Who pays for freedom in the Arab world.
Msss immigration, an oil price catastrophe and Islamist terrorism are the products of regional instability.
Better stable nations under local dictators, than 'democratic' nations run by Islamists or political puppets of the US oil companies and the CIA.
To go from a Libyan dictatorship to an Islamist theocracy or a corrupt corporate pseudo-democracy run by Libyan puppet plutocrats and kleptocrats for the benefit of the US is not freedom.
Arab Spring could double the price of oil, says minister
Sam Coates, Robin Pagnamenta Rachel Sylvester, Alice Thomson
Petrol prices could soar to as much as £2 a litre if the situation in Libya and its neighbours deteriorates, a government minister warns today.
Alan Duncan, a former oil trader with 30 years of business experience in the Gulf, becomes the first minister to talk publicly about the price of a barrel of crude topping $200, well above the current record of $147 in July 2008.
In a worst-case scenario, in which terrorists use the instability in the Gulf and North Africa to bomb oil tankers or Saudi reserves, the International Development Minister suggests that prices could nudge $250 a barrel, which would result in British motorists paying £2.03 per litre. At that level, analysts fear that the country would be pushed into a double-dip recession.
“I’ve been saying in Government for two months that if this does go wrong, £1.30 at the pump could look like a luxury,” Mr Duncan says in an interview with The Times. “$200 is on the cards if ... anyone is reckless and foments unrest.”
The situation in Libya appeared to be worsening last night, with rebels and government forces clashing near a key oil terminal and forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi attacking a town near Tripoli.
Britain is preparing to send a team of specialists, including special forces, to the eastern rebel-held city of Benghazi within days. Nato has been asked to prepare plans for how it would implement a no-fly zone, despite international disagreement.
However, Mr Duncan made clear that the repercussions of events in North Africa and the Middle East would be felt at home if the instability grew. “It could be very serious. If crude oil doubles, you’re going to have a serious spike [in petrol prices]. Try living without it for a week.”
The coalition is under huge pressure to do more to help motorists, with tax accounting for 63 per cent of the cost of petrol at the pump. Yesterday the Government confirmed that it intended to reduce fuel duty by 5p in island and remote communities, and the Treasury is widely expected to stop a planned rise in fuel duty in the Budget.
But events overseas could overtake any action that the Government wants to take, Mr Duncan suggests. In a barb aimed squarely at neo-conservative colleagues in the Cabinet such as Michael Gove, he says that “simplistic” attempts to impose democracy on the Gulf could make things worse.
“It is easy to be too simplistic, anyone can say they want democracy. The question is how do you get there and is there a danger of making something worse.”
Mr Duncan describes his relationship with the President of Yemen, regarded as a breeding ground for al-Qaeda, as “perky”. And in an extraordinary defence of a number of authoritarian regimes, he urges Britain and its allies to refrain from condemning the cultures and governments of the Gulf and recognise the progress that they have made already.
The Saudi and Jordanian monarchies face “massive checks and balances” within their own regimes, while in Oman women now drive and have the vote. Many Gulf states recognise the sense of crisis spreading across the region and are “desperately” trying to reform and address concerns.
Mr Duncan also spoke about attitudes to Saudi Arabia, a key oil and security ally with a repressive monarchy. “Saudi is massively important, you can’t just suddenly go one year to the next to totally different history and regime,” he said. “We have a duty to understand them, who are we to lecture? ... I don’t think we want to take military action so women can drive in Saudi Arabia.” Saudi Arabia may not be able to “turn on the taps” if there are further problems in the region, he warns.
Britons should recognise that a different approach is needed in the Gulf from in North Africa. He supports the toppling of autocrats in countries such as Libya, Egypt and Tunisia.
Economists said the impact of fuel rises would be very bad for Britain’s recovery from recession. James Knightley, a senior economist at ING, said: “That extra cost on households ... is going to hurt and squeeze their spending. It will also slow growth. At $200 a barrel for oil, it would be very difficult to avoid a double-dip recession.”
Andrew Horstead, director of energy markets research at Utilyx, said: “If the unrest is just restricted to Libya, then I think the market can cope. But the real reason why the markets are so nervous ... is the threat of contagion.”
© Times Newspapers Ltd 2010 Registered in England