Posted tagged ‘Saudi Arabia’


February 25, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza


Magandang araw sa inyo! Good day to you all! To the Arab pro-democracy forces, kudos for your initial successes in Tunisia and Egypt!

The unfolding democratization of Arab republics via people power means has got many sympathetic eyes aglow outside the Arab world. That includes this analyst who was among the youthful professionals that militantly brought down the Marcos dictatorship in 1986.

The clash within the Arab republics should not be equated, however, to a simplistic ‘clash of ideologies’. Neither is the conflict some ‘clash of civilizations’ that is being propagated today by the global oligarchy through sub-altern extremist groups.

I would prefer to highlight the conflict as a ‘clash of generations’. Though no fan of the Japanese technocrat Kenichi Ohmae, I am in tune with his thesis that the conflicts of the future will be one of ‘clash of generations’.

Much earlier than Ohmae, the Frankfurt school thinkers Herbert Marcuse and Jurgen Habermas already articulated on the discourse of the youth taking the cudgels for world-changing endeavors. The social turmoils of the 1960s up through the early ‘70s were largely initiated by the Youth, in far contrast to previous ones that were led by the working class astride a socialist ideology.

Fact of the matter is, the working class (via socialist parties) has been tailing behind in those conflicts of the past. In the Arab turmoils of the day, the influential Islamic groups have been quite tailing behind in initiating the protests versus the Permanent President regimes. It were the young ones—youth and young middle aged citizens—who initiated and manned the protest actions, though they may have seen light in some token senior citizen figures.

One shouldn’t make the slap-stick comedy that the Arab revolutions—that toppled perpetual presidents in Tunisia and Egypt—were genuine successes of ‘anarchist’ movements. That goes back to old hat 19th century ideological discourse, and as I’ve stated earlier, the clash is not one of ideologies.

The Turmoil (with capital T to stress) in the Arab republics is one of ‘clash of generations’. It practically pitted the old versus the young. The older ones, who support the entrenched political elites, are those grounded in ideology cum clientelist politics. The younger ones, who are largely ‘netizens’, possess an outlook or perspective that is more global or trans-ideology, though their emerging discourses tend to appropriate from available ‘nation’ and ‘people’ discourse of old.

The Arab revolutions have some remarkable features that contrast with the people power revolutions that overthrew military dictatorships of the late 20th century. The earlier revolutions (such as my own country’s in 86) were largely led by the ‘middle class’ or ‘middle forces’, while the Arab revolutions were initiated by young ‘netizens’ with a rather de-centered social feature or one that can’t be reduced to the class question.

Some quarters may hazard some reflections, using Edward Said and Antonio Gramsci, that intellectuals were the core articulators of the social turbulence. That would be belaboring the obvious by highlighting the micro-facets of the change, or those structures and processes that even kindergarten minds can easily perceive.

There is an over-arching change going on in the psyche of the younger generation Arabs of the day, and it pays to observe and use the logic of induction to conclude about what that change is. Or better still, employ ‘logic of abduction’ as what Charles Sanders Peirce innovated on, by holding in abeyance any hypothesis about the phenomenon, and generate the hypothesis, discourse, and conclusions later.

For now, let us bring the message across to global Western oligarchy to desist from further manipulating the Arabs’ turmoil for their ulterior motives. Like the turbulence going on in the global economy that isn’t susceptible to oligarchic manipulation, the Arabs’ ‘clash of generations’ is no stuff for manipulation by the same evil oligarchs who comprise the secret government called ‘new world order’.

The oligarchic cabals should recognize by now that their strangulation of peoples’ psyche and souls for nigh eons is now coming to a close. It is now time to consider moving away from polarities towards cooperation, consensus, and Oneness that is, in fact, the compass of the future.

[Philippines, 21 February 2011]


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July 31, 2010

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Magandang gabi! Good evening!

Dusk is the mark of the day as I write this note. I wish to continue writing on the theme of Arab gulf states—whether they’re Asian or not. It seems that the ‘twilight of the gods’ scenario has been engulfing the gulf states altogether, a sort of reprieve prior to Armageddon.

For this piece, I’d focus on the observation that the Arab gulf states are the enforcers of the Anglo-European oligarchy’s ‘clash of civilizations’ madness. There has been so much military build-up in the gulf states lately, proof of a preparation for a larger conflagration. (The expenditure level measures by the hundreds of billions of dollars, with KSA leading the hemorrhage of military hardware buying spree.)

