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Thursday, 21 February 1980
Page: 280


Mr JACOBI (Hawker) - I rise to support the Opposition's amendment. The invasion and occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union was and is a brutal and flagrant abuse of power and breach of human rights. Its behaviour stands to be condemned. I suggest that the people of Australia will not accept the bland statements, the hysteria and the double standards of this Government. Last March, speaking in a foreign affairs debate, I made the following observations:

I suggest that any debate on this subject over the last decade must consider the energy equation and how critical that factor is in geographic and strategic terms.

I also said that the West needed to evaluate the following contingencies: A terrorist strike in the oil fields or in the narrow straits of the Persian Gulf; the growth of Soviet pressure in the region; some new twist to the Arab-Israeli conflict; a struggle for pre-eminence within Saudi Arabia, Iraq or Iran; or the accession to power of a Gaddafi in Saudi Arabia. The mistake, I suggest, has been to assume that the Arab-Israeli conflict represented the major threat to the West's oil supplies and that it was therefore necessary to press for a settlement of the conflict to secure the oil. The United States ignored the risk that instability in the oil market could be generated by domestic events in the Gulf rather than by the Arab-Israeli conflict. Thus at a time when the United States was concentrating its energies on the Israel-Egypt negotiations, oil supplies became disrupted by the shutdown of Iranian crude oil production. This shutdown reduced Saudi Arabia's ability to play the role of oil price monitor because it was forced to use up its leverage prematurely by increasing its production to its maximum sustainable capacity in order to meet the shortfall from Iran. The anxity about the Persian Gulf has been long standing as far as the Saudi Arabians are concerned, particularly in relation to the fragility of their monarchy. Saudi Arabia's enormously increased wealth and the presence of millions of foreign workers from neighbouring countries have created staggering security problems. Saudi Arabia's worries over the growth of Soviet influence in Iran are being reinforced by Moscow's expanding presence in both North and South Yemen.

Whilst maintaining close ties with the Marxist Government in South Yemen, the Soviet Union reportedly has recently completed large arms deals with the Government of North Yemen. This, I suggest, is a critical area and it includes Oman. It needs constant scrutiny. It is another Middle East flash point. We need to note, I suggest, the International Energy Agency's warning last year that the energy gap will far exceed 10 million barrels by 1990. This gap, this shortfall of 10 million barrels a day, is equivalent to the loss, or rather if you like, a complete cut-off of Saudi Arabian crude oil of 9.5 million barrels a day. The economic strain on the world is inevitable and enormous. To compound this one needs to appreciate the dilemma of the Soviet Union.

The USSR does have massive potential reserves of oil in Eastern Siberia but their inaccessibility, the scale of investment and the technology required to develop these fields are a massive problem. Authoritative resources predict that by the 1990s the Soviet Union will be a net importer rather than a net exporter. If anyone studies its oil field reserves in Baku last year he will find that they are starting to decrease rather than increase. Unless Russia is given access to tertiary recovery levels, which means Russia cannot extract its maximum from its Baku fields, that is going to compound Russia's problem to get a slice of Middle East crude oil.

There was great hysteria by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) about a cut-off of the Gulf. We ought to examine that. In the view of many oil and military specialists the threat is so ominous that it essentially rules itself out. The straits are so crucial that only a nation willing to risk all-out retaliation by the rest of the world would dare to interfere with it. The Straits of Hormuz connect the Persian Gulf with the Indian Ocean. On an average of every 21 minutes a tanker passes through the straits. Two thirds of all the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries' oil flows through the straits, a third of the United States', most of Japan's and Western Europe's. Any cut-off would immediately trigger the International Energy Agency's sharing mechanism. It would mean a shortage for everyone. That would wreak unimaginable havoc not only on oil consuming countries but also on the exporting countries. It demands the particpation of those who rely on oil from the Middle East and those who are concerned with global peace and stability. It demands consultation with countries in the area which might be threatened.

The Straits of Hormuz are and will remain a vital waterway for the consuming world. In the view of some analysts it is probably the biggest reason why a confrontation between outside powers in the Straits may never take place. It is so vital that all the countries involved, I believe, would exercise power to protect it. I cannot imagine that that is how the Russians would like to start World War III, because that is what we are talking about. I suggest that the most critical challenge the world faces is to reach a global consensus on a rational distribution of the world's oil resources. The situation demands careful thought, not hysteria, irrational or ill considered rhetoric.

