'The Allied cause had floated to victory on a wave of oil," observed Britain's Lord Curzon.
He was speaking soon after the First World War, which ended 94 years ago last Sunday. It was the first war in which oil played a key role. And its aftermath laid down patterns in Middle East oil that persist today.
Curzon, then the British foreign minister, had toured Persia, now Iran, extensively 20 years before.
In the rugged mountains of its south-west, near an ancient fire-temple known as Masjid-e Soleiman (the Mosque of Solomon), a British company, Anglo-Persian, would discover oil in 1908.
As the first lord of the admiralty just before the First World War broke out in 1914, Winston Churchill drove through the conversion of the Royal Navy's ships from coal to oil power.
Churchill also championed the government's acquisition of a controlling stake in Anglo-Persian (now BP), to ensure Great Britain had a secure source of oil.
The oil-fired navy was able to ensure British dominance of the high seas during the war. It overcame the threat of German submarines, and slowly starved Germany itself into submission by a blockade.
On land, oil set the future pattern of mechanised warfare, and was crucial to breaking the bloody stalemate on the Western Front, in which some four million soldiers died. Lorries replaced horses in the logistical efforts; tanks displaced them in the front line and finally broke the German defences late in 1918. Planes evolved from reconnaissance into bombers capable of hitting Berlin.
Most Allied oil came from the United States, while the Germans had little of their own. They occupied Romania, but the fields there were sabotaged before they arrived. By the time of the armistice, Germany had only two months of oil supplies remaining.
In 1914, the British occupied Basra, then part of a Turkish province, to protect the Persian oilfields. Continuing their advance, after setbacks, General Maude captured Baghdad in March 1917.
Once in the city, he issued his famous proclamation: "Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators", eerily foreshadowing similar declarations during 2003's American-led invasion. Sir Frederick Maude died there on November 1917, and a plaque commemorating him hangs on the wall of the British Embassy.
The US, worried about its domestic oil supplies in the wake of a postwar economic boom, demanded an "open-door" policy. This was neither the first time, nor the last, that wrong ideas about the scarcity of oil have driven geopolitical competition.
Eventually, the Americans obtained a quarter of the consortium that then acquired concessions throughout the Middle East. Remarkably, the onshore oil concession in Abu Dhabi, up for renewal in 2014, is the direct descendant of this consortium - featuring BP, Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil and Total.
After the war, the Allies carved up the former Turkish provinces of the Middle East between them. Suspecting the geology around Mosul was promising, the British negotiated its transfer from French-ruled Syria to their new state of Iraq, in return for giving the French a quarter-share in any oil found.
Disposing of the fate of millions of people so casually, this arrangement played a part in Iraq's subsequent tragic history, and in the continuing dispute between the Kurds and Baghdad over oil rights.
"As oil had been the blood of war, so it would be the blood of the peace," responded a French senator to Curzon.
As we commemorate all those killed in the First World War, we should also acknowledge the suffering in the Middle East, driven in part by those oil-fuelled decisions made after November 1918.
Robin Mills is the head of consulting at Manaar Energy, and the author of The Myth of the Oil Crisis and Capturing Carbon