Saturday, 2 April 2011

The Arab Uprisings: 'Interesting Times' Ahead.

Compared to the impact of the 1973 oil crisis, the potential for one in 2011 or 2012 grows more ominous. Marks Almond has written ( Middle East uprising will put oil giant Saudi Arabia in peril The Daily Mail 20th February 2011 )
The oil-rich autocracies on which we depend are now facing full-throated is the rising tide of violence around Saudi Arabia which could ignite a political blow-out of terrifying proportions in the world’s biggest oil producing country.

Even people who hope to see the end of the Saudis’ hand-chopping, wife-beating Wahhabi fundamentalist regime must realise that its downfall will create a global economic earthquake.

The situation in neighbouring Bahrain is a microcosm of what might happen in Saudi Arabia.

Don’t let Bahrain’s tiny size mislead you.This island kingdom sits on the fault-line separating the tectonic plates of the Muslim world and is the fulcrum of American power in the Middle East.

The U.S. Fifth Fleet is based on the island –which is attached to Saudi by a causeway – and pro-Iranian Shi’ites who make up 70 per cent of the population are seething with rage against the pro-Western king.

The remaining 30 per cent of Bahrain’s population are Sunni Muslims, and the bitter Sunni-Shi’ite infighting there could spark a religious civil war which could quickly spread to Saudi Arabia.Outsiders would pour in. Not just jihadi fanatics. Iran would support the ‘oppressed’ Shi’ites of Bahrain and Saudi.

What would America do? Could Obama abandon the pro-Western rulers of Bahrain and Saudi if Iran got involved?And how then would people in other Arab states such as Egypt react if the West put stopping Iran ahead of People Power? And how might Israel react?

In the long term, democratising the Middle East must be a good thing – that is, if we can get to the long term. In the short term, the world is in for its bumpiest ride for decades.
Set against the background of the global crash of 2008 and the recession, the consequences could be global instability and within Europe the potential for social conflict as the faltering economy crumbles further and consumer comforts that have been taken for granted give way to an era of privation and hardship.

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