Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Why Saudi Arabia? Why Now?

by Col. Daniel Smith, U.S. Army (Ret.) from Foreign Policy In Focus

There is also the sense among some members of Congress that the Saudis have not acted to control the soaring costs of energy. In the run-up to the 2004 elections, the Saudis allegedly promised they would increase production if necessary to preclude a price spike that might hurt the reelection prospects of the Bush-Cheney ticket. Once the U.S. election was concluded, however, the Saudis did little if anything to curb higher prices – first to $40 and then to $50 per barrel – pleading market forces beyond their control. Coincidentally with the announcement of the proposed arms sale, the price of a barrel of oil hit $78. Yet there was only silence from the Saudis. From the perspective of the hard-liners in George W. Bush’s White House, the Saudis were undercutting every American goal in the Middle East, particularly the current president’s vision of a democratic Iraq as the seedbed for transforming autocratic regimes to democracies.

Business Interests Trump National Security

by Joseph Puder from The Philadelphia Bulletin

In his new book America's Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier, Robert Vitalis demolishes the myth of the "special relationship" between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. This "special relationship" was basically a deal engineered by the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO) that would provide cheap Saudi oil for American security. Through the years this agreement has benefited the Saudis when President Eisenhower agreed to train Ibn Saud's army, when President Kennedy sent jets to defend the kingdom, and when President Lyndon Johnson [memo #56] sold them missiles. Vitalis points out that "oil and ARAMCO quickly became America's largest single overseas private investment." ... The original deal with the Saudis, as described by Vitalis, has been nothing but one-sided: The U.S. provides security for the Saudis, while they sell us expensive oil (at times even cutting production) and embargoing oil shipment, as they did in 1973.

LUKoil dismisses charges of price fixing in U.S.

from RIA Novosti

Russian business daily Kommersant reported that U.S.-based Green Oil had filed a claim against LUKoil, Saudi company Aramco, and state-owned Venezuelan producer PdVSA on charges of price fixing, demanding that the companies sell their U.S. assets, worth a total of $25 million. The LUKoil spokesman said: "The Green Oil allegations, made in a claim filed with the Illinois District Court, are entirely untrue," adding that the company is preparing to file a counter claim. Green Oil, a bio-product company, alleged that the three companies have for years been artificially manipulating production quotas and setting unjustified prices for crude oil and petroleum products, harming independent gas station owners in the United States. It said that January 1, 2002, Saudi Aramco, PdVSA and LUKoil agreed with oil companies in Oman, Mexico, Norway and Angola to reduce production for six months, which caused a rise in wholesale and retail oil and oil product prices in the U.S. market.

Behind the Indoctrination and Training of American Jihadis

by Chris Heffelfinger from The Jamestown Foundation

Based out of Falls Church, Virginia, the informal jihadi group was led by Ali al-Timimi. A U.S. citizen, al-Timimi was sentenced to life in prison for soliciting others to levy war against the United States. Eleven people were charged in total in the case, and the prosecutors successfully argued that the network was part of the jihadi threat akin to al-Qaeda. Al-Timimi was born in Washington, DC, his father a lawyer for the Iraqi Embassy. At age 15, he moved with his family to Saudi Arabia. While there, he grew interested in Islam, invariably the Salafi variety that is espoused by the Saudi religious establishment. After returning to the United States, he received a Ph.D in computational biology from George Mason University. In addition to his academic pursuits, al-Timimi was an Islamic teacher in the northern Virginia area. Yet, he was also involved with the Islamic Assembly of North America (IANA), a group based in Ann Arbor, Michigan that receives funding from Saudis to promote Salafi Islam in the United States, especially in the prison system.

JI suspect bares Metro bomb plot

from ABS-CBN News

A suspected member of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) group has confessed to policemen about the alleged plan to launch terrorist attacks in Metro Manila. The suspect identified as Kaharudin Usman Talib admitted in an interview with ABS-CBN News that he and two other Indonesian JI members were involved in the bombing of the Yellow Bus terminal in Koronadal, South Cotobato last Friday ... Members of the Muslim Legal Assistance Foundation Inc., the Bangsamoro Lawyers' Network and the Association of Muslim Advocates of Law said Talib is innocent and that he went to Manila from his hometown in Maguindanao to apply for work in Saudi Arabia ... The Philippine government has tagged JI as the Southeast Asian arm of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network. Authorities said JI has been training its members along with some Philippine rebel groups in mainland Mindanao and other smaller islands down south. The JI has also been named suspect in several bomb attacks in Metro Manila and Mindanao.

New TV Channel Aims to ‘Confront Cultural Invasion’

by Walaa Hawari from Arab News

Saleh Abdulrahman Al-Abdullateef, director of Al-Motahadeth Company for Communication and Information Technology, signed the deal with Arabsat, which will be telecasting the channel’s programs. Al-Abdullateef said that the Al-Motahadeth Channel aspired to become the voice of the so-called “Saudi Street” and would present a broad program mix including discussion of religious topics, as well as significant events in Saudi society. The channel will also have an education and cultural content. Announcing the launch of Al Motahadeth, Al-Abdullateef said that the new venture was a response to the cultural invasion by foreign channels in the wake of the rapid expansion of electronic media that he felt were contributing to the decline in Saudi moral standards and deeply held beliefs. The channel will carry preferential marketing offers for holders of the Al-Motahadeth card.