News – 2012.03.02

Published: March 2, 2012

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

3.2.12 EDITION

Storm Watch: SUSRIS

3/2/12

As you may know, if you’ve browsed our web site’s “About/Contact” details, SUSRIS is based in a small town in Middle Tennessee. This week our part of the country has witnessed a rash of serious storms that spawned killer tornadoes Wednesday with more to come today. As a result stormy weather is on our minds. This week, half a world away, there were also a series of storms that kicked up swirling sands turning day to night across central and eastern Saudi Arabia. As with the power of a tornado, it is difficult to imagine the scale and impact of phenomena like sandstorms without seeing them – words in a weather report or news summaries of the aftermath do not do them justice.

Saudi Oil Officials Deny Reports About Oil-Pipeline Attack: WALL STREET JOURNAL

Summer Said | 3/2/12

Reports about an explosion that hit a main oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province are untrue, senior Saudi officials said late Thursday. “The reports are completely untrue. They originated from Facebook and Twitter, and the pipeline is still up and running,” one official told Dow Jones Newswires. WHAT THE SAUDI PIPELINE REPORT SHOWS ABOUT OIL PRICES: Whether or not a pipeline exploded in Saudi Arabia late Thursday is beside the point.  Oil prices are on a hair trigger alert to news, most of it ferociously negative.  In the aftermarket hours on Thursday, Brent crude prices jumped nearly $4 to over $128 a barrel.  They haven’t been that high since the summer of 2008 when bulge bracket banks like Goldman Sachs were forecasting oil at $200 by year’s end (Forbes).

Saudi Arabia Foreign Trade Jumps To $358 Billion: ARAB NEWS

3/2/12

The trade exchange between Saudi Arabia and other countries rose to $358 billion by the end of 2010, Commerce and Industry Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said yesterday. “Saudi Arabia has become a major investment-friendly country in the world,” he said while addressing the Saudi-Lebanese Economic Forum in Beirut on its opening day.

Saudi, Qatari Plans to Arm Syrian Rebels Risk Overtaking Cautious Approach Favored By U.S.: WASHINGTON POST

Karen DeYoung | 3/1/12

Arab plans to arm Syria’s opposition fighters are threatening to overtake the cautious approach advocated by the United States and other countries, which fear that sending weapons to the region could fuel a civil war and lead to a regional conflagration.

Ex-Senators Say Saudi Arabia May Be Linked to 9/11: ABC NEWS

Rym Momtaz and Trevor J. Ladd | 3/2/12

Two former Senators who led inquiries into the 9/11 attacks have issued sworn statements that they believe the government of Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally in the fight on terrorism, may have played a role in the terror attacks ten years ago.

Land and Sea Bridge to Connect Saudi Arabia and Egypt: GREEN PROPHET

3/2/12

More than two decades after it was first planned, Egypt and Saudi Arabia may be about to start work on a land and sea bridge connecting the two countries. The proposed bridge would run 50 kilometres from the Tabuk region in Saudi, across the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba in Egypt. Conservationists in Egypt have however raised concerns about the possible destruction of coastal and marine environments in the process of building the bridge. Some explain that the bridge could negatively impact protected areas including coral reefs, the nesting grounds of turtles and the Tiran Island sea birds.

Saudi Pushes Iraq Ties In Anti-Assad Move: Experts: DAILY NEWS EGYPT

AFP | 3/2/12

Saudi Arabia’s push to improve ties with Iraq is part of a drive to convince it to abandon the Syrian president, despite the strong influence in Baghdad of Riyadh’s foe Tehran, experts say.

Saudi Developer Set to Restart Dubailand Project: ARABIAN BUSINESS

3/2/12

Saudi Arabia-based developer Al Hokair Group is planning to resume construction on its stalled Al Sahara Kingdom hotel and entertainment project in Dubailand in 2013, its deputy CEO has said.

ETC Simulation Delivered Three Disaster Scenarios to Saudi Arabia Civil Defense: REUTERS

3/1/12

Environmental Tectonics Corporation’s Simulation Division, located in Orlando, FL, announces the delivery of three additional disaster training scenarios to Saudi Arabia Civil Defense, as part of a multi-year contract with the Ministry of Interior of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia Holds Pakistanis Over Drugs Bust: DAWN

AFP | 3/2/12

Saudi Arabia has arrested 11 Pakistanis and Iranians allegedly involved in smuggling hashish from Iran into the kingdom, the interior ministry said on Friday, a charge that carries the death sentence.

Saudi Teen Indicted In Ashland Car Chase: BEND BULLETIN

3/2/12

A teenager from Saudi Arabia has been indicted in Southern Oregon on charges from a low-speed police chase that came two days before he was involved in a disturbance that caused a jetliner crew to cut short a flight from Portland to Houston.

