The New Historical Era Seen From Space: The Case of the Middle East

By Kenneth Maxwell

Looking at Arabia this weekend the little green men in outer space must have been completely flummoxed by what they spied from the heavens.

To the west on the  Mediterranean coast of the Arabian Peninsula in Gaza there was a vicious war resumed with both sides claiming biblical authority. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, cited the book of Samuel: “You must remember what Amalek has done to you says our Holy Bible.” The passage urged the Jews to smite the Amalekites after they launched a vicious surprise attack on the Jewish people. The biblical commandment was to completely destroy all of the Amaleks, including babies, property, animals, everything.

Hamas and Hezbollah also wage Holy War. They also kill babies and destroy property and animals. They also wish to exterminate all Israelis in the name of their God (actually the same Abrahamic God) and drive them into the sea. On 7 October Hamas brutally killed at least 1,200 Israelis and kidnapped 240. After ending the temporary “pause” in the Gaza War on Friday, with 137 Israeli hostages still held by Hamas, Netanyahu vowed to deliver on Gaza and its hapless Palestinians “the mother of all thumpings.”

The Israeli military is once again indeed giving Gaza a thumping. Over 15,000 Palestinians have been killed since the war began, among them very many women and 6000 children in the relentless Israeli bombardment and ground invasion. Many more Palestinians are already and will surely continue to die.

Meanwhile on the other side of Arabian Peninsula on the western shores of the Persian Gulf, 167 World Leaders are gathered for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) chaired by Sultan al-Jaber. They include President Macron, Prime Minister Modi, President Erdogan, President Cyril Ramaphosa, Prime Minister Sunak (for a mere eleven hours), German Chancellor Olaf Schulz, and assorted Middle Eastern Kings, Sultans and potentates, and the vice-president of the US, Camila Harris, among others. But not the leaders of the two most egregious global polluters, President for life Xi Jinping of China and President Joe Biden of the United States. Those who were assembled in Dubai were solemnly admonished at the opening ceremony by none other than the Green King.

King Charles III of Great Britain and Northern Ireland “and of His other Realms and Territories King, Head of the Commonwealth and Defender the Faith,” (faith in the other Abrahamic God that is). King Charles is famous for his long-term dedication to the environment and to cultivating and talking to the flowers in his garden at Highgrove House in Gloucestershire. His Aston Martin at his vast estate at Balmoral in Aberdeen in Scotland, is run on “a blend of English white wine and whey from the cheese process.”

But as a consultant on alternative fuel observed the Kings’s car is a “boutique” case and is not “scalable” as a model. The King also said that “I haven’t eaten meat and fish on two days a week and I don’t eat dairy one day a week.” 70,000 people are attending COP28 in Dubai. Getting there by commercial and private jets is estimated to added 210 tons of CO2 to the atmosphere.

King Charles, Rishi Sunak, and Baron Cameron on Chipping Norton (that is former PM David Cameron now the British Foreign Secretary) all flew separately from the UK by private jet to Dubai to join what Bloomberg news called “the celebrity studded gathering of rich people.” But King Charles at least got a respite from the consequences of the publication of Omid Scobie’s book on the royal family and the naming of him and the princess of Wales as the people who talked about the skin color of the then unborn first child Prince Harry and Meghan Markel (that is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex) There are it seems some small mercies to be found in hot places, even at COP28.

The immensely rich UAE is of course one the world largest exporter of hydrocarbons. Sultan al-Jaber is also the head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc). Last year Adnoc pumped 2.7m barrels of oil and is expected to double this by 2027. Leaked documents published by the BBC and the Center for Climate Change showed that fossil fuel business was being planned to be conducted in bilateral meetings at the climate summit. China’s Ministry of ecology and the environment, Zhao Yingmin, was promoting a “strategic partnership” with Abu Dhabi. As well it might.

