sidney Reilly and Australian geologist and engineer William Knox d'Arcy Britain was able to secure drilling rights to Persian oil from Persian monarch Reza Khan. D'Arcy paid what amounted to $20,000 cash for rights to tap Persian oil until 1961, with a 16% royalty from all sales going to the Shah. The British company that Reilly persuaded d'Arcy to ally with then became known as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, which was a forerunner of the mighty British Petroleum (BP).
However, even with a supply of Persian oil, Britain was losing the race to secure Middle Eastern oil reserves to the Germans. In the years prior to World War I Germany had enjoyed an astonishing economic explosion and this was helped by her alliance with the Ottoman Empire which allowed her access to their vast reserves. In 1889 the Germans worked out an agreement to finance, through Deutsche Bank, a railway from Constantinople into Anatolia, and later in 1899 the final agreement for a complete Berlin-to-Baghdad railway was signed.
The British made sure that this rail link was never completed through the use of her ally Serbia, which stood in the middle of the German alliance that included Austro-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire. World War I is commonly understood as sparked by the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand by Serbian assassins. Serbia did play a key part in World War I, but the conflict was not simply a result of this solitary event. The truth is that World War I was fomented by the British so that they could control oil, foreseen by their geo-strategists as the world's most important emerging resource. (1)
In 1916, at the height of World War I, the British worked out an agreement with France, Italy and Russia known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement that carved up the Ottoman Empire into Western colonies. This secret agreement created the arbitrary boundaries of what are today the countries of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Kuwait. Britain would control the oil-rich Persian Gulf through Iraq and Kuwait and would also receive Palestine and Jordan. France would receive Syria and Lebanon, Italy was promised parts of Anatolia and some Mediterranean islands and Russia was to get parts of Armenia and Kurdistan.
During the war Britain diverted more than 1.4 million troops from the Western Front to fight the Ottomans in the east. While the French lost 1.5 million dead and suffered 2.6 million wounded in the trenches the British gained victory after victory in the Middle East. After the war ended the British continued to maintain over a million troops in the area, and in 1918 the British General Allenby found that he was the de-facto military dictator over almost the entire Arab Middle East. (2)
While T.E. Lawrence was directing the Arab revolt against the Ottomans on behalf of the British he had assured his Arab allies that Britain would honor their desires for independence, but after the war these promises were ignored. During the war the famous Balfour Declaration was also given. It was a letter between Lord Balfour and Lord Rothschild that promised official British endorsement of a Jewish state in Palestine. The plain fact is that the Arabs were cheated, betrayed and used in a British drive to gain control of the region that contained the world's largest known oil reserves.
In the fight against the Ottoman Empire the British gained the support of two important Arab leaders. The first was Hussein I of the Hashemite dynasty, a dynasty that traced a direct lineage back to the prophet Mohammed. He was the ruler of the Hijaz area that included Mecca and Medina and the British hyped his "holy" status to maximize his popular support. The second prominent Arab leader that the British eventually brought into the fold was Ibn Saud, the leader of the tribal Wahhabi sect of central Arabia. Ibn Saud used his British financing to enhance his position as a religious figure and to buy the support of the Bedouins.
After the Ottomans were defeated and the Sykes-Picot and Balfour Agreements were revealed Hussein I realized the treachery that had defeated him and he abdicated his throne. His three sons Ali, Faisal and Abdallah then tried their luck at Arab rule.
Prince Ali took over the Hijaz but lost it in 1925 in his clash with the forces of the British-supported Ibn Saud. The Saudis have ruled Arabia ever since. The biggest mistake Britain made was losing interest in the Saudis and the Arabian deserts, allowing Standard Oil of California to come in and purchase the rights to search for oil in Saudi Arabia for $250,000 in 1933 (3). Since that time the Saudi royal family has enjoyed a very special relationship with the United States.
Prince Faisal, who had worked with T.E. Lawrence and conquered Damascus from the Ottomans, made a claim to rule French-governed Syria in 1920, but the French ended this attempt after just four months. Faisal then retreated to Britain and a year later he was recycled when he, a Sunni prince, was given the predominantly Shia territory of Iraq to govern as king. Faisal I ruled until his death in 1933. His son Ghazi ruled Iraq until he died in 1939, followed by Ghazi's son Faisal II, the last king of Iraq, who was killed in a military coup in 1958.
