Sunday, June 05, 2011

The Looting Has Begun

What does social breakdown look like? Spengler has a few thoughts about Egypt.

From Arab-language online media, it appears that Egypt's economic troubles have metastasized. Last month, rice disappeared from public storehouses amid press reports that official food distribution organizations were selling the grain by the container on the overseas market. Last week, diesel fuel was the scarce commodity, with 24-hour queues forming around gasoline stations. Foreign tankers were waiting at Port Said on the Suez Canal to pump diesel oil from storage facilities, as government officials sold the scarce commodity for cash.

This is the sort of general breakdown I observed in 1992 in Russia, following the collapse of the communist government. As an adviser to finance minister Yegor Gaidar, I heard stories of Russian officials selling unregistered trainloads of raw materials on foreign markets and depositing the proceeds in Swiss banking accounts. Anything of value that could find a buyer overseas was sold. I didn't last long as an adviser; looting and pillaging wasn't my area of competence. Russia, it should be recalled, is largely self-sufficient in food and is among the world's largest oil producers, while Egypt imports half its food. Russia had enormous resources on which to draw. Egypt, Syria and Tunisia have nothing.
So how are things going in Syria?
Robert Fisk wrote in the London Independent on May 30 that Turkey fears a mass influx of Syrian Kurdish refugees, so that "Turkish generals have thus prepared an operation that would send several battalions of Turkish troops into Syria itself to carve out a 'safe area' for Syrian refugees inside Assad's caliphate." The borders of the affected nations have begun to dissolve along with their economies. It will get worse fast.
I think what Spengler meant by fast was like today.
Israeli forces fired on a crowd marking the anniversary of the 1967 Middle East War by trying to enter from Syria, where human rights groups said Syrian troops killed 25 protesters in a village in the country’s north.

A general strike took place for the second day today in the Syrian city of Hama in mourning for dozens of people killed there by security forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad last week, according to the independent Web site Syrian Observatory, which is monitoring the unrest.

“The city is completely closed and the army has pulled out, but the people are scared” that the army may attack again, Mahmoud Merhi, the head of the Arab Organization for Human Rights, said by telephone from Damascus.
Ah yes. The Israelis fire on a crowd - top of the news. Syrians kill 25? Not quite so important.

And the people of Hama are scared? Why not? There is some history there.
The Hama massacre occurred in February 1982, when the Syrian army, under the orders of the president of Syria Hafez al-Assad, conducted a scorched earth policy against the town of Hama in order to quell a revolt by the Sunni Muslim community against the regime of al-Assad. The Hama massacre, personally conducted by president Assad's younger brother, Rifaat al-Assad, effectively ended the campaign begun in 1976 by Sunni Islamic groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, against Assad's regime, whose leaders were disproportionately from president Assad's own Alawite sect.
The death toll estimates run from 10,000 to 40,000. I wonder how many boy Assad will bag this time?

And of course I wonder what kind of plan our esteemed man from Chicago ne (Hawaii) has developed to cope with coming events. We shall know in time. I'm betting that it will be - borrow money from China to give to the crooks in the various Middle East governments.

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