Chinese sales and trading with Abu Dhabi last year amounted to $15b. Abu Dhabi was also interested in the Brazilian petrochemical company Braskem where Adnoc is a major bidder in a very controversial potential deal where the support of Lula could well be critical. Braskem is Latin America’s largest petrochemical company and a top thermoplastic resin producer with 36 industrial plants in Brazil, the US. Mexico and Germany. Another  bidder is JBS which ia Brazil’s top beef producer whose major customers are China and the Middle East.

On the First of December, moreover, Brazil took over the presidency of the G-20. President Inácio Lula da Silva is attending COP28 in Dhabi. He is a key player in the expanded BRICS which now incorporates the oil producing Gulf States including the UAE. Lula has been an outspoken critic of Israel and of the war in Ukraine. He says the UN general security council is “insane.”

Brazil intends to greatly expand its already powerful oil and gas sector by more off shore drilling, including off the mouth of the mighty Amazon river. Marina da Silva, Brazil environmental minister, is also at COP28. Brazil is doing deals with China which is a major importer of liquefied gas and oil and of Brazilian soya and beef. Former Brazilian president and Lula’s key ally and protégée, Dilma Rousseff, is the president of the BRICS bank based in Shanghai.

Sultan al-Jaber did not help matters by claiming that: “There is no science that says that the phase-out of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5C.”

That is the reduction of carbon emissions w hich is after all the purpose of the meeting in Dubai.

President Inácio Lula da Silva took 12 minister with him to COP28.  He is considering  joining OPEC (Petroleum Exporting Countries). The Brazilian Minister of Mines and Energy, Alexandre Silveira, said on the first day of the COP28 meeting in Dubai that Brazil “intends to join.”

Meanwhile in Brazil Braskem is being sued in a lawsuit for $R1b (US$ 293m) over the shrinking ground from its Alagoas rock salt mines under Maceió in North Eastern Brazil where whole urban areas have seen the forced evacuation of thousands of residents to escape the imminent destruction of their homes and whose houses are cracking and crumbling.

Braskem is currently mainly owned by Petrobras, the Brazilian state owned petroleum behemoth, and by Novonor (which is the new name for Odebrecht, the giant Brazilian construction and chemical and petrochemical company which was caught up in the vast national and international corruption Lava Jato (car-wash) investigations and prosecutions of the corruption scandals during Lula’s last term in office).

And in the middle of the Arabian Peninsula, the immensely rich oil rich Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, ruled de facto by crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) is busy “sports washing.” He has invested US$50b in sports since 2016. These investments included  a ten-year contract with world wrestling entertainment and a US$332m bid (so far unsuccessful) for the French soccer star, Kylan Mbappe. When he was questioned about sports washing he replied: “I don’t care.  I have I% growth in GDP from sport and I am going for another I.5%.” MBS also knows that sport has much more global penetration than politicians and reaches many more people in Europe, South America and Asia. He learnt this from Qatar’s very successful hosting of the soccer World Cup last year.

The Saudi backed LIVGolf is as its Australian  promoter, Greg Norman, says “a carrot too hard to resist.”  Major Golf champions have opted out of the PGA tour for LIVGolf, including Dustin Johnson who pocketed US$18m as a promotion bonus taking his earning to more than US$30m.

The Portuguese world soccer star, Cristiano Ronaldo, has joined the Saudi pro-League and even appeared smiling glad in flowing Arabian gear. In October it was confirmed by FIFA that Saudi Arabia was the sole bidder of the 2024 soccer world cup. All this a part  of MBS’s ambitious “Vision 2030” initiatives. Where Saudi money is concerned there is not much room for “human rights” concerns or for the memory of the Saudi backed assassination and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Meanwhile up in outer space the little green men observing what is happening in Arabia will be scratching their little green heads and moving on with their UFO’s to another planet within the solar system with more promising landing spots.

Credit Photo: Dreamstime

Photo 84956623 © ArchitectureVIZ |