Monday, February 20, 2017

2563. Neighborhood Committees in the Iranian Revolution of 1979: A Case Study

By Kamran Nayeri, February 20, 2017
A scene from the February 1979 insurrection. Photo: Iranian Historical Photograph Gallery. 
I arrived in Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport on February 1, 1979, in a plane that took off from Paris Orly Airport soon after the plane that carried Ayatollah Khomeini and his entourage.  As our plane circled the sky above Tehran in preparation for landing, I could see the throng of people lining up the streets across the city to welcome Khomeini from the exile. BBC reported there were as many as 5 million people. 

When our plane landed and we were waved through customs and immigration I found the airport and the streets mostly empty of people as if the crowd had welcomed the Ayatollah and gone back home.  

After I settled in my parent house in the northeastern middle class district of Tehranpars I quickly met with the young men there who were organizing local resistance to the old regime. Given that I had been in the United States for raw last ten years, my integration into our neighborhood committee group was almost instantaneous.

Neighborhood committees were an important part of the grassroots movement that originated in the struggle against the Shah’s dictatorship.  During various strikes, especially the oil workers strike that began on October 21, 1978, there was a need to acquire and distribute goods and services in neighborhoods.  While stopping oil exports and oil flow to the Shah’s regime, oil workers delivered gasoline and heating oil to the population did not suffer in the cold fall/winter months. Neighborhood committees rationed and distributed heating oil and other needed supplies equitably.  The need for the neighborhood committees became more acute when the martial law was declared on November 6. 

Our neighborhood committee had already “expropriated” a house on the street where my parents lived as the owner, a man with close tied to the Shah’s repressive regime had gone into hiding or fled the country. The neighborhood committee did not touch the furniture that was left behind. But the house provided a rent-free headquarter for the group where the assembly of a few dozens was held daily to discuss various issues, define tasks, get volunteers to carry them out, and so on.  

On February 4, Ayatollah Khomeini appointed Mehdi Bazargan, the leader of a very small Islamic-Nationalist party, Nehzat-e Azadi (Freedom Movement), as the prime minister of a provisional government in opposition to the government of Shahpour Bakhtiar that the Shah had installed to appease the people. Bakhtair was the leader of the very small secular nationalist party, Hezb-e Iran (Iran Party). Khomeini’s move provided for a governmental dual power forcing a decision on who to support especially on those who worked for the government.  On February 9, Homafars (air force technicians) who were in Niroo Havayi (Air Force) Garrison in east Tehran declared their support for the Bazargan government.  Within hours the Imperial Guard moved to attack them and fighting broke out. I happened to be near the base where the fighting occurred and saw urban guerrilla fighters joining the fight in defense of the Homafars as did many ordinary people with military training and arms.  The Imperial Guard had to withdraw. The next day, February 10, Bakhtiar declared martial law which backfired as rebellion spread in the ranks of the armed forces and the general population began to attack police station, garrisons, and military bases.  I saw the police station near my parents house set on fire by the young men in the neighborhood. 

On that day, I went to Eshrat Abad Garrison near Fawzieh Square (named after Shah’s first wife, Princess Fawzieh of Egypt and renamed after February 1979 as Imam Hossein Square, named after the Shia’s third Imam).  Fighting was ending when I reached there.  The garrison surrendered after suffering some causalities and the soldiers joined the people. There were some casualties among the people, including a young Armenian Trotskyist. All armament were expropriated by the people. Even though I had no military training, I took several rounds of J3 battle rifle ammunitions for the neighborhood committee. 

On February 10 and 11 insurrections in all major cities and some smaller towns crushed the Shah’s armed forces and armed the population. People stormed the Shah’s prisons and torture chambers and all political prisoners were freed.  Tehran University became the tribune of the revolutionary youth where many open air meetings were held, speeches delivered, literature mostly by the socialist groups distributed.  

An almost natural reaction for the neighborhood committees across Tehran was to set up road barricade as sniper attacks by the Shah’s armed supporters continue despite of the regime’s collapse.   In our neighborhood assembly that met on February 11 we learned that collectively we had 30 J3 battle riffle and a lot of ammunitions.  We quickly decided to centralize these arms in the headquarter and train volunteers to use them at the roadblocks.  There were 60 volunteers, most with some military training. A young Trotskyist in the neighborhood who had just returned from London, named Kaveh, and I were happy to find each other and Kaveh headed up the effort to train others in the use of the J3. 

My own contribution was more political and organizational, to bring up the political aspects of our work and to help organize and run the assembly meetings and volunteers in a way to ensure our urgent tasks were carried out.  All other neighborhood committee members were pulled into politics in the past several months and even Kaveh had joined the Iranian Trotskyist group in England only a year earlier.  I had the good fortune of working single-mindedly as a socialist since 1971 gaining experience in practical socialist politics as well as studying classical socialist literature voraciously. 

I wrote a one-page manifesto that defined the political function of the neighborhood committee, gave it a name, Defense Committee of the South-Western Tehranpars, and with Kaveh’s help found a young woman in the neighborhood who typed it up. The assembly discussed and approved this initiative and we distributed copies to each household.

As the worries with the remnants of the Shah’s supporters diminished revolutionaries began to take notice of the repressive measures of the newly installed Khomeini-Bazargan provisional government. Within 24 hours after February 11 victory which lifted the censorship on the mass media, including the state radio and television (Seda va Sima) which broadcasted statements from various political groups, including the socialist currents, Khomeini reimposed censorship on the state run radio and TV and appointed Sadegh Ghotbzadeh to purge its employees to impose an Islamic character on the state media.  At the same time, Khomeini called for the population to return their arms to the mosques that began to act as the headquarter for the neighborhood committees in the sections of the cities where practicing Muslims dominated.  

