As the economic doldrums linger, there are doubtlessly many Pipestone Flyer readers wondering how long the price of oil will drop before bottoming out. Once it bottoms out, there’s only one way it can go, and that’s back up.
Strangely, one of the West’s closest allies in the Middle East can answer that question better than just about any country in the world: Saudi Arabia. Some pundits even hesitate to call Saudi Arabia a western ally. Most would agree with that judgment after closely examining the behaviour of this so-called friend.
Last week Saudi Arabia executed Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, a Saudi citizen and outspoken critic of the Saudi regime, which is strongly Sunni based (in a nutshell, the difference is Shiites believe Mohammed’s heir was his son-in-law Ali, while Sunnis believe it was Mohammed’s friend Abu Bakr). Now, there’s a bit of a debate going on about whether this al-Nimir had it coming or if he’s a martyr. The fact that he hails from a different sect of Islam than those who run the Saudi government raises questions. Apparently, his court-ordered execution was based on “seeking foreign meddling in the country, disobeying its rulers and taking up arms against the security forces.” The first two charges are spurious, the third was intensely questioned. Amnesty International seems to think al-Namir did nothing but exercise free speech. Could it be possible Saudi Arabia is run by a regime that executed this cleric simply because they didn’t like him? Is this the way Saudi Arabia treats its own people?
Saudi Arabia is one of the major oil producing nations in the world, and one of the leaders of OPEC, an organization of such states. As everyone in Alberta knows right now, there is a worldwide glut of crude oil driving the price down. The more oil that’s available, the more options buyers have; hence, the price drops. Over the last few weeks the price has even dipped below $40 a barrel. Why is there a glut of oil?
Well, according to many pundits, Saudi Arabia, our friend, is leading an effort to overproduce oil to, in essence, teach the West a lesson about messing with Saudi Arabia’s primary export. A new North American oil producing technique, fracking, brought lots of new oil onto the market. Apparently the Saudis don’t like competition.
The Guardian newspaper put it this way in a Dec. 7 article: “Oil prices have slumped by 5 per cent after the latest attempt by Saudi Arabia to kill off the threat from the US shale industry sent crude to its lowest level since the depths of the global recession almost seven years ago. Shares in energy companies lost ground as the impact of the drop in oil prices rippled through European stock markets. Prices of other commodities also weakened following disappointment among traders that OPEC had decided late last week to keep flooding the global market with cheap oil.”
Trying to run North America into bankruptcy using gangster tactics? Is this the way Saudi Arabia treats its friends?
Remember the civil war in Syria right now, and the massive humanitarian crisis that’s created in Europe? About two and a half million people have fled just into Turkey, and the issue of accepting Syrian refugees has faced many western nations. There’s great debate about what Saudi Arabia, a Sunni nation, is doing to help its fellow Middle Eastern nation, Syria, a Shiite nation. According to www.snopes.com, a website dedicated to exposing urban legends and online dishonesty, Amnesty International has stated “Gulf countries including Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain have offered zero resettlement places to Syrian refugees.”
Just as an aside, Syria and Iran have a very close relationship. Iran is a Shiite nation. Saudi Arabia is a Sunni nation. Saudi Arabia and Iran have, at best, a frosty relationship. Could it be possible that Saudi Arabia is ignoring the humanitarian crisis on its doorstep for purely dogmatic reasons? Is this the way Saudi Arabia treats its rivals?
One more question is begging to be asked. With friends like this, who needs enemies?