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Is Oil a Blessing or a Curse for the Middle East - Essay Example

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Introduction: Although many less-developed nations might wish themselves to be so resource rich as some of the nations within the Middle East, the reality of the matter is that nations that typically experience a high level of valuable natural resources, such as oil, ultimately suffer as a result of their existence…
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Is Oil a Blessing or a Curse for the Middle East
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Download file to see previous pages The reality that many nations face with regards to being nearly entirely dependent upon their natural resources as the basic foundation of their economies is referred to as both “renterism” and the “Dutch disease”. The first term, renterism has to do with the fact that these nations ultimately rent out the access to their resources in exchange for direct payments for such an agreement. Similarly, the term Dutch disease is with regards to the Dutch nation’s dependence upon the revenues from the natural gas fields in the 1960’s and 1970’s. For purposes of this brief analysis, the issue of the resource curse will be viewed within the prism of seeking to understand it as it is exhibited within the nations of Saudi Arabia and Iran. These two nations have been selected due to the fact that they are both regional powers that have defined their economies around the oil wealth that they possess; albeit through slightly different means. Moreover, even though a similar economic stance has been taken with regards to a centrally planned economy in both nations, the overall levels of extreme wealth and pervasive poverty, social divisions, non-democratic forms of governance, problems with radical forms of Islam, and a host of other byproducts of the uneven economic development that oil wealth dependence portends crates a great deal of similarity between these two nations. History and Background: Prior to the discovery of oil in Saudi Arabia and Iran, both of these regions were seeking to integrate at a rather rapid rate with the rest of the world by developing their economies and seeking to industrialize. Although it is not fair to say that these nations were particularly backwards as compared to their neighbors, they exhibited a relatively low level of growth and change as compared to Western Europe and parts of Asia at that time. It can be noted that within both Iran and Saudi Arabia, there existed and much more decentralized understanding of governance and power. Although it is not the purpose of this analysis to go into a great deal of defining the means by which resource wealth encourages further levels of despotism, it should be understood that once a high level of valuable resources are located within a given region, it necessarily encourages individuals within government to more fully and completely exert their control over these resources as a means of promoting sovereignty, stability, and deriving profitability; both for themselves and for the nation in general. A byproduct of this increased level of centralization and control is necessarily the loss of specific civil liberties and freedoms. Aside from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and redefining the post-colonial borders, the discovery of oil and natural gas resources has had the most profound impact upon the course of development, politics, war, and even radical forms of Islam. With respect to the actual discovery of oil within the Middle East, Iran was the first in 1908 (Neilberg, 2012) followed by Saudi Arabia in 1923 (Jones, 2012). Oil came to be an even more coveted resource to which all developed nations sought to procure. Accordingly, it was not abnormal to merely take over another country as a means of extracting its mineral wealth and diverting it back to the homeland. Such a model was utilized for nearly 25 years as the British extracted oil wealth from Saudi Arabia and Iran (Mainuddin, 2007). The ways in which key actors within ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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