The Hashemite dynasty continues to this day only through the third of our trio of Hussein's sons. Prince Abdallah was given the land of Trans-Jordan to govern in 1921 and as king he maintained a strong pro-British stance, despite the treachery displayed to his father. Abdallah understood that there was no future in contradicting his masters, and the British used him to check the fury of his own population as the British desire to establish a Jewish state in Israel came into focus. King Abdallah was killed in the Al Aqsa Mosque in 1951, and his sixteen year old grandson Hussein took the throne. King Hussein ruled until his death in 1999, and his son King Abdullah now rules the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
The main point that must be understood from the historical record, as it relates to the main focus of this article, is the cynical manner in which the religion of Islam has been used by the British Empire to further British political goals. In the book by Arab historian Said Aburish, A Brutal Friendship - The West and the Arab Elite, the author identifies three distinct phases of Islam's relationship with the West within the 20th Century. (4)
The first phase, according to Aburish, was the phase immediately after World War I. The Arab leaders had been cheated and betrayed, but they were still dependant upon the British to allow them any type of rule over the Arab masses.
Ibn Saud was the leader of the Wahhabi sect, and the British acknowledged his influence as a religious figure and funded his conquest of all of Arabia.
The Hashemites were the strongest traditional Arab force, but their back was broken when Ibn Saud threw them out of Mecca and Medina. In their "pity" the British then placed Abdallah and Faisal over Jordan and Iraq. These Hashemite princes were outsiders, to say the least, but the British played the religion card for all it was worth and justified their actions to the Arab people through the Hashemite lineage that traced back to Mohammed. Certainly any Arab would be happy to be ruled by a "holy" clan like the Hashemites!
The British used Islam in Palestine as well when, in 1921, they engineered the election of their choice, Haj Amin Husseini, a descendant of Mohammed, to the post of Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. In Palestine almost all of the elite Arab families quickly found it profitable to be pro-British, and the Grand Mufti maintained this stance as well, at least up until 1936 when the imminent establishment of a Jewish Israel forced him to finally support the desires of his people. (5)
Regarding the first phase of Islam's relationship with the West Aburish writes, "All political leadership of the time depended on Islam for legitimacy and all political leaders were pro-British. Islam was a tool to legitimize the rule, tyranny and corruption of Arab leaders. To the West, Islam was acceptable; it could be and was used." (6)
This phase of elitist domination of the Arab people, using Islam as the legitimizing factor, could not continue indefinitely. The force that rose up to counter it was secular Arab nationalism and it eventually revolved around the person of Gamal Abd-al Nasser of Egypt. This movement sought to free the Middle East from Western domination and at the same time it was cynical of the Islam that had been used so successfully to prop up and justify elitist rule. We will identify the second phase of Western-Islamic relations that began with the rise of Arab nationalism, but first we must take a brief historical look at Egypt
II. Britain and Egypt
By the beginning of World War I Egypt had been controlled by Britain for more than thirty years. While the British used Islam to topple the Ottomans and prop up their client states outside of Egypt, within Egypt they found that Islam was not such a malleable asset, at least not while Britain remained as the colonizer.
Western influence over Egypt began in 1798, when Napoleon invaded Egypt to threaten Britain's trade routes to India. This was the first major and decisive conquest of an Arab Muslim nation in the history of Islam and marked the beginning of a slow decline in Muslim pride and influence. Napoleon's rule didn't last long, however, because the British temporarily allied with the Ottomans to throw the French out after only a few years.
Out of the chaos emerged an Albanian commander of the Ottoman army named Mohammed Ali, who helped to drive out the British, afterwards becoming governor of Egypt under Ottoman authority. Ali neutralized the native Mamluke threat, and then turned his attention to modernizing Egypt. After Ali died his successors Abbas, and then Said Pasha ruled Egypt. Said Pasha started the Suez Canal, and then his successor Khedive Ismail finished it in 1869. The canal was financed primarily by French investors, but by this time France was firmly controlled by Britain. After that the British influence in Egypt slowly became stronger and stronger, and was initially done not militarily but economically. The British "free-trade" ideology was adopted and Egyptian manufacturing and industry suffered. Egypt soon found itself deep in debt.
In 1879 Ismail was forced from power and was eventually succeeded by his son Tewfiq Pasha who finally gave up and effectively ceded complete control of the Egyptian economy over to the British. In 1882 British troops landed and completed the takeover of Egypt. They would occupy Egypt until 1956 when they were finally expelled by President Nasser.
At the beginning of World War I the Khedive Abbas perceived a chance to shake off the British and he urged popular support for the Ottomans. The British quickly deposed him and placed his uncle Hussein Kamil in power. After the war was over nationalist forces within Egypt waged a continuous campaign against the British occupiers for independence, even lobbying for international recognition for independence in Paris, but their desires were dashed when the United States sided with Britain.
In 1922 the British repealed the "Protectorate Status" over Egypt, but they maintained responsibility for Egypt's "defense" and for protection of foreigners within Egypt. Egypt was said to have achieved "independence" and King Fouad I, descendent of Mohammed Ali, took power, although British occupation continued.
