Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Between two interests - oil and democracy

As we know the pro-democracy movement was on the rise in the Middle East and North Africa. The victim started from Ben Ali in Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Yemen, and the next candidate is Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, and maybe Bahrain. I also saw a wave of pro-democracy has brought a sense of worry for countries in the Middle East including Saudi Arabia.

When pro-democracy movement shook Tunisia, oil prices has not been affected, likewise when these movement travel to Egypt, because these two countries was not a significant oil producer for the world. But when the pro-democracy protests spread to Libya, oil prices have jumped since mid-February when the rebellion in Libya increases.

Thus Saudi Arabia was forced to increase its oil production in order to maintain the stability of world energy and cooling the overheated energy prices. The most frightening is that if pro-democracy demonstrations spread to Saudi Arabia.

It seems that USA and European countries are aware that the longer the oil supply disrupted, it will bring economic chaos for them as the countries who depend on oil supply from non-democratic countries (Islamic and/or authoritarian countries) like Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Middle East countries. Moreover, the U.S. economy was still giddy after the global crisis and European economy are not yet better.

Therefore I have an intriguing question. Which one you choose? If you choose oil, it means you better support the Islamic monarchy in the Middle East (of course to their unique value too). Or ... proactively support the pro-democracy movement in the Middle East.

14 comments:

  1. That is precisely the hobson's choice that the West is grappling with now Tikno. We are living in very interesting times don't you think?

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  2. Rummuser,
    I believe the spirit of democracy is not easily extinguished. It's easier to destroy a tank. On the other hand, I also believe that the attack from the inner side (from their own people) is something that is difficult to be handled.

    If western countries prefer oil, it would mean denying their own value, that is democracy, which it often be used as an argument to middle east countries.

    As you have said: "We are living in very interesting times". You are right.

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  3. It's hard when you're caught in the middle..but I still beleive in democracy and freedom.

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  4. Gina,
    Yes hard enough to make choices.

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  5. I am all for democracy in Middle East. And perhaps it’s an emergency call for other countries to go through a revolution too in another form, which is to reduce their dependency on fossil fuel and move to more environmentally friendly energy. If there has to be something to trigger it, so this could be it.

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  6. It.s about time we get rid of both those dictators and their autocratic regimes and out addiction to and dependence on oil. Being optimistic I guess this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It may temporarily hit the economies, but then transition always is a painful process. We need it - the Arabs to get their fundamental rights ( if they are wise enough not to opt for theocracies) and all of us to change from non sustainable to sustainable energy.

    colson

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  7. Aprianti,
    I hope one day women are allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia :)
    And you make a good thinking, this is the right moment to trigger the advancement of technology for renewable energy.

    Colson,
    But this lifetime opportunity cannot wait for a long-term plan (changing from non-sustainable to sustainable energy). So, hurry up! :(

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  8. @ tikno: Without the urgency of an exploding price of oil, nobody will hurry. But if China and the West will be cut off from the oil wells in the Arab countries, the urgency to change to other sources will be huge. That's probably the only way to overrule the company interests of BP, Shell etc and bring real change about.

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  9. @ Colson,
    Maybe it's the best moment, a lifetime opportunity, to trigger revival in both democracy and sustainable energy.

    Actually, I would love to see that sustainable energy will dominate this world for the sake of our next generation. When that happens then this would be a bad signal for middle east countries who being rich because of fossil oil.

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  10. Hi Tikno,
    I think the EU, USA, Japan and others would be very careful with Saudi Arabia. They have a very bad experience with Iran which used to be very good friend when it was under Shah Iran and became enemy after Khomeini came to power. There is no guarantee that similar tyrant would not emerge. Especially that in Tunis and Egypt the fanatics are estimated to have lead the revolutions.

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  11. Multibrand,
    I still believe that the spirit of democracy and demands for gender equality is not easily extinguished in their hearts, even if the new tyranny emerge again. Please look at this news (about women want to drive in Saudi Arabia):

    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2011/03/senior-saudi-prince-suggests-lifting-ban-on-women-driving/1

    The key is their citizenry still lulled by oil wealth. Situation will be different if renewable energy can be dominant and replace fossil oil.

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  12. Tikno, sorry I'm late to the conversation! I do not think the U.S. (at least) has much of a choice. When people take to the streets and demand democracy, the U.S. simply has to support them. That should not always be with military force, but at least with encouragement, maybe humanitarian aid, and the like.

    The U.S. must stand for democracy. What else can we do?

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  13. Hi Consultus - in fact your country already use military force such as missile rain... yeah that's a must - right?

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  14. @ CONSVLTVS,
    But... well... it seems that for the case of Libya now, the world was a bit understand that "you are invited". This is not the same as in Iraq (considered uninvited). Perhaps Obama's approach is better than its predecessor, or maybe he have a bit of Indonesia's value when childhood ;)

    btw, allow me shoot your heart using this missile

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