In our neighborhood, the cleric from the nearby mosque came to one of our assembly meeting, spoke highly of our effort but reiterated Khomeini’s call to turn all arms to the mosques, and invited us to function from the mosque and under its supervision and left.  Some days later a military man came in uniform and said mostly the same things.  The committee membership was divided by these interventions.  Those who harbored religious feelings felt compelled to honor Khomeini’s orders and left continue their volunteer work from the mosque. Those with a leftist political orientation remained but the future of the Defense Committee of the Southwestern Terhranpars was in question.  How could we justify it when almost half of our members left for the mosque already?  In those days, only the political current Kaveh and I subscribed to held that the Khomeini-Bazargan government was a capitalist government that we should not support.  Almost all other leftist political tendencies either supported the provisional government or did not speak in opposition to it.  Given this political crisis the neighborhood committee dissolved. 

While I know of no study of the neighborhood committees as a grassroots movement, I believe a similar political crisis resulted in their dissolution across Iran except in some regions of the oppressed nationalities, like Turkman Sahra and Kurdistan.  In all other locations, the reconstituted Islamic Committees gradually became part of the oppressive forces of the Islamic Republic regime and continue to be so today. As such, a revolutionary grassroots movement was destroyed by the clerical capitalist Khomeini regime and some its members recruited into an oppressive force.  A similar process befell other grassroots movements in Iran where the revolutionary ones were either destroyed or replaced by a counter-revolutionary one.  For example, the workers shoras (councils) were destroyed or replaced with Islamic Shoras or Islamic Associations (these are capitalized to denote that the very meaning of a shora/council which requires workers democracy was subverted).  

2562. Iranian City of Ahvaz Covered by Brown Dust

By Thomas Erdbrink, The New York Times, February 19, 2017
Ahvaz in dust storm. Photo: Mostafa Gholamnejad
TEHRAN — Days of protests over dust storms, power failures and government mismanagement in one of Iran’s most oil-rich cities subsided on Sunday after security forces declared all demonstrations illegal.

Residents of Ahvaz, a city with a majority Arab population near the border with Iraq, had been protesting for five days in increasingly large gatherings, shown in cellphone video clips shared on social media.

The region around Ahvaz is a center of oil production in Iran, and since economic sanctions were lifted, Iran’s government has been hoping for foreign investment in the area to update refineries and power stations and fix deepening ecological problems.

The cellphone clips show protesters calling for the resignation of the local governor. And as the number of demonstrators grew, the demands started to include a call for top officials from the capital, Tehran, to come to Ahvaz to see the problems for themselves.

Demonstrators can also be heard shouting, “Unemployment, unemployment,” another big problem in the region, and urging their countrymen to offer assistance: “Iranian compatriots, help us, help us.”

In the weeks before the demonstrations, Ahvaz was hit by large dust storms. Rain turned the dust into mud, which caused power stations to stop working.

Oil production was also affected, with the Ministry of Petroleum reporting that production had temporarily fallen by 700,000 barrels a day.

In addition to the short-term effects of the dust storm, the city is wrestling with long-term environmental challenges.

Ahvaz, home to around one million people, is surrounded by petrochemical factories that emit pollutants on a large scale.

A 15-year drought, in combination with poorly planned dam building, has caused local marshes to dry up, increasing the level of dust particles in the air to record highs.

The World Health Organization said in 2015 that Ahvaz was the most polluted city in the world.

Locals said they felt ignored and had had enough. “We feel as if we live in a special zone, where the government only makes money from,” said Mobin Ataee, a local student. “It seems they would prefer people to leave so they can turn this whole area into an oil-business-only region.”

State television, dominated by hard-liners, highlighted the protests at first, seemingly to place the moderate government of President Hassan Rouhani in a difficult position. One local reporter even presented the news wearing a protective mask against air pollution in protest.

But as the number of protesters started increasing, the official news media fell silent.

On Saturday, the local police issued a statement calling on people to refrain from “illegal gatherings,” warning that they would be “confronted” if they took part.

Witnesses reported the presence of riot police officers on the streets of Ahvaz. The Iranian authorities did not allow a New York Times reporter to visit the city.

“The major part of the flaws and defects have either been resolved or are in the process of being resolved,” said the police statement, published by the semiofficial Fars news agency.

The complex mix of problems facing the city, from dust to water shortages and unemployment, may prove hard to solve.

“The situation is terrible and extremely complex,” said Mitra Hajjar, a prominent Iranian actress and ecological activist.

A photograph of her posing on a landmark bridge in Ahvaz wearing a protective mask was widely shared on Instagram, Iran’s most popular social media tool that is not filtered by the authorities.

“The government is now trying to flood the marshes,” Ms. Hajjar said. “That is a good first step, but basically, we have to restore an entire ecosystem.”

Visitors to the city are often quick to complain of the pollution there, said Forough Emam, 26, an Ahvaz native who moved to Tehran to study. “But for us from Ahvaz, pollution means you can’t see two meters ahead, and everything is covered in brown dust.”

2561. Film Review: On World Water Crisis

By Hydrationanywhere.com, April 1, 2016
Photo: Wall Street Journal
Fresh water is the vital resource without which no life on this planet would be possible – yet the amount of this unequivocally essential element grows more scarce each year. With human activities increasingly polluting fresh water beyond recoverable means through industrial and agricultural pollution, and with corporate and government interests working to privatize and commoditized the most valuable ingredient for life, increasingly water scarcity becomes more and more of a problem across the globe.

