The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil
- The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil
by Michel Chossudovsky
July 26, 2006
Is there a relationship between the bombing of Lebanon and the
inauguration of the World's largest strategic pipeline, which will
channel more than a million barrels of oil a day to Western markets?
Virtually unnoticed, the inauguration of the Ceyhan-Tblisi-Baku (BTC)
oil pipeline, which links the Caspian sea to the Eastern
Mediterranean, took place on the 13th of July, at the very outset of
the Israeli sponsored bombings of Lebanon.
One day before the Israeli air strikes, the main partners and
shareholders of the BTC pipeline project, including several heads of
State and oil company executives were in attendance at the port of
Ceyhan. They were then rushed off for an inauguration reception in
Istanbul, hosted by Turkey's President Ahmet Necdet Sezer in the plush
surroundings of the Çýraðan Palace.
Also in attendance was British Petroleum's (BP) CEO, Lord Browne
together with senior government officials from Britain, the US and
Israel. BP leads the BTC pipeline consortium. Other major Western
shareholders include Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, France's Total and
Italy's ENI. (see Annex)
Israel's Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Binyamin Ben-Eliezer
was present at the venue together with a delegation of top Israeli oil
The BTC pipeline totally bypasses the territory of the Russian
Federation. It transits through the former Soviet republics of
Azerbaijan and Georgia, both of which have become US "protectorates",
firmly integrated into a military alliance with the US and NATO.
Moreover, both Azerbaijan and Georgia have longstanding military
cooperation agreements with Israel.
Israel has a stake in the Azeri oil fields, from which it imports some
twenty percent of its oil. The opening of the pipeline will
substantially enhance Israeli oil imports from the Caspian sea basin.
But there is another dimension which directly relates to the war on
Lebanon. Whereas Russia has been weakened, Israel is slated to play a
major strategic role in "protecting" the Eastern Mediterranean
transport and pipeline corridors out of Ceyhan.
Militarization of the Eastern Mediterranean
The bombing of Lebanon is part of a carefully planned and coordinated
military road map. The extension of the war into Syria and Iran has
already been contemplated by US and Israeli military planners. This
broader military agenda is intimately related to strategic oil and oil
pipelines. It is supported by the Western oil giants which control the
pipeline corridors. In the context of the war on Lebanon, it seeks
Israeli territorial control over the East Mediterranean coastline.
In this context, the BTC pipeline dominated by British Petroleum, has
dramatically changed the geopolitics of the Eastern Mediterranean,
which is now linked , through an energy corridor, to the Caspian sea
"[The BTC pipeline] considerably changes the status of the region's
countries and cements a new pro-West alliance. Having taken the
pipeline to the Mediterranean, Washington has practically set up a new
bloc with Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Israel, " (Komerzant,
Moscow, 14 July 2006)
Israel is now part of the Anglo-American military axis, which serves
the interests of the Western oil giants in the Middle East and Central
While the official reports state that the BTC pipeline will "channel
oil to Western markets", what is rarely acknowledged is that part of
the oil from the Caspian sea would be directly channeled towards
Israel. In this regard, an underwater Israeli-Turkish pipeline project
has been envisaged which would link Ceyhan to the Israeli port of
Ashkelon and from there through Israel's main pipeline system, to the
The objective of Israel is not only to acquire Caspian sea oil for its
own consumption needs but also to play a key role in re-exporting
Caspian sea oil back to the Asian markets through the Red Sea port of
Eilat. The strategic implications of this re-routing of Caspian sea
oil are farreaching.
What is envisaged is to link the BTC pipeline to the Trans-Israel
Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline, also known as Israel's Tipline, from Ceyhan
to the Israeli port of Ashkelon. In April 2006, Israel and Turkey
announced plans for four underwater pipelines, which would bypass
Syrian and Lebanese territory.
