| Osama bin Laden's
To be sure, Osama bin Laden had an axe to grind with the United States; but, his attacks leading up to September 11 were more than hurtful to the U.S. 9-11 was a strategic Gambit designed to pull U.S. forces out of Saudi Arabia.
In chess, a gambit is an opening maneuver intended to gain an advantage. A gambit is not an end in itself. OSAMA'S IDEA WAS FOR THE U.S. TO INVADE AFGHANISTAN (and Iraq as well, if he was really lucky). Osama would make sure that he would be nowhere around when the U.S. came to Afghanistan. His plan for Afghanistan was to tie up U.S. military forces there; and, to pull the U.S. military out of Saudi Arabia. This he did.
Osama's move on Saudi Arabia requires that he remove as many U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia as possible; and, to lock up those troops fighting his al-Qa'ida warriors in other middle east conflicts, such as Iraq. As for the British and the other coalition forces, Osama would do the same for their military; and, he would keep the coalition focus at home by bringing "the bomb squads" to Spain and Britain itself. Italy narrowly escaped a home bombing by pulling its troops out of Iraq.
For the time being, Osama had little interest in Saddam Hussein. Osama realized that Saddam could be a problem if Saddam decided to sweep down on Saudi Arabia after Osama took over the kingdom; but, if the U.S. went to Afghanistan in force, Saddam still had to worry about the U.S. military stationed in Kuwait and in the Emirates. The southern Iraq buffer zone would still give Osama time enough to prepare a defense after his "Arab revolt."
No, the best course of events that Osama could hope for was for the U.S. and Britain to launch a preemtive attack on Iraq; and, to defeat the Iraqi military, just as occured in the Spring of 2003. Osama made an accurate study of both Bush presidents; and, he was confident that the younger Bush would jump at the chance to invade Iraq after 9-11. With Dick Cheney as vice president, it was almost a sure bet that the Whitehouse would "go for the oil." The defeat of Iraq, and the Iraqi insurgency to follow, were just what Osama hoped for in his 9-11 gambit. The capture of Saddam Hussein was "just a blip" on the radar screen of Osama's chess game.
Osama didn't have much to do with the rumor that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Osama was a good enough poker player to suspect that Saddam was bluffing in the hopes that the U.S. would think twice before attacking Iraq. As it turned out, the rumor worked to the advantage of the media play employed by the whitehouse staff to rally the people behind the president's order to invade Iraq. As Osama had anticipated, the political dominos were falling according to plan--his plan. Soon, the time would be ripe for his move on Arabia.
Osama was not the only power player who realized that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would raise the price of crude. Osama's backers in Sudan, and the Saudi upper class secretly supporting him, knew that the wars would present a big windfall for those holding oil assets. These owners of "oil for sale" had only to let the international market place "work the bad news" to send the price of oil skyward.
The increased revenue from rising oil prices is actually financing the al-Qa'ida movement as well as Osama's funding for the revolt in Saudi Arabia. It is ironic that the U.S. hunger for oil is taking money from their pockets and putting it into the hands of the man who brought down the World Trade Towers. By "working the commodities' market" Osama was able to triple his fortune and his war chest for the coming revolution in Arabia.
A very small portion of Osama's oil related profits, and those of his backers and sympathizers, went to provide the stipends for the families of the suicide bombers. It is not widely known that many of these families grabbed at the chance to exchange one or more "dishonored" (or black sheep) members of their family for the offered $25,000 bounty.
The $25,000 bounty was a win-win situation for the parents of large families who were otherwise burdened with the support of unemployed, or mentally challenged sons as well as those daughters who were "not deserving" of good muslim husbands because of their "dishonored behavior" during adolescence.
These ne'er-do-well (or dishonored) sons and daughters are an ongoing source of embarrassment to any fundamentalist islamic family; and, sending them off to become martyrs was similar to the tactic of Irish catholic families sending surplus problem children off to the convent or to the seminary. For the average devout muslim family, large in size, getting these children out of the house, so to speak, was a blessing in itself; getting $25,000 a head for their leaving greatly improved the family lifestyle.
Who has the oil?
