Saudi Arabian Unrest: Thumbnail Summary of a Potential Crisis


Reports from Saudi Arabia indicate that police have opened fire on protestors at a rally in the eastern city of Qatif.

Reports from the Associated Press contain references to stun grenades—as well as live ammunition—being used on protestors.

A report from Al Jazeera speaks to the tone of the political climate in the kingdom: "Media reports over the weekend suggested that some 10,000 Saudi troops would be deployed to crack down on any protests."

Their reporting also states that "Government officials have warned they will take strong action if activists take to the streets after increasing calls for large protests around the country to press for democratic reforms."

Oil prices appear to be spiking on the news.

In the wake of revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, news from Saudi Arabia is being closely followed by the markets.

Some analysts have called a revolution in Saudi Arabia a "nightmare" scenario— in a domino theory of Middle Eastern regimes falling to revolution.

Saudi Arabia has the world's largest proven oil reserves: With over a quarter of a trillion barrels proved in the ground.

Saudi Arabia is either first or second in the league tables in total current oil production, depending on which figures are used—producing approximately 10 million barrels of oil per day.

While Saudi Arabia is not the largest oil exporter to the United States, based on official US statistics, oil is a fungible market—and any supply disruption on such a massive scale would certainly send US energy costs soaring.

A map provided by the US Energy Information Administration shows the Eastern Province city of Qatif, where the troubles are now concentrated, to be located near the heart of a key oil field—and adjacent to a strategic Arabian port.


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