Libyan Revolution Portends Middle East Meltdown
Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi's ossified regime is following in the footprints of Hosni Mubarak's Egyptian dynasty. At least two of Gadhafi's military pilots defected to Malta on Monday rather than bomb their countrymen as Gadhafi ordered. Various regime ministers have resigned in protest, and Gadhafi has had to refute rumors that he'd already fled to Venezuela. Gadhafi still vows to fight to the end -- to the "last bullet" -- and die as a martyr, but his ability to do so appears weaker by the hour. That's no thanks to the UN, though. The Security Council issued a press statement -- its weakest possible option short of saying nothing -- to condemn violence against civilians perpetrated by the Libyan regime. Libya's seat on the Human Rights Council, the UN's top human rights body, seems secure as well.
Curiously, Obama has been much quieter about Gadhafi's bloody regime than he was in his support for Mubarak's ouster. Perhaps that is because, by extension, Obama has ties to Gadhafi that he would like to leave in the closet. As you may recall, Obama's spiritual mentor, Jeremiah Wright, has long been tied to Gadhafi and the U.S. organization he sponsors, Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam. In the 2008 election campaign, Wright even noted, "When [Obama's] enemies find out that I went to Tripoli to visit [Gadhafi] with Farrakhan, a lot of his Jewish support will dry up quicker than a snowball in hell." Of course, at the time, his sychophants were so focused on "hope and change" that nobody noticed.
Libya's oil industry came to a virtual halt this week, and oil and gas prices predictably spiked. Libyan crude, long the benchmark due to its clean, easily refined composition, provides less than 3 percent of the world's oil, and even a total loss could probably be made up by increased Saudi production. However, its loss, even the threat of its loss, has driven up prices worldwide, as seen when oil approached $120 a barrel this week. Europe will be especially hard-hit by any prolonged stoppage of Libyan oil exports for two reasons: Much of Europe's oil is provided by Libya, and many of Europe's largest oil companies, most notably British Petroleum, are heavily invested in developing Libyan oil fields -- a double whammy of higher gas prices and lost economic activity.
It appears that the favor of the Scottish and UK government's release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi in 2009, is not going to pay much dividend. Al-Megrahi is the terrorist convicted in the murder of 259 people aboard Pan American flight 103 on their way home for Christmas in 1998, and 11 Scottish citizens when the bombed plane crashed in their village of Lockerbie. Yet another great moment in BP history...
In related news about vulnerable Arabic regimes, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah returned from three months abroad on Wednesday and promptly cracked open the royal piggy bank, clearly hoping simply to pay off any of his subjects who might be getting ideas about revolt. According to differing news reports, the king doled out between $34 and $37 billion worth of cheer in different subsidies. Abdullah and his very extended ruling family have good reason to worry. Saudi Arabia provides free college education to its young men and women but cannot provide them with jobs. Outside the oil industry, which is largely run by foreigners, and a limited number of government jobs, the ordinary Saudi has little opportunity to move up in the world or to support a family.