The Era of Arab Oil Has Ended, or How the View Makes a Difference

Posted on January 25, 2015

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A piece of news popped into my inbox late in January and caught my eye. The “Era of Arab Oil Has Ended!” it shouted.

The headline issued from an Israeli news blog called Ynetnews.

As I explored Ynetnews I remembered another ingredient in the stew of that we call the world: much of what happens is interpreted for significance or meaning by where you are.

While most Americans bask in the rapidly falling prices of gas at the pump, the big news of 2014 for many Israelis and others, such as Venezuelans for example, was the fantastic expansion of American oil production, largely driven by shale oil, and the concomitant, and imminent, collapse of easy wealth and riches among the other oil producing nations, especially of the Middle East.

At least, that was the view in Ynetnews. And the view of what is going on in the world often depends where in the world you are.

So, I was curious. If oil prices collapsed, what implications did this have for the radical Islamic terrorists, for example, when their easy sources of income dried up?

I am wary of news on the Internet, but everything I was reading seemed credible.
I know that oil production is rising rapidly in America. What is going to happen to all those countries—Saudi Arabia, Iran, Venezuela, Qatar, Iraq, etc.—whose oil income has turned some into major players in global politics?

Even Russia, certainly already a major player, is riding high on oil and gas exports. What happens when the stilts that lift you so high up over other players are knocked out from under you?

And, who are these guys publishing the blog Ynetnews? Are they credible? Their hype reads:
“Ynetnews is Israel’s most comprehensive, authoritative daily source for 24/7 breaking news & current events from Israel and Jewish content online.”

A little research gave me what I needed. It is basically a centrist forum for news and opinion in Israel, with a good pedigree, kind of like CBS, CNN or FOX news, and so was/is reliable. The Jewish New York Times or The Wall Street Journal online.

The piece was written by an Op-ed columnist, Guy Bechor and the abstract was:
“The Arab oil era is over! As the Gulf states are left with no money to spend and are experiencing internal shocks, the era of destructive Arab power is coming to an end; the Israeli mind and innovation era, on the other hand, is just beginning.”

Bechor observed breathlessly that “the most dramatic news in 2014 almost went unnoticed: The United States lifted the restrictions on American oil exports, and as of the first day of the new year it has begun exporting oil to the world.”

True enough. Late in January Time magazine featured a long piece on falling gas prices and it mentioned renewed American export of “sweet” American oil.

The oil market will be flooded with American oil, and oil prices will continue to drop.
And, from the Israeli point of view: “As a result, Russia will be crushed, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf states will fall flat on their face, the cartel will collapse, and all the dictatorships which were mainly based on oil – like Iran – will face a gloomy future.”

And, if “the Arab oil era is over,” as Bechor writes, so too the deep oil pockets which not only created and sustained dictatorships in the Arab and Muslim countries, but Islamic terrorists also too will find themselves running out of easy resources.

In the Western Hemisphere, Venezuela’s leftist government almost totally dependent on oil revenues to sustain itself will probably tank as oil revenues plummet. Even Cuba, long the pariah of the U. S. in the hemisphere, has thrown out the line to the U. S. which, for its own reasons, has started to normalize relations.

I remember seeing a map of the world a few years ago, a map produced somewhere like Peru or Chile or Ecuador, one of the places I worked in off and on over the years. Right in the center of the world was Peru, just like a map of the world made by and for Americans will have the U. S. right in the middle.

Tiny Israel, long bombarded literally and figuratively by the Arab states bloated with oil revenues, all determined—as they have often stated publicly—to destroy the Jewish nation, are now having to cinch in the belt. Even Islamic terrorists will have to budget more carefully. Kalashnikovs with few bullets make for a bad day in the assassination and decapitation business.

All this sounded a bit grand to me as I filled my old truck and looked as the receipt printed out. “Wow, nice!”

Good for us, but maybe not for a lot of the bad guys in the world.

Published as “What the End of the Oil Era Means” in my OpEd column, The Port Rail, in The Tuscaloosa News Sunday, February 1, 2015