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Column Peter van der Heiden - Bloody Oil

Bloody Oil
by Peter van der Heiden

Last Monday her majesty’s prime minister Boris Johnson announced that he was convinced that Iran was behind the attack on the Saudi oil installation – so now we know for sure it’s true. Or do we? Do we believe the latest contestant in the tv-series ‘so you think you can Brexit’, who, according to the British Supreme Court, lied to the queen to shut down Parliament, or do we believe the foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who said he had proof that his country didn’t do it? And the proof he produced was beyond any doubt: I quote the Iranian minister of Foreign Affairs when he said: if we had done it, we would have totally destroyed the installations. I’m not completely sure whether this is the smartest denial of an attack possible, but hey, I’m not a foreign minister.

But meanwhile I get the feeling that, like before in the nineties and twothousands, we are getting rummaged into another conflict in the Middle east – a conflict that may very well escalate into a war. It will be sold to us as a war to liberate the Middle East from the medieval regime of the ayatollahs and to aid the Iranian people that is desperately looking for freedom, but of course it will bring nothing but misery to the region and to the world. Except for one country that is – Saudi Arabia, which hopes to get rid of its main competitor in every possible way.

Ask one hundred people in the streets who they like more, the Saudi’s or the Iranians, and ninety-nine will choose the Saudi’s – especially if they are, like I am, from a time that they remember the Iranian revolution and the hostage situation in Teheran. We tend not to really like Iran. Heck – the west, including the United States, even rooted for Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War, indeed that war in which Saddam Hussein used poisonous gas on the Iranian people. And indeed – that is the same Saddam Hussein that was attacked by the US when he invaded Kuwait, but, as I said, was supported by them when he started that war with Iran. And why? Because Iran has a theocratic regime that represses women and gays. Now I come to think of it, that’s not so different from Saudi Arabia and even from the United States if Trump and Pence get their way.

Even when you put a gun to my head I couldn’t choose between Iran or Saudi Arabia. I don’t like those freedom-robbing ayatollahs in Teheran – but I do not really like that journalist-killing-and-slicing-him-into-little-bits-and-make-him-disappear crown prince of Saudi Arabia and his regime either. I don’t like the Iranian revolutionary guard – but I’m not too fond of the Salafism spreading in our schools Saudi imams either. Combined with the fact that fifteen of the nineteen hijackers on 9/11 and don’t forget their leader, Bin Laden, were Saudi citizens (and none were Iranian), I really don’t understand that fondness for Saudi Arabia over Iran at all.

But of course it’s world politics – and has nothing to do with fondness or friendship. In the immortal worlds of Bill Clinton, it’s the economy, stupid! And the economy is fuelled with oil – and it’s a strange coincidence that all oil producing countries are run by despicable autocrats, like Putin, Maduro, Mohammad bin-Salman, the ayatollahs and, well, Donald Trump. It’s about time to follow in the steps of my great hero Arnold Schwarzenegger and convert my car into running on hydrogen. No more bloody oil for me.

This column by Peter van der Heiden was part of the Current Affairs Lecture Who is Behind the Saudi Oil Attacks by political scientist Bertjan Verbeek.