Murderous British imperialism – military operations in North Africa and the Middle East since 1945


By: Fight Racism

Murderous British imperialism - military operations in North Africa and the Middle East since 1945

When 112 cruise missiles were fired at Libya from US and British submarines on 19 March this year, we pointed out that this was the 46thseparate British military intervention in the Middle East and North Africa since the end of the Second World War. This region contains nearly two-thirds of the world’s proven oil reserves; control over these reserves and the distribution of oil is essential for the British ruling class and for the balance of power between the competing imperialist states.

The Middle East and North Africa currently supply 29 million barrels of oil a day or 39% of the world’s total. This is about five times as much as the world’s second biggest supplier Russia and 29 times as much as Latin America. China is now the second biggest energy user in the world. Within three years over two-thirds of China’s oil will be imported. Its main suppliers are currently Saudi Arabia, Angola and Iran. It will soon surpass the US as the main buyer of Saudi oil. Oil’s significance as a commodity will increase as countries like China, India and Brazil demand more fuel.

Domination of the Middle East is essential to the US and European imperialists’ attempts to constrain the emergence of potential rivals. US and British arms sales to loyal ruling classes have increased since the Arab Spring began in January 2011. Five current Arab heads of state trained at the British Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst; they are those of Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman. Colonel Gaddafi was also a Sandhurst graduate.

British military interventions since 1945

1. 1945-48 Palestine Reinforce the British occupation army until the end of the mandate.

2. 1946 Iran Counter Soviet influence and Kurdish and Azerbaijani republics.

3. 1947 Aden Suppression of civil disturbances.

4. 1948-49 Somalia Prevent reunification of the country and maintain protectorate.

5. 1948-51 Eritrea Suppression of the Shifta revolt.

6. 1951 Iran Aqaba Iranian oil nationalistion.

7. 1951-54 Suez Canal Zone.

8. 1954–83 Cyprus Suppression of EOKA and occupation.

9. 1954 Egypt Intervention on the Nile.

10. 1955 Buraimi Oasis Preventing incursion from Saudi Arabia and its allies.

11. 1955-60 Yemen border incidents.

12. 1956 Bahrain Suppression of riots.

13. 1956 Egypt Suez crisis and invasion.

14. 1957-59 Muscat and Oman Suppression of resistance struggle.

15. 1958 Iraq Military coup ousts King Faisal II.

16. 1958 Jordan Military assistance to regime following Iraq coup.

17. 1958 Kuwait Iraqi General Qasim claims Kuwait is part of Iraq.

18. 1958 Lebanon Attempt to bolster Pro-western Christian government.

19. 1961 Kuwait Prevention of Iraqi incursion.

20. 1962-70 Yemen Civil war Britain sided with Royalists. 200,000 Yemenis killed.

21. 1963-67 Aden Attempted suppression of socialist-led national liberation struggle.

22. 1964 Yemen Radfan campaign against socialist-led revolutionaries.

23. 1966 Das Island Abu Dhabi oil dispute.

24. 1967 Libya Guarding oil installations and preventing coup against King Idris.

25. 1970 Jordan ‘Black September’ Operation Shoveller to protect King Hussein against an uprising in support of the Palestinians under attack from Jordanian troops. This was a critical intervention shaping the Middle East henceforward.

26. 1971-76 Dhofar (Oman) Suppression of socialist-led revolt.

27. 1973 Egypt RAF moves UN troops after Yom Kippur war.

28. 1974 Malta Defence of British bases during anti-crown disturbances. Premier Dom Mintoff declares Malta a republic and negotiates end of bases by 1979.

29. 1974 Kuwait.

30. 1974 Cyprus Operation Ablant evacuation of British nationals after Turkey invades.

31. 1977 Somalia British Special Forces support their West German counterparts at Mogadishu airport after the Red Army Faction hijack a Boeing 737.

32. 1978 Lebanon Supporting UN force; transporting Fijian troops via Tel Aviv en route to Lebanon.

33. 1979 Iran Revolution Evacuation of westerners.

34. 1982 Egypt Part of UN force stationed in Sinai.

35. 1983 Lebanon stationed in Beirut.

36. 1983 Aden/Yemen Evacuation of British nationals.

37. 1986 Gibraltar Reinforcement of air defences after US bombed Libya.

38. 1986 Cyprus Reinforcement of Akrotiri base after US bombed Libya.

39. 1987-88 Dubai Persian Gulf minesweeping by Royal Navy and RAF.

40. 1991 Iraq Gulf War I.

41. 1991-2003 Iraq RAF bombing raids and enforcement of no-fly zones.

42. 1994 Yemen Evacuation of embassy.

43. 1994 Kuwait Operation Driver to reinforce British garrison and warn Iraqi regime against invasion.

44. 2003-11 Iraq War.

45. 2011 Libya to evacuate British nationals.

46. 2011 Libya Enforcing UN no-fly zone and removal of Libyan government

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