chapter  2
48 Pages

World War II and the arrival of the Americans

Though the Persian Gulf remained but a side show in the worldwide fighting that took place in World War II from 1939-45, the theater proved important for several reasons. It provided to Great Britain and the allies a chief source of petroleum. By seizing the region, Axis leaders aimed to take those supplies, and use the greater Gulf area as an embarkation point for a possible attack into the Soviet Union’s southern underbelly. Throughout the war the region remained important, as it had been for millennia, because of its strategic travel and communications route between Europe and Asia; the Allies would have found it much more difficult to move men and materiel between the Atlantic and Pacific theaters had they lost the Persian Gulf. And finally, the Gulf became a principal lifeline in Washington and London’s strategic initiative to provide material aid to their beleaguered Russian ally. The Gulf region, in other words, held a strategic significance in World War II much greater than the dearth of fighting might otherwise suggest.