SUSRIS Daily News – Excerpts from International Media Reports
/Provided as a service from the Saudi-US Trade Group, Washington, DC/
An oil price of $100 per barrel would provide the right balance for both consumers and producers, Saudi Arabian Finance Minister Ibrahim Alassaf said in an interview for the public Czech Television aired on Thursday. Global benchmark Brent blend was valued on Wednesday at just below $120 a barrel. “The target of $100 is good both for producers, consumers and the oil industry. I think this is a price that is good for everyone. So this is our target,” Alassaf said.
Timothy Gardner and Matthew Robinson | 4.27.12
The Obama administration is unlikely to pull back from levying sanctions against Iran oil transactions based on a government report due on Friday, which is expected to show crude markets are sufficiently well-supplied to move forward with the penalties. The report, which the U.S. Energy Information Administration is required to produce every two months under the sanctions law aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, could walk a fine line in assessing the state of markets, according to analysts. Oil markets have relaxed significantly since earlier this year, when prices reached post-2008 records as European and Asian oil customers cut imports from Iran. Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia has increased supplies, as has fellow OPEC producer Libya, while U.S. domestic output continues to grow. “I think there is pretty broad consensus in the market relative to two months ago that things are loose right now,” said Trevor Houser, a partner at Rhodium Group and a former State Department adviser. However, some analysts expect the report, which should be released at midday on Friday, to maintain a neutral tone, leaving President Barack Obama sufficient room to authorize a release of emergency oil stockpiles to help cool off gasoline prices, which have become a key issue in the presidential race.
Gulf Countries Splurge at Home: WALL STREET JOURNAL
Asa Fitch | 4.26.12
Booming oil prices are flooding Arab countries with money, but where the lion’s share of that wealth would once have been pumped into the world’s financial markets, much of it is now being spent at home. Gulf states are embarking on their biggest spending spree on record as they lavish funds on domestic projects—from new housing and hospitals to mosque restoration and job creation—largely as a defensive response to the Arab Spring uprisings that toppled other Middle East governments last year. Government outlays in the region are set to reach $488.6 billion this year, according to recent Institute of International Finance estimates, up 35% from 2009’s figure.
Foreign Military Sales Keep Production Lines Hot: MILITARY.COM NEWS
“Partnership building is part of one of the largest benefits that we see,” Hunt said. “It’s building and maintaining friendships, it’s about building allies. United States Central Command, or CENTCOM, is obviously a very busy place for the United States now. The more that we can help those countries not only defend, but operate amongst themselves, the stronger our friendship will become, and the less reliant they [will be] on the United States for assistance.”
Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar have captured 78 percent of the deal value of the domestic mergers and acquisitions (M&A) announced in MENA region in the first quarter of 2012, according to a report by Ernst & Young. The UAE topped the region in terms of total value, comprising approximately 29 percent of total domestic disclosed deal value worth $445 million, followed by Qatar at 29 percent of total domestic deal value worth $439.6 million, and Saudi Arabia at third position with 20 percent of deal value worth $304 million, the report said.
Jeffrey Kerr | 4.27.12
Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Saudi Aramco became co-owners of the largest U.S. refinery on Thursday when a new crude distillation unit at their joint-venture Motiva Enterprises Port Arthur, Texas, plant received oil for the first time, said Shell’s Chief Financial Officer. The 325,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) atmospheric crude distillation unit that started processing on Thursday combines with existing crude units to give Motiva’s Port Arthur, Texas, refinery a total crude oil refining capacity of 600,000 bpd, said Shell Chief Financial Officer Simon Henry during the company’s first quarter earnings call. The start-up of the crude unit culminates a 5-year, estimated $7-billion project to expand the refinery and continues the growth of Gulf Coast refining capacity started by Marathon Petroleum Corp, with the doubling of capacity at its 464,000 bpd Garyville, Louisiana, refinery in 2010.
Fourteen members of Osama bin Laden’s family were deported to Saudi Arabia from Pakistan Friday, less than a week ahead of the first anniversary of his death at the hands of U.S. commandos. Among those aboard the private plane that left at 2 a.m. local time were bin Laden’s three widows and two daughters, said Aamir Khalil, a family attorney. Earlier this month, the five women were sentenced to 45 days of house arrest for living in Pakistan illegally. Their detention ended last week. Khalil said the time served began March 3, when the five were formally taken into custody. US JUDGE DENIES REQUEST TO RELEASE PHOTOS OF BIN LADEN RAID: A federal judge has denied a request to release photos and video taken of Osama bin Laden during and after the raid in which the terrorist leader was killed by US commandos last year, the Independent reports.
