Guest Post: Oil, Much As Weapons, Is Dangerous In The Wrong Hands

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Submitted by Claude Salhani of,

The discovery of oil in the Middle East around the 1930s has had a drastic effect on the lives of the people in the region.  In most instances this black gold buried under the sands of Arabia has impacted the lives of the people in a rather positive manner. But not always.

The wonders accomplished by some of the oil rich sheikdoms of the Gulf region is nothing short of amazing where they have in a very real sense, made the desert bloom, and then some. Oil, there is no question, has changed forever the way people live and work today. And these changes have for the most part been positive. Look at cities such as Dubai or Doha and the marvels they have achieved; how the governments with the help of oil revenues have managed to raise the level of living for the vast majority of their citizens. And at the same time they have created thousands of well paying jobs for foreign workers.

The governments have used their oil revenues to build schools, hospitals, road infrastructures, electric grids and everything else that goes with running a modern state. In other words oil revenues have helped propel these countries from a medieval existence into modern times. Look at Muscat, the capital of Oman, where until the 1970s the previous ruler, Sultan Said bin Taimur, had decreed that the city gates be close at sunset and reopen at sunrise and that anyone walking in the city at night without a lantern held face-high, would be shot. Girls were banned from going to school and the country, slightly smaller than the state of Kansas, had a single hospital and a few miles of paved roads. The country also faced a serious communist-backed insurgence in the southern Dhofar region.

However, the sultan’s son, Qaboos, educated at Britain’s prestigious Sandhurst Royal Military Academy, overthrew his father in a palace coup in 1970, and using money that had started to pour in from oil sales, began to modernize the country.

But not all aspects of oil and the revenues it generates have always been put to good use. Take the case of Syria or Iran where billions of dollars have been squandered on military hardware.

Syria’s economy today is but one example where oil did not impact the country in a positive manner. A study by the United Nations carried out in 2010 estimated that about 32 percent of Syrians were living in poverty, surviving on less than $2 a day.  And that, according to the well informed Syria Comment web site, was before the Syrian currency had lost more than 50 percent of its value.

“That was before the currency had fallen by half, the economy collapsed, strict economic sanctions were placed on Syria, and fighting engulfed the country. In all probability, a conservative percent of Syrians living in the direst poverty has surpassed 50 percent,” reports Syria Comment.

That means that some 11 million people are affected.

What is particularly disturbing is that although the amount of oil Syria produced was rather modest especially when compared to larger oil producing countries such as Iran, Iraq or Saudi Arabia, it was still enough to begin turning the economy around. With a population of only 22 million people it should not have been too difficult for Syria to sustain its initial progress which began when the son, Bashar, replaced his father Hafez, after his death in 2000.

Indeed, the arrival of Bashar Assad at the helm, accompanied by some mild reforms which the young president managed to implement gave people the hope of a brighter future, especially so when they began to see signs of things starting to change.  The level of life in Syria had just begun to improve and could have continued to flourish had the government followed up on its promises to introduce some basic reforms and put the revenues towards better use than spending much of it on the purchase of Soviet era army surplus equipment.

Instead the government began to clamp down on all opposition, refusing to let go its iron grip. What little progress was achieved was very quickly reversed. The Assad regime reacted harshly against demands for less government control in their daily lives.

That failed to happen and as we have seen everything took a turn for the worse. Less than two years after the UN report the situation in Syria today is far more dismal. What little money there was finding its way through the sanctions is being squandered on weapons in a war that has ravaged the country, wreaked havoc on the economy and created a new refugee problem of enormous proportions.

Syria today is burdened with the largest refugee crisis in the world according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, an international organization that monitors displaced people worldwide. Indeed, most of Syria’s refugees are displaced internally. A clear indication of population shifts.  And as population shifts so too do demarcation lines, with the rebels claiming now to be in control of some of the oil producing sites. Will the opposition fare any better once they manage to get the oil facilities to operate once more? Or will they also contribute towards making the people who sell guns all that richer?

How will they use the revenue if the manage to operate the facilities?

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Thu, 02/28/2013 - 13:37 | 3286392 CrashisOptimistic
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Stupid political article masquerading as an oil article. 

