Britain Must Think Again On Iran
July 02, 2004
The trial of Saddam Hussein, which opened in dramatic fashion yesterday, should be an event that is as much about the future of the Middle East as in accounting for the past. It must be a further spur for change in a region with enormous potential that has not been realised. The notion that the Arab world is incapable of economic innovation, social progress and political pluralism is mistaken and deeply insulting. The best form of reform would be, however, as King Abdullah of Jordan makes clear in his interview in The Times today, "home-grown" and not an abstract model imposed by outsiders. The challenge for those in power across the Middle East is to recognise that the demand for a better life comes as much from their own people as Pentagon policy theorists.
King Abdullah himself has demonstrated that reform can be sweeping but sensitive. He has sensibly sought to promote liberal economics, including the most imaginative privatisation agenda in the Middle East, yet has made every effort to assist those temporarily hurt by these measures. His desire to stimulate higher standards in education and open more opportunities for women might take a generation to bear fruit, but they will prove to be a shrewd investment. His campaign to broaden political participation in carefully timed steps offers a model to others. It is as much in the interests of Washington and London to help to ensure that the Jordanian experiment succeeds and is seen to have succeeded as it is to make the transition in Iraq the template.
The reform drive in each of these countries could, nonetheless, be undermined by the intrigue of others. There has been legitimate outrage expressed here at the manner in which Iran treated the eight British ser-vicemen that it detained last month. The mischief of the political elite in Tehran indicates strongly that this was a diplomatic incident entirely of their intentional making.
It is also part of a disturbing pattern. Iran is not so much dabbling in Iraqi politics as stirring the pot with gusto. Hundreds, if not thousands, of its citizens seek to cross the border each day and this is very much one-way traffic. Nor are these people just enterprising traders or private religious zealots. They include senior military figures and intelligence officers plainly mandated to observe matters in Iraq and to take sides in factional politics and assist insurgent militia. Although UK commanders in the south of Iraq have, understandably, been pragmatic in their dealings with Iran, they and the Government in Baghdad should harbour no illusions about the Iranians' intent.
This must prompt a serious reassessment of policy in Whitehall. Britain has sought to pursue "constructive engagement" with Tehran. It is right that there should be a line of communication with Iran. Some political leaders there are indeed more reasonable than others and should be cultivated. The danger of the existing strategy is that Iran has decided that it has two lines of communication with the democratic world -one with Washington and another with the European Union, which is more pliable. If Tehran perceives a chance of playing the US and EU off against each other, it will.
A new approach must, therefore, become more consistent and tougher. It may well be that President Khatami of Iran disapproves of the drive to sabotage the Iraqi Government, but does he also know nothing of al-Qaeda's movements and the supply of arms to Palestinian terrorists? The key point here is that, despite his supposed objections, this behaviour is real and intensifying. The Bush Administration has made mistakes in Iraq over the past 15 months -some of which were avoidable if advice from allies such as King Abdullah had been taken. It is, though, right about Iran. Britain must shift its stance on Tehran towards that of Washington.
Iran says it has prepared complaint against Saddam Hussein
TEHRAN, July 4 (AFP) - Tehran has prepared a complaint against against Saddam Hussein for his 1980 attack on Iran and use of chemical weapons, and will soon file the dossier with the Iraqi tribunal putting the former president on trial, the foreign ministry said Sunday.
"One of the crimes of Saddam Hussein is the attack against Iran, the deaths of Iranians, the use of chemical weapons. We have prepared a complaint which will be filed to the tribunal," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said.
Urging the Iraqi court to "act with transparency and in a public manner," Asefi also complained that Saddam's 1980 land grab -- which sparked the catastrophic 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war -- did not figure on the original list of charges.
"We have asked the Iraqis to explain why the attack on Iran did not feature among the charges against him, even though the judge said the question would be addressed at a later date," Asefi said.
Iran claims number-two position for world oil reserves
TEHRAN, July 3 (AFP) - Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh announced Saturday that new oil discoveries in the southwest of the country now meant the Islamic republic held the number-two position in world crude reserves.
"We now have the second largest oil reserves in the world, after Saudi Arabia," he told a news conference.He said the oil ministry's new figure of 132 billion barrels of proven reserves, a jump of 17 billion barrels from before, came from discoveries in
the Kushk and Hosseinieh oilfields -- now classed as one single field and renamed Yadavaran -- in the southwestern province of Khuzestan.
The minister said exploitable oil at Yadavaran stood at over three billion barrels, with a potential daily output of between 300,000 to 400,000 bpd.
The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) website places Iran's proven crude reserves at 99.08 billion barrels for 2002, the latest year for which figures are given. That is below even the previous figures given by the Iranian oil ministry.
According to the website, Saudi reserves are estimated at around 262.79 billion barrels, with second place going to Iraq with 115 billion barrels.
With Iran ranking third according to those figures, fourth place is held by the United Arab Emirates (97.8 billion barrels) and fifth place by Kuwait (96.5 billion).
However, Zanganeh pointed to other figures, notably those given in June by British Petroleum (BP) which had put Iran in second place with 130.7 billion barrels.
BP put Iraq in third place with 115 billion barrels.Zanganeh was asked if Iran would now be asking OPEC for an increase in its
daily production quota.
"No, we have not made such a request," he said. "But there is general discussion going on in OPEC to work out a new quota system. These discussions will take a long time. It needs a consensus among all members."
He also predicted that by the end of the current Iranian year in March 2005, Iranian production capacity would reach 4.3 million bpd.
Iran's current quota is 3.744 million bpd, and its production and capacity are around 3.9 million bpd.