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2 THE GULF'S BLACK
TREASURE Oil rulers toy with
Armageddon By Hossein
Iran will accuse Saudi Arabia of
essentially annexing Bahrain (trampling on Iran's
historic claim to the island) and the UAE
(similarly trampling on Iranian claims to parts of
the federation), and stoking up insurgencies in
the region and in southwestern Iran among its Arab
Iraq will accuse Saudi Arabia
for interference in its domestic affairs by
fueling its domestic insurgencies among its Sunni
tribes. Iran and Iraq will announce a Shia Union.
They will launch a joint invasion of Kuwait and
annex it all. The US will be powerless to
Although the US will continue
to be financially strapped and Saudi
Arabia and the rest of
the GCC will offer to foot the bill, the US will
not want to risk a fight with a potentially
nuclear-armed Iran (see below) and will not have
the stomach to simultaneously take on and fight
Iran and Iraq.
The North Atlantic Treaty
Organization and the US will publicly threaten
Iran and Iraq and demand that they withdraw from
Kuwait, but in private discussions they will tell
the Shia coalition that they can keep Kuwait but
must not cross over into Saudi Arabia or any other
part of what remains as the GCC. This will become
the red line for a financially weakened US.
All this does not mean that internal
revolt will diminish in any of these countries. In
fact, we expect the opposite. Demonstrations
against rulers will become even more pronounced,
with resulting disruptions in the flow of oil and
oil price shocks. The gap between rulers and their
cronies who support them and the average citizen
will continue to widen.
Rulers and regime
insiders will live in luxury, while the average
citizen in Iran, Iraq and even Saudi Arabia will
suffer from economic deprivation. Unemployment
will continue to be high in Iran, Iraq and Saudi
Arabia with limited opportunities for advancement.
These three big Persian Gulf countries will have
large inefficient public sectors, depleting oil
reserves and wasted foreign financial reserves
accumulated in the "good times". The population at
large will be faced with a bleak future.
Political repression will go hand in hand
with economic deprivation in the three big
countries, while countries such as Egypt and
Tunisia will make slow but steady progress, in
fits and starts, towards political participation
and liberalization. The citizens of the Persian
Gulf will become increasingly aware of their
deprivation and the support of foreigners for
their corrupt rulers, further fueling
Rulers will follow the lead
of the US and brand anyone and everyone who fights
for human rights as "Islamists" and "terrorists".
Resentment towards rulers and the West will
increase to new highs with more popular rebellion
and military crackdowns. While Egyptians will
continue to be more concerned with economic
justice and prosperity, the citizens of the
Persian Gulf will be as concerned with political
rights and participation.
In parallel, we
believe that Iran will complete its enrichment
cycle to the point that it could develop a bomb,
if needed, in less than three months (becoming
another Japan as far as enrichment and nuclear
weapons are concerned). The Iranian people have
been, and will continue to be, behind this policy
because of the world's support of Saddam Hussein
in the aftermath of his invasion of Iran and the
West's shameful export of weapons of mass
destruction to Iraq used in its war with Iran,
killing and maiming thousands of Iranians.
At the same time, we expect that in time
it will be revealed that Saudi Arabia has already
purchased five nuclear warheads from an
"unconfirmed" country, rumored to be Pakistan, for
an estimated US$20 billion. With its previously
confirmed acquisition of Chinese long-range
missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads,
Saudi Arabia overnight becomes a threat to Iran,
Iraq and Israel. Egypt and Turkey accelerate their
plans to acquire nuclear warheads.
retrospect, US reluctance to force an end to
expansion of Israeli settlements into the West
Bank and to push for a totally verifiable
nuclear-free Middle East will be seen as the most
shortsighted and greatest policy blunder of all
As events unfold, all observers will
question what good nuclear arms have done for
Israel? Israel had always enjoyed conventional
military superiority and US support. Israel's
nuclear arsenal will be seen as only encouraging
others to acquire similar weapons and pose an
existential threat to Israel.
may be tempted to continue and speculate on how
this will play out, it is better that we stop this
line of speculation here. We would just add one
thing. Yes, a disenfranchised nut could rule in
Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Turkey,and Saudi Arabia or in
Israel. And nuts with a nuclear bomb are a bad
mix, at any time and anywhere.
political, economic and energy outlook for the
region be very different the one we have described
above? Yes, but it will take a lot on a number of
fronts, especially on the part of international
non-government organizations, the US, China,
Russia and the UN Security Council.
Essentially, what is required is a
broad-based initiative that promotes regional
peace, economic justice, economic development and
growth in the region, encourages good institutions
and political liberalization, and forces the US,
the rest of the West, China and Russia to take a
longer-term policy approach to the region and give
more credence to what they espouse.
briefly elaborate on what will be seen as naive
and wishful thinking by any realist.
Increase the price of all acts of aggression,
political crimes, human rights abuses, plunder of
national wealth, and more.
The UN Security Council guarantees the borders
of each and every country in the region. All acts
of intrastate aggression are treated fairly and
justly at the Security Council.
If the US truly wants to practice what it
preaches, it should join the International
Criminal Court and expand the court's reach,
powers and effectiveness; intrastate and
interstate crimes - the price to be paid for
aggression - can be best reduced through support
for the ICC.
International NGOs, along with Western
governments, should expose the egregious acts of
Persian Gulf rulers and their wrongfully acquired
wealth (and that of their cronies). This should be
much easier in an increasingly wired world.
Rulers, without exception, must be convinced that
they will be prosecuted at the ICC for their
crimes with all illegally acquired wealth clawed
back to their country, thus reducing the
incentives for autocratic rule and plunder. NGOs,
international institutions and Western governments
should publicize the fact that oil belongs to the
people and that elected accountable governments
should be transparent and manage it a way to
benefit members of all generations equitably and
The rest of the world can further support this
transition to better governance and peace by
placing a total embargo of weapons to the region.
The US could push Israel to accept a nuclear-free
Middle East. Yes, the drift towards the apocalypse
could be avoided but it will take unprecedented
vision, statesmanship and international
cooperation. It is not the availability of oil at
a reasonable price that matters, it is the
survival of humanity that's at stake.