SUSRIS Production Summary – 2nd Quarter 2012

Published: June 30, 2012

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Editor’s Note:

This compilation provides a summary of SUSRIS articles, interviews, essays, items of interest and special reports distributed between April 1 – June 30, 2012. You can find daily news reports by browsing the SUSRIS News Archive and other resources on the Web site.  A trove of additional information on Saudi Arabia is contained on our companion site, the Saudi-US Trade Group (SUSTG.org).

You may also find useful resources through the index to the SUSRIS Special Sections. These are compilations of SUSRIS articles and interviews, related media reports, web links, photos and more that address a significant topic in the relationship or developments in the Middle East that touch on US-Saudi interests. We hope you check these SUSRIS Special Sections when there are occasions you need references not found elsewhere.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for helping make the SUSRIS a top choice for news, analyses and interviews concerning US-Saudi relations. We appreciate your continued interest in receiving SUSRIS newsletters, in recommending SUSRIS to your friends and colleagues, and in visiting the SUSRIS Web site

When you forward this “Quarterly” to your colleagues please recommend they sign up for our free e-newsletters by visiting SUSRIS.com. There’s a signup box at the top left of the page. They’ll thank you for it.

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2012 Special Sections

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2012Q2 Articles, Interviews & Special Reports

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From Board Rooms to War Games: A Conversation with Ali Al Shihabi
“..There’s no shortage of supremely important, intriguing, suspenseful scenarios playing out in the Middle East which makes you wonder why there are not more novelists taking advantage of the dramatic tableau that plays out every day in the real world. We recently learned about a new book by a very insightful fiction writer who is new to the writing trade but very experienced in the ways of the Gulf. In “Arabian War Games,” published in March, Ali Al Shihabi explores the geostrategic danger zones in the Middle East that confront and confound today’s policymakers..”
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Al Saud and the Future – Shihabi
“..A major state that was born out of a small desert principality over a hundred years ago and that has survived intact through the discovery of oil, the impact of sudden and massive wealth, two world wars, the era of Arab military coup d’états, and the challenges of Nasser, Khomeini, Saddam Hussein, Al Qaida, and now the Arab Spring deserves some respect..”
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Book: “Arabian War Games” – Shihabi
“..Today we provided for your consideration our exclusive interview with Mr. Ali Al Shihabi, a distinguished businessman who recently retired from managing an investment bank in the Gulf and took up the writing trade. His first book, “Arabian War Games: Cataclysmic Wars Redraw the Map of the Middle East,” was published in March. He also provides his “thoughts on Middle Easter politics and Economics at his blog, www.shihabi.com. In addition to providing his perspectives on current regional issues in the SUSRIS exclusive interview – “From Board Rooms to War Games: A Conversation with Ali Al Shihabi” – he is sharing an excerpt from “Arabian War Games,” with you here. He has also given permission for SUSRIS to reprint his blog, “Al Saud and the Future.”..”
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Fighter Jets and Sword Dances
“..The world press is always fascinated by what Saudi Arabia does and does not do. You can see many pages in the Western press full of political and social analyses in the Kingdom but they forget the bigger picture. Many Western observers think Saudi Arabia is a closed country for the outside press and Saudi Arabia can’t or doesn’t have the capability to handle the media..”
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Saudi Economy: Healthy First Quarter Economic Growth
“..Latest economic growth data confirm that the healthy performance of the Saudi economy continued into the first quarter of 2012. In real terms (that is, adjusted for price movements) the economy was 5.9 percent larger in the first quarter of 2012 than in the same quarter of 2011. Growth was lower than in the previous three quarters and more dependent on the oil sector, as the effects of short-term government stimulus eased. However, performance remains robust even when the oil and government sectors are removed..”
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The Problem with Taxing Foreign-Earned Income
“..From the standpoint of a business, it must offer significantly higher gross pay to an American over a non-American to account for the difference in net pay between them. No profit maximizing entity, however, is going to offer an American a higher salary over an equally qualified non-American just for holding an American passport. The fact is that over a 20-year period, the number of Americans employed by foreign subsidiaries of U.S. firms fell by 50 percent even as these firms continued to expand their overseas hiring. More alarming still are reports that U.S. Government requirements for reporting income of American workers are so onerous on businesses that some have foregone hiring Americans altogether..”
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US Ambassador Salutes King Abdullah Scholarship Program
“..The US ambassador to Saudi Arabia has said in remarks on the King Abdullah Scholarship Program that his country is proud to be helping King Abdullah succeed in implementing his vision that will also help create the kind of interconnected and tolerant world President Obama called for in his Cairo speech almost three years ago. “I would like to salute Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for his vision and stewardship of this forward-looking educational program,” Ambassador James B. Smith said in a statement on Friday, adding: “And I would like to salute Khaled Al-Anqari for his leadership at the Ministry of Higher Education.”..”
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In Major Shift, Saudi Aramco Expands in Oil Trading – SUSTG
“..Saudi Arabia has long been a dominant force in global oil markets, “but has never been an oil trader.” That changed on January 1st, 2012, when Saudi Aramco began operations at Aramco Trading, a wholly owned company subsidiary. The new Aramco Trading marks an expansion in Aramco’s downstream investment portfolio in the Kingdom and overseas, according to the company. “Formally established as Saudi Aramco Products Trading Company, the new entity will replace the Product Sales and Marketing Department (PSMD) in importing and exporting refined petroleum products, commonly known in the industry as “system balancing” of refined petroleum products,” the company noted on its Web Site..”
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Russia, Bridesmaid, but Never the Bride
“..On the morning of May 23, 1953, two men were only a few meters from reaching the summit of the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest. The two men asked each other which one would set his foot first to be the first man in history to climb Mount Everest. It was decided that, Sir Edmond Hilary will be the first confirmed man to reach the summit. The whole world remembered him. But, very few even heard of his partner, Tenzing Norgay who achieved the same thing just a few seconds later. So, you can be a bridesmaid all your life, but, if you are not the bride, no one will remember you..”
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Education, Women’s Empowerment and the Hard and Soft Aspects of Change: A Conversation with Isobel Coleman
“..How can we better understand the pace of these changes?  You may recall the very insightful blog posting by Dr. Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow and Director of the Civil Society, Markets and Democracy Initiative, The Council on Foreign Relations, that was shared by SUSRIS last month. She reported on her recent trip to Saudi Arabia, specifically her experience at the commencement ceremony of Effat University in Jeddah. We asked Dr. Coleman, a regular visitor to the Kingdom, to expand on her experiences in Saudi Arabia on this visit and compare the developments in education and empowerment of women over course of her first hand experiences in the Kingdom. In addition to this SUSRIS exclusive interview we are pleased to share, in a separate item, the remarks she prepared as commencement speaker, for delivery to the class of 2012 at Effat University..”
