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Middle Eastern Studies - Term Paper Example

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Name: Instructor: Course: Date: Middle Eastern Studies Oil has only surfaced as an important commodity for the Middle East during the ebbing decades of the 19th Century and well into the 20th Century (Gelvin 248). This period is what economic historians refer to as the “second industrial revolution.” The second revolution is particularly significant as it marked the foundations for what are now (essentially) petroleum-based economies of the Middle East…
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Download file to see previous pages Others include the nationalization of assets previously owned by foreigners or ‘enemies of state’ and foreign aid. Collectively, such revenue streams are economically referred to as “rent”; similarly, states that are primarily dependent on such revenue streams are referred to as “rentier states” (Gelvin 247). Infamously, such states are referred to “allocation states” coined from the fact that the states’ distribution of rent generated in the aforementioned manner favors particular clients or projects. Each state in the Middle East-more or less- relies on rent income. In the period between 1980 and 1988, a third of Egypt’s government revenue was derived from rent. Over the same period, it also benefited substantially from aid from the United States amounting to about $2 billion annually (Gelvin 247). The involvement of Western powers in the oil wealth of the Middle East has entrenched historical backgrounds. More specifically, their participation was ‘cemented’ through the establishment of agreements or concessions that saw the emergence of strong consortia that have firm hold-unto now-within the oil industry (Fawcett and Giacomo 15). Oil companies would come together to undertake large contracts which exceeded the capacity of any single firm. Such contracts –perhaps uncharacteristically so-extended between sixty and seventy-five years and granted these consortia exclusive rights to exploit, produce, refine, transport and market the oil. Over the past half century, the most dominant consortium in the oil industry has been that of the “seven sisters” consisting of Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, Gulf Texaco and British Petroleum (Gelvin 249). However, the blatant imbalance in the distribution of the benefits from oil exploitation as to the host nations propelled the formation of an association that would better represent the concerns of oil producers. Furthermore the threat of diminished returns arising from a fall in demand and subsequent slashing of prices by the consuming West-as was the case during the recession of the 1960s- had to be effectively dealt with. The formation of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 1970 significantly increased this power and with it oil prices rose by 380 percent. Oil wealth therefore shifted from the industrialized and importing Western states to the producing Middle East (Gelvin 250). The Middle East has seen the staging of two major games. Firstly, and which has recently surfaced with revolutionary effects, that of citizens and governments; usually on opposing ends and rarely in cooperation (Richards and Waterbury 1). The recent revolutions in Middle Eastern states-dubbed the Arab Spring-such as Libya, Syria, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt and Greece have born evidence to this play. In this game, the motive and desire for the advancement of prosperity and national development has seen the ousting of long-serving governments. In Egypt, specifically, it has seen a transition in which the ousted government and long-serving officials additionally face criminal proceedings. The political space internally is highly uncertain with the much anticipated calls for free and fair elections pitted against the influence of the interim Egyptian military council. Secondly, another battle is underway intersecting the region’ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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