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UPDATED 11:15 AM EST
Saudi Arabia Scrambles to Limit Region’s Upheaval: NEW YORK TIMES
Neil MacFarquhar | 5/27/11
“Saudi Arabia is flexing its financial and diplomatic might across the Middle East in a wide-ranging bid to contain the tide of change, shield fellow monarchs from popular discontent and avert the overthrow of any more leaders struggling to calm turbulent republics. From Egypt, where the Saudis dispensed $4 billion in aid last week to shore up the ruling military council, to Yemen, where it is trying to ease out the president, to the kingdoms of Jordan and Morocco, which it has invited to join a union of Gulf monarchies, Saudi Arabia is scrambling to forestall more radical change and block Iran’s influence.”
Saudi Bid to Curb Iran Worries U.S.: WALL STREET JOURNAL
Matthew Rosenberg, Jay Solomon and Margaret Coker | 5/27/11
“Saudi Arabia is rallying Muslim nations across the Middle East and Asia to join an informal Arab alliance against Iran, in a move some U.S. officials worry could draw other troubled nations into the sectarian tensions gripping the Arab world. Saudi officials have approached Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Central Asian states to lend diplomatic support—and potentially military assistance in some cases—to help stifle a majority Shiite revolt in Sunni-led Bahrain, a conflict that has become a symbol of Arab defiance against Iran. Saudi Arabia’s efforts, though against a common enemy, signal increasing friction with the Obama administration.”
Saudi Arabia, Iran And America In The Wake Of The Arab Spring: ADVANCING A FREE SOCIETY
Joshua Teitelbaum | 5/24/11
“Many in the West have looked upon the “Arab Spring” with hopeful optimism. But for the rulers of Riyadh the Arab Spring’s primary result has been a shaking of the strategic foundation and alignments that have shaped Saudi regional policy since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The Saudis had previously believed that they were the leaders, with US backing, of a united Sunni coalition against Shiite Iran. Now its partners have fallen by the wayside – Egypt appears to be dropping out, Bahrain is threatened, and the US is wobbly. And, US President Obama’s speech on May 19 did not calm the Saudis down.”
More Saudi Women Record Driving Videos: NEW YORK TIMES/THE LEDE
Robert Mackey | 5/26/11
“Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi activist who was arrested this week for encouraging women to defy Saudi Arabia’s ban on women drivers, will be detained for at least 10 more days, her lawyer told The Associated Press on Thursday. Since her arrest, as Robert Booth and Mona Mahmood have reported at The Guardian, several other Saudi women have recorded video clips of themselves driving and posted them on a Facebook page dedicated to her. The page has more than 20,000 fans.” DON’T POLITICIZE THE ISSUE OF WOMEN DRIVING: Tariq Alhomayed (Al Arabiya) comments that, “The basic problem is that the debate over women’s right to drive [in Saudi Arabia] has been transformed into a show of force. If women were allowed to drive, this would mean a victory for one trend over another, whilst if they are not allowed, this is evidence of the strength of one trend against the other… I would say that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with women driving, and this is something that can be implemented calmly. However what is most important is that this issue must not be politicized, because that is in no one’s interest.”
Arabia 3D: Film Review: HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
Kirk Honeycutt | 5/26/11
In a mere 45 minutes, veteran Imax filmmaker Greg MacGillivray, manages to suggest the wonder and breadth of the human, physical and cultural experience that is Saudi Arabia.
Wael Mahdi | 5/26/11
“Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, generated $214.9 billion from exports of crude last year, Jadwa Investment Co. estimated.”
Saudi Arabia Ahead In GCC Construction Race: AL ARABIYA
Eman El-Shenawi | 5/27/11
“Saudi Arabia has swept the United Arab Emirates off the top spot in the regional construction race with plans to generate higher funds towards the Kingdom’s construction sector. The Kingdom plans to generate nearly $450 billion in construction contracts in the next five years compared to $400 billion in the UAE, according to data released at the Arabian World Construction Summit in Abu Dhabi.
Saudi Electricity Demand To Increase Dramatically By 2020, Says Chief Of Electricity Board: AL ARABIYA
Faisal Abbas | 5/26/11
“The CEO and President of the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), Ali Al-Barrak, has called upon foreign investors to take advantage of what he described as “good investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia”.”
