Monday, June 13, 2011

The Middle East Turmoil & High Oil Prices

I was struck by this simple juxtaposition: As the people in the Middle East become unhappy because of the difficulties of earning a good living and high cost of living, Iran, with the help of Venezuela, Iraq, Algeria, Angola and Libya, fought against the Saudi's efforts to increase output by 1.5 m bpd and soft the price of oil in Vienna on June 9. Apparently, the opposition comes from those without the capacity to pump more and are thus unlikely to benefit from the scheme. Saudi has the capacity and it can unilaterally do it and gain extra revenue, while helping to bring down the price of oil.

This is quite interesting. That governments do see a difference in the budget and the welfare of the people. The Middle East is in a position to try to lower the price of oil and in effect reduce some inflationary pressures from high commodity prices and hence the cost of living. If their region is in turmoil as people take to the streets, lessening retail prices may help to cool those pressures on the ground.

But this is not going to happen. Governments need a good budget to spend and they do not appear to be spending in a way that will directly benefit the people. The people can suffer and it is none of the business of the governments - so long as the governments can be elected or re-elected into power through strong party membership that takes care only of party members. The people can take to the streets and the governments are quite happy to shoot their own people - just to stay in power.

All this is interesting only if my assumptions are correct. Some may argue that the general uproar in the Middle East is a product of technology and that people are taking to the streets because they now know that can congregate in the streets at the same time. I would not confuse the means with the ends.

There could be another argument that says that people are simply fed up with the same old people in governments and they want new faces with fresh ideas, and they are making these protests with great distress to the physical body as well as the mental anguish and hence no amount of cheap prices will help to quell that unrest. This must be really tough then.

The upshot of all these is that the problem in the Middle East is something that the Middle East itself can solve, by itself. Whether it will or not depends on how cohesive the Middle East communities are among themselves, or they are simply bitter enemies among themselves to the bitter end. If they are enemies, then they are ripe for manipulation from outside the region, and there is great incentive for causing unrest especially when the control of resources is concerned.

There is a lack of intellectual leadership in solving the Middle East problem. If the Middle East is uniquely different from the West, it should strive to exert its own uniqueness and identity. If not, then, the Middle East is no different from anywhere in the world, where sectarianism seems to rule the day with the inability to see the sameness in all human beings to the chief cause of trouble. There could even be animosity among brothers. If this is the case, the problem is pure greed and the scramble for power. We just need one or two evil men (and women).


walla said...
and (37Mb):

walla said...

Anonymous said...

The Arab Spring is caused by a concoction of internal and external causes. Food inflation, poverty, political repression etc seem to be the apparent causes but there is a strong element of external manipulation from the involvement of the CIA with the Muslim Brotherhood which has its common links in the affected regions.

The illegal attacks by the US President against Libya's Gaddafi regime is also setting the end game plan for a major Middle eastern war.

Go read: to find out what the mainstream press is not telling us.