Late 1800s to FDR

Here is a little history about the United States and the Middle East, the United States before World War I had limited relations with the Middle East. After World War I relations started to build as the Americans were seen as good people  untainted by the selfishness and duplicity associated with the Europeans” (Fawcett, L. The International Relations of the Middle East UK.). American missionaries brought modern medicine, set up education institutions, and the US also provided highly skilled petroleum engineers. The Red Line agreement formally acknowledge US interest in the resources of the region and promised United States help to the emergence of a powerful rival in the region. The Anglo-American Petroleum Agreement between Britain and the US can be summed up with words by FDR himself he says, “Persian oil… is yours. We share the oil of Iraq and Kuwait. As for Saudi Arabia oil, its ours.”

Israel then Iran

The beginning of a long decline in Arab relations began with the U.S. involvement in the formation of the State of Israel. The next straw was the “secret” American aid provided for the military coup led by Husni al-Za’im. Although no aid was confirmed he did quickly do multiple things that have been very beneficial to America including the Trans-Arabian Pipeline that allows us to transport Saudi oil to the Mediterranean.  Next, the British asked for US help to remove the democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Mosaddegh who had the audacity to renegotiate the terms of the oil contract that they had with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now known as BP) who only gave the Iranian people 10-16% of the profits they made from the oil.  With heavy CIA involvement the US reinstated the Shah (an absolute monarch) and split the British monopoly in the region with Royal Dutch Shell, five US petroleum companies, and other international oil companies. The coup was carried out in a very interesting way and if you want to read some good spy work that involved Teddy Roosevelt’s grandson and laid the blueprint for using covert activities to shape a countries or even a regions destiny this is where you would start.  Long story short the move initially increased profits rapidly for all involved until the Shah began the process of shooting himself in the foot by slowly taking more and more profits for himself while simultaneously oppressing his people. This cumulated in the Iranian Revolution and since he was no longer friendly with the West we simply didn’t help him and he was overthrown by the government still in power today. This new government infamously took US hostages in the coup in retaliation for the previous US aided coup. No one likes a bully.

U.S. and Allied Military Bases Around Iran

Egypt and Lebanon

If all that wasn’t enough the United States who at the time in 1954 had a pretty healthy relationship with the Egyptian leader Nasser decided to erase that good will by meddling in Egyptian business and basically declaring that they could do whatever they wanted in the Middle East with the Eisenhower doctrine. Also the US retracted its promise to pay for an extremely important dam in Egypt so a few later with the US supporting its ally leaders in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq all of a sudden the pro-American Syrian leader lost power and Syria and Egypt formed an Untied Arab Republic. Following that Lebanon experienced a very strong anti-American and anti-government surge that saw the deposition of another pro-American leader. Nasser is strongly believed to be behind this as well as the Iraqi Revolution.


The nail in the coffin has to be the United States support of Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war. We supported Saddam Hussein, the man who forced the previous leader to step down, because he gave the US some contracts for oil and seemed to be a good ally of the US. He was even made an honorary citizen of Detroit in 1980. Obviously our disdain for Iran at this time also had a profound effect on our decision to support Saddam. Iraq who was on our list of State Sponsors of Terrorism was removed simply so we could give them the weapons and training they needed to defeat Iran.  We provided dumb bombs, military training in the US, 8 strains of Anthrax, billions of dollars, and other resources as needed(Charles Duelfer Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence on Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Sept 2004). The use of chemical weapons was condemned initially by the UN but simply ignored in reality. Saddam turned less amenable towards the US after the war invaded Kuwait and then being repelled by the US and even more recently was exterminated by the US because of his possession of “weapons of mass destruction” which were the same exact ones we gave to him previously.

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