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Importance of Economic Diversification for Saudi Arabia
“..Saudi Arabia’s role as a leading producer of oil has put it in a position of great responsibility. Through the prudent management of its resources, Saudi Arabia has managed to provide important support to the global economy during a period of high instability, including through its actions in stabilizing the global oil market. According to the International Monetary Fund’s most recent findings following a visit to Saudi Arabia, such practices allowed for higher imports and increased worker remittances, which together with financial assistance created positive spill-over effects in other economies in the region and beyond..”
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Event: “Crisis Yemen: Going Where?” – Washington, June 26
“..SUSRIS regularly provides information on events of interest to our readers but suggests you contact the event organizers directly for registration and further information. The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations and The Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, U.S. Department of Defense/National Defense University invite you to attend: Crisis Yemen: Going Where? on Tuesday, June 26, 2012..”
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Crown Prince Nayef and World Security – Al-Mulhim
“..The Middle East is known for being the most volatile area in the world. Each country has a lot of challenges and security threats, be it outside or inside threats. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was and still is the most stable island in a sea of turbulence. And Saudi Arabia had and still has the burden of being the center of gravity not in the Middle East only, but in the whole world. Saudi Arabia is the center of the Islamic world and is the country where the Two Holy Mosques are located. Crown Prince Nayef, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior, was one of the few people who had influenced the world’s security. Saudi Arabia is a country, which has been looked at for guidance and advice by many countries on security issues..”
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Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Named Crown Prince
“..His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz was designated Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and appointed Deputy Prime Minister, by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on June 18, 2012, upon the death of Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz. Crown Prince Salman also serves as Minister of Defense. Prince Salman was born in Riyadh on Dec. 31, 1935, and received his education at the Prince’s School in Riyadh. He served as Deputy Governor of Riyadh from March 1954 to April 1955, and Governor of Riyadh from April 1955 to December 1960 and again from February 1963 to Nov. 5, 2011, when he was appointed Minister of Defense..”
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Transition in the Kingdom: A Conversation with Dr. Theodore Karasik
“..There are two major concerns at this moment given that two crown princes died in the last nine months. First, who will be considered as “Number 3” or Second Deputy Prime Minister and ultimately the next in line to be Crown Prince. I think that this position, of Second Deputy Prime Minister, will remain vacant perhaps for a few months and into the fall. We are now at the crossroads that many Saudi watchers were waiting for. Will there be a jump from the first generation of al-Saud princes — the sons of King Abdulaziz — to the second generation princes? It appears that the first generation may be running out of qualified candidates to be King. Either there is the case of not having the correct lineage or positioning, or not enough experience in key sectors of the state. Age is also becoming an issue so Saudi watchers are looking at the second generation..”
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Transition in the Kingdom: A Conversation with Thomas Lippman
“..Nayef’s passing probably will make little short-term difference. Whether Salman is designated heir apparent or another, less known, son of Abdul Aziz, the basic outlines of the kingdom’s economic and strategic policies are unlikely to change much. As long as Abdullah remains on the throne, internal policies such as the gradual expansion of jobs open to women, are also unlikely to change. The real significance is that this event shortens the inevitable transition to the next generation, which could be more difficult..”
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Transition in the Kingdom: A Conversation with F. Gregory Gause
“..This does not appear to be a particularly difficult transition, from the perspective of an outsider like me. Prince Salman was given the Defense Ministry, after his long career as governor of Riyadh, to some extent to give him cabinet and security responsibilities as a precursor to his move into the line of succession. It seems to me that the more open question is who becomes Minister of the Interior, one of the most important ministries, to succeed Prince Nayef..”
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BREAKING NEWS: Crown Prince and Interior Minister Named
“..Jeddah, Rajab 28, 1433, Jun 18, 2012, SPA — Following the demise of Crown Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has appointed Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, the current Deputy Minister of Interior, as Minister of Interior, a royal order said today. The royal order also said the concerned authorities were instructed to act accordingly with immediate effect..”
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Saudi Embassy Washington Opens Condolence Book
“..It is with regret and great sadness at the passing of Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, that the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia announces that a condolence book will be open for signing at the Embassy, located at 601 New Hampshire Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20037, Monday June 18 through Wednesday, June 20 from 2:00pm – 5:00pm, and that Prayer services will be held at the embassy for Crown Prince Nayef, God bless his soul, on Monday, June 18 following Dhuhr (noon) prayer..”
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Secretary Clinton on the Passing of Crown Prince Nayef
“..I am deeply saddened by the passing of Crown Prince Nayif bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud. I want to express my condolences to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the family of Crown Prince Naif, and the people of Saudi Arabia. He devoted his life to the security of Saudi Arabia and its fight against extremism. Crown Prince Naif was a key and valued partner for the United States, and he was a dedicated and courageous leader for Saudi Arabia. I will personally miss Crown Prince Naif and his pivotal role in enhancing the bilateral relationship between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia..”
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President Obama on the Passing of Crown Prince Nayef
“..It was with great regret that I learned of the passing of Crown Prince Nayif bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia. For decades, Crown Prince Nayif served as Minister of the Interior and dedicated himself to the security of Saudi Arabia as well as security throughout the region. Under his leadership, the United States and Saudi Arabia developed a strong and effective partnership in the fight against terrorism, one that has saved countless American and Saudi lives. Crown Prince Nayif also strongly supported the broader partnership between our two countries begun by his late father, King Abd al-Aziz Al Saud, and President Roosevelt in their historic meeting in 1945. On behalf of the American people, I would like to offer my deepest condolences to King Abdullah, the royal family, and the people of Saudi Arabia..”
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Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz (1934-2012)
“..His Royal Highness Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz was designated Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and appointed Deputy Prime Minister, by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on October 27, 2011, upon the death of Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz. Crown Prince Nayef also serves as Minister of Interior. Prince Nayef was born in Taif in 1354H (1934), and, along with his brothers, received his early education in religion, modern culture and diplomacy at the royal court. He was appointed Deputy Governor of Riyadh in 1951 and Governor of Riyadh in 1953. In 1970, King Faisal appointed Prince Nayef the Deputy Minister of Interior and in 1975, King Khaled named him Minister of Interior. King Abdullah appointed him Second Deputy Prime Minister in 2009..”