The first Saudi female poet to be published in the US, writer and activist Nimah Nawwab is currently on tour in the US East Coast as she addresses issues related to challenges which form the basis for her art and activism, spirituality and women in times of transition in the Middle East. She will combine readings, book signings and lectures at various organizations. Her newly released book, Canvas of the Soul: Mystic Poems from the Heartland of Arabia, published by Tughra Books, encompasses poems of fiery love and peace from the spiritual heartland of Islam composed by a modern-day female poet descended from a long line of Meccan (from Mecca) scholars. Reflecting the pulsing, indivisible bridge of the works of great Sufi mystics and poets to modern times, these spiritual pieces recall the beloved works of Rabi‘ah Al ‘Adawiyyah, Rumi and Hafiz. Drawing on a rich religious legacy and led by the Sufi tradition seeking Unity, the poems cover aspects related to spirituality and present-day challenges. The inspiring combination of the traditional and modern in these compositions will touch the inner souls and captivate the hearts of those interested in Higher Love in these turbulent times of transition and frantic search for peace. Nawwab’s book tour includes lectures and book signing at Middle East Institute, Washington, DC(April, 26); Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University (April 30); East-West institute, Chicago, IL (May 16); The Brecht Forum/ASMA, New York, NY (May 22); and Book Expo America, New York, NY (June 5).
R&D Neglected In Muslim Countries: ARAB NEWS
Arab News | Abdul Hannan Tago | 4.27.12
A doctor at King Saud University said yesterday that from 700 to 1700, the Muslim world produced many of history’s finest scientists and technologists. Sultan Meo said that although the light of knowledge had largely been extinguished from the Muslim world, it survived, and indeed flourished, elsewhere. Meo was talking at the concluding session of the five-day Saudi International Medical Education Conference (SIMEC2012) organized by the College of Medicine at Imam University in Riyadh.
Practicing for Representative Governance: CROSSROADS ARABIA
John Burgess | 4.27.12
Arab News runs an interview with Abdullah Naseef, former deputy chairman of Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council. In the interview, Naseef makes some startling comments about the Council and, inadvertently, about Saudi society. Might elections result in less than the best? Yes, they might. But it is not only brains and competence that are necessary to provide leadership. Contact with and understand of the various communities is also important. I’m not suggesting that the stupid should be elected – though the US Congress shows that even they can win elections – but that a more diverse Council would be more representative.
1.6 Million Saudi Women Jobless: ARAB NEWS
There are more than 1.6 million unemployed Saudi women, a senior official from the Labor Ministry told a number of local dailies on Wednesday. Fahd bin Sulaiman Al-Tikhaifi, assistant secretary of the Ministry of Labor for development, said some of them possess high educational qualifications including Ph.D.s and Master’s. “These unemployed women have submitted their CVs to the ministry’s employment sites applying for suitable jobs,” he said during a presentation at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Al-Tikhaifi explained the applicants included 78 holders of Ph.D. degrees and fellowships, 2,250 with Master’s, 11,000 with high diplomas and more than 380,000 with bachelors. He said women with diplomas number 74,000 and those with high secondary school certificates were more than 530,000. He added there were 224,000 with intermediate school certificates and 240,000 elementary school certificates.
SEC Unveils SR452b Projects: SAUDI GAZETTE
Maher Abbas | 4.26.12
The Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) has allocated SR452 billion to implement energy projects until the year 2021, SEC Chairman of the Board of Directors Dr. Saleh Bin Hussein Al-Awaji said Wednesday. These projects will provide services consistent with international standards, including building up an adequate power at a peak time about 10 percent of combined capacity. The SEC annual report 2011, he added, indicated that the company is currently implementing several projects at a total cost exceeding SR100 billion in its efforts to meet the growing demand for electricity and continuous keenness on providing the best levels of services. The company has prepared an integrated plan until 2021 to cope with the rapid growth in electric loads resulting from continued economic growth and prosperity being witnessed by the Kingdom, he pointed out.