East Asia, as we can see, has been operating on the modality of a ‘dialogue of cultures’ expressed as economic, political, and cultural cooperation. The entire region has been the growth driver of the global economy for some time now, and will perform such an optimizer role in the foreseeable future.

Such a trend, however, does not characterize the gulf states. Already filthy rich with their petrodollars, they nonetheless aren’t progenitors of growth driving for the global economy. They grow for the sake of sustaining their own development gains and prepare themselves for the eventual drying up of the oil wells.

Gulf economies’ billionaire are deeply encumbered to the financier operations of the Anglo-European oligarchs who have been using the former as their dummies and/or junior partners. There is hardly any big commercial and industrial concern in the gulf states today that are not immersed in the investment interests of the likes of George Soros & cronies who represent the Who Is Who in the West.

Arab sheikhs style themselves in fact as Western-honed leaders who are no different from their Western counterparts. The difference lies only in the sheikhs’ profession of Islam, an ultra-conservatism that the West allowed to thrive to render the sheikhdoms as buffer regions versus pan-Arab nationalism or pan-Arabism of the Iraq, Syria, Lybia, and Nasserite Egypt.

Pan-Arabism is now rapidly decaying, and so the polarity game has shifted to Shiite Islam as the key enemy in lieu of the former. The Arab kings and sheikhs are surely having a great time nurturing hatreds versus the ayatollahs of Persia whom they demonize with deep disdain.

Back home, the sheikhdoms have to neutralize their homegrown jihadist movements led by the Al Qaida. While the home enemy grows in size and intensity of terror, tension grows as the sheikhs can’t help on anticipating the attacks by the revolutionary guards of Persia, attacks that may be accompanied by limited nuclear weaponry.

The situation in the gulf region had pushed the sheikhs into a toxic alliance with the Zionists who are the other leg in the beachhead of the Anglo-European oligarchy in regaining control of the entire Western Asia. A loose Zionist-Sunni (gulf states’ ecclesial religion) alliance has been in formation since couples of years back yet, to recall.

In my own analysis, it is now too late to see the possibility of the sheikhs dis-engaging from their active participation in the polarity game of the West’s oligarchy. The sheikhs and Arab billionaires are an organic part of that oligarchy while they feign difference via Sunni wahabism or equivalents. A superficial difference that is, to note.

The clock now ticks for the gulf states, an Armageddon clock that could unleash the forces of destruction in the region. And such a clock will continue to tick, unless a paradigm shift will be initiated by the sheikhs & Arab billionaires which is nauseatingly impossible an eventuality at this moment.

[Philippines, 22 July 2010]







July 29, 2010

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

It’s now past 8 p.m. as I write this piece inside my studio apartment, and my writing is currently accompanied by chill music from Brazil. For this piece let me toss the query: how Asian could the Arab gulf states be?

To begin my reflections, let me share to you a portion of my family history. My mother, a dietician/health professional, decidedly joined the fray of the ‘gulf state fever’ in the early 80s by seeking work in Saudi Arabia’s hospitals. For four (4) years did she work in the kingdom that is so endeared to many overseas Filipinos like her, until she departed for a new destination (USA where she retired).

When she started working there, her purses began to balloon quickly just as Arabia’s oil pumps were gushing out colossal petrodollars like limitless boons from heaven. She gleefully told us of the fat overtime pays she and her staff received, thus enabling her to send us in the Philippines—then a depression-struck ‘sick man of Asia’—quanta of dinars to quaff our thirst for back-up money.

That was the trend, until around 1984 when patterns suddenly changed. Mother began to complain of working overtime with no extra (overtime) compensation, and until 1986 when she quit Arabia for America no more extra boons came via the overtime pay. Something awefully wrong was going on in the gulf states and not just in Saudi Arabia, this was for sure.

The gulf states as a whole comprised a region that was considerably a growth driver of the global economy for a time until approximately the mid-1980s. At that time, it had so much petrodollars stashed in Western banks and investment houses that it needed for its internal growth, but such growth was choked up by fluctuations in the oil demand globally.

Before long, Asia’s ‘dragons’ and ‘tiger economies’ caught up with the gulf states. As the former kept surging upwards, the latter fluctuated between stagnation and paltry growth. India and emerging markets of Asia were recently added to the list of growth drivers of the world, while the gulf states are mired in a rather delusional self-image of growth driver that is more a thing of the past.

