A rat is at its most dangerous when it is cornered and sees no way out.
This is precisely what’s been happening to some formerly mighty Middle Eastern monarchies lately. Oh yes, they still carry their heads of state in aircraft filled with golden washroom basins and other such stuff, but their grip on the world economy is getting looser by the day.
Meaning that the oil hegemony that used to keep the rest of the world by the throat no longer exists. These kingdoms spent the money they made off oil exports on luxuries for their aristocracy, spread of Islamic ideology all over the world, and almost nothing on general education, improvement of their populations’ lot and finding alternative methods of supporting themselves. Consequently, the end is nigh.
An interesting point: modern technologies for oil extraction developed in North America, have made, for example, the U.S. last year’s largest crude exporter, beating Saudi Arabia hands down.
Here a few calculations for the next year, based on several intelligence sources’ estimates (independent of one another): in 2015, the U.S. is expected to produce 12 million barrels of oil a day, exporting one full million of it daily. Iran, by comparison, is not expected to produce more than 1,5 million barrels a day.
While none of this has made international headlines, this has: the Palestinian Authority asked the United Nations to recognize its territory as a country. Where this would have created some heated discussions across the spectrum a year or two ago, now, the request was turned down without much debate.
Why? Because loss of oil superpower status equals loss of relevancy.
Come think of it, there was much more debate about the issue within the Palestinian Authority’s territory. Hamas, a terrorist organization if there ever was one, and de facto ruler of the area, has been unhappy about the request. Such recognition of statehood would have meant recognition and stabilization of borders, including those of Israel. So far as Hamas is concerned, this would be anathema. Israel has no right to exist.
In any case, the simple change inside the oil markets has meant not only that prices have been going down. It also spells doom for those who had thought the world was their oyster and they could dictate where it was going and how using the threat of either cutting oil supplies, or increasing their prices.
Yes, some of the monarchies have been eyeing tourism as a replacement for the flow of petro-dollars. Witness all those towers and sundry palaces in their countries. They even are willing to go so far as to permit booze in those places, much to the chagrin of their religious leaders.
Except tourism is no replacement for a weapon such as crude oil. It can support Monaco or Monte Carlo or, even, Las Vegas, but certainly not a region that used to think it could become a world leader.
The list of losers includes Russia as well as the Middle East monarchies.
The list of those on the winning side includes not only the U.S., but also Canada, Mexico, as well as some African countries, such as Nigeria.
The times of shameless blackmail of European politicians, using Middle Eastern petro-dollars, are over.
Yes, we still see paroxysms, such as Sweden not only jumping the gun and recognizing the Palestinian territory as a state before the United Nations turned this frightfully stupid, shortsighted and provocative request down. But then again, this is the same country whose social democratic government only recently suspended democracy till at least the year 2022.
Yes, we still witness useful idiots (there exists no milder and more generous description) who carry anti-Israeli (and anti-Semitic) slogans around and blame the Muslim backwardness on the Jews rather than on their own rulers. We can safely expect their rhetoric to become more heated when the only source of income these Middle Eastern countries have enjoyed dries up.
Except: money speaks, and where there’s no money, there’s no political will, either. European Union politicians’ spines may grow a bit stronger than they have been lately.
The single-issue groups that have been claiming Muslim lifestyles were to be adopted in the countries Muslims had immigrated to will face critical financial shortages: most of them receive support from the Middle Eastern monarchies. It is also to be expected that regular citizens of Europe will become louder than they have been thus far. This, by the way, has been becoming a new (and welcome) feature of communal life in Europe. Hopefully, this will spread.
This has nothing to do with denying Muslims the right to believe what they wish to believe.
This has everything to do with denying Muslims the right to impose their beliefs on all and sundry.
We can expect a few years of violence: the Middle Eastern (and Russian) rulers will be blaming the rest of the world for their nations’ ills. Anybody but themselves. And the Middle Eastern religious leaders will become even more shrill than they are now. Again: it’s the infidels who are guilty of it all, not the centuries of mental, emotional and physical repression their nations had to endure under their leadership.
Is there any hope for them? And for the rest of the world?
Who knows? Forcing these monarchies to go around, begging, won’t do the trick. Continuing to do their bidding won’t cut it, either.
Convincing them to grow up and realize we’re now in the 21st century is our only hope. It’s going to be a slow and painful process. But the first step is behind us: Middle Eastern monarchs no longer rule the rest of the world, and the rest of the world is becoming aware of it.