The impacts of this scarcity and decreasing availability of fresh water are felt most directly by those people in areas where water is most difficult to come by. Water-borne diseases thrive in areas where the impoverished lack proper sanitation or access to clean fresh water sources, accounting for up to 80% of all disease in developing nations. But even in the developed world, the diminishing supply of freshwater is causing terrible problems all its own, with waters tainted with fertilizers and agricultural waste, industrial by-products, and pharmaceutical drugs and their metabolites.

We took the time to watch five leading documentaries which aim to examine the world water crisis. These documentaries look at everything from where our water comes from to the political issues surrounding the current water issues and everything in between. While there is certainly some overlap between the themes and content of these documentaries, watching one or all of them will leave viewers with a good overview of some of the many issues contributing to the looming world water crisis.

Blue Gold: World Water Wars

Blue Gold World Water Wars Documentary CoverTaking a detailed look at the world’s shrinking supply of fresh water, Blue Gold: World Water Wars goes into great depth about the impacts of human activity on the world water supply. Looking at problems as diverse as top soil erosion, agricultural runoff industrial pollution, the impacts of dams and rerouting waterways and more, the film does a good job of highlighting the effects humanity has on its environment and how these effects are ultimately contributing to water scarcity.

The documentary also takes a close examination of the problems of water privatization, and how corporate and political interests are working to make a profit by controlling the supply of fresh water. Going into great detail about different issues faced across the globe as the result of attempts at privatization, this documentary is perhaps one of the best on this list for examining the role of corporate power in the world water crisis.

Based on the book “Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water” the documentary certainly succeeds in living up to the subtitle, providing enlightening details about the ongoing struggle to kick corporate influence out of the world’s water management.

Tapped

Tapped Bottled Water Documentary Movie CoverFocusing on the environmental, political, and social impacts of the bottled water industry Tapped provides a fascinating window into the corporate and political climate in the United States which has allowed corporations to vastly exploit natural water resources. Exploring issues ranging from the pollution created by the bottles themselves to the efforts by corporations to create dependencies on bottled water, to the environmental impact of bottling operations on already dwindling fresh water resources, to the quality of bottled water itself.

An exceptionally well-produced and well-researched documentary, Tapped is an extremely informative 75-minute watch. It includes informative interviews with leading experts, scientists, and industry leaders. Of particular interest are the experiments explained in the documentary where laboratories analyzed water after storage in plastic bottles and demonstrated a range of contaminants.

Check out the trailer below. You can purchase or rent the film on Amazon.

FLOW: For Love Of Water

FLOW For Love Of Water World Water Crisis Documentary Movie Cover
The cleverly entitled FLOW is another look at the growing privatization of water resources across the globe. Identifying and describing the different parts and mechanisms behind the growing world water cartel, the documentary provides a good look into the environmental hazards of human activities of all descriptions.

With a look at climate change, the decreasing amount of fresh water, the exploitation of the water resources, companies attempts to capitalize on growing pollution, and raising a fundamental question about the morality of bottled water, FLOW paints a damning picture of human impacts and the corporate contribution to the growing water crisis.

Check out the trailer below or purchase or rent the movie on Amazon.

Bottled Life

Bottled Life The Truth About Nestles Business With Water Documentary Film Cover
Much like the film Tapped above, Bottled Life peers into the troubles being raised by the bottled water industry and their attempts to privatize water resources across the globe. Where Tapped narrows its focus onto the United States but looked at a spectrum of water bottling companies, Bottled Life instead narrows the focus specifically onto bottling giant Nestle while taking a broader and more international scope.

Identifying the problems created by Nestle’s activities on both a local and global level, the documentary succeeds in demonstrating the painful consequences of exploiting global water resources. Creating unnecessary waste, polluting water sources, harming local water supplies, and unnecessarily transporting water across the globe for profit, Bottled Life points the finger at Nestle as a major culprit in a growing world water crisis.

Check out the trailer below to get a glimpse at the film. You can purchase or rent the movie on Amazon. It is also available for free for Netflix subscribers.

PBS Frontline: Poisoned Waters

Frontline Poisoned Waters American Water Crisis Documentary Movie Cover
From season 27 of acclaimed PBS documentary series Frontline, Poisoned Waters provides an in-depth look at the growing water pollution epidemic across the United States. Focusing on the devastating ecological impact of pollutants in America’s waterways, the documentary includes a horrifying look at the impact of pollution on animal life and landscapes.

Going into detail about the growing variety of chemical contaminants, the documentary examines scientific evidence to demonstrate the human- and animal-health impacts from the growing contamination of waterways. With a broad scope focusing on both drinking water and non-potable water, the documentary provides an extremely educational tour of human impacts on water resources. Anyone who wants an in-depth look at why pollutants are being created, what they are and do, and how they pollute water resources should definitely check out this documentary.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

2560. Donal Trump Ended the Myth of the "Middle East Peace Process"

By Rashid Khalidi, The Guardian, February 18, 2017
Netanyahu and Trump at the White House press conference.  Photo: Xinhua/Yin Bogu

“I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like.” With these words at a joint press conference with Benjamin Netanyahu, Donald Trump may have finally dispelled the already receding mirage of any just solution. 

