Blood Shed Boosts Oil Price

The biggest potential losers in the still-roiling revolutions of the Middle East and North Africa are the people themselves. Many are democrats at high risk of being overwhelmed over time by new dictators and organised religious extremists. But the uncontested winners are already quite clear: those who own, sell, and bet on oil. In the last month alone, oil prices have leaped almost 10 per cent, even with only tiny dips in supply.

While these revolutions have produced daily thunderclaps worldwide about a new democratic future for the Middle East, power structures remain largely intact. Almost every country in the region looks as if it’s marking time, waiting. So far, those who took to the streets succeeded only in ousting their unwanted masters — Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia — and not in really changing the power status quo ante. In Yemen, the established leadership does look shaky. In Libya, where the media proclaimed the rebels as victors last week, it seems like a standoff with Col. Muammar Gaddafi.

In Tunisia, where it all began, the revolutionaries are awaiting elections. The once banned Islamist party Al Nahda has just been legalised. In Egypt, the protesters still find themselves in the strong grip of the military. Elections are set for September, and the military, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood, can be expected to top the parliamentary polls. In Bahrain, the huge Shia majority took to the squares  — only a causeway away from the Saudi Arabian oil jackpot. To date, the revolutions have generated far more drama and hope than real change.

The fighting in Libya has understandably monopolised attention, though its international importance is modest. Its normal output of oil sits at only one per cent of daily global consumption. But watch out: legions of neoconservatives are demanding military action against Gaddafi, though his Arab neighbours say, “stay out.”

Israel is the biggest strategic loser. The Jewish state has relied on Arab regimes to subdue the anti-Zionist sentiments of their peoples. And Israel can’t do anything to fix its plight. Times are not at all conducive for new talks with Palestinians. The United States is also a loser, but it need not be a big one. Washington’s power depends on whether the revolutions peter out or launch new anti-American rulers. Whatever happens, Washington will confront greater anti-Americanism. Counterterrorism operations and anti-Iran diplomacy will suffer.

Turkey will be a model for Arab nations lucky enough to democratise. Its foreign policy balances between the United States and the states of Islam and is also now somewhat anti-Israel. Internally, Turkey balances between an Islamic and a secular state. The country has internal stability and a promising economy.

Conventional wisdom holds that Iran has won the lottery. But don’t bet on it. Iranians are Shias and Persians; the revolutionaries are mostly Sunnis and Arabs. These groups don’t particularly care for one another. Most important, Arab revolutionaries must surely despise Iranian leaders who beat and slaughtered Iran’s freedom fighters a mere two years ago. It’s quite possible that the revolutionary fervour will tire amid economic shortages and other burdens, and fade. Or the revolutions could erupt once again, forcing profound recalculations of US policy. But two things are certain: the oil barons and traders will get richer, and most people worldwide will scramble against higher oil and food prices and declining economies.

Advertisements

War At Islam?

Within hours of the attacks on the Pentagon and WorldTrade Centeron Sept. 11, President Bush and other U.S. and western leaders were explaining that though we found ourselves in a state of war, that war was not with Islam.

Ten years later, we’re still confused about who our enemy is.

If you have any chance of winning a war, you must be able to identify the enemy.

Are we at war with Islam? Most definitely not.

But, Islam is at war with us.

In fact, Islam has been at war with the West, with Christianity, with Judaism – indeed, with the entire non-Muslim world – ever since the days of Muhammad. This struggle, more than any other, has defined history for the last 1,200 years.

Americans don’t understand this because they don’t know their history. In Muhammad’s era, Islam swept through the Arabian peninsula to conquer the Middle East. Its armies then marched on Europe, Asia and Africa. In the late 15th century, Columbus was exploring new trade routes because Islam’s armies controlled the land routes to the East. He accidentally discovered America. In the late 17th century, Islam’s armies were at the gates of Vienna.

For the next 300 years, Islam’s imperialist ambitions faded. But it is quite clearly on the rebound today.

Enriched by oil wealth, Islam is expanding in every direction – through Africa, through Asia, through Europe – and even in the United States where it is said to be the fastest-growing religion.

Can Islam defeat the West?

Certainly not in any conventional militaryconfrontation. But that is not the goal. This is asymmetrical warfare. The beauty of this conflict from Islam’s point of view is that the West can’t even identify targets, can’t even clearly identify the enemy.

America has troops in well over 100 nations. They are stationed all over the world to provide peace and security. Yet, in truth, America can’t adequately provide security “1,000 yards from the U.S. Capitol after nightfall,” as Paul Weyrich and William S. Lind of theFree Congress Foundationwrite in a new paper, “Why Islam Is a Threat to America and the West.”

We are vulnerable tocontinuedterror attacks. But these attacks are not designed to defeat us militarily. They are designed to break our will. They are designed to sow seeds of confusion in a culture that has already lost its own religious underpinnings and moral framework. They are designed, in Marxist theory, to “heighten the contradictions of capitalism” – or, as another generation of communists explained it, to “bring the war home.” That was how we lost a war to little Vietnam.

The West has little chance of prevailing in this contest without understanding who the real enemy is.

Am I saying all Muslims are the enemy? Of course not. Were the people living in communist countries during the Cold War our enemies? Not really. The evil regimes that victimized their own people as well as their neighbors were the enemies. The same is true in Islam today.

We must understand in the West today –whetherwe live in the U.S., Israel, the United Kingdom or elsewhere – that Islam reflects a vastly different worldview from the one that established western civilization. If we try to understand Islam as some sort ofextensionof monotheistic Judeo-Christian philosophy, we will fail to see the truth.

The truth is that western civilization faces perhaps its greatest test at the hands of Islam today. We don’t understand these people – and, not understanding them, we try to give them what we think they want, what we might want in a similar situation. This is how Israel has been led down the primrose path in itsnegotiationswith the Arabs.

It’s a war. And, for Islam, the negotiating table is just another theater in that war.

Every day, around the world, if we look for them, we see disparate, seemingly unconnected reports of attacks by Muslims on non-Muslims. We see them in Israel. We see them in India. We see them in Indonesia. We see them in the Philippines. We see them in Sudan. We see them even in the U.S. and Europe.

People are dying – lots of them. In fact, more Christians are being persecuted today than ever before in the history of the world – even under the Romans. Most of those attacks come from Islam.

What we need to understand is that these attacks are connected. They are coordinated. Islam is on the march, again. The only question iswhetherwe see it, acknowledge the reality of it and figure out an adequate response before it’s too late.