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There Is a Historic Change Taking Place in the Middle East
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President Donald Trump is cock-a-hoop over the United Arab Emirates becoming the first Arab Gulf state to normalise its relations with Israel. He needs all the good news he can get in the months before the US presidential election.

“HUGE breakthrough today! Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends, Israel and the United Arab Emirates!” Trump tweeted. Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu claimed a triumph in establishing full diplomatic relations with an Arab state that had once been a vocal supporter of the Palestinians. The UAE, for its part, said it had averted Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank, while the Palestinians denounced yet one more betrayal by their fellow Arabs.

Much of this is overblown. Trump and Netanyahu will exaggerate their achievement to strengthen their domestic political status. The UAE had long ago established security and commercial links with Israel and Netanyahu’s annexation of the West Bank had been postponed previously. Pious talk by the US and its western allies in pre-Trump days about fostering a non-existent peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, at the heart of which was an imaginary “two-state solution,” was always a device for ignoring the Palestinians while pretending that something was going on.

Yet there is a real historic change going on in the Middle East and north Africa, though it has nothing to do with the relationship between Israel and the Arabs. It is a transformation that has been speeded up by the coronavirus cataclysm and will radically change the politics of the Middle East.

The era characterised by the power of the oil states is ending. When the price of oil soared in the aftermath of the 1973 war, countries from Iran to Algeria, mostly though not exclusively Arab, enjoyed an extraordinary accretion of wealth. Their elites could buy everything from Leonardo da Vinci paintings to Park Lane hotels. Their rulers had the money to keep less well-funded governments in power or to put them out of business by funding their opponent.

It is this historic period that is now terminating and the change is likely to be permanent. Saudi Arabia and UAE still have big financial reserves, though these are not inexhaustible. Elsewhere the money is running out. The determining factor is that between 2012 and 2020 the oil revenues of the Arab producers fell from $1 trillion to $300bn, down by over two-thirds. Too much oil was being produced and too little was consumed pre-coronavirus and, on top of this, there is a shift away from fossil fuels. Cuts in output by Opec might go some way to raising the oil price, but it will not be enough to preserve a crumbling status quo.

Ironically, a petrostate like the UAE just is flexing its political muscles by normalising relations with Israel just as the economic world of which it was part is breaking up. Nor is the UAE alone: the oil states have always had a problem turning money into political power. Saudi Arabia, UAE and their arch rival Qatar took a more aggressive role during the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain in 2011. Mohammed bin Salman and Mohammed bin Zayed, the de facto rulers of Saudi Arabia and UAE, became even more interventionist in 2015 and were overjoyed the following year when Trump, over-impressed by their riches and apparent influence, entered the White House.

The successes of the alliance of Trump and the Gulf monarchies have been skimpy. Their prime target Iran is battered but surviving. Saudi Arabia and UAE began a quick war in Yemen five years ago which is still going on. Bashar al-Assad remains in power in Damascus and Libya is engulfed in an endless civil war of extreme ferocity.

The super-rich oil producers are feeling the draft, but states like Iraq are close to capsizing because they can no longer pay the bills. Last October, hundreds of thousands of young Iraqis took to the streets to protest against lack of jobs, corruption and the failure of the government to provide water and electricity. Ferocious repression killed at least 600 protesters and injured 20,000, but they kept coming back to the streets.

Similar protest swept through Lebanon as its economy imploded. It is not only oil producers that are suffering, but countries like Lebanon and Egypt which looked to the petrostates for business and jobs. Lebanon used to be kept going by remittances. More than 2.5 million Egyptians work in the oil states. If there are not enough Egyptian doctors to treat Covid-19 patients at home, it is because they are earning better money in the oil states.

Strains were already showing before the pandemic. The whole system looked increasingly rickety. Oil states at the height of their prosperity had operated similarly, regardless of whether they were monarchies or republics. The ruling elite, be it Saudi, Iraqi, Libyan or Algerian, exploited governments that were what one expert described as “looting machines”, whereby those with political power turned this into easy money.

