June 14, 2011

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

congratulations to Luomi and the gang at Current
, 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.