As a non-Arab concerned with the plight of the people of Palestine and the burgeoning non-beguiling ordeal of the people of Iraq, I am forced to wonder about certain what ifs, such as, what if Saudi Arabia was democratic? What if the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi were more interested in how to develop the kingdom in the best interests of all Saudi Arabians, other Arabs? And not in the manipulations of oil prices, to favor Mr. Bush at elections, as was revealed recently?
The predicted oil price manipulations for votes in favor of the president Bush White House has started in earnest, Saudi Arabia has started Monday May 10, 2004, to engage in oil price manipulations as expected, the kingdom with its statements, urging OPEC member producers to increase oil production, to in essence, flood the oil market with overproduction, to create a glut?
Even though, the Arabian kingdom presaged its statement, with the platitudinous aforethought, Saudi Arabia will urging oil production increase of more than a million barrel per day, 1mlbpd,“high cost of petroleum, will over heat the world economy,” so global economy is not derailed!
When was the last time the industrialized nations consulted members of OPEC before the former fixed prices for goods and services consumed by the former? Just so, the economies of these consumer nations of OPEC will not be overwrought by overpricing, inflationary trends or other balance of trade issues? Why? Producers computers, cars and other machinery, imported by OPEC nations from the industrialized world, fix prices and let “market forces” of supply and demand, determine what happens, and let the fall?
Some of these OPEC nations are also heavily indebted to these same industrialized nations, curious debt some say, and worse, these industrialized nations, are not one whit concerned with the strangulating effect on poor developing countries, among them, some OPEC members, who have had to devote an inordinate amount of their earnings to servicing many of these questionable debts, to these same industrialized world, hence, as a result, the poor developing countries are kept in perpetual bondage, economically.
What logic therefore supports, the Saudi Arabian concern for the health of the economies of the industrialized nations, all at the expense of Saudi Arabia earnings and income for oil, especially, where Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries do not enjoy discounts from the industrialized nations, for Saudi Arabia and OPEC members high cost of petroleum explorations, exploitation and production?
Petroleum production requires complex and sophisticated modern technologies, manufactured, predominantly in these industrialized nations and as already mentioned, cars and computers etc, are also expensively purchased from these industrialized nations, by Saudi Arabia and other members of OPEC, when then, was the last time, Saudi Arabia/OPEC received price concessions, just so, their economies would not overheat and have a domino or snowball effect
Saudi Arabians knows, just like everyone else, that its excuse for the contemplated overproduction recommendation is not hedged on global economic health, but instead, an effort to save a personal friend, at a critical election time in the United States!
Where is the logic of demanding to OPEC engage in a one-way street traffic of oil overproduction to save the world economy, without a corresponding demand, on the industrialized nations to also extend price-breaks to OPEC and other developing nations, who pay so much for cars, productive machinery, computers, pharmaceuticals etc?
Is the world not witness to the refusals companies in the industrialized nations unwillingness to give price-breaks on their AIDS medicines, to prolong the lives of the hapless in the poor-developing world? In pursuit of corporate profits and self-interests?
Is the world not witness to the deadlocked efforts to require the industrialized nations to remove their heavy subsidies on agriculture and agricultural farm productions concerns, to enable poor-developing nations compete in a level playing field-fair market, of which the last efforts collapsed in Cancun Mexico round of World Trade?
Why should stability of world trade be the concern and burden of Saudi Arabia and OPEC members alone? It is, what it is, the Saudi royal family, the monarchs, who run their country like a personal estate, are trying to help a friend in dire need, to wit, help president Bush re-election.
There are two wrongs, illustrated by the Saudi oil price manipulations, first, it will amount to a direct interference in the internal political activities and outcomes in the United States by Saudi Arabia as dictated by the royal family, which is truly undemocratic and sad.
And secondly, the Saudi royal family are embarking on these manipulations and money sacrifice in favor of the Bush dynasty, at the expense of Saudi Arabians all, and at the expense of all the citizens of OPEC member countries, who will bear the brunt of cut in budget and social services, social dislocations, just because the Saudi princes are interested in personal favors to their friends in the White House!
Imagine then, that Saudi Arabia was a democratic country? A country where national interests dictates actions that are taken by government leaders, that would mean, that the government of Saudi Arabia, would use all at its disposal, to leverage political independence for Palestine, and prevent the bulldozing of symbols and infrastructures of the Palestinian Authority.
Saudis could have prevented the forced and continued detention of Yasser Arafat, the continued usurpation of West Bank and Gaza Strip, the torture and humiliation of Palestinians that occurs on a daily basis; Or do like the Americans, give sophisticated weapons and money to one side, the Palestinians, so that, if there must be violence, it will be on equal-footing, gun for gun.
Who protects the national and regional interests of the average Arab? It is certainly not the docile Egyptians who are happy collaborators, who sees America as their benefactor, to whom they have recently acted as contract-torturer of prisoners of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
It is surely not Kuwait, another monarchy, that was rescued from extinction by the US with the first Gulf War against Iraq, It is not Iran that is just scrounging-by, since the 444 days hostage crisis which was followed by a needless war engineered between Iraq and Iran, by those who wanted to teach Iran a lesson, as payback for hostages?
Jordan has perpetually engaged in balancing acts, between pleasing America and its predominant population of Palestinian origins, Omar, Brunei, are opulently distracted with enough wealth, and both appear to be unmoved by pan Arab causes, Syria has mellowed… So who really pursues Arab national and regional causes, is there any country in the Persian Gulf or the entire Middle East, whose national interests are not determined in Washington and London etc?
Imagine that Saudi Arabia, were a true government of the people, by the people for the people?
The Saudi royals, would not short-change Arabs with their support for the American invasion and occupation of Iraq, an action that clearly betrayed the popular will of the average man on the street in the Arab world, even as the action was facilitated by Saudi Arabia, that ought to be the bulwark and protector of all Arab interests, against all other interests! Imagine how many world problems would be resolved with the democratization of Saudi Arabia?
This realizations, is probably why, the Americans and Europeans are not demanding political and economic reforms in the kingdom of Saudi and or much of the Arab world?
This article was written and first published several years ago, and well before the unfolding revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Yemen etc and well before Saudi Arabia ordered more than $100 Billion dollars in arms and weapons, including sophisticated jet fighters etc, all, from the United States