In Sandhour of July 10, 2020, A Strategy for North Africa in the current Century has developed taking into account all things that contributed to how North Africa sub-region of the MENA came into being and rendered into what is witnessed in the present times.
One of the rather peculiar features of capitalism is having its nemesis–socialism– as its twin flip. Surely, corporations and equity are forms of socializing the capitalist gain and it has been the case since the inception of capitalism in its modern form in the early 18th century, setting it apart of the previous mode of venturing sole merchants and their financiers. There were cheating and abuse, and still are, yet the learning curve smoothed up the functioning of capitalism.
Another, even more bewildering, aspect of capitalism is its susceptibility to speculation. Stock markets, commodity prices, oil, currency valuation rise and fall– incrementally at times and suddenly at others– based on speculations trickling down from pundits to people. The fluctuations are functions of information-based assessments. Alas, information is asymmetrical between social groupings; nations; and regions leading to local and global stratification. Nevertheless, advances in cultural and intellectual infrastructure improve checks and balances and drive capitalism towards more democratization.
However, despite the mass democratization of the 20th century and designed social ends embedded in market economies, increasing socialization of capital, we presently face problems in terms of increasing numbers that are losing out in the present Socio-economic mode. The cyclical nature of those problems point to congestion in the global economic system, as has been pointed out over and again by generations of economic thinkers. However, the increasing socialization and rising overall capabilities of ordinary citizens vouch for a progressive history. Anyway, the ongoing technological disruption, which is unprecedented in kind and potential, will definitely restore balance to the global economic system. A transition to a new energy regime is a main pillar of the technological disruption.
The oil and gas commodity is the pillar of the contemporary industrial civilization. And the Middle East happens to be the fulcrum point of oil economy. From the early 70s on, there has been much hype about peak oil, partly driving improvements in energy efficiency, and search for alternative energy sources and carriers.
Countering peak oil is the obviously politically motivated infinite fossil resource hypothesis. It goes without saying that it is a hoax which goes against simplest arithmetic.
As far as I’m concerned, the trapezium model for oil reserves is the most plausible one. It states that reserves rise along the the side of a trapezium, flatten then slide along the opposite side. Depleting wells are countered by technological progress which enables economic development of previously useless layers, as well as deep sea, arctic and other unreachable reserves. Still the fact that reserves are finite in addition to cost factors raise the stakes of alternative energy and the sliding of proven reserves starting from 2030s.
The expected predominance of batteries in transport by mid century and the recent breakthrough in fusion energy where super conducting electromagnets made up of barium and copper that are stable enough to capture the heated plasma which ignite the fusion fuel made up of hydrogen sister atoms, creating more output energy than input; point to way lesser role for fossils in the short mid-term future. Yet, fossils will still be high on the global energy portfolio for at least two decades. However, speculations are not based on laws of physics, rather they are psychological processes in the first place and hence the current contours point towards sustained low prices for oil and gas.
Further, chaotic leadership in the Gulf, population pressure and prospects of war are not likely to mark up fossils because of new ports in Oman, Qatari Iranian understanding, neutralization of Iraq, Iranian economic crunch, and geographic isolation of wells in Saudi.
The most precious energy commodity poised to replace fossils are rare earth minerals for batteries like lithium and cobalt though they are in no way likely to have the same strategic controversy because of the availability of sister alternatives for Lithium ion batteries like sodium and fluoride. Also, we don’t refill a battery with lithium for every kilometer run. Barium and copper pop up high as the material for super conductors necessary for fusion. Sahel and sub-saharan Africa lack a detailed map for the prospects of rare earths, yet the proven diversity and richness of the continent in metals such as copper; as well as fossils, renders it likely that the continent will be a futuristic mine.
So.. what has got the middle East to offer the world on the strategic table, now with the declining weight of fossils? All what I can think of is Islam, proximity to sub-saharan Africa, and big legitimate armies in North Africa along with a historical experience that values stability.
With the right strategic reassembly and new alignments, North Africa can act as a bridge for stabilizing sub-saharan Africa, reforming Islam and re-inventing the Near East through new understandings with the global system based on rational comprehension of reality. It is highly unlikely for Ethiopia to play that role due to ethnic and religious rifts and the prevalence of too much of a lethargic culture, as proven by the failure of relocation from Asia of textiles to Ethiopia .