ARABIALINK Daily News – Excerpts from International Media Reports
/Provided as a service from the Saudi-US Trade Group, Washington, DC/
Jeff Mason and Matthew Robinson | 2/25/12
Saudi Arabia has raised crude exports and the United States is considering releasing oil from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve as crude-oil prices hit nine-month highs on Friday and concerns deepened over Iran’s nuclear program. The Brent crude price surged to more than $125 a barrel after the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog issued a report flagging the potential military nature of Iran’s nuclear program, following an aborted U.N. inspection mission to Iran this week. SENATOR SCHUMER TELLS CLINTON TO ASK SAUDI TO PUMP MORE: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wants Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to press Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s dominant oil producer, to boost output as rising prices are hitting consumers at the gasoline pump, Ben Geman (The Hill) writes.
As we take stock of the increasing prospects for a military confrontation between Iran and an international coalition we are mindful of the recent deployment of equal measures of blustery rhetoric and military forces for power projection demonstrations. The escalating tensions have reenergized the armchair admirals who seek to shape the conversation. Sadly much of the conversation ignores many of the facts on the ground. We are fortunate, however, that Anthony H. Cordesman, Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, and his colleagues, have produced a collection of very valuable reports on the “Gulf Military Balance.” We were also fortunate to have learned about a well researched report from Kenneth Katzman and his colleagues at the Congressional Research Service addressing “Iran’s Threat to the Strait of Hormuz.”
Wael Mahdi | 2/27/12
Saudi Arabia plans to invest $107 billion over the next five years to boost oil, natural-gas, and refining production capacity, al-Eqtisadiah newspaper said, citing Majid al-Moneef, an adviser to the oil minister.
Samba Upbeat On State Of Saudi Banks: CPI FINANCIAL
According to Samba, the Saudi banking system is well protected against eurozone stresses (notwithstanding the uptick in SAIBOR) and that Saudi banks are well capitalized, with the average capital adequacy ratio being 17, which compares with a Basel II minimum of 8.
Nadia Saleem and Yasmine Saleh | 2/27/12
Saudi Arabia’s bourse extended its rally on Monday and trading value hit a new high amid a trend of investment shift to equities, while most regional markets fell in profit-taking.
Japanese bank Nomura has received approval from the Saudi market regulator to offer international investors access to the kingdom’s stock market, the bank said on Monday.
G20 Meet Focuses On Dialogue: ARAB NEWS
Speakers at the G20 countries decided to form a mechanism of dialogue between energy producers and consumers to contribute to the growth and stability of the global economy and energy markets and they also vehemently condemned all forms of terrorism, racism, discrimination and xenophobia.
Syria Slams Saudi Arabia: SAN FRANCISCO GATE
Syria lashed out at Saudi Arabia on Saturday — a day after the kingdom’s foreign minister backed the idea of arming the rebels fighting President Bashar Assad’s regime — accusing Riyadh of becoming “a partner” in the bloodshed in Syria.
Saudi Ctrl Bk To Keep Key Rates Unchanged In March: WALL STREET JOURNAL
The Saudi central bank has decided to keep its key interest rates unchanged in March, as inflation pressures remain under control, people familiar with the matter said Sunday.
The Saudi Defence Ministry allowed Iranian naval vessels to dock at one of its ports in the Red Sea earlier this month during a training mission, Saudi Arabia’s Defence Ministry spokesman said on Sunday.
Derba Group, an amalgam of three Ethiopian companies owned by Saudi billionaire Mohammed al- Amoudi, said it plans to invest 59 billion birr ($3.4 billion) in seven industrial projects over the next five years.
Saudi Considers Admitting Women To Religious Police Force: DIGITAL JOURNAL
Katerina Nikolas | 2/26/12
Saudi Arabia is reportedly considering allowing women to join the ranks of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice as religious police.
Arab News | 2/26/12
Chairman of the Shoura Council Abdullah Al-Asheikh said in Riyadh on Friday night that the hosting of the third high-profile consultative meeting of the G20 speakers represents “international recognition” for the Shoura Council and its success in carrying out its legislative duties.
Saudi Arabia and Syria — Iran Is in the Background: HUFFINGTON POST
Josef Olmert | 2/27/12
Sheikh Awad Al-Qarni is a prominent and well-respected Saudi cleric. Alongside his well-documented Islamic scholarship he is a fan of offering prize money towards causes dear to him. In the past, he offered $100,000 to the kidnapper and murderer of an Israeli soldier. These days, the benevolent Sheikh offers the same amount of money to the good Muslim who will assassinate Bashar Assad of Syria. Doing that, so the cleric declared, is an obligation more important even than killing an Israeli soldier.
