Oil is one of the few things the Americans are willing to go to war for, as the late King Hussein of Jordan once remarked. The second thing is Israel’s security.

AN OIL field is seen in Kirkuk, Iraq, in October 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS)
AN OIL field is seen in Kirkuk, Iraq, in October 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Al-Araby al-Jadeed, London, February 8
There is simply no way to quench the American thirst for oil. Oil is one of the few things the Americans are willing to go to war for, as the late King Hussein of Jordan once remarked. The second thing is Israel’s security.
In the wake of the American wars, the curse of oil continues to haunt the countries that hold the world’s largest reserves. A Gulf diplomat told me that this oil curse made the sovereign decisions of oil-producing countries dependent on American will. It has also subjected many of these governments to the whims and demands of multinational corporations and wealthy individuals. It therefore remains unclear whether oil is a curse or a blessing.
We have seen the case of Iraq, one of the top five countries with the highest proven oil reserves. The oil curse has plagued Iraq ever since the discovery of its first oil field in the northern city of Kirkuk a century ago. Even when the Iraqi government managed to evade the dictates imposed upon it by private corporations, it remained beholden to American interests. And when it finally nationalized its oil industry, Washington felt threatened and decided to invade the country.
We can also witness Venezuela, which Christopher Columbus once described as “the paradise of the earth.” With oil fields equivalent to a quarter of the world’s proven reserves, Venezuela should have been one of the richest countries in the world.
America has pursued Caracas’s oil ever since the beginning of the century, as it wanted it to join a crescent that includes Canada and Mexico, which would help meet the need for oil, especially in light of instability in the Middle East. While successive US administrations have not publicly expressed their desire for total control of Venezuelan oil (Washington receives about a third of Venezuela’s oil production, accounting for 7% of its oil imports), the idea has remained on the table.
James Baker, the secretary of state under president George H.W. Bush, said at a meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations that the administration was considering lobbying to help political leaders in Mexico and other Latin American countries who favor opening up the energy sector to foreign investment. He was specifically referring to Venezuela. Thus, the goal of controlling Venezuelan oil is not a new idea in Washington.
Although Caracas continues to meet Washington’s demand for oil, successive US administrations have not been satisfied with less than complete control over Caracas’s oil extraction, production and marketing.
This has now become a declared policy of the Trump administration. It is for this reason that President Donald Trump has worked to topple President Nicolas Maduro’s regime. The purpose is to address the American thirst for oil, which, from the American point of view, necessitates that the rulers of the oil countries be completely subjected to Washington’s will. 
– Abdul Latif al-Saadoun 
Asharq al-Awsat, London, February 10
The Middle East Peace and Security conference, scheduled to be held in Warsaw this month and attended by representatives from 79 countries, is expected to produce no fewer than six different committees to “control Iran’s behavior in the Middle East.”
This may suggest that the Warsaw conference will be of a different nature from all previous, and unsuccessful, attempts to control the aggressive Iranian behavior in the region. The coming together of so many world leaders to discuss Iran may very well translate into an attempt to form an alliance against the Islamic Republic that is equivalent to the international coalition formed against ISIS.
It is no secret that despite all of the international momentum against Iran, with the exception of US sanctions on the Tehran regime by the administration of President Donald Trump, things have not succeeded in pushing for a real change in Iran’s behavior.
Therefore, the Warsaw meeting is a monumental event in that it is meant to draw a line between the Iranian regime’s continuation of its disruptive behavior and its suspension by decisive practical steps agreed upon by world leaders. Iran is not only fighting Saudi Arabia or the countries of the region, but the United States (not to mention its direct responsibility for the thousands of deaths in Yemen).
Sadly, the Iranian regime insists on operating according to fanatical ideological principles rather than in the best interest of its people. It is shocking to think that Iran, the oil-rich nation with vast natural resources, used to be more successful than Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. The latter are now members of the G20. The former, meanwhile, marked 40 years since the revolution that reduced the country to shambles. Over two million Iranians now live below the poverty line. Iranian oil is looking for buyers. The Iranian riyal has lost 75% of its value in a single year. All of these resources have been wasted on a futile nuclear program.
