Dec 03 - 09, 2001
Oil boosted from Bush warning to Iraq
The price of oil rose on Tuesday after US President George W.
Bush hinted that Iraq might be a future target of the US-led war on 'terrorism',
stirring concerns that Gulf crude producers might become embroiled in a wider
A barrel of Benchmark Brent North Sea crude for January
delivery was selling for 18.55 dollars, up 19 cents from Monday evening.
In New York, light sweet crude January-dated futures closed
overnight down 27 cents at 18.69 dollars.
Prices have declined steadily in recent days as world crude
producers have floundered in their efforts to agree on a pact to rein in supply
and remove a glut from the market.
The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)
wants leading producers to make significant output cuts, but has held back from
reducing its own outflow again until key producers such as Russia agree to
But the prospect of a US military campaign against Iraq is
enough to send a ripple through the market and support prices.
Previous crises that pitted Western oil importers against
Arab Gulf crude producers have resulted in sharp spikes in the oil price, as
witnessed in 1973-4, 1990 and again last autumn.
Thus Bush's warning on Monday to Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein he must allow UN arms inspectors back in Iraq to prove to the world he
is not developing weapons of mass destruction lent support to prices.
Asked what consequences a refusal would bring, the US leader
"He'll find out" — a cryptic reply that fuelled
speculation that the regime in Baghdad might be next on Washington's list of
targets after the Afghan Taliban militia.
Iraq oil exports plunge to 11.2mn barrels
The volume of oil exported by Iraq under UN supervision
plunged last week from 18.6 million to 11.2 million barrels, the office
administering the United Nations oil-for-food programme said Tuesday.
In the week ending November 23, there were five loadings at
Iraq's gulf port of Mina Al-Bakr and four at the Turkish Mediterranean port of
Ceyhan, the only export outlets authorised under sanctions imposed on Iraq after
it invaded Kuwait in August 1990.
The average price of Iraqi crude continued to slide last week
to about 15.15 dollars (17.20 euros) a barrel and revenue was estimated at 170
million dollars (192 million euros), the office said.
Revenue so far in the current phase of the programme, which
runs from July 4 to November 30, is about 5.6 billion euros, or 4.93 billion
The price of Iraqi oil has fallen from 24.30 dollars a barrel
Iraq has sold 281.3 million barrels of crude in the current
phase, the 10th since the programme was set up in December 1996 to alleviate the
impact of sanctions on ordinary Iraqis.
Orders are outstanding for another 114.7 million barrels. No
new contracts were approved by the independent oil overseers last week, the
Only 72 per cent of Iraq's oil revenues is available to pay
for imports under the programme: 59 per cent in government-controlled areas in
central and southern Iraq and 13 per cent for the northern Kurdish region, where
goods are distribute by the UN.
Another 25 per cent is used to compensate Kuwait for war
damages, and the remaining three per cent covers the administrative costs of the
programme and of the UN commission monitoring Iraq's disarmament.
Mideast violence rages
Violence raged in the Middle East with a spate of new
killings including a suicide bombing but Secretary of State Colin Powell said he
was pleased with the work done this week by two envoys he sent to the region.
Even as reports grew of increasing violence, Powell said he
hoped that a specific timetable for steps toward a ceasefire would be worked out
on the ground.
"I think they are off to a good start," Powell
said, referring to former Marine Corps general Anthony Zinni and Assistant
Secretary of State for Near East Affairs William Burns, who began talks in the
region on Monday.
Having met both Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Burns has now travelled on to Egypt and is
expected in Jordan on Friday before moving on to Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
Israelis kill Palestinian in Gaza Strip
Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian near the Netzarim
settlement in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian and Israeli sources said.
The body of the victim, aged around 20, was handed over to
Palestinian police by the Israeli army.
Palestinian security head General Abdel Razek Majaida accused
the Israeli army in a statement of "having committed a crime", saying
the soldiers left the wounded man to die after the shooting.
An Israeli army spokesman denied the accusations, saying
Israeli soldiers had opened fire at a Palestinian who rushed at them yelling
"Allah akbar" (God is greatest).
"The soldiers fired, convinced they were faced with a
suicide attack," the spokesman went on, saying army nurses tried to save
the wounded man.
His death brings to 999 the number of those killed since the
start of the 14-month intifade or Palestinian uprising, including 784
Palestinians and 193 Israelis.
Yemen's cabinet adopts draft budget with $293 mln deficit
Yemen's government has adopted a draft budget for 2002
providing for a deficit of 293 million dollars, an official source said
The cabinet approved Tuesday the draft budget, with revenues
forecast at 2.835 billion dollars and expenditures 3.128 billion dollars, the
The deficit represents three per cent of Yemen's 2001 gross
domestic product (GDP), he said.
The fall in oil prices has contributed to the growing budget
deficit, compunded by a reduction in the state budget, which forecasts 3.049
billion dollars in revenues and 3.136 billion dollars in expenditure for 2001.
The draft budget must now be accepted by Yemen's parliament
and approved by President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Yemen, one of the worl's least developed countries, currently
produces around 480,000 barrels of oil a day.
Dubai signed a $19mn deal
The Gulf emirate of Dubai signed a 19-million-dollar deal
with Germany's Audi A.G. on Sunday to provide 250 luxury cars to ferry VIPs
around at the annual World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings in
After research on "how to safely and comfortably move
the large number of expected senior VIP visitors during the event ... we are
proud to partner with Audi A.G.," Ibrahim Belselah, Dubai 2003 general
coordinator, told reporters.
But none of the 250 Audi A-8 cars will actually be owned by
Dubai 2003, and the luxury sedans will only be in the emirate from September 10
to September 27, 2003 before being moved or sold on, according to Ali Bilaloglu,
managing director of Audi A.G. Middle East and Egypt.
UN votes to overhaul Iraq sanctions
The UN Security council has unanimously approved a US-Russian
compromise that will revise the current sanctions against Iraq within six
months, while extending the existing oil-for-food programme.
The vote came at the last moment before the current phase is
due to expire at midnight on Friday.
As part of the deal, Russia said it would approve by 1 June
next year a new "good review list", referring to supplies used for
both military and civilian purposes that UN council members will be required to
The United States in turn agreed to review a December 1999
resolution that would ease sanctions in return for increased cooperation with UN
US deputy ambassador James Cunningham told the Associated
Press news agency that the US was satisfied with the resolution.
Iranian MPs want torture banned
Reports from Iran say 175 members of parliament have signed a
petition calling for a constitutional ban on the use of torture to be properly
According to the Iran Daily newspaper, the petition said any
act subjecting prisoners to physical or psychological distress, interrogating
them at night, depriving them of sleep, using insulting language and keeping
them in solitary confinement were all banned under the constitution.
Mid-East warns US on Iraq
Middle Eastern countries have voiced concern over US hints
that Iraq may be the next military target of its war on terrorism.
Egypt and Jordan, important US allies and supporters of the
campaign against terrorism, both warned the US against targeting Iraq.
The warnings came soon after European leaders expressed
similar reservations, calling on the US to focus its campaign inside
US officials have refused to rule out striking against Iraq,
or any other country it considers to sponsor terrorism.
Gulf foreign ministers discuss Afghanistan
The foreign ministers of the Gulf states have been meeting in
Oman to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and the Middle East.
The Foreign Minister of Oman, Youssef bin Alawi bin Abdullah,
called on the international community to put pressure on Israel to change its
policies, which he said presented a threat to stability in the Middle East.
The ministers are also discussing the political future of
Emirates call on Iran to settle dispute over islands
The United Arab Emirates called for Iran "to peacefully
settle" a longtime territorial dispute involving three tiny but strategic
islands in the Gulf.
"The Emirates call for Iran to put an end to the
occupation of the Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs islands, which
belong to the Emirati people," the UAE's federal national council said,
according to the official WAM news agency.
The text called for the dispute to be settled either via
"direct negotiations" or via the International Court of Justice in The
Hague, WAM said.
Iran had rejected last March a call from the Gulf Cooperation
Council (GCC) to bring the case before The Hague tribunal, which is sometimes
referred to as the World Court.
Egyptian FM warns US force against Iraq
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher warned that any use of
force against Iraq by the United States in a second stage of its war on terror
would be a "mistake."
"We think it would be a mistake to resort to using force
against Iraq," Maher said during a speech to the Brookings Institution. He
underlined that Egypt's "understanding" had been that such a use of
force "will not happen."
US force against Iraq "will have a very negative impact
on all of us" and "would pose serious internal problems for friends of
the United States," the minister added.
"It would not solve the problem and would detract from
solidarity," Maher said. "There should not be an attack on Arab
countries. ... There should be no attempt to enforce things that are not
contained in resolutions of the (UN) Security Council."
Strained Saudi-US ties back on track
Active US engagement on the Middle East peace front has put
relations with Saudi Arabia back on track after tensions sparked by Riyadh's
refusal to join the war on the Taliban and strong US media criticism.
The oil-rich kingdom, Washington's main ally in the Gulf,
profusely welcomed the new US moves in the Middle East which saw Washington this
week dispatch a peace mission to bring Palestinians and Israelis back to the
Saudi SABIC signs MTBE export deal with Egypt
Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) announced Monday the
signing of a contract with Egypt to export 45,000 tonnes of methyl
tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE), an anti-pollutant chemical product.
"For the eighth consecutive year, SABIC has won a
contract to supply 45,000 tonnes of MTBE in 2002 to the Egyptian General
Petroleum Corp." the vice president of the SABIC group, Fahd bin Nasser bin
Salma, said in a statement.
The Saudi industrial giant has an annual output of three
million tonnes of MTBE, which is used to produce unleaded petrol.
Net profits of SABIC in the first nine months of this year
dropped 37 per cent because of falling worldwide demand for petrochemicals along
with declining oil prices due to the global economic slowdown.