Reaction to my recent article, The Secrets Of The Golan has been gratifying. My explanation of the Anglo-American/French race to be the first to force Israel off the strategically vital Golan Heights, which ultimately led to the Rabin assassination, was widely accepted. I was gratified to see the piece translated into Hebrew within two days and then widely disseminated in Israel through major Internet sites, including that of the Golan residents themselves. However, many readers were left with one question that I did not answer: why is there such an international push to pressure Israel off the Heights and thus leave its northern flank exposed to a relatively easy attack?
The most important explanation, by far, follows. Let us begin with an event which occurred this week and is less distantly relevant than one might think. A few days ago, Regional Affairs Minister Shimon Peres was the driving force behind an agreement between Egypt and Israel to build a natural gas pipeline over the Sinai to supply a high percentage his country's future energy requirements. The chief financial benefactor was an engineering company with long-term ties to Peres called Merhav, and that is no coincidence since Peres has a strong attachment to pipelines.
In 1985 Iran blockaded the Persian Gulf and Iraq could not transport its oil exports by ship. At the same time, Syria blocked its overland route to the Mediterranean. Since 80% of Iraq's GNP came from its oil exports, the situation was dire, costing the Iraqis some $80 billion annually. To overcome the Iran/Syrian chokehold, Iraq sought to build a pipeline to the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba. The Bechtel Corporation in America was contracted to construct the multi-billion dollar project but would not take the risk unless the pipe would remain secure even in war. So Bechtel contacted Attorney-General Edwin Meese to bribe Prime Minister Shimon Peres. Eventually, Peres agreed to sign an agreement committing Israel never to attack the pipeline, even in a war between Jordan or Iraq. The price was a generous $70 million a year for ten years, to be deposited in the accounts of the Israeli Labor Party.
When word of this expensive insurance policy cum bribe was leaked in Washington, Meese was forced to resign as Attorney-General. But, as usual, in Israel, scandal escaped Peres. With this pipeline blocked, Iraq still found itself totally dependant on Syria and Iran to secure safe passage for its oil. But there was an alternative route, and a most practical and lucrative one at that. However, ultimately it could only be opened if Israel left the Golan Heights for good. Within six years, Iraq was launching SCUD missiles at Israel to this end. Still, the Iraqis are just a minor element in the Golan squeeze.
The major elements are the Bechtel Corporation and the French government. First Bechtel. This is a huge engineering corporation which long ago decided that its most profitable strategy was to combine earnings with global politics. In order to secure the most lush building contracts the world had to offer, it was deemed essential that the American government have free access to any part of the globe where leaders could be compromised and natural resources could be looted. Thus Bechtel has always been a vocal supporter of the rubric, "free trade," which in essence means American and European corporations are free to drive local companies out of business worldwide.
For the first half-century, Bechtel VP Cordell Hull was assigned the task to selling, first The League Of Nations and then the UN to the American people. Needless to say, his unfortunate legacy lives on. As does Bechtel influence over American foreign policy. The means to this end is a 3000 member think tank in Manhattan called The Council On Foreign Relations (CFR), which has sent the majority of Presidents and Secretaries Of State to Washington for the past two generations. Some recent examples: Caspar Weinberger was a VP at the Bechtel Power Corporation, while George Shultz served for a time as president of the company. When Bechtel is short of executives to directly run American policy, it recruits them with promises of wealth. For instance, when Henry Kissinger left public service for the private sector, Bechtel became one his first and most munificent clients.
