From the daughter of America’s first master spy in the Middle East, Charlotte Dennett offers a different perspective on the wars raging in Israel, Gaza, and Ukraine based on decades of research into the mysterious death of her father after his top-secret mission to Saudi Arabia.
Daniel Dennett was the head of counter-intelligence for the Central Intelligence Group (immediate forerunner of the CIA) when he traveled to Saudi Arabia in 1947 to determine the route of the Trans-Arabian pipeline and whether it would terminate in Lebanon or Haifa, Palestine. His plane crashed two weeks after he filed his last report.
His daughter has now produced an eye-opening book, Follow the Pipelines: Uncovering the Mystery of a Lost Spy and the Deadly Politics of the Great Game for Oil . Relying on declassified documents at the National Archives – and after suing the CIA for additional information about her father (who now has a wing of the CIA named after him) -- she reveals that today’s wars have been triggered by great power competition to control oil and natural gas.
Charlotte Dennett, an attorney, best-selling author, and investigative journalist, is described by Time Magazine as “an expert in resource-based politics” and was recently included in Marquis’ 2023-24 Who’s Who in America. Dennett brings a unique understanding to the world’s hotspots, asking that world leaders and journalists alike look beyond ethnic hatreds and divisions -- most notably Arabs versus Jews -- to those who have set peoples against each other in their divide and rule quest to control and profit from the most coveted resources in history: the oil that fuels the world’s militaries and the natural gas that fuels modern industries.
Her latest book is replete with a dozen pipeline maps covering World War II to the present, showing how the distribution of fossil fuels via pipelines has resulted in military protection of the pipelines, often leading to war.
The war in Israel and Gaza
For example, her map of “Oil and Gas Fields in the Eastern Mediterranean” comes with the warning of “a tinderbox ready to explode.”
The explosion is now with us, with the terrifying prospect of turning into a much broader war between nuclear powers set against each other in the Great Game for Oil.
The Palestinians claimed that the oil and gas fields off the Gaza coast, known as Gaza Marine, belonged to them. PLO leader Yasir Arafat claimed, “This is a Gift of God for our people and a strong foundation for a Palestinian state.”
But the Israelis have prevented this from happening, arguing that proceeds (estimated at $1 billion from the Palestinians’ claim on the Gaza Marine) would “not likely trickle down to an impoverished Palestinian people” but would more likely “serve to fund terror attacks against Israel.”
Those words came from Israeli military hardliner (and Israel’s Defense Minister from 2013-2016) Moshe Yaalon, who wrote in 2007 an article for the Jerusalem Center for Public Policy entitled, “Does the Prospective Purchase of British Gas from Gaza Threaten Israel’s National Security?” He couldn’t be more clear:
“Without an overall military operation to uproot Hamas’ control of Gaza, no drilling work can take place without the consent of the radical Islamic movement.”
One year later, Israeli forces launched Operation Cast Lead, pummeling Gaza, killing some 1,400 Palestinians, half of them civilians.
In 2014, Prime Minister Netanyahu launched a second massive invasion of Gaza, Operation Protective Edge, with the aim of uprooting Hamas and ensuring Israeli monopoly over the Gazan gas field. Noted the Guardian, in an article entitled “IDF’s Gaza assault is to Control Palestinian Gas,” resource competition “has increasingly been at the heart of the conflict.” This time 2100 hundred Palestinians were killed, three quarters of them civilians.
In what would appear to be an about face, Israel announced in June 2023 that it had begun cooperation with Egypt and the Palestinian Authority to develop the Gaza Marine field. But whatever cooperation existed in June surely vanished by October after Hamas attacked Israel, killing 1400 Israelis, and Israel responded with its “second war for independence,” killing 7000 at the time of writing.
Meanwhile, questions persist as to how Israel could have been caught by surprise, causing a former IDF intelligence officer, Efrat Fenigson,to comment, “Something is VERY WRONG HERE, something is very strange, this chain of events is very unusual and not typical for the Israeli defense system.”
The potential of a widened war is clear. Syria. with Russian backing and Iranian assistance, remains an obstacle to the creation of a pro-Western energy corridor for Levantine gas pipelines to Europe, now deemed more crucial since the scramble for new energy sources following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The Biden Administration’s call on Israel for restraint, “less we make the mistakes after 911,” may or may not convince Israel not to launch its ground war, but completely overlooks the reality that the Bush administrations’s disastrous invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were not mistakes, but were driven to secure the Turkemenistan-Afghanistsan- Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline so Caspian Sea energy “could flow south,” followed by the resurrection of the Iraq Petroleum pipeline (closed in 1948) from Iraq to Israel. “It is not a pipe dream” then-finance minister Netanyahu declared, but remains so to this day.