They were not alone. They could cream off great fortunes without provoking a revolt by the rest of society because they ran vast patronage machines. Ordinary Saudis, Libyans, Emiratis, Kuwaitis, Iraqis were guaranteed jobs as their small cut of the oil revenue cake.

It is this fifty-year-old system that is now faltering. As populations rise and young people flood into the labour market, more and more money is required to keep society running as before, but such resources are no longer there. This change has revolutionary implications as the unspoken social contract between rulers and ruled breaks down. Nothing much can be done to preserve it because the oil industry blights all other forms of economic activity. Little is produced locally and then only with massive state subsidies.

ORDER IT NOW

The rulers of oil states tend to be in a state of denial about the lack of alternatives to oil. Soon after taking over as de facto ruler in Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman promoted “Vision 2030” that was supposedly intended to wean Saudi Arabia off oil. Nobody with any experience of the country took this seriously, though western consultants were happy to fan such fantasies so profitable to themselves.

The world understands all too well the impact of the pandemic on health. It is beginning to foresee the economic devastation that follows. But it has yet to take on board the political turmoil inevitably caused by pandemic-hit economies, though Lebanon has given a foretaste of this. Beset by wars and dysfunctional social and economic systems, the Middle East is too fragile to cope with the coming earthquake.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. zimriel says:

    Good article, undercut by a paragraph claiming that Saudi is “in denial” with an example of its ruler… NOT being in denial. Also isn’t Saudi planning a massive non-Wahhabi city near Eilat and Aqaba? Seems to me like a move toward desert / archaeological tourism and away from oil and the hajj.

    • LOL: Alfred
  2. Mr. Grey says:

    Another hysteria fueled screed by Cockburn. People are still going to be buying oil. It’s good that these oil producing states get a wake up call to diversify. And Lebanon in chaos is the opposite of historic change.

    • Replies: @(((They))) Live
  3. Another hysteria fueled screed by Cockburn. People are still going to be buying oil.

    So true. But there are manufactured bumps in the road towards energy independence.

    Oil is an extraordinarily inexpensive, compact, convenient, and essential fuel. Fracking technology has also given the world (as well as US producers and consumers) more of it than ever before. And for less money. This is great news for all energy consumers, which is virtually everyone on the planet. Yet millions of people ‘hate’ oil–especially a huge swath of Western elites.

    Consequently, governments throughout the industrialized world are now dedicated to spending less on oil and finding alternatives to oil–even if it means spending far more for our energy needs. These decisions are allegedly driven by the real threat of catastrophic (carbon induced) ‘climate change’. But it ain’t necessarily so.

    More expensive energy means that there will be less money left over for the average consumer to spend on other necessities. This trade-off assures a lower the standard of living for untold millions of people.

    Why shouldn’t we vote on (or at least debate) this grand energy decision?

    After all, what if (anthropogenic) ‘climate change’ was actually an over-hyped threat?–or no threat at all? Many informed scientists believe so. (See: “https://wattsupwiththat.com” > wattsupwiththat.com)

    What if a slight and very modest uptick in average global temperatures were in fact beneficial to humanity? That might just be the case.

    After all, throughout most of our planet’s history, there has been no ice on either pole. On the other hand, we are still–technically speaking–living within an ice age (called the Late Cenozoic.) Fortunately, we are also enjoying a brief warm spell (called the Holocene era) which began about 12,000 years ago, when a colder era (Pleistocene) abruptly ended.

    Why did (and does) our planet’s climate change so continuously? No one knows all the answers. But North America was covered with vast ice sheets until today’s warmer climate (Holocene) suddenly emerged, sparking the rise of human civilization. Warm weather has been very good to us humans.

    My conspiracy theory about ‘climate change’ connects ‘global warming’ with the world’s most accomplished myth makers. Yes, them.

    No, I am not accusing Israel or any environmentally-concerned Jew of plotting or causing ‘global warming’. Not in the slightest. Evidence tells me that far stronger, natural forces shape and steer Earth’s climate. It’s always been this way and it always will be that way.