In 1928 the "Muslim Brotherhood" was founded by an Egyptian schoolteacher named Hasan al-Banna. The Brotherhood was a religious secret society known publicly for its emphasis on Islamic education and for its charitable activities. Prior to World War II British Intelligence cultivated ties with the Brotherhood through agent Freya Stark, the British adventurer and writer (1). These covert connections were used to keep track of the growing German presence in North Africa and to stay informed of the many different political movements that were springing up. The Muslim Brotherhood spread throughout the Muslim world and has evolved into something like a Muslim equivalent of the West's Masonic brotherhood. It became one of the first Islamic Fundamentalist terror organizations and will crop up often in this study.
In the years prior to World War II Egyptian intrigues revolved around the three main camps of the British, who did all they could to maintain control over their colony and the Suez Canal, the Royalists allied with King Fouad, and after 1935 his son King Farouk, and the nationalist Wafd party that was supported by the people through the Egyptian parliament that had been set up by the British.
When World War II broke out the Wafd party, at least publicly, supported the allies because they were led to believe that complete independence would immediately follow the war. King Farouk, however, was more reserved in his support for the allies and privately held deep axis sympathies, while many rank-and-file members of the Muslim Brotherhood were known to favor Germany as well. Germany was not destined to free Egypt from the British, however, and the axis' North African army was defeated at the Battle of El-Alamein in October, 1942 and then gradually pushed out of Africa.
After the war both the Muslim Brotherhood and the populist Wafd Party agitated against the repressive monarchy of King Farouk and against the British who delayed their pullout from Egyptian territory. In 1949 Hasan al-Banna was assassinated by the Egyptian government, enraging the fundamentalists even more. In 1952 the Wafd Party won a great victory in Parliamentary elections and in the aftermath Prime Minister Nahas Pasha repealed the 1936 agreement that had been made between Farouk and the British allowing British control of the Suez Canal. Farouk promptly dismissed Nahas Pasha and widespread violent anti-British riots ensued. A secret cabal of high-level Egyptian Army officers, calling themselves the Free Officers, seized this opportunity and staged a coup, taking over the country and throwing out King Farouk.
The Free Officers were led by General Muhammad Naguib and included Gamal Abd-al Nasser and Anwar al-Sadat. In the aftermath Naguib was removed and Nasser emerged as the man in power in 1954. He promptly banned the Wafd Party as well as the Muslim Brotherhood and began to rule as a firm dictator.
Nasser was quick and bold in his moves to modernize and industrialize Egypt and to assert his nation's independence. He reached out to the United States and to the World Bank to help him finance the construction of the Aswan Dam, but he was denied and forced to turn to the Soviets. He also sought to improve his army and was offered Western armaments but on condition that he commit his country to the British-controlled regional military alliances. Nasser declined, and signed an arms deal with Czechoslovakia in 1955.
On July 26, 1956 Nasser evicted the British from the Suez Canal Zone, returning it to total Egyptian control for the first time since 1882. Three months later the Suez War began. Israel took over Gaza in five days and British and French troops took over the Canal Zone. The United Nations condemned the action and a cease fire was agreed to on November 6. The Canal was then returned to Egypt.
In the aftermath of this war Nasser became a hero to the Arab people and secular nationalist movements sprang up throughout the Middle East. Egypt merged with Syria forming the United Arab Republic in 1958, and then (North) Yemen federated with them as well. This pan-Arab movement was loved by the Arab masses but feared by their leaders. Aburish writes,
"In the 1950s and later, the West opposed the secular Arab nationalist movement for two reasons: it challenged its regional hegemony and threatened the survival of its clients leaders and countries. Specifically, there was nothing to stop a secular movement from cooperating with the USSR; in fact, most of them were mildly socialist. Furthermore, most secular movements advocated various schemes of Arab unity, a union or a unified policy, which threatened and undermined the pro-West traditional regimes of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other client states. The West saw it as a challenge that had to be met." (2)
This brings us to the second phase of Western-Islamic relations as defined by Aburish. It is a period during which the West used Islamic Fundamentalism as a tool to destabilize or topple the regimes that refused to be dominated by the West.
III. The Overthrow of Iran's First Democracy
From the beginning America's Central Intelligence Agency has maintained a very close relationship with British intelligence and this is proven by the details of the Mossadegh coup in Iran in 1953, which marked the beginning of the second phase.
Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh was a lifelong leader of the Iranian nationalist movement against the imperialism of the British Empire. Born into Iran's ruling class he was elected to the Iranian parliament in 1906, but turned down the post because, legally, he was to young (being not yet 30). He received his education in France and Switzerland and received his law doctorate in 1913. He returned to Iran and served as a university professor, deputy Finance Minister and Minister of Justice prior to the British-backed coup of 1921 which placed Shah Reza Khan back in power.
In the following years Mossadegh served the Iranian people in a number of different capacities, finally being forcibly removed from public service near the end of Reza Khan's reign due to his criticism of the corrupt regime. In 1941 the government changed again and Reza Khan was forced to flee to South Africa, where he lived until he died. Mossadegh was then able to return to Tehran, where he was active in the Parliament, clashing with Reza Khan's son Mohammad Reza Shah.
After fighting through a great deal of interference and fraud Mossadegh was elected as Iran's Prime Minister by the Iranian Parliament in 1951. On May 1, in one of his first actions as Prime Minister, Mossadegh nationalized Iranian oil, taking it over from the British owned Anglo-Persian Oil Company. The British had bought control of Iranian oil for 60 years, through William Knox d'Arcy, from Reza Khan back in 1901. They purchased another 60-year lease from the Shah again in 1933. After taking control of Iranian oil Mossadegh was forced to campaign at the UN and at The Hague to counter a British lawsuit by arguing that the contracts made with prior governments were not valid. Mossadegh was successful and the international community declared that Iran had every right to take control of its own oil.
Mossadegh's nationalization move was not made without concern for British interests. His government promised to pay 25% of oil profits to the British as compensation and guaranteed the safety of British jobs. Nonetheless, the British refused to negotiate and responded with a show of naval force, followed by economic blockades, boycotts and the freezing of Iranian assets. (1)
Over the preceding years widespread anti-British sentiment had resulted in a greatly decreased intelligence capability for the British within Iran, so to effectively deal with Mossadegh the British turned to their pals in the American CIA. Author Stephen Dorril documents this affair in his book MI6: Inside the Covert World of Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service. He writes,
"Despite British propaganda, the Mossadeq government was generally democratic, moderate, and seemed likely to succeed in establishing a middle-class hold over the state. It was officially viewed by the Truman administration as popular, nationalist and anti-communist." (2)
To change the American position on Mossadegh British strategists capitalized on America's communist paranoia and tried to portray Mossadegh's regime as weak and a possible avenue for Soviet manipulation. Near the tail end of the Truman administration the head of the CIA's Middle East Department, Kermit Roosevelt, met with John Sinclair and other MI-6 representatives where they "put to him the proposal that they jointly topple Mossadeq"(3). After Eisenhower took over the presidency in January of 1953 the CIA was free to act, and American involvement was confirmed when the British promised to allow American oil companies a 40% stake in Iranian oil in return for toppling Mossadegh and re-acquiring Iranian oil reserves. (4)
The British and Americans finally settled on the virtually powerless son of Reza Khan, Mohammad Reza Shah, to be the new ruler of Iran. At first the young Shah turned down the offers made to him by the conspirators, even after visits from American Colonel H. Norman Schwarzkopf on August 1, 1953, and a later meeting with Kermit Roosevelt. Dorril writes that, "The Shah finally agreed to support the plan only 'after official US and British involvement had been confirmed through a special radio broadcast.'" BBC Persia was used to convey a pre-arranged coded message over the airwaves for the ears of the Shah in order to satisfy his doubts. (5)
To prepare for the coup the Americans funded Ayatollah Bihbani and the British gave a group led by Ayatollah Qanatabadi $100,000 to stir up unrest against Mossadegh. Ayatollah Kashani was given $10,000 by the CIA and his followers played a role in the demonstrations in central Tehran. Another group of fundamentalist agitators was led by Tayyeb Hsaj-Reza'i, a figure who later became a supporter of the Ayatollah Khomeini. (6)
In mid-August, 1953, Mossadegh's government was beset by a multitude of CIA and British-funded plots and demonstrations. On August 15 Mossadegh's Foreign Minister was kidnapped in a bid to intimidate the government. On August 16 the Shah issued a statement dismissing Mossadegh as Prime Minister and at the same time propaganda materials were distributed that falsely alleged that religious mullahs were to be hanged by members of the communist Tudeh party (7). On August 17 and 18 mobs made up of religious fanatics and supporters of the Shah converged on Tehran creating chaos and terror. On August 19, in collusion with the chief of police, the mobs were able to reach the Prime Minister's residence and after a fierce battle Mossadegh was forced from power. Several days later the Shah returned from Italy and thus began his 25-year dictatorial regime. The story of the Shah's downfall twenty-five years later, at the hands of the same fundamentalist fanatics who helped him acquire his throne in the first place, involves the British as well, which we will find out momentarily. Radical Islam was indeed a useful tool for the British, and their manipulation of it was only just beginning.
