Here Are The 11 Countries At Risk Of Becoming The Next Libya


Photo: ap

The revolutions in North Africa have expanded from a tiny uprising in Tunisia, to a full blown Middle East revolt that has toppled governments and brought the west’s biggest powers to war.Now, with Tunisia finished, Egypt primed for elections, and Libya at war, who’s next?

We guide you through those candidates still in the midst of change, who have yet to see their regimes toppled. Some are countering with extreme force. Others are trying to appease their upset populations. But all remain under stress as protesters take to the streets.

Syria: President's regime now under threat

Investments to watch: None

Style of government: Single party authoritarian, President Bashar al-Assad

Conclusion: Though the economic situation is not as dire in Syria as in other countries, protesters have still stormed government buildings, burning some, and now threaten the stability of President Bashar al-Assad's regime. The president believes his partnership with Iran and support for the Palestinian cause will keep him safe, but recent evidence would suggest that's no longer the case.

Bahrain: Saudi Arabia helps to crush uprising

Investments to watch: WisdomTree Middle East Dividend Fund (GULF), Market Vectors Gulf States ETF (MES)

Style of government: Constitutional monarchy

Conclusion: Bahrain's majority Shia protest movement has been violently crushed by a combination of domestic authorities and aid from fellow GCC members, most notably Saudi Arabia. The assault has been brutal, but effective.

If Bahrain's protest movement does not receive external support from either the U.S. or Iran, it will likely fail. Each of those parties has something at stake in the conflict, however. The U.S . Navy has a key base in the country, from which it operates. And Iran is naturally allied with its fellow Shias.

The likely result, however, is a continuation of Saudi Arabia-Bahrain's brutal suppression tactics until calm is achieved.

Yemen: Government brutally su pressing protesters

Investments to watch: None

Style of government: Presidential democracy, elections not entirely free

Conclusion: Yemen's protest movement has been brutally attacked by government forces. On Friday, more than 20 people were killed in a government crackdown, with snipers firing on protesters. Just two days later, Yemen's president fired his government.

Yemen's future is tied to that of the region's main power, Saudi Arabia. If Saudi continues to run with a policy of fierce government crackdowns, Yemen's protest movement will continue to experience bloody days like Friday, and limited political change.

Saudi Arabia: The lynchpin holding the Gulf together

Investments to watch: WisdomTree Middle East Dividend Fund (GULF), Market Vectors Gulf States ETF (MES)

Style of government: Absolute Monarchy

Conclusion: Saudi Arabia is the regional key to preventing the Gulf from turning into North Africa. The government's willingness to use force against its own people, and against the populations of other GCC countries, has been evidenced.

For Saudi, this is as much about maintaining regional hegemony as it is about quieting a domestic disturbance. Their main rival is Iran, and Saudi Arabia's leadership will do everything it can to prevent Iran from influencing minority Shia populations throughout the Gulf.

Iran: Could Tehran try to move in on Bahrain?

Investments to watch: None

Style of government: Islamic Republic, with democratically elected representatives. Less than certain how 'democratic' elections truly are. Ruled by Supreme Leader, who is a both religious and political leader.

Conclusion: Iran has been dealing with protests domestically in the wake of the broader movement in the Middle East, but has thus far been successful in quelling the opposition. Iran had a massive revolution in 2009, which it quelled brutally.

It could soon attempt to interfere in Bahrain, where there is a large Shia population. This could bring it into a broader conflict with Saudi Arabia, and is likely the 'worst case scenario' on the mind of most geo-strategists.

Morocco: Reforms already lined up

Investments to watch: SPDR S&P Emerging Middle East & Africa ETF (GAF)

Style of government: Constitutional Monarchy

Conclusion: Morocco is now experiencing a protest movement calling for political reforms, even thought the country's King has made clear he is moving forward with such actions. Impatience is very much the order of the day, but protests here will likely speed up progress rather than overthrow the government or derail reform.

Jordan: King Abdullah tries to get ahead of the crisis

Investments to watch: SPDR S&P Emerging Middle East & Africa ETF (GAF)

Style of government: Constitutional monarchy, incorporating limited democracy

Conclusion: Jordan is continuing to experience protests against the government, even though the country's leadership has been reshuffled. Hundreds of people protested on Friday, again. The government is working to line up reforms to the country's constitution, and much like in Morocco, protesters are piling on the pressure for these reforms to be sped up.

Pakistan: Democracy under threat as state remains unstable

Investments to watch: Claymore's BNY Mellon Frontier Markets ETF (FRN)

Style of government: Democratic republic

Conclusion: Pakistan has a serious economic crisis, a weakness of state shown in recent flooding, confused positions over the U.S. and Taliban, as well as large anti-government, pro-Muslim fundamentalist forces.

The potential for change is there. The biggest power source remains the military, however, and another coup, similar to the one that brought Musharraf to power, could occur.

Vietnam: A sharp recession could lead to opposition against Communist rule

Investments to watch: Market Vectors Vietnam (VNM)

Style of government: Authoritarian capitalism

Conclusion: In Asia, Vietnam looks a likely candidate for protests, particularly if the economy slows down and unemployment increases. The economic trigger for a downturn would need to be pulled, however, before any change would take place.

Venezuela: Has Hugo Chavez outstayed his welcome?

Investments to watch: None

Style of government: Authoritarian republic

Conclusion: The economic numbers scream change, but there's no way to know whether or not Chavez has outstayed his welcome. The country hasn't had the same, long-term oppressive experience as a country like Egypt. And its leadership still appeals to the anti-American sentiment held by the populace.

China: Could a severe economic downturn derail the Chinese regime?

Investments to watch: iShares FTSE/Xinhua China 25 Index Fund (FXI), iShares MSCI Hong Kong Index Fund (EWH)

Style of government: Authoritarian

Conclusion: There's no guarantee rural China won't see an uprising related to soaring prices and high unemployment there, but it's unlikely to be passed on to the country's cities. It would take a massive economic downturn, like one created by a liquidity crisis leading to a banking crisis leading to a recession, to trigger an unemployment surge that would threaten the regime.

A small protest movement, referred to the Jasmine Revolution, is developing, and may yet hold more protests.

Think all that matters is the surge in food prices?

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