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Islamic Nations Consider Using Oil as War Deterrent - 2003-02-26

Islamic nations are discussing how to use oil to pressure the West to drop plans to attack Iraq. The discussion took place at an informal meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference in Malaysia.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says the group's discussions about using oil as a pressure tactic also acknowledged the dangers of that approach.

Delegates to the specially arranged meeting of almost 50 Organization of Islamic Conference members included 20 major oil-producing states. Most are vocal opponents of plans by the United States and Britain to attack Iraq if Baghdad fails to surrender weapons of mass destruction.

The OIC members called for Iraq to fully comply with the United Nations and cooperate with weapons inspectors.

Mr. Mahathir says the Islamic states are aware of the havoc they might unleash if they use oil as a diplomatic weapon. Major Arab oil producers saw the downside of this strategy in 1973 when an oil embargo over the West's support for Israel triggered a sharp spike in oil prices and eventually a global recession.

Non-Arab states then increased production, leading to a drop in income and influence for Arab oil producers.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer and other important oil producing states have repeatedly refused to link oil supplies to politics.

Mr. Mahathir says the group also talked about finding common ground with anti-war protesters in Western countries and how they could support France and Germany to avoid war.