As protests and revolts play out in North Africa, much attention is shifting to the Persian Gulf. The concern is simple: If the social instability spreads to the world’s primary oil-production zone, the world could be in for a major supply shock. However, the real threat to the Persian Gulf states comes not from internal protests but from foreign-instigated unrest — specifically from Iran.
For many observers, the instability in North Africa bodes ill for the oil-rich Persian Gulf states, which constitute the world’s primary oil-producing region — and what bodes ill for the Persian Gulf would also be a grave concern for the global economy. But it is important to keep in mind that North African states are quite poor as a rule, while the Arab states of thePersian Gulf are among the richest locations on the planet, largely due to their petroleum wealth. Moreover, while Arab leaders in the Persian Gulf certainly take a large slice of the national wealth for themselves, they do not hoard all of the wealth as the regimes of Egyptand Libya traditionally have done.