“I’m in Tripoli, not Venezuela” – Moammar Qaddafi
Got it, Moammar. I’m in Maryland, not Tajikistan.
The Middle East is in an uproar; often described by news commentators as “on fire” with protests demanding self-determination in government (e.g. free elections). First it was Tunisia, then Egypt, now Libya seems to be headed toward regime change. Are Jordan, Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen far behind? Will the Iranian people also revolt against theocracy and tyranny? Time will tell.
I saw some commentary yesterday about the impact of all of this on gas prices here in America. The claim by financial commentator Eric Bolling was that Libyan unrest will push us to $4 a gallon. If the trouble spreads to Venezuela it would push it to $5 a gallon. Unrest in Iran would push it to $7 a gallon, and unrest in Saudia Arabia could push us to $10 a gallon. Wow!
As if he sees the writing on the wall, Saudi King Abdullah recently announced $37 billion in benefits to the nearly 18 million Saudi nationals; roughly $2000 a person simply for being Saudi. Perhaps he moved too far too fast.
The move seems indicative of a leader who knows his position is tenuous. There is something to be said in these situations for showing an air of confidence and strength – even if you’re trying to hand out as many bribes as possible in the background.
I doubt the move will stem the nascent opposition. After all, the oil is still there. Surely the opposition understands that they (and the Saudi people) will still own the oil if the house of Saud is overthrown. Furthermore, the opposition can surely count on American backing should they succeed – we only care about getting our oil and will gladly defend whoever owns it and ships it our way. On top of this, it’s not as though handouts are a new thing for Saudis. I suspect they have come to expect this type of thing and won’t be swayed one way or another by an extra $2K.
The turmoil seems to be spreading far and fast. Everybody will feel the impact in some form.