US ready to invade Middle East in 1973

The US considered invading Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi after the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, newly revealed documents have claimed.

    The US supported Israel during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war

    Files released to the British National Archives on Thursday show that British spy chiefs believed 

    the US would be prepared to invade the countries

     to seize their oilfields.

    The papers, made public under the

    30-year rule for classified documents, reveal UK intelligence agencies estimated

    the US would take military action to prevent further

    disruption to oil supplies.

    The assessment followed the decision in October 1973 by Arab nations to

    slash oil production and send prices rocketing, while imposing a

    complete embargo on the US over their support for Israel.

    In Britain, Prime Minister Edward Heath's Conservative

    government was forced to draw

    up plans for gasoline rationing after panic buying led to shortages

    at filling stations.

    Oil supplies

    Although the war in the Middle East was over after three weeks,

    a secret assessment drawn up for government ministers

    concluded the US would rather risk military action than be held

    to ransom by Arab oil-producers.

    Abu Dhabi holds significant oil

    The report, dated 12 December 1973 and marked UK Eyes Alpha,

    calculated the US could guarantee sufficient oil

    supplies for themselves and their allies by invading countries with


    reserves of more than 28 billion tonnes.

    It warned the American occupation would need to last 10 years

    as the West developed alternative energy sources, and would result

    in the "total alienation" of the Arabs and much of the rest of the

    Third World.

    The United States would even consider pre-emptive

    action if Arab governments, "elated by the success of the oil

    weapon", began imposing new demands.

    "Even if this had not happened, the US government might consider

    that it could not tolerate a situation in which the US and its

    allies were in effect at the mercy of a small group of unreasonable

    countries," the report said.

    Last resort 

    "In view of the incalculable consequences of military action

    against the Arabs, we consider that US intervention would probably

    come late as a move of last resort.

    "But we cannot rule out the possibility of a rather earlier


    The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) said the initial US invasion force would not have

    to be large, with two brigades to seize the Saudi oilfields and one

    brigade each to take Kuwait and Abu Dhabi.

    In order to maintain the element of surprise, the US'

    first choice would probably be an airborne assault, but if that

    proved impracticable they could send an amphibious task force.

    "For Saudi Arabia, the operation could be fairly

    straightforward. The peacetime garrison of Dhahran is one lightly

    armed National Guard battalion and a Hawk SAM battery," the report said. 

    "In view of the incalculable consequences of military action

    against the Arabs, we consider that US intervention would probably

    come late as a move of last resort...

    But we cannot rule out the possibility of a rather earlier


    1973 UK intelligence report


    "The initial assault could be made by a brigade tasked to knock

    out the Hawk battery, seize the airfield, and so far as possible

    prevent sabotage to the oilfields.

    Iraqi threat  

    "For Kuwait the operational problems are greater. The Kuwaitis

    have about 100 tanks, mostly concentrated near the airport.


    means that although the initial assault could still be made by a

    brigade, the assault force would need to be rapidly reinforced, say

    within six hours, by tanks of its own."

    The US would almost certainly ask to use the British

    staging facilities at Gan or Diego Garcia, in the Indian Ocean, the report 


    The JIC said the US would probably give the Soviet Union

    prior notice of its intentions, and that Kremlin opposition would

    "probably stop short of direct military intervention".

    However, in a reversal of what was actually to happen 18 years

    later, the JIC said that if the US seized Kuwait, Iraq might

    try to mount a counter-invasion to expel them.

    "The greatest risk in the Gulf would probably arise in Kuwait,

    where the Iraqis, with Soviet backing, might be tempted to




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