Now we step back in time to the Cordell Hull era. In 1917, British forces overcame the Ottoman Turks and took over their empire. In 1923, the British divvied up the Middle East, giving its ally the French some leftovers. After surveying Syria and finding oil only in the northern Mosul region, Britain ceded the "worthless" Golan Heights to the French. Had they employed some geological foresight, the Brits would have been far more reluctant to give away such a valuable prize. We jump to 1942 and with the prompting of Hull and Bechtel, Roosevelt draws America into World War Two. It takes a lot of oil to win a war and for the past decade American and European surveyors had discovered that as much as half the world's reserves were buried under the sands surrounding the Persian Gulf, with the lion's share situated in Saudi Arabia. With the Nazis threatening the Suez Canal and, supertankers not thought of, getting this oil to the Allies in Europe was a risky business in the extreme. But Hull had a solution: build a Trans-Arabian pipeline from the Gulf to the Mediterranean and half the world's oil would flow cheaply and securely to Europe. And who better to build the pipe than his own company, Bechtel?
With unusual haste, even for wartime, ARAMCO hired Bechtel to build the pipe. There was one obstacle in the way of complete control over the flow of Gulf oil: the French. To get the oil to the Mediterranean, the ideal route was to the Golan Heights and then gravitationally to sea level. However, the French had legal hegemony over the Golan and ARAMCO and Bechtel had no choice but to cut them in on the profits. This agreement was upheld as part and parcel of the French departure from Syria in 1946, the very year when the pipeline was finished. Then came the Six Day War of 1967, which saw Israel liberate the Golan Heights and the Arab states shut off the tap to the pipeline until the day when no more Jews set foot on the land.
Initially, American policy took advantage of Israel's hold on the newly won Suez Canal and Golan Heights by profiting heavily in the supertanker business but the long-term policy was to get Israel out of both spots, no matter what her security concerns. Bechtel's CFR member, Weinberger manipulated Israel out of the Sinai for President Carter, while President Bush's Bechtel CFR member, George Shultz was charged with getting Israel out of the Golan.
In my previous article, I detailed how the Persian Gulf War was created with this in mind. In short, Syria joined the Bush fighting coalition in return for a promise that America would press Israel off the Golan, while Iraq softened the country up with missile attacks, proving territory means little in the age of SCUDS. With Israeli Prime Minister Shamir refusing to budge on Bush's postwar Golan withdrawal demands, Bush used all the powers of his government to oust him and replace him with a more compliant client, Yitzhak Rabin. Yet Rabin's rise to power was also a windfall for the French, whose long-term factotem Shimon Peres was now second in command as Foreign Minister. By September of 1992, Peres had promised the French that he would arrange Israel's descent from the Heights. This promise spurred a shuttle between Cairo and Damascus by French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas, much to the open disgust of Rabin. In my previous article I detailed the race between the French and Anglo-Americans to get Israel off the Golan Heights but I did not state that the primary reason was to get the Bechtel oil flowing from the Saudi, Gulf and Iraqi fields to the Mediterranean. This is not a minor diplomatic consideration: with Gulf oil flowing undeterred to the Mediterranean, those with their fingers on the nozzles would be in a position to undercut, thus control, the world's petroleum supply.
There are no Israeli heroes in the sad sellout of the Golan but it must be remarked that Rabin displayed great courage in holding out for a compromise that would have left Israeli troops in place on a strategic axis of the Heights. That cost him his life. With Peres willing to sell out every inch of Israel's northern security, the French decided to earn their percentage of the Trans-Arabian Pipeline profits by placing him in power. Unfortunately for them, a bungled assassination has been exposed and it is threatening, not merely their cut of the oil profits, but the political future of Peres and of the entire Labor Zionist movement. A cutthroat cover-up is taking place in Israel to save the plotters but it is relentlessly crumbling.
Did the French act alone to remove Rabin? So far, the trail to France is overwhelming. To name but two connections, the head of the Israeli secret services, Carmi Gillon was in Paris the night of the murder and the fatal rally where Rabin fell was organized and paid for by
Peres' French ally, the media tycoon Jean Friedman. But one must not forget that Bechtel and the Americans benefitted greatly by the sudden departure of the recalcitrant Rabin, and by the eventual
ascendancy of their client Ehud Barak. At a minimum, the evidence so far indicates that they did not stand in the way of the murder. Rabin refused to budge for Bechtel and he had to go. Now no Israeli political leader stands in the way of the secret sellout of the Golan Heights.