Trump was clearly seeking to please his guest, spurred by the zealots in his government, four of whom, Public Safety Minister Gilad Erdan, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Sports Minister Miri Regev, and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovley, just publicly came out against the creation of a Palestinian state.

For decades, Israeli governments, pursuing the colonization of the entirety of “Eretz Israel,” have systematically destroyed the prerequisites for a solution involving a contiguous, sustainable, sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. Nevertheless, the myth that a real Palestinian state is on offer, and that there actually is a genuine “peace process,” endures as one of the greatest examples of magical thinking in modern times. 

That myth has been crucial for the continuation of Israel’s permanent occupation and unending colonization of the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem, shielding it from any serious international pressure.

The final interment of the already moribund “two-state solution” would force all concerned to face what is obvious to any honest observer. For decades, an imposed reality of one-state – the only sovereign entity enjoying total security control – has existed between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. This one state is Israel. Irrespective of the label one uses for it, this is the only outcome that this Israeli government will accept, whatever subaltern, or helot, or “autonomous” status it deigns to allow the Palestinians. 

Netanyahu did not mince words while standing next to Trump. He said that in any peace agreement “Israel must retain the overriding security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River.” He has long stated that he would only allow the Palestinians a “state minus;” that most Israeli settlements must remain in place; that all of Jerusalem belongs to Israel alone; and that Israel must keep 50-60% of the West Bank including the fertile Jordan River Valley. 

It matters little whether this travesty is called a one-state or a two-state “solution,” or whether the Palestinians get the right to fly a flag over such a pitiful Bantustan. 

The Trump-Netanyahu press conference, and the Senate confirmation hearings for David Friedman as ambassador-designate to Israel give us a very clear picture of how much the Israel-United States relationship has changed since January 20, 2017. 

American presidents since Clinton have insisted on a Palestinian state, have condemned settlement expansion, and have tried to rein in the most egregious excesses of the Israeli government, while financing and defending at the UN the very activities they supposedly opposed. These feeble positions are now eroding. 

Having just cast doubt on the two-state solution, Trump stood by complaisantly while Netanyahu laid out preconditions universally recognized as deal-breakers for the Palestinians: besides permanent Israeli control of their “state,” he demanded recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, a designation that no other country is required to accept, and something Israeli itself has not formally adopted. Similarly, while Trump asked Israel to “hold back on settlements a little bit,” his administration has not responded to the massive settlement expansion announced by the Israeli government in recent weeks.

In Friedman’s prepared testimony, clearly scripted by Trump administration handlers, he aligned himself closely with the largely false claims made the previous day by Netanyahu: that the Palestinians have refused to recognize Israel or to renounce terrorism, and that they pay killers of Israelis. In fact, the PLO recognized Israel and renounced violence decades ago. 

The families of the 35,000 Palestinians killed by Israel since 1967 do receive compensation, including some who have engaged in violence against Israel and its military occupation, but that very total, many times larger than the number of Israeli soldiers, settlers and civilians killed, helps to explain the violence. This is the cost of an occupation whose very existence Netanyahu and Friedman deny. 

As Netanyahu put it while standing alongside Trump: “Jews are called Jews because they come from Judea. This is our ancestral homeland. Jews are not foreign colonialists in Judea.” This is perfectly in line with the views of Friedman, who has raised millions of dollars in tax-free donations to settlements built on stolen Palestinian private property in “Judea.” Clearly, the Trump administration has moved the goalposts on Palestine, tilting even further in the direction of the most extreme government in Israel’s history.

In this brave new world, it is more urgent than ever for the Palestinians to overcome their crippling internal divisions, reject the pressures of the external powers that have helped to keep their national movement fragmented, and produce a clear strategy for a future of complete equality between Palestinians and Israelis. Perhaps Trump has provided the opportunity for them to lay out what a truly just and equal one-state, or binational, or confederal, or two-state solution would look like. 

In any case, only a complete break with the failed strategies of the feeble leaderships in Ramallah and Gaza can provide a genuine alternative to the grotesque future of unending dispossession and oppression that Trump and Netanyahu envision for them.

Friday, February 17, 2017

2559. Book Review: Failing States, Collapsing Systems BioPhysical Triggers of Political Violence

By Alice Friedmann, energyskeptic.com, January 31, 2017



In this post I summarize the sections of Nafeez’s book about the biophysical factors that bring nations down (i.e. climate change drought & water scarcity, declining revenues after peak oil, etc.) The Media tend to focus exclusively on economic and political factors.My book review is divided into 3 parts:

Why states collapse for reasons other than economic and political

How BioPhysical factors contribute to systemic collapse in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Saudi Arabia Egypt, Nigeria

Predictions of when collapse will begin in the Middle East, India, China, Europe, Russia, North America
In my opinion, war is inevitable in the Middle East where over half of oil reserves exist.  Oil is life itself.  If war happens, the collapse of the Middle East, India, and China could happen well before 2030.  If nuclear weapons are used, most nations collapse from the nuclear winter and ozone depletion that would follow.   Indonesia blew up their oil refineries to keep Japan from getting oil in WWII. If Middle Eastern governments or terrorists do the same after they’re attacked, that brings on the energy crisis sooner.  Although this would leave some high EROI oil in the ground, the energy to rebuild refineries, pipelines, oil rigs, roads, and other infrastructure would lower the EROI considerably.

