Reaping the Whirlwind

John Keays very fine book “Sowing the Wind” ends with a chapter called, quite naturally, “Reaping the Whirlwind” in which he identifies the events of 9/11 as an inevitable consequence of The West’s misguided and mismanaged foreign policies in The Middle East. While I agree with that as a first analysis you need to look at the motives behind The Wests’ policies to understand the madness.

It’s all about oil— Black Gold— big easy money that is the root of all evil. If there had been no oil the only foreigners living in the Middle East would be a few archaeologists and biblical scholars being driven mad by the heat, dust and flies—and thieving Bedouins.

Before WWI Winston Churchill said “Oil is the ultimate prize equated with world mastery” and it was the struggle for that world mastery that has caused the problems —and conflicts. After WWI Britain and France carved up the old Ottoman Empire: the French took Syria and Lebanon—and the dominant British artificially created Jordan, Iraq and Kuwait by drawing lines on maps of the empty deserts—and created the Persian oil industry.

The Arabian Gulf was just a neglected backwater described in common parlance as “The arsehole of The Empire with Abadan all the way up.”

Payback for Britain’s neglect came when the USA found their way in through the fabulous oil wealth of Saudi Arabia, and then fought two clandestine wars against Britain trying to take over the British Protectorates of the Trucial States (now the UAE) and Muscat & Oman. Having failed to take over the Arabian Peninsula they turned their attention to Persia (Iran) and the CIA overthrew the democratically elected government of Mosedeq and installed the despicable, corrupt and despotic SHAH.

(And Russia invaded Afghanistan trying to get ice bound Mother Russia into Iran and the oil wealth and warm waters of THE GULF)

I first visited and worked in THE GULF in the 60s when oil was below US$5/barrel and it was a system of feudal Emirates on the Arabian side—and a disparate tribal society struggling to establish social democracy on the Persian side.   

And then in the 70s The Gulf States seized control of their oil assets and created OPEC (The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) and raised the price of oil to US25/barrel.  And in spite of Kenneth Galbraith and other eminent economists’ predictions it did not ruin The West—it produced an economic boom. 

All those zillions of petrodollars were recycled in the 70s and 80s in rapid modernization and construction projects that made Riyadh, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Bahrain glittering temples of Western consumerism and varying levels of Western hedonism in the middle of what are still essentially feudal and tribal societies—and created the tensions with traditional Islam that led to terrorism.

It was Western greed and lust for world domination that created this situation. Big easy money always corrupts.

In my book THE GULF: “Reaping the Whirlwind” I illuminate the consequences of that greed and arrogance by telling the very human stories of expatriates— damaged souls—flotsam and jetsam of western societies who washed up in The Gulf for whatever reason. Veterans traumatized by fighting politicians’ wars, failed marriages, drug crazed teenage children, bankruptcy, downsizing and redundancy etc.

Hopefully it will give you some insights into the fascinating, complex and frightening world that threatens Western security: the biblical location of The Garden of Eden—and Armageddon.

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Weaving Magic Carpets

Before the West’s greed for cheap oil and its consequences – the carve up of Assyria by the French and British after WW I, the Balfour Declaration and the problems of Palestine, the Gulf Wars and the events of 9/11 – we had a much more romantic view of the Middle East. It was the land of Scheherazade’s “Tales of a 1,001 Nights” where every night a wife used her feminine imagination to take her husband on a magic carpet ride to prevent her execution (so the brutality has always existed).

These tales, produced during the Islamic Golden Age, are actually a collection of folk tales from Persia and South Asia, probably based on the Persian Pahlavi “Hazar Afsan” (A Thousand Tales). And the tribal women of Southern Persia still weave their magic in the form of hand woven carpets and saddle bags that are now recognised as works of art.

When I worked in Iran (Persia) my Iranian friends wanted me to buy carpets. But they insisted on sophisticated and elaborate silk Qum, Kashan and Tabriz carpets. I preferred the tribal rugs of the Qashq’ai whose vegetable died natural wools, and geometric designs glowed from the walls of the carpet stalls in the Bazaars.

The nomadic tribes of Southern Iran persist in leading their harsh traditional lives in spite of the efforts of The Shahs (and the Ayatollahs) to settle them in villages and carve up their rich grazing lands into farms for themselves and their cronies. Every Spring the tribes and their flocks trek from the winter grazing in the lowlands over the snow and ice-capped Zagros mountains to the rich summer grazing in the high valleys, and back down again in the Autumn – hopefully before the blizzards. Many suffer frostbite and some die, slipping away on the ice.

Beg, borrow or steal – or even rent or buy on DVD – Anthony Howarth’s amazing documentary PEOPLE OF THE WIND to see the incredible hardships these people endure to follow literally in the footsteps of their forefathers. And read the story TRIBAL WEAVING in my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”  to see how tribal women, as a defence against the coarseness and constant upheaval of their lives, use their inherent feminine artistry to weave their magic carpets to traditional designs that keep alive their cultural heritage and their tribal myths.

Their lives may be hard and short, but they are lived with an intensity and passion that is missing in The West. TRIBAL WEAVING is a story of love.

You can preview and download – or buy in paperback – my book by following my URL: