Price hawks Saddam and Kadhafi miss out on OPEC summit
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Libya's leader Moamer Kadhafi, two big names who will not attend the upcoming OPEC summit in Caracas, are both price hawks opposed to western pressure on the oil cartel.
Branded as pariahs in several states, Saddam heads a country that has been under UN sanctions since 1990, while Colonel Kadhafi's isolation has eased after a seven-year embargo in connection with the Lockerbie plane bombing.
The Iraqi president, an arch-foe of the United States which has led calls for OPEC to step up oil production and bring down prices, needs the high income from UN-authorised crude exports to ease the impact of sanctions.
To revive Libya's economy, Kadhafi also needs a high price for his country's main source of revenue.Saddam has not left Iraq for security reasons ever since the 1991 Gulf War sparked by his invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, while Kadhafi has restricted his travels to Africa since sanctions were suspended in April 1999.
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez invited both leaders to the summit during a tour of OPEC member countries this summer. That trip included a visit to Baghdad, the first by a foreign head of state in a decade, and aroused the anger of Washington.
Iraq, which has the second-largest oil reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia, has warned of a catastrophic plunge in prices if consumer nations manage to replenish oil stocks. While Iraq opposes OPEC production hikes aimed at lowering prices, it is desperately trying to boost its own production and has even set a target of double its August figure of three million barrels per day.
Kadhafi, in defence of oil producers, has blamed "brokers and intermediaries" for price instability and accused the oil majors of stirring tension in oil-rich parts of the world. "They provoked a destructive war between Iran and Iraq. They incited Iraq to invade Kuwait, and plots have been carried out against Algeria, Indonesia, Nigeria and Libya," he charged.
Among the other absentees, Saudi Arabia's ailing King Fahd will be represented in Caracas by Crown Prince Abdullah who has already been running the day-to-day business of government for several years.
Emirati President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, meanwhile, has undergone a kidney transplant operation in the United States and will not travel to Venezuela for the September 27-28 summit.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)