Wednesday, October 10, 2007

As Mideast realigns, US leans Sunni

by Howard LaFranchi from The Christian Science Monitor

Having paved the way for Iraq's Shiites to take power, Martin Indyk - former US diplomat now at the Brookings Institution in Washington - says, "We find ourselves in a situation where that plays to Iran's advantage and to the disadvantage of our erstwhile Sunni Arab allies in the Arab world." The result of this belated realization, Mr. Indyk says, is that "we are adjusting ourselves to the point where we line up with the Sunnis against the Shias in this broader sectarian divide." ... It is in that context that some experts like Brookings's Indyk see at least part of the US motivation for arming some of the same Sunni tribesmen, in places like Anbar, whose doors US troops were kicking down not so long ago. Jon Alterman director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says Saudi Arabia is "using sectarian proxies to fight a national war in Iraq," but he says it does not follow that the US is working with Anbar's Sunnis out of sectarian motivations.

Number of radical Dutch Muslims growing

from Deutsche Presse-Agentur

The Dutch intelligence and security service AIVD published a report on Tuesday indicating the number of radical Dutch Muslims is on the rise. The reports speaks about an "extremely intolerant and anti-democratic" movement which is reportedly not violent however. According to the intelligence service's information, there are 15 to 20 Salafist preachers in the Netherlands, who are active in 30 to 35 mosques and youth centres. Another 20 Salafist preachers are currently in training. Salafism is a radical and ultra-orthodox movement in Islam. The AIVD reports the radical message of Salafi Muslims appeals to some 20,000 to 30,000 of the Netherlands' 1 million Muslims. Moderate Muslims, Muslim gays and those who have renounced Islam are the primary target of neo-radical Islam, the AIVD writes.

Guess who came to Iftar dinner?

by Diana West from The Washington Times

In these post-9/11 days, only supporters of Sharia seem to get those coveted White House Ramadan invites. Take the ambassadors from the countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The OIC not only coddles terrorists and lobbies against freedom of speech at the highest diplomatic levels, it also supports a code of human rights derived from Sharia — which, of course, denies human rights to women and non-Muslims. These are the people who sup with the president every Ramadan and, I imagine, chuckle discreetly through Bush’s remarks, as in 2006, about Islam’s “commitment to tolerance and religious freedom.” Under Sharia, of course, there is no religious freedom. But who’s checking? No one at this White House. What about the next administration? I hereby pledge to vote for the presidential candidate who promises to stop submitting to Sharia suppers at Ramadan — even though that means I’ll have to think of something else to write about.

Treasuries Fueled by Petrodollars From Mideast Funds

by Daniel Kruger from Bloomberg

OPEC members increased their holdings of Treasuries 12% this year through July to $123.8 billion, Treasury Department data show. The prospect that OPEC's share of U.S. debt is growing is based on the 31% rise in oil since December, which will raise OPEC revenue 5.1% to $635 billion this year and 9.4% to $695 billion in 2008, according to estimates by the U.S. Department of Energy. Petroleum exporters are adding to holdings of U.S. debt three times faster than other foreign investors, the Treasury data show ... Oil exporters eclipsed Asian nations last year as the biggest source of global capital for the first time since the 1970s, NY-based consulting company McKinsey & Co found. At $70 a barrel, $628 billion of fresh petrodollars will flood through global financial markets yearly ... The risk for bond investors is that OPEC members may seek better returns elsewhere after Treasuries gained 3.8% last quarter, including reinvested interest.

SABIC scans more overseas markets amid record profits

by Moussa Ahmad from Business Intelligence-Middle East

With the construction boom at home and a growing market for petrochemicals abroad, Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) has gone into expansion mode in order to cope with escalating demands. State-controlled SABIC, the world’s largest chemical company by market value, probably posted a near 30% increase in net income in the three months ending September 30 to SAR7.03 billion ($1.88 billion), according to the survey of three analysts. It is likely that SABIC will post its fifth consecutive record profit in the third quarter as surging demand for chemicals in China and India spurred prices, a Reuters survey of analysts shows. SABIC ranks as the 13th largest company in the world in terms of market capitalisation, according to a study conducted by Bloomberg.

Are we being aggressive enough?

by Morton Kondracke from Roll Call

Is the United States really contesting radical Islam around the world as if it is -- as President Bush says -- "the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century"? Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, believes "our mission should be to identify, nurture and support Muslims committed to fighting against those who want to impose Sharia law on their countries," and that the U.S. should organize "a loose, but grand coalition of anti-Islamist forces -- ranging from orthodox pious Muslims to secular Muslims" to oppose radicals. Satloff also said the U.S. should be using its influence to stop Saudi Arabia from exporting rigid Wahabi Islam around the world and should establish "alternative examples of excellence" -- schools and health clinics -- in all major Islamic cities to counter social services and Madrassas set up by Islamist organizations.

Policy expert says students can affect terrorism funding

by Mel McKrell from The Temple News

Former US Treasury analyst Jonathan Schanzer, the director of the Jewish Policy Center, addressed terrorism financing to an audience of 30 at Temple University's Fox School of Business. In addition to Iran, Schanzer also targeted Syria and Saudi Arabia as state sponsors of terrorism. He said financial leniency toward these countries has yielded another enabler of terrorism: the United States ... He added that Saudi Arabia's part in terrorism comes from its funding of mosques that support a radical version of the Koran. He estimated that 20% of the Muslim population supports this radical interpretation that drives terrorism. "That's 340 million people who seek to destroy the United States, who seek to destroy Israel, who seek to destroy the system we now thrive in," he said. Schanzer expressed frustration with the U.S.-Saudi alliance. "We needed to get ourselves off oil yesterday, maybe last week," he said. "When I was working in the Treasury, there was a constant fear of saying too much to the Saudis because we need their oil."