Saudi Association Carries Out Globalization Mission: THE EAST TEXAN
Along with the drastic increase of students from Saudi Arabia on the Texas A & M campus – up from 19 in 2009 to a current enrollment of 246 – a new organization has formed to bring these students together and spread an accurate depiction of Saudi life.
TERRORISM: OBITUARIES FOR AL-QAEDA ARE PREMATURE
Keep dreaming. Osama bin Laden was fond of recounting the following parable from the Quran to rally his followers in times of despair: A much-better-armed Christian army employed war elephants in a fearsome assault against Mecca, aspiring to destroy the Kaaba shrine, one of Islam’s most sacred sites. But birds showered the Christian army with pellets of hard-baked clay, and the Arabs eventually defeated the invaders. To bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders, this demonstrated that God was on their side — even in the face of certain defeat. Over the past decade, U.S. policymakers and pundits have repeatedly written al Qaeda’s obituary. The latest surge of triumphalism came after bin Laden’s killing a year ago. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta asserted that the United States was “within reach of strategically defeating al Qaeda,” while President Barack Obama proclaimed, “We have put al Qaeda on a path to defeat,” and academic experts churned out a new wave of books with such bullish titles as The Rise and Fall of al-Qaeda. These declarations of victory, however, underestimate al Qaeda’s continuing capacity for destruction, Seth Jones (FP) writes.
FRANCE: FRENCH ARE LEADING TOUGHER STAND ON SYRIA
A French-led push for a tougher stand on Syria is gathering momentum as regime forces continue to pound the country’s fourth city, Hama, in defiance of an ailing UN-sponsored ceasefire. France has adopted a forward position on the crisis by insisting that it will wait no longer than 5 May before moving to seek a resolution under Chapter 7 of the UN charter to demand the Syrian regime stop its campaign against dissent. Such a move could mean seeking the use of force though it is more likely to demand non-military punitive measures, the Guardian reports. NINE DEAD IN BOMB BLAST NEAR DAMASCUS MOSQUE: A suicide bomber killed nine people, some of them security men, outside a Damascus mosque on Friday, Syrian state media said, in another blow to a fraying U.N.-brokered truce between President Bashar al-Assad and rebels fighting for his downfall, Ed Cropley (Reuters) reports.
PALESTINE: UNDER THE SKIN OF HAMAS
In this new book, Italian journalist and historian Paola Caridi sets herself an ambitious goal. She seeks to get under the skin of the most notorious of the offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood: Palestine’s Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, in an effort to explain why it came to be choice of the majority of Palestinians in the elections of 2006, as well as the impasse that led to the split between Gaza Strip under Hamas and the West Bank under Fatah, the Majalla writes
UNITED STATES: OBAMA RELAXES DRONE RULES
The Obama administration has given the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. military greater leeway to target suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen with drones, responding to worries a new haven is being established from which to mount attacks on the West, the WSJ reports.
YEMEN: TOP AL-QAEDA BOMBMAKER IN YEMEN RESURFACES
Soon it became apparent that Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, the brains behind sophisticated bombs that have been used in attempts to attack the U.S., was still alive. A hunted al-Asiri went underground, knowing the U.S. was after him, particularly after the U.S. killed Anwar al-Awlaki, one of the Yemen group’s top leaders. But U.S. counterterrorism officials say he has resurfaced, AP reports.
JORDAN: KING REPLACES PM FOR LACK OF PROGRESS
Jordan ‘s King Abdullah II accepted yesterday the resignation of Prime Minister Aoun Khassawneh, after accusing him of slow reforms demanded by the public. Khassawneh, visiting Turkey, has been replaced by Fayez Tarawneh, 63, who was prime minister and head of the royal palace in the late 1990s, Al Bawaba reports.
PAKISTAN: HUGE NUMBERS FLOCK TO REFUGEE CAMP IN CONFLICT
Pakistan’s army has stepped up operations against the Lashkar-e-Islam militia group in the North West Frontier province outside Peshawar. There are 200,000 new refugees, and the United Nations warns of a spiraling humanitarian crisis. The BBC’s Aleem Maqbool reports from the Jalozai refugee camp, BBC reports. PAKISTAN SEEKS BIDS FOR IRAN GAS PIPELINE, DESPITE U.S. PRESSURE: Pakistan is pushing ahead with plans to build a gas pipeline from Iran despite strong opposition from Islamabad’s strategic ally Washington, according to tender documents, Reuters reports.
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