Risk analysts and intelligence agencies fear that Egypt's uprising may set off escalating protests in the tense Shia regions of Saudi Arabia, home to the world's richest oilfields....
While markets have focused on possible disruption to the Suez Canal, conduit for 8pc of global shipping, it is unlikely that Egyptian leaders of any stripe would cut off an income stream worth $5bn (£3.1bn) a year to the Egyptian state.
"I don't think the Egyptians will ever dare to touch it," said Opec chief Abdullah El-Badri, adding that the separate Suez oil pipeline is "very well protected". The canal was blockaded after the Six Days War in 1967.
There has been less focus on the risk of instability spreading to Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, headquarters of the Saudi oil giant Aramco. The region boasts the vast Safaniya, Shaybah and Ghawar oilfields. "This is potentially far more dangerous," said Faysal Itani, Mid-East strategist at Exclusive.
"The Shia are 10pc of the Saudi population. They are deeply aggrieved and marginalized, and sit on top of the kingdom's oil reserves. There have been frequent confrontations and street fights with the security forces that are very rarely reported in the media," he said.
Saudi King Abdullah is clearly alarmed by fast-moving events in Egypt and the Arab world. In a statement published by the Saudi press agency he said agitators had "infiltrated Egypt to destabilize its security and incite malicious sedition".
The accusations seem aimed at Iran's Shia regime, which has openly endorsed the "rightful demands" of the protest movement. There is deep concern in Sunni Arab countries that Iran is attempting to create a "Shia Crescent" through Iraq, Bahrain and into the Gulf areas of Saudi Arabia, hoping to become the hegemonic force in global oil supply.
Goldman Sachs said the Mid-East holds 61pc of the world's proven oil reserves – and 36pc of current supply – which may compel global leaders to make "concentrated efforts" to stabilize the region. The bank said high levels of affluence should shield Saudi Arabia and the Gulf's oil-rich states from "political contagion".
However, a third of Saudi Arabia's 25m residents are ill-assimilated foreigners and the country faces a "youth bulge", with unemployment at 42pc among those aged 20 to 24.
Nima Khorrami Assl, a Gulf expert at the Transnational Crisis Project, said Shi'ites have been "stigmatized, demonized, ill-treated, excluded from any Army or Security Jobs, barred from the Bureaucracy, and very deeply hated by the Saudi Royal family and the Saudi Establishment for decades, as a result of excessive paranoia since Iran's Islamic Revolution" and face systemic barriers in education and jobs, in other words, the Shiites in KSA are systematically discriminated against from birth to death....and are considered like 5th class citizens... "Should the Gulf states do nothing or attempt to preserve the status quo, social unrest becomes inevitable. The current situation is inherently very unstable," he told Foreign Policy Journal.
Exclusive Analysis said Egypt's revolt had gone beyond the point of no return as protesters plan a 1m strong rally on Tuesday, with president Hosni Mubarak likely to be ousted within 30 days.
John Cochrane, the group's global risk strategist, said the regime has so far refrained from ordering the army to crush protesters knowing that many officers will refuse to obey. "If asked to use lethal force, it is questionable whether the army's cohesion will hold together," he said.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the best-organized of the diffuse protest movement, has reached out to the military, praising its "long and honorable history", but it has also begun to set up its own populist militias to protect the streets.
A future government – with the Brotherhood pulling some strings – is expected to renationalize parts of industry, shifting away from "free-market" policies used to weaken the labor unions and steer contracts to an incestuous elite. Ezz Steel and other parts of the business empire of Ahmed Ezz may be seized, as well as infrastructure assets linked to corrupt ministers.
The Brotherhood's "old guard" has so far controlled its hotheads but the organization is close to Hamas in Gaza. Israel may soon find that it can no longer count on a secure southern border, even if Egypt's peace treaty remains in name.
The outbreak of Arab populism vindicates claims by some that the region is ripe for change, but this is not what Washington had in mind. "US interests are the first casualty," said Mr. Itani.
Fairly or unfairly, America is tarred with the Mubarak brush.... Cairo may switch allegiance to the rising powers of Turkey, India, and above all, China....
Beyond Arab States; Europe and possibly USA Next...
By Gerald Celente
Our willingness to "bell the cat" is breathtaking.... It appears that the on-going meltdown of the utterly corrupt USG's (and the Zionists) model for even greater success in the sand box has enhanced our traditional willingness to "speak the truth and shame the devil..."
Now we'll have to see how rising food and energy prices play out in these "nations" that are hanging on by the skin of their teeth Worldwide...., courtesy of the Federal Reserve, QE2/3 and Ben Shalom Bernanke, George Soros/CIA shenanigans, NED, the WikedLeaks and other MOSSAD/MI6 dirty tricks...
Bahrain and the Royal Bin Khalifa Thugs...
In addition to the battles in the streets of Bahrain, there is a battle within the royal family. The king apologized for the one death on the first day, then the security forces launched an incredibly ugly attack shortly thereafter, killing at least 5 more Bahrainis. They then attacked people coming from the funerals today. They have prevented ambulances from reaching the wounded, and they have brutalized doctors trying to tend to the wounded.
On Friday, the king called (via a statement read by the Crown Prince) for the army to withdraw from the streets. Although he is the commander in chief of the army, the armed forces were still in place at last report. So who is in charge? Is Khalifa, the hardline PM and senior uncle of the king, the one who is calling the shots, quite literally?
