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A Biographical Approach to the Study of Social Change in the Middle East: Abdullah Tariki as a New Man

  • Stephen Duguid

The need for social change has been recognized by most of the politically important forces in the Middle East today, but differences remain concerning its implementation. These differences are centered on the type of change and the rate at which it should take place. There are three basic social groups taking part in this conflict; the traditional elements of society, typified by organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, many of the ruling families, and large sections of the peasant population; the ‘modern’ man of the liberal era such as evolutionary–liberalist politicians, doctors, landowners, bureaucrats, merchants, and the like; and the ‘modern’ men of the era of technology (material-scientific) such as army officers, agronomists, planners and industrialists.

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page 195 note 1 Edward, Shils, Political Development in the New States (The Hague, Mouton & Co., 1966), p. 31.

page 195 note 2 William, R. Polk, ‘The Middle East: Analyzing Social Change’, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (January 1967), p. 13. To my knowledge, the term ‘new men’ was first used in Frantz, Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove Press, 1968), p. 36 (first published 1961).

page 197 note 1 Petroleum Week, 22 February 1957, p. 25.

page 197 note 2 Some details of Tariki's life are simply not available to me at this time. To fully understand the man it would be essential to know what his father did, why he went to school or why he was sent, why he was married and then divorced, etc.

page 197 note 3 Norman, C. Walpole et al. , Area Handbook for Saudi Arabia (Washington, D.C., U.S.G.P.O., 1966), p. 82. The phrase ‘as much as’ in the last sentence is significant, since it indicates that this education does not produce literally ‘new’ men or men totally divorced from their background. Their newness must always be relative.

page 198 note 1 Edward, Shils, ‘The Intellectuals in the Political Development of New States’, World Politics, vol. 12, (04 1960), p. 341. This emancipation is, of course, relative, their background always being a factor in their lives.

page 198 note 2 William, R. Polk, The United States and the Arab World (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1965), p. 225. Many students spend as many as eight years in the West acquiring their education and Saudi Arabia required its students to spend one year, at least, adjusting to their new surroundings before beginning school.

page 198 note 3 Manfred, Halpern, The Politics of Social Change in the Middle East and North Africa (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1965), p. 54.

page 198 note 4 Edward, Shils, Political Development in the New States, p. 52.

page 199 note 1 Manfred, Halpem, op cit. p. 52.

page 199 note 2 William, R. Polk, ‘The Middle East, Analyzing Social Change’, op. cit. p. 18.

page 199 note 3 Rodger, P. Davies, ‘Saudi Arabia’, Political Modernization in the Near East and North Africa, 18th Annual Conference,Princeton University Conference, 1966, p. 7.

page 199 note 4 Norman, C. Walpole et al. p. 3.

page 200 note 1 Rodger, Davies, op. cit. p. 4.

page 200 note 2 John, S. Badeau, ‘The Clashing Paths to Modernization’, Journal of International Affairs, vol. 19, no. 1 (1965), p. 4.

page 201 note 1 Saudi revenue from petroleum was $39 million in 1949, $315 million, in 1959, and $805 million in 1966. In the first Saudi published budget (1947–1948) oil revenue accounted for 65 % of total government revenue, and by 1967 this figure was 90 %. Petroleum Press Service (July 1967), and Zuhayr, Mikdashi, A Financial Analysis of Middle Eastern Oil Concessions: 1901–1965 (New York: Praeger, 1966), p. 122.

page 201 note 2 Richard, H. Nolte, ‘Faisal Takes Over in Saudi Arabia’, The Reporter, 1 May 1958, p. 9.

page 201 note 3 Petroleum Week, 22 February 1957, pp. 24–5.

page 201 note 4 There is a parallel between the Saudi Arabia of the 1950s and the Ottoman Empire during the period of the Tanzimat, when Ali Pasha was made Foreign Minister at age 31. In both cases men with some modem education and experience with the West were needed and few were available.

