Oil prices rise and rise. New record on Thursday: a barrel (159 liters) of oil costs more than US$145 for the first time. In the event of an attack on Iran, prices could really explode. Yesterday, the Secretary General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Abdallah Salem El-Badri, warned. “It would be difficult to replace 4.2 million barrels a day if something happened to Iran” and “the price of crude oil would certainly rise,” the OPEC chief was cited in the Bulletin of the World Petroleum Congress in Madrid. In this Tehran has an effective means of exerting pressure. If the oil exporting nation were attacked by Israel and the United States, it could block the Strait of Hormuz. About 40 percent of the world’s oil transported on the high seas is shipped through the strait. Asked if Iran would block the strait, El-Badri said that in war a country would use any strategy to win.
Iran’s Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari confirmed in Madrid that a military attack on his country will be met by a “forceful” reaction.
He also warned of even higher crude oil prices in the event of war. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said to the Associated Press on Wednesday that the US could not afford to open another front in the Middle East. And Israel already has enough political turmoil on its hands. He doesn’t believe that the US or Israel would do such a crazy thing.
AP Interview: Iranian Foreign Minister
However, just this weekend Israeli politicians threatened massive attacks on Iran. US military leaders traveled to Tel Aviv and had talks with their colleagues. Back in Washington, Admiral Mike Mullen, the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, said on Wednesday that an attack on Iran would be a high-risk move that could further destabilize the Middle East. With regard to the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mullen said: “opening up a third front right now would be extremely stressful on us” — but feasible.
US journalist Seymour M. Hersh reports in an article titled “Preparing the Battlefield” in the current issue of The New Yorker that the George W. Bush administration has expanded its covert actions in Iran (see the 1 July 2008 issue of junge Welt). The CIA-directed operations include support for separatist and armed opposition organizations, including the Kurdish PJAK and the People’s Mojahedin. According to the report, the US Congress last year approved US$400 million for these purposes.
The People’s Mojahedin, who also agitate under the name of the “National Council of Resistance of Iran” (NCRI), eagerly beat the drums for Bush’s intervention. At the same time, the Mojahedin are fighting to be de-listed from the EU terrorist list. The highlight of their latest activities was a big rally outside Paris last Sunday. According to press reports, more than 70,000 people — including several hundred politicians from Europe, North America, Australia, and the Arab world — attended the propaganda event. Among them was Volker Schneider, the pension expert of the Left Party faction in the Bundestag. Spiegel Online quoted Schneider: “I support the Iranian opposition.” Schneider hopes that the European Parliament itself will be active in the NCRI. “The terrorists are not in Paris but are sitting in the government in Tehran.” Harsh accusations, which even Washington has yet to make.
The original article in German was published in junge Welt on 4 July 2008. Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi (@yoshiefuruhashi | yoshie.furuhashi [at] gmail.com).