THis was printed in The Washington Post, March 5, 1997
Letters to the Editor

Hidden Causes of Mideast Strife
Stephen S. Rosenfeld's Feb 14 op-ed column, "A Tragedy for Israel - and Maybe a Way Out", is most informative but unacceptably lacking in historical facts.

In late 1943, when I was flying the Chinese delegation to the Teheran Conference from Cairo (that the Chinese were there also is a little-known fact), I took advantage of the eight huge oil pipelines - which stretched across the desert from the Mosul and Kirkuk oil fields of Iraq to Haifa, the seaport in Palestine - as a fix for navigation across that desert.

In 1948, just after the creation of the state of Israel, the port of Haifa was closed, and those pipelines went dry. Iraq was forced to find another way to the sea and essential shipping. Later the expanding oil production of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait required an outlet to the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. They built the largest oil pipeline in the world - i.e., TAP-LINE.

Later, when Israel felt it necessary to invade Lebanon "to protect its northern border," it encountered TAP-LINE when it closed the port of Sidon. That enormous oil transportation system was closed to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and they have had to create an alternative to their markets in Europe.

These pipelines from Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia remain closed. Needless to say, this Israeli action stirs up the Arab world and decreases the availability of oil for us all. As a result, Israel's "Lebanon policy" and its Syrian "proxy war" are not exactly the result of "terrorist" activities alone. Even Syria has closed the alternative Iraqi oil outlet that once ran across its territory until it too was closed in 1975.

If anyone is looking for the cause of this never-ending turmoil in these Middle Eastern countries, he might do well to read such sources as the "ARAMCO Handbook" or other publications that contain the facts and not contrived, fanciful alternatives. Old pilots have long memories.