1) Why states collapse for reasons other than economic and political
Since the 2008 financial crash, there’s been an unprecedented outbreak of social protest: Occupy in the US and Western Europe, the Arab Spring, and civil unrest from Greece to Ukraine, China to Thailand, Brazil to Turkey, and elsewhere. Sometimes civil unrest has resulted in government collapse or even wars, as in Iraq-Syria and Ukraine- Crimea. The media and experts blame it on poor government, usually ignoring the real reasons because all they know is politics and economics.
In the Middle East, experts should also talk about geology.  Oil-producing nations like Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Nigeria, and Iraq have all reached peak oil and declining government revenues after that force rulers to raise the prices of food and oil.  This region was already short on water, and now climate change (from fossil fuels) is making matters much worse with drought and heat waves causing even greater water scarcity, which in turn lowers agricultural production.  Many of these nations have some of the highest rates of population growth on earth at a time when resources essential to life itself are declining.

The few nations still producing much of the oil – Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. are about to join the club and stop exporting oil so they can provide for their domestic population.

Ahmed points out that “because these and other factors are so nested and interconnected, even small perturbations and random occurrences in one can amplify effects on other parts of the system, sometimes in a feedback process that continues.  If thresholds are reached, these tipping points can re-order the whole system”.  These ecological and geological factors result in social disorder, which makes it even harder for government to do anything, such as putting more money into water and food production infrastructure, which accelerates climate change and energy decline impacts, which leads to even more violence at an accelerating rate until state failure.

2) How BioPhysical factors contribute to systemic collapse in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Saudi Arabia Egypt, Nigeria



Table 1. Overview of biophysical factors (water scarcity, peak oil, population) for nations Ahmed discusses in this book

The UN defines a region as having now water scarcity above 1700 cubic meters per capita (green).  Water stressed nations have 1000 to 1700 cubic meters per capita (yellow).  Water scarcity is 500-1000 per capita (orange) and absolute water scarcity 0-500 (red).  Countries already experiencing water stress or far worse include Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Israel, Syria, Yemen, India, China, and parts of the United States. Many, though not all, of these countries are experiencing protracted conflicts or civil unrest (Patrick 2015).

SYRIA
The media portray warfare in Syria as due to the extreme repression of President Bashar al-Assad and the support he receives from Russia.  Although there has been awareness that climate change drought played a role in causing conflict, there is no recognition that peak oil was one of the main factors.

Here’s a quick summary of how peak oil and consequent declining revenues from oil production, rising energy and food prices, drought, water scarcity, and population growth led to social unrest, violence, terrorism and war.

It shouldn’t be surprising that peak oil in 1996 triggered the tragic events we see today.  After all, the main source of Syrian revenue came from their production of 610,000 barrels per day (bpd).  By 2010 oil production had declined by half. Falling revenues caused Syria to seek help from the IMF by 2001and the onerous market reform policies required resulted in higher unemployment and poverty, especially in rural Sunni regions, while at the same time enriching and corrupting ruling minority Alawite private and military elites.

In 2008 the government had to triple oil prices resulting in higher food prices. In 2010 food prices rose even more due to the global price of wheat doubling in 2010-2011. On top of that, the 2007-2010 drought was the worst on record, causing widespread crop failures. This forced mass migrations of farming families to cities (Agrimoney 2012; Kelley et al. 2015). The drought wouldn’t have been so bad if half the water hadn’t been wasted and overused previously from 2002 to 2008 (Worth 2010). All of these violence-creating events were worsened by one of the highest birth rates on earth, 2.4%.  Most of the additional 80,000 people added in 2011 were born in the hardest-hit drought areas (Sands 2011).

Rinse and repeat.  Social unrest and violence led to war, oil production dropped further, so there is even less money to end unrest with subsidized food and energy or more employment, aid farmers, and build desalination plants.

Syria, once able to feed its people, now depends on 4 million tonnes of grain imports at a time when revenues continue to drop.  Syrian oil production didn’t really take off until 1968 when there were 6.4 million people.  Since oil revenues allowed their population to explode, another 13.6 million have been born.

IRAQ
Like Syria, Iraq’s agricultural production has been reduced by heat, drought, heavy rain, water scarcity, rapid population growth, and the inability of government to import food and provide goods and services as oil revenues decline.  ISIS has worsened matters and filled in the gaps of state-level failure.  Peak oil is likely by 2025.  Or sooner given the ongoing war, lack of investment to keep existing production flowing, and low oil prices (Dipaola 2016).

YEMEN 
Like Syria, Iraq, and Iran, Yemen has long faced serious water scarcity issues. The country is consuming water far faster than it is being replenished, an issue that has been identified by numerous experts as playing a key background role in driving local inter-tribal and sectarian conflicts (Patrick 2015).

Yemen is one of the most water-scarce countries in the world. In 2012, the average Yemeni had access to just 140 cubic meters of water a year for all uses and just three years later a catastrophic 86 m3, far below the 1000 m3 level minimum requirement standards.    Cities often only have sporadic access to running water— every other week or so.  Sanaa could become the first capital in the world to run out of water (IRIN 2012).

Yemen reached peak oil production in 2001, declining from 450,000 barrels per day (bbd) to 100,000 bpd in 2014, and will be zero by 2017 (Boucek 2009).   This has led to a drastic decline in Yemen’s oil exports, which has eaten into government revenues, 75% of which had depended on oil exports. Oil revenues also account for 90% of the government’s foreign exchange reserves. The decline in post-peak Yemen state revenues has reduced the government’s capacity to sustain even basic social investments. When the oil runs out … the capacity to sustain a viable state-structure will completely collapse.

