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Monday, 28 February 2011

Our best friends: Saudi-Arabia, but for how long?!

I've been with you such a long time
You're my sunshine
And I want you to know
That my feelings are true
I really love you
You're my best friend

When the western world is in dire straits and oil is the issue, there is always one country we can count on: our oil supplier of last resort, Saudi-Arabia.

Last week Saudi-Arabia promised to open the oil valves in order to fill in the gaps that Libya leaves behind when oil supply there will be scaled back.  Crude, Brent? You name it, we’ll deliver it.

The European countries that depend on Libyan oil, like Italy and Spain, can now avoid the measures of rationing gasoline usage.

The Globe and Mail writes an article about it. Here are some of the snips:

Top world oil exporter Saudi Arabia is in talks with European companies affected by the disruption in Libyan supply and is willing and able to plug any gaps in supply, senior Saudi sources said on Thursday.
Oil industry sources said Saudi officials have been in touch with Spanish and Italian oil firms – among those hit by the Libyan shutdowns. The companies were assessing their needs and have yet to ask for any more Saudi oil.
The Saudi sources said Saudi Arabia was able to pump more of the kind of high-quality crude produced by OPEC member Libya and that it could be shipped quickly to Europe with the help of a pipeline that crosses the kingdom.
European oil prices have surged towards $120 (U.S.) a barrel because of the unrest and disruption to supply in Libya. Refineries in Europe import about 80 per cent of Libya’s 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) of exports, analysts say.
“We are in active talks with European refineries to find out what quality they want and we are ready to ship it as soon as they need it. This is the way buyers and sellers work. We need to find out what they want before we take any action,” a senior Saudi source.
Curious readers should read the whole article, as it gives good insights in the horse trading around the worlds’ favorite substance. You could say: one man's breath is another man's death.

But you can ask yourself: why is Saudi-Arabia always the first country to increase the oil production when there are problems in the world? Because they can? Yes… and no!

Look at the country for a few moments: It is one of the most influencial countries in the Middle-East. As it holds the Islamic landmarks of Mekka (the Qa’aba) and Medina, it is in the center of the Islam and therefore host to millions of Muslims every year, during the Hajj.

But it is also one of the cruelest, most reactionary and nepotist regimes in the Middle-East. Led by the family Bin-Saud, a family of a king and about 2000 princes that hold all the cards in the country. It is a very Islamitic country, but in a way described by George Orwell in Animal farm: ‘all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others’. The total lack of women’s rights is infamous there.

The people in power can do everything they want, like drinking alcohol, using drugs and having decadent parties, while poor people get punished in very cruel ways without having the right to appeal: Decapitations as the most usual death penalty, arms getting chopped off for small theft.

At the bottom of the food chain there are the Indonesian and Philippino servants, that do all the dirty jobs and who are the first to blame when something goes wrong within a family. Stories of poor servants that were beaten or tortured to death by their bosses are very common, as well as stories of those servants that were innocently decapitated at “Chop-Chop square”, because they took the heat for crimes they didn’t commit.

Most infamous inhabitant of Saudi-Arabia is of course Osama bin Laden, the most feared terrorist  in history. But he was not the only one: almost all hijackers of 9-11 were also from Saudi-Arabia. And a lot of terrorism is still financed from there.

But nobody in Europe and the USA talks officially about this, while the oil keeps flowing. And flowing it does: SA is the biggest exporter of oil in the world and as the supply of “Texas Tea” is almost limitless, it can always be more when desired.
Dutch foreign ministers pay lip service to the human rights’ organizations when they are on their way to SA, but do nothing as soon as the plane has landed in Riyadh. Because we need the oil and Saudi-Arabia is holding the key.

Except for the fact that nobody in the west now talks about the dark side of Saudi-Arabia, there are a few other reasons to let the oil pumps in Riyadh run 24-7 at these trying times:
-   With the extra money it delivers, the rulers are able to give the people “bread and circuses”. In this way nobody is unsatisfied enough to revolt against the rulers
o  The rulers of Saudi-Arabia are very afraid of the domino theory, now Algeria, Tunesia and Egypt already had a change of the people in power and Libya is probably the next country to fall.

-   The USA will never accept that the oil delivery of SA will stall, due to internal societal acrimony. And with a friend like the Americans, the family Bin Saud can remain in power for ages more to come.

But the price the west pays for “this best friend of ours” is high:
-   Nobody in the Middle-East trusts the democratic intensions of the west, as long as we keep looking the other way in SA. We can succesfully be accused of having double standards, when it comes to democracy.

-   And nobody under the normal citizens of SA is our friend as long as we are in support of the greedy elite of this country. If the regime falls for any reason, the oil delivery might be over.

-   And as long as we are on the lifeline of SA, the west can be blackmailed with oil when needed. If this means that we should attack Iran, because SA wants it, a ‘casus belli” (reason for war) is found very easily, I’m afraid.

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