The War in Ukraine
Ukraine holds the second biggest known gas reserves in Europe, mostly located in the eastern Donbass region where most of the fighting has occurred. “We are in a pivotal moment in world history,” says Dennett, “ where the US and Russia (and their respective allies) are vying for world supremacy through enhanced energy security. That means military protection of their energy supplies (once conquered) their pipeline routes, and the necessary financing of the entire operation.”
The sabotage of the Nordstream II pipeline in September 2022 follows years of efforts by the U.S. to prevent its completion for fear that Europe’s dependence on Russian gas for 40 % of its energy needs would accelerate even more, to the detriment of US energy companies. The first sanction issued by the Biden Administration after the Russian invasion of Ukraine was to pressure Germany, the terminal country of the pipeline, to effectively cancel the pipeline. This set off a scramble by the U.S.’s NATO allies to seek additional oil and natural gas supplies from other countries – in Africa, in Azerbaijan (which recently expelled 100,000 Armenians from their native homes near Azeri pipelines, with the help of Israeli military and advice according to the Associated Press) and Israel.
Did Hamas time its brutal attack on Israel to sabotage a historic peace deal part with Saudi Arabia?
The West’s embrace of furthering relations with Arab nations has long been viewed by the Palestinians as a nail to the coffin of Palestinian aspirations for their own state. But there is another dimension to the further cementing of Israeli ties to its former enemy, Saudi Arabia – one that carries a certain irony for author Dennett.
Part of Jared Kushner’s peace plan for the Middle East and the “Abraham Accords” envision reviving the Trans-Arabian pipeline (Tapline), which transported Saudi oil to Sidon in southern Lebanon from 1949 until it was closed during the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990). Now the aim is to relocate its terminal point to the Israeli port of Haifa.
Tapline, in fact, became a major factor in Daniel Dennett’s death as well as the prime cause of America’s elevated status as a world superpower.
Daniel Dennett’s last report before his death revealed that the nationalist government of Syria objected to TAPLINE crossing through Syria’s Golan Heights [now believed to contain substantial quantities of oil] on its way to a likely terminal point in Haifa, Palestine. Two years later, in 1949, Syria’s democratically elected president was overthrown in the CIA’s first-ever coup and was replaced by a police chief who supported TAPLINE. The Cold War was off and running.
For the past 150 years, oil has become a crucial ingredient for economic, military and political power. Henry Kissinger, protégé of Nelson Rockefeller, once said, “you control the oil, you control the world.” The Rockefellers, the leading oligarchs of the 20th century chronicled in Dennett’s earlier book with Gerard Colby, have known all along that you can’t be a superpower unless you control oil. Germany lost two world wars because its military machine ran out of gas. The Great Game continues to this day, and is more ferocious than ever.
Dennett concludes her book by asking: Who will emerge victorious and set the world on a new path: world leaders who turn a blind eye to the human suffering they are causing because they are beholden to Big Energy, or an enlightened world citizenry who choose to put the dignity of human beings and the survival of our planet above all else?”
. A Must Read: The Rest of the Story from Russia to the Middle East
Located along the shores of the Eastern Mediterranean, this region is often called the Gateway to the Middle East. In fact, as oilmen knew, it is the gateway to Middle East oil. Pipelines run from Iraq and Saudi Arabia terminated in Israel and Lebanon.
Netanyahu’s long term ambition is to turn Israel into an energy corridor along the eastern Mediterranean, funneling its new found offshore natural gas to Europe via pipelines while bypassing Russia. Israel’s attacks on Gaza in 2008 and 2014 occurred to uproot Hamas and prevent Gaza from getting royalties from the offshore gas which, Israeli generals claimed “would go to supporting terrorism.”
On September 14th, according to the New York Times,“The energy crisis precipitated by the war in Ukraine raises the stakes of a new war in the Caucuses enormously.”
Will “petro-aggression” ever end? Dennett asks. “The solution is obvious: continue to explore and adopt energy alternatives, even as the fossil fuel giants in both the East and the West are trying to prevent this from happening and are currently capitalizing on the war in Ukraine producing windfall profits.”
Follow the Pipelines is replete with other examples of pipeline politics, which have reviewers calling her book “eye-opening” “riveting” “in short, a masterpiece.”