I also suggested that the GCC FM “emergency” conference in Manama yesterday was intended to assure Bahrain that it had carte blanche to do whatever was necessary to put down the rebellion, regardless of cost. Saudi Arabia, I suggested, was terrified of the consequences of a Shia uprising spilling over into the Eastern Province. And other Arab rulers in the Gulf heartily concur that Bahrain is the place to draw the line, rather than Kuwait City or Abu Dhabi.
Finally, I suggested that it was probably too late for the dialogue that the king is requesting. After all the bloodshed — all coming only from the government side, it should be noted — it will be hard to get people to sitaround the table and reason together.
There does not seem to be a happy ending to this story....
"Oil price shock"
The numbers behind the MENA Revolts....
What determines which Middle Eastern or North African (MENA) countries will face revolt?
On February 3rd, the Economist came up with a list of "vulnerable" countries based upon the amount of democracy, corruption and press freedom:
But the Economist index doesn't take unemployment into account unemployment.
As Alternet notes:
Arab Labour Organisation (ALO) figures show that Arab countries have among the highest unemployment rates in the world -- an average of 14.5 percent in fiscal year 2007/08 compared with the international average of 5.7 percent. The rates may even be higher if one accepts unofficial estimates.
There are a lot of “orphans” and most are young – 65 percent of the population of the Arab League is under the age of 30. Youth unemployment rates are exorbitantly high – as high as 75 percent in some countries like Algeria. While the informal economy provides partial compensation, this does not provide security; the Jasmine Revolution was triggered by the self-immolation of a young man, Mohamed Bouazizi, unemployed after police confiscated his wheelbarrow, used to make ends meet by selling fruits and vegetables.
In both Tunisia and Egypt factors were at play which are also to be found in other economies in the region, notably:–An autocratic and corrupt regime [and] A significant―youth bulge and related unemployment and under-employment....
Here are statistics from Nomura showing the percentage of youth under 15 years old and median age in years in the Middle East and Northern Africa:
|Country||Population Aged <15> ||Median Age (2010)|
|Saudi Arabia||32.0 %||24.6%|
On February 9th, the Economist came up with a revised index, which they call the "shoe thrower's index" (throwing one's shoes at someone is the ultimate sign of disrespect in the Arab world).
The index gives a 35% weighting for the share of the population that is under 25; 15% for the number of years the government has been in power; 15% for both corruption and lack of democracy as measured by existing indices; 10% for GDP per person; 5% for an index of censorship and 5% for the absolute number of people younger than 25:
Youth unemployment across the world has climbed to a new high and is likely to climb further this year, a United Nations agency said Thursday, while warning of a “lost generation” as more young people give up the search for work.
The agency, the International Labor Organization, said in a report that of some 620 million young people ages 15 to 24 in the work force, about 81 million were unemployed at the end of 2009 — the highest level in two decades of record-keeping by the organization, which is based in Geneva.
The youth unemployment rate increased to 13 percent in 2009 from 11.9 percent in the last assessment in 2007.
“There’s never been an increase of this magnitude — both in terms of the rate and the level — since we’ve been tracking the data,” said Steven Kapsos, an economist with the organization. The agency forecast that the global youth unemployment rate would continue to increase through 2010, to 13.1 percent, as the effects of the economic downturn continue. It should then decline to 12.7 percent in 2011.
In some especially strained European countries, including Spain and Britain, many young people have become discouraged and given up the job hunt, it said. The trend will have “significant consequences for young people,” as more and more join the ranks of the already unemployed, it said. That has the potential to create a “ ‘lost generation’ comprised of young people who have dropped out of the labor market, having lost all hope of being able to work for a decent living.
Data from Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical agency, show Spain had a jobless rate of 40.5 percent in May for people under 25.
Indeed, youth unemployment is also very high in the U.S. And when those who have given up looking for work and those who are underemployed are taken into account (i.e. using the U-6 measure of unemployment), it is clear that the youth of much of the world are suffering Depression-level unemployment.
As many have noted, soaring food prices are also one of the main reasons for the revolts in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and elsewhere.
Nomura pointed out last September:
The World Bank (2009, p.11) estimates that nearly two-thirds of total income
is spent on food in the poor urban population of the developing world. High food prices reduce the ability to meet even basic needs and can lead to increased poverty and become a potential source of protests, riots and political tension ....
"Tunisians and Algerians are hungry. The Egyptians and Yemenis are right behind them," Emirati commentator Mishaal Al Gergawi wrote in the Dubai- based newspaper Gulf News. "Mohammad Bouazizi didn't set himself on fire because he couldn't blog or vote. People set themselves on fire because they can't stand seeing their family wither away slowly, not of sorrow, but of cold stark hunger."
As UPI reports:
Just as in Tunisia, the spark was skyrocketing food prices -- increasing at a brisk 17 percent annually in Egypt. That's unhealthy in any economy but particularly one in which, as estimated by the investment house Nomura, on average 50 percent of household expenditures goes toward food. (In the United States, by comparison, food costs represent 14 percent -- and falling -- of the Consumer Price Index.)
For that, Egyptians may in no small way thank the U.S. Federal Reserve and its policies of "quantitative easing" -- known by most as "printing money."
|Rank||Country||Nomura’s Food Vulnerability Index (NFVI)||GDP per |
capita Current prices US$
food % of total
As should be noted, there are countries outside of MENA with extremely high percentages of spending on food.