Last updated on: 5/14/2008 10:56:00 AM PST

What Was the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo?



General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Albert Hourani, the late Director of St. Antony's College Middle East Centre at Oxford University, in his 1991 book A History of the Arab Peoples, wrote:

"The Arab oil-producing countries decided to cut down their production so long as Israel remained in occupation of Arab lands, and Saudi Arabia imposed a total embargo on exports to the USA and The Netherlands, which was regarded as the most favorable to Israel of western European countries and was also a center of the free market in oil...

The demand for Middle Eastern oil had been increasing, as the needs of the industrial countries grew faster than production, and the organization of oil exporting countries (OPEC) had been growing stronger and more determined to increase their share of the profits, which were a smaller proportion of the price than was the amount taken in taxation by the consumer countries which imported oil. At the end of 1973 OPEC decided to increase the prices at which oil was sold by some 300 per cent; Iran and the Arab countries were the prime movers in this decision."

1991 - Albert Hourani 

Howard M. Sachar, PhD, Professor of History at George Washington University, in his 1976 book titled A History of Israel, wrote:

"In 1973, "Western Europe imported almost 85 percent of its petroleum from the Middle East (Japan fully 90 percent), in contrast to the United States, which until then depended upon Arab countries for a bare 7 percent of its oil imports. This Western economic vulnerability was now to be exploited during the Yom Kippur War [1973 War].

As a consequence of [Egyptian President] Sadat's shrewd advance diplomacy, the Arab oil-producing nations swiftly closed ranks behind Cairo [Egypt] and Damascus [Syria]. Their petroleum ministers gathered at the Kuwait Sheraton Hotel on October 17, 1973, and within hours decided to cut export production by 5 percent, and in succeeding months further to reduce their output, 'depending on the Middle Eastern situation.' Indeed, the ministers soon established various categories among the European nations, upgrading or reducing the latter's oil quotas in direct relation to their support of the Arab cause against Israel.

Once the American airlift [of military aid to Israel] began, moreover, the Arab Persian Gulf states, even such traditionally good friends as Saudi Arabia, declared a total ban on oil shipments to the United States. Soon afterward the Netherlands also found itself included in this embargo; The Hague had made an indiscreet statement of sympathy for the Israelis.

It was under the facade of the war crisis, too, that the Arabs seized the opportunity to launch a drastic escalation of prices. Libya announced on October 18 that the cost of its oil would go up 28 percent -- irrespective of the war and of Israel misdeeds. Iraq thereupon declared a 70 percent price rise. Kuwait matched this latter figure. The competition in Arab acquisitiveness soon was emulated by other, non-Arab, oil-producing nations."

1976 - Howard M. Sachar, PhD