Predicting conflict

As I’ve written and said before, even though I spend more time (right now) with religious and ethnic identity as predictors of conflict, resource scarcity is a bigger concern for me. Yesterday,
the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said as much by emphasizing in particular how a future scarcity of oil and gas could lead to conflicts in Africa.

“Although most states would regard actual armed conflict as an extreme measure, intra-state conflicts with an energy resource dimension are likely to occur, particularly in Africa,” the institute warned in its yearbook published on Monday. “The strategic importance of geographical areas with rich oil and gas reserves will certainly rise: not only the Middle East but also Africa, Central Asia, South America and Southeast Asia will be areas of potential conflict in the coming decades.”

Energy security concerns were based on the rising global demand for energy, a tight oil market, high oil prices, rising import dependencies and the prospect of a future shortage of oil and gas. In the Middle East, “perhaps the most disturbing factor that may shape the future security dynamics of the region is the continuing expansion of Iran’s influence.” Iran could “at any moment” try to block the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important oil chokepoint where 17 million barrels of oil pass through each day, or about 20 percent of the global supply.

How can “we” (defined as whoever reads this) help forestall or even prevent wars based on resources scarcity?


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