IV. The British War Against Nasser
In their dealings with Nasser the British used any means necessary, including espionage, diplomacy, bribery and even direct military might to retain control over Egypt and the Suez Canal. The newly founded CIA also became interested in Egypt when Nasser showed signs of tilting to the Soviet Union. Aburish explains how this new avenue of intrigue evolved,
"According to CIA agent Miles Copeland, the Americans began looking for a Muslim Billy Graham around 1955... When finding or creating a Muslim Billy Graham proved elusive, the CIA began to cooperate with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Muslim mass organization founded in Egypt but with followers throughout the Arab Middle East... This signalled the beginning of an alliance between the traditional regimes and mass Islamic movements against Nasser and other secular forces." (1)
The CIA was following the example of British Intelligence and sought to use Islam to further its goals. They wanted to find a charismatic religious leader that they could promote and control and they began to cooperate with groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. With the rise of Nasser the Brotherhood was also courted more seriously by the pro-Western Arab regimes of Saudi Arabia and Jordan. They needed all the popular support that they could muster against the rise of Nasser-inspired Arab nationalism to keep their regimes intact.
The Muslim Brotherhood was an obvious ally against Nasser, because he had abolished it from Egypt after it was involved in a failed assassination attempt on his life in 1954. The Brotherhood rejected Nasser's policy that, for the most part, kept religion out of politics. Officially the Brotherhood was an outlawed organization, but it remained influential and active within Egypt working against the secular regime, often hand-in-hand with British Intelligence. In June of 1955 MI6 was already approaching the Brotherhood in Syria to agitate against the new government that showed strong left-wing tendencies and a desire to merge with Egypt (2). The Brotherhood became an even more important asset after Nasser announced the Egyptian takeover of the Suez. Author Stephen Dorril documents how this move was viewed from Britain,
"On 26 July in Alexandria, in a calm speech, but one that was described by London as hysterical, Nasser made his nationalisation announcement, which from a strictly legal point of view was no more 'than a decision to buy out the shareholders.' That night in Downing Street, [British Prime Minister] Eden's bitterness at the decision was not concealed from his guests... Eden summoned a council of war, which continued until 4 a.m. An emotional Prime Minister told his colleagues that Nasser could not be allowed, in Eden's phrase, 'to have his hand on our windpipe.' The 'muslim Mussolini' must be 'destroyed.' Eden added: 'I want him removed and I don't give a damn if there's anarchy and chaos in Egypt.'" (3)
Former Prime Minister Churchill had fueled Eden's fire by counseling him about the Egyptians, saying, "Tell them if we have any more of their cheek we will set the Jews on them and drive them into the gutter, from which they should have never emerged." (4)
Sir Anthony Nutting, a member of the Foreign Office at the time, recalls an irate phone call from Eden who was upset at the slow pace of the campaign against Nasser. Eden raged, "What's all this poppycock you've sent me? ... What's all this nonsense about isolating Nasser or "neutralizing" him, as you call it? I want him destroyed, can't you understand? I want him murdered..." (5)
To prepare the way for the desired coup the British Information Research Department (IRD) was called into action. They ratcheted up their efforts to control radio broadcasts into Egypt and they planted false stories in the BBC, the London Press Service and the Arab News Agency. Forged documents were created that suggested that Nasser was planning to take over the entire Middle East oil trade, and a bogus report was disseminated that alleged that Egyptian dissidents were being sent to a concentration camp manned by ex-Nazis. (6)
The British had a problem though in deciding who would take over Egypt after Nasser's removal. MI-6 held meetings with members of the old Wafd party and allies of former premier Nahas Pasha. The original Free Officer's leader General Neguib, who had been removed and placed under house arrest by Nasser, was viewed as a possible president, and some British circles even advocated that Prince Abdul Monheim, the most 'presentable' Egyptian royal, be made king. (7)
According to Dorril, the most important recruit to the British plot to topple Nasser was an Egyptian Intelligence officer Isameddine Mahmoud Khalil, who was maintained as a contact by supplying him with intelligence about Egypt's most pressing enemy: Israel. Dorril offers a Mossad chief's remarks about this situation who said, "Harming Israel's security by handing over secret information about her did not apparently trouble the conscience of the British." This was a very complicated time for the British, because they were presently working with Israel to coordinate a military attack on Egypt which eventually took place in October. (
Evidently, the lack of a clear-cut candidate to replace Nasser did not stop the coup plotters. Dorril concludes that, "MI6 did not believe, however, that it was absolutely necessary to have an alternative in place. The Service was confident that once Nasser was overthrown suitable candidates would emerge." (9)
In late August Nasser acted against the growing threat from British Intelligence. The offices of the Arab News Agency were raided and a number of employees were arrested and confessed to being British agents. Two British diplomats were expelled, one of them, J. B. Flux, had "been in contact with 'students of a religious inclination' with the idea of 'encouraging fundamentalist riots that could provide an excuse for military intervention to protect European lives.'" Other British "businessmen" and "diplomats" were arrested or expelled as well, and because of Nasser's effective offensive Dorril writes that immediately prior to the Suez War British Intelligence found that it was left "With no assets in the country," and that "MI6 had to use outside agents for its assassination plans." (10)
In the end all of this British subversion and agitation failed, even after they decided upon the direct military confrontation that was played out in the Suez War of October 1956. Popular Egyptian support for Nasser was just too much, and the international community sided with Nasser against the British as well, forcing the Suez Canal to be returned to Egypt. Nasser emerged leading an Egypt finally free from British control.
