New Blog on Our Radar: Resources and the Changing Middle East

It’s not often that new blogs come online that so directly focus on what we at CNAS call “natural security” issues. But it’s happened. We bloggers here suddenly feel a little less cloistered in this field, and a little bit vindicated that it’s not just us.

A Georgetown Doha-branch post-doc named Mari Luomi appears to have launched one called “Emissions,” with a tagline “on the environment, climate change & the Middle East” at Current Intelligence. The first two posts show a lot of promise that the angle will be unique, and that the commentary will be well thought-through and pragmatic.

From the opening post, “Natural Resources and the Arab Spring”:

While the human factor has shown its epoch-making power all over the Middle East this spring, there is still something to say about the role of natural resources in the region’s past, present and future trajectories.  But it’s not just “the oil, stupid” I’m referring to. It’s also natural gas and water…

 

The relationship between oil and authoritarianism in the contemporary Middle East needs a more accurate, refined description...During the past decade, depleting oil reserves, underdeveloped or lacking natural gas reserves, population growth, and industrialisation have strained authoritarian governments’ welfare provisions across the region. Tiny, gas-rich Qatar is the only clear deviation from this rule…

The author provides a sound platform to discuss exactly how resources are interacting with trends in the Middle East to play a role in the Arab Spring. Building on the first post, the author’s second takes on whether authoritarianism is better for low-carbon energy development than democracy, with specific bearing on the Middle East.

I the second post, we also receive a teaser: “I have just completed a three-year study on the difficult relationship between the oil-exporting Gulf monarchies and climate change.” I am surely not alone in appealing to the author that this work would make an extremely important contribution to the public debate on environmental security issues and the Arab Spring. While I know finding a publication outlet for a dissertation can take years (and take years off one’s life), I do hope that the results of this work are made public.

So, congratulations to Luomi and the gang at Current Intelligence, and we recommend that you all add this one to your RSSes or Twitter feeds or whatever you’re using to track news and commentary these days. The more natural security in your lives, the better.