Therefore, the chief beneficiaries of the Warsaw conference will not be the Gulf states, but, rather, the Iranian people themselves. It is they, after all, who have been robbed of their basic rights and freedoms for over four decades, forced to live under a regime that systematically abuses and dominates its people. 
– Salman al-Dossary
Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, February 8
On February 1, 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned from France after 14 years in exile, becoming the first supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ten days after Khomeini’s arrival, the shah’s government collapsed. On April 1, Iran was officially declared a republic. But the hundreds of thousands who received Khomeini at the airport were not aware that he was planning to establish an authoritarian religious regime. At that time, they wanted to get rid of the shah, without knowing what Khomeini was carrying in his bag.
According to Shi’ite tradition, there are only 12 imams. Khomeini became the imam of the revolution and the imam of the Islamic Republic, and immediately eliminated anyone whom he knew from his past, even his closest confidants, chief of which was Sadegh Ghotbzadeh, Khomeini’s so-called “spiritual son,” who helped spread Khomeini’s sermons on audio cassettes.
Iranians, even those who dislike the regime he created, still venerate Khomeini because of his strong personality. Their veneration is similar to that of the Chinese Communists who remember Mao Zedong.
To mark the 40th anniversary of the revolution, Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, claimed that Hamas and Hezbollah are ready to open the gates of hell for the Jewish state. “Hundreds of kilometers of tunnels have been dug under Israeli feet. The resistance forces in Gaza and Lebanon have high-precision rockets and are ready to respond to any foolish Israeli behavior,” he recently said in a televised address.
Shamkhani did not mention Syria, where Iranian forces and bases are subjected to Israeli destructive strikes on a weekly basis. Nor did he mention the Hezbollah tunnels destroyed by Israel in a sudden attack.
What is ironic is that as the Iranians seek freedom, they observe the people of Venezuela risking their lives for freedom. One cannot help but be reminded of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who signed a secret strategic cooperation agreement with former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2010, aimed at building a joint Iranian-Venezuelan missile base in South America to target the United States – just as the Soviets were planning to do in Cuba during the early 1960s. Iran paid the initial costs for this program, estimated at tens of millions of dollars, in cash. According to Iranian officials, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps also established cover companies in Venezuela, meant to help Tehran get hold of enriched uranium. The leaders of Iran and Venezuela have long praised the strong strategic relationship between the two countries.
However, Iran, once again, played some bad cards. It hedged its bets on an oppressive regime that is now coming under fierce fire both domestically and internationally. I can’t help but wonder if this Iranian-Venezuelan love affair, which has spanned several decades, is coming to an end. More importantly, will the regime in Tehran soon end up like the one in Venezuela? Will the two regimes, which rely on each other deeply, find their ends together?
– Hada al-Husseini
Al-Qabas, Kuwait, February 7
Dear grandchildren,
I decided to write to you and ask what I have already asked my own grandchildren: When you visit your elderly relatives, please take the opportunity to speak with them and with one another. Don’t be preoccupied with your smartphones, which you cannot take your eyes off
 I know you love your devices. I know that no matter what I say, you will stay connected to them through your umbilical cords. I won’t even bother citing experts’ warnings about how phone usage can easily turn into an addiction.
I write to you because the written word is the one that will eventually prevail. After the departure of your elderly relatives from this world, it will be the letters and photographs that will remain with you.
I write to you because schools no longer teach proper Arabic. Instead, your generation has developed a hybrid language that combines Arabic and English. Many of you cannot even write a short essay.
I know what you will say. I want to assure you that I am not against modern means of communication and learning that relies on electronic devices. However, I am wary that your devices have become the only thing that sustains you. The relationships you have developed have become ones between devices, not between humans.
Yes, I am old, and I don’t belong to your generation. Yes, I might be outdated. I was born and raised during a different time. But my goals in life are just like yours: I wanted to grow old with a loving family by my side. I wanted to sit with my grandchildren, share stories and listen to theirs.
This is virtually impossible when children today are glued to their screens. We must never forget our humanity. Relationships are cultivated in person, not through texts. Please don’t forget that. 
– Fatna Shaker
For more stories visit www.themedialine.org