As the weekend passed without significant event in Libya, oil prices started the new week backing off recent 29-month highs as stocks simultaneously reconsidered recently sold ground. We suggest readers interpret the action as a rebalancing against heavy pre-weekend betting only, not a turn in trend, at least for the short-term. In fact, as the week progresses anxiety should build around the "Saudi Day of Rage" also called "the Day of Longing" planned for Friday March 11th. The day of rage has decent enough chance of blowing over without turning over the monarchy, but then again, who could have foreseen Egypt. Thus, money should run as the day nears.Our founder earned clients a 23% average annual return over five years as a stock analyst on Wall Street. "The Greek" has written for institutional newsletters, Businessweek, Real Money, Seeking Alpha and others, while also appearing across TV and radio. While writing for Wall Street Greek, Mr. Kaminis presciently warned of the financial crisis.
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The Saudi Day of Rage Play
The democratic movement across the Middle East and foreign political interests, opposed by the religious rigidity of Saudi Arabia, which would be labeled civil oppression by most of the free world, could take the Arabian Peninsula in a couple directions this month, each being extreme, but only one involving change. The catalyst is a youth inspired movement for a Saudi Day of Rage this Friday March 11.
Several important barriers support the current regime, and have helped to also quell concern here in the west. Since civil protest is banned by Fatwa in Saudi Arabia, and punishable by death, it would take great courage and confidence for the Saudi people to organize in significant numbers. The Interior Minister issued a statement this past weekend that the ban would be strictly enforced against any protestors, after the sparks of revolution glimmered across the sand. Given the embedded investment in and the importance of Arabian oil to the US and the global community, many a commonly concerned ear would likely be turned away from any call by the resistance for aid, a much different position than that which exists in Libya.
However, the Saudis themselves, perhaps borrowing from the earlier actions of the Jordanians, have acted preemptively. The King announced a $37 billion dollar social welfare program, including a 15% increase in the pay of all government workers. This portion of the action might be directly targeting the Shiite dominated oil rich eastern region of the nation. It certainly could serve to keep many off the streets Friday, for fear of spoiling their new winnings. And with unemployment only barely in the double digits in the country, the streets do not call with the same song as the sirens of Egypt. That said, the Saudis have taken careful count of the significant youth segment of its population (about a third) and have offered unemployment support as well. Choosing between bullets and a pay raise will be easier for some than others.
However, globalization, new technologies and social media have opened the world up to Saudi youth as well, to some degree, and opened eyes to a different world. That tempting
, happy and love filled place compares against a religiously rigid society that even American Catholic school graduates might fear. Saudi Arabia is one of few countries I will never visit, unless it changes its laws and its rejection of my own faith. If I cannot wear a cross in your home, I will not enter.
If freedom of religion is a God given right, the righteousness of one's life is the result of free will. Your author, being a proponent of religious upbringing still recognizes the dangers of the repercussions of oppression versus the effects of education and guidance upon free will.
The words "Constitutional Monarchy" have been uttered by at least one prominent Saudi cleric, jailed and now freed thanks to growing crowds of protestors. As you might imagine, any loss of power is not favored by the ruling family, and so they will give up as little as possible. But how far is the King really willing to go? Would he risk trial by world court for killing his own people like his Libyan cousin-in-crimes against humanity? Mubarak's assets have been frozen, and Gaddafi might face justice akin to Saddam Hussein. There's not much incentive to stand long against a meaningful resistance. However, if it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven, then it must likewise be near impossible for Abdullah to give up the kingdom he has created for himself on earth in exchange for the righteous will of the people for self-rule.
In Saudi Arabia, Abdullah will find more believers in claims of Iranian backed factions driving unrest than Gaddafi found in claims of al-Qaeda's factoring. The Shiite minority of Saudi Arabia would like equal representation in an important government. However, I do not believe Saudi Arabians of any sort want to be anything but Saudi Arabian, the land which hosts Mecca and Medina. There is little love lost between Saudi Arabians and Iranians, similarly to the Iraqi Shiite population favoring the Iraqi flag. Of course, the devil (Iranian regime) works subtly, and may offer some minor gain to the minority, which might lead to a separation of state or succession. But the religious tie that binds is the existence of the regarded important holy land that all Muslims are called to be a part of, and so I do not see separation likely. Democracy has a greater chance of succeeding as a result.
It is the great uncertainty around the peninsula and its great importance to the world though, that will have investors likely pulling capital home ahead of Friday. These fires tend to spread over time though, so while one day may not a revolution make a path may be engaged nonetheless. It will at least be interesting to see if Saudi Arabia goes the way of Jordan or the way of Egypt. It would appear the Jordanian model will apply, but capital will fly nonetheless in my humble opinion.
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Labels: Global Affairs Geopolitics, Middle_East, Oil, Saudi_Arabia