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8 March 2011, Foreign Affairs

Oil and Unrest

What are the implications of the political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa on the global oil market?

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With political unrest spreading across the Middle East and North Africa, 2011 might turn out to be as momentous a year for the global geopolitics of oil as was 1971. Many of the factors behind the current protests — high unemployment, large income disparities, rising costs of living (especially for food), and ruling gerontocracies and kleptocracies — have their roots in the emergence of the region’s petro-states, a process that was cemented that year.

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