Foreign mass media have allowed an interesting opinion that oil is a weapon in the Mideast conflict. At that mass media refer to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Baghdad offers to put an oil embargo on Israel and the USA.
Iran is OPEC’s second largest oil producer, it also supports the initiative of Baghdad. Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi thinks, “an oil embargo imposed on countries supporting Israel could be an effective instrument for the USA to exert political pressure on Tel-Aviv.”
The very idea is interesting, as embargo would mean a strong blow for the US economy, just recovering now after the crisis under the conditions of today’s price corridor ($27 per barrel).
Washington is in a rather delicate situation now: political background of the Mideast crisis has also acquired an economic implication, a rather unfavorable one for the USA. The other day OPEC declared, the organization would not support the idea suggested by Iraq. Official spokesmen for the majority of Arab countries, OPEC members in the Persian Gulf, say they will not put embargo on oil supplies to the USA, thus using oil as a weapon in the Palestine – Israeli conflict. Such decision would contradict OPEC’s long-term concerns, moreover, it could hardly be called efficient enough. Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal says, oil boycott to the USA and other oil consumers would entail greatest losses received as revenues from oil export. This money could be spent on financing of the opposition. The minister also thinks, if Arab countries want to resist Israeli aggression, “they have no other alternative, they should keep up oil and gas export supplies.”
Indeed, Arab oil exporters would not benefit from conflicts with the USA and EU. At the same time, they are eager to preserve today’s price corridor. It looks as though to keep on fighting in the Middle East is the only way to preserve it. The Arab-Israeli conflict has become a source of million profits for the Arab world; business is getting more important than solidarity of the Arabs.
Washington treats the oil boycott suggestions from Iraq and Iran as hypothetical, but still rather seriously, White House spokesman Ari Fleisher says. Threats of this kind mean, the USA should take up as soon as possible Bush’s energy plan submitted for consideration to the Congress. As soon as the plan becomes as influential as American law, Washington will be able to reduce its energy dependence on other countries, OPEC including.
Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/04/05/39304.html