[R-G] Oil as a Weapon
u_majeed at straight.com
Thu Feb 27 14:21:34 MST 2003
Muslims mulling oil as weapon: Mahathir's briefing on OIC deliberations
By Muhammad Ali Siddiqi
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26: The Muslim world is considering the use of oil as a
weapon to exert pressure on the United States, but is unlikely to do so.
This was the conclusion to be drawn from Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir
Mohammad's remarks at a briefing for the international media on Wednesday on
an informal meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference in the
The Malaysian prime minister began his briefing on an upbeat note, by saying
there was a consensus on the oil issue, but he made it repeatedly clear that
the consensus was merely on "considering" the possibility of using oil as a
Mr Mahathir Mohammad said the OIC meeting agreed to consider using oil as a
weapon as a means of exerting pressure on the United States, but there was
no consensus on how this could be done. Conference sources said oil-rich
nations were not fully satisfied that the Muslim world's oil could be used
as a weapon.
There were "minor differences" no doubt, the Malaysian premier said, but
those differences were about how to go about it. "But most of agreed to look
into it and not just dismiss the idea." In any case, he said, "we did not go
into derails." The focus was not on oil but on the problems facing the
The Malaysian prime minister said using oil was "a double-edged weapon," and
that it could have "dangerous repercussions" around the world. The first and
foremost to be affected would be the OIC's oil-less countries. Oil prices
were already high, and if there was war, the price could reach $50 per
barrel. This would not only destroy the economies of oil-importing OIC
members but would also affect the rich countries.
America, too, would be adversely affected, because the world's economic
growth would come to a halt, and the American economy - already hit by the
9/11" - would be grappling with the recession that would set in. "We should
think about it and be careful. It may hurt us more than (it may hurt)
All that the OIC members had done, he said, was to consider if oil could be
used as a weapon and how best its oil wealth could be used to exert pressure
on the US to help avoid war. The NAM chairman cautioned that using it
carelessly or without due care would hurt the Islamic world more than the
US. "By and large we agreed that we should try to influence as many people
as a possible. I would write to the Security Council and the European Union
as NAM chairman to urge them to help avoid war against Iraq."
The Malaysian leader, who won praise for his speech at the NAM meeting on
Israeli terrorism, said the OIC members and the two non-NAM members who
attended Wednesday's meeting were "all of the same view with regard to the
killing of Palestinians by Israelis ... and would like to see that Iraq is
not invaded by foreign forces." At the same time, they agreed that Iraq
should "comply completely" with the UN resolutions and cooperate with the
inspectors with regard to the weapons of mass destruction.
He said Iraq denied that it had any weapons of mass destruction and "the OIC
members do not doubt Iraq and see no need for verification." The OIC members
agreed to make common cause with countries that were against war, especially
France, Germany, Belgium and Russia. "By making common cause (with these
countries) we will be able to exert some influence on the US." The OIC in
any case was meeting in Doha, Qatar, next month and all OIC members would be
attending it. The OIC after all had some degree of influence with the US,
and thus it should continue to play its role.
The Malaysian prime minister said the OIC had no plans to send a team of
observers to the Israeli-occupied territories to report on the Jenin
massacre. Israel had refused to allow the UN mission, "and there is no
reason to believe that Israel will be any more considerate" this time.
Asked whether he feared that after Iraq's destruction other Muslim countries
too would be picked up one by one, he said that was true of NAM members
also. "If they do not stand united, they would be one by one rendered
incapable of doing anything."
Asked whether his government would deal with the next Iraqi government if
there was a regime change there, Mr Mohammad said it would depend on how
things go. "If the Iraqis accept it, then we would have to respect the
decision of the Iraqi people. But if there was total rejection (of the new
regime), and there is civil war, then we will have to wait and see."
Basically, he said, "it was for the people of Iraq to decide what kind of
government they wanted."
He said there was no need for a second UN resolution, because the first one
was quite adequate. Asked whether Muslim countries which were friendly with
the US and were aid recipients had tried to influence Washington, he said:
"So far, there has been no evidence. But there is consensus on Iraq and
Palestine. Regime change is basically the business of the Iraqi people."
"The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the
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