Arabs Turn to LaRouche for
Strategic Vision for Mideast
by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
The keynote of the June 2-3 conference in the United Arab Emirates on "The Role of Oil and Gas in World Politics" was given, not by an Arab, but by Lyndon LaRouche, candidate for the 2004 Democratic nomination for U.S. President. In the U.A.E.'s capital, Abu Dhabi, leading personalities from Arab oil-producing nations gathered at the Zayed Centre for Coordination and Follow-Up of the Arab League; they heard LaRouche speak on "The Mideast as a Strategic Crossroad."
His participation underscored the growing influence of his ideas in the Arab and Islamic world, especially since the dramatic events of Sept. 11.
Where official Washington is viewed with circumspection, and the policies of the "war against terrorism" have generated fear and mistrust, LaRouche has become known as a trusted interlocutor, whose policy alternatives represent the true interests not only of the Arab and Islamic world, but of the United States itself.
The Zayed Centre emphasized in pre-conference releases issued to all the major Arabic press, that it "does not want this dialogue to be an Arab-to-Arab dialogue, but ... an Arab dialogue with all parties in the world that are interested in the issues and future of the Arab world." The release added that "the major American politician and Presidential candidate" was invited "as an appreciation of the positive stances expressed by LaRouche toward the causes of the Arab nation and just causes in all parts of the world in general."
Seeking Alternative to War, Destabilization
In the targetting of Arabs and Muslims worldwide as supporters of terrorism since Sept. 11, oil giant Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq have been singled out for special attention. At the same time, the forces behind the Sept. 11 attempted coup d'état pushed the Bush Administration into backing Israel's war on the Palestinians, opening a Clash of Civilizations war against Islam, which they intended to unleash with the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. Under the same banner, an Anglo-American force has extended its military presence into the resource-rich areas of Central Asia and the Caucasus. Scenarios spun by leading British and U.S. think-tanks have openly proposed to knock out Iraqi and/or Iranian oil production by pre-emptive strikes, and then, to secure a oil supply by taking over Saudi oil fields by military force. Or, in alternative versions, that the United States could simply abandon the area to war, and draw for its energy needs on the alternative sources in the nations of the former Soviet Union—the energy agreement signed at the recent summit between U.S. President George Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin is so described.
Thus, the Mideast oil-producing nations' fears of destabilization are well-founded and real. It is in this context that the Abu Dhabi conference took its special character. The organization which arranged it, the Zayed Centre, is recognized by leading Arab powers, as a crucial intellectual and political institution forum for both Arab-Arab and Arab-international discussion. Founded in 1997 at the initiative of the U.A.E. President, it has a dense program of activities, sponsoring single lectures on a regular basis, and international conferences several times a year. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, recently praised it for "tackling issues of the Arab world ... [and] developing a concept of integration and unity in the Arab and Islamic countries."
The center is under the high patronage of H.H. Sheikh Sultan Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Chairman of the center and Deputy Prime Minister, who presided over the opening session which LaRouche keynoted.
LaRouche was introduced by Mohammed Khalifa Al Murar, executive director of the ZCCF, who emphasized LaRouche's "critical vision, inside the U.S. and worldwide," adding that the candidate lived "politics as human thought," preserving his "integrity and honesty." LaRouche's keynote (printed below) defined the Middle East, which historically has been a crossroads of civilization between Asia and Africa, as a strategic crossroads today. His approach was much appreciated for bringing a much-needed view of optimism into an otherwise gloomy picture.
Many speakers displayed a preoccupation with instability in oil prices and markets, and with political trends in the United States in particular shifting away from the Gulf region. H.E. Obeid bin Saif Al-Nasiri, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources of the U.A.E., emphasized that the region's oil and gas reserves are the highest in the world, and should continue to provide energy worldwide for decades to come. However, he said, various factors, including the Arab-Israeli conflict, were discouraging investments in the region, and adding to instability. The minister cited Russia's having broken its agreement with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries on production, and hoped that Russia would cooperate with OPEC and others to stabilize the market.
Several speeches dealt with the fraud of the Caspian Sea "bonanza." The Chairman of the Arabian Gulf Center for Energy and Strategic Studies in Saudi Arabia, Eid bin Masoud Al-Jahni, showed in his presentation that the proven reserves of OPEC, or those of the Persian Gulf producers alone, dwarf those of the Caspian. The Gulf region possesses more than 60% of the world oil reserves. Some 40% of world oil imports, and 59.1% of America's, are supplied by the Gulf region. He added that the world, including China, is slated to increase oil dependence on the Gulf through the year 2008. Citing the International Energy Agency 1999 report, he indicated that total world demand in the first quarter of 1999 reached 74.9 million barrels per day (bpd); reports by the U.S. Department of Energy in 1999 and 2000 showed it increasing to 117.4 million bpd in 2020.
Dr. Al-Jahni said that the world demand on oil during 1997-2020 will increase at 1.3% annually; that OPEC oil will remain in first place for world energy consumption during 1998-2020; and that Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, and Venezuela will secure about 42% of world demand in 2020. The Arabian Gulf provides 88% of OPEC production, and half of OPEC reserves, which in turn, are three-quarters of world reserves.
Dr. Al-Jahni liquidated the myth of Caspian Sea oil in answer to a question. Caspian Sea oil reserves do not exceed 40 to 50 billion barrels, he said, which is not even equivalent to the oil reserve in the Zakum oil field in the U.A.E., or half of the reserves of the Gawar oil field in Saudi Arabia. If the Caspian were proven to have such oil resources as the United States is claiming, there are other factors—political, geographical, economic, and others—which would render it prohibitively expensive.
Oil as Perceived by Sheikh Zayed
The U.A.E. is seen as a model by many resource-rich developing nations, for allocating export earnings to spur national development. In a paper submitted by the Zayed Centre, "Oil as Perceived by Sheikh Zayed," the early vision of U.A.E. President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, was summarized. Sheikh Zayed, the founder of the modern U.A.E., and its President since 1966, sees petroleum as "a Divine endowment" with which a nation's real wealth—its people—should be developed. "Therefore, we have to invest oil revenues in the public services projects"—in transportation, energy, health, and education infrastructure—first, followed by encouragement of agriculture and industry, the post-oil stage. At the same time, such wealth is to be shared, by investing in the development of other countries.
Sheikh Zayed is known for an idea of wealth diametrically opposed to monetarist, free-trade doctrine. "Money is meaningless if not mobilized for the good of man"; the "priority is for man. Money is valueless without national human resources qualified for and capable of building up the country." Thus, "we should build our country with knowledge and culture, and should educate the new generation, as education is a wealth in itself.... Oil wealth is utilized in yielding various sources of wealth. The first is culture and science, the second is agriculture ... the third is industry, which will start small, then will be expanded by the help of God until we get factories of various sizes. The production of our agricultural and industrial projects will be equal to the amount of knowledge and learning that our sons and daughters acquire, because it is they, not expatriates, who should work out such agriculture and industry. To me, this is the most sustainable source of wealth."
The similarities in outlook between Sheikh Zayed's vision, and that presented by LaRouche, are striking.