Arab Revolution: Reaction To
Rich-Poor Middle East Divide?
by Dan Ehrlich

Repression + Poverty = Regime Change... Sometimes
The revolution that appears to be building steam through much of the Arab world is largely a response to the realization of a two tier socio-economic structure that has developed in the Middle East…one rich and one poor.

For generations the Arab world, held in check by its strict faith, had dismissed the growing economic well-being and relatively affluent lifestyle in Israel as a mixture of Infidel decadence and American power projection.

However, with the even greater affluence, lavish living and decadence openly on display in the oil rich Arab Gulf Emirates, Arab populations west of Suez want to know why none of the wealth has come their way. They want know why tiny Dubai can run up a $60 billion debt building pleasure palaces, while they have no pleasure, and in many cases, no jobs.

And, don’t be surprised if some Palestinians also begin demanding that their leaders open their account books to reveal where the billions in donations to their cause have been going.

Throughout history the Arab people have had to be severely hard pressed to revolt against their betters. It appears one of those times is now. A combination of the European Union recession (which affects the Middle East), growing poverty and mass communication, highlighted by the Internet, has moved people in several nations to demand change…in their autocratic and corrupt governments and their lives.

What type of change will be dependent on what the people want and whom their militaries support. The fear of Islamic extremists taking control may be overstated at this point. The people in Egypt aren’t revolting to have an even more restrictive government in charge. That could happen. But, in a climate where people at long last want to enter the present day world, Islamic fundamentalism may not be an option. And any group trying to install such a government may have short sell by date.

But there is another dimension to this revolution…The Infidel dimension based on oil…So far the rebellions have been in non oil producing nations. Egypt has a little oil, but is not a major player. However, if a major conflict took place there that resulted in closing the Suez Canal, all bets would be off with oil prices skyrocketing.

There has long been a view that the Iraq War was really about securing the massive oil fields there. Well, that’s been done and the oil will remain secure for the time being or as long a US troops are n the country.

But, there is one country, the biggest oil producer of all, that could be ripe for revolution. Saudi Arabia may be sitting on top of enormous, yet dwindling oil reserves, but its people, for the most part, live humbly. The average income is about $15,000 per year, less than the US poverty level.

The Saudis are Wahhabist Muslims, an extreme sect that believes in the literal word of the Koran and Sharia Law. Yet, here too, the magic of global television and the Internet is giving Saudis ideas that are forbidden fruit. Will they take a bite of the apple? There are reports of rumblings.

This is the biggest fear for the industrial world, that a revolution in a major oil producer such as Saudi Arabia will stop the oil supply. And the world can't have that. The spice must flow at all costs. The order of the known universe depends on it.

You must remember Iran was a wealthy oil rich nation that developed a privileged middle class at the expense of masses of poor people. It became a fundamentalist state as a reaction against the excesses of the Shah and the middle class. But, that was a different time and under particular circumstances.

Yemen, for example, is one of the world’s poorest countries. The revolt against the president wasn’t to install a harsher ruler. These people want better lives. Each country in this region has its own special character and set of needs that may dictate if it becomes a progressive democracy or trades one dictator for another.

Historically, what is happening in the Middle East in monumental. People, regarded has having the most unchanging societies on earth, are trying to change.

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