Google’s G|Saudi Arabia 2.0 Returns In March: SAUDI GAZETTE
Google, Inc will be hosting its second g|saudi arabia 2.0 event in this city on March 24-25, the tech giant has announced.
Saudi Arabia was shrouded in darkness Sunday afternoon as a sandstorm blanketed the cities of Riyadh, Qassim, King Fahad and Khurais, officials said. RAW VIDEO: Video footage from the sandstorm from Youtube can be viewed here.
SYRIA: EU FOREIGN MINISTERS IMPOSE MORE SANCTIONS ON SYRIAN REGIME
European Union foreign ministers said Monday they were increasingly appalled by the Syrian government’s ruthless campaign of repression against civilians, and imposed new sanctions in hopes of pressuring the regime to change course, AP/Washington Post reports. NEW CHARTER APPROVED, BUT OPPOSITION BOYCOTTED VOTE: The Syrian Interior Ministry announced Monday as fighting continued to rage that a referendum held the day before had approved a new constitution by a margin of almost 90 percent, the New York Times reports.
IRAN: STRUGGLING WITH THE ADVANCED CENTRIFUGES
Iran is still relying on old technology to expand its nuclear program, in what may be a sign it is having difficulties developing modern machines that could speed up production of potential bomb material, Jerusalem Post reports. IRAN DENIES GREECE OIL SHIPMENTS: Iran has refused to give Greece a shipment of 500,000 barrels of crude oil in a retaliatory measure against European Union sanctions on the Islamic state’s lifeblood, oil, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Sunday, Reuters reports.
AFGHANISTAN: TALIBAN SET OFF CAR BOMB AT JALALABAD AIRPORT
A Taliban suicide car bomber has killed at least nine people and wounded 10 others in an attack at Jalalabad airport in eastern Afghanistan, BBC reports. ON QURAN BURNING, US APOLOGIES SOUND EMPTY: Book burning can universally spark visceral reactions, especially when holy texts are denigrated, but the reactions of Afghan mobs across the country can strike Westerner observers as over the top, especially when the disrespect shown the Koran in this case seems to have been, as President Obama said, “inadvertent.’’ But in a way, that makes the insult worse. Muslims in Afghanistan can ask: After a decade in our midst, do you really understand so little? James Carrol (Boston Globe) reports.
EGYPT: COURT PROCEEDINGS BEGIN AGAINST NGOs
An Egyptian court moved forward Sunday with judicial proceedings that target four U.S. pro-democracy groups, but none of the American defendants attended the first day of the trial, Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reports.
YEMEN: SALEH TO LEAVE
After seeing his three-decade rule come to an end, Yemen’s former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, will leave the country for Ethiopia this week, ruling party officials said Monday, CNN reports.
ISRAEL: $1.6 BILLION ARMS DEAL WITH AZERBAIJAN
Israeli defense officials on Sunday confirmed $1.6 billion in deals to sell drones as well as anti-aircraft and missile defense systems to Iran, AP reports.
PAKISTAN: BIN LADEN’S HOME RAZED
Pakistani authorities have reduced the house where Osama bin Laden lived for years before he was killed by U.S. commandos to rubble, destroying a concrete symbol of the country’s association with one of the world’s most reviled men, AP reports.
LIBYA: NEW EVIDENCE CASTS DOUBT ON LOCKERBIE CASE
Fresh scientific evidence unearthed by a Scottish legal review undermines the case against the man convicted of being responsible for the Lockerbie aircraft bombing, an investigation for Al Jazeera has found.
OPINION: PROS AND CONS OF A POSSIBLE IRANIAN STRIKE
For certain states, particularly Israel, the economic sanctions lack the power to curb the Iranians, and there is an urgent need for media propaganda to make the public opinion ready for a war on Iran. Even Leon Panetta, US Secretary of Defense, has predicted that an Israeli attack will be launched in the April-to-June 2012 period. But the pros and cons on attacking Iran remain a major problem, Shahrzad Maftooh (IR Diplomacy) writes.
OPINION: ISRAEL CAN’T AFFORD TO STAY SILENT IN FACE OF PROTESTS
The Israeli government represents a public that wants to hear it express a clear moral stance on the Syrian uprising and even a willingness to provide humanitarian aid, an editorial in Haaretz writes.
/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>