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“American-Iranian war seems imminent”

by Archives March 18, 2008

Peace is unlikely in Israel/Palestine, an American-Iranian war may be imminent and the world’s superpowers will engage in a struggle for the region’s oil reserves in the coming decades, said renowned Palestinian journalist Abdel Bari Atwan.
Atwan is the editor in chief of Al-Quds Al-Arabi, a London-based, pan-Arab daily newspaper known for its strident defence of the Palestinian cause. In front of a roomful of McGill students last Friday, he began his talk by describing a fight between the world’s major powers over Middle Eastern resources, which he believes will take place.
“These competing powers will certainly put an eye on that part of the world and try to compete with Americans. Anyone who puts a hand on the tap of oil in the Middle East will control the future of our world,” said Atwan.
Every day 84 billion barrels of oil are produced, and nearly 25 million barrels of that goes to the United States, the largest consumer. Eventually, he envisions a struggle between the United States and three rising world powers for Middle Eastern oil: China, India and the European Union.
“If we look ahead 20 years in time, most of the world’s oil resources apart from the Middle East’s will start drying up,” he said.
He pointed out that United States Vice-President Dick Cheney’s visit to the Middle East is, according to him, the most recent sign of America’s oil interests.
“It is very clear why he is going there, he would like the oil price to go down now, it is at $110 a barrel. He would like the Saudis to sell more oil to water down the market.”
And the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) must be a shrewd player at the table, he said.
“We have huge power in our hands, we need to play our cards in the most effective way.”
Singling out Cheney further, he speculated that the American official’s visit is linked to a potential American military offensive against Iran.
“Iranians are now making the same mistake in American eyes as Saddam Hussein. They are engaged in a very active nuclear program, they would [definitely] like to produce a nuclear bomb,” he said.
“Americans look at the cost and [will see that it is] cheaper to remove Iran as a threat now rather than after they have managed to produce nuclear warheads,” he explained.
Atwan also spoke of the consequences of an unrestricted nuclear release by both countries – concluding that there would be no victors. Though the American military’s 33,000 nuclear warheads give the country the capability of launching such an attack, Atwan warned of severe Iranian retaliation. “Iranians could burn oil fields, they could block neighbouring states, where about 18 million barrels of oil pass through every day, they could bomb countries like the United Arab Emirates, Dubai, and others . . . If this happened it would be a disaster for the world’s economy,” he said.
While Atwan presented this as the absolute worst-case scenario, some members of the audience dismissed the probability of such an attack altogether.
“You seem to be speaking in this geopolitical rhetoric that I often hear on the news,” said Nasser Abukhdeir, VP Communications of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) McGill.
“Being from the United States, I am very intimate with the political and military situation there. This myth of the invasion of Iran is just logistically impossible. It is a totally different situation than the United States has ever come up against,” he contended.
Atwan, born in a Palestinian refugee camp along the Gaza Strip, is very pessimistic about the possibility of an Israeli/Palestinian resolution. He said Israelis would never allow Ehud Olmert to agree to dismantle the thousands of Israeli settlements along the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Palestinians, he said, would not accept a resolution unless it included the right of return to Israel, and have Jerusalem as the Palestinian state’s capital.
“I’m afraid that although I would like to portray a rosy picture for you of this part of the world, this is our area, we now it well and we know that peace is not something easily achieved,” said Atwan.

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