The word ‘Asia’ today has become synonymous with ‘growth driver’. But let it be clarified that the gulf states just don’t fit well into this growth category. For sure, their diversification of dynamic sectors from oil to manufacturing, infrastructures and services have paid quite fatly for them but only for them and not for the planet as a whole.

The gulf states are now quite prepared for the eventuality of drying up of its oil reserves. They are likewise in sync with the rise of mega-cities that the dragons, tigers and emerging markets have began snowballing, capped by prestige projects of towering buildings notably the Taipei 101 and Petronas towers, with Burj Dubai leading the way for the former. But the same states’ return to the halcyon days of being a global driver is simply a thing of the past.

Dubai is a case in point of a mega-city that is too over-ambitious in its goal to become the financial center of Asia. It embarked on gigantic projects totaling past the $3 Trillion mark from circa 2005 through 2015, aimed at eventually shoring up its new image as a financial center. As the giant commercial complexes were done, the greater problem was who would be their end-users? Without end-users, no pay-ups for expenses used to fund the projects will accrue to the coffers.

Honestly, I will still need to be convinced that gulf states are truly Asian in their growth propulsion. I see more of the hands of Euro-oligarchs such as George Soros & cronies in building those gigantic projects there, with the Arab investors serving as mere junior partners if not dummies in a growth game with dubious motives.

Gulf states are playing the game of the ‘virtual economy’ or ‘casino economy’ and that is far from being Asian. In contrast, the dragons, tigers and emerging markets are engaged in the ‘real economy’ of manufacturing, infrastructures, agriculture, and transport industries, backed by solid science & technology innovations, rendering them the label of ‘truly’ Asian.

If there is any urgent message I’d send to the said Arab state, it is this one: dis-engage willfully from the encumbrances with Europe’s financier oligarchy, reverse ‘virtual economy’ policies, and move back to the ‘real economy’. With that probably and hopefully the same region will regain its former esteemed image as a growth driver of the global economy, a true Asian region indeed.

[Philippines, 21 July 2010]







July 25, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza y Delago

Good evening from Manila!

We Manilans were met this morning with the seemingly good news that oil price nose dived to $125 per barrel. As this news was released, we have just three (3) days before Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo or GMA, will deliver her State-of-the-Nation Address or SONA.

With due respect to a fellow economist, the eminent world woman leader GM Arroyo should better not say lies comes Monday SONA that her actions on oil tax in Manila are responsible for bringing down global oil. Rather, her regime’s actions on state imports of rice immensely led to more speculation on the global commodities markets that indeed contributed in no small measure to raising the price of rice world-wide, actions that added pressures on oil prices to go up too.

Fellow Earthans, please look at the backyard of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where the honorable King pledged before the UN Secretary General last month that the oil wells will pump out more stocks of the commodity so as to shore up the supplies by the month of July. It is now the tail end of July, and so it seems that the Midas touch of the KSA King has been creating sure-fire effects on gas prices.

The question worth asking is, will the latest decline in the price of oil be for good? Remember that the soaring prices of oil were largely caused by massive speculations in the spot markets, conducted by diverse financier groups. To a certain extent, the inflationary patterns in the grains prices also contributed to inflationary patterns in the oil sector.

There was the demand side that was cited as possible cause of the oil price decrease. The observed decline in the usage of oil by American consumers had accordingly factored into the equation, thus reducing oil price in global spot markets.

A simple multivariate analysis would show us that a combination of (a) supply side actions (KSA King’s ‘pump more oil’ policy) and (b) demand side behavior (Americans consume less oil) have (c) dampened speculative pressures and eased oil prices a bit. In other words, the predatory financiers were caught flat-footed by the double-whammy, even as some losing speculators are now hurting badly over the latest developments.

But do mark this: the financiers will strike back. The cyclone season is around, one can muse safely that cyclone devastations will induce short-term shocks on food, oil, and some non-durable commodities. Such eventualities could then induce pressures on cyclone-related or force majeure-coverage insurance, possibly impelling prices of the said commodities to go up from this month till November.

There also is the US federal campaign period coming, which will see inflationary spending from both parties as well as from the federal government as part of pump-priming measures. Such eventualities will altogether lead to new rounds of oil consumption in America, which will continue till the winter months.

No, definitely not, we are not at the tail end yet of oil hyper-inflation. This is the least that I can forecast for the moment.

[Writ 25 July 2008, Manila, Quezon City]