Thursday, March 29, 2007

It's about to get worse

In the Middle East. When I want to understand Middle East politics, I turn to Juan Cole, The latest debacle is the loss of the support of Saudi King Abdullah on Iraq. This does not bode well for any chance of reducing the sectarian violence. I'll let Professor Cole explain:
Saudi King Abdullah said on Wednesday at the opening of the Arab League meetings, "“In beloved Iraq, blood is shed among our brothers while there is an illegitimate foreign occupation and a hateful sectarianism that is threatening to develop into a civil war . . .”

King Abdullah followed up on these harsh criticisms of the US by cancelling his
planned appearance at a White House dinner in April. The Saudi royal family is
fit to be tied that Bush gave Iraq away to fundamentalist Shiite parties that have close ties to Iran.

Although the Saudi statement is remarkable for its brutal frankness and coldness toward the United States, its real significance is its slam of the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Abdullah has not only said that the US presence is an illegal occupation, he has said that the al-Maliki government is nothing more than
Shiite sectarian hegemony. The Saudis are known for their behind the scenes
diplomacy and their public discretion. King Abdullah is hopping mad, to talk this way. It augurs ill for US-Saudi relations. Abdullah is also angry that Bush is letting the Palestine issue fester and that he pushed for open Palestinian elections but then cut off the Hamas government once it was elected. Abdullah thinks Bush is pursuing irrational policies, the effect of which is to destabilize the Middle East. He is so angry that he sounds a bit like Iraqi Sunni fundamentalist leader Harith al-Dhari, who is connected in some shadowy way with the Sunni guerrillas fighting the US

Can Shrub and co. do anything right? They seem to be determined to make a bad situation worse, and the threats towards Iran are escalating daily.


Demeur said...

If the king really wants to be a thorn in Bush's side he could lower the price of oil to say $10 a barrel.
That would put the screws to Thugco and their oil buddys.
Interesting to note that Shrub the senior said he'd never invade Iraq because of what might and actually did happen.
Good post Py

SweaterMan said...

Demeur -

No way could the House of Saud drop the price that low. First, they don't control the market as the swing producer anymore, as Ghawar seems to be playing out (regardless of the billions they are spending throwing more rigs at the field, water cut in Northern Ghawar has passed 50%). Second, Saudi society is already precariously balanced, with the majority of the populace being cradled with social service programs, in order to reduce intrastate tension and prevent extensive rioting, fighting, and the collapse of the House of Saud leaders. Lowering the price of oil would lower incoming wealth to the country, forcing it to drastically cut back on social programs, probably leading directly to an angered populace carrying out that very revolution.

Finally, even with oil estimates fluctuating wildly, and with ever-increasing tensions in the Middle East, it looks as if some countries are beginning to implement a teensy tiny bit of demand destruction, but not enough. With overall demand growing, the Saudis are glad to sell oil at the going rate ($63-something as of Thursday AM) and definitely don't want that price to lower much (even if they talk a good game about a $40 dollar oil floor, it seems that $60 is the new one).

While I share your feeling of screwing over Dumbya's pals in the oil industry, the actual final joke is on them: when folks can't afford their resource anymore, they'll be the ones to suffer.