Since then Britain has continually waged a low-level covert war against Egyptian governments: against Nasser until his death, against Sadat who took over, and even against Mubarak after him, up until this very day. The secular Egyptian government has traditionally been one of the toughest enemies of Islamic terrorism, whereas the single most important backer of Egyptian terror groups has been Britain. This last statement goes entirely against the preconceptions of most British and American citizens, but in the pages that follow we will offer proof to back it up.
V. Islam Turns Against the West
As we have related, in his book A Brutal Friendship, Said Aburish defined three phases of Western-Islamic relations. The first was the period during which Britain used Islam to help legitimize the puppet dictators that they had installed over their Arab colonies after World War I. The second phase was a period during which Britain (and America) used militant Islam as a force to help topple governments such as Mossadegh's and Nasser's that were trying to fight Western domination. Aburish writes,
"The struggle between Nasser and the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots and Western and traditional Arab regimes' supporters continued until the 1967 War. Western support for Islam was provided openly and accepted by the leadership of the Islamic movements without reservation." (1)
Aburish notes that Islam had a good image in the West up to this time. The Islamic movement was noted most for its anti-communist outlook and there was little foresight that conservative Islam might turn against the West. Aburish then begins to describe the third phase,
"The third phase in the development of Islamic movements occurred after the 1967 war. The defeat of Nasser was a defeat for the force he represented, secularism, and with Nasser diminished, the Islamic movements moved to assume the political leadership of the masses of Arab Middle East." (2)
After 1967 the power of the Islamic movements greatly increased. Islamic theology overtook secularism and a more potent form of Arab nationalism emerged. The Six Day War saw the West stand by as Israel defeated her Arab neighbors, capturing the Sinai, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. It then became clear to most Muslims that the West favored Israel over the Arabs and resentment towards the West increased. This third phase of Western-Islamic relations began when factions of this predominantly anti-Western Fundamentalist Islamic movement began to exercise their new political influence throughout areas of the Muslim world.
After Nasser died in 1970 and was replaced by Anwar al-Sadat the new Egyptian president tried to appease the threat of militant Islam by releasing all of the imprisoned members of the Muslim Brotherhood, despite the fact that the Brotherhood had been involved in at least four separate assassination attempts on Nasser's life over the previous sixteen years. Sadat then joined forces with King Faisal of Saudi Arabia and they became sponsors and promoters of the Al Azhar Islamic university as well as Islamic movements such as Al Dawa and I'tisam. These leaders realized that it was best to at least appear to support the rise of the Islamic movements. (3)
On October 6, 1973 Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on the Israeli Army in the Sinai and the Golan Heights. On October 16 OPEC raised the price of oil by a whopping 70%, and then the next day Arab OPEC leaders announced that they would enforce a progressive embargo against Europe and the United States until Israel was forced to withdraw to their pre-1967 borders.
Engdahl's book, A Century of War, relates how US National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger was able to convince Germany not to declare neutrality regarding the October war, while Britain "was allowed to clearly state its neutrality." Britain remained neutral throughout the entire episode and was one of the few Western countries not placed under the Arab oil embargo. (4)
The Yom Kippur War ended on October 26, but the effects were such that the Arab regimes came out much better in several respects. Firstly, they had finally been effective militarily against Israel and they had won back some territory. Secondly, their regimes were infused with a great deal of popular support and the voice of the Islamic militants was temporarily quelled. Lastly, the Arab nations suddenly became the benefactors of a huge increase in oil revenues, from $3.01 a barrel in early '73, to $11.65 a barrel in early '74. (5)
Engdahl relates that the rise in oil prices was something that had been planned previously by the Anglo-American Establishment and mentioned at the Bilderberg conference in May, 1973 in Saltsjoebaden, Sweden. Kissinger was the point man in engineering the Arab-Israeli conflict that created the excuse for the oil price hike that helped to rescue Britain's North Sea oil projects that had previously been seen as risky investments. The most catastrophic effect, however, was that the rise in energy prices put a quick halt to Third World industrialization, forcing many countries to borrow a great deal of money over the years to pay for energy, thus setting the stage for the long-term indebtedness of the Third World to Anglo-American banks (6). After the war the Establishment awarded Kissinger the Nobel Peace Prize and later he received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth, for his lifelong devoted service to the Crown, in 1995.
