News – 2010.11.15

Published: November 15, 2010
SUSRIS Daily News – Excerpts from International Media Reports
/Provided as a service from the Saudi-US Trade Group, Washington, DC/

11.15.2010 EDITION

Millions Climb Mount Arafat In Hajj Pilgrimage: MSNBC

11/15/10

Nearly three million Muslims performing the annual hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia began making their way up the rocky desert Mount Arafat on Monday, chanting that they have come to answer God’s call. PHOTOS: Scroll to the bottom of the MSNBC article for a photography slideshow of excellent pictures from the Hajj.  For more pictures, BBC News Middle East provides another excellent photography slideshow of the Hajj in pictures.  NEW TRAIN: Hoping to decrease accidents and boost tourism, “Saudi has built a railway line to improve transport for millions of Muslims who flock to the kingdom on the annual haj and moveen masse from one holy site to another,” Reuters reports.

King Abdullah Sidelined: SUSRIS

11/13/10

Doctors have recommended rest for King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz as treatment for a herniated disc according to a Royal Court statement yesterday. It said the announcement was consistent with the King’s “principle of transparency.”

Congressional Letter Questioning Saudi Arms Sales Gets 198 Signatures: FOREIGN POLICY

Josh Rogin | 11/12/10

A joint letter demanding more information about the Obama administration’s proposed $60 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia was sent to top administration officials on Friday with the signatures of 198 lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.

Saudi Economists Call Fed Move ‘Golden Opportunity’ To De-Peg: ARAB NEWS

Sarah Abdullah | 11/12/10

With the US Federal Reserve’s recent decision to pump $600 billion into its economy as a stimulus to ward off increasing recessionary pressures, the question of whether Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states should keep their pegs to the US dollar has again taken center stage.

Saudis Support Stable Oil Price: VOICE OF AMERICA

Greg Flakus | 11/12/10

“While many energy analysts are predicting a sharp increase in oil prices in the coming months as a worldwide economic recovery takes hold and demand from China and India increases, Saudi Arabia says it will work to mitigate that rise. Saudi Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud says his country has the capacity to play that role for some decades to come.”

Saudi Arabia Defriends, Refriends Facebook: PC MAGAZINE

David Murphy | 11/13/10

“Officials in the country of Saudi Arabia officially blocked-and quickly restored-access to the world’s largest social network for its population of approximately 27 million people earlier today. According to officials, Facebook “crossed a line” against the country’s more conservative values.” ACCIDENTAL? Saudi Arabia’s Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has denied that Facebook was intentionally blocked in the Kingdom over the weekend,” Mark Sutton (ITP.net) reports.

Binladin Group Wins $7.2 Bln Jeddah Contract: AFP

11/15/10

“The Saudi Binladin Group has won a 27.1-billion-riyal (7.2-billion-dollar) deal to build a new terminal and infrastructure at Jeddah international airport, the Saudi airports authority announced on Sunday.”

More News and Commentary

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will ask cabinet ministers to support a U.S. proposal to extend restrictions on building in Jewish settlements for 90 days in exchange for a package of incentives from Washington,” Charles Levinson (WSJ) reports. “If approved by the Israeli government, the deal could help revive peace talks with the Palestinians, which collapsed at the end of September when a 10-month period of building restrictions expired and Israel refused to extend it.” RISKING CHAOS: Israel is “risking chaos” if peace talks fail because the Palestinian leadership could fall apart, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes (BBC News Middle East) reports, citing an Israeli intelligence official. 90-DAY BET: In an analysis, Ethan Bronner and Mark Landler (NYT) write that the “pledge by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to push for a new, one-time-only freeze of 90 days on settlement construction in the West Bank represents a bet by the Israelis and the Americans that enough can be accomplished so that the Palestinians will not abandon peace talks even after the freeze ends.”

In Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki now has until late December to form a cabinet, “a process expected to be nearly as difficult as agreeing on who would be prime minister,” Sahar Issa (CSM) reports.

At a recent round of the Doha Debates, audience members were asked whether they preferred democratic reforms or economic liberalization. Audience members voted overwhelmingly in favor of democratic reform before economic liberalization, Meris Lutz (Babylon and Beyond) reports.

At the 16th Asian Games in China, officials referred to the body of water separating Iran and Saudi Arabia as the “Arabian Gulf,” raising hackles of protest from Iran, Alexandra Sandels (LAT) reports.

The Obama administration has “developed a plan to begin transferring security duties in select areas of Afghanistan to that country’s forces over the next 18 to 24 months, with an eye toward ending the American combat mission there by 2014,” Peter Baker and Rod Nordland (NYT) report. DEADLY WEEKEND: “Nine security guards were killed and a Taliban rocket attack on a military base destroyed six armored vehicles in Afghanistan on Monday, after another deadly weekend for foreign forces and civilians,” AFP/Asharq Alawsat reports. CONTRACTOR LEAVES: “The failure of a construction company to finish six police stations in northern Afghanistan has created a swath of political and economic wreckage, undermining a central pillar of President Barack Obama’s plans for extracting America from a decade of war,” Dion Nissenbaum and Hashim Shukoor (McClatchy) reports.

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