In what Iran is touting as a “blow to the West,” a senior official with the nation’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is taking over as the new head of the OPEC oil cartel.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad named as his oil minister Brig. Gen. Rostam Ghasemi, who heads Khatam al-Anbia (KAA), an industrial giant owned by the Revolutionary Guards, and he was approved by Iranian lawmakers on Wednesday.
Ghasemi’s position as oil minister means he will preside over OPEC meetings this year, because Iran holds the rotating presidency of the 12-country cartel.
KAA has been targeted for international sanctions for activities relating to Iran’s nuclear program, the Guardian reported.
Ghasemi himself was added to the U.S. Treasury Department’s list of Specially Designated Nationals whose assets are frozen. Ghasemi cannot do business with Americans.
A Revolutionary Guards spokesman called the approval of Ghasemi as oil minister “a meaningful and crucial response to the attacks against the Guards from the West’s media empire.”
And an Iranian lawmaker was quoted as saying a vote for Ghasemi would be a vote for Iran’s “history of resistance.”
Britain’s Telegraph observed that “the fate of world oil prices could rest in the hands of a man who has devoted his whole life to opposing the West. Oil prices are high enough as it is, and the prospect of Iran using oil prices to hold the world to ransom is something that should give all of us sleepless nights.”
OPEC’s 12 nations, including Saudi Arabia and Iraq, account for about 79 percent of the world’s crude oil reserves and 44 percent of world production.
In 1973, Arab members of OPEC placed an embargo on oil exports to the United States and Western Europe in response to the West’s resupply of Israel during the Yom Kippur War.