Jerry Jackson

Posts Tagged ‘Bahrain’

Saudi Arabia contagion triggers Gulf rout

In Economics, World News on March 7, 2011 at 1:35 am


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Fears of sectarian uprisings in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have set off the first serious wave of investor flight from the Gulf, compounding market turmoil as civil war in Libya pushes Brent crude over $116 a barrel.

Saudi Stock Tumbles

Saudi Stock Tumbles

Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul stock index has tumbled 11pc in wild trading over the past two days, led by banks and insurers. Dubai’s bourse has hit a 7-year low.
The latest sell-off was triggered by the arrest of a Shi’ite cleric in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province after he called for democratic reforms and a constitutional monarchy. The province is home to Saudi Arabia’s aggrieved Shi’ite minority and also holds the country’s vast Ghawar oilfield, placing it at the epicentre of global crude supply.
“Unrest in this region can have fatal consequences for the world,” said JBC Energy. “The plunge on the Saudi stock exchange can be interpreted as a sign of waning trust.”
In Bahrain, the island nation’s Sunni elite holds sway over a Shi’ite majority that is denied key jobs and has a token political voice, making it a trial run for Saudi Arabia’s near-identical tensions in the Eastern Province.
Bahraini dissidents have so far been much bolder, prompting a bloody crackdown last month when at least seven people were shot by the military. The ruling family – under intense pressure from Washington to stop the killings – has since held out an olive branch to protesters and let the radical Haq leader Hassan Mushaima return from exile, yet the crisis is far from contained.
My Mushaima said on Wednesday that protesters have “the right to appeal for help from Iran” if Saudi military units interfere in the struggle. Tanks were seen crossing the 17-mile causeway from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain on Tuesday.
“These were supposed to be Bahrain’s tanks returning from Kuwait: that is not a credible story,” said Firas Abi Ali, a Gulf expert at the risk group Exclusive Analysis.
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He said the outcome in Bahrain will set the template for events across the border. “There is no good outcome from this for Saudi Arabia. If Bahrain offers concessions, the Saudi Shia will demand similar concessions. If they crack down, they risk an uprising. These people do not want to live under the House of Saud,” he said.
Saudi activists have called on Facebook for a “Day of Rage” on March 11, despite the penalty of lashing for street protest. A similar call to arms in Syria fizzled because people were frightened, and the security forces nipped it in the bud. “We will be watching closely to see how many people turn up, and how far their demands go,” said Mr Abi Ali.
Saudi King Abdullah has scant leeway. His own legitimacy stems from Wahabi clerics, who refuse any compromise with the Shia. He is 87 and in poor health, raising the prospect of an imminent succession struggle that favours the hard-line interior minister Prince Nayef. He would undoubtedly crush any protests. The monarchy has sought to gain time by spending an extra $36bn (£22bn) on welfare and salaries, but patronage politics may strike the wrong note at this stage.
Whatever the hopes in the West, Mr Abi Ali said the Mid-East is now in the vortex of multiple uprisings that will create turmoil for years and destabilise oil supply for a long time. “The Arab world is not going to start behaving like the Swiss,” he said.
Libya’s slide into civil war has already cut oil shipments by 1m barrels per day (bpd), slicing into the world’s safety margin. The International Energy Agency (IEA) said the Saudis had covered the short-fall, though Saudi heavy oil is a poor substitute for Libya’s “sweet” crude. Read the rest of this entry »

Internet Restricted in Bahrain as Protest Escalates

In Activism, Internet Censorship, Society, World News on February 23, 2011 at 3:26 am

As protests continue in Bahrain, data suggests that access to many websites has been restricted there.

Arbor Networks, a security research company that tracks Internet traffic, told The New York Times on Friday that traffic into and out of Bahrain has dropped between 10% and 20% below expected levels. Traffic normally only drops that low during natural disasters or global sporting events.

The graph below shows Bahrain’s Internet traffic levels this week compared to average traffic levels during the previous three weeks. The traffic this week has been significantly lower than usual. Arbor Networks told The Times that it couldn’t absolutely rule out technical difficulties as a cause for the drop, though the most likely cause was blocked websites.

A Harvard University website that crowdsources reports of inaccessible webpages shows that many sites, including bahrainonline.org and bahrainrights.org, have been reported to be inaccessible. But almost all of the reports were made before the protests in Bahrain started.

Last month, Egypt blocked websites like Twitter and Facebook in response to unrest before blocking the Internet altogether (See that graph here). The success that Egyptian protesters had in ousting former president Hosni Mubarak despite these drastic digital measures is often cited as enhancing the confidence of protesters in Bahrain, Algeria and elsewhere in the Middle East.

While data suggests that Bahrain is restricting the Internet in response to unrest in the same way Egypt did, Arbor Network’s Internet traffic data shows nothing out of the ordinary in Algeria’s Internet traffic (at least between February 10 and 13).

Internet Censorship in Bahrain.

Internet Censorship in Bahrain

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