World View: The Three Most Important Dangers for 2015

REUTERS/Toby Melville
REUTERS/Toby Melville

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Iran-Saudi Arabia tensions increase further as oil prices fall
  • The three most important dangers for 2015

Happy New Year to everyone!

Fort Bragg fireworks
Fort Bragg fireworks

Iran-Saudi Arabia tensions increase further as oil prices fall

Prices of West Texas Intermediate oil fell another 82 cents on Wednesday, to $53.27 per barrel. It was just few months ago that the price was over $100 per barrel, and oil exporting countries, including Iran, Russia and Venezuela, are facing financial crises as a result.

Saudi Arabia is refusing to cut production in the face of falling oil prices, and many Iranians are accusing the Saudis of purposely letting prices fall in order to conduct economic warfare on Iran. According to an article in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) weekly newsletter:

The most recent Aal-Saud oil war against Iran, Russia, and Venezuela, waged at the command of the American bosses, is the newest and most overt Aal-Saud hostility… First of all, the new Saudi oil war proves once again that as long as [Iran’s] budget is based [almost entirely] on oil, the enemy can exploit this weapon in order to pressure Iran. For this reason, there needs to be an initiative, once and for all, so that [Iran’s] revenues will not be oil-based; therefore, senior Iranian political and economic leaders must seriously address the ‘resistance economy’ [plan] emphasized in recent years by [Supreme] Leader [Ali Khamenei], so that we can neutralize weapons of this kind.

Now that Saudi Arabia is using all its capabilities to harm Iran, the Islamic Republic [of Iran] can also use all the means at its disposal to pressure this obsolete, deteriorating regime. Iran has many options for harming Saudi Arabia. Because this tyrannical, medieval family is now at its nadir, all Iran needs to do is to use a single one of these means so that nothing remains of the entity named the Aal-Saud regime or of Saudi Arabia itself.

Increased public protests, particularly in the oil-rich eastern [and largely Shi’ite-majority] areas of Saudi Arabia, have undermined the legitimacy of Saudi [rule]. These anti-[Saudi] regime protests are not unique to this part of Saudi Arabia; they are [also] happening in other parts of it. Additionally, the Houthis [in Yemen], who are considered Aal-Saud’s sworn enemies, are at Saudi Arabia’s back door [Yemen]; all they have to do is lift one finger for the disintegrating Aal-Saud corpus to collapse.

Saudi Arabia no longer has the respect it once had from its Arab neighbors – and has serious problems with some of them. On the other hand, its support for the terrorist organization ISIS, and its operation of it, has spawned great hatred of Saudi Arabia in public opinion, in both the region and the world. Elements of ISIS that have been fattened by the Saudi regime have become sworn enemies of Saudi Arabia. Apparently, Saudi Arabia’s free oil money cannot stop the increase in the weakness of the Aal-Saud regime.

Other analysts list serious problems facing the Saudi regime:

  • Eastern Saudi Arabia has a Shia majority, with violence incited by Iran.
  • In Yemen, on Saudi Arabia’s southern border, the Iran-linked Shia Houthi tribe now controls almost the entire region bordering Saudi Arabia.
  • In Bahrain, to Saudi Arabia’s east, tension is high between the Shia majority and the Saudi-supported market dominant Sunni minority.
  • In Iraq, on Saudi Arabia’s northern border, the Saudis face two enemies — the Shia government, and the terrorist the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL).

On top of that, Saudi Arabia is facing a looming succession crisis as the 91-year-old King Abdullah has been taken into a Riyadh hospital. The country’s next ruler will almost certainly be a generation or two younger, and all the above problems could suddenly become more serious. Memri and Al Monitor and Business Insider and Platts Financial

The three most important dangers for 2015

No one can seriously doubt that the world has become a much more dangerous place in 2014, and so now is a good time to review the most three most important dangers to watch out for in 2015:

  • When the “Arab Awakening” began in 2011, it was hoped that it would lead to democracy throughout the Mideast, but it’s lead to nothing but turmoil. There is no Muslim war against Christians, as fewer than 2% of people killed in jihadist attacks are Christian. Instead, there a massive war of Muslims versus Muslims. (See “29-Dec-14 World View — Do news organizations ignore jihadist attacks on Christians?”) That war has gotten significantly more dangerous in the last year, with the destabilization of Libya, the worsening civil war in Yemen, the increased tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL). That worsening trend will continue in 2015, and eventually, the Muslim versus Muslim war will engulf the entire Mideast and south Asia.
  • For years, China has claimed the entire South China Sea, including regions historically belonging to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and the Philippines. China’s claims are rejected by almost everyone outside of China, and China refuses to submit them to the United Nations court deciding such matters, apparently knowing that they would lose. Instead, China is becoming increasingly belligerent militarily, annexing other nations’ territories, and militarizing the entire sea. This is exactly the behavior that the Nazis used leading to World War II. At the same time, China continues to develop advanced missile systems with no other purpose than to pre-emptively attack American cities, aircraft carriers, and military bases. China’s population is becoming extremely nationalistic, and are ready to fulfill the “China Dream” by means of a massive attack on America.
  • Financial analysts are positively euphoric as Wall Street stocks reach enormous new highs. The S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio (stock valuations) at an astronomically high 19.5, high above the historical average of 14, indicating a huge bubble, and with wild swings. The euphoria and wild swings are extremely dangerous, and are similar to the pattern preceding the 1929 crash. At the same time, there is a global deflationary spiral, with the most obvious sign the plunging prices of oil.

Any one of these three could explode in 2015, and they’re interrelated in the sense that one of these major crises could be the trigger for the others.

There is one crisis that isn’t as dangerous as I’d expected. I thought that Ebola would have spread far more than it has already, but it hasn’t. The mistake that I made was that I didn’t believe it was possible for Ebola to spread so wildly throughout Western Africa, and stop at the borders of Mali and Côte d’Ivoire. But in fact that has happened, and I’m still astonished that the international community was successful in doing that.

The Ebola crisis is far from over, and it’s still possible that there may be major outbreaks in other places, especially war zones and crowded cities. But for now, it looks like the worst is not going to occur.

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, IRGC, King Abdullah, Houthis, Arab Awakening, Libya, China, South China Sea, Ebola, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh
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