    I am however accusing Jews (as well as millions of apocalyptic-minded greenies and gullible non-Jews) of hyping and over-promoting the dubious threat of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change. In the case of the Israelis however there is a unique angle to ‘climate change’ and the political movement that seeks ‘green’ alternatives to oil–despite their far higher costs.

    Less oil use means less oil revenue going to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Venezuela, Syria, et al. These are the nations most sympathetic to the Palestinians and most hostile to Israel. Thus the politically-induced move away from cheap and abundant oil means that Israel’s enemies are growing poorer by the day. This is very good news for the militant, expanding, and uncompromising Jewish state. It also explains why–as a group–Israelis and Diaspora Jews tend to be true believers in ‘climate change’. It’s good for the Jews.

  4. @mark green

    Your diatribe about energy and oil misses the point entirely. If America doubled their oil needs they could still raise their muddle finger to OPEC. The US has become energy independent with fracking and other technologies for getting oil out of the ground. The reverse situation exist. The US has become an energy supplier. Oil was why we fought in the ME, the need to protect the countries that produced it like KSA. No more. We can leave the ME entirely and watch it blow up. Not our problem. We no longer need Arabia for oil.
    They know that. That is why they need to change their MO. They need Israeli technology and economic assistance. Combining tourism and archeological research Arabia can become the go to destination for tourism and economic expansion
    Of course you are one of the more denser Jew haters on this site so all roads lead to the Jews if not you would have nothing to write about. Pure ignorance about what is really happening over there and the needs of the people. No Jew conspiracy no Mark Green.

  5. Hess says:
    @Fran Taubman

    You accusing Mark of the same thing you’ve been doing yourself but I don’t think it’s ignorance, I think it’s deliberate.

    US interventions in the Middle East are not merely for oil and even if US doesn’t need their oil, they can’t get away from the Middle East as much as they can’t get away from the western Europe. How much oil was there when the British took over the Middle East and restructured the entire politics of the region ?

    Also, when the oil goes so goes the Petrodollar and all the aid Israel receives from the US. Israel is a military outpost that just like Crusader kingdoms can’t survive without outside support. There’s are too many Arabs/Persians/Turks/Kurds around to fend them off.

    You’re living in a delusion if you think Arabs need anything from Israel. There’s nothing that US/Israel can provide that those Arabs can’t purchase from somewhere else at a discounted price.

    The Arab haters joyfully celebrate the fact that the only leverage Arabs had against US imperialism is now waning off. They fail to consider the fact that a hard reset is coming for which neither US nor Israel have any preparations for. Arabs are quite use to the situation, they will know how to tread in those times. For the time being, I see Arabs are not making the same mistakes the Jews made with Assyrians and Babylonians which eventually led to their genocide and lost of the homeland.

    Remember, it just takes one of them to push Israel in the sea. Brits knew it all along, they just played you. You never seem to learn from your past mistakes, admit it, you got played by the Goyim yet again and it will not end well for you yet again.

  6. @Mr. Grey

    Yes people are still buying oil, but we are paying a lot less, fracking has caused an oil price slump and EVs will deliver the death blow to places like Saudi Arabia. the important issue is how Europe deals with the coming Saudi collapse and the war I suspect it will cause, with fools like Merkle in power it could be a disaster for us too

  7. antibeast says:

    Yet there is a real historic change going on in the Middle East and north Africa, though it has nothing to do with the relationship between Israel and the Arabs. It is a transformation that has been speeded up by the coronavirus cataclysm and will radically change the politics of the Middle East.