Yemen has 25 million people and an exorbitantly high growth rate and expected to double by 2050. In 2014 experts warned that within the next decade, these demographic trends would demolish the government’s ability to meet the population’s basic needs in education, health and other essential public services. This is already happening to over 15 million people (Qaed 2014).  Over half the Yemeni population lives below the poverty line, and unemployment is at 40% (60% of young people).

To cope, too many people have turned to growing qat (a mild narcotic) on 40% of Yemen’s irrigated land, increasing water use to 3.9 billion cubic meters (bcm), but the renewable water supply is just 2.5 bcm. The 1.4 bcm shortfall is made up by pumping water from underground water reserves that are starting to run dry.

Energy, overpopulation, drought, water scarcity, poverty, and a government unable to do much of anything without oil revenue is in a downward loop of social tensions, local conflicts and even mass displacements.  This in turn adds to the dynamics of the wider sectarian and political conflicts between the government, the Houthis, southern separatists and al-Qaeda affiliated militants.

Violence undermines food security, feeding back into the downward spiraling loop.  Making matters worse is that rain-fed agriculture has dropped by about 30% since 1970, making Yemen ever more food import dependent at a time when revenues are shrinking. The country now imports over 85% of its food, including 90% of its wheat and all of its rice (World Bank 2014). Most Yemenis are hungry because they can’t afford to buy food, which also rises in price when global prices rise.  The rate of chronic malnutrition as high as 58%, second only to Afghanistan (Arashi 2013).

Epidemic levels of government corruption, mismanagement and incompetence, have meant that what little revenue the government receives ends up in Swiss bank accounts.  With revenues plummeting in the wake of the collapse of its oil industry, the government has been forced to slash subsidies while cranking up fuel and diesel prices. This has, in turn, cranked up prices of water, meat, fruits, vegetables and spices, leading to fuel and food riots (Mawry 2015).

Is Saudi Arabia Next?
Summary: Within the next decade, Saudi Arabia will become especially vulnerable to the downward feedback loop of peak oil.  The most likely date for peak oil is 2028 (Ebrahimi 2015). But because the Saudi exports have been going down since 2005 at 1.4% a year as their own population rises and consumes more and more, world exports could end as soon as 2031 (Brown and Foucher 2008).
Saudi revenues will decline to zero, so the Saudis will be less able to buy their way out of food shortages.  Their own food production will drop as well from drought and water scarcity — the kingdom is one of the most water scarce in the world, at 98 m per inhabitant per year.

Most water comes from groundwater, 57% of which is non-renewable, and 88% of it goes to agriculture. Desalination plants produce 70% of the kingdom’s domestic water supplies. But desalination is very energy intensive, accounting for more than half of domestic oil consumption. As oil exports run down, along with state revenues, while domestic consumption increases, the kingdom’s ability to use desalination to meet its water needs will decrease (Patrick 2015; Odhiambo 2016).

According to the Export Land Model (ELM) created by Texas petroleum geologist Jeffrey J Brown and Dr. Sam Foucher, the key issue is the timing of when there will be no more exports because the domestic population of oil producing nations is using it all for domestic consumption.   Brown and Foucher showed that the tipping point to watch out for is when an oil producer can no longer increase the quantity of oil sales abroad because of the need to meet rising domestic energy demand.

Saudi Arabia is the region’s largest energy consumer. Domestic demand has increased 7.5% over the last 5 years, mainly due to population growth. Saudi population may grow from 29 million people now to 37 million by 2030, using ever more oil and therefore less available for export.

Declining Saudi peak oil exports will affect every nation on earth that imports Saudi oil, especially top customers ChinaJapanthe United StatesSouth Korea, and India.  As Saudi oil declines, there will be few other places oil for importing nations to turn to, since other exporting nations will also be using their oil domestically.

A report by Citigroup predicted net exports would plummet to zero in the next 15 years. This means that 80% of money from oil sales the Saudi state depends on are trending downward, eventually terminally (Daya 2016). In this case, the peak oil production date could happen far before 2028, as well as violent social unrest, since so far, Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth, and its unique ability to maintain generous subsidies for oil, housing, food and other consumer items, has kept civil unrest at bay. Energy subsidies alone make up about a fifth of Saudi’s gross domestic product. But as revenues are increasingly strained by decreasing exports after peak oil, the kingdom will need to slash subsidies (Peel 2013).  Even now a quarter of the Saudi’s live in poverty, and unemployment is 12%, especially young people who have a 30% unemployment level.

Saudi Arabia is experiencing climate change as temperatures rise in the interior and far less rainfall occurs in the north.  By 2040, local average temperatures are expected to increase by as much as 4 °C at the same time rain levels are falling, resulting in more extreme weather events like the 2010 Jeddah flooding when a year of rain fell in 4 hours.  The combination could dramatically impact agricultural productivity, which is already facing challenges from overgrazing and unsustainable industrial agricultural practices leading to accelerated desertification (Chowdhury 2013).

80% of Saudi Arabia’s food requirements are purchased through heavily subsidized imports.  Without the protection of oil revenue subsidies, and potential rises in the global prices of food (Taha 2014), the Saudi population would be heavily impacted. But with net oil revenues declining to zero—potentially within just 15 years—Saudi Arabia’s capacity to finance continued food imports will be in question.

Egypt
Like Syria, Egypt has had increasing problems paying for food, goods, and services after peak oil in 1993 while at the same time population keeps growing.   Worse yet, there are no oil revenues at all, because since 2010 the population has been using more oil than what is produced and has had to import oil, with no oil revenues to pay for food, goods, and services.  Two-thirds of Egypt’s oil reserves have likely been depleted and oil produced now is declining at 3.4% a year.

