L’Observatoire des religions
Avant de se lancer dans la "Guerre du Kippour" en 1973

Sadat avait convaincu le Roi Faisal d’utiliser l’arme du pétrole contre Israel

dimanche 19 octobre 2008 par Daniel Yergin

Yet by April of 1973 Sadat had begun formulating with Syria’s President Hafez al-Assad strategic plans for a joint Egyptian-Syrian attack. Sadat’s secret [...] was tightly kept. One of the few people outside the high commands of Egypt and Syria with whom he shared it was King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. And that meant oil would be central to the coming conflict.

Ever since the 1950s, members of the Arab world had been talking about using the hazily define “oil weapon” to achieve their various objectives regarding Israel, which ranged from its total annihilation to forcing it to give up territory. [...]

In the early 1970s, as the market tightened, various elements in the Arab world became more vocal in calling for use of the oil weapon to achieve their economic and political objectives. King Faisal was not among them. He hated Israel and Zionism as much as any Arab leader. [...] Yet Faisal had gone out of his way to reject use of the oil weapon. In the summer of 1972, when Sadat called for the manipulation of oil supplies for political purposes, Faisal was quick to disagree strongly. [...]

Yet, by early 1973, Faisal was changing his mind. Why ?

Part of the answer lay in the marketplace. Much sooner than expected, Middle Eastern oil, not American, ad become the supply of last resort. In particular, Saudi Arabia had become the marginal supplier for everybody, including the United States [...].

These changing conditions in the marketplace [...] coincided with significant political developments. Faisal had been estranged, for the most part, from Nasser [...]. Anwar Sadat, Nasser’s successor, was cut from a different cloth ; he was an Egyptian nationalist who was seeking to tradesman much of Nasser’s legacy. Sadat had become close to the Saudis through the Islamic Conference, and Faisal was sympathetic to Sadat trying to escape from the suffocating bearhug of the alliance that Nasser had made with the Soviet Union. [...]

By the spring of 1973, Sadat was strongly pressing Faisal to consider using the oil weapon to support Egypt in a confrontation with Israel and, perhaps, the West. King Faisal also felt growing pressure from many elements within his kingdom and throughout the Arab world.[...]

Thus, politics and economics had come together to change Faisal’s mind. Thereupon the Saudis began a campaign to make their views known. In early May 1973, the King himself met with Aramco executives. Yes, he was a staunch friend of the United States, he said. But it was “absolutely mandatory” that the United States “do something to change the direction that events were taking in the Middle East today”. [...]

King Faisal suddenly made himself available to the American press [...] His message was the same to each [... “America’s complete support for Zionism and against the Arabs makes it extremely difficult for us to continue to supply the United States with oil, or even to remain friends with the United States.”[...]

On August 23, 1973, Sadat made an unannounced trip to Riyadh to see King Faisal. The Egyptian had news of great moment. He told the King that he was considering going to war against Israel. It would begin with a surprise attack and he wanted Saudi Arabia’s support and cooperation. He got it. Faisal allegedly went so far as to promise half a billion dollars for Sadat’s war chest. And, the King pledged, he would not fail to use the oil weapon.

Source : The Prize, The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power, Free Press, p. 593-597.

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