News – 2012.02.17

Published: February 17, 2012

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

2.17.12 EDITION

Americans Give Record-High Ratings to Several U.S. Allies: GALLUP

2/16/12

A Gallup poll shows that Saudi Arabia’s favorability rating in the eyes of Americans increased by 5% since 2011.

Al Qaeda’s Biggest Threat: CNN

2/16/12

This report is based on a one-year investigation by CNN into air cargo security in light of a thwarted plot by al Qaeda in October 2010 to blow up cargo jets over the United States.

Cyber Attacks Can Spark Real Wars: WALL STREET JOURNAL

Richard Clarke | 2/16/12

For most of this year, Arab-Israeli tensions have been spilling off the streets and airwaves and onto the region’s fiber optic cables. Citizen hackers on both sides have engaged in tit-for-tat raids on Israeli, Saudi and other regional computer networks. Stock exchanges, airlines, government offices and even hospitals have had their websites defaced or shut down. Credit-card numbers and personal emails have been stolen and posted on the Internet. One Israeli official has labeled the escalating cyber hostility “terrorism” and called for it to be dealt with as such.

Saudi Foreign Policy Dilemma amid Regional Upheavals: GULF NEWS

Patrick Seale | 2/17/12

While the Arab world struggles to reshape its future out of the fires and blood-letting of revolution, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a haven of stability, continues to pursue its goals of growth, modernity and social transformation with great resolve and singleness of purpose.

Growing Saudi-India Ties: ARAB NEWS

Editorial | 2/16/12

The agreements that emerged at the end of the two-day visit to the Kingdom this week by Indian Defense Minister A. K. Antony, signal the growing importance of both countries to each other.

Dubai and Saudi Hotels Lead the Region: AL BAWABA

2/16/12

Hotels in Dubai and Saudi Arabia outperformed other markets in the Middle East last year as they continued to improve revenues, occupancies and room rates, according to the Ernst & Young (E&Y) Middle East Hotel Benchmark Survey.

Creating Jobs Needs Innovative Solutions: ARAB NEWS

2/17/12

Labor Minister Adel Fakeih has described unemployment as a major challenge and called for greater cooperation between the public and private sectors to create job opportunities for the increasing number of Saudi jobseekers.

BAE Profit Falls on Lower Vehicle Sales, Delayed Saudi Agreement: BLOOMBERG

2/16/12

BAE Systems Plc, Europe’s largest defense company, said profit last year fell amid lower orders of combat vehicles to the U.S. and a delay to price fighter aircraft for Saudi Arabia.

Sources: Saudi Will Not Provide Diesel To Yemen In March: YEMEN POST

Yemen needs to buy 270,000 tons of diesel in March as the main Aden refinery is still shut down and the Saudi Arabia would suspend its diesel grants to Yemen this month, well informed sources said. Yemen depends on fuel imports and denotations as its main refinery has been shut for two months following consecutive bombings led to stopping of crude flow.

Saudi to Build Rail to Bahrain in 2014: EMIRATES 24|7

2/16/12

Saudi Arabia and neighbouring Bahrain have agreed to construct a rail way between them at a cost of round $4.5 billion and the project will be launched in 2014, a Saudi newspaper reported on Thursday.

Saudi Arabia Isn’t Sending Women to the London Olympics – But a Boycott Wouldn’t Help Women’s Rights: TELEGRAPH

Jennifer Lipman | 2/16/12

“Islam isn’t the only religion to proscribe certain clothing as immodest; Judaism has strict laws on modesty too, and certainly Christianity calls for women to behave appropriately in other respects. But, regardless of which religion it is, there are ways to uphold the requirements of the faith without compromising on lifestyle; this can be anything from working in “male professions” as a woman, to Orthodox Jewish women wearing the latest trends with added sleeves, or Muslim women exercising to their hearts’ content in private spaces.”

Saudi Female Athletes Challenge Muslim Norms: ESPN

AP | Barbara Surk

Behind concrete walls and out of sight of men, Saudi women wearing shorts and short-sleeve shirts meet three times a week to play soccer in an all-female club in Saudi Arabia’s port city of Jeddah. Cheering them on is Jeddah King’s United coach and striker Reema Abdullah, who also is leading a campaign in the ultra-conservative Muslim country to allow women to participate in sports and compete internationally. Saudi Arabia has never sent a woman to compete in the Olympics. Human rights groups say the country is violating the International Olympic Committee charter’s pledge of equality.

Saudi Mufti Rejects Call to Try Hamza by Non-Religious Court: GULF NEWS

2/17/12

Saudi Arabia’s mufti, the country’s highest religious figure, has rejected calls to shift the trial of Hamza Kashgari, the controversial former columnist, from religious courts to the information ministry.