    There is historic change happening in the Middle East and it has everything to do with the failed military misadventures of the USA which has been marginalized by the successful military intervention of Russia. The US invasion of Sunni Iraq toppled Saddam Hussein which inadvertently paved the way for the rise of Shiite Iran. In Syria, the US regime-change operation not only failed to depose Bashar Hafez al-Assad but has also succeeded in turning the whole Islamic World against the US Empire with both Saudi Arabia and Turkey now actively seeking the military support of Russia by purchasing its S-400 missile defense system, reportedly the best in the world. The US assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani has turned Iran into the de-facto leader of the Islamic World, sidelining Saudi Arabia, while Putin’s successful military intervention in Syria has turned Russia into the de-facto kingmaker in the region. Meanwhile, the rise of US shale oil means US dependence on Arab oil is a thing of the past. Financially insolvent caused by decades of failed military misadventures, bloated defense spending as well as the welfare-dependency of its White/Black underclass, the USA now faces the real possibility of the Arab Sheikdoms moving away from the Petrodollar which would hasten the final demise of its debt-financed Empire.

    Hasta la vista, baby!

  8. Bob Gwen says:

    Seems to be missing the elephant in the room. These oil states need to look towards China and start ignoring the dollar, which is printed without anything to back it, except middle eastern oil.

  9. Derer says:

    Trump made his first foreign visit to his best friends in Saudi Arabia and Israel…he should know that this foolish disappointment doesn’t sit well with his base and his support is declining. In fact Obama was more restrained in his support of Israel, even abstain from the UN resolution on Israel despite the DNC fanatical stand for Israel.

    I see destroying Venezuela’s economy and its oil production in proximity to US has connection to his illiterate support of Saudi royal family – something sinister is going on. Saudi’s are world-wide financier of Islam fundamentalism and terrorism. Again, this does not sit well with his base.

  10. @Fran Taubman

    You’ve been fooled by the Exceptionalist hot air being spouted by the likes of Peter Zeihan, who basically has a nice line of patter that would not be out of place in a State Dept flyer – i.e.,
     • post-WWII US hegemony was benign to the point of altruism;
     • their naval protection of international shipping lanes and oil markets was a net benefit to the entire world;
     • especially given the US’ impending status as a net exporter of energy.

    Zeihan has two dot-points that everyone should agree with:
     ① the US has great topography for broadacre agriculture and so can feed itself in perpetuity (given current technology);
     ② the US has no genuinely-hostile presence on either border and could readily deal with any near-peer who tried to mass troops along either.

    Those two points I’ll give him, but the whole “energy-independence” schtick – which is still only notional – falls apart if oil spends any significant length of time under US$40/bbl (basis WTI [CL futures]). That’s the price below which the fracking industry cannot survive (frackers don’t receive $40/bbl because they don’t produce WTI-sweet crude: CL is just a handy reference price).

    Russia has already made clear that it can tolerate USD25/bbl CL for two decades. If CL was below $25/bbl for more than six months, US fracking would completely lose access to debt markets (their all-in production cost is more like $60-90/bbl in the early stages).

    The recent waterfall to negative CL prices was an artifact of a large futures rollover, but the days of persistent WTI > $25/bbl are over.

    OPEC is fucked, and Russia has won, and now the US is desperate to prevent China from becoming best buds with Venezuela (which is why the US has done this ridiculous cartoon bullshit in “recognising” their potted-plant Guaidó). If – as it intends – China helps Venezuela modernise its oil industry, it will kill the modern version of the Monroe Doctrine (which is roughly “We can fuck Latin America all we like, and there’s nothin’ anyone can do about it.“).

    • Replies: @antibeast
  11. Miro23 says:

    It is this fifty-year-old system that is now faltering. As populations rise and young people flood into the labour market, more and more money is required to keep society running as before, but such resources are no longer there. This change has revolutionary implications as the unspoken social contract between rulers and ruled breaks down.

    An interesting article, but Cockburn could have said more about these revolutionary implications. He knows about the dynamics of these places and no revolution is going to put back the handouts and easy government jobs.

  12. Alfred says:

    If oil were such a superfluous commodity, why are so many countries contesting the Middle East?

    Why is China building defenses in the South China Sea?

    This useless infection is a pretext for shutting down economies and conserving the oil for our elites. What is there that is so difficult to understand?