The Arab regimes were suddenly greatly enriched as a result of the rise in oil prices, but the threat of the Islamic movements remained. King Faisal of Saudi Arabia feigned support for Islam, but was often forced to crack down on the religious leaders and organizations that seemed to constantly criticize the royal family's overt greed, luxury and corruption. Faisal was assassinated in 1975 by his nephew Prince Faisali bni Musad, in retaliation for Faisal's execution of Musad's Muslim Zealot brother who had attacked a TV station on the grounds that it was a violation of Islam. (7)
In Egypt Sadat's regime came under extreme pressure from the Islamic movements after he signed the Camp David Accords with Israel in 1978. This led to the assassination of Sadat, by members of Islamic Jihad, an offshoot group of the Muslim Brotherhood, on October 6, 1981.
In Syria, in 1982, there was a major conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Syrian government at the city of Hamma that resulted in 20,000 casualties. In the aftermath Syria's President Asad revealed that the Muslim Brotherhood forces were armed with US-made equipment. Aburish comments on how none of these events seemed to change the way in which militant Islam was used,
"Hamma, the assassination of Sadat and Faisal and less portentous acts didn't interrupt Western and Arab client regimes' support for Islamic movements, and Saudi Arabia and Egypt allowed pro-Islamic use of their state propaganda apparatus... And Israel, forever inclined to back divisive movements, surfaced as another supporter of Islam and began to fund the Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas." (
The most noteworthy success of the Islamic movement during this time was of course the overthrow of the Shah of Iran and the installation of the Ayatollah Khomeini as the Islamic dictator. British Intelligence had used their contacts with Iran's mullahs and ayatollahs to help overthrow Mossadegh and install the Shah back in 1953, and these contacts were maintained and used again to overthrow the Shah when his regime fell out of favor.
The Establishment history of Iran's Islamic Revolution is that Khomeini's revolt was spontaneous and populist, and that it overthrew a repressive dictatorship that was hated by the people but supported wholeheartedly by the United States. It is true that the Shah's government was not a democracy and that his secret service, trained by the CIA, was one of the most effective intelligence organizations in the world. But what is not reported is that prior to the British-sponsored massive public relations campaign on behalf of the Ayatollah the government of the Shah was loved by the vast majority of the population.
After taking over from Mossadegh the Shah began to push forward a number of nationalist policies that increased his popularity at home but, in some cases, worried the Anglo-American Establishment. First, he signed petroleum agreements with ENI, the Italian oil company. Then in 1963 he pushed forward on a series of popular reforms that became known as the White Revolution. The Shah evolved into a nationalist whose path paralleled that of Nasser far too much for the Establishment's liking:
- He bought land from the upper classes and, along with the crown's own land, sold it back cheaply to tenant farmers, allowing over one a half million people to become land owners and ending the old feudal system.
- He allowed women the right to vote, and brought an end to the wearing of the veil, which were "Westernizing" moves unwelcomed by the religious sector.
- He pushed forward on a $90 billion nuclear power program.
- He moved to shut down the lucrative opium industry that had been created during the days of British Empire control that had been running for a hundred years. (9)
In 1973 The Economist magazine featured Iran on the front cover with the caption: "Iran the Next Japan of the Middle East?" Iran's economy had grown at a rate of 7-8% each year from 1965-1973 and was becoming an example for the developing nations of the world to follow. As far as the Anglo-American Establishment was concerned this could not be allowed to continue. Establishment goals were focused on world de-population and de-industrialization as formulated by policy makers like Lord Bertrand Russell and as advocated by establishment lackeys such as Kissinger, Zibigniew Brzezinski and Robert McNamara (the head of the World Bank), as well as by the British elites who controlled the World Wildlife Fund and other environmental front groups. Iran had to be brought down. (10)
The attack on the Shah's government came through the Muslim Brotherhood and through the mullahs and ayatollahs of Iran, supported and manipulated by British Intelligence. Dr. John Coleman, a former British Intelligence agent and author of a number of books and monographs detailing the Establishment's plan for a socialist world government, states in his report on Iran's Islamic Revolution (11) that the Muslim Brotherhood was created by "the great names of British Middle East intelligence, T.E. Lawrence, E.G. Browne, Arnold Toynbee. St. John Philby and Bertrand Russell," and that their mission was to "keep the Middle East backward so that its natural resource, oil, could continue to be looted..."