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 13:39 | 3286396 Careless Whisper
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The Careless Whisper World News Update & Threadjacking


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BTFD ? Chart Of The Day




Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:04 | 3286522 Oh regional Indian
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Petro dollars to enforce anglo-saxon hegemony is THE only story of middle east oil. Period.

The middle easterners have been kept rich and dumb at the top and poor and furious at the bottom with no real middle class.

Most ME business is controlled by the Brits with the Americans holding The Saudi's and Bahranians hostage.

The end of the petro-dollar is nigh. May it die a swift, painful death.



Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:06 | 3286537 DaveyJones
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first we redrew their political bondaries, then their economic

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:14 | 3286573 Oh regional Indian
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True Davey. And in their wisdom, the exploitative colonialists used straigt lines for borders that split co-lingual/cultural communities, making sure the old Divvy up and rule game continues.

One visit to Dubai is enough to tell the tale.

Heck of a job...

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:21 | 3286605 DaveyJones
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yeah but language and culture are a little older than the brits and the yanks. It's a matter of time. 

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:49 | 3286737 CPL
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It's all such a mess.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:58 | 3286779 DaveyJones
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Just read the title of the article a few times

that's all you need to know about the author

It's getting more blantant

They don't even pretend anymore

I'm getting tired of this criminal shit

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 15:10 | 3286821 Shell Game
Shell Game's picture

So true, am sick of it as well.  What used to happen in the darkness and/or behind closed doors is being redefined (read: conditioned) to us as the new normal.  A great spring board for some mighty toxic nationalism. 

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 15:23 | 3286972 DaveyJones
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"plant seeds, as much as weapons, are dangerous in the wrong hands" 

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:05 | 3286524 Bicycle Repairman
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"LA TIMES: Radioactive Tuna From Japan Is Good For Science"

Pure insanity.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 13:46 | 3286415 Matt
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Why is it any of our business how another country spends it's money?

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 13:54 | 3286457 Shell Game
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Because that would actually be respecting Liberty and private property.  The doesn't do the Liberty thing..

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:00 | 3286467 SDRII
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Yes he skipped over the Ceder revolution, the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon and the Hariri assassination + UN investigation debacle. Leaving aside the younger Hariri who spits from Lebanon from his residence(s) in  Paris and Saudi Arabia, Syria may indeed have oil up near the Turkish border. Author glides right over the recent announced Israeli drilling in the Golan. And finally he whiffed on the Med gas basis for which Israel just struck an LNG deal with none other than Russia.  That whole Lebanon maritime border remains unresolved even as they move to tender drilling rights. Also fails on the South Pars link via Syria that Iran just started building not to mention the Turkish-Kurd-US dance in Northern Iraq....


Political hack


Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:05 | 3286521 DaveyJones
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"But not all aspects of oil and the revenues it generates have always been put to good use. Take the case of Syria or Iran where billions of dollars have been squandered on military hardware"

thank GOD the US has never directed its resources toward the same

Now children I want you all to stand up, look at the new flag, raise your hand and say I will never wear a turban, eat dates, or let the brown man say he has property rights

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 16:02 | 3287202 thisandthat
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All there is to say about this "piece" (of...) - how did this propaganda pos got into ZH - anyone care to explain?

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 22:20 | 3288646 msamour
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I stopped reading at "Look at Syria and Iran..." 

Fuck this guy and the horse he rode in on. He can spread his propaganda somewhere else, I ain't reading it!

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 13:41 | 3286393 francis_sawyer
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Syria is Pawn to K-4 on the 'King's Gambit'

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 16:10 | 3287238 Kirk2NCC1701
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Pawn takes Pawn in 'Russian Gambit'.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 16:24 | 3287322 francis_sawyer
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...& SPASSKY takes Game 1 from Bobby Fischer!

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 13:39 | 3286394 Colonial Intent
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After three days off-site, Yoshizawa and several Tepco colleagues decided they had no choice but to return to Fukushima Daiichi. As they left the crisis headquarters, firefighters, police officers, soldiers and nuclear officials lined up to salute them. "We felt like members of the Tokkotai [the kamikaze pilots of the second world war] in that we were prepared to sacrifice everything," he says. "The people lined up outside never said as much, but I could tell by their expressions that they didn't think we would return."

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:01 | 3286464 Praetorian Guard
Praetorian Guard's picture

I'd like to know why NO ONE has addressed the fact that three of the four TEPCO reactors are in the process (and are currently) of a China Syndrome??? That, and according to GeoMar, the contamination will completely kill the Pacific within 8 years... hmmm....

