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SchNEWS - Axis Of Oil - Why the west sits back while Lebanon is battered

SchNEWS | 11.08.2006 16:40

As SchNEWS goes to print it seems as if attempts in the UN to obtain a ceasefire between Hizbollah and Israel have failed. As Israel pours more troops across Lebanon’s borders, the war’s escalation threatens a cataclysm. Is Lebanon destined to play the overture to a far wider middle-eastern war? It is this fear coupled with solidarity with the Lebanese people which has sparked a resurgence in the UK anti-war movement.

Israel - Lebanon - Resolution Negotiation
Israel - Lebanon - Resolution Negotiation

The public can see that Blair is allowing this war to be prolonged. The prospects of a ceasefire are blocked by the governments of Israel, the US and of course dear old Blighty. The security council resolution confronts Hizbollah with totally unrealistic demands to disarm (i.e. surrender) while Israel merely halts its ‘offensive’ operations. With this formula Israel can remain in control of the territory it has seized and effectively have a veto over Lebanese internal politics. It’s easy to see why Israel would be so keen - but why’s Blair sticking with the Zionists on this one? It’s possible to get a few cheap laughs out of the whole ‘Blair is Bush’s poodle’ thing but that masks the true nature of the game. In fact, the US, UK and Israel stand shoulder to shoulder (to shoulder). This war is as much a part of the ‘War on Terror’ as the attacks on Iraq. It is being fought for the same profiteering ends by the same few politicians.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Yankee bombs are making their way to the suburbs of Beirut via UK airports and that the British taxpayer is subsidising arms exports to the region’s number one aggressor nation. Blair wasn’t failing to demand a ceasefire because he’s on the neo-cons leash but because he and UK plc are deeply committed to their agenda. The attacks on Lebanon are just part of a much wider plan. The Israeli government has confirmed that it is in for a “long war”. Patterns of weapons stockpiling by Israel support this. To meet shortfalls in current stocks of WMD, Israel’s IDF is to take delivery of an emergency shipment of precision guided bombs, including US-made GBU-28 bunker-buster bombs produced by Raytheon.

As ever, to find out what’s really going on you’ve got to follow the money. On July 13th just one day before the aerial bombardment began, the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline was officially opened (despite a determined resistance campaign causing delays and overspend - see SchNEWS 433 and This inauguration was attended by ministers from 16 countries and marked the success of a project designed to bypass Russia’s stranglehold on central Asian energy. This pipeline will pump oil from the Caspian Sea to the eastern Mediterranean and has already transported over two million tonnes of oil. It is a vital part of the West’s energy strategy. UK-based BP (wittering on about sustainable development Beyond Petroleum) have a 30.1% stake in this monstrosity. Meanwhile Israel is lobbying for an extension of the pipeline to its port of Ashkelon and Blair was recently spotted hob-nobbing with Arnold Schwarzenegger and BP chief Lord Browne of Madingley in California.

The trouble with this project is that starting in Baku (Azerbaijan) and ending up in Turkey (Ceyhan is only a short distance from the Lebanese border) the BTC pipeline ain’t exactly in the most pro-western part of the world. The war in Lebanon, together with that in Iraq, is an attempt to reshape the region around the West’s interests. Israel’s offensive could be intended to provoke a reaction from Syria, and be used to engineer a collapse of its regime. This would have the effect of removing a threat to the energy supplies whilst delivering a message to Iran. This is why Blair is content to watch mass murder of civilians while pushing fairy-tale ideas like NATO stepping into Israel’s para-boots in Southern Lebanon. The idea that NATO represents a ‘neutral’ force must surely have had any surviving al-Qaeda fighters laughing into their beards. In early 2005, NATO held joint military exercises with Israel.


This crisis in the Middle East has spawned a second wave of anti-war protests and it looks as if this time round there’s gonna be more emphasis on direct action rather than polite lobbying. Last Saturday’s march in London, attended by 100,000 gave a sense of the scale of opposition. A die-in was staged outside Downing Street, sparking scuffles with cops, and a valiant attempt was made to push through barriers to the US embassy. Unfortunately the dead hand of Socialist Worker Party stewards served to create boundaries between the passive and active parts of the crowd. Big marches in London have their point, but most have realised that politely asking this government to abstain from war crimes is an exercise in futility. Crucially, others are working towards more direct intervention in the war machine.

On August 9th, nine Northern Irish activists stormed the software development centre of US arms giant Raytheon in Derry. The plant was occupied for eight hours, ransacked and computers hurled onto the streets. They compared their action to the decommissioning of IRA arms. Eventually all nine were nicked and have been remanded for a month. They have been charged with offences that mean that they will face a juryless ‘Diplock’ court, presumably to avoid any inconvenient acquittals (More at

On the same day, around 20 Israeli anarchists blockaded the entrance to Ramat David air force base in the north of the country where fighter planes have been taking off to bombing missions in Lebanon.
In mainland UK peaceniks have been busy. Brighton activists continue their targeting of EDO MBM, the UK subsidiary of EDO Corp who manufacture vital components, guidance systems and release mechanisms for Raytheon (For more see

We may have been turned into a supply base for the illegal war on Lebanon without being consulted, but not all the citizens of Airstrip One are happy to give the green light to weapons transport. For three nights running at Prestwick airport near Glasgow (5th-8th Aug), Trident Ploughshares activists organized citizens’ inspections at the airport. Nightly, people have gained access to the supposedly civilian airport and found that it is being used as a US military staging post. Altogether 16 citizens’ weapons inspectors have been arrested. A peace camp has been established and needs support. (More info on 08454 588 361 or

Having been publicly embarrassed with the exposure of Prestwick airport’s role, the UK establishment is simply re-routing the flights through RAF bases. Mildenhall and Brize Norton have already been the focus of protests and campaigners are setting up peace camps at both sites.

Check out for the rest of this weeks stories including updates on Iceland, GM crops, cycle protests and more.

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  1. stewards, what stewards? — Farah