The Changing Face of MENA

Muammar al-Gaddafi at the 12th AU summit, Febr...

Image via Wikipedia

October 22, 2011

Saddam Hussein, once our tyrant-ally, is long gone, dragged from his hidey-hole by American troops, tried in an Iraqi court and subsequently hung several years ago.

Ben Ali of Tunisia and Mubarak of Egypt have been deposed by the Arab Spring uprisings while Saleh of Yemen and Al Khalifa of Bahrain still cling to power with the help of Saudi Arabia (and, at least in Yemen, US drone strikes).

Bin Laden is gone via special ops, as is much of the al Qaida leadership and Al-

Awlaki via drone attacks.

Muammar Qaddafi, the powerful and ruthless ruler of Libya for four decades, died two days ago.  Though there is some question as to exactly how he died, in the end, the strutting and pompous lion of the desert was reduced to a befuddled, balding, late-middle-aged man, crying out (we are told) “What is happening?  What is happening?”

Presumably, Syria’s ruler, Assad, has now been placed on notice by the event.

NATO will end its bombardment of Libya while diplomats and others from the State Department begin theirs.  We have worked very hard behind the scenes, in both Libya and Egypt, to provide “direction” for both nations.

And yesterday President Obama announced the withdrawal of all American  troops from Iraq by Christmas.  Of course, a few thousand private security contractors – presumably armed – will remain.

While Republican heads in Congress spin at the thought of total troop withdrawal, other neo-cons in Washington lick their lips and turn greedy eyes toward Iran.  This, in spite of the sudden silence over the “Iran plot” of barely a week ago after Iran experts began questioning the likelihood of the plot actually coming from the Iranian leadership

And while Mrs. Clinton went to Pakistan a couple of days ago to tough talk the Pakistani government over its lack of support against the Haqqani network raids on American  troops in Afghanistan, Afghan President Karzai sat down for an interview with Pakistani television this morning to say that, “God forbid, if ever there is a war between Pakistan and America, Afghanistan will side with Pakistan.”

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and heir to the Saudi throne, Sultan bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, died at dawn today after a long illness.  What effect this will have on succession to the throne, in the event of King Abdullah’s death, is unknown right now.

But there is a whole lot of shaking going on in the Middle East and North Africa this year and, one way or another, it will affect us.

Probably the most direct effects will be in oil supply as explained in this article from the Oil Drum

“Recently, the International Energy Agency’s Chief Economist Fatih Birol was quoted as saying,

In the next 10 years, more than 90% of the growth in global oil production needs to come from MENA [Middle East and North African] countries. There are major risks if this investment doesn’t come in a timely manner.

“While I agree that we need more oil production, I think we are kidding ourselves if we expect that 90% of the needed growth in global oil production will come from MENA countries. In this post, I will explain seven reasons why I think we are kidding ourselves …”

With the failure of our two decade-long wars to guarantee us unlimited access to what remains of the cheap, easily accessible oil, (fought, in part, due to the realization by our leaders that we were fast approaching the decline in world production of that oil) we find ourselves in a quandary.  The cost of those wars helped plunge the economy into a recession.  We can’t grow the economy out of that recession without a certain and secure oil supply and we can no longer afford the wars we thought would guarantee continued access to that supply.

In addition, the Arab Spring seemed to have caught us off guard with its suddenness and how quickly it began to spread – threatening to change the entire landscape of MENA and, therefore, oil supplies.

So where does this leave our Empire in regard to ensuring its oil supply?  As I  talked about in this August post, , we seem to be moving toward a new type of warfare.  The huge increase and reach of our drone strikes over the past year or so is no doubt a part of it.  As is an increase in both diplomatic and intelligence operations designed to steer the Arab Spring into producing “US-interest friendly” leaders in both Libya and Egypt.  One might even expect to see the same type of no-boots-on-the-ground, “humanitarian” air strikes over Syria that were conducted in Libya (and my guess is, we already have covert ops working with Syrian rebels to lay the foundations of a new, friendlier government there – as we did in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Egypt, as we surely have in Iran).

Might we get into an all out war with Iran for control of the Strait of Hormuz (through which 40% of the world’s oil flows)?  Anything is possible, I suppose.  But, if Iran is smart, they’ve already mined it in preparation for such an event and it would be a real cliff-hanger to see whether our military could disarm those mines before Iran could blow up the strait and stop that flow of oil for a very long time.

So where does that leave the rest of us mere mortals as the Big Dogs of the Empire figure out new ways to keep oil flowing?  Boy, your guess is as good as mine.  But if I were you, I’d keep the pantry stocked, the garden growing and an eye on the news.  And I’d do my best to see what might actually be behind that news, as the situation continues to change over there in MENAland.

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4 Responses to The Changing Face of MENA

  1. Bill Hicks says:

    I’ve largely steered clear of this subject on my blog because the spectacle of the supposedly antiwar, Nobel Peace Prize-winning Obama become the Assassin-in-Chief extraordinaire is just too depressing. Clearly, President Hopey-Changey is hoping his image as the gunslinger who bags the bad guys the hapless Bush let get away will cause people to forget that he has done virtually NOTHING on the domestic front. And it is working to some extent, as evidenced by the cheers arising in places like the Daily Kos and Bill Maher’s audience where they ought to freaking know better.

    Oh great–now I’m depressed again. 😦

    • theozarker says:

      LOL, hi Bill. I think it’s gone beyond depressing to tragic. If he’d kicked as much butt here as he’s kicked over there, he’d have accomplished a lot more here (whether that’s a good thing or not, I’m not sure) and not done so much damage there. Between him and Bush I think we’ve meddled in just about every country in the MENA. Sigh.

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