Sunday 21 January 2018

Why oil is a burning issue for world's superpowers

The presence of a Chinese frigate off the coast of Libya last week was deeply significant as the world's major powers position themselves to protect future supplies of fuel, says Praveen Swami

A rebel soldier pushes towards the frontline as a truck burns after being destroyed by Libyan government soldiers yesterday
A rebel soldier pushes towards the frontline as a truck burns after being destroyed by Libyan government soldiers yesterday

Praveen Swami

'In the beginning," wrote Hubertus van Mook in a rueful commentary soon after Japanese forces evicted him from his position as lieutenant-governor of the Dutch East Indies, "it was difficult to piece together this whole connected movement from the apparently disconnected moves."

Back in 1941, a Japanese carrier fleet tore across the oceans to what is now Indonesia, seeking control of what was then the fourth-largest oil-producing state in the world.

If the shots fired in Libya are not to prove the first exchanges in a future world war, now is a good time for world leaders to consider Mr Mook's story, and to start making sense of "the whole connected movement" of events in the Middle East.

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