Afghanistan has been receiving aid from the Soviets. It has been accepted as their sphere of influence since 1958. Might I suggest that one of the motivating reasons for Russian intervention in Afghanistan and ultimately in Baluchistan will be its rich mineral and particularly energy deposits. The 5,000 Soviet advisers in Afghanistan before the Soviet invasion were mainly central Asians. They not only failed to put down local Moslim guerillas but they may have been suspectible of holding sympathies for them. The emphasis on religion in Iran's revolution and in effect the Afghanistan insurgency is the product of the two Soviet-backed coups in 1978 and 1979. It has brought Moscow a worrisome danger of contagion, if you like, about the Soviet Union's estimated 40 million Moslems. Since 1956 the Russians have been trying to establish credentials as a Moslem homeland by encouraging contacts with outside religious leaders.

The compelling reason for Moscow's intervention may well have been the fact that Amin had increasingly come to be viewed by Moscow as a potential Tito. However, in the process, and not for the first time, Moscow regrettably has encouraged the very thing it fears most- the hostility of the United States, a closer working relationship between Washington and Peking, a more expensive arms race that will reduce the living standards of its own people and more than likely an invitation from several frightened Middle East countries to open their naval and air bases to the Pentagon. The only ally left outside of Iran is the reliance by the United States on the military dictatorship of General Zia, who has not the support of the overwhelming proportion of the population and, to say the least, his control is tenuous.

Since Karmal, the new Soviet installed President of Afghanistan referred to the legitimate aspirations of the Baluchis. The Baluchis have strong feelings about ethnic identity and deeply resent the repression they receive from Tehran. For the Iranian Government, holding onto Baluchistan is a question of capital importance, but one could suggest that the Soviets could coordinate twin rebellions in both the Baluchis and Pashtuns. Launched from staging points in Afghanistan, proclaiming a people 's republic of Baluchistan, the rebels may welcome a Soviet naval facility to the Port of Gwadar in Pakastani

Baluchistan, commanding 750 miles of coastline near the Persian Gulf. I think it was Holmes who one said: 'A page of history is worth a volume of logic'.

Let us look at Iran. The modern history of Iran has been largely a history of great power rivalry. The current controversy involves certain elements that are peculiar to the middle of the twentieth century- nationalism, oil and the EastWest struggle. The great power rivalry of the past has traditionally been a rivalry of conflicting national interest. Today the rivalry is also one between two different ideologies; the Utopia of the Soviet Union and the less dramatic appeal of democracy from the West. There is a third ideology- nationalism- precipitated particularly by the nationalisation of oil during the Mossadegh crisis and subsequently. Iran truly epitomises a people struggling for their own sense of national identity, a people sick to death of being the pawn in the power game between the major powers. The Third World must be given the priority that it deserves. No longer can the Third World be relegated. Within Iran the legacy has left smouldering fires of everlasting feuds and hatreds, growing discontent and disillusionment in Tehran, Esfahan, Abadan and Azerbaijan.

Those blind to history are the very ones who make it. Khomeini would be ignoring historical fact if he believed that his Government will be everlasting. Every act of opposition in Iran, every terrorist attack breeds another and is a flame from that smouldering fire. We ought to heed the lessons of history. When a nation is left without a leader or a strong guiding force it is always a grand usurper, the international opportunist, who takes power with golden promises. It is rarely a Garibaldi or Bolivar. France was internally torn when a little Corsican captured it, took power and spread this power at a cost of three million French lives. Italy was ripe for plucking when a short newspaper publisher marched on Rome. Germany without leadership amid bickering factions was easy prey for Hitler. What is going to be the fate of Khomeini in the event of a continued internal strife? One can only speculate that a military faction will take over.

I will conclude in the few minutes I have left with these observations. I have listened attentively to this debate. Much of what was said by Government supporters was hysteria, much of it was ill-considered and much of it was illinformed. History has a very bitter lesson to teach. From now on governments throughout the world will have to understand and recognise that people are important, not governments. The world at the moment is suffering from a legacy and we, as politicians, would be well-advised to study it, particularly in the Middle East. Much of the conflict in the Middle East stems from three important factors- the San Remo agreement in 1920, the Balfour declaration and, tragically enough, American Central Intelligence Agency involvement and British involvement in the demise of Mossadegh in 1953. Consequently we had the Shah and, subsequently, we have Khomeini. If the Russians have not learned after their trampling and oppression in Hungary and in Czechoslovakia, if the Americans and this Government have not learned after their tragic intervention in Vietnam, and now in Afghanistan, there is one simple lesson that they will learn. The Third World is going to remind the major powers of it. That lesson is contained in this very simple dictum: That people throughout the world, particularly in the Third World, will prefer to be misgoverned by their own people than well governed by foreigners. This Government has no credibility at all if it goes to the nation on its double standards. If it is going to block the Olympic Games it ought to go all the way.

Question put:

That the amendment (Mr Hurford's) be agreed to.







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