    You and I are no longer needed. Ideally, we should not have any kids. As soon as the cover of this hoax is blown, they will start another one. “Global Warming” was an earlier version. When it stopped performing its magic, except in places like Australia, they came up with this manufactured virus. As professor Montagnier said, artificial viruses quickly mutate to less nasty versions. Just watch how the death rates have plummeted. As for the number of “cases”, that is a meaningless concept. A person who is healthy with no symptoms is not a case.

    • Agree: artichoke
    • Replies: @artichoke
  13. antibeast says:
    @Kratoklastes

    You’ve been fooled by the Exceptionalist hot air being spouted by the likes of Peter Zeihan, who basically has a nice line of patter that would not be out of place in a State Dept flyer – i.e.,
     • post-WWII US hegemony was benign to the point of altruism;
     • their naval protection of international shipping lanes and oil markets was a net benefit to the entire world;
     • especially given the US’ impending status as a net exporter of energy.

    I actually find Peter Zeihan to be quite accurate when he postulated that the geopolitics of the Cold War drove the USA to support economic globalization by opening its markets to the rest of the world whose products and commodities were shipped via sea lanes protected by the US Navy. However, he missed the most important reason which is the US abandonment of the gold standard which led to the creation of the US petrodollar system backed by Arab oil. The US military interventions since then were intended to defend the US petrodollar system. Zeihan seems to think that the USA doesn’t need to maintain a military presence in the Middle East to defend the US petrodollar system just because the US can produce its own US shale oil. But without the US petrodollar system, the USD will cease to be the currency for international trade/settlement in the globalized economy.

    Zeihan has two dot-points that everyone should agree with:
     ① the US has great topography for broadacre agriculture and so can feed itself in perpetuity (given current technology);
     ② the US has no genuinely-hostile presence on either border and could readily deal with any near-peer who tried to mass troops along either.

    Zeihan is correct is asserting that the USA has vast and fertile agricultural acreage that can feed its people many times over. He is also correct in recognizing the geophysical isolation of the USA which is bordered by two relatively friendly States. But he missed the geopolitical implications of such isolation: the USA needs a huge and powerful Navy to project is military power outside North America as well as US military bases in foreign countries. Without such power projection, the USA will cease to be a global power, regardless of its military strength.

  14. This is a concise and accurate analysis as far as it goes. But like MSM experts, Cockburn ignores how Turkey, Iran, and (revolutionary) Islam may benefit from the collapse of the Arab oil states.

    Turkey was the heart of the Ottoman Empire which ruled with widely accepted legitimacy, due to its Islamic credentials, across most of the Arab world. Hardly anyone except a few crazy Wahhabis in the pay of the British objected to Ottoman rule. Britain and France dismembered the Caliphate against the wishes of its people. The Arab nations, with the exceptions of Egypt and Morocco, are fake entities with no real historical roots. So as the petro-regimes collapse, Islamic identity will likely re-assert itself as the phony Sykes-Picot national identities evaporate.

    The revolt of the poor Islamic masses against the failing secular fake-nationalist petro-elites will breathe new life into the revolutionary Islam pioneered by Imam Khomeini in Iran. And since protest in the Islamic world tends to be Shia, while the status quo tends to be Sunni, the Shia revival will continue to thrive, spearheading the larger revolt.

    Keep in mind that Iran, like Turkey, has a real economy; it is not just a gas station in the desert like most of the Arab countries. Ironically, the sanctions on Iran have forced it to become self-reliant. It is now the biggest auto manufacturer in the region, puts its own satellites into space, etc. and has been wisely planning to get out of exporting oil, and use it only for domestic consumption and value-added manufacturing, for decades. So as the US empire and its vassal gas stations in the desert collapse into economic ruin and social chaos, Iran’s revolutionary pan-Islamism, and Turkey’s call for Islamic unity through a re-established Caliphate of some type, will have an opportunity to re-shape the region.

