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Role of Oil in Middle East Crisis Depicted by United States Editor

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Oil and its impact on the 80 million inhabitants of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan. Iraq. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, and the Persian Gulf sheikhdoms is a major factor in the recurrent Middle Eastern crises. This is the opinion of Benjamin Shwadran, editor of “Middle East Affairs,” expressed in a book published today, “The Middle Base, Oil and The Great Powers.”

The countries of the Middle East received in excess of $600 million in 1954 in payments for oil produced – and receipts in 1955 will probably exceed that amount. “Nevertheless, by all standards the region is backward and the different populations have a very low standard of living. Except Israel, the region suffers from illiteracy, poverty, bad health and sanitary conditions, poor housing, and a general sub-subsistence level of living conditions,” Mr. Shwadran says in his book.

To such an extent is oil integrated with the economies of the Middle Eastern countries that fears of Western diplomats that oil concessions would be cancelled by native rulers are, according to Mr. Shwadran, unlikely to materialize. For one thing, the states of the Middle East lack the essential know-how to administer the oil industry. Secondly, the rulers are unwilling to gamble on the possible loss of their huge revenues. Finally, Mr. Shwadran points out that at the height of a conflict between U. S. policy and the Arab states, Saudi Arabia assured the American company representatives that their contracts would be honored regardless of the outcome of the political crisis.

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