Monday, August 13, 2007

Sunni chiefs critical of Qaeda attacked

by Sally Buzbee from Associated Press

Militants bombed the northern Baghdad home of a moderate and highly regarded Sunni cleric, Sheik Wathiq al-Obeidi, who had recently spoken against Al Qaeda. He was seriously wounded and three relatives were killed. "We have to fight foreign fighters in our city," witnesses quoted him as saying. "We have to fight those linked to Al Qaeda." ... Maliki reached out to other neighbors, too, saying his country wants to repair relations with Syria, Kuwait, and Iran that were "broken by the previous regime." But Maliki did not mention Saudi Arabia, a Sunni-led country furious with what it sees as the Shi'ite bias of Maliki's government.

Beyond disaster

by Chris Hedges from the Chicago Sun-Times

The Kurds, like the Shiites and the Sunnis, know that if they do not get their hands on water resources and oil they cannot survive. But Turkey, Syria and Iran have no intention of allowing the Kurds to create a viable enclave. The Kurds, orphans of the 20th century who have been repeatedly sold out by every ally they ever had, including the United States, will be crushed. The possibility that Iraq will become a Shiite state, run by clerics allied with Iran, terrifies the Arab world. Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia, the United States and Israel, would most likely keep the conflict going by arming Sunni militias. This anarchy could end with foreign forces, including Iran and Turkey, carving up the battered carcass of Iraq. No matter what happens, many, many Iraqis are going to die. And it is our fault ... This is what George W. Bush and all those "reluctant hawks" who supported him have bequeathed us.

The Rocky Road Ahead in US-Saudi Relations

Afshin Molavi interviewed by Saudi-US Relations Information Service (SUSRIS)

At the end of the day, even though many Saudi elites understand the nature of the Congress, and understand that Congress will never be as friendly to Saudi Arabia as the White House or the State Department, some of the heated rhetoric that will emerge about Saudi Arabia over the next few months from Congress will cause some strains in the US-Saudi relationship. And this is campaign season, we must remember, and candidates don’t win votes by saying nice things about Saudi Arabi a. Saudi Arabia is somewhat insulated by Washington’s obsession with Iran and the view -- somewhat simplistic, I believe -- that Riyadh could be a bulwark against Iran in the region.

Sinopec seeking to build $5bn refinery

from Gulf Daily News

It would be one of the largest joint venture investments in China, similar to the $5bn venture by Exxon Mobil and Saudi Aramco in the neighbouring province of Fujian and overshadowing the nearby Nanhai petrochemical complex built by Shell and CNOOC for $4.3bn. China and India have been leading a host of new refining projects to meet growing fuel demand. But many have been delayed or may be scuppered by surging costs ... Beijing is showing a preference toward teaming up with state-owned firms that can offer supply guarantees from producers such as Kuwait and Venezuela, with less need for the technology or financing offered by the majors, analysts say.

POEA Turned Blind Eyed to Jeddah Company's Illegal Hiring of OFWs, Documents Show

by Romy Tangbawan & Ronald Concha from Arab News

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) helped Sawary Marketing and Development Group skirt the labor laws of both Saudi Arabia and the Philippines by hiring Filipino workers using visit visas ... It did not take long for the first batch of “trainees” to find out that their future was bleak when they started working in Jeddah. Labor Attaché Bulyok Nilong, head of the Jeddah POLO, raised the concerns of Filipino workers, which included filthy accommodations, workers being penalized with exorbitant deductions for false or minor infractions, non-payment by the company of their medical expenses, among other “maltreatments.” Nilong also raised the concerns of the legally hired workers who were being made to pay for the renewal of their iqamas contrary to Saudi law.

When Our Domestics Become Domestic

by Tariq A. Al-Maeena from Arab News

There are growing concerns that Saudi dependence on imported domestic help [see pg 12] has not been a helpful one for either party. Tales of abuse and inhumane treatment from errant employers have gathered enough publicity to elevate this phenomenon into a worrisome trend. There have also been enough individual situations publicized in our press to drive the point home that not all is well in the field of domestics ... A society must sooner or later learn to exist on the toils of its own citizens, or else lose its identity and sustainability. Replacing imported domestics with some of our own is a beginning.