After years of punishing and counterproductive austerity, it seems Greece is finally ready to elect the leftist anti-austerity Syriza party. This could signal a writeoff of Greek debt and an exit from the Euro. Frankly, I'm amazed that something "unfortunate" hasn't happened to Tsiparas (suicide, car crash, etc.). Hopefully that doesn't mean he'll change his stripes once in office.
Greece’s collapse is officially worse than the US Great Depression (Quartz)
After casting his vote, Syriza leader Alexist Tsipras told the BBC that "the vicious circle of austerity is over". He has said his party would restore "dignity" to Greece by rolling back cuts to jobs, pay and pensions which have hurt millions of people across the country.Now it seems that at the sole of the boot that is the Arabian peninsula, Yemen has fallen into chaos. This is another epicenter of collapse - too many people, too few jobs, too weak a government, and not enough water or food to sustain the whole thing, combined with a quasi-medieval world view and tribal social structure. Somalia, the perennial cautionary tale for Libertarians, is nearby as well.
The possibility of a Syriza victory has sparked fears that Greece could default on its debt and leave the euro - the single currency of 19 EU members.This is despite the fact that Syriza has moderated its stance since the peak of the eurozone crisis, and says it wants Greece to stay a member of the currency.
And in between the march of ISIS and Yemen, is of course, Saudi Arabia, home to most of the world's oil and where the King has died at an almost impossibly bad time. The King was apparently popular, whereas his successor is widely hated (and probably senile to boot). As Naked Capitalism opined, "This is a huge deal, one the CIA and State Department have long dreaded. The old king was loved and the Crown Price is despised."
For years I've heard that the nightmare scenario was a radical Jihadi takeover of Saudi Arabia which would shut down the oil pipeline to the West. Now it seems like after twenty years of hearing that, there is almost a perfect storm to make this happen. Between ISIS in Iraq and the militants in Yemen, it seems like there is a real possibility for Islamic fundamentalists to take over the holy cities and kick out the infidel. Much of the population living under the constant terror of drone strikes and extrajudicial assassination would probably welcome it at this point.
I'm not a military analyst, but John Robb is, and he's got a few posts about this over at his site Global Guerrillas:
Saudi Arabia's Kryptonite
Abdullah is Dead. ISIS has an opportunity to flip the Kingdom. Here's how.
Saudi Arabia Plunges into an Abyss
It seems ISIS is already attacking high-ranking Saudi officials - they killed a general recently at the border, something that nobody seems to have heard about in all the Charlie Hebdo news (coincidence?). The Hebdo massacre itself seems interestingly timed given all of the above as Robb points out. The Yemen branch affiliated with Al-Qaeda appears to be behind the Hebdo massacre.
In a podcast I was listening to last night, someone jokingly suggested that a big attack was coming due to the release of American Sniper - a patriot-porn film of pure, unadulterated military propaganda that is already causing increases in military recruitment and death threats against Muslim Americans. They also suggested that old Clint may have not had the mental faculties at his age to direct this thing given his age and his performance across from the empty chair at the last Republican convention. They wondered whether the Pentagon is the real director behind the scenes and put Clint's name on it to make it more high profile. Probably just idle speculation but fun to think about.
Of course if Saudi Arabia falls to militant Jihadis and the oil wells shut down, this will send the industrialized world, heck the whole world, into a tailspin of chaos that will make the seventies oil embargoes look like a cakewalk by comparison. Forget two dollar gas and get ready for five dollar a gallon gas, at least. Russia, Venezuela and Iran will get their groove back, and there's not enough oil in America's fracked crust to smooth over this ugly scenario.
The Archdruid Report has been sounding uncharacteristically apocalyptic lately. I wonder if this is part of the reason. If it were me, and I were a betting person, I would put this forward as the apocalyptic scenario that leads to the unraveling of the whole industrial experiment. Maybe Ebola will make a comeback to boot. the fact that this is all going down as the world's oligarchs are meeting at Davos is just another bit of irony. From their elite privilege bubble, the clueless and feckless oligarchs are presiding over a collapsing world.