News – 2011.02.17

Published: February 17, 2011

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

2.17.2011 EDITION

Al-Husseini Sets Wikileaks Record Straight: ARAB NEWS

Siraj Wahab | 2/17/11

“Retired Saudi Aramco senior executive Sadad I. Al-Husseini was surprised recently to be thrust into the international spotlight when newspapers picked up a story about a WikiLeaks release of a US State Department cable that attributed comments to him purporting to dispute Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves. The former executive vice president and veteran geologist was disappointed by the news stories, asserting that the American diplomat in Dhahran who sent the cable had not understood the technical industry terminology and that the press had sensationalized the communique in the interest of selling newspapers.”  RELATED: Pat Ryan (SUSRIS) writes, “Regarding the claim in the cable published by ‘Wikileaks’ that Husseini, in 2007, doubted Saudi Arabia would achieve a production capacity of 12.5 million barrels per day by 2009, he noted that, ‘the giant multi-billion dollar expansion projects which were funded in recent years are now all a visible reality for the whole industry to see.’ Husseini added, ‘All these oil production projects were completed by the end of 2009 and the Kingdom’s total oil production capacity does in fact now stand firmly at 12.5 million barrels per day.’”

Eyewitness to the History of US-Saudi Relations: SUSRIS

2/16/11

“This week marks the anniversary of a landmark meeting between King Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt onboard the U.S. Navy cruiser Quincy in the Great Bitter Lake segment of the Suez Canal.  The February 14, 1945 meeting was the first face-to-face contact between top American and Saudi leaders and served as the foundation for the longstanding relationship between Washington and Riyadh”

Saudi Turns To Alternatives To Prop Up Oil Power: REUTERS

Barbara Lewis and Reem Shamseddine | 2/17/11

“For oil colossus Saudi Arabia, a shift to renewable energy is as much about preserving its international influence and maximising its revenues as saving the planet.”

Saudi Aramco to Build Solar Plant: USSABC

2/16/11

“Saudi Aramco has selected Omani company Phoenix Solar L.L.C., a subsidiary of German company Phoenix Solar AG, to build a photovoltaic plant in Riyadh.”

Saudi Group May Open Egyptian Investment Bank: DAILY STAR

2/17/11

“Saudi businessmen are considering setting up a development bank in Egypt to provide opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses, beginning with an initial capital outlay of 1 billion egyptian pounds ($170 million).”

No Saudi Action On Mortgage: THE NATIONAL

Kevin Brass | 2/17/11

“The Saudi government has shelved mortgage reforms, leaving new homes vacant and driving up rental rates, according to a study by the property consultancy CB Richard Ellis (CBRE). Demand for homes in the kingdom is at an all-time high, but new homes sit empty because prospective buyers cannot afford them, analysts say. The lack of action on the mortgage laws was a ‘major setback,’ CBRE said.”

Ben Ali Reportedly In Coma After Stroke: UPI

2/17/11

Former Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali suffered a stroke and was in coma in a Saudi Arabian hospital, a French journalist reported.
More News and Commentary from SUSTG

IN BAHRAIN, A ‘SURPRISE ATTACK’ ON PROTESTERS LEAVES 3 KILLED, HUNDREDS HURT

“Security forces in tiny but strategic Bahrain launched a brutal assault early Thursday against at least 1,000 defiant anti-government protesters, including children, camped out in tents in the capital’s Pearl Square. At least three were killed and 231 were wounded,” report Ned Parker and Kim Murphy (LAT). VIDEOS: Newly released videos show the violence on the protesters in Pearl Square. WHERE IS PROTEST HEADING?: “It’s unclear whether the harsh action – which included dozens of Army trucks and armored vehicles – will tamp down protests that have been buoyed by the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, or only serve to energize protesters, further destabilizing the Persian Gulf kingdom,” Raymond Barrett (CSM) reports.

BAHRAIN: MILITARY TAKES CONTROL OF KEY AREAS

“The Bahrain military, backed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, took control of most of this capital on Thursday hours after hundreds of heavily armed riot police officers fired shotguns, tear gas and concussion grenades to break up a pro-democracy camp inspired by the tumult swirling across the Middle East,” Michael Slackman and Nadim Audi (NYT) report.

YEMEN: PROTESTS SPREAD, BECOME MORE VIOLENT

“Yemen has been hit by increasingly violent protests that have pitted anti-government demonstrators against government loyalists across the impoverished country,” Reuters reports, in a factbox.

ISRAEL: 3 PALESTINIANS KILLED AT GAZA BORDER

Joel Greenberg (Washington Post) reports that Israeli forces “killed three Palestinians near the Gaza Strip’s northern border with Israel on Thursday. Palestinians said they were fishermen, but the Israeli army said they were militants.”

UNITED STATES: OBAMA’S ‘STOCK OF POWER GETS AN UPTICK’: CLEMONS

Steve Clemons (Washington Note) writes that President Obama “started with a bad hand when he came into office and he’s doing a lot to turn America’s low stock of power into some gains.”
“[F]rom my vantage point, what has unfolded in Egypt — even though there were some zigs and zags and that affairs inside that country were in the Egyptian public’s hands and not up to the US — has enhanced Barack Obama’s stock of power.”

OPINION: ‘OPTIMISTIC REFORM’ IN IRAN AT DEAD END

Azadeh Moaveni (FP – Middle East Channel) writes, “More than a decade before Iran’s politically disaffected had launched the Green Movement — much less the latest protests that broke out across the country on Feb. 14 and were brutally put down by police — they had the optimistic and incremental reform movement lead by the “smiling cleric” and philosopher Mohammad Khatami. If the latter had worked according to plan, the former never would have been necessary.”

/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./