Thursday, August 2, 2007

U.S. Assuring Arab States It Will Remain a Force in Mideast Post-Iraq

by Bernard Gwertzman from The Council on Foreign Relations

TAMARA COFMAN WITTES: (Senior Fellow, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution) "The Arab states—and especially Saudi Arabia—have been ambivalent about the survival of this Iraqi government, and somewhat reluctant to push their Sunni allies in Baghdad to come to terms with the Shiite factions on major issues. However well the military strategy might be going in Iraq right now with the surge, if the political strategy doesn’t succeed, the military accomplishments are going to dissipate very quickly. So the core concern for Secretary Rice right now is to get Arab states to weigh in as much as possible with the Sunni factions in Iraq and get them to stay at the table to make decisions on core issues like constitutional reform, oil revenue sharing, and the other things that have been sticking points in stabilizing the central government.

Sen. Brownback calls for a diplomatic surge in Iraq

by Jason Easley from Blogger News Network

While speaking in Des Moines, Iowa, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Sam Brownback outlined his idea of a diplomatic surge for Iraq that: "We need to do more to discourage foreign interference in Iraq. We must make it clear to Iran that we will not allow the mullahs to make part of Iraq their own... We need to send similar messages to Syria and Saudi Arabia. Iraq is presently weak, but it is a sovereign country. Instability in Iraq is not good for Syrian or Saudi Arabian security. When they give tacit permission for terrorists to enter Iraq through their territory, they are playing with fire. Such actions add to the conflict in Iraq and can only adversely affect their relationships with the United States.”

Expect oil to hit $100 a barrel and beyond

by Gwynne Dyer from The Japan Times

Nine of the last 10 serious downturns in the world economy followed a spike in the price of oil, and we are heading for another spike, with oil back up near the peak of $78.40 a barrel (3.8 liters) that it reached almost exactly a year ago. A record number of options contracts are now being sold that entitle customers to buy oil in the future at $100 a barrel. That tells you where the inside players think the price of oil is heading, since those options will only be of value if the price were actually above $100 a barrel.

Ankara closely watching Mideast arms race

by Lale Sarıibrahimoğlu from The Journal of Turkish Weekly

Nathan Hodge of the UK-based Jane's Defence Weekly (JDW) spoke to Radio Netherlands Worldwide on July 31, stating that the risk of weapons falling into extremist hands is leading members of Congress to oppose the plans for military aid. “There is always a risk involved when arms sales are going on ... Look at the example of Afghanistan in the 1980s, which ended up with a very significant arsenal, mostly of small arms but also of air missiles, which really helped feed a civil war there ... This is why you have a number of members of Congress in the United States already making clear that they will work to block the planned arms sales,” he said. Meanwhile a Turkish diplomatic source stressed that Turkey would also face increased danger of those weapons falling into the hands of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorists based in northern Iraq.

Jewish Dems Armed For Uphill Fight

by James D. Besser from The Jewish Week

“Given the weakness of Prime Minister [Ehud] Olmert’s government, one can assume he had no choice because the administration told him to support it,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan). Along with the Saudi arms deal, the administration is calling for a steep increase in military aid to Israel. Nadler said that reflects contradictory policies. “What they’re saying is that we’re going to endanger Israel by giving Saudi Arabia more advanced weapons, so we’ll offset it by giving Israel more aid,” he said. “That doesn’t make any sense to me.” ... The real threat to Saudi Arabia is “Shi’ite insurrection, not invasion by Iran,” said Shoshana Bryen, special projects director for the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) ... Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League , warned against a too-quick endorsement of the Saudi package. “The Jewish community should not automatically accept arms sales to the Saudis,” he said. “Serious questions need to be raised, and our community should not just roll over.”

‘Turkey can help to resolve tensions between cultures in Europe’

by Yonca Poyraz Dogan from Today's Zaman

ANDREW DUFF: (EU Parliament member and VP of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee) "We believe that society should tolerate dissent from the orthodoxy, non-conformism. We are trying to create a pluralistic tolerance in society. That includes people of Muslim faith. We have, I don’t know how many, 25 million Muslims inside the EU at present. It’s not correct to characterize the EU as a Christian club. We have a lot of problems with certain streams of Islam: fundamentalist Islam, Wahhabbi Islam, the Saudi brand of Islam. I feel that a Turkey inside of the EU, bringing its own brand of Anatolian Islam -- not European Islam in any full sets or contrived sets, but Turkish Islam which is freed of the prejudices and fundamentalism of Wahhabbis, would be excellent to blend Christianity and Islam and secular humanism."

Saudi Arabia won't let Christian surgeon leave

by Spero News

According to the International Christian Concern (ICC), a group of his Muslim colleagues targeted Dr. Mamdooh Fahmy as soon as he began his work at the Albyaan Menfhoh Medical Center in Riyadh in 2004. Repeatedly harassed to become a Muslim, Fahmy tired of avoiding conversation, and eventually told them that he was a Christian and would not change his religion. After this, his co-workers accused him of being a missionary. In a letter to ICC, Fahmy said that this is what happens in Saudi Arabia when you publicly acknowledge the Christian faith.