News – 2012.03.08

Published: March 8, 2012

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

3.8.12 EDITION

Saudi Arabia Lifts Curtain on Diplomacy as Syria Killings Spur King to Act: BLOOMBERG

Glen Carey | 3/8/12

Saudi Arabia’s backing for rebels in Syria is the latest sign that Arab unrest is pushing the traditionally reticent kingdom into more active diplomacy.

Trend Lines: Saudi Arabia Plays Catch-Up in Iraq: WORLD POLITICS REVIEW

Catherine Cheney | 3/7/12

Last month, Saudi Arabia made a move to normalize one of the Middle East’s key diplomatic relationships when it announced that the Saudi ambassador to Jordan would also serve as ambassador to Iraq.

Hunt On For Killers: ARAB NEWS

Md Rasooldeen | 3/8/12

A criminal investigation into the murder of a Saudi diplomat in Dhaka on Tuesday morning is fully under way, Bangladesh Ambassador to the Kingdom Mohammed Shahidul Islam told Arab News yesterday. SECURITY BEEFED UP FOR SAUDI DIPLOMAT: Bangladesh has beefed up security for the Saudi Arabia ambassador to Bangladesh after killing of an official of the consular section of the kingdom’s embassy in Dhaka on Tuesday, Gulf Times reports. SAUDI TEAM ARRIVES TO ASSIST: A five-member team of legal and investigation experts of Saudi Arabia is now in Dhaka to assist Bangladesh in breaking the case of killing of their embassy official Khalaf Al-Ali, as the midnight murder remained shrouded in mystery, Sontosh Mondol (Daily Sun) reports.

Saudi Consumer Electronics Mart Rises: SAUDI GAZETTE

The ICT, telecoms and consumer electronics market in Saudi Arabia showed strong year-on-year growth in the fourth quarter of 2011, research house GfK’s latest analysis of the sector said.

Saudi Telecom’s Home Boom May Trim Foreign Ambitions: REUTERS

Matt Smith | 3/8/12

Saudi Telecom Co’s rising domestic revenue, halting a downward trend for the former monopoly, may lead it to slow its overseas push where it faces a tougher operating environment and limited buying opportunities.

Saudi Arabia Appoints New Governor to OPEC: WSJ

3/7/12

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, has appointed Yasser Mufti a new governor for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. IRAN VS. SAUDI PRODUCTION HISTORY: Two features stand out where the countries acted similarly – the response to the late nineties boom and the 2001 recession, and the production cut following the onset of the great recession in 2008. However, other features show differences, Early Warning blog writes.

GCC Residents Highly Satisfied With Healthcare Access: GALLUP

Bryant Ott | 3/8/12

Majorities of nationals and Arab expats living in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries say they are satisfied with the availability of quality healthcare in the city or area where they live. Six in 10 or more respondents express satisfaction with the availability of quality care, with satisfaction highest in Qatar (90%) and lowest in Kuwait (62%) and Saudi Arabia (60%).

Saudis Beef Up On AML Compliance Training: WALL STREET JOURNAL

C.M. Matthews | 3/7/12

The International Compliance Association has signed a partnership agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority to deliver two certificated programs in anti-money laundering and compliance.

Chart A Good Road Map for Downstream Success, Say Experts: ARAB NEWS

Siraj Wahab | 3/8/12

Economists, industrialists and chief executives officers of leading Saudi companies and international corporations discussed in detail the pluses and minuses of investing in the Kingdom’s secondary industries at the Saudi Downstream Strategic Forum on Wednesday. They stressed the need for a clear-cut road map to achieve the targeted growth in downstream industries.

Saudi Female University Students Protest in Abha: SAUDI JEANS

Ahmed al-Ohmran | 3/8/12

At least 53 female students from the college of arts at King Khaled University in Abha, southern Saudi Arabia, were injured in a protest today, local daily al-Watan reported. Other sources said one student died in the hospital of a status epilepticus condition that she suffered during the protest, after the university security guards attempted to force the students to disperse.

Saudi Activist Honoured As ‘Woman of Courage’:  RADIO NETHERLANDS WORLDWIDE

3/8/12

Saudi Arabian activist Samar Badawi has been selected as one of this year’s recipients of the prestigious International Women of Courage Award. The prize is handed out by the US State Department and honours 10 extraordinary women from all corners of the globe. Badawi gained international recognition in 2010: she challenged Saudi Arabia’s extremely restrictive guardianship system by suing her father. She has also filed lawsuits against the government demanding the right for women to vote and drive vehicles.

ABB in Saudi Power Upgradation: ZACKS

3/8/12

ABB received a Saudi contract to design, supply, install and commission five new substations in the country. The contract has been awarded by the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), the national power transmission and distribution operator.