Nor are there revenues coming from natural gas sales made up for the loss of oil revenues.  Over the past decade domestic use nearly doubled to consumption of nearly all the production (Kirkpatrick 2013a).

The Egyptian population since 2000 has grown 21% to 80 million $$$ more than that! people and isn’t slowing down, with 20 million more expected over the next 10 years.  A quarter are children half of them living in poverty and unemployed  (EI 2012) at the same time the elites have grown wealthier from IMF and World Bank policies.

In the 1960s there were 2800 cubic meters of water per capita, now just 660 – well below international the standard of water poverty of 1000 per person (Sarant 2013).   Water scarcity and population growth lave led to tens of thousands of hectares of farmland to be abandoned.  There is some water that can be obtained, but most farmers can’t afford the price of diesel fuel to power pumps  (Kirkpatrick 2013b)

Egypt was self-sufficient in food production in the 1960s but now imports 70% of its food (Saleh 2013). One of the many reasons Mubarak fell was the doubling of wheat prices in 2011 since half of Egypt’s people depend on food rations.  But the democratically-elected Muslim Brotherhood party and their leader Morsi couldn’t alleviate declining government revenues due to the biophysical realities of food, water, and energy shortages either.  Morsi desperately tried to get a $4.8 billion IMF loan by slashing energy subsidies and raising sales taxes, but the economic crisis made it hard to make the payments and wheat imports dropped to a third of what was imported a year ago.

This led to Morsi being ousted by army chief Abdul Fateh el-Sisi in a coup.  Like his predecessors, El-Sisi has also been unable to meet IMF demands for increased hydrocarbon production and has resorted to unprecedented levels of brutal force to crush protests. He has also rationed electricity, which led to key industries cutting production, leading to further economic losses, declining exports and foreign reserves.  Without more money, energy companies can’t be paid, so energy production continues to drop, and debt goes up, reducing the value of Egyptian currency and higher costs for imports and shortages of energy for industrial production. Egypt’s energy and economy find themselves caught in an amplifying feedback loop (Barron 2016).

How Boko Haram arose in Nigeria
Nigeria’s climate change has led to water and land shortages from desertification, which in turn has led to illness, hunger, and unemployment followed by conflict (Sayne 2011).

Perhaps the Boko Haram wouldn’t have arisen, if the Maitatsine sect in northern Nigeria hadn’t been hit so hard by ecological disasters.  To survive they fanned out to search for food, water, shelter, and work (Sanders 2013).  Niger and Chad refugees from drought and floods also became Boko Haram foot soldiers, some 200,000 displaced farmers and herdsmen.

In northern Nigeria, where Boko Haram is from, about 70% of the population subsists on less than a dollar a day. As noted by David Francis, one of the first western reporters to cover Boko Haram: “Most of the foot soldiers of Boko Haram aren’t Muslim fanatics; they’re poor kids who were turned against their corrupt country by a charismatic leader” (Francis 2014)

The Nigerian military sees a correlation between regional climatic events, and an upsurge in extremist violence: “It has become a pattern; we saw it happen in 2006; it happened again in 2008 and in 2010. President Obasanjo had to deploy the military in 2006 to Yobe State, Borno State and Katsina State. These are some of the states bordering Niger Republic and today they are the hotbeds of the Boko Haram” (Mayah 201).

Drought caused desertification is decreasing food production, in turn leading to “economic decline; population displacement and disruption of legitimized authoritative institutions and social relations.” The net effect was an acceleration of the attractiveness of groups like “Boko Haram and other forms of Jihadi ideology,” resulting in escalating “herder-farmer clashes emanating from the north since 1980s” (Onyia 2015).

The rapid spread of Boko Haram also coincided with the Lake Chad’s shrinking from 25,000 square km in 1963 to less than 2500 square km today, mainly due to climate change. At this rate, Lake Chad is will dry up in 20 years, and has already caused millions of people to lose their livelihoods.
The government has exacerbated problems by cutting fuel subsidies, which led to fuel shortages, angering the public who engaged in civil unrest  (Omisore 2014).

A senior Shell official said that crude oil production decline rates are as high as 15–20%.  But Nigeria doesn’t have the money to explore to find more oil to offset this high decline rate. Nigeria’s petroleum resources department said that Nigeria had reached a plateau of production in the Niger Delta and were already going down (Ahmed 2014).

About $15 billion of investment is required just to maintain current production levels and compensate for a natural decline in production of about 250,000 b/d each year. A 2011 study by two Nigerian scholars concluded that “there is an imminent decline in Nigeria’s oil reserve since peaking could have occurred or just about to occur (Akuru and Okoro 2011). A 2013 report backs this up, finding that Nigeria’s crude oil production has decreased since its peak in 2005, largely due to the impact of internal conflicts, leading to the withdrawal of oil companies and lack of investments. Since then production has fluctuated along a plateau. The UK Department for International Development report noted that new offshore fields might bring additional oil on-stream, surpassing the 2005 peak—but also noted that rising domestic demand “at some point in the future may cut into the amount of oil available for export” (Hall et al. 2014).

POPULATION. With Nigeria’s population expected to rise from 160 to 250 million by 2025 and oil accounting for some 96% of export revenue as well as 75% of government revenue, the state has resorted to harsh austerity measures. Sharp reductions in public spending, power cuts, fuel shortages and conditional new loans will probably widen economic inequalities and further stoke the grievances that feed groups like Boko Haram in the North. With domestic oil production decline undermining Nigeria’s oil export revenues and consequent fuel subsidy cuts, the public grows poorer and increases the number of young men more likely to join Islamist terrorist groups.

