Change is on the way in the Arab world, with Egypt the latest focal point. Here I review recent events and their implications for world oil markets.
I begin with a timeline, if not to connect the dots, at least to collect the dots in a single list.
• Sudan, Jan 9-15: Country holds a referendum whose apparent outcome will be a split of South Sudan into its own a separate country.An optimist might see the common thread in many of these developments to be the realization across parts of the Arab world of the power of popular will to overthrow dictators, the first step toward democracy and a better life for the people. A pessimist might see in at least some of these situations deliberately orchestrated chaos for purposes of seizing power by a new group of would-be ruthless leaders....MORE
• Lebanon, Jan 12: Key cabinet ministers resign in protest against impending indictments from a U.N.-backed investigation into the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri, toppling the governing coalition. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered this assessment:
We view what happened today as a transparent effort by those forces inside Lebanon, as well as interests outside Lebanon, to subvert justice and undermine Lebanon's stability and progress.• Tunisia, Jan 14: President Ben Ali flees the country in response to widespread protests.
• Iraq, Jan 17-27: Over 200 people killed in a spate of recent bombings, a sharp and tragic increase from the recent norm.
• Egypt, Jan 29: Cairo appears to be near anarchy as a result of an uprising against President Mubarak.
• Yemen, Jan 29: Demonstrations and rallies have resulted in clashes with police, with unclear implications at this point for the stability of the regime.