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 Oil Weapon in the Hands of Arab Countries

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Oil Weapon in the Hands of Arab Countries

Source: Peking Review, No. 48, November 30, 1973
Transcribed for www.wengewang.org


 DURING the latest war of resistance to Israeli aggression, the oil-rich Arab countries, using oil as their weapon, took united action to strike at Israel and its supporters. Co-ordinated with their struggle in the military and political fields, this demonstrated the determination and strength of the people of various Arab countries in their united struggle.
  It is known to all that the superpowers have intensified their contention in the Middle East because they are after its abundant oil resources, on top of its very important strategic position. Arab oil is exported mainly to the United States, Western Europe and Japan. With its dwindling energy resources, the United States is increasingly relying on Arab oil, which accounts for over 10 per cent of total U.S. oil consumption, not including Arab oil products imported from Western Europe.

Three Important Steps

  During the October war, the oil-producing Arab countries decided to strike at Israel and its supporters with the powerful oil weapon and took three successive important steps within a few days,
  On October 16, five Arab countries — Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — and Iran held an emergency meeting in Kuwait and decided to immediately raise the market price of crude oil by 17 per cent.
  On October 17, a ministerial meeting of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) announced in a communique an immediate reduction of oil production and a 5 per cent monthly cutback in oil supplies to the United States which backed the Israeli aggression. The meeting was attended by 10 countries — Algeria, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Iraq, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Syria.
  On October 18. Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates announced the complete cutoff of their oil exports to the United States. In the few days that followed, other major oil-producing Arab countries — Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia. Algeria. Kuwait and Bahrain — also declared their suspension of oil exports to the United States.
  This united action by the Arab oil-producers is a heavy blow to the U.S. Government which is facing an energy crisis. In a November 7 television address dealing with the crisis, U.S. President Nixon said: Because of the Middle East war, most of the Middle Eastern oil producers have reduced production and cut off their oil shipments to the United States. The United States is therefore heading towards "the most acute shortages of energy since World War II."
  Appearing on television again on November 25, President Nixon announced a series of emergency measures for saving oil. He told the nation that the Arab oil embargo would lead to a shortfall of 17.3 per cent of U.S. needs in the first quarter of next year. He also announced that heating oil would be rationed beginning January 1, 1974 and that all gasolene service stations in the country would be asked to stop selling gasolene on week-ends as from December 1 this year.

Western Europe Refuses to Go Along With U.S.

  Measures by the Arab oil-producers have also affected the oil supply of Western Europe and Japan. About 80 per cent of the oil needs of the main West European countries and Japan come from the Middle East.
  After the Arab countries’ announcement of the reduction in oil production on October 17, some West European countries were compelled to take measures to restrict consumption, suspend exports of oil products and prepare to introduce rationing. Dissatisfied with the exclusionist policy and power politics practised by the two superpowers in the Middle East and anxious to keep the Arab oil flowing, they took an attitude of refusing to co-operate with the United States in its policy of supporting the Israeli Zionists.
  Britain denied the United States use of British transit facilities at home or in overseas territories for supplies to Israel. The Federal Republic of Germany banned use of its ports by the United States for arms shipments to Israel. Spain, Greece and Italy forbade U.S. aircraft to land on or fly over their territories. The meeting of foreign ministers of the nine European Economic Community countries issued a joint communique on November 6, which stated: "It is necessary for Israel to put an end to the territorial occupation which it has maintained since the conflict of 1967" and "the legitimate rights of the Palestinians must be taken into account." Japan expressed its opposition to territorial expansion by force and hoped that a fair solution to the Palestinian question would be found.
  A U.S. State Department spokesman said at a news briefing, "We were struck by a number of our allies going to some lengths to, in effect, separate themselves publicly from us."

Strength of United Struggle

  Though oil is the wealth of the Arab countries, for years it was one of the causes of foreign aggression. United as one against the common enemy, the Arab countries now have used this wealth as an important weapon in their fight against Israeli Zionism and its supporters.
  Among the series of important measures the oil-producing Arab countries have taken is an embargo against the United States which supplied arms to Israel and against Holland which assumed a position hostile to the Arabs during the recent Middle East war. Now that the two superpowers have again imposed the "no war, no peace" situation on the Arab people and have continued to intensify their Middle East contention, the Arab countries have taken further measures and are continuing to use oil as a weapon in their struggle.
  Meeting in Kuwait on November 4, Saudi Arabia and four other oil-producing Arab countries together with Iran decided to raise the oil price by six U.S. cents a barrel. This was followed by a second Kuwait OAPEC ministerial level meeting which issued a communique on November 5 announcing the decision to make an immediate 25 per cent reduction of total oil output of all member countries from their September level. The OAPEC meeting in Vienna on November 18, reaffirmed its position to continue using oil as a weapon to hit at countries supporting Israel and decided to cut monthly oil production by another 5 per cent beginning with December. A communique released after the meeting said: "The embargo as was previously decided will continue to apply to the United States and Holland," and at the same time, in view of the stand taken by the West European Common Market countries regarding the Middle East crisis, it has been decided not to apply the 5 per cent reduction of oil production for the month of December to Europe.
  At a meeting of the Arab League Headquarters in Cairo on October 30, all OAPEC representatives unanimously expressed their determination to join the struggle with oil as their weapon till occupied Arab territories are liberated and the rights of the Palestinian people are restored. Obviously, the people of various Arab countries have come to realize through the war the great strength of their united struggle, and have increased their confidence in using oil as a weapon to wage struggles. This will have a far-reaching influence on the people of the Arab and Third World countries in their future struggle against imperialist aggression and plunder and in defence of independence, state sovereignty and national resources.
  
  
  
  

 
 
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