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Breaking News: Crown Prince Nayef Has Died – SPA
“..The Royal Court issued today the following statement: ‘ With deep sorrow and grief, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, announced the death of his brother, Crown Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior, who passed away on Saturday. A funeral prayer will be performed for his soul at the Holy Mosque in Makkah after Maghreb (sunset) prayer on Sunday. The Royal Court condoles the Saudi people on the deceased prince, praying to Allah Almighty to bless his soul and to reward him for his services to his religion and homeland.”..”
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Saudi Arabia Inflation Report – May 2012 – Jadwa
“..The Saudi Central Department of Statistics provides the government’s report of annual inflation rates every month. This week Jadwa Investment released its monthly “Inflation Report” which noted the May year-on-year inflation dropped to 5.1 percent, down from 5.3 percent in April, the lowest since August 2011. The Jadwa report provides analysis of inflation stats and trends. It is provided here for your consideration. We thank Mr. Paul Gamble, Chief Economist and Head of Research, for sharing this report here..”
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Saudi Economy: June 2012 Jadwa Chartbook
“..The Jadwa Investment firm in Riyadh introduced the “Saudi Chartbook” to provide a quick, chart-based briefing on the key developments and trends in the Saudi economy and stock market. SUSRIS is pleased to provide the summary from the June Saudi Chartbook and a link to the complete report, rich with illuminating charts and graphs. SUSRIS thanks Jadwa Investment’s Chief Economist and Head of Research Paul Gamble for providing this insightful report for your consideration..”
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Saudi Construction Sector: A Sleeping Giant Awakens – SUSTG
“..Deloitte’s recently released report, “GCC powers of construction 2012: Five lessons to learn” assesses the current prospects of Saudi Arabia’s construction sector. Deloitte paints a very optimistic picture noting Saudi Arabia’s leading position in the GCC with regard to population and GDP. It also highlights the ambitious spending plans established in the latest 5-year development plan announced in 2010. “In 2010, the Government approved a five-year SAR 1.44 trillion (USD384 bn) development plan to develop human resources, education, housing and transportation infrastructure as the kingdom seeks faster economic growth, continued diversification of its economy away from hydrocarbons, and to create jobs and social development. It is the biggest investment package announced by any of the G20 nations as a percentage of GDP, and for many involved in the GCC construction sector, this can be a massive windfall for their continued success in the largest economy in the GCC.”..”
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Gulf States and an Era of Cooperation
“..Recently, the Saudi capital, Riyadh, hosted a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council leaders. In the meeting, there were serious discussions about forging closer relations among the GCC member states. The GCC members were looking for political integration to counter the many challenges in the area. The meeting came at a time when all political, economic and intelligence observers were focusing their analyses on the GCC member states..”
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Symposium Reviews The Gulf Cooperation Council as it Turns 31 – Wrapup
“..What are the motives for a GCC union? I think the economic reasons are very compelling. Saudi Arabia has the largest GDP in the region and if you have a totally economic union that could provide more investments in certain countries like Oman and Bahrain, you can have people from Kuwait going to a larger market like the Saudi market, the same thing for the UAE. So I think economically, it makes sense to have an economic union. And it would be beneficial for everyone..”
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The Gulf Cooperation Council Turns 31 – Part 6 – The GCC and the US in Defense
“..I’ve been asked to speak about defense and security with respect to the U.S. and GCC interests versus Iran. The so-called Arab Spring, the January 2012 U.S. Defense policy pivot and the threat from Iran provide unequaled opportunity for the GCC right now. I posit that this is now a time a formal strategic relationship, a formal strategic dialogue between the GCC and the U.S. I wish to talk about the Arab Spring because Iran is exploiting it. I want to talk about the strategic context derived from the January 2012 U.S. defense policy pivot in the Indian Ocean region because that presents the GCC opportunities, too. I also wanted to share my views about what the GCC can and maybe should do relating to Iran and also for regional security..”
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The Gulf Cooperation Council Turns 31 – Part 5 – Engaging Youth
“..So it creates a critical gap between expectations and opportunities. Many of our youth contacts in the field are doing the right thing. They’re going to school. They’re getting an education. They’re working hard. They’re graduating. They’re trying to enter into the labor market. They’re trying to enter into the political process and the jobs just aren’t there. But it’s not just that the jobs aren’t there, because if you don’t have jobs you probably don’t have a living wage. You probably aren’t going to be able to move out of your parents home. If you can’t move out of your parents home well you might not be able to court the person you’re trying to date and get married. If you can’t get married you’re probably not going to have kids. Can’t get kids? Well you’re probably not going to move to the next transition of adulthood. So it creates this immense, understandable frustration, heightened instability, and also the real potential for exploitation from external factors — Al Qaeda in the Arabia Peninsula and other external forces. So there’s a U.S. imperative, a critical U.S. interest in tackling this gap between expectations and opportunities..”
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The Gulf Cooperation Council Turns 31 – Part 4 – A Question of Union
“..So some of the concerns from sort of the secondhand reports that you get at the time are that South Yemen was a concern and the Straight of Hormuz. Oman in particular, Sultan Qaboos, was worried about both of those issues. Sheikh Zayed after the summit where they announced the formation of GCC had a press conference where he unequivocally stated the UAE’s right to control Abu Musa and the Tunbs, the three disputed islands. But he called for a diplomatic solution not a military solution to the problem. A lot of this will sound very familiar to today. I think you’ll recognize a lot of these same concerns in what we talk about now. We certainly had a lot of press, a lot of paper being spilled over the three disputed islands just a few months ago and the same perspective taken by the UAE which is certainly a wise and peaceful approach to the problem..”
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Symposium Reviews The Gulf Cooperation Council as it Turns 31 – Part 3 – Energy
“..Now individually I can go through all six countries and give you examples, and I certainly will, of the strides that are being made within the renewable energy sectors in each one of these GCC countries. In fact, I was speaking to an official from one of the state-owned oil companies the other day and he indeed confirmed that this particular country within the GCC is aggressively pursuing renewable energy not only a policy but renewable energy programs, knowing of course that there is an end to the traditional sources, but also is a matter of diversifying their economy and certainly creating jobs..”