3) Predictions of when collapse will begin in Middle East, India, China, Europe, Russia, North America

When will  Middle-East oil producing nations fail?
Ahmed says that so far after peak oil production, Middle-Eastern economies have declined as revenues declined, leading to systemic state-failure in roughly 15 years, more or less, depending on how hard hit a nation was by additional (climate-change) factors such as drought, water scarcity, food prices, and overpopulation.

Saudi Arabia, and much of the rest of Arabian Gulf peninsula, may experience state-failure well within 10 to 20 years. If forecasts of Saudi oil depletion are remotely accurate, then by 2030 the country will simply not exist as we know it. Coupled with the accelerating impacts of climate-induced water scarcity, the Kingdom is bound to begin experiencing systemic state-failure at most within 20 years, and probably much earlier.

Marin Katusa, chief energy strategist at Casey Research, reports that “many Middle Eastern countries may stop exporting oil and gas altogether within the next few years, while some already have” (Katusa 2016). Oil analysts at Lux Research estimate that OPEC oil reserves may have been overstated by as much as 70%. True OPEC reserves could be as low as 429 billion barrels, which could mean a global net export crunch as early as 2020 (Lazenby 2016).

The period from 2020 to 2030 will see Middle East oil exporters experiencing a systemic convergence of energy and food crises.

When will India & China collapse?
India and China are widely assumed to be the next superpowers, but at this stage of energy and resource depletion, can’t possibly mimic the exponential growth of the Western world.
India, South Asia, and China face enormous ecological challenges Irregularities in the pattern of monsoon rains and drought are likely to lower food production and increase water scarcity, while higher temperatures will increase the range of vector-borne diseases such as malaria and become prevalent year-round (DCDC 2013). As sea levels rise, millions of people will be displaced permanently.

These impacts will unravel regional political and economic order well within 20 years and manifest at first as civil unrest.  Depending on how the Indian and Chinese states respond, it is likely that these outbreaks of domestic disorder will become more organized, and will eventually undermine state territorial integrity before 2030.  Near-term growth will further undermine environmental health and deplete resources, making these nations even more vulnerable to climate and food crises.

European and Russian collapse timeframe
Within Europe, resource depletion has meant that the European Union as a whole has become increasingly dependent on energy imports from Russia, the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. Yet exports from these regions will become tighter as major oil producers approach production limits.
The geopolitical turmoil that has unfolded in Ukraine provides a compelling indication that such processes are rapidly moving from the periphery of the global system into the core. For the most part, the Euro-Atlantic core—traditionally representing the most powerful sections of the world system—has insulated itself from global crisis convergence impacts by diversifying energy supply sources. However, there is only so much that diversification can achieve when the total energetic and economic quality of global hydrocarbon resource production is declining.

Post-2030–2045
Faced with these converging crises, the Euro-Atlantic core will continue to see the creation of cheap debt-money through quantitative easing as an immediate solution to generate emergency funds to stabilize the financial system and shore-up ailing industries. This will likely play out in one of these business-as-usual scenarios:
  1. The lower resource quality (EROI) of the global energy system may act as a fundamental geophysical ceiling on the capacity of the economy to grow. It may act as an invisible brake on growth in demand, so fossil fuel prices would remain at chronically low levels, endangering the profitability of the fossil fuel industries. This would lead to an acceleration of the demise of the fossil fuel industries, which could lead to debt-defaults across industries in the financial system. Declining hydrocarbon energy production would cause a self-reinforcing recessionary economic process. This would escalate vulnerability to water, food and energy crises and hugely strain the capacity of European and American states to deliver goods and services to even their own populations, and other nations dependent as much on importing food as they are oil.
  2. Scarcity of net exports on the world market may raise oil prices and provide some sectors of ailing fossil fuel industries to be profitable again. But previous slashing of investments and cutbacks in exploration will mean that only the most powerful sections of the industry would be able to capitalize on this, which means production is unlikely to return to former high levels. Price spikes would trigger economic recession, causing a drop in demand, while lower production levels would exacerbate the economy’s inability to grow substantially, if at all. In effect, the global economy would likely still experience a self-reinforcing recessionary economic process.
In both scenarios, escalating economic crises are likely to invite the Euro-Atlantic core to respond by using debt-money to shore-up as much of the existing core financial and energy industries as possible. Prices spikes and shortages in water, food and energy would be experienced by general populations as a dramatic lowering of purchasing power, leading to an overall decrease in quality of life, an increase in poverty, and a heightening of inequality. This would undermine their internal cohesion, giving rise to new divisive, nationalist and xenophobic movements, and lead states into a tightening spiral of militarization to police domestic order. As instability in the Middle East and elsewhere intensifies, manifesting in further unrest, political violence and terrorist activity, states will also be drawn increasingly into short- sighted military solutions. In particular, scarcity of net oil exports on the world market will heighten geopolitical and military competition to control and/or access the world’s remaining hydrocarbon energy resources. With the Middle East still holding the vast bulk of the world’s reserves, the region will remain a central flashpoint for such competition, even as major producers such as Saudi Arabia approach systemic state-failure due to reaching inevitable production declines.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that as we near 2045, the European and American projects will face escalating internal challenges to their internal territorial integrity, increasing the risk of systemic state-failure. Likewise, after 2030, Europe, India, China (and other Asian nations) will begin to experience symptoms of systemic state-failure.

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