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Making the Arab Spring Eternal

Making the Arab Spring Eternal

The seeds of economic liberty and free markets have been planted in the Middle East. But can they grow, asks Jay Akasie.

August 15, 2011 2:29 by

…achieving a specific return threshold and thus are focused on the strength of the tenant covenant rather than the asset risk

• Driven primarily by supply concerns in almost all sectors, investors anticipate further capital declines in many MENA markets

• Office assets remain the most attractive investment class for this investor base, but this preference is not necessarily in line with short-term market conditions

Never put your eggs in one basket, even if that basket is paid for by billions of dollars in oil assets. Yet that’s just what the Arab world has done with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. Before the mid-20th century, most of these countries were far from the current urbanization level. The ancient Arab societies to the east – nations such as Lebanon and Egypt – were at the center of world affairs long before the integration of the GCC in the global economy.

Still, it’s the GCC that controls most of the Arab world’s money, power, and influence. But just how stable is this region and to what extent could uprisings there endanger the Arab world? Economists at the National Bank of Kuwait stated recently that the telecom industry and certain real estate players could be impacted if political instability reaches the Gulf.

“The International Monetary Fund recently revised upwards its forecast for real GDP growth for the GCC to 7.8 percent for 2011, compared with its previous projection of 5.2 percent. The IMF said that it now expects the Middle East’s economy (excluding Libya) to expand by 4.9 percent in 2011, compared with its previous estimate of 4.5 percent.

However, the IMF also warned about inflation, as the impact of expansionary fiscal spending on aggregate demand may lead to a resurgence in inflationary pressures,” according to NBK.

In his latest syndicated column, the political essayist and novelist Arthur Herman cites a new study by RAND Corp. Gregory Jones that predicts that if Iran’s centrifuges continue to produce enriched uranium, the world will be facing a nuclear Iran by the end of this summer.

“For example, we can expect the tide of the Arab Spring to flow decisively toward Iran as the new power center in the region, much as Eastern Europe did toward Adolf Hitler in the late 1930s,” writes Herman.

Even if Iran’s nuclear schedule is months slower than what RAND’s Jones predicts, that still means the country could possess nuclear weapons by the end of 2011.

Columnist Herman says he thinks Iran’s nuclear ambitions will be viewed by regional powers much like Hitler’s triumph over the Western democracies at Munich.

The regional arms race will accelerate, with Saudi, Egypt, and Jordan rushing to join that club. “Is there any way out of this nightmare – a way to avoid a new Dark Age? Certainly the time for action is running out,” says Herman.

This article was originally published in Trends.

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