U.S. Businesses Wanted: In Saudi Arabia: GULF COAST BUSINESS REVIEW
Jay Brady | 5/27/11
Architects, engineers, construction managers and manufacturers of exterior and interior building materials who are looking for a boost in the wake of the recession may want to put an event June 6 on their calendar. That is, if they’re looking to find out how they might get a piece of the $1.4 trillion Saudi Arabia plans to spend in the next 10 years to implement its national development plan.
MIDDLE EAST ‘PULLED TOWARD ASIA BY ECONOMICS AND AFFINITY’
“The rise of Asia just might be one of the most consequential geo-economic and geopolitical trends since the 19th century Industrial Revolution lifted Europe and the United States to economic prominence. The growing ties between West Asia and East Asia will drive this growth. It’s time we put a forward-looking commercial geographic lens on and put aside the tired geographical misnomer of a long deceased imperial strategist,” Afshin Molavi (SUSRIS/The National) writes.
ZAKARIA: WHERE NETANYAHU FAILS HIMSELF AND ISRAEL
“The path to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been clear for 20 years. Israel would cede most of the land it conquered in the 1967 war to a Palestinian state, keeping the major settlement blocks. In return, it would get a series of measures designed to protect its security. That’s why the process is called land for peace. The problem is that Netanyahu has never believed in land for peace. His strategy has been to put up obstacles, create confusion and wait it out. But one day there will be peace, along the lines that people have talked about for 20 years. And Netanyahu will be remembered only as a person before the person who made peace, a comma in history.”
WIKILEAKS: SPECULATORS HELPED CAUSE OIL BUBBLE
“Goldman Sachs, while outrageously predicting a “super spike” that might cause oil to reach as high as $200 a barrel, blamed piggish American consumers and preached conservation as a bulwark against oil supply disruptions. The bank’s “Oracle of Oil,” Arjun Murti, even broadcast the fact that he owned two hybrid cars,” writes Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone). “Well, thanks to Wikileaks, we now know that when the Bush administration reached out to the Saudis in the summer of ’08 to ask them to increase oil production to lower prices, the Saudis responded by saying they were having a hard time finding buyers for their oil as it was, and instead asked the Bush administration to rein in Wall Street speculators.”
ANALYSIS: ROBERT GATES’ FAREWELL ADDRESS
Stephen Walt (FP) writes, in a summary of Gates’ farewell address, that Gates “had the advantage of succeeding Donald Rumsfeld — whose combination of arrogance and incompetence could make anyone look good by comparison — but Gates has also shown remarkable balance, common-sense and imagination in dealing with one of the world’s more challenging managerial jobs.”
AFGHANISTAN: GERMANY IS MEDIATING SECRET US-TALIBAN PEACE TALKS
“The German government is mediating secret talks on German soil between the US government and representatives of the Taliban. Berlin is cautiously optimistic that the negotiations will deliver progress, but observers warn that the insurgents’ morale remains high,” Der Spiegel reports.
US: CHICAGO BUSINESSMAN ACCUSED OVER MUMBAI ATTACKS TESTIFIES
“Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana is accused in the 2008 Mumbai rampage that left more than 160 people dead, and for planning an attack that was never carried out on a Danish newspaper. He pleaded not guilty to the charges, including material support to terrorism,” Dawn reports.
OPINION: GOP UNWAVERING SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL IS DANGEROUS
“It is certainly appropriate for members of Congress to disagree with the president’s foreign-policy agenda. But it’s something else altogether to be appearing to work in concert with the leader of another country in trying to put the president on the defensive — and seeking to score a partisan political advantage in the process. By openly siding with Netanyahu against Obama and making Arab-Israeli peace a partisan issue, Republicans in Congress are at serious risk of crossing a dangerous line and in the process undermining U.S. interests in the Middle East,” Michael A. Cohen (FP) writes.
BAHRAIN: GOVERNMENT BOND RATINGS DOWNGRADED
“Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded Bahrain’s government bond ratings by one notch to Baa1 from A3, and assigned a negative outlook to the rating. Today’s rating action concludes the review for possible downgrade that Moody’s initiated on 23 February 2011,” FT’s Alphaville Blog reports.
/The daily news is provided as a service of the Saudi-US Trade Group, Washington, DC. Visit www.SUSTG.org for more information and to get a free email subscription to the News Review./</h4></div>