THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: The fate of the global recovery rests on events in Riyadh, says Jeremy Warner.
Be careful what you wish for. After an ambiguous start, Western leaders have broadly welcomed the wave of protest and revolutions sweeping North Africa and parts of the Middle East. But beneath the words of encouragement about people taking charge of their own destiny, there is a growing and vital concern – the security of our oil and gas supplies.
The West’s complicity in supporting the autocratic regimes that characterise many of the big oil-exporting nations is in part explained by the fact that, whatever their sins, they did at least seem to provide stability in the energy markets. That stability, however, has been thrown up in the air by the wave of protest sweeping the region.
Initially, it was assumed that there was a difference between oil-poor Arab nations such as Tunisia and Egypt, where the uprisings have been as much about living standards as anything else, and the much richer Gulf states. That theory was swiftly proved wrong.
In Saudi Arabia, even King Abdullah’s panicky decision to order another multi-billion-dollar splurge of spending on education, healthcare and infrastructure may not be enough to buy off the opposition. People seem to want something more precious than money: freedom. >>> Jeremy Warner | Thursday, February 24, 2011