Currently monitoring the situation from outside Bahrain and following the brutality and injustice of the Khalifa regime I have been continually perplexed as to why Bahrain’s main western ally, the U.S., has been so quiet about what has taken place there over the past 20 months.
I am no expert on international diplomacy but I would have expected the U.S. to have done more about the deteriorating situation in Bahrain than merely issue a few “deeply concerned” messages in the international media. I fully expected the U.S. to be deeply embarrassed by the actions of their good friends the Khalifa regime (the use of teargas as a toxic weapon, the uninvestigated shotgun murders of unarmed protesters, the jailing and torture of human rights defenders and other innocent civillians, the refusal to allow observers into the country, etc, etc) and that there would have been words spoken by some U.S. officials (the ambassador in Bahrain, the Secretary of State or even the President himself) reminding the Khalifas of their relationship and their position and that their behaviour would reflect badly on their powerful allies. Because of this I truly expected the brutality and the injustice in Bahrain, where an incredible 70% of the population are oppressed by the leaders and their faithful supporters, to at least be curtailed or to have hopefully ended. Instead, the terror campaign, especially by the Khalifas own personal militia, the Security Force Command, has intensified with an unimaginable amount of teargas being fired in villages each night and even at mourners at funerals who bury their dead, killed by the same mercinaries.
So for well over a year, since I was advised to leave the country, I have never been able to work out why the Khalifas have been able to do whatever they liked to ensure that the democracy-seeking protesters are silenced and oppressed without their main western friend and ally even uttering a single word of condemnation. That is, until now.
You see, I have only recently discovered the awful truth behind something called petrodollars. I had heard the term many times before and thought I knew what it meant. I thought that it simply referred to the income a country earned from selling oil. Wrong. It is, in fact, much more than that and it explains exactly why the U.S. has remained virtually silent about what is happening in Bahrain and why the Khalifa regime is being allowed and encouraged to oppress the Bahraini citizens.
The creation of petrodollars goes back to the early 1970’s when the U.S. was in a state of economic crisis and were forced to come up with a plan to ensure that they would, in effect, not become bankrupt. The plan they devised, through Henry Kissinger, was both audacious and brilliant. In fact, it was a piece of sheer genius. The number one commodity in the world at that time (and still today) was oil. Kissinger travelled to the largest oil producer, Saudi Arabia, and made them an offer. With the promise of making the regime there rich beyond their wildest dreams all they had to do was only accept payment for their oil sales in U.S. dollars. In return the U.S. would supply them with aid and arms and promise to never allow their enemy, Israel, to attack them. The offer seemed too good to be true, especially if we note that the cost of extracting oil then was less than $5 per barrel. The Saudis readily agreed and soon the U.S. had signed up most of the rest of the Middle East oil producing countries to only sell their oil in U.S. dollars, too. There was one other little catch: the countries had to agree to invest a percentage of their sales in U.S. bonds, thereby keeping their money in U.S. banks and helping to pay off the enormous U.S. debt.
This ingenius plan probably sounds quite simple and possibly even irrelevant to the situation in Bahrain today but let’s look at an example that I heard about only recently to explain it. Japan, for example, has no oil reserves of its own and so it must buy all of its oil from other countries. Since only U.S. dollars are accepted as payment (as per the agreement), Japan must somehow get its hands on a rather large amount of greenbacks. They could exchange their yen on the international market for U.S. dollars but for such a large amount they would lose too much value through fees and charges. Instead, they manufacture products, such as Hondas and Toyotas and Sony PlayStations and sell them to the U.S. where they are paid in U.S. dollars. Then they can go off and buy their oil. Not only does the U.S. economy benefit from the buying and selling of Japan’s goods, a large percentage of the U.S. dollars that go to Japan return to the U.S. banks from the oil-producing countries! This same procedure occurs for any other country that buys their oil from any of the petrodollar oil-producing countries – Australia, New Zealand, India, whoever. They must have U.S. dollars first in order to pay for it. I told you the plan was ingenius.
One of the countries, you should not be surprised to learn, who agreed to sell their oil in U.S. dollars in exchange for arms and protection from Israel was… Bahrain. Admittedly Bahrain only produces a thimble-full of oil compared to its big sister, Saudi Arabia, but it is a member of OPEC and all the OPEC countries agreed to sign the petrodollar contract with the U.S. So what’s the big deal? How can a tiny country and tiny oil-producer like Bahrain have a hold over the mighty United States of America to the point where the U.S. are afraid of publicly condemning any of their outrageous and cruel acts?
Apart from allowing the U.S. to keep their 5th Fleet of the navy at its island base, if Bahrain (or any one of the oil-producing countries who signed the petrodollar agreement) suddenly decided that they were tired of investing their profits back into the U.S. and wanted to keep the money for themselves or even felt that they could now protect themselves against Israel without the help of the U.S. then the U.S. would be in deep trouble. The U.S. are in trillions of dollars of debt as it continues to spend more than it earns (mainly to support its massive military presence around the world) and relies on their petrodollar friends to help minimise (if that’s the correct word) the size of their debt. The U.S. are really forced to keep these oil-producing countries happy, which explains the “strong links” that former president George Bush (not his son) forged with his good friends in Saudi Arabia.
So it seems that as long as the U.S. depends on the OPEC countries to help prop up their ailing economy, Bahrain will continue to be ignored and the Khalifa regime will carry on brutally oppressing with complete impunity.