Oil's dwindling role in Middle East affairs
The US is becoming less dependent on Arab oil, Salhani writes, making it less of an issue when it comes to decisions about Syria and the Middle East.
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But as we have just seen by the latest crisis revolving around the issue of Syria and the alleged use of chemical weapons by the regime, and the threats of war and of punitive actions taken by the United States and its allies, not even once during the deliberations of whether to attack or not to attack Syria was the issue of how an escalation of violence would affect the oil markets.Skip to next paragraph
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Not once was any mention made to the dangers of Iran becoming involved in the conflict and how that would impact the oil route out of the Gulf in the event that it was closed down by fighting or purposely by the Iranians by attacking the strategic Straits of Hormuz.
There are several reasons for this. First, the US is becoming less dependent on Arab oil and therefor closing Hormuz will not affect the Americans as much as it would have in the past.
Iran, who depends on its own oil going and coming through the Straits can ill afford to close down Hormuz as Iranian oil needs to transit through the Straits to be refined in India and then brought back for consumption, passing through the Straits on the way there and back. (Related article: Oil-Rich Iraqi Kurds May Go it Alone)
This is indeed a turning point in US-Mideast policy. Henceforth the US will feel less threatened by the oil weapon as it has in the past.
The long-term outcome of this tectonic shift in what until now has been the keystone of any major US policy decision should, in principal at least, give Washington and its allies greater bargaining power and leeway in dealing with the region.
For the moment however the Obama administration has yet to grasp the full potential and power this change offers.
For now at least the Arab world still has some influence in Washington and Brussels. They should utilize this influence to start sorting out their home-grown problems before it becomes too late.
Claude Salhani is editor of ArabSpringNow.com and a specialist in the Middle East, terrorism and politicized Islam. He tweets @claudesalhani. His latest book, Inauguration Day, is available exclusively on line atamazon.com.
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