page 202 note 1 Petroleum Week, 22 February 1957, p. 25.

page 202 note 2 Richard, Nolte, op. cit. p. 9.

page 202 note 3 Petroleum Week, 29 June 1958.

page 202 note 4 Hira (Mecca Weekly), 19 September. 1958.

page 203 note 1 Petroleum Week, 20 June 1958, p. 40.

page 203 note 2 Wayne, A. Leeman, The Price of Middle East Oil (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1966), p. 224

page 203 note 3 In 1966, Tariki urged Iraq to sell its royalty crude (12.5 % of entire production given to Iraqi government) instead of taking the equivalent amount of cash as was traditionally done, and thus begin to develop markets for Iraqi crude. This would have meant a loss of revenue, since Iraq would have had to sell at a lower price to compete with the large companies, but it would have brought long-term gains if Iraq had been able to find secure markets. The Iraqi government was unable to see it in these terms. Middle East Economic Survey.

page 203 note 4 Edward, Shils, Political Development in the New States (The Hague: Mouton & Co., 1966), p. 20.

page 204 note 1 Wanda, Jablonski, Petroleum Week, 18 October 1957, p. 20.

page 204 note 2 New York Times, 7 March 1957, p. 6. The original concession in Saudi Arabia was granted to Standard Oil of California in 1933. As the cost of exploration and production rose, the other companies bought into the concession with the approval of the Saudi government. Zuhayr, Mikdashiop. cit., p. 78.

page 204 note 3 Petroleum Week, 22 February 1957, p. 22.

page 204 note 4 Aramco was only required to pay taxes on the profits made on oil production and processing in Saudi Arabia, plus an export tax and royalties, all of which could not exceed 50 % of Aramco's profits. The profits made in the marketing end of the process by the parent companies could not be taxed by Saudi Arabia.

page 204 note 5 Petroleum Week, 20 June 1958, p. 40.

page 205 note 1 Tariki did manage to achieve many immediate gains for Saudi Arabia through his negotiations and demands on Aramco. In a retroactive settlement covering the period 31 December 1955 back through October 1953, Tariki won agreement on the following: (I) elimination of all volume discounts off posted prices to the four offtakers. In line with the patterns in other Middle Eastern countries, Aramco had been giving its parent companies 5, 7½ and 10 % discounts on volumes of 750,000, I million and 1·2 million barrels per day respectively. (2) Elimination of the 2 % marketing allowance to the offtakers. In place of this, ‘actual’ audited marketing costs were to be used. (3) Elimination of the 8 c per barrel fee credited to Aramco by the offtakers for oil refined at Ras Tanura. Instead ‘actual’ refining profits were to be computed. Petroleum Week, 22 February 1957, p. 23. Tariki was also influential in bringing Japan into the Middle East Oil scene with the formation of the Arabian Oil Company in 1958 and the Saudi/Neutral Zone concession. Petroleum Press Service, March 1960, p. 103.

page 205 note 2 Petroleum Week, 20 June 1958, p. 40. This statement corresponds almost exactly with that recounted by Richard, Nolte in 1958. See above, p. 202.

page 206 note 1 Time, 27 April 1959.

page 206 note 2 Harley, C. Stevens, ‘Reflections on the First Arab Petroleum Congress’, Middle East Journal, vol. 13 (1959), pp. 273280.

page 206 note 3 Time, 27 April 1959.

page 206 note 4 Edward, Shils, Political Development in the New States, p. 21.

page 207 note 1 Al-Nadwah, 25 March 1961. In a paper presented at the 4th Arab Petroleum Congress Tariki indicated that the oil companies had reached this point at which risks had disappeared and profits had been maximized. In 1961 Aramco made profits of 81.5 % on its investment, while the average return on American overseas investment was only 13 % in 1961.

