Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fear of foreigners

From the

Jeffrey Garten, a former dean of the Yale School of Management, argued in the Financial Times last week that dealing with sovereign wealth funds may require departures from “conventional liberal orthodoxy concerning global trade and investment flows”. According to Mr Garten: “These funds are going to have the ability to buy any global company, to create panic in markets if they move too precipitously, even to dwarf the political clout of international financial institutions. They can no longer be ignored.” ... On reciprocity, he argues that a sovereign wealth fund's freedom to invest abroad should be tied to the freedom enjoyed by foreign investors in the fund's home country. Not only that, but: “If a sovereign fund was established because of currency manipulation in the host country that led to excess reserve creation (China), or if it is the result of strident resource nationalism (Russia), or if it is due to monopolistic pricing practices (Saudi Arabia), then consultations should be initiated between the two governments to reduce these policy distortions.”

Protect the American Media? Whether They Deserve It or Not

by Andrew C. McCarthy from Human Events

Many terrorists (including fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers) are Saudis, and, besides oil, the Kingdom’s top export is the anti-Western Wahhabist ideology that is radicalizing young Muslims throughout the world, including in the United States, which is now dotted with madrassas backed by Saudi money. Toward that end, a few intrepid journalists and researchers, prominently including the Rachel Ehrenfeld, have scrutinized the available public record of Khalid Salim bin Mahfouz ... If Ehrenfeld’s U.S. suit survives, she would be able to complicate Mahfouz’s life immensely. Civil actions provide for liberal discovery by the parties. Mahfouz would be faced with a Hobson’s choice: Answer the suit and open his finances up to scrutiny; or default, which would (a) result in a judgment against him undermining his ability to operate in the United States, and (b) demonstrate to the world that, given the opportunity, he would not even try to refute the terror-financing claims made against him.

PCS Edventures! Provides Update on Saudi Education Initiative

by Market Wire

PCS Edventures!.com, Inc. today released an update on the status of the education initiative in Saudi Arabia. "We are honored to be considered as a potential participant in the initiative through PCS Middle East and its principal, Dr. Mohammed Yassir Refai, our independent Distributor ... In late March 2007, we were assured and relied upon Dr. Refai's statements that a contract or contracts were imminent, and consequently, we received a purchase order for the initial site licenses from PCS Middle East... More recently we asked Dr. Refai to confirm, with some specific documentation, the status of the project and PCS Middle East's involvement, but to date this information also has not been received ... We appreciate and remain respectful of the cultural differences and manner of doing business in Saudi Arabia as it may affect our involvement in the project. We are fully prepared to play a significant role in the initiative when it moves forward. Meanwhile, we will continue to seek information from Dr. Refai and others about the status and progress of the project, and if and when material developments occur, we will so inform our shareholders."

The Islam in Azerbaijan

by Liz Fuller and Badek Bakir from the Journal of Turkish Weekly (JTW)

Azerbaijani authorities disagree among themselves over the purported Wahhabi threat. State Committee for Work with Religious Structures head Orudjev was quoted by on February 21 as saying that Wahhabism does not pose a threat to Azerbaijan. But the National Security Ministry claims to have identified and "neutralized" several Wahhabi groups in recent years. And Sheikh ul Islam Pasha-zade was quoted by on July 12 as openly branding the congregation of the Abu-Bakr mosque as "Wahhabis" and as implicitly criticizing the Azerbaijani authorities for failing to crack down on them ... If the clan of incumbent President Ilham Aliyev continues to monopolize Azerbaijani politics, eclipsing the opposition, the gradual Islamization of politics over the next decade could become increasingly likely. Whether that process would duplicate the scenario of Iran in 1979 -- a resurgence of Shi'a extremism -- or of present day Iraq -- a struggle for power between Shi'a and Sunni groups -- or whether the various Islamic communities might make common cause to overthrow the country's leadership is impossible to predict at this juncture.

Kazakh Prosecutors Say Police Averted Terrorist Attacks

from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty & Interfax

Prosecutors in southern Kazakhstan said today that several potential terrorist attacks had been prevented in Shymkent ahead of President Nursultan Nazarbaev's visit to the region in April, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. The regional prosecutor's office said an unnamed Islamic group had been planning to conduct widescale attacks that would result in the blowing up of the National Security Committee building in Shymkent. It says at least 13 members of the group have been arrested. The suspects were indentified as being members of the jihadist wing of the Salafi movement.