Better yet, the question to ask is "who are the people gaining from the rise in oil prices?" All those concerned have a vested interest in keeping the fires of war burning hot. But, it is enough to list the countries and regions where oil has been discovered.
By listing these countries and geographical regions, ASEC is able to forecast where problems are likely to arise in the near future. When those areas involve maritime location or transit, ASEC feels that hostilities are likely to arise. These hostilities will come from more than one direction.
Firstly, hostilities will arise from contention for the oil resources where they exist. A prime example of this resides in the South China Sea in the area around the Spratly islands.
Both Taiwan and the mainland China say that the islands were discovered by Chinese navigators, used by Chinese fishermen for centuries, and under the administration of China since the 15th century. Further, the Kuomintang sent a naval expedition to the islands and took formal possession in 1946. It left a garrison on the largest island of Itu Aba.
The offshore oil deposits in the South China sea are thought to exceed all of those in the middle east. Is it any wonder that all the nations surrounding the South China sea lay claim to those resources? It is in this part of the world that ASEC believes we will see protracted hostilities in the time period 2010 - 2020.
The Philippines made their first claim in the area which they refer to as the Kalayaan islands in 1975 ; and, they have been developing oil in the region between the Spratlys and the island of Palawan since 1976. The Philippines real history in the region began in May 1956 when a private Philippine expedition surveyed and occupied some of the islands. The Philippines were a trusteeship of the Allied powers at the time and the guarantee of Allied protection kept the Philippines from garrisoning troops on its islands. However, as that guarantee weakened the Philippines decided to beef up its defense. In 1976, it set up a garrison on Palawan and in 1978 it established more soldiers on seven of the islands. There are currently about 1,000 Marines stationed on the islands. In 1979, the Philippines stated that it only wanted control of the seven islands under its control and administration and not the rest of the archipelago.
Malaysia has been involved in the dispute since 1979. It currently has control over three of the islands but claims the whole chain. Malaysia's case is based on the fact that the islands are part of its continental shelf. This gives it right to the islands under the Law of the Sea Convention. Brunei's claims to the island also rest on the Law of the Sea. It states that the southern part of the Spratly chain is actually a part of its continental shelf and therefore its territory and resources.
China and Vietnam are the main protagonists in the dispute. Vietnam claims to the islands--which they call the Truong Sa islands--are part of the empire of Annam, Vietnam's ancestor, in the l9th century. In 1815, an expedition sent by king Gia Long to chart sea lanes occupied and settled the islands. The French, who were Vietnam's colonial rulers, annexed the Spratlys in 1933, so Vietnam says the islands are theirs as the inheritors of the French possessions. In September 1973, Vietnam declared that the Spratlys were part of the Phuoc Tuy province. It has since stated that the Philippines are occupying part of its territory. Vietnam currently holds three islands.
China's claims to the island are based on the same history as Taiwan's claim. The PRC government maintains that it is the legitimate Chinese government and that, therefore, the islands--which they call the Nansha islands--are their territory. They have been the most belligerent in pursuing their claim. The dispute between China and Vietnam picked up in 1988. Chinese naval vessels sailed into the Spratlys in January 1988 and Chinese marines started building defenses on one of the largest islands, the first time China has settled soldiers on the islands.
In March, fighting broke out between Vietnam and China and China sunk two Vietnamese ships. While they have moved to more political means of dealing with the dispute, tensions remain high in the area. Confrontation surfaced again when China contracted with a US firm to begin testing for oil sights, even though the territorial issue remains far from solved.
Occasional harassment of fishermen by all sides continues as well. Each of the six countries maintain its claim to all the islands. The protagonists have been discussing the possibility of shelving the sovereignty issue to undertake joint development of its resources and have sent a joint scientific team to run tests on resource potential.
The dispute has not been taken to any official forum as of this date. Indonesia tried to start talks among the disputants. Jakarta believed that as a non-involved Asian country, it could be an impartial mediator. No decisions on sovereignty were reached at the meetings but the disputants did agree to send a scientific team to the islands to assess their resource potential and the environmental condition.
"What each must seek in his life
never was on land or sea. It is something out of his own unique potentiality
for experience, something that never has been and never could have been
experienced by anyone else."