page 207 note 2 This may seem self-serving on the surface, but he also encouraged other Saudis in his Ministry to grant interviews and write articles. Muhammed Joukhdar, Hisham Nazer, Samir Shamma, and Abd al-Aziz al-Mu'ammar are familiar names in the Arab Oil world which first came into prominence in Tariki's Ministry. David, Hirst, Oil and Public Opinion in the Middle East (New York: Praeger, 1966), p. 101.

page 208 note 1 Al-Bilad, 2 July 1960.

page 208 note 2 Al-Nadwah, 25 March 1960.

page 208 note 3 Al-Nadwah, 31 July 1960.

page 208 note 4 Al-Nadwah, 22 August 1960.

page 209 note 1 The price of a barrel of crude petroleum in the Middle East varies considerably, depending on the point of origin and type of crude. Saudi Arabian crude sold at Ras Tanura averages between $1.47 and $1.80 per barrel, and has remained at this general level since 1960. There was a strong feeling an-long many Middle Eastern and Venezuelan oil experts that the two price cuts were the oil industry's retaliation for the First Arab Petroleum Congress (the first cut came two months before the Congress) and the increase of taxes in Venezuela. David, Hirstop. cit. pp. 4344.

page 209 note 2 Europe and Oil, January 1963, p. 32.

page 209 note 3 New York Times, 8 May 1960, p. 10.

page 209 note 4 Tariki turned against OPEC because it was unable to take decisive action in areas that he considered critical. Prior to an OPEC meeting in Riyadh in 1963 in which the organization was considering telling its members to legislate new royalty agreements in the face of company intransigence, Tariki made this statement: ‘The eyes of millions from the producing and consuming nations are on you. If you cannot make up your mind, find a pretext for postponing your meeting. For if you fail to take just decisions this will assure your Organization's demise.’ The meeting was held and no action was taken. David, Hirst, op. cit. p. 116.

page 209 note 5 Norman, C. Walpole et al. , op. cit. p. 115.

page 210 note 1 Al-Nadwah. 25 March 1960.

page 211 note 1 The Guardian (London and Manchester), 6 May 1967.

page 211 note 2 According to Muhammed Hassanain Haykal, editor of al-Ahram, Aramco was influential in getting Tariki dismissed. Prince Talal claimed that Aramco Tariki its number one enemy. Apparently foreigners in the country habit of sending reports to the King about Tariki in which they referred ‘The Communist’. Hirst, D., op. cit. p. 31.

page 211 note 3 It is possible that Tariki chose Dr Sarkis because he was a Christian. Tariki the oil companies would deal more readily with a Christian than with him.

page 211 note 4 Oil and Gas Journal, 16 March 1964.

page 212 note 1 ‘If we compare our country before the oil 30 years ago and our country now, we find, unfortunately, that the progress achieved is less than what is expected as a result of the great fortunes that we have received. This is due, of course, to our inexperience in disposing of the money and in preparing wise plans for its use for what may benefit all of its citizens.’ Al-Qazim, 6 December 1960.

page 212 note 2 He does not seem to have retained a feeling of bitterness toward Faisal. In an article highly critical of Shaikh Shakbut of Abu Dhabi and his financial dealings with the British, Tariki makes the following reference to Faisal, : ‘What are the views of his Royal Majesty the king of Saudi Arabia, who needs every penny to execute his reform schemes, as he sees the British taking away the wealth of his country to give it to Shaikh Shakbut?;Middle East Forum, vol. 1 (1966), p. 36.

page 212 note 3 The word political is used here in a general sense and does not refer to local politics or a particular ideology.

page 213 note 1 The most difficult and costly aspect of oil production is the exploration and initial production phases. In the Middle East, which is characterized by large oil fields and few wells, the production of oil is relatively easy after the initial operations are concluded and the facilities built. Tariki felt that by 1963 the Arabs had enough trained personnel to run the industry, though they would still depend on the foreign companies for marketing.

page 213 note 2 While the Arab countries produce 26.4 % of the world's crude petroleum, they possess only 3.6 % of the world's refining capacity. Only 15 % of this refining capacity located in Arab countries is owned and operated by local governments or local private companies. World Oil Statistics, Petroleum Intelligence Bureau, London, 1966.