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Symposium Reviews The Gulf Cooperation Council as it Turns 31 – Part 2 – Economics
“..First, when we look at the GCC, it possesses 40 percent of the world’s oil proven reserves and 25 percent of the gas reserves. At the moment, the GCC is producing nearly 16.5 million barrels, which accounts for 20 percent of the total worldwide production of oil. In 2011, the GCC exports reached $538 billion. In 2012, they could range from $530 billion to as high as $570 billion. In 2011, these countries accumulated over $350 million in surpluses and their foreign exchange holdings by the end of 2011 reached $2.3 trillion. We hear a great deal about China. Everybody is talking about the Chinese foreign exchange reserves with $2.3-2.5 trillion. Why did these reserves go up? One reason is the price of oil. In 2003, the average price per barrel was $30 a barrel. In 2011, the average price was almost $92 a barrel. Secondly, the investment policy of these countries were overly conservative and we have seen the results of that conservatism in what happened in 2007-2008 when we had a financial crisis that hit the U.S., that hit Europe and we still have a financial crisis because of Greece and Portugal and potentially Spain. Now, if we look at Saudi Arabia is an example, the Saudi’s had the most conservative policy. They invested the bulk of their assets in US Treasury notes and bonds and when the markets tumbled in 2008 and 2009 the value of the Saudi bond portfolio jumped..”
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Symposium Reviews The Gulf Cooperation Council as it Turns 31 – Part 1
“..We have a rich array of individuals who’ve spent most of their professional lifetime focused on the region of interest and emphasis today, namely the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which this month, 31 years ago, established a six-state sub-regional organization. At the time, many people were quite surprised because these had been seen for so much of modern history as amongst the most forgotten if not also the most forlorn of the countries of the Arab East. And several countries wanted to be invited to join this organization at the beginning but they were not. And there were resentments, jealousies, envies as a result. And from its inception until now, the GCC probably has been more misunderstood than understood. And this is no more accurately the case than in North America and the United States in particular. It is true that most Americans now who follow foreign affairs issues realize that the GCC is something more than animal, vegetable and mineral. What they’re not exactly certain of is what it is and what it is not, and what it is empowered to do and what it is constrained in terms of not being able to do. Much of it will be shared by our specialists this morning..”
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Saudi Arabia’s Energy Crisis – Lebling
“..The good news for Saudi Arabia is that its economy is booming. The bad news for us – and for the Saudis as well – is that the Kingdom is consuming more and more of its precious petroleum resources, and within a decade may have to begin cutting back on its oil exports to the rest of the world. Chatham House, a leading international affairs think-tank based in Great Britain, has spent over a year studying energy use in Saudi Arabia and reports that: energy consumption has been climbing since the early 1970s and shows no slowdown in response to dips in the oil price; oil and gas continue to account for all of Saudi Arabia’s energy production, with oil continuing to dominate the energy mix; and steady diversification into gas began in the early 1970s; but Oil’s share in the energy mix has nevertheless begun to rise again over the last six years..”
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The Gulf Military Balance in 2012 – Cordesman
“..These forces are evolving in many ways. Iran now presents a major threat in terms of its asymmetric and proxy warfare assets, its growing missile arsenal and its potential nuclear capability. The growing political unrest and instability in the region is creating new internal security challenges. Domestic unrest in countries like Yemen could create new threats that cross the Saudi and Omani borders. The threat of terrorism has so far been contained, but remains all too real and has driven many regional states to make major increases in their paramilitary, security and special forces. The rising threats from asymmetric and proxy warfare, nuclear weapons, internal security threats, and terrorism make it difficult to assess the military balance. Hard numbers are only available on classic measures of conventional military strength or the total size of new force elements like paramilitary and missile forces. There is no clear way to measure the balance of conventional and irregular forces in asymmetric conflicts, or how missiles and proliferation will affect the balance. Moreover, even the conventional balance is harder to assess. The numbers of major weapons platforms are still important, as are manpower totals and other classic measures of force strength but their relative importance is steadily diminishing over time. The deterrent and warfighting capability of conventional forces is increasingly shaped by factors like training, sustainability, the quality of munitions, sensors, battle management systems, and intelligence capabilities..”
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Saudi Pioneers and Mega Achievements
“..When I started reading about this pioneer I came across many Saudis who contributed a lot to this country. And there is a need to give them credit for what they have done. During my reading about the many names of Saudi pioneers, I found a man I had never heard of before, but I was amazed by his track record of the jobs and positions he held and his education. His name is Dr. Tariq Alshawaf. This pioneer was one of the first Saudi engineers to graduate from the US. He graduated in 1955 from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. And what I noticed about this engineer is that he was a man of many hats. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from his old school and he became involved in many mega projects in Saudi Arabia, such as building seaports, training new engineers and building new water dams. He became an expert in the field of water and agriculture. And finally, this engineer turned into a historian because of the rich experiences he had. Saudi pioneers deserve to be remembered. I have written an article in Arab News on May 11, 2010 titled “Saudi Aramco at 77, a street with no name.” I talked mainly about the American pioneers who came to Saudi Arabia in the early 1930s and their achievements. Some of them entered the hall of fame and some of them simply weren’t known. This doesn’t take away the achievements of the unknown pioneers either Americans or other nationalities. During the course of building the most sophisticated infrastructure in the most hostile environment — the heat, humidity and the lack of basic needs — the pioneers had an iron will..”
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Fight Like a Girl: Saudi Women Tackle Everest to Advance Breast Cancer Awareness
“..To the ten Saudi women attempting a punishing ascent to a major milestone on the world’s highest peak, the dangers of reaching the Mount Everest base camp are no match for their cause. As a part of an ever-growing effort in Saudi Arabia, the campaign, “A Woman’s Journey: Destination Mount Everest,” intends to raise awareness of breast cancer among Saudi Arabian women to an altitude of over 17,000 feet on the slope of the 29,029 feet (8,848 m) giant. Headed by Zahra Breast Cancer Association founder Princess Reema Bint Bandar Bin Sultan Al Saud, the climb is one of the association’s many efforts throughout the last few years to raise cancer awareness among Saudi women. In a groundbreaking efforts in the fight against breast cancer in the Kingdom, the “Pink Ribbon” campaign in October 2010 set the world record for largest human awareness ribbon with over 10,000 participants. Now, less than two years later, Princess Reema is among the women undertaking the dangers of Everest to further promote awareness. Accompanying her are fellow female climbers Jude Al-Aitani, Asma Al-Ghalib, Mashael Alhegelan, Mona Shahab, Noura Bouzo, Raha Al-Moharrak, Lina Almaeena, Samaher Mously, Hatun Madani, Alya Al-Sa’ad, and Hasna’a Mokhtar. Either climbing for friends and family affected by the disease, or survivors themselves, each woman undertaking Everest embarks on the adventure for all Saudi women to prove nothing is impossible. To this group, ascending to the Everest base camp demonstrates to Saudi women the importance of physical fitness as part of a healthy lifestyle, which can help prevent breast cancer..”