"Turkey and Israel are negotiating the construction of a
multi-million-dollar energy and water project that will transport
water, electricity, natural gas and oil by pipelines to Israel, with
the oil to be sent onward from Israel to the Far East,
The new Turkish-Israeli proposal under discussion would see the
transfer of water, electricity, natural gas and oil to Israel via four
"Baku oil can be transported to Ashkelon via this new pipeline and to
India and the Far East.[via the Red sea]"
"Ceyhan and the Mediterranean port of Ashkelon are situated only 400
km apart. Oil can be transported to the city in tankers or via
specially constructed under-water pipeline. From Ashkelon the oil can
be pumped through already existing pipeline to the port of Eilat at
the Red Sea; and from there it can be transported to India and other
Asian countries in tankers. (REGNUM )
Water for Israel
Also involved in this project is a pipeline to bring water to Israel,
pumping water from upstream resources of the Tigris and Euphrates
river system in Anatolia. This has been a long-run strategic objective
of Israel to the detriment of Syria and Iraq. Israel's agenda with
regard to water is supported by the military cooperation agreement
between Tel Aviv and Ankara.
The Strategic Re-routing of Central Asian Oil
Diverting Central Asian oil and gas to the Eastern Mediterranean
(under Israeli military protection), for re-export back to Asia,
serves to undermine the inter-Asian energy market, which is based on
the development of direct pipeline corridors linking Central Asia and
Russia to South Asia, China and the Far East.
Ultimately, this design is intended to weaken Russia's role in Central
Asia and cut off China from Central Asian oil resources. It is also
intended to isolate Iran.
Meanwhile, Israel has emerged as a new powerful player in the global
Russia's Military Presence in the Middle East
Meanwhile, Moscow has responded to the US-Israeli-Turkish design to
militarize the East Mediterranean coastline with plans to establish a
Russian naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus:
"Defense Ministry sources point out that a naval base in Tartus will
enable Russia to solidify its positions in the Middle East and ensure
security of Syria. Moscow intends to deploy an air defense system
around the base - to provide air cover for the base itself and a
substantial part of Syrian territory. (S-300PMU-2 Favorit systems will
not be turned over to the Syrians. They will be manned and serviced by
(Kommerzant, 2 June 2006,
Tartus is strategically located within 30 km. of the Lebanese border.
Moreover, Moscow and Damascus have reached an agreement on the
modernization of Syria's air defenses as well as a program in support
to its ground forces, the modernization of its MIG-29 fighters as well
as its submarines. (Kommerzant, 2 June 2006). In the context of an
escalating conflict, these developments have farreaching implications.
War and Oil Pipelines
Prior to the bombing of Lebanon, Israel and Turkey had announced the
underwater pipeline routes, which bypassed Syria and Lebanon. These
underwater pipeline routes do not overtly encroach on the territorial
sovereignty of Lebanon and Syria.
On the other hand, the development of alternative land based corridors
(for oil and water) through Lebanon and Syria would require
Israeli-Turkish territorial control over the Eastern Mediterranean
coastline through Lebanon and Syria.
The implementation of a land-based corridor, as opposed to the
underwater pipeline project, would require the militarisation of the
East Mediterranean coastline, extending from the port of Ceyhan across
Syria and Lebanon to the Lebanese-Israeli border.
Is this not one of the hidden objectives of the war on Lebanon? Open
up a space which enables Israel to control a vast territory extending
from the Lebanese border through Syria to Turkey.
"The Long War"
Israeli Prime minister Ehud Olmert has stated that the Israeli
offensive against Lebanon would "last a very long time". Meanwhile,
the US has speeded up weapons shipments to Israel.
There are strategic objectives underlying the "Long War" which are
tied to oil and oil pipelines.
The air campaign against Lebanon is inextricably related to US-Israeli
strategic objectives in the broader Middle East including Syria and
Iran. In recent developments, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice
stated that the main purpose of her mission to the Middle East was not
to push for a ceasefire in Lebanon, but rather to isolate Syria and
Iran. (Daily Telegraph, 22 July 2006)
At this particular juncture, the replenishing of Israeli stockpiles of
US produced WMDs points to an escalation of the war both within and
beyond the borders of Lebanon.
Michel Chossudovsky is the author of the international best seller
"The Globalization of Poverty " published in eleven languages. He is
Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the
Center for Research on Globalization, at www.globalresearch.ca . He
is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His most
recent book is entitled: America's "War on Terrorism", Global
Research, 2005. To order Chossudovsky's book America's "War on
Terrorism", click here.
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