Follow the Money…

or in this case, the oil.

Zero Hedge has on its website a fascinating map by Dr. Michael Izady at Columbia University that adds a dimension to the current tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia that many of us are only dimly aware of. So far, I’ve mainly heard of it as a Sunni/Shia conflict. Since Saudi Arabia is usually referred to as a Sunni, or even Salafist or Wahabi, country, there is a strong tendency to forget, on my part at least, that there is a Shiite minority within the country. What I did not realize was that much of Saudi Arabia’s oil is underneath Shiite majority regions.

What the map shows is that, due to a peculiar correlation of religious history and anaerobic decomposition of plankton, almost all the Persian Gulf’s fossil fuels are located underneath Shiites. This is true even in Sunni Saudi Arabia, where the major oil fields are in the Eastern Province, which has a majority Shiite population.

The recently executed Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr came from that area. Although Schwartz is not claiming at it is only oil fueling the conflict, it does add an additional dimension.

Because Iranians are not Arabs, I always think of them as being very separate from the Saudis. This map, focused on the Persian Gulf rather than on one of the countries shows how physically close they really are.

I don’t have anything of my own to add here and I don’t know entirely what to make of it or how much emphasis to put on it, but I think it’s very interesting.

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3 comments
  1. Superb precision. It’s a shame you don’t work in art history and we don’t work in the same team!

    • fojap said:

      Oh, sorry. I didn’t make that map. I made the ones of Mali.

      By the way, do you have a particular area of expertise. I went to a liberal arts college and my roommate was an art history major. I only took a couple of basic courses myself.

      • I didn’t mean the map, but the precision of your thought process.
        And yes, I have particular areas of expertise. In the old days we could just have one, but post-economic-crisis we’ve had to become more flexible 🙂

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