Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Republican joins opposition to Saudi arms deal

by Kevin Bogardus from The Hill

“There is significant Republican concern,” said Mike Ferguson (R-N.J.), the lone GOP member of the group. The New Jersey Republican said that he has had several conversations with members from his own party, who are concerned but holding back for now. Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Washington declined to comment ... The kingdom is already well stocked with Washington advocates. Many of those were hired soon after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and have helped beat back legislation that could trouble the U.S.-Saudi relationship. One example is Qorvis Communications, which has conducted extensive media campaigns and subcontracted out to the Gallagher Group to lobby on the issue. Patton Boggs is also contracted with Saudi Arabia’s embassy. According to Justice Department records, lobbyists for the firm discussed with other lawmakers Saudi-related legislation offered by Weiner.

Edwards Rips White House-Saudi Arms Deal

from the Associated Press

Edwards said the United States should require the Saudi government to shut down the movement of terrorists across its borders, help stabilize the Iraqi government and participate more seriously in regional security before they are offered weapons. "Whether it's Iraq or terrorism, the Saudis have fallen way short of what they need to be doing," the 2004 vice presidential nominee told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "And the Bush administration's response is to sell them $20 billion worth of arms, which is short-term and convenient and not what the United States should be doing."

Dow Jones Industrials Skating on Thin Ice

by Gary Dorsch from The Market Oracle

Also spooking the DJI-30 is the escalating cost of crude oil, which topped $78 per barrel today, it's highest in 12-months, just shy of the record high of $78.40 per barrel. Higher oil prices fuel inflation, crimps disposable income of consumers, and dents corporate profits. On July 16th, Goldman Sachs predicted crude price could top $90 a barrel this autumn and hit $95 by the end of the year, if OPEC keeps oil production capped at current levels, of 26.6 million barrels per day ... The increase in global demand could outstrip the increase in new supplies, so OPEC finds itself firmly in the driver's seat. Oil and gas export revenue for OPEC's 12 members hit a record $649 billion in 2006, up 22% from the previous year, the cartel said in its Annual Statistical Bulletin . The biggest windfall went to Saudi Arabia with $193 billion, the UAE $70 billion, Iran $59 billion, Kuwait $54 billion, and Hugo Chavez's Venezuela's $48.4 billion.

US probes oil firms doing business in Nigeria

by Judith Burns from The Wall Street Journal

Eleven oil and oil-service companies received a July 2 letter from the Justice Department's criminal-fraud section asking them to detail their relationship with Panalpina World Transport Holding Ltd., a Swiss-based shipping and logistics-management company, according to individuals familiar with the matter. The Justice Department letter cited concerns about payments that might violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits U.S. companies from bribing foreign officials in order to win or keep business ... Panalpina said it is conducting an internal investigation and has been asked to provide documents to the Justice Department relating to services in Nigeria, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia for "a limited number of customers."

Jeddah graffiti: the writing's on the wall

by Andrew Hammond from Reuters

Jeddah gangs benefit from being from powerful families. Ordinary Saudis who dare to paint graffiti can pay a heavy price. A teenager in the northern desert town of Hafr al-Baten was sentenced in February to 60 lashes of the whip and fined 2,000 riyals ($530) for defacing walls in his school. "They are not from the working classes," said Abo Umara, adding most did not need to work. "They are looking for work that fits what they were brought up to expect." More connected to the outside world than previous generations, many of the more affluent Saudi youths wear the latest fashions and model themselves on Arab and Western stars. Badr al-Ghamdy, 20, said his generation of Saudis felt a sense of emptiness, or "faragh" in Arabic. "I can say in the name of all young people here that we are repressed. What you see here is us breaking the repression. We did graffiti, but someone else will get into fast street car racing, or someone else will get into drugs ... There are people in the dark and you don't see what happened to them."

A green light to oppression

by Brian Whitaker from The Guardian

Apart from Israel, which will receive $30bn in military aid, Egypt will get $13bn. Five Gulf states - Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE - will also be sold weaponry to the tune of $20bn, with the lion's share going to the Wahhabi regime in Riyadh. Thus, in the name of "working with these states to fight back extremism" (as secretary of state Condoleezza Rice put it), the US is arming two of the Arab world's leading human rights abusers: Saudi Arabia and Egypt. ... Viewed from Washington, bolstering tyrannical Sunni regimes against Iran might seem like pragmatism - a convergence of interests. But it's a dangerous sort of pragmatism because the American and Saudi interests are ultimately different. The Saudi government isn't really worried about Tehran; it's worried about keeping the lid on its Shia population in the oil-rich eastern province - and in the long term that can only rebound negatively on the US.

Interrupting a History of Tolerance – Part I

by Riaz Hassan from Yale Global

According to Matthias Kuntzel, a German political scientist, Islamism is an independent anti-Semitic and anti-modern ideology. Yet the German National Socialist (Nazi) government supported Hajj Amin el-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, the Islamic Brotherhood and the Palestinian Qassamites in translating the European anti-Semitism into an Islamic context. In 1931 radical Islamist Imam Izz al Din Al-Qassam set up a Salafi movement in Haifa that advocated return to the original Islam of the 7th century with a practice of militant jihad against the infidels. He was killed in a military encounter and Hamas’s suicide-bombing unit bears his name. Following the recommendation of the British Peel Commission in 1937 for the partition of Palestine, the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt also joined the anti-Jewish agitation and received financial and ideological support from German government agencies. Kuntzel maintains that the Zeesen transmitter transferred the anti-Semitic ideology to the Arab world, linking early Islamism with German National Socialism. Although radio Zeesen ceased operation in April 1945, its frequencies of hate continued to reverberate into the Arab World.