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Effat University on the Forefront of Change in Saudi Arabia – Coleman
“..This past weekend, I had the honor of being the commencement speaker at Effat University, a private university for women in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It was hardly the staid affair I expected. Colorful klieg lights lit the way of arriving parents and dignitaries; forget “Pomp and Circumstance”—the more than two hundred graduates and faculty paraded in to a pulsating techno beat, while stage fog swirled to dramatic effect. The array of high-heeled shoes under the graduates’ sky-blue abayas was breathtaking—everything from six inch high, hot-pink platform wedges, to cowboy boots, to the latest snakeskin and metallic Manolo Blahniks. What really impressed me was the energy and passion of the graduates. The president of the student government in her speech exhorted her fellow graduates—in a chant of “yes, we can”—to change the world around them. Married at the age of twenty, she also thanked her husband for not “putting her in a cage” and allowing her to pursue her dreams. (She exuded such determination that I can guess he didn’t have much of an alternative.) The alumni speaker, who had been the valedictorian of the class of 2006, spoke of her sense of accomplishment in getting her master’s degree in England and building her career, but noted that she was most proud of passing her driver’s test in the U.K. That elicited particular cheers from the crowd. (Despite last year’s renewed effort to eliminate the driving ban, Saudi women are still not allowed to drive)..”
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Baseball and Saudi Economic Policy – Wilson
“..Dr. Muhammad Al-Jasser, Minister of Economy and Planning, recently spoke to the Young Businessmen’s Committee of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Though the setting would appear innocuous, Dr. Al-Jasser’s remarks were not. The theme was the “Future Vision of the Saudi Economy.” Curiously, it called to mind my home-town baseball team, the Washington Nationals, and how encouraging are the current prospects of this long-suffering franchise. Washington only got a team again in 2005, more than 30 years after the Washington Senators left town in 1972 to become the Texas Rangers. Their losing ways continued on their return to Washington but now, after a prolonged re-building phase, the team’s prospects are on the upswing. Baseball insiders think they will contend for a playoff spot in 2012 and much of this optimism has to do with the Nationals’ extremely talented and remarkably young pitching staff, whose final pieces were assembled over the winter during baseball’s offseason. This group of ‘flamethrowers’ average fastball is speedier (93.4 mph) than that of any starting rotation since pitch velocity was first tracked in 2002. You can’t go far in the Major Leagues without good pitching and, if this staff reaches its potential, the Nationals could be very good for years to come. This winter King Abdullah also made some changes to his economy, trade and finance ‘staff.’ In December 2011 he implemented a ‘minor’ reshuffle of cabinet and other key posts that included the appointment of Dr. Muhammad Al-Jasser to head the Ministry of Economy and Planning, Dr. Tafiq Al-Rabiah to become Minister of Commerce and Industry and Dr. Fahad Al-Mubarak to succeed Al-Jasser as Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA)..”
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Global Markets Drag on TASI
“..The TASI has dipped over the past month, primarily due to global factors. First quarter results of listed companies point to ongoing strength in the domestic economy, with profits 14.9 percent higher than in the first quarter of 2011. Nonetheless, the TASI is down by 10 percent since the end of March, mirroring falls on global markets, which have been unnerved by weaker economic data and a heightening political backlash against austerity in the Eurozone. We had anticipated that the rapid gains in share prices over the first quarter would not be sustained and maintain our end-year projection for the T ASI of 8,050. Net income of all listed companies in the first quarter was SR25 billion, an increase of 14.9 percent year-on-year. All bar one of the 15 sectors recorded higher profits than in the first quarter of 2011. Quarterly growth in net income, at 22.6 percent, was the fastest since the first quarter of 2010..”
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Saudi Arabia Inflation Report – April 2012 – Jadwa
“..Last week Standard & Poor’s affirmed its long- and short-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings for Saudi Arabia at “AA-/A-1+. In the announcement, S&P noted, “the government’s very strong external and fiscal positions, which have been built over a number of years. By prudent macroeconomic management, the government has reduced its general government debt, generating additional fiscal space for countercyclical policies. The ratings are constrained by underdeveloped public institutions, lower GDP per capita relative to similarly rated sovereigns, and limited monetary flexibility. We note that Saudi Arabia is making tangible progress in transparency and data availability, most recently with the inaugural publication of data on the country’s international investment position.” Among the data provided by the government has been the report of annual inflation rates released every month by the Central Department of Statistics. This week Jadwa Investment released its monthly Inflation Report which noted the April year-on-year inflation dropped to 5.3 percent in April, down from 5.4 percent in March..”
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Saudi Perspective on the Middle East: Gulf Union Context – Obaid
“..This week Mr. Nawaf Obaid, former strategic adviser to Prince Turki Al-Faisal, presented a briefing titled, “Saudi Perspective on the Middle East: The View from Riyadh” at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Obaid told SUSRIS the briefing was provided to bring context to expected announcements on the question of Gulf union at the May 14, 2012 meeting of GCC leaders in Riyadh. In this SUSRIS exclusive presentation, the “Saudi Perspective on the Middle East: The View from Riyadh” assessment provides: the background and context for Saudi diplomacy — assets and characteristics; economic and energy data; sources of regional instability; the “New Gulf Union”; profile of Gulf defense configurations; the Kingdom’s role in regional stabilization and its political and economic positioning; and key Saudi initiatives vis a vis Iran, Bahrain, Yemen, Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Syria and Tunisia..”
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Saudi Women Carve Niche in Medicine
“..In 1975, the only university in the Eastern Province was a small petroleum college. It was located in Dhahran and it was an all-men school. Any student from the Eastern Province who didn’t attend this petroleum college would have to go to Riyadh to attend the university there — King Saud University. Students in Saudi Arabia were lucky, because they got a free education and monthly stipends. Those who went to Riyadh would use the monthly payments to cover their own personal expenses. The situation for young women was a little harder. Yes, they still got the same free education and monthly payment, but the young Saudi women who wanted to continue their university education in Riyadh would only be able to finish their university degrees if they had relatives or family friends to live with..”
