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  #1  
Old 07 June 2017, 05:02 PM
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Default The Persian Gulf Powder Keg

The Persian Gulf and the Middle East as a whole seems to be destabilizing as we speak.
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  #2  
Old 07 June 2017, 08:48 PM
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No

So what else is new? I wish I could say I don't mean to be flippant, but it's hard to have any other kind of reaction. I will say Doha was a nice enough place to visit, Bahrain wasn't the worst palace I've ever lived, and I feel really bad for Iraq.
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Old 08 June 2017, 12:11 AM
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I'm kind of with ASL: none of this sounds new, sadly enough. The US Foreign Policy regarding the Middle East from the Iranian Revolution onward can be summed up as:
  1. Throw lit matches onto regional powderkeg
    with no plans as to what to do when it explodes.
  2. Be shocked when said powderkeg explodes
  3. Repeat
Of course, before the Iranian Revolution, we favored the Operation Ajax approach which is a large reason we're in this mess to begin with.

Last edited by Mouse; 08 June 2017 at 12:12 AM. Reason: Fix Minor Errors
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Old 08 June 2017, 12:13 AM
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A thing has to be stable before it can it destabilize.
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Old 08 June 2017, 01:19 AM
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There are large parts of the Middle East that have been relatively stable for a long time. Also, not to quibble too much about sordid histories but the reason the US is involved (and will always be involved no matter how it might want to suddenly somehow become isolationist) is also the main reason the planet can hold going on eight million people without billions starving to death. Namely, oil. Without that relative stability, 7.5 billion would not have ever been possible.
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Old 08 June 2017, 01:41 AM
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Are there large parts of the Persian Gulf that have been stable for a long time?
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Old 08 June 2017, 06:58 AM
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Well, yes. With the exception of Iraq and, as the OP points out, perhaps now Qatar, I think one could argue all the Persian Gulf countries (including Iran, which is not an Arab country but shares the gulf) have enjoyed a degree of stability for the past couple decades. In fact, although obviously not being an expert of any kind on the subject, I would say more than half of them are rather or very stable.
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Old 08 June 2017, 08:00 AM
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Sorry to go on but I wanted to add: The only two Persian Gulf countries in the top one hundred "fragile" countries are Iraq and Iran. There's only 178 countries on the list and the top 100 includes South Africa, China, Mexico, Thailand (none of which I would say are unstable), etc. I have no idea why anyone would consider the whole region unstable all the sudden. (I also don't think that's what ASL meant to say. I took it more to mean "this has been a long time coming" not "this has been going on for a long time". Unlike him, I've never lived there or spent more than brief trips for work.)
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Old 09 June 2017, 12:49 AM
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You left out Syria. As I recall, it's part of the Middle East and it's pretty unstable. Though it is nice to hear that things aren't quite as pessimistic as my general assessment, but I do wonder for how long? Chaos has the annoying habit of spilling over into other countries and destabilizing them, because it turns out that the borders of nations are determined by natural features/politics, not because they have alligator-filled moats surrounding of them.

Though I stand by my statements about how the US foreign policy regarding that area is "Throw lit matches onto Regional Powder Keg. Make no plans as to what you'll do if it explodes. Be shocked when it explodes. Repeat."
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Old 09 June 2017, 03:40 AM
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No, I didn't leave out Syria. Lanie asked about Persian Gulf countries. Syria isn't one. (ETA - Also, I never said none of the Middle East is unstable or anything of that sort.) Before that, I said large parts of the Middle East have been relative stable for a long time. One of those large parts is most of the countries in Persian Gulf, which, as you can see, are on average more stable than the rest of the world and countries most people would probably consider quite stable. Frankly, I think it's just ordinary stereotyping that makes it seem so unstable: "But OMG the Middle East!"
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Old 09 June 2017, 10:33 PM
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That fragility index has some weird criteria and odd rankings. Is the UAE really more robust than Mexico? Something like 70% of the people living in UAE are migrant workers. Plus, the ordinary legal citizens of the UAE are also quite conservative and don't necessarily agree with their decadent, westernized leadership. And if the emirates stopped being able to afford to pay-off their citizens with oil-money stipends, I could see the Muslim Brotherhood or ISIS becoming popular very quickly.
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Old 10 June 2017, 12:04 AM
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Mexico

I understand your opinion. However, it shouldn't be hard to understand Mexico's ranking based the description of the index. Unlike Mexico, in the UAE there is not a drug war going on in its borders in which the government has lost control of territory, among several other problems. (Yet, as I said, I don't consider Mexico to be unstable.) If you have some better cite about state stability, one that, for example considers large numbers of immigrants or reliance on oil money to be a liability, please feel free to link to it.

Here's one from the World Bank:
http://www.theglobaleconomy.com/rank...cal_stability/

Here's another:
http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/#reports

ETA
Maybe this index is closer to your opinion. This puts the Gulf countries somewhat lower. Still ranks Mexico lower than the UAE, Qatar, and Kuwait.
http://www.robecosam.com/images/Coun...e_May_2016.pdf

From:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RobecoSAM
RobecoSAM is an international investment company with a specific focus on sustainability investments.[1] The company is based in Zurich, Switzerland and considers economic, environmental and social criteria in its investment strategies.

Last edited by ganzfeld; 10 June 2017 at 12:26 AM.
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Old 10 June 2017, 01:39 AM
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Isn't the burden of proof on you to show that index systems are a decentish way to quantify instability? Note that my specific points about UAE were made independent of such a scale.

But I'll go ahead and post something that pokes some holes in the FSI. I think this supplies a decent summary of problems with the FSI. Their point about a lack of predictive validity is what's striking to me.

You can look at the FSI and note that their predictions in 2010 did a bad job of predicting the Arab Spring of 2011. Their predictions in 2011 didn't anticipate the Toureg rebellion in Mali in 2012. In fact, they ranked Mali the same as India, not even in the right ballpark. I think these indexes are pretty much useless for anything other than long-term policy plans for allocating foreign aid, loans, etc. They're really not designed to be able to capture factors like 'If this one dude dies, all of his heirs will fight in a bloody civil war until the median wage drops 75%'.
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Old 10 June 2017, 05:08 AM
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Of course it never predicted anything. It's not supposed to be a predictive tool.

Also, I never advanced it as any accurate or even good measure of stability or instability. I only gave it -- and the World Bank's and a reputable investor group's -- as an example of many opinions about the stability of the region.

You offered your own personal opinion about one country, based on a few factors, as compared to one other country (for which you didn't mention any factors). What you say does (sort of) address my question about why you personally think it's not stable or, at least, not as stable as Mexico, for whatever that's worth. That doesn't really address the question of educated opinions about the stability of the region. There's nothing I can say in response to your opinion except these other (rather reputable) sources (who are putting their billions where there mouths are) have a different one.
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