By Shaimaa Fayed
Nov 16 Iraq's envoy to the Arab League said it
would invite Arab states to use oil as a weapon to press for a
halt to Israeli attacks on Gaza, but later appeared to withdraw
the remark, saying Baghdad would make no particular proposal to
a League meeting.
"The Iraqi representative to the Arab League Qais el-Azzawy
denies that there is a proposal by Iraq to the Arab foreign
ministers meeting tomorrow (Saturday) that will specifically
look into the Israeli aggression on Gaza," Azzawy said in a
statement emailed to Reuters by a media assistant.
Arab foreign ministers will meet on Saturday at the
Cairo-based Arab League to discuss the Israeli onslaught on
"Azzawy said that Iraq will listen to what will be presented
by Palestine and Egypt, which asked for the urgent meeting,
adding that Iraq is with Arab consensus on decision regarding
the Israeli aggression on Gaza," the Baghdad any envoy's latest
Earlier on Friday, a statement from his media assistant had
said Iraq would invite Arab ministers to use oil as a weapon
"with the aim of asserting real pressure on the United States
and whoever stands with Israel.
"The economic weapon is the strongest one to be put into
effect now, to assure of standing by the Palestinian people, in
light of there being no military power that can stand in the
face of Israel at the present time," the earlier statement said.
"Now there is no military potential for the Arabs to defend
themselves .... which leads us to think seriously about using
the enormous economic potential of the Arabs against Israel."
Twenty-two Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed
in three days of Israeli air strikes and shelling of Gaza, a
tiny Palestinian enclave ruled by the Islamist Hamas, and rocket
salvoes into Israel by Gaza militants.
NO FORMAL ARAB PUSH AGAINST ISRAEL
The Lebanese representative to the Arab League, Khaled
Ziadeh, told Reuters "until now there are no draft resolutions
presented to the head of the meeting that can be commented on."
Lebanon chairs the current session of the ministerial meeting.
"I do not know anything about what was said regarding Iraq's
call to use the oil weapon. But what has been proposed till now
is that Arab foreign ministers will look into the situation in
Gaza tomorrow and will take the appropriate decision," he said.
"Until now, none of the Arab states has presented a formal
proposal to the meeting of Arab foreign ministers on Saturday."
Asked about Azzawi's initial remarks, a senior Gulf Arab oil
official said regional exporters would be unlikely to approve.
"None of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) producers will go
along with this. It's a political move. It's not serious."
Simon Wardell, oil analyst, IHS Global Insight, said: "At a
time when the big story is the rise of shale oil and shale gas
in the United States and the potential for the U.S. to become
sustainable in terms of its ability to consume oil, Arab
countries will be keen to ensure they don't accelerate that any
further and push the prices higher.
He added: "It may be that given the political situation in
the Gulf since the Arab Spring this kind of thing (oil as
weapon) may have more resonance locally than it has in the past.
But I still think the old ways will stand and they will be
reluctant to try and constrain oil supplies in an effort to put
pressure on the United States, given that ultimately this is
something I think they recognise as self-defeating."
On Thursday, Lebanese Hezbollah militant leader Sayyed
Hassan Nasrallah urged Arab states to use all political means
possible, including raising oil prices, to end Israeli attacks
on Gaza, suggesting this could be as effective as military
action against the Jewish state.
Fighting around Gaza intensified after Israel killed the
Hamas military commander in an air strike on his car on
Wednesday. Several rockets launched from Gaza have since crashed
near Israel's biggest city Tel Aviv for the first time.