As demand for oil increases, the dependent countries hesitate to antagonize those with ample supply. As a result, developing nations that are oil-rich have discovered newfound power, with oil politics often taking priority over democracy or human rights. For example, Chinese energy interests protect the Sudan from US anger over the massacre in Darfur. Likewise, some Western capitals are reluctant to bring Iran before the UN Security Council, because any sanctions including an oil embargo would damage their own economies. Over the past 70 years, the US led the way in setting ground rules for oil politics, yet now seems surprised by trends that have given developing countries more power. – YaleGlobal
The Power of Oil: Scramble for diminishing resource shapes global relationships
by Dilip Hiro
YaleGlobal Online, 10 January 2006
LONDON: A geopolitical game has been underway ever since oil became a strategic commodity just before World War I. Once dominated primarily by Western nations, the game now includes many non-Western ones, with the countries dependent on oil imports increasingly reluctant to antagonize those endowed with oil.
A case in point, Western capitals have abandoned threats of placing Iran in the dock at the UN Security Council – at least for the time being. On January 10, to the chagrin of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran resumed research in enriching uranium that it had voluntarily stopped earlier.
Last September, the European Union Troika (EU3) succeeded in convincing the IAEA Board of Governors to declare that Iran was in non-compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) it had signed. But the EU3 did not take the next logical step of referring Tehran to the UN Security Council.
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Dilip Hiro is the author of "Secrets and Lies: Operation 'Iraqi Freedom' and After," and most recently "The Iranian Labyrinth: Journeys through Theocratic Iran and its Furies," both published by Nation Books.
Celebrated journalist and historian Dilip Hiro, who has been writing and reporting on Iran since the 1979 revolution and is one of the world's leading experts on the Middle East, deftly navigates the Iranian labyrinth. He both conveys the country's rich history and provides fascinating eyewitness accounts of the contemporary events and institutions. Hiro's deeply informed contribution to our understanding of a country at the center of foreign affairs is invaluable.
Hiro describes Iran as a land of contradictions. On the one hand, chador-clad women are the majority at universities, Iranian films win prizes at international festivals and human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi is a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; and on the other, a rising number of journalists, intellectuals, women and youth suffer under the sociopolitical restrictions imposed upon them by the Islamic regime.
Dilip Hiro writes regularly for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Observer, the Guardian and The Nation. His twenty-seven books include the best-selling, "Iraq: In the Eye of the Storm", as well as "The Longest War", widely regarded as the definitive history of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq conflict.
© 2006 YaleGlobal Online, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization