Saddam shuts off oil over Israeli invasion

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The Independent Online

The Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein, has said his country is stopping its oil exports for a month to protest at Israel's campaign against the Palestinians. His move led to a rise in oil prices but is not expected to have a long-term impact unless other oil producers join the embargo.

President Saddam said on television the leadership had decided "in the name of the people of Iraq ... to stop exporting oil totally as of this afternoon through the pipelines flowing to the Turkish ports and the south for 30 days".

Iraq exports only two million barrels of crude a day under the UN oil-for-food programme, but in the present jumpy atmosphere in the Middle East the stoppage is likely to have an effect despite the large stocks of crude. Oil prices rose to more than $27 a barrel after the announcement before settling down.

Last Friday the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on Islamic countries to stop supplying oil for one month to countries with close links to Israel. Libya supported the call.

In Venezuela, the world's fourth-largest oil exporter President Hugo Chavez is trying to crush a month-long revolt against government- appointed directors at the state oil monopoly. Stoppages by workers halted exports and production was reduced as storage tanks were full.

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