Sunday, February 27, 2011

SOC Editors On the Middle East

Let me offer a different, and perhaps cynical, view of what’s happening in the Middle East. First, the army was in control in Tunisia and Egypt, and still is. Some things will change, and hopefully the false, crony capitalism will be one of the things to go; but I don’t think we will see sweeping changes for some time. Libya is 2% of the world’s oil supply. Other than that, they are like Greece. They are not that big a player. Gaddafi is on his way out. His bank accounts are being frozen. He will end up in Venezuela or some equally wonderful place. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bad guy. The new leadership will most likely be the army, and it will get the oil turned back on as soon as possible. (See the trend here?)
By the way, the idea that Saudi Arabia can make up for Libyan oil is a little fanciful. Libyan oil is light sweet crude, and it takes three barrels of Saudi oil to make as much diesel as Libyan oil. Oil could get very volatile and move up strongly if Gaddafi hangs on too long. $4 gas is not out of the question here in the US if he doesn’t leave soon; but at the end of the day, not too much will change in Libya.
The key place to watch is Bahrain. Now THAT is an issue. It is a strategic country with the US 5th fleet based there, and it has a large Shiite population that could ally with Iran. There is no real way of knowing what will happen there, and that is something I have my Google notes set to watch, along with talking from time to time with George Friedman of Stratfor. Nice to have friends with inside information. But even he is not sure tonight.
Saudi Arabia? Pay attention, but so far it looks like the changes are still in the future. One day it will change, but it doesn’t appear imminent (although anything can happen).
The one thing that I hope changes? Maybe the Iran street will force some change. I am on record saying that one day Iran will be our new best friend. The population is young and getting younger. They’re on the Internet. They see what the world is like and they want it. Maybe not this year or next, but it will happen.

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