The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana has been analyzing the latest events in connection to Iraq or the emergency summit of the foreign ministers of the countries bordering Iraq: Iran, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Kuwait, but also Egypt and Bahrain – in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. The most interesting sections of the analysis are given below:
The capital of Saudi Arabia – Riyadh has on the 19th of April 2003 hosted foreign ministers of the countries bordering on Iraq: Iran, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Kuwait and the foreign ministers of Egypt and Bahrain, the chairman of the Arab League. The conclusions of this ministerial summit are very similar to the conclusions of the presidential troika summit of Russia, France and Germany in Sankt Petersburg after the fall of Baghdad. In accordance with the Russian daily »Izvestia«, which on its front page called the St. Petersburg summit the summit of the »losers«, we can call the summit in Riyadh the summit of the »frightened«.
The countries participating in the Riyadh summit can be divided into two groups. The first one is a group of countries supporting terrorism, like Iran and Syria, while the second one is composed of the countries allied to the U.S.A., which are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan and Turkey. In the final statement the ministers demanded that the »occupying« forces should leave Iraq as soon as possible. At first it appears that these countries are with such a statement misleading the Arab public, since it is precisely these countries that have been for several years hosting on their territory American units because of the financial aid they are receiving, such as Turkey and Egypt or because of securing their own safety (like the Gulf states).
The final statement is demanding from the U.S.A. to allow the Iraqi people to elect their own government in a democratic way. This statement is raising a question whether the governments in these countries (except Turkey) were by themselves chosen by the people in a democratic manner and why these countries in the last 35 years haven’t demanded for the Iraqi people that same right, i.e. to choose its government by itself?
The ministers believe that the provisional administration of Iraq possesses no legality and has no right to administer the Iraqi oil. This opinion is raising yet another question: Has the regime of Saddam Hussein had the right to administer the Iraqi oil by using its revenue to murder a million of Iraqis and to wage two military adventures against Iran and Kuwait?
The foreign ministers of these countries repeated the demands of Russia, France and Germany to abolish the sanctions after the establishment of a chosen government that could be appointed in two years from now. This is a reflection of their fears that Iraq might be returning to the oil market. Some countries, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt depend on the quantity and the price of the oil on the world market, while others, like Turkey, Jordan, Syria and also Egypt earned tens of billions of dollars from illegal sale of the Iraqi oil through a privileged status in the UN »Oil for Food« program trade framework.
According to the opinion of the International Institute IFIMES, both summits in Sankt Petersburg and in Riyadh overlooked two important facts concerning every Iraqi, such as security and non-interference with their internal affairs in this transitional and critical period of time. Here we have in mind the role of the pro-Saudi politician Adan Pachachy and the pro-Iranian Shiite leader Adbulaziz Al-Hakim, who in fact became the press representatives of Riyadh and Teheran. Another important fact represents the debts of the regime that amount up to 47 – 127 billion $. According to the data of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington Iraq owes (in billion dollars) to Saudi Arabia 25, other Gulf states (without Kuwait) 17, Kuwait 5, The Paris Club (without France) 12.5, France 8, Russia 8, to commercial banks 6.2, to Eastern European states 4 billion dollars and the list goes on. The question of debt cancellation (in whole or partially) is a matter of a good will gesture and depends on the intentions of these countries to start a new political and economic cooperation with the new Iraq.
According to the opinion of the International Institute IFIMES every minister that arrived to Riyadh has had its own reasons for doing so, except Kuwait that is only interested in stability and peace with its northern neighbor. The meeting would be of great interest and would be praised if in the background wouldn’t have been hidden bad intentions of the participants with unified position despite their mutual ideological hatred. With this we refer to NATO Turkey, Shiite Iran, Conservative Sunnite Saudi Arabia, Baath Syria and so forth.
TURKEY is well aware of the fact that its historical role is coming to its end: American bases in Caucasus, Central Asia, Afghanistan and in Iraq can gradually replace the bases in Turkey that have become dangerous due to the influence of the Islamists and the expensive track of the week Turkish economy. Turkey wishes to have a word and share in the post-war Iraq and possesses a Trojan horse in the form of a small Turkmen party with a seat in Ankara, which is lead by Sanan Aga and has been for the last decade boycotting an entry into the Regional Government of Kurdistan.
IRAN has greatest fears due to the American presence on its western border that will certainly be permanent on the airfields of Baghdad, H3, Talil and Harir. The fears of Iran became expressed through the SCIRI (The Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq) boycott of the opposition meeting in Nasiriya in the middle of April, 2003 and through daily Shiite demonstrations against the American presence. The banners on these demonstrations are copies of similar demonstrations in Teheran against the »Great Satan«.
SAUDI ARABIA is in fear as well, since it is well aware that it is the next domino to fall after Saddam Hussein. According to the opinion of the John Alterman from the Center for International and Strategic Studies: »... in is in the interest of Saudi Arabia for Iraq to be unstable in order to prove the failed politics of the U.S.A. in this region and as to avoid the winds of change that are increasingly blowing precisely to its territory.« Saudi Arabia is well aware that every smallest democratic change signifies a danger to the monarchy, built on the basis of radical Wahabite teachings. It was these teachings that have contributed mostly to the hatred of the Muslims against the West and its values. According to the opinion of a prominent Saudi publicist Turki Al-Hamada: »Each and every country is concerned about the existing situation, especially Saudi Arabia, since it can choose between reforms or fall-down of the regime according to Saddam Hussein model – there is no third alternative.« A similar opinion is held by the Saudi analyst Mashari Thaidi, who believes: »... that it is about time for a political, social and economic reform of the country with 250 billion $ of public debt, 10 billion $ of current budget deficit and with three million unemployed.«
SYRIA is on this conference found in the weakest position. It has to prove to the U.S.A. that it is not offering a shelter to some leading men of the former Saddam’s regime. Syria was also left without a billion dollar of earnings from the sale of Iraqi oil (the Kirkuk – Baniyas pipeline).
JORDAN has exclusively economic interests. This country is without oil and without water and has in the last two decades been surviving thanks to Iraq. In the times of Iraq-Iran war it served as a logistic hinterland of Iraq. After the Gulf war it had the same role and served as the only Iraqi window to the world. Through Jordan a large part of the illegal oil trade was conducted. Iraq was delivering to Jordan half of the country’s oil needs at a symbolic price of 7$ per barrel, while the other half was donated to the Jordanian people. Today, Jordan has in order to exit this crisis give some painful concessions to Israel and to the new Iraqi government.