A number of recent articles about the Middle East and international energy have made me wonder about the implications of current developments for the future. Put them all together, make the necessary associations, and see what you think.
From Casey Research: Two Sides of the Same Flag: How Israel's Natural Gas Will Change the World.
- Israel's newfound reserves of gas and oil look set fair to make the country an energy producer rather than a consumer, and are leading to new prospects for allies and co-operation - to the ire of its Arab neighbors.
- Contested maritime economic zones mean that Israel's offshore reserves may be subject to conflicting claims by other nations.
- Terrorists may threaten Israeli offshore platforms with anti-ship missiles and other weapons.
- OPEC, Turkey and Egypt stand to lose most from an energy-rich Israel. In particular, Egypt's new Muslim Brotherhood government may lose billions in income from its already shaky gas supply deal with Israel (which has been repeatedly disrupted by militants blowing up the pipeline).
From Slate: The New Gas Guzzlers.
- China, India, Brazil and other developing countries will soon consume most of the world’s oil.
- A world in which a majority of oil consumption is happening [elsewhere] is a world in which America’s energy fate is driven by forces beyond our control. And we’re pretty far behind in preparing for it.
From the Winnipeg Free Press: Moment of truth 'maybe'.
- US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is visiting other Middle Eastern nations to discuss new sanctions against Iran that will reduce its oil exports by up to 40%.
- [There is] growing Iranian terrorist activity against Israeli targets in Cyprus, Kenya and Azerbaijan.
- Turkey has undertaken a move of great concern to Iran: Turkey signed with Iraqi Kurdistan an agreement to supply Turkey with oil from Kirkuk, ignoring the Shiite government in Baghdad.
- Iranian attempts to continue arming Hezbollah are encountering stiff [Lebanese] Sunni opposition.
- The United Arab Emirates has opened an oil pipeline that bypasses the strategic chokepoint of the Strait of Hormuz, theoretically allowing it to export most of its oil to international customers even if Iran blockades the Strait.
- Saudi Arabia has converted a natural gas pipeline to carry much of its oil production from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea, for the same reason.
- Both moves mean that Iran suddenly has much less leverage over its neighbors in the Persian Gulf - unless it decides to take out both pipelines. Iranian sponsorship of terrorists is well-known. Do you suppose . . . ?
Put all those elements together, and ally them with the situation in Syria where Iran's only major nation-state ally in the region is on the verge of collapsing into internal chaos, and you get a recipe for disaster. Iran's seeing its influence in the region vaporize before its eyes, and is facing the very real threat of permanent economic isolation. It's more than capable of lashing out in blind fury.
All this is happening while Israel is preparing (may, by now, be ready) to take out Iran's nuclear program at the drop of a hat (and drop it itself if no-one else will).
Duck and cover, folks. I suspect things are going to get even more interesting in the Middle East before long.