I’ve been listening to reports from the Middle East and the phrase that keeps coming up is ‘ the genie is out of the bottle’. By the end of this year, we may well see a complete change of order in the Middle East.
Already the tide has rapidly turned against Gaddafi in Libya, one commentator predicting his departure in 24 – 36 hours; the loyalty of the army and security forces is now questionable. At the end of the day, soldiers all have families and friends and they do not want to be the ones firing on their own people.
For us it means the fuel prices are likely to go through the roof. Egypt was a very small producer. But Libya produces in the order of 1.6 million barrels a day when the world’s surplus is less that one million. Bahrain is also a producer. Watch our use of public transport skyrocket.
It’s revealed the anger in these socities and a mix of young populations (Egypt’s median age is 23, Libya 24 and Yemen a staggering 17), lack of jobs (unemployment for under 30s is up around 50% in many societies) and greater technological connectivity through the internet which has meant the young see what could be, rather than what is.
But perhaps the most important ingredient is the lack of fear of repessive authorities. It took a man who set himself alight in Tunisia, a grocer who was beaten to death in Egypt to act as a rallying point. It’s clear that the brutal reaction by dictatorial governments has backfired, incensing and steeling rather than intimidating crowds into silence.
Meanwhile the streets have done what Al Qaida has failed miserably to do despite a decade of heinous acts and vitriol.