Monday, October 22, 2007

Done the Math

by R Hampton from Red State

More than six years have lapsed since "the day the world changed," and today President George W. Bush issued the following Memorandum for the Secretary of State

I hereby certify that Saudi Arabia is cooperating with efforts to combat international terrorism and that the proposed assistance will help facilitate that effort, and hereby waive the application of such sections. You are authorized and directed to report this certification to the Congress and publish it in the Federal Register.
This proclamation comes less than 24 hours after the The US Commission on International Religious Freedom criticized Saudi Arabia for a lack of religious freedom and for schools that promote religious extremism. Even more concerning was the commission's call to close the Islamic Saudi Academy in northern Virginia.
The commission's report says the academy hews closely to the curriculum used at Saudi schools, which they criticize for promoting hatred of and intolerance against Jews, Christians and Shiite Muslims. "Significant concerns remain about whether what is being taught at the ISA promotes religious intolerance and may adversely affect the interests of the United States."
Now I'm far from the first to observe that long-term sucess in the Long War is, depressingly, unlikely using a bipolar (and I would say delusional) strategy. Yet some hawks look at the ledger, add up the positives and negatives, and sheepishly protest that a pro-Saudi policy has bottom-line value. Resigning ourselves to Saudi Arabia's support of militant, extremist Wahhabi islam, however, is nothing short of sabotage.

That is what prompted me to blog a daily accounting of our deadly dependency on the enablers of Islamofascism. In the face of such overwhelming evidence -- over 800 stories logged since April -- I can not imagine the War on Terror can continue without a serious re-think. Problem is, the Bush Administration has done the math and concluded, in error, that a pro-Saudi policy in the correct answer.

Globalization With Arab Characteristics

by Marcus Noland and Howard Pack from YaleGlobal

In a poll recently conducted by Zogby International in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, majorities in four of the six countries supported governing business by sharia law, with pluralities in all six agreeing that sharia required further interpretation to enable businesses in the Muslim world to integrate into the global economy. This could be interpreted as a basis for adapting local values to the demands of globalization ... but the Washington Consensus it is not. Another poll conducted by the Pew Research Center found that while popular attitudes in the Middle East do not appear to be "anti-market," as some have alleged, they are not particularly supportive of the process of globalization on existing terms. The issue is how to square efficiency with the values and aspirations of local communities. The demographic pressures the region faces to productively employ its young people raise the stakes even higher.

Naftoil Saudi Arabia Signs Multi Billion Dollar Oil Exploration Contract With Mauritania

from Naftoil Saudi Arabia S.A.

Naftoil Saudi Arabia S.A. a privately-owned Saudi petroleum company, has teamed up with Gulf Regal Corporation (a company with interests in both America and UK) to sign an outline memorandum of understanding that secures drilling, exploration, and development rights in two high-prospect blocks in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania ... This will represent a huge increase in refined output and turn Mauritania into a net exporter of refined petroleum products. Naftoil Saudi Arabia S.A. is in early-stage discussions with a leading Chinese player who will act as a partner in building and operating this new refinery. The initial year-one investment is expected to be in excess of 3 billion US dollars.

West Asia foreign direct investment hits $60 billion

from Gulf Daily News

Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows to the 14 economies of West Asia surged by 44% last year to an unprecedented $, an annual survey of investment trends reveals. Saudi Arabia was the second largest FDI target, receiving $18 billion, an increase of 51%. World Investment Report 2007 published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and development (UNCTAD) attributes the increase to the region's strong economic growth and improved business climate and to high oil prices, which have been attracting increasing amounts of FDI to oil and gas and related industries. In light of the region's high GDP growth and ongoing economic reforms, the upward trend in inward FDI to West Asia is likely to continue, the report said.

G7 meeting 'to discuss wealth fund transparency'

from Gulf Daily News

"I expect the G7 to discuss how those sovereign funds are different from private funds in terms of transparency to the market," Japan's Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga said. "It is hard to know what they really do, so I think there will be various opinions about them (at the G7)." Sovereign wealth funds are expected to be discussed in detail during an G7 "outreach" dinner session on Friday, which invites senior officials from China, South Korea, Kuwait, Norway, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the UAE - countries that operate those funds. According to an estimate by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), SWFs control between $1.9 trillion and $2.9 trillion in global wealth, outstripping hedge funds. Morgan Stanley estimates their assets could rise to $12 trillion by 2015, roughly the size of the US economy.

GCC’s Luxury Automotive Sector Boosted By Increasing Numbers Of Millionaires Living In The Gulf

from CAR Magazine, Middle East

Analysts recently reported that there are about 68,000 millionaires currently residing in the UAE, and more than 89,000 in Saudi Arabia, according to the 11th annual World Wealth Report, and the region’s continued economic boom is contributing significantly to the growth of the luxury car sector throughout the Gulf. “We are witnessing a marked increase in ‘aspirational’ buying across the region’s automotive market this year. The accumulation of private wealth is contributing to the demand for luxury car ownership, making the UAE and wider GCC a newly emerging hub for high-end cars and four-wheel drives,” said Shahzad Sheikh, Editor of CAR magazine.

Rupali Bank shares soar 57%

from The Bangladesh Daily Star

The share price in Rupali Bank on the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) yesterday soared by 57.26%, on the latest news that the state-run bank's future owner Prince Bandar will finalise the deal with the government next month. According to the press reports, Saudi prince's adviser Frank Peters visited Rupali Bank on October 9 and assured the bank management that the prince will finish the Sales-Purchase Agreement (SPA). The government that owned 93.6% shares of Rupali Bank had decided to sell the stakes at the suggestions of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), which conditioned their loans with the country's banking sector reforms. In March of 2005, the government assigned the Privatisation Commission to sell the bank.

Paying the price of relying on foes

from the British National Party

OPEC, the organisation of twelve oil producing countries agreed to raise production by 500,000 barrels a day in September, but analysts suggest this increase is insufficient to halt soaring prices. A handful of oil exporters which includes some volatile and unstable regimes such as Nigeria, Angola, Libya and Venezuela as well as Islamic regimes in Iran and Saudi Arabia can hold the rest of the world to ransom, including the UK, because of our over reliance and total dependence on the black stuff ... Until we have a government which takes the issue of energy security seriously and which has the ambition and vision to embark on a radical restructuring of our society to survive and prosper in a post-oil world, we will have to pay the price of being dependent on our enemies.