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 13:41 | 3286403 Rusty Trombone
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What a load of imperialistic dogshit.

Go sell your propaganda somewhere else you fucking cunt.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 13:51 | 3286437 Canadian Dirtlump
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+1 on that. Mother fuck the fake syrian army, al quaeda, and the rest of the dryg addled irregular mercenary terrorists. Also, you can mother fuck NATO, and the feudal monarchies of the persian gulf ( western allies ), brutal human rights violators and the ideological ground zero for "muslim terrorists."


Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:01 | 3286502 Abitdodgie
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I have been on Zero Hedge for a while now and in recent months the posts seem to be different than what they were in the old days , I think Zero Hedge has lowered it's IQ to help the younger people.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:11 | 3286561 conspicio
conspicio's picture

SoS Lurch says we have a right to be stupid. Some choose to exercise that right rather publicly and frequently. Sometimes in Wal-Mart, but sometimes posting an article here. No exclusivity on stupid.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 16:18 | 3287282 Kirk2NCC1701
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Interesting point.  Those colorful emotional outbursts with choice expletives might be (self-)gratifying, but do not add insight or value, do not advance a cohesive discussion, nor do they attract a serious and mature audience. 

Having this linguistic swill increase, only leads to an emigration of serious people.  Which, ironically enough, only aids & abets the guys in Langley and their bosses, TPTB.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 22:25 | 3288716 msamour
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I work with a lot of lawyers. You would be surprised how much some (at least 30 of them) swear copiously when in the building, and we are the only ones around. Some of them have doctorates,a dn are specialist lawyers in specific fields. Your argument of serious people leaving doesn't hold much water...

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:10 | 3286557 DaveyJones
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now imagine your feelings when you actually live there

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:12 | 3286562 Jack Burton
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Indeed. While giving almost NO real background information, this little Neo-Con article spewed out the USA line that Syria's government started a war against it's own peaceful people and the west is an innocent bystander!

Right, the Gulf Kingdoms who fund the Al-Qaeda FSA, are treating their people great while Syria is the focus of evil in the Middle East.

There is way more to this story, and the USA/Israel/NATO/Sunni Gulf States  are behind the foreign arms and terrorists flooding into Syria to liberate the state for take over by NATO. But Geee, we are all too stupid to know this, we will all buy into another crap propaganda piece by the Neo-Con media?

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 16:58 | 3287523 Canucklehead
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... and your point is?

Fri, 03/01/2013 - 01:59 | 3289221 StychoKiller
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We're swimmin' in a sea of propaganda.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 13:52 | 3286445 Shell Game
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"The Assad regime reacted harshly against demands for less government control in their daily lives."

The double standards are almost amusing..

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:06 | 3286531 Canadian Dirtlump
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It would be amusing if it wasn't Western bullshit propaganda. This article needs to be on some mainstream news site. Not one which purportedly deals with reality.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:14 | 3286569 Shell Game
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Either that or it time to disseminate real assault and anti-tank weapons to US citizens for regime change...


Thu, 02/28/2013 - 13:53 | 3286452 Praetorian Guard
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When the oil ends, which it will, those lands will once again become a barbaric waste land of sand... nothing will have changed, except that they will no longer have any influence in the world. That, and they have no viable infrastructure for food... it's gonna suck to be them...

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:17 | 3286565 DaveyJones
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they actually have a shitload of solar energy. If they are smart and use water capture and soil rebuilding, they can have plenty of resource.

oil is one thing, water and food is another. The key is keeping the two separate and then kicking Monsanto ass out the door.

the dumbest (or the most disloyal) thing their "leaders" ever did was not build a separate financial system. Those who have tried get invaded but if enough of them stood up.... 

it's a matter of time. Locate the food riots. The average Saudi is young and his economic health has radically declined in thirty years. 

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:16 | 3286586 Jack Burton
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True! And when the US pipeline of billions upon billions of dollars into Isreal dries up, that land will turn back into a barbaric wasteland.

I wonder where Isreal would be in 10 years time if all US Government money and Private Money failed to arrive for good. And European guilt handouts stopped coming, like free top of the line German Submarines for the IDF.