    • Replies: @Fran Taubman
    , @artichoke
  15. “As populations rise and young people flood into the labour market, more and more money is required to keep society running as before, but such resources are no longer there. “

    Hang on. Don’t you mean “the vibrant, youthful population will inject new blood and produce a demographic dividend in the form of higher GDP and tax receipts” ?

    Or is that only if they’re flooding into the UK and US labour markets?

    • Replies: @TG
  16. @Kevin Barrett

    Maybe you can get some milk and cookies to go with this story. Every Persian I Know hates the Shi’a regime. And they are secular Iranians that will follow. Fundamentalism will not last 5 years.

    • Replies: @anon
  17. “Every Persian you know” (all three of them?) are presumably traitors because (a) they are Shah-loving torturers who fled their country with bags full of money when the Iranian people took it back, and (b) they are hanging out with you, a genocide-loving Zionist extremist nutcase.

    • Replies: @Fran Taubman
  18. @Kevin Barrett

    Not quite they are all carpet dealers and go back and forth. They never comment on the Shah, they just want peace with the Jews, since a lot of their clients are Jewish.

  19. artichoke says:

    Calling UAE a “petro-state” is ignoring a rather tall elephant in the room, in fact the tallest buildings in the world in the emirate of Dubai which has no oil at all. So I guess they have the secret sauce for getting along without oil, even though they have gone through some economic contraction lately — significant but not catastrophic.

    This is a much (much much) bigger deal for Israel than annexing some land from the goat-herders which they can do anytime anyway. This is a deal that took Trump’s worldwide connections and influence. If all the strong countries left in the middle east are Israeli allies, will the “Palestinians” dare to keep blowing up buses?

  20. artichoke says:
    @Kevin Barrett

    “Turkey was the heart of the Ottoman Empire which ruled with widely accepted legitimacy, due to its Islamic credentials, across most of the Arab world.”

    Oh yes, it was their Islamic credentials that gave it legitimacy. It’s so rare to find the words “Islamic” and “legitimacy” in the same sentence, I wonder why!

    • Replies: @SLappy Tough
  21. artichoke says:
    @Alfred

    I’d add that you really can be asymptomatic while this virus eats you up from the inside in various ways. It gets in deep and suppresses symptoms due to its HIV-like hook.

    Fortunately we know that zinc + zinc ionophore (quercetin is available to anyone cheaply for example) stops it if used early or as preventive. And I just read that Queensland, Australia just published a rule saying that people may not use hydroxychloroquine (the best known zinc ionophore) as a preventive. They’re not just preventing doctors from prescribing it, they’re not allowing individuals to take it! We’re through the looking glass; this is far weirder than I could have imagined all by myself. But the relevance is that the authorities are going crazy with this stuff to keep the scare and lockdown going.

  22. TG says:

    “As populations rise and young people flood into the labour market, more and more money is required to keep society running as before, but such resources are no longer there. This change has revolutionary implications as the unspoken social contract between rulers and ruled breaks down. ”

    Triple kudos for this! At last a break from all that neoliberal “people are the ultimate resource” B.S.. Yeah sure, people are a resource if if you think of them as cattle, or fill dirt.

    But don’t forget that those exploding populations are to a great extent due to anti-Malthusian pro-natalist policies. “The more the merrier” sounds good – except – when the reality is that people who could maybe support two kids, have six, well, that doesn’t automatically create wealth, does it? How could it? Anyhow, it never has…

    Bottom line: Malthus – and Mills, and Keynes, and Ma Yinchu – were right. And we are all of us non-billionaires shortly going to pay the price for ignoring them…

  23. TG says:
    @YetAnotherAnon

    Haha! Yes well said!

    When Mexicans flood into the United States, this is clearly a good thing because more people are always better. But when the United States (ineffectually) starts to huff about limiting immigration, the same people will scream that without the ability to export their surplus population to the United States, Mexico will collapse under the weight of all these poor people competing for jobs.