Dr. Coleman writes that in 1980 the broadcasts of Radio Free Iran divided the enemies of the Shah into four categories: 1. Iranian politicians bought by the Israeli Shin Bet, 2. The CIA's network of agents, 3. The feudal landowners, 4. The Freemasons and the Muslim Brotherhood (viewed as the same enemy).
In his report Dr. Coleman writes that in Iran, "At one time there was even a joke about the mullahs being stamped 'made in Britain.'" When the Shah introduced his plan for modernization in 1963 the Ayatollah Khomeini emerged as the leader of the religious opposition. Up until his exile from Iran in 1964, Khomeini was based at the religious city of Qom. Dr. Coleman relates that Radio Free Iran claimed that while at Qom Khomeini received a "monthly stipend from the British, and he is in constant contact with his masters, the British."
Khomeini was kicked out of Iran and settled in Iraq. He lived there for a number of years until he was arrested by the Iraqi government and deported in 1978. French President D'Estang was then pressured to offer Khomeini refuge in France to continue his "Islamic studies." While in France he became a Western celebrity and the symbol of the anti-Shah Islamic revolution. Coleman writes, "Once Khomeini was installed at the Chateau Neauphle, he began to receive a constant stream of visitors, many of them from the BBC, the CIA and British intelligence."
At the same time Amnesty International was continuing its intense campaign against the Shah's government, accusing it of torture and other terrible human rights abuses. The international press picked up on this theme and carried it around the world.
The BBC then became the Ayatollah's main promoter. Dr. Coleman writes, "It was the BBC, which prepared and distributed to the mullahs in Iran all of the cassette tapes of Khomeini's speeches, which inflamed the peasants. Then the BBC began to beam accounts of torture by the Shah's SAVAK to all corners of the world... In September and October 1978 the BBC began to beam Khomeini's inflammatory ravings direct to Iran in Farsi. The Washington Post said, 'the BBC is Iran's public enemy number one.'"
The BBC Persian Service came to be nicknamed in Iran the "Ayatollah BBC" for its non-stop coverage of everything that Khomeini wanted to say (12). Soon a large segment of the Iranian public, most of them impressionable young students, became convinced that the Shah truly was evil and that a return to pure shi'ite Islam under the Ayatollah's leadership was the only way to save their country. The Carter Administration, manipulated by British lackey Zbigniew Brzezinski, then collaborated with the British to topple the Shah and install Khomeini.
Dr. Coleman relates that Carter appointed Trilateralist George Ball to head a commission on U.S. policy in the Persian Gulf. Ball's recommendation was that the U.S. should withdraw its support for the Shah's regime. Dr. Coleman quotes from the Shah's own memoirs to confirm the American stance, the reality that is contrary to the mass-marketed Establishment line that the U.S. supported the Shah to the end,
"I did not know it then, perhaps I did not want to know - but it is clear to me now, the Americans wanted me out. What was I to make of the sudden appointment of Ball to the White House as an advisor to Iran? I knew that Ball was no friend of Iran. I understood that Ball was working on a special report on Iran. But no one ever informed me what areas the report was to cover, let alone its conclusions. I read them months later when I was in exile, and my worst fears were confirmed. Ball was among those Americans who wanted to abandon me, and ultimately my country."
After the Shah stepped down in 1979 and fled the country his "firm ally," the United States, even refused to allow him asylum forcing him to move with his family to Egypt. During the subsequent takeover of the American embassy when supporters of the Ayatollah kept Americans hostage for 444 days it became crystal clear to the entire world that the anti-democratic, anti-Israel Islamic movement was also very anti-West. Nonetheless the Anglo-American Establishment continued to support and promote radical Islam.
In 1977 Bhutto of Pakistan, who we will cover shortly, was removed; in 1979 the Shah of Iran was removed; in 1981 Sadat was assassinated, and in 1982 the Muslim Brotherhood revolted in Syria. Before 1977 the Middle East was on the verge of achieving stability and industrial and economic parity with the West through nationalist policies and high oil prices, but by the early '80s the Middle East was in flames. Egypt was reeling and Mubarak was consolidating a shaky hold on power. Iran and Iraq, both armed by the West, were beginning their long war. Israel and Syria were invading Lebanon that was fighting a civil war, and Russia was invading Afghanistan whose rebels were being supported by Pakistan. The de-population and de-industrialization scheme advocated by the British and adopted by the Americans was off to a great start.