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Black Gold - a curse
by Satya Prakash
Issue 16
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People in most of the countries, around the world, would be heaving a frustrated sigh when they would see the meter at the fuel stations. The only exception would be those living in oil rich countries, getting a gallon of petrol for less than a dollar. That’s the magic of the ‘black gold’. But is it a boon to have vast reserves of oil, or, it is bane for the country?

Our history is replete with wars, conflicts and many geo-political manipulations, all for this oil. It most of the time does not affect only the oil rich countries but others as well. Just take a look at few of the conflicts I can think of.

The deadliest battle ever in human history, the Battle of Stalingrad, between Hitler’s army and Red army of Soviet was also related to oil. Among other reasons for attacking Stalingrad, one was to reach the 'Caucasus' region to seize Russia’s oil supply. Hitler considered the oil fields to be of strategic importance in realizing his dream of ruling over the whole world.

The operation Ajax was executed by CIA in 1953 in collusion with Britain, which toppled the government of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran. The Shah of Iran was reinstated in power and he continued his dictatorial rule for next two decades. The operation was executed because Prime Minister Mossadegh had nationlaised the British Petroleum (then known as Anglo-Iranian Oil company). This is was the earliest conflict of US with Iran and this also resulted in the infamous 444 days hostage crisis in the US embassy in Tehran. The legacy of that conflict is continued till today.

Iraq invaded Kuwait and it utlimately led to Gulf WarI. One of the reason given by Iraq to invade Kuwait was that Kuwait was doing slant drilling and pumping out Iraqi oil.

The conflict of Venezuela with US is again cause of oil.

The unrest in Nigeria is also due to Oil.

One of the newest in the series of the conflicts comes from Bolivia. The President of Bolivia Evo Morales nationalised the country’s gas reserves and sent troops to 53 private energy installations. The hardest to hit by this is the Brazilian oil company ‘PetroBras’. Things are calm and peaceful but no one knows what ramification this is going to have.

There are many more such examples and it makes me wonder what good is oil doing to this world. The black gold is fast turning to be a curse.

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