    Bottom line: when population increases only drive wages down and profits up, that’s good and only a racist would object. When population increases threaten social stability and the profits of the rich, then that’s bad and must be stopped. What could be simpler?

  24. Bianca says:

    There are many factual mistakes in the article, such as stating that Mohammed bin Salman was ruler of Saudi Arabia in 2015. In fact’, he came to power in June 2017. His predecessor Mohammed bin Nayef met Trump when he visited. He was very much liked or his antiterrorist work, while in fact he as the Interior Minister and later Crown Prince saw the largest explosion of Islamic militarism in history. Once he was removed — ISIS crumbled. Saudi Arabia went through major social and economic reforms. But strains with new ruler never eased — and Saudis expressed an astonishing mistrust in our intentions by claiming that we are trying to restore MBN, and he is complicit in the operation.
    UAE by contrast have nearly exhausted their reserves and live of financial services — having the reputation of not interfering into finances of high rollers. With general economic slump — UAE is vulnerable and very likely had to go along with the embassy deal. It is at the mercy of global financial centers.
    Authors assessment of Egypt is off mark, and the real issues in Libya. Lebanon may in fact for the first time in history have an opportunity to eliminate the power of tycoons that paralyzed the country.

    • Replies: @showmethereal
  25. The sad reality is that the ME is also going to broil and become unliveable over time. Not sure how these people are going to eat either, without cash to buy food. The ME better turn into a solar generation center ASAP, North Africa in particular, which is more proximate to Europe.

    The future doesn’t look bright. Wonder how long until nuclear blackmail of the West by a despot in the ME. Of course, they will get droned, but the question remains will or can the West and East Asis support he region so it doesn’t blow up on the world?

    The same questions hold for Latin America and Africa.

    • Replies: @Bianca
  26. @artichoke

    Kind of like Republican and governance are no longer linked since Eisenhower. Republicans destroyed the world via stupid American foreign, energy, and banking policy, and the implosion is going to be breathtaking to witness. We’ll see what the Chinese can do, because the USA is toast.

  27. anon[331] • Disclaimer says:
    @Fran Taubman

    Secular Shia will not accept fanatic rabid religious settler garrison state of Israel though

    Let’s recap something else.

    There was a time when the chorus of the neocons was deafening . Reality was hidden . These bastards
    KKK ( Kagan, Kristol ,and Kuttthamaer- dog- killing is called in S Asia by that name ) , Wolfowitz Libby Lutz Feith , and AIPAC FDD PNAC crowds -roster of the criminals peddled the myth that Iran and Iraq shia will rise and demolish the Wahabi , the Sunni power ,and then remove the Iran regime .

    Those son of kosher boars and kosher bitches promised that Talmud to the 18 yrs old kids from Virginia and Nevada so that they could go to war against Iraq.

    Now another version of Talmud is in circulation- secular Iran !! That fucking country known as Israel based on Bible incorporates all the dreams Devil can think of .

  28. anon[325] • Disclaimer says:

    Destruction of Syria and Lebanon unfolded following the international accusation against Syria. and Hizbullah behind the car bombing of Harriri

    The rat hired by Israel Ole Honlohein ( something similar in spelling ) and other blamed Syria .

    Sanctions followed soon after the car bombing .

    Now today from. AMN news

    “ BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:30 P.M.) – The Special Tribunal for Lebanon announced their findings after a long investigation into the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri.

    According to the Tribunal’s findings, there was no direct evidence that leaders of Hezbollah or Syria had anything to do with the assassination of Rafic Hariri.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  29. Bianca says:
    @SLappy Tough

    Our views of the world are terribly superficial. We have our own problems with almost no interest in solving them. We have a plague that should have been under control, horrible unemployment masked temporarily by government handouts, economy cratering, and many people including children going hungry.

    We get all excited over Belarus elections — where about 10% of population is unhappy with results. That is in a country with near ZERO unemployment, no debt, and lowest crime rate in Europe. In China, city of Wuhan, once epicenter of infection, hosts large events at water parks and concerts — no masks necessary. Chinese economy is up, their currency red hot. Contrast with Japan fall in GDP of 28%, only a shade better then ours 33%.

