Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Saudi Arabia: The Islamist Cage

by Youssef Ibrahim from the New York Sun

By the late '90s, there were full-size mirror images of Saudi Arabia's stilted brand of Islam in Egypt, Pakistan, Somalia, the Philippines, Chechnya, Bosnia, and Kosovo, as well as among Muslim communities in Europe, Australia, and America. More mirror images are in the making. the Saudis do little except rattle around within the cage of their own fundamentalism. This deep confusion is reflected throughout the ruling family, which contains both princes who are Westernized — in such vulgar aspects as drinking, womanizing, gambling, and wearing diamond-studded Rolex watches — and others who leave a mosque only to enter a charity that nurtures madrassas turning out little bin Ladens. Their schizophrenia is exemplified in such global personalities as Prince Al-Walid bin Talal, a multibillionaire businessman who simultaneously invests his billions in America while funding both the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is the American chapter of the jihadist Muslim Brotherhood. In the end, the Saudis are just rattling around in their cage. A society with no social project except to produce more Muslims, deeper Muslims, better Muslims, ends up as one that produces Muslim fanatics and terrorists. Now, with oil prices having moved north of $70 dollar a barrel, a lot more trouble will be coming our way out of the Saudi cage.

IB had warned Andhra police about an attack

by Josy Joseph from Daily News & Analysis India

Based on those inputs and the signature of the attacks, intelligence analysts believe that Mohammed Abdul Sahed, alias Shahid Bilal, a key contact for three major terrorist organisations, may have masterminded the attacks. Bilal, though known primarily as a Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami (HuJI) operative, also has active contacts with both the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed. HuJI, which is based in Bangladesh, has an extensive network in Pakistan ... Saturday’s attacks, which follow the blasts at Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid, the explosions on the Samjhauta Express and the blasts in Malegaon, have reinforced the fear among analysts that “religious fanaticism of the highest order” has taken firm root in India. It may now be replacing the traditional terrorism of Kashmir. What the perpetrators of these attacks believe is that even Muslims who coexist with people from other communities are liable to be killed for not moving to an Islamic land or for not taking up jihad against the kafirs. This philosophy is very audible in the teachings of some fanatic Wahabi followers, including a preacher from Mumbai, and some publications of the Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Roh gov't praised for dedicated diplomacy in hostage release

from Korean Overseas Information Service (KOIS)

A dramatic agreement on the release of 19 Korean aid workers held captive in Afghanistan is portrayed as something of a diplomatic coup by the Korean government, with President Roh Moo-hyun and his Cabinet ministers ... Despite lukewarm response from Bush and Karzai regarding the Korean hostage ordeal, Seoul officials and diplomats kept up efforts to persuade Washington to cooperate in the hostage release. Last Friday, Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-soon embarked on an eight-day tour of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates -- the three Middle Eastern countries believed to maintain strong relations with the Taliban. "The Korean negotiators faithfully contacted the Taliban captors and gave a sufficient explanation that swapping Korean hostages for Taliban prisoners, a key demand from the Taliban, is not within the authority of the Korean government. That strategy seems to have worked," Cheon said, announcing the hostage release agreement.

Saudi Arabia: Solidarity signs MOU with Ahad Insurance

from Mena Report

Sameer Al Wazzan and Saleh Al OmairSolidarity, one of the largest Takaful Companies in the world, signed a memorandum of understanding with Ahad Insurance Company, headquartered in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to establish an Insurance company, that complies with Islamic Sharia’h, with 400 million Saudi Riyals (some US#106 million) in paid up capital ... On his designation as the CEO of the new company, Mr. Saleh Al Omair said: “The idea of setting up an insurance company in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia came in response to the growing demand for insurance products that comply with Islamic Sharia’h. Solidarity and Ahad will offer family related insurance plans suitable for retirement, children's education wealth accumulation, mortgage protection and corporate saving schemes. In addition, they will offer protection solutions for individual and commercial lines including motor, medical, engineering, marine, property and others”.

Time to renegotiate contracts in support of our poor sisters

by M.S.Shah Jahan from the Sri Lanka Daily Mirror

The Indonesian Embassy had not been officially notified of the incident when it found out about the incident through her nationals in Aflaj. The two injured maids as well as the two bodies were brought to the Emergency Room of the General Hospital in Aflaj and transferred to Riyadh Medical Complex ... Tari Tarsim three weeks ago told the media that her employer’s 17-year-old son was the one who assaulted them, but speaking in a weak voice and broken Arabic she was unable to explain where the other members of the family, consisting of the father, mother and nine children, were when they were assaulted. It seems now that the son was not alone in assaulting the maids. Tari said while the son was beating her with his igal and was yelling at her that she “had the devil inside her” and that they “did witchcraft.” ... Since women who go abroad as unskilled workers are terribly vulnerable, India, announced it would impose tighter restrictions on the recruitment of house maids, beginning September 1st 2007. Is not it time for Lanka also to renegotiate contract terms more in support of our poor sisters?

Subprime crisis gives Opec dilemma

by Ed Crooks from The Financial Times

Back on August 14, officials warned in Opec’s monthly oil market report: “The more bearish economic trend which has materialised in recent weeks could negatively impact demand growth in the second half of the year.”Saudi Arabia, the “swing producer” with the only significant level of spare capacity in Opec, holds the whip hand, and it has so far said nothing in public about the forthcoming meeting. But if it agrees with the assessment of Abdalla El-Badri, Opec’s secretary-general, then for the rest of the year Opec’s official oil supply could be held steady – in practice, some countries may be pumping a little more – at a time when demand is still rising. And prices are likely to remain where they are as a result. Julian Lee of the Centre for Global Energy Studies says that for Opec, that would be a mistake. “What the world economy needs is a period of oil prices a bit lower than they are now. Opec would be sensible, from its own point of view as well as everyone else’s, to accept a period of $50 rather than $70 oil.”