More News and Commentary from SUSTG

IRAN: NUCLEAR STANDOFF

 

BETWEEN IRAN AND A HARD PLACE

When U.S. President Barack Obama enters his White House meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 5 — angling to dissuade Israel from attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities — there will be one seemingly mundane issue on his mind that he may be too uncomfortable to share with his guest: gasoline prices, Gal Luft (Foreign Policy) writes.

OBAMA TO IRAN AND ISRAEL: I DO NOT BLUFF

“In the most extensive interview he has given about the looming Iran crisis, Obama told me earlier this week that both Iran and Israel should take seriously the possibility of American action against Iran’s nuclear facilities. “I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don’t bluff.” He went on, “I also don’t, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say,” Jeffrey Goldberg (Atlantic) writes.

FOR OBAMA AND NETANYAHU, WARINESS WILL DOMINATE TALKS

On Monday, the two will meet again in the shadow of an American presidential election, and Iran will again dominate the conversation. But the bonhomie will be replaced by wary intrigue as Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Obama try to sort out their differences, in timing, messaging and strategic bottom lines, on how to grapple with Iran — while also managing their own strained relationship, Ethan Bronner (NYT) writes. 

GRAND AYATOLLAH OR GRAND OLD PARTY?

Who said it: Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei or U.S. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum? By Reza Aslan (Foreign Policy).

ISRAEL WILL TEST ADVANCED BALLISTIC MISSILE SYSTEM

Israel is to test an advanced anti-ballistic missile system in the coming weeks, inevitably fuelling speculation about preparations for a possible military confrontation with Iran. The Arrow 3 test would confirm “the interceptor missile’s effectiveness”, said Itzhak Kaya, head of the Arrow missile programme at Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) on Thursday. A number of different tests would be carried out within a short period to “establish its high level of reliability, The Guardian reports.

CALM ISRAEL, CONTAIN IRAN

The problem for Netanyahu is that the Obama administration does not view Iran — even an Iran with nuclear weapons — as an existential threat worth waging another Middle East war over. This has been made abundantly clear over the past few months by a host of current and former US officials including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Netanyahu, on the other hand, insists on stressing the option of a military strike in hopes of keeping Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold and of maintaining pressure on Europe and the United States to tighten economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic, Barbara Slavin (AL-Monitor) writes.

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SYRIA: RED CROSS CONVOY ARRIVES IN HOMS BRINGING BABA AMR AID

A Red Cross convoy has arrived in the Syrian city of Homs and is set to deliver supplies to the Baba Amr district after a month-long siege. The Red Cross and Syrian Red Crescent have organised the seven-lorry aid convoy, and are also planning to evacuate the wounded. FORCES OVERWHELM REBEL STRONGHOLD: The Syrian Army overwhelmed the main rebel stronghold in the embattled city of Homs on Thursday, setting the stage for its elite soldiers to turn their attention — and superior firepower — to other insurgent redoubts farther north, despite the increasing international pressure for a cease-fire and humanitarian access, NYT reports.  FRENCH REPORTER WOUNDED, ON WAY HOME: Two French journalists who had been smuggled out of Syria flew to France Friday, a week after one of them suffered injuries in the restive central Syrian city of Homs, airport and French embassy officials said, CBS reports.

IRAQ: LIFE INSIDE A BAGHDAD ER
The war in Iraq is over. But the memories and recollections will be with us for decades to come. It’s nice, for a change, to focus on those who dedicated their time in country to saving, rather than taking, lives. Dr. Todd Baker has just published Baghdad ER: Fifteen Minutes, about his tour as chief of the emergency section of the Army’s 86th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad, from November 2007 to January 2009. The “Fifteen Minutes” in the title refers to quarter of the golden hour, after a troop is wounded, that his team would have to try to save a soldier’s life by the time he or she got to the hospital, Mark Thompson (TIME) writes.

AFGHANISTAN: FANTASY AND REALITY IN AFGHANISTAN

The controversy over the desecration of copies of the Koran in Afghanistan and the murder of Americans that followed is, on one level, one moment in a long war. But it also highlights the difficult and ultimately unsustainable aspect of America’s Afghan policy. President Obama wants to draw down troops, but his strategy remains to transition power and authority to an Afghan national army and police force as well as to the government in Kabul, which would run the country and its economy. This is a fantasy. We must recognize that and pursue a more realistic alternative, Fareed Zakaria (Washington Post) reports. CLERICS WANT PRISONS TURNED OVER: A council of Afghanistan’s top religious leaders on Friday called on the U.S. to end night searches and hand over its prisons, saying that if Afghans had been in charge, Muslim holy books from a detention center library would never have been burned at an American base, ABC News reports.

PAKISTAN: SUCIDE BOMBER TARGETS RIVAL MILITANTS

At least 22 people are dead in a suicide bombing in northwestern Pakistan that apparently targeted rival militants, VOA reports.

/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>