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Saddam's Oil Export Cuts Unlikely to Receive Support - 2002-04-22

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is calling on the Arab world to cut oil exports in half beginning next month. It is unlikely the suggestion will receive support.

The Iraqi leader, in a nationally-televised speech Monday, criticized Arab leaders for not doing enough to show support for the Palestinians. He urged them to use oil as a weapon against Israel and the United States.

On April 8, the Iraqi leader said Iraq was suspending all its oil exports for 30 days to protest Israel's offensive in the Palestinian territories. World oil prices rose briefly, but then backed off when other nations did not follow suit. Saudi Arabia, the world's largest supplier of oil and Kuwait both said such a boycott would only end up hurting Arab states.

Abdel el Rahman el Atteya, the secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, says using oil as a weapon is outdated and ineffective and that Arabs would be the losers. The secretary general said Monday that while an oil cutoff might have been an effective tool in the 1970s, it is no longer the case. He noted that the United States and other developed countries have since created sizeable oil reserves and that non-Arab oil producers could make up a shortfall. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) formally agreed several years ago not to use oil boycotts as a political weapon.

Iraq is allowed to sell oil only under the supervision of the United Nations as part of an oil for food and medicine program.