Moral Outrage
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Oil and the destabilization of formerly stable authoritarian Arab regimes

Whatever the outcome of the protests, uprisings, and rebellions now sweeping the Middle East, one thing is guaranteed: the world of oil will be permanently transformed.

In 2009, suppliers in the Middle East and North Africa jointly produced 29 million barrels per day, or 36% of the world’s total oil supply. Compare this to Russia, the world’s top individual producer, at seven million barrels in exportable oil, the continent of Africa at six million, and South America at a mere one million.

By 2035, according to recent projections by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Middle East and North Africa will jointly provide approximately 43% of the world’s crude petroleum supply.

The world economy requires an increasing supply of affordable petroleum. The Middle East alone can provide that supply. That’s why Western governments have long supported “stable” authoritarian regimes throughout the region, regularly supplying and training their security forces.

Now, this stultifying, petrified order, whose greatest success was producing oil for the world economy, is disintegrating.

Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Oman, and Sudan are oil producers; Egypt and Jordan guard vital oil pipelines and, in Egypt’s case, a crucial canal for the transport of oil; Bahrain and Yemen as well as Oman occupy strategic points along major oil sea lanes.

All have received substantial U.S. military aid and/or housed important U.S. military bases. Now, in all of these countries, the chant is the same: “The people want the regime to fall.”

Even if rebellion doesn’t reach Saudi Arabia, the old Middle Eastern oil order cannot be reconstructed. The result is sure to be a long-term decline in the future availability of exportable petroleum.

[Excerpt of article by Professor Michael T. Klare]

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