    What worries me about our rah-rah attitude is that whistling-past-the-graveyard quality. We are making ourselves feel better by convincing ourselves that everybody is worse.

    It is not about better-worse. It is about focusing in our own country and its shortcomings as well as successes. And above all — not being arrogant and condescending towards the humblest of God’s creatures. Solve problems with neighbors in respectful way, they are not there to be our obedient door-mats, but neighbors.

    We can be just a tad more demanding of our own leaders — to put politicking aside and provide leadership and the spirit of togetherness in this crisis. We can overcome anything if united.

  30. @mark green

    “After all, what if (anthropogenic) ‘climate change’ was actually an over-hyped threat?–or no threat at all? “

    Because global warming is a cult that is based on faith irrespective of facts, tying to argue your case with the cultists is just a waste of time as they are ideological drones without any capacity to think in a critical way.

  31. Every Arab country is a dysfunctional mess. The Arab world is rotten to its very core.

    • Replies: @anon
  32. Every Arab country is a dysfunctional mess. The Arab world is rotten to its very core.

    Forgive me but I think that, while you are partly correct, you are making some inaccurate generalizations.

    I traveled and explored Syria before the civil war. It was not entirely dysfunctional at all. I was impressed at the relative harmony and tolerance I witnessed between Christians and Muslims in secular Syria. I visited many lovely churches as well as mosques there. I met a Jewish shopkeeper in Damascus who got along fine with his neighbors. There wasn’t the urban crime or danger in Syria that we see in many US cities (I saw basically no Black Africans in Syria however.) Damascus was somewhat cosmopolitan, as was Aleppo. This was back in 2007. The Roman ruins which still stand in Syria are breathtaking.

    Libya (before NATO’s destruction under Obama) was also a rising and prosperous nation, as was Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Yes, true. Granted, many Arab states are highly authoritarian but they are cultural islands of order, harmony, prosperity compared to most of sub-Saharan Africa, including ‘non-racial’ South Africa. Dubai, for instance, is extraordinarily modern, clean, and (relatively) crime free, though the areas where ‘foreign workers’ live are extremely poor. It’s a very mixed bag, but far better then many regions on earth, including sub-Saharan Africa, south Asia, and many parts of the New World.

    • Replies: @showmethereal
  33. @Fran Taubman

    Actually the Gulf Arab states main use to the US was the ability to control global currency because of the oil trade.

  34. @mark green

    The idea that Arab countries were all a mess was just based on racism – that’s all. Of course – most have no clue about the destabilization efforts by western countries that took place either.

  35. @Bianca

    The UAE was face saving for everyone. Israel had to walk down the unilateral annexations in the West Bank. By extension – so did Trump. So with this deal the UAE – which already had relations with Israel informally – can say “yes we made peace with Israel but we stopped them from annexing the West Bank”.
    For Lebanon though… Don’t you see the French are quick to make their offer to basically make it a colony again..?

    • Replies: @anon
  36. Jiminy says:

    Just when people thought our future was to be weaned from oil to renewables and batteries, the plastics industries are apparently going gang- busters with the production of one use plastics, one example being lettuce sold in a flimsy clear plastic box. Trying to take up the shortfall with plastics that are just about impossible to recycle afterwards. Our reliance on oil will be with us for many years to come it seems.

  37. anon[173] • Disclaimer says:
    @anonymous1963

    That makes you both happy and confirms again your blindness .

  38. anon[173] • Disclaimer says:
    @showmethereal

    Its temporary and that’s from the horse’s mouth – Netanyahu himself

    Even if he doesn’t ,someone next in line trying to reach the bottom of the barrel will declare that agreement doesn’t hold true any longer because : Because the sun set on the west – meaning any ludicrous talking points will serve as a good excuse . That will jell well with Israeli history of obfuscation, prevarication and approaches to peace process

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