page 213 note 3 Abdullah Tariki, Towards Better Cooperation Between Oil Producing and Oil Consuming Countries, paper presented at the 4th Arab Petroleum Congress.

page 213 note 4 An interesting corollary to his call for prorated production was that he felt that Iran should be given the highest rate of production, mainly because of the 1954 dispute. ‘If the Arabs want to cooperate with Iran to the full then they must admit that they have been used to bring pressure on the Iranians and sabotage their nationalization bid.’ Middle East Economic Survey, 17 March 1967. This demonstrates a tendency in the technocrats toward more regional nationalism than purely Arab nationalism and shows that the issue is more important to Tariki than particular loyalties. For more on his insistence that Iran be dealt with by Arabs, , see Middle East Economic Survey, 23 May 1969, p. 2.

page 214 note 1 Ibid. suppl.

page 214 note 2 Crown Prince Faisal assumed the full powers of the Saudi state on 30 March 1964, even though Saud remained titular head of government. This takeover followed several attempts by Saud to win back his power, events which Tariki must have been watching closely. Middle East Economic Survey, 3 April 1964.

page 214 note 3 al-Arab, 18 April 1964. In the same month Tariki published a long article on OPEC urging it, ‘Don't Negotiate—Legislate’. Also in April, he was appointed advisor to Syrian Ministry of oil affairs.

page 215 note 1 Middle East Economic Survey, 1 May 1964, translation of a long article in al-Anwar (30 April) on British Petroleum.

page 215 note 2 Ibid. p. 4.

page 215 note 3 al-Moharrer, 9 June 1964. 48 % of Western Europe's energy demand is met by petroleum: a total of 379,100,000 metric tons in 1966. Approximately 5 % of this petroleum is produced in Western Europe, primarily in France and West Germany. Of the remainder about 58 % of the crude petroleum imported originates in the Arab countries of the Middle East and an additional 15 % comes from North Africa. In addition to its obvious importance to Western Europe, Arab oil is heavily relied upon by many Asian countries. Both Japan and India import 61 % of their petroleum from the Middle East.

page 216 note 1 Al-Ahram, 8–11 August 1964.

page 217 note 1 Al-Muharrar, 22 and 23 September 1964.

page 217 note 2 Al-Anwar, 5 June 1964 and At-Tali'ah, 16 September 1964.

page 217 note 3 Tariki's position was made more difficult by his impulsive nature. His seeming extremism was probably as much a product of this and his candor as of a belligerent disposition. Some of his strongest statements were made on the spur of the moment in reaction to some company action to which he took particular exception. David, Hirst, op. cit. p. 104.

page 217 note 4 Abdullah, Tariki, Nationalization of the Arab Petroleum Industry is a National Necessity, paper presented at the 5th Arab Petroleum Congress, March 1965.

page 218 note 1 Middle East Economic Survey, 9 April 1965, p. 4.

page 218 note 2 Middle East Forum, no. I (1966), p. 29. Since the June War, Tariki has had much to say about the Palestinian Revolution. He has come out solidly against the moves for a peaceful settlement, and has warned people not to rely too heavily on the Russians. His fervent support of the guerillas is significant in that it is a break from the position of President Nasser and other Arab leaders. Middle East Economic Survey, 20 December 1968.

page 219 note 1 Ibid. p. 31. This is one of Tariki's consistent arguments and one which has gamed little acceptance in the West or the Middle East.

page 219 note 2 Ibid. p. 33.

page 219 note 3 Middle East Economic Survey, 17 March 1967. The license of Kubbah's publication was withdrawn by the Iraqi Government after it published a long and detailed attack on Tariki at the 6th Arab Petroleum Congress, indicating that Tariki still is a power to be reckoned with in many Arab governments.

page 220 note 1 Middle East Economic Survey, 23 May 1969.

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