Saudi Arabia Hands Over 200 Tons of Dates to Pakistan: BUSINESS RECORDER

3/8/12

Upon the directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Saudi Embassy handed over 200 tons of luxury dates to the Pakistani government on Thursday, as a gift from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Pakistani people.

More News and Commentary from SUSTG

AFGHANISTAN: THE AFGHAN TRUST DEFICIT

This past week’s wave of killings in Afghanistan of U.S. military personnel by their nominal Afghan allies has exposed a key weakness in the NATO and U.S. transition “train and advise” strategy that will allow the large NATO units to disengage.  Simply put, the tactic of putting small groups of experienced, seasoned soldiers with Afghan security forces to both train and provide access to NATO resource-such as intelligence and airpower-assumes that the two sides have enough mutual trust and respect to work together.  It also assumes that the fratricidal violence between these two allied groups (Afghan and NATO) will be sufficiently low-preferably zero-that domestic support can be maintained in Washington and other capitals long enough for real changes to take root.  Both of these assumptions are now questionable, Douglas Ollivant (FP) writes.  HOW MUCH FOR EACH US TROOP IN AFGHANISTAN? Recent violence in Afghanistan has led to the deaths of six U.S. troops and politicians and pundits are insisting that U.S. troops stay longer.  But isn’t this a sign that the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan isn’t working?  Their solution is to leave twenty or thirty thousand troops behind—but how much will it cost?

Department of Defense Comptroller Robert Hale has the answer: deploying one U.S. solider to Afghanistan for one year costs $850,000, Afghanistan Study Group writes.  AFGHAN AIR FORCE PROBED IN DRUG RUNNING: The U.S. is investigating allegations that some officials in the Afghan Air Force, which was established largely with American funds, have been using aircraft to ferry narcotics and illegal weapons around the country, American officials told The Wall Street Journal, Maria Abi-Habib (WSJ) reports.

FOREIGN POLICY: THE WILD CARD IN 2012 CAMPAIGN

The GOP will unify. Where once their central organizing principle was opposing communism, now it is opposing Barack Obama. As long as he is on the ballot, the Republicans will be able to reunite. There is not much the White House can do about that. The reality is the GOP demolition derby will end soon enough, and the president will be in a neck-and-neck race all year.

The economy, too, is a variable. If I knew that the economy was certain to continue to grow, I would not have to work my fingers to the bone on a keyboard, or yak myself hoarse on cable news. But let us hope, if not expect, that the fragile recovery strengthens a bit. That leaves the biggest and most important wild card of all: foreign policy. Between now and the election a lot can happen—and a lot can go wrong in the world. Here are just a few wild-card scenarios, The Daily Beast reports.

SYRIA: OIL MINISTER DEFECTS, THE HIGHEST LEVEL DEFECTION SO FAR

Syria’s deputy oil minister announced his defection in an online video that emerged Thursday, making him the highest ranking official to abandon President Bashar al-Assad’s regime since the country’s uprising erupted a year ago, AP/WSJ reports. MORE SYRIANS DIE: At least 56 people were killed in Syria Thursday as former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan cautioned against outside military intervention, saying it could worsen an already precarious situation, CNN reports. NO ASYLUM FOR ASSAD, SAYS RUSSIA: But it does not seem to indicate a softening of Russia’s opposition to intervention in Syria, where at least 7,500 have died as the uprising approaches its one-year anniversary, CSM reports. WAR TALK IS CHEAP: Two of the most virulently anti-U.S. regimes in the world – Iran and Syria – are painting bulls-eyes on their backs by their deeds. But the Obama Administration is seeking non-military solutions in both cases. It’s driving some lawmakers nuts, Mark Thompson (TIME) writes.

HAMAS: MIDEAST DIN DROWNS OUT PALESTINIANS

In the 14 months since revolution has spread across the Middle East and tension has soared over Iran’s nuclear program, the Palestinian leadership has found itself orphaned. Politically divided, its peace talks with Israel collapsed and its foreign support waning, the Palestinian Authority is sidelined, confused and worried that its people may return to violence, Ethan Bronner (NYT) reports. DENIES IT WILL ATTACK ISRAEL IN ANY WAR WITH IRAN: Leaders of the Palestinian Islamist movement, Hamas, say they will not help Iran militarily in any conflict between Israel and the Islamic Republic, Jon Donnison (BBC) reports.

IRAN: SUPREME LEADER LAUDS OBAMA

In a rare positive remark about the U.S. administration, Iran’s supreme leader lauded President Obama on Thursday for saying he was trying to avert war with Iran.

“Two days ago, we heard the president of America say: ‘We are not thinking of war with Iran.’ This is good. Very good. These are wise words. This is an exit from illusion,” said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to state television, Washington Post reports.

EGYPT: TRIAL POSTPONED FOR NON-PROFIT GROUPS

A Cairo court Thursday delayed once again the case of 16 Americans and 27 other employees of nonprofit groups accused of fomenting unrest in Egypt, AP 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>