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Terrorism and Financial Intelligence
“..The United States’ and Saudi Arabia’s long-standing cooperation in combatting global terrorism is by its nature a secretive area of the relationship but is occasionally revealed to the public as it was this week in the case of another foiled Al Qaeda bombing plot. SUSRIS has compiled much of the publicly available information including exclusive interviews with officials and specialists about these challenges. Today we provide for your consideration a very insightful interview with David Cohen, the current Under Secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence; conducted by Juan Zarate, a senior adviser at CSIS and former Deputy National Security Adviser for Combatting Terrorism and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes..”
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Cabinet Approves Two Arab Accords
“..On April 29, the Council of Ministers approved two accords dealing with combating money laundering and terror funding and combating cross-border organized crimes. The accord requires Arab countries “to track down those involved in money laundering and terror funding, to conduct investigations against them and take judicial action against the culprits.” Signatories are also expected to enact laws to incriminate money laundering and terror funding..”
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Gulf Political Union – Gause Talks with “Iran Primer”
“..Yesterday the U.S. Institute of Peace published an interview with Professor F. Gregory Gause, chair of the University of Vermonth’s political science department and regular contributor to SUSRIS.com, on the issue of a Gulf political union as a vehicle to “handle” Iran and the Arab spring. We commend his insightful interview with Caroline Crouch to your attention and provide an excerpt here for your consideration. [Iran Primer] “What would a political union or federation look like? Is there a model elsewhere in the world? Is this potentially an equivalent of the European Union? How might a Gulf union differ from other regional alliances, such as the Arab League and OPEC?” [Gause] “It would differ from the Arab League in that there would be fewer members and thus it would be easier to reach unanimity and take actions. It would be different from OPEC in that it would tackle a range of issues, and not be concentrated on just one. I think that the supporters of the notion really do have the EU in mind as a model of economic and political integration, but I doubt that the political circumstances are such that any of the smaller state governments except Bahrain would be willing to submerge their sovereign powers to Saudi Arabia, which is what, in effect, such a union would be. Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE do not need Saudi money and do not need Saudi security forces.”..”
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Saudi Economy: May 2012 Jadwa Chartbook
“..The Jadwa Investment firm in Riyadh introduced the “Saudi Chartbook” to provide a quick, chart-based briefing on the key developments and trends in the Saudi economy and stock market. SUSRIS is pleased to provide the summary from the April Saudi Chartbook and a link to the complete report, rich with illuminating charts and graphs. SUSRIS thanks Jadwa Investment’s Chief Economist and Head of Research Paul Gamble and Associate Research Director Gasim Abdulkarim for providing this insightful report for your consideration..”
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Toward a Union Formula – Prince Saud Al Faisal
“..On behalf of Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Chairman of the Institute of Diplomatic Studies, Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs opened here today ‘The Conference of Gulf Youth, Arab Gulf States From Cooperation to Union,’ organized by the Institute for Diplomatic Studies. Addressing the Conference, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs said in a speech delivered on his behalf by Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, ‘Our guests, Gulf youth, our conference is held at a time when most of the attention of the leaders, and decision-makers, and thinkers is to look after how to face current challenges and developments at political, social, economic arenas, and their effects on our countries and peoples. The escalation of confrontation between Iran and the international community over its nuclear program, its constant provocation of GCC countries in particular, continued sufferings of the Palestinian people, and the implications of what is happing in a number of countries in the region of wide political changes in the context of what has become known as the ‘Arab spring’, all these developments require us to pause for reflection and a strong will to deal with them in the interest of GCC states, the unity of their territories, territorial integrity, civil peace, stability and growth..”
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Is Visiting Jerusalem Recognition of Israel?
“..Since 1948 until today, the Arab states have been in a state of war with Israel. There were four major wars (1948-56-67-73) and many more military conflicts. And until 1979, there were no formal relations between any Arab country and Israel. The first breakthrough came in 1979 after the signing of the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. With this agreement, Egypt achieved what they couldn’t achieve by war. They got back the Sinai Peninsula. And in later years, we saw diplomatic relations between Israel and another four Arab countries (Jordan, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia). The relations were strained during the Palestinians’ Intifada (uprising). Later on, two Gulf states had the first contact between any of the Gulf states and Israel since 1948 with the opening of trade representation offices in Qatar and Oman. Jerusalem is important to all Abrahamic religions (Islam, Judaism and Christianity), so, why is Jerusalem dividing people of different faiths rather than bringing them together?
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Saudi Poetess Touring US
“..The first Saudi female poet to be published in the U.S., writer and activist Nimah Nawwab is currently on tour pn the 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..”
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Rapid Growth in Saudi Foreign Assets – Jadwa
“..For the first time, data on the total foreign assets and liabilities of all components of the Saudi economy (government, companies and individuals) has been published. It shows that their combined foreign assets grew rapidly in recent years to stand at $707 billion at the end of 2010. With Saudi entities and individuals owing $213 billion to foreigners, total net foreign assets stood at $494 billion at the end of 2010. We estimate that the Kingdom’s net foreign assets rose to almost $600 billion at the end of 2011. This is very high and represents a core source of strength for the economy..”
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Examining International Sanctions
“..Sanctions are a foreign policy tool somewhere between hard and soft power, which can play a significant role in encouraging bad actors to change their behavior. Under the Obama Administration, sanctions have proven to be one of our most effective means of increasing pressure on rogue actors and regimes without resorting to force. Secretary Clinton has noted that one of our country’s great challenges is advancing our global leadership at a time when power is often measured and exercised in economic terms. Our sanctions regimes are a critical part of our economic outreach, and we envision an economic foreign policy in which promotion of business development meshes seamlessly with sanctions that simultaneously encourage our global partners to focus on responsible, innovative markets and isolate the world’s worst human rights abusers and weapons proliferators. Additionally, the Department has been ramping up its focus on making our sanctions regimes as strong and effective as possible. Given the horrific events occurring in Iran and Syria over the past couple years, these improvements to our sanctions protocol are timely, and in sync with the Administration’s commitment to using sanctions in the most effective manner possible. In light of this new focus, we have been expanding our sanctions team, adding six more people and bringing in a new Deputy assistant Secretary to focus wholly on our sanctions programs. We are aiming for a re-vamped sanctions Deputate by mid-summer..”
