Study: Foreign Countries Intervene in Civil Wars 100 Times More Often when Afflicted Countries Have Oil

The Independent reports that a new study conducted in the Universities of Portsmouth, Warwick and Essex, and published in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, finds that “hydrocarbons play an even bigger role in conflicts” than “conspiracy theorists” ever imagined.

…foreign intervention in a civil war is 100 times more likely when the afflicted country has high oil reserves than if it has none.

…a third party is 100 times more likely to intervene when the country at war is a big producer and exporter of oil…

…suggesting hydrocarbons were a major reason for the [US/UK] military intervention in Libya … and the current US campaign against Isis in northern Iraq.

“After a rigorous and systematic analysis, we found that the role of economic incentives emerges as a key factor in intervention,” said co-author Dr Vincenzo Bove, of the University of Warwick. “Before the Isis forces approached the oil-rich Kurdish north of Iraq, Isis was barely mentioned in the news. But once Isis got near oil fields, the siege of Kobani in Syria became a headline and the US sent drones to strike Isis targets,” he added.

[The study] found that the decision to intervene was dominated by the third-party’s need for oil, far more than historical, geographic or ethnic ties.

The US maintains troops in Persian Gulf oil producers and has a history of supporting conservative autocratic states…

David Cameron was instrumental in setting up the coalition that intervened in Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya in 2011, a country with sizeable oil reserves.

It is also important to remember that often control over resources, rather than mere access, is more important to a regime seeking an illegal stranglehold over international affairs:

As The Guardian reports today:

The US is anxious to maintain the Saudi-driven oil price reductions that have buoyed the US economy but weakened strategic foes such as Russia…

CNN recently noted:

…the last time the price of oil fell like this, the Soviet Union collapsed…

And economics reporter Larry Elliot recently noted in The Guardian (“Stakes are High as US Plays the Oil Card Against Iran and Russia”:

…with the help of its Saudi ally, Washington is trying to drive down the oil price by flooding an already weak market with crude. As the Russians and the Iranians are heavily dependent on oil exports, the assumption is that they will become easier to deal with…

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, allegedly struck a deal with King Abdullah in September under which the Saudis would sell crude at below the prevailing market price.

The UN General Assembly reminds in an adopted resolution that:

…full observance of the principle of the non-intervention of States in the internal and external affairs of other States is essential to the fulfilment of the purposes and principles of the United Nations

…armed intervention is synonymous with aggression…

…direct intervention, subversion and all forms of indirect intervention … constitute a violation of the Charter of the United Nations…

[And there is an] imperative need to create appropriate conditions which would enable all States, and in particular the developing countries, to choose without duress or coercion their own political, economic and social institutions…

Update 1/28:

Whereas The Independent is apparently unaware of vast internal and external documents and statements expressing states’ desires to control/access foreign resources including oil, and thus labels those aware of such desires as “conspiracy theorists”, RT, in reporting on the same study, uses a more nuanced brush, stating:

Cutting-edge research from British universities has confirmed a belief long held by conspiracy theorists, realists and hawkish neoconservatives alike: oil drives foreign intervention and war.

And concluding:

Traditionally, war and foreign intervention are thought to be driven by a complex cocktail of factors. Such factors are widely accepted to be propelled by governments’ pursuits of strategic interests, which generally benefit elite members of their societies.

The desire to control valuable resources, the desire to dominate key geographic territories, the strengthening of a lucrative military industrial complex, the desire to intimidate enemy states and the extension of financial deregulation across the globe are often cited as key factors.

Robert Barsocchini is an internationally published researcher and writer who focuses on global force dynamics and writes professionally for the film industry.  He is a regular contributor to  Washington’s Blog.  Follow Robert and his UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.

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  • ClubToTheHead

    Why buy oil when you can steal it?

    Teach a nation to buy oil and you’ll have oil until your money runs out.

    Teach a nation to build great weapons to steal oil with, and you’ll have oil until the oil runs out.

    And who better to go to war against but a nation that is already doing the destruction on itself that you will have to do anyway when you steal their oil.

  • Carl_Herman

    Yes, we live in neo-imperialism, neo-colonialism, neo-looting.

    Our oligarchs are parasitical pirates. Until we reach critical mass to demand their arrests, and full truth from lying complicit corporate media, our .01% wanna-be “masters” will keep killing, looting, and lying.

    Well said, Robert; thank you.

  • the silenced masses

    This is really shocking stuff…