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War in the Gulf.

War in the Gulf

World war is at the doorstep. Pakistan has already involved itself by sending 20,000 troops to Saudi Arabia. There were country wide protests in Pakistan that troops should be called back. It may be recalled that Pakistan refrained from sending its troops at the behest of the United States even at the height of the Korean war and the Vietnam war. The only time Pakistani military personnel played a combat role in the Middle East was during the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israel wars in support of Muslim countries like Jordan, egypt and Syria against Israel. But never against a fellow Muslim country, which is the case this time.

Saddam Hussain, is on strong legal and moral ground when he links the withdrawal of his troops from Kuwait with those of Israel from the occupied territories. Pakistan's entire stand during the 8 year long Gulf War was based on neutrality because it did not want to take sides in a conflict between Muslim States. Even in 1983, under the agreement which led to the despatch of Pakistani combat contingent into Saudi Arabia, Pakistan was clear and explicit that "Pakistani troops will only be used against a non-Muslim Country".

Second, Pakistan has taken this step when Indian troops are menacingly deployed along the Pakistan-India border in Kashmir, Punjab and Sindh, and that too without even getting a minimum assurance from the United States that the Indians won't exploit Pakistan's vulnerability. Inlay case, such assurance would have been hollow as was the case in 1965.

In 1986, when Saudi Arabia made demands regarding the Pakistani combat contingent in that country, General Zia was clear that "we cannot compromise the national interest, even if it means that our troops may return". In that event, the troops were asked to leave by the Saudis in 1987 which meant an annual loss of revenue of $300 million. Pakistan will now be standing on the same side as Israel against a Muslim country which is not threat to its own interests. Given recent serious border clashes between Pakistan and India, the key question before Pakistanis is that is Iraq a greater threat to Pakistan today than Indian.

Afterall what we got from joint American Pakistan project in Afghanistan proliferation of drugs and kalashnikov culture, continued burden of 3.2 million refugees. We have become a client state of U.S. We are now supporting the Arab monorchs and the American oil interest. This policy runs counter to the opinion tide of the Arab nationalism and undermines our own larger intrest.

All talks and appeals have failed. Both U.S.A. and Iraq are ready and a flare up in the Gulf is becoming imminent. Apparently there is nothing to avert the showdown in the Gulf. Iraq has already declared that its armed forces will set the earth ablaze beneath the feet of the aggressors as soon as they launch their hostilities against Iraq. On the other hand. General Colin Powell Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of staff, told American troops "When we launch (an attack) we will launch it violently in a way that there decisive so that we can get it over quickly in a way that there will be few casualties. There will be no question who won"

The Middle East is a single geopolitical and socio-economic entity and all its problems are interconnected which should be settled on the same basis and principles in order to end the Israel occupation of Arab lands and secure Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. These views were expressed by a team of the World Peace Council after a visit to the region. The World Peace Council was working on 5-point formula.

Once the comprehensive proposal is agreed upon, the immediate first step could consist of four more or less simultaneous steps:

a) The withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait, Iraq permitting all foreigners in Iraq to leave or stay as they choose

b) The withdrawal of all sanctions and blockades against Iraq Jordan.

c) The stationing of a U.N. peacekeeping force where necessary in the area.

d) The withdrawal of all foreign forces now amassed in Saudi Arabia, from the Middle East.

The United Nation should reiterate its demand that Israel withdraws from occupied Arab territories, as also Syria from the Lebanon. All necessary means should be used for the implementation of this demand. Iraq and Kuwait should produce a clear statement of their grievances against each other the United Nations can then either set up a Special arbitration commission with sufficient Arab participation to settle the dispute by arbitration, or else adjudicate the dispute through the International Court of Justice.

The proposal to convene a UN sponsored Middle East conference should be pressed by all concerned and the conference, with the participation of the all concerned, including Israel and the PLO, should be held within a year. Its agenda should include:

a) A homeland for the Palestinians.

b) The maintenance of peace and security in the Middle East and the demilitarisation of the area.

c) Plans for mutual cooperation among Middle Eastern States for economic and cultural as well as scientific-technological development, and for the growth of democratic institutions in all States.

For the first time since the rise of Arab nationalism in the 1950s, Iran the only-Arab littoral country of the Persian Gulf is being consulted by its Arab neighbours, minus Iraq, to join in a security organisation to police the regional stability.

Two other countries, Sudan and Yemen, have also earned the Western ire but in their cases the anger was not entirely out of place because both Sa'ana and Khartoum took a pro-Iraqi stand and Yemen once even voted against the UN resolution calling for the imposition of economic sanctions against Iraq. Large numbers of Yemeni and Sudanese volunteers have also enrolled into the Iraqi army to fight the Aliiance, if it came to a real military conflict.

The Iraqi strategy of an attack against Israel in the event of a military conflict seems to be aimed at weakening the Alliance by putting the Arab components into a difficult situation. President Saddan seems to be hoping that in such an eventuality Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia will be hard pressed by their respective population to leave the Alliance. The pressure will centainly be most severely felt in Saudi Arabia because of the holiness of its territory where Muslims from all over the world go on pilgrimage every year.

Baghdad, continues to maintain that the question of Kuwait has already been decided by its merger with Iraq as one of its provinces, but states that it is willing to talk with the United States if the first item on the agenda is not Kuwait but the future of Palestine. It has also threatened that it will attack Israel, destroy Saudi oil installations, and hit American targets in any part of the world, once the first shot has been fired in the Gulf. On its part, the United States has maintained that the negotiations are intended solely to persuade Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait, or face terrible consequences, and that there is no question of concessions that may be regarded as rewarding aggression or helping to save the Iraqi President's face. It is also said that the two issues cannot be linked, but once the status quo ante bellum has been restored in Kuwait, other questions, including that of occupied Palestine and Iraq's claims to disputed territories can and should be taken up.

Economic Consequences

The escalation of armed conflict qould immediately put 20 per cent of the world oil prices to soar up to 40 to 50 dollars per barrel, give rise to a wave of bankruptcies sharply increase unemployment shatter Western monetary markets and provoke yet another international economic crisis.

Zaki Yamani predicted a price of $100 if shooting starts. The oil exporting countries will gain as much as 150 billion dollars in a year if the present price level prevails. The Western oil companies stocked oil in a big way at a price of $14 or less. They are selling oil at top prices by manipulating the spot market. The losers are 60-oil importing countries who are already grappling with serious economic and balance of payments crisis. In fact, that crisis has rocked them for the last 16 years since the first oil shock came. They will have to pay far more for oil, more for imports from the West as inflation rises there, particularly for oil-based products, plastic goods and fertilizers. Their exports to the Gulf will fall as those States spend far more on defence and import of arms from the west. A possible recession in the West may reduce their exports to them.

The incomes of developing countries from remittances have fallen while countries with a large umber of workers in the Gulf, like Pakistan and other South Asian countries, non-oil Arab States and the Philippines face an aggravated unemployment problem. Many of them are likely to face serious economic convulsions. As a result, there will be less investment, development and economic growth even in countries with large populations like Pakistan where reducting poverty should be the topmost priority. All that can lead to serious political instability and reversal of the new democratic process in such States.
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Title Annotation:economic repurcussions of soaring oil prices
Author:Haidari, Iqbal
Publication:Economic Review
Date:Dec 1, 1990
Previous Article:Report of the National Manpower Commission 1989.
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