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Economy Snapshot from Finance Minister Al Assaf
“..Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Finance Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al Assaf gave his assessment of the Kingdom’s economy in an interview with KippReport yesterday. He talked about the strength of the economy — “performing very well”; and risks ahead for the Saudi economy — “moving in the same direction”, and the global economy — “this is another issue which will take a long time to talk about.” Minister Al Assaf mentioned the industrial sector in particular when asked about areas of the economy where he was enthusiastic. ”The industrial sector is the real excitement for us, which is growing at a rate of 15 per­cent, which is not a joke. The other one is service sector, like the financial services or the restaurant and hotels or other services in the economy. A particular sector that we are excited about is the mineral resource sector, as you know we are going through huge investments in the mineral resource centre, particularly Phosphates, bauxite, and aluminum and other basic minerals, and core extractions such as cement. We are having a number of initiatives in that area, which, in my view, will lead to a si­tuation in the future where the mineral re­sources or the minerals will contribute to the GDP of the country.”..”
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Muslims’ Hijrah to Europe
“..Just last week, the radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada was arrested in London by British authorities and could be deported to Jordan. But, why is a Muslim cleric fighting deportation from a non-Muslim country to a Muslim country? And why is he preaching against the country that hosted and protected him? If he is considering himself a Muslim cleric, then didn’t he know the meaning of Alhijrah? In Islam, there is a phrase called Hijrah (migration). Islam introduced this phrase to encourage Muslims to flee any land where they are mistreated, to places of more tolerance. This means, Hijrah is leaving a non-Muslim country to reside in a Muslim country. But, there was irony in the first and second Hijrah for Muslims from Makkah, the birth place of Islam and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), to Alhabashah (old Ethiopia) in the year 615 A.D. Alhabashah was ruled by a leader named Alnajashi. He was Christian. This shows how Islam is tolerant with other faiths. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) left the fate of new Muslims in the hand of a Christian. The tens of Muslims who migrated to Alhabashah gave the highest respect to the land that hosted and protected them. They never criticized the religion or way of life of the people in Alhabashah. So, did Abu Qatada really understand the real meaning of Islam?..”
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Options for Dealing with Iran’s Nuclear Problem: A Risk Assessment Approach
“..The growing confrontation with Iran over its nuclear, missiles, and asymmetric warfare programs presents major problems in risk assessment. The Burke Chair is circulating a briefing that uses a new method of risk assessment developed by Dr. Abdullah Toukan, a visiting fellow at CSIS and noted regional expert of military matters and arms control. The briefing presents Dr. Toukan’s analysis of the strategic options (dialogue and diplomacy, economic and financial sanctions, deterrence and active defense, military strike) available in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program. It uses a multi-dimensional risk analysis approach to address the complexities of the issues involved. It reveals that no one strategic policy option solution stands out as the optimal choice, but points towards a strategy of mixed policy options. The briefing also shows the various linkages related to this now global issue: not only options linked in duration and intensity but the distinctions of how the international community has to sustain a delicate balance between four primary options..”
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The Legacy of Saudi Aviation: Dhahran Airport, Pan Am and TWA
“..Dhahran International Airport, Pan American Airways and Trans World Airlines had a share of the biggest impact and influence on the history of civil aviation in Saudi Arabia and the world. The three wrote the most beautiful history books about civil aviation. But, sadly, the three ended up in the history books and archives of civil aviation..”
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Checking the Pulse in the Gulf:  A Conversation with Jean-Francois Seznec
“..I cannot believe that anyone in Israel would really be serious about attacking Iran directly from Israel. I just don’t see that as a military possibility or even a political possibility. I just cannot fathom that the Israelis would do this at this point. In my view Netanyahu was just bluffing to try to get as much as he could from the United States while he was in Washington. There are rumors that he may have obtained bunker-busting bombs and promises of much more support from the United States than he may have had in the past. Yes, there have been a lot of war drums being beaten in Washington but it seems to have quieted a little bit since the Netanyahu visit and the AIPAC conference. I hope the sanity is coming back to the world here..”
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 Saudi Arabia Inflation Report – March 2012 – Jadwa
“..This week Riyadh-based Jadwa Investment circulated its monthly Inflation Report which noted the March year-on-year rate of inflation held steady at 5.4 percent. The Jadwa report provides analysis of inflation stats and trends. It is provided here for your consideration. We thank Mr. Paul Gamble and Mr. Brad Bourland, Head of Research and Chief Economist respectively for sharing this report here..”
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The GCC Challenge in Missile Defense
“..Two weeks ago U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Saudi Arabia for bilateral talks with King Abdullah and other leaders in the Kingdom. She also participated in the inaugural US-GCC Strategic Cooperation Forum while in Riyadh. Among the short list of topics on Clinton’s agenda for discussion at the forum, during a time of high anxiety over issues like Iran and Syria, was the preparedness of America’s Gulf allies in the area of missile defense. As tensions in the Gulf over Tehran’s nuclear program reach new heights the United States and its Gulf partners are more mindful than ever of the ballistic missile threat posed by Iran. A State Department official briefing the press enroute to Saudi Arabia identified missile defense among the key topics for discussion, “We’re working with each of our partners to develop that architecture because in order to protect the Gulf, no one nation can protect itself. It needs to rely on its partners in order to have an effective missile defense system.” A second briefer noted, “it’s something.. ..appropriate for the GCC as a regional organization. Since missile defense requires a regional approach, it’s an appropriate topic to be discussed and addressed.”..”
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The Eastern Province, Land of Opportunities
“..Saudi Arabia consists of 13 provinces of which the Eastern Province is the largest in terms of area, with a population of about four million. It covers an area of about 260,000 square miles and is almost as large as the US state of Texas. The capital of the province is Dammam, where the office of governor Prince Mohammad bin Fahd is situated.  The young prince was educated in the West and graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), where he majored in economics and political science. His office is called the Amarah (“governor’s office”). One of the traditional weekly events in the province is called the Majlis, where Prince Mohammad would receive every Monday afternoon a group of residents from all over the province and all members of society..”
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Saudi Arabia & the GCC in a Post “Arab Spring” Environment: Obaid
“..This week Mr. Nawaf Obaid, former strategic adviser to Prince Turki Al-Faisal, presented a briefing titled, “Saudi Arabia & the GCC in a Post ‘Arab Spring’ Environment” at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government as part of a program examining responses among GCC states to the “Arab Spring” turmoil that started early last year. Obaid told SUSRIS he was invited “to bring the Saudi perspective and give the reasons why Saudi Arabia did not experience any of the upheavals that all the major Arab countries have been through.”..”