Isreal joins the barbaric wastelands surrounding them when our money stops coming. Just a thought to consider.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:33 | 3286657 FeralSerf
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They will still have the money that Madoff and his ilk have secretly stored there.  As long as the Zionists own the American Congress and media they will have all the resources of the American taxpayer and the American military at their disposal.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:58 | 3286794 Canucklehead
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Where would Egypt be if the US pipeline of billions upon billions of dollars dries up? 

What about all the other El Kabong states vegetating around in the middle east?

Did you know Irish Spring is a soap?  When do things get cleaned up in the middle east?

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 13:54 | 3286458 joego1
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We are all going to die an ugly death as the greedy bastards fight for the last drop of oil. Humans are too stupid to see their own plight.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:17 | 3286585 CPL
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Well antartic/artic methane won't do what they want it to like escaping through the big hole punched above it in the ozone.

Often wondered why nobody has thought of just building a pressure valve to dump it into space.  That Chinese 'fog' will be everywhere soon enough.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:16 | 3286488 Mercury
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The discovery of oil in the Middle East around the 1930s has had a drastic effect on the lives of the people in the region.  In most instances this black gold buried under the sands of Arabia has impacted the lives of the people in a rather positive manner.


I don't know about that.  Look at S. Korea vs. Saudi Arabia which were at similar levels of prosperity in the 1950s. War-raveged, resource-poor S.Korea has now vaulted ahead of Saudi by a goodly amount on a GDP per capita basis. And I'm sure the wealth is much less top-heavy in S. Korea too.

Would you rather be a member of today's well-educated, prosperous,  S. Korean middle class or an angry, under-employed 30 yr-old virgin in Saudi?

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:22 | 3286608 medium giraffe
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"Look at cities such as Dubai or Doha and the marvels they have achieved; how the governments with the help of oil revenues have managed to raise the level of living for the vast majority of their citizens."

Wonderous utopian miracles hath been wrought from the lifeless desert!

Freedom, equality and prosperity for all!


Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:25 | 3286623 forrestdweller
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Middle east cultures are not fit for democratic functioning society. There will be a dictator somehow.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 15:01 | 3286818 DaveyJones
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I'm starting to feel the same way about home

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:39 | 3286688 Uncle Zuzu
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"The governments have used their oil revenues to build schools, hospitals, road infrastructures, electric grids and everything else that goes with running a modern state."

(Taking deep breath) Let me explain something to you, Claude (that's the name of the author).  These are the symptoms of a modern state, not its root causes.  It's all pretense and make believe.  There is one thing these governments which you praise have not done yet to really modernize.  It's called FREEDOM, Claude, FREEEEEEEE....F-ING...DOM.  Please please don't tell me these are modern states when women cannot drive or uncover their hair, or cannot be with a man who is not a relative without being punished.  Or when a thief has his hand chopped off, or when a blogger is arrested for critizing the dictator.  Do you take me for a fool?

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 14:53 | 3286758 Canucklehead
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Echoing what you said, Uncle Zuzu, the Middle East needs freedom and a Protestant work ethic.  Now if they can develop a work ethic that rivals a Protestant work ethic, so be it.  The world has not seen such a thing as an Islamic work ethic that amounted to anything.

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 15:55 | 3287170 Shell Game
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Let the free markets figure that out and solve it.  Remember the free markets?  Or are you also addicted to Statist intervention?

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 16:49 | 3287453 Kirk2NCC1701
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"Free" markets my... eye!  Everyone looks out for themselves, and the people with "means" are in a better position to change the very game to favor them, their spawn and their ilk.  The ONLY period in history when markets are reasonable 'free', is when the Rules of the Game are in place and enforced (aka Checks & Balances) -- which they never are for long. 

Look at what Ronny Raygun and his NWO-master (Bush1) did:  Eliminate "regulation" (codeword for 'Checks & Balances') to help the economy.  Yeah, the multinational crooks did not like the "regulation" (C&B), as they wanted even bigger profits.  A la Henry Frick.  The use-fool politicians and even dumber sheep fell for "Deregulation".  Hook, line & sinker.  Ronny Raygun was a vain schmuck, and a useful fool/tool for the NWO crowd!  And the 'Arbusto' crime syndicate is part of that NWO crowd!  May the Lord take a liking to them real soon!

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