More News and Commentary from SUSTG

SYRIA: U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONDEMNS SYRIA

The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a nonbinding resolution that further isolates Syria and its backers, while calling on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside. The resolution “fully supports” an Arab League plan for Mr. Assad to relinquish power to a vice president while a national unity government is formed, leading to a general election. Damascus has already rejected the plan, Joe Lauria (WSJ) reports. ATTACKS CONTINUE: Activists say Syrian troops are heavily shelling rebel-held areas in the central city of Homs, just one day after the U.N. General Assembly condemned the regime for violating human rights in its crackdown, VOA reports. OPPOSITION HAILS RESISTANCE: Thousands of Syrians sloughed off their regime’s relentless, bloody crackdown as angry throngs defiantly staged public protests and braved heavy gunfire Friday. Demonstrators took to the streets of Idlib, Daraa, Homs, Hama and suburban Damascus, chanting for the end of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and focused their attention on “popular resistance” — the theme of the protests, CNN reports.

WORLD: ANTHONY SHADID, REPORTER FOR NEW YORK TIMES, DIES IN SYRIA

Anthony Shadid, a gifted foreign correspondent whose graceful dispatches for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe and the Associated Press covered nearly two decades of Middle East conflict and turmoil, died, apparently of an asthma attack, on Thursday while on a reporting assignment in Syria. Tyler Hicks, a Times photographer who was with Mr. Shadid, carried his body across the border to Turkey, Rick Gladstone (NYT) reports.

MIDDLE EAST: ‘GAINING MOMENTUM’ AMID GLOBAL CRISIS

The Middle East is “on track” for recovery from the global financial crisis despite the concerns around the Euro, according to a leading economist, Trade Arabia reports. Speaking in Dubai on the current global economy and outlook for the Middle East, Andrew Scott, Professor of Economics at London Business School, said 2012 will be a year of slow growth but the region is doing well in re-balancing its economies and is beginning to gain momentum.

RUSSIA: IF EMBARGO HITS IRAN, RUSSIAN OIL TO BENEFIT

For months, the Russian government has opposed the idea of Western petroleum sanctions against Iran. But new threats to Iranian oil flow could have at least one beneficiary: Russia.

The Russian oil industry was already reaping the rewards of higher global oil prices from Iranian tensions, even before Tehran raised the stakes Wednesday by threatening to cut off oil to six European nations, Andrew E. Kramer (New York Times) writes. HOW THE STANDOFF LOOKS FROM RUSSIA: “There was never much love lost between the two countries. To Iranians, Russia was too powerful and too threatening. Russians, meanwhile, remembered their own embassy trauma at Iranian hands in 1829. Every schoolchild knows the fate of Alexander Griboyedov, the czar’s ambassador to Persia, who was murdered, with his entire embassy staff, by an angry Tehran mob. Griboyedov was a great Russian author, many of whose lines Russian children — and grown-ups — know by heart,” Dmitri Trenin (Bloomberg) writes.

IRAN: SANCTIONS BITE IRAN TRADERS IN OMAN: Iranian traders in Oman, struggling to secure financing because of Western economic sanctions against Tehran, are raising loans from sympathetic Omani businessmen in order to ship foodstuffs to Iran, the traders say, Trade Arabia reports.

GCC: GULF CITIES AMONG LEAST EXPENSIVE IN THE WORLD

Dubai has fallen sharply in a new list calculating the cost of living in 130 cities around the world.

The World Cost of Living Survey 2012 published by the Economist Intelligence Unit, ranked Dubai in 94th position – a drop of 16 places from last year, Arabian Business reports.

ANALYSIS: HAMAS AND THE NEW MIDDLE EAST PUZZLE

Hamas, the Palestinian “Islamic Resistance Movement,” is on the move.

Hamas is leaving Syria, where it has been based, making a pit stop in Jordan to mend affairs with King Abdullah II, declaring nonviolent resistance the preferred mode of struggle against Israeli occupation, signing (yet another) reconciliation agreement with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and lastly, planning to relocate its headquarters to the State of Qatar. All of this has happened in the span of a few weeks, Sam Bahour (Al-Monitor) writes.

OPINION: HOW HISTORY LESSONS COULD DETER IRANIAN AGGRESSION

We are hearing a new concept these days in discussions about Iran — the zone of immunity. The idea, often explained by Ehud Barak, Israel’s defense minister, is that soon Iran will have enough nuclear capability that Israel would not be able to inflict a crippling blow to its program.

In fact, while the specifics are fresh, this is not a new strategic concept at all. Nations have often believed that they face a closing window to act, and almost always such thinking has led to disaster, Fareed Zakaria (Washington Post) writes.

AFGHANISTAN: AT SUMMIT, A SHOW OF UNITY

If there existed any conflict among the chief executives of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the three neighboring Islamic nations, they certainly weren’t showing it Friday at the close of a trilateral summit in Pakistan’s capital. At a news conference Zardari hosted in his splendid official residence, the theme was fraternal unity as the trio pledged to work for peace and prosperity in a region raging with war and terrorism, Richard Leiby (Washington Post) writes.

/The daily news is provided as a service of the Saudi-US Trade Group, Washington, DC. Visit www.SUSTG.org for more information and to get a free email subscription to the News Review./</h4></div>