“Black Gold” and Global Armed Conflicts

  • By August 1942 the Germans soon faced a conundrum: mass their forces and turn south to capture the oil, or continue driving west to capture Stalingrad.
  • Japan lacked domestic oil production. Japanese leaders felt backed into a corner.
  • Oil will continue to dominate the world and future conflicts can be predicted based on the same desire for global dominance and control of this commodity-- just like in the last century.

The majority of all global conflicts are connected to oil. The map below provides the current oil resources available globally. The power of the Black Gold and greed has been overriding human lives for close to 100 years. The first large scale demand for petroleum was documented in the 1880s due to kerosene been derived from petroleum.

During World War II Hitler tried to defeat the Soviet Union. The campaign failed. Though Operation Fall Blau started well and got close to Stalingrad, by August 1942 the Germans soon faced a conundrum: mass their forces and turn south to capture the oil, or continue driving west to capture Stalingrad. They split and tried to achieve both. However, the Germans could not capture the oil centers of Grozny, Chechnya and Baku, in the Azerbaijan region. History tends to repeat itself and a second Chechen war took place in 1999-2009. It was an armed conflict on the territory of Chechnya and the border regions of the North Caucasus between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.

Crude oil resources, global data were declassified since 2013.

The Pacific War in August 1941 was partly driven by the US and European embargo on oil, spurred by Japan’s war in China, including the occupation of French Indochina. Japan lacked domestic oil production. Japanese leaders felt backed into a corner. The only options: back down in the face of the embargo and forego their imperial ambitions, or take advantage of Hitler’s conquest of Western Europe to seize the oil fields in the Dutch East Indies and British Southeast Asia. The destruction of Pearl Harbor did not turn out to be a benefit for Japan’s oil ambitions.

The Iran-Iraq War began in 1984 when Iraq attacked Iranian oil facilities and vessels. Iran fought back with a series of attacks against Iraqi ships and oil sites, including naval mines in the Persian Gulf. The Tanker War caused hostilities between the US and Iran. Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait was followed by the US military operation Desert Storm in 1991 to save Kuwait. A decade later the US entered Iraq in 2003 at the start of the Iraq War. However, the US didn’t take control of Iraq oil over all.

It is speculated that the current dire situation in Venezuela is based on the US and Russia backing opposite sides in order to take over control of Venezuelan oil. Russia already holds 50% control based on the debt Venezuela owes them for loans related to their oil production.

The “Arab Spring” brought the demise of Muammar Gaddafi and the fight for control of Libya’s oil. The overthrow of Gaddafi took place in 2011. Ever since, Libya has been plunged into civil war and conflicts, providing a slim chance of controlling the oil.

In 2011, war was brewing between Sudan (Muslims) and South Sudan (Christians) over revenues produced by oil.

The Syrian Civil War is partly fueled by the desire for oil control, especially in the eastern region. As of 2018, the majority of the oil production in the region is controlled by the US backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The success of the SDF is a direct consequence of cooperation with Washington. The US provides security via stationed Special Forces in the area.

Due to crude oil, Saudi Arabia tends to have strong influence globally, including being able to assassinate the Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 while suffering few consequences.

Oil will continue to dominate the world and future conflicts can be predicted based on the same desire for global dominance and control of this commodity– just like in the last century. Russia is the one to pay close attention to, as Putin continues trying to shift the geopolitical balance and Russia has not reached its peak oil production as of yet.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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