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Social Media, Security and Israel
“..We don’t often dip into journals like the Joint Forces Quarterly of the U.S. National Defense University for items to share in SUSRISblog but the April edition of the quarterly brought an interesting article by Brigadier General Naef Bin Ahmed Al-Saud of the Royal Saudi Army. He wrote at length about “The Evolution of Saudi Security and Enforcement Policies on Communication,” in particular about social media. Naef linked these communications as “vital to Saudi policy concerns.. ..both national and internal security, with such policy “being derived to a significant extent from recent external precedents, particularly government actions in the United States and Great Britain, as well as India, Israel, and other countries.” The abstract for General Naef’s JFQ article lays out his thesis and points to irony of the countries that “applauded” social media in disrupting other governments who now have their own internal troubles controlling communications..”
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Saudi Arabia Seeks Lower Oil Prices – Ali Naimi
“..High international oil prices are bad news. Bad for Europe, bad for the US, bad for emerging economies and bad for the world’s poorest nations. A period of prolonged high prices is bad for all oil producing nations, including Saudi Arabia, and they are bad news for the energy industry more widely. It is clear that sustained high prices are starting to take their toll on European economic growth targets. They are contributing to trade balance deficits and feeding inflationary pressures. It is an unsatisfactory situation and one Saudi Arabia is keen to help address. In an interconnected world, European economic growth is in our national interest. No one benefits from a stagnating European economy and we want to do what we can to help encourage growth. Needless to say, Saudi Arabia does not control the price; it sells its crude oil according to international prices. But it remains the world’s largest producer, and the country with the greatest proven reserves, so it has a responsibility to do what it can to mitigate prices..”
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Jadwa Special Report: Oil Market Boosts Economic Outlook
“..Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi was critical of high oil prices last month, writing in a Financial Times op-ed: ”High international oil prices are bad news. Bad for Europe, bad for the US, bad for emerging economies and bad for the world’s poorest nations. A period of prolonged high prices is bad for all oil producing nations, including Saudi Arabia, and they are bad news for the energy industry more widely.” Well, that may be true but increased revenue is an obvious short term silver lining for Saudi Arabia to be had from a run up of oil prices on the global market and the Kingdom’s increase in production to meet global demand. That combination is likely to press Saudi Arabia’s oil income in 2012 to record highs according to Riyadh-based Jadwa Investment.  Today Jadwa released a special report that revised their economic forecasts including reaching record large budget and current account surpluses..”
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The Moscow-Riyadh War of Words: A Conversation with Dr. Theodore Karasik
“..The Saudi-Russian relationship has really hit the rocks. Riyadh and Moscow do not see eye to eye on the Syrian issue, especially the U.N. veto by Russia and China, but also since the ending of the April 1st “Friends of Syria” meeting in Istanbul, the rhetoric is reaching a new level of back and forth accusations. Now you have both foreign ministries sniping at each other rather sharply, and accusing each other of meddling in Syria. They’re at opposing poles if you will about what is going to be the outcome. You have the Russians claiming that the Saudis are supporting the rebels who are really terrorists and they’re taking the Assad line, while the Saudis are accusing the Russians of maintaining the Assad regime and giving armaments to the Syrian military in order to continue to conduct crimes against humanity. And what this is doing is they are setting back Saudi-Russian relations to a point equal to when Saudi and Russia were bickering over the war in Chechnya. So all of the advances that Russia had made in the last ten years, particularly in the wake of Putin’s visit to Saudi Arabia in 2007, have basically all been pushed aside..”
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Arab Peace Initiative Turns Ten: A Conversation with Thomas Lippman
“..When the Arab League unanimously agreed to endorse the so-called Abdullah Peace Plan, it seemed to me it was an important break-through, at least in a psychological sense. When Anwar Sadat was looking for ways to make peace with Israel, he used to say that a big part of the problem was psychological rather than military. It turned out he was right. That was what he did with his trip to Jerusalem. In this case, the Israelis had always believed – and I think with some justification – that the Arabs collectively would never accept the legitimacy of Israel’s existence. If you recall, after the 1967 War, the same Arab League had unanimously adopted the so-called “Three Noes” policy – no peace, no recognition, no negotiations with Israel. That had been their policy as far as I know until Abdullah changed it. So the idea that the Arabs collectively, including countries that had formerly been in the so-called rejectionist front, were now willing to make peace with Israel was an important psychological break through and took a lot of historical debris off the table. It was, however, on terms that were different from the terms Israel wanted..”
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Syrian Spring, Israel’s Easy War
“..Syria is a country that gained independence from France on April 17, 1946. Two years later the Syrians were engaged in a war with Israel. And 19 years later a very strategic part of Syria, the Golan Heights, was overtaken by Israel during a five day battle in June of 1967. Syria only won a pride war in 1973 with the Israelis. The Syrians never regained the Golan Heights. In the early 1980s the Syrian Air Force took a very big blow by the Israeli Air Force. Final score was 79 planes lost by Syria and Israel lost only one plane. And it wasn’t the Syrians who shot down the Israeli plane. It was a Palestinian who was carrying a shoulder held missile. In all the wars that Israel had with Syria, Israel used every weapon in its arsenal. In 2011, Israel had the easiest war with Syria, but in this war, Israel didn’t fire one single bullet. The Syrian Army did the job for the Israelis. It is called the Syrian Spring war. It is Damascus versus Damascus. It is a war where even the winner is a loser..”
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Saudi Economy: April 2012 Jadwa Chartbook
“..Key economic data softened slightly in February, but remained at levels consistent with robust economic growth. Both of the main guides to consumer spending we track dipped in February, but were up by over 20 percent in year-on-year terms. Early indicators suggest that the construction sector has got off to a strong start in 2012. It is a large beneficiary of government spending and we expect it to be the fastest growing component of the economy this year..”
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Critical Commercial and Economic Ties: A Conversation with Jose Fernandez
“..My involvement in the Gulf region — and that of many officials in the United States Government — reflects the importance that my government places on our bilateral relationship. We value our alliance and partnership with the Saudis and appreciate their economic support for regional stability in light of the Arab Spring. U.S.-Saudi economic and commercial ties are also critical to the health of our bilateral relationship, and I enjoyed discussing ways we could broaden and deepen the partnership between our companies and entrepreneurs..”
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