SBRIS Daily News – Excerpts from International Media Reports
/Provided as a service from the Saudi-US Trade Group, Washington, DC/
Abdullah Al-Shihri | 3/30/12
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sought to work out a unified strategy on the crisis in Syria in talks with Saudi officials on Friday as further violence stymied U.N. efforts to convince Damascus to implement a cease-fire. Clinton’s talks with Saudi King Abdullah and other officials come ahead of a 60-nation gathering of the “Friends of the Syrian People” in Istanbul over the weekend aimed at finding ways to aid Syria’s opposition. The U.S. is hoping to help unify the splintered opposition’s ranks while pushing for humanitarian aid and further isolation of Assad’s regime.
Picture of the Day: Water, Up From Deep Below the Desert, Brings Green to Saudi Arabia: THE ATLANTIC
Over the last two-and-a-half decades, a series of NASA’s Landsat satellites have captured these pictures of the growing agriculture industry in the northern reaches of the Syrian Desert in Saudi Arabia, not far from Jordan. Farmers use a technique called center-pivot irrigation to bring up water from below the desert floor to grow wheat and other crops. Hydrologists estimate that the underground water reserves will be economically viable for about 50 years. The area receives about one inch of rainfall annually.
West Wants Saudi Arabia To Keep Up Oil Production: CHICAGO TRIBUNE
Richard Mably | 3.29.12
Oil consuming nations may seek reassurance from Saudi Arabia that it will not cut oil production and neutralize the impact on oil prices if consumer countries release emergency reserves, diplomats and industry sources said. The issue may be raised by a U.S. delegation, led by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which is in Riyadh this weekend to discuss Syria with Gulf states. Clinton will see Saudi King Abdullah and Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal. “If they’re going to release reserves they need an assurance from the Saudis that they won’t offset it by cutting supply,” said one industry source familiar with thinking in Washington. “There’s no doubt the measure needs the cooperation of Saudi Arabia,” said a diplomat.
Oil Lower After Saudi Comments, Bearish Tone: MARKETWATCH
Claudia Assis and V. Phani Kumar | 3.29.12
Crude-oil futures ended at a six-week low Thursday, falling for a second straight day after Saudi Arabia’s oil minister said his country is able to increase supplies to counter higher oil prices and analysts described the market’s tone as overwhelmingly bearish.
Lost Moments: The Arab Peace Initiative, Ten Years Later: THE ATLANTIC
Zvika Krieger | 3.29.12
Ten years ago this week, the 22 members of the Arab League endorsed the Arab Peace Initiative (API). “We believe in taking up arms in self-defence and to deter aggression,” said then-Saudi Crown Prince (and current King) Abdullah, the proposal’s sponsor, in a speech to the Arab League that week. “But we also believe in peace when it is based on justice and equity, and when it brings an end to conflict.” The proposal, as Abdullah outlined, offered “normal relations and security for Israel in exchange for full withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories, recognition of an independent Palestinian state.” It was a bold change of Arab League policy toward Israel, which since 1967 had been defined by the “three No’s” adopted in its Khartoum Resolution: no peace deals, no diplomatic recognitions, and no negotiations.
Mideast Upheaval Knocks Saudi Arabia off Balance: LOS ANGELES TIMES
Jeffrey Fleishman | 3.29.12
Saudi Arabia and other gulf states are more alarmed by the specter of an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear installations. Such an attack would probably shift international condemnation against Iran to Israel, spur terrorism against Jerusalem and possibly lead to a wider regional war. Saud said that Israel’s rhetoric is reckless and that its security is not in jeopardy. “Who is threatening Israel with atomic bombs? Which Arab countries are arrayed on the border of Israel? Is there a threat to Israel’s security?” he asked. An Israeli attack on Iran without considering the wider consequences “would be an act of extreme uncaring for the region and its stability,” he said.
Saudis Seek to Funnel Arms to Syria Rebels: WALL STREET JOURNAL
Maria Abi-Habib | 3.29.12
Saudi Arabia has pressed Jordan to open its border with Syria to allow weapons to reach rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, officials from both countries say, a move that could buoy Syria’s opposition and harden the conflict in the country and across the region. In a March 12 meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah asked his Jordanian counterpart to permit weapons shipments into Syria in exchange for economic assistance to Jordan, these officials say. Jordan hasn’t yet agreed, they said. The U.S. has opposed furnishing arms to the rebels, fearing that weapons could end up in the hands of al Qaeda or other extremist groups. But late Thursday, a top U.S. defense official suggested such a policy could potentially shift. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Syrian opposition appeared to be taking steps to unite as a group, a development he said could help clear the way for international aid including arms.
Saudi Preachers Barred From Entering France: ARABIAN BUSINESS
France barred four Islamic preachers, including two Saudis, from entering the country on Thursday after banning prominent preacher Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi and another Egyptian cleric who wanted to attend a Muslim conference in Paris. Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and Interior Minister Claude Gueant said in a joint statement the four preachers “call for hate and violence … and, in the current context, present a strong risk of upsetting public order”. President Nicolas Sarkozy, who ordered a crackdown on radical Islamists after the Toulouse killings by an al Qaeda-inspired gunman last week, said on Monday that Qaradawi and Mahmoud al-Masri were not welcome in France. The Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF), which invited the clerics to an April 6-9 conference, said it was surprised and hurt by the government’s “manifest determination to prolong a polemic … based on total ignorance”.
Galal Fakkar | 3.30.12
The Saudi commercial banks have launched a massive campaign to warn citizens and foreigners against swindlers who sell them empty dreams informing them they have won large amounts of money and should proceed to a certain location to collect them.
Saudi Arabia has announced a first of its kind project in the Middle East that converts waste into electricity using plasma technology. This type of technology has already been implemented in Malaysia, Japan, the United States, France and Germany.
Kingdom To Double Date Production In 5 Years: ARAB NEWS
Minister of Agriculture Fahd Balghunaim said Saudi Arabia is expected to double date production over the next five years.
Michael Martinez | 3.29.12
“The model and her mother have admitted that they only learned of HRH Prince Alwaleed by searching the Internet for ‘Saudi Royal Family,’ yet even then, as the Court pointed out, they did not identify HRH Prince Alwaleed as her alleged attacker, an outrageous defect which, the court agreed, ‘infected the whole investigation’,” the statement from the prince’s office said.
Saudi Traffic Cameras: CROSSROADS ARABIA
John Burgess | 3.30.12
Arab News editorializes in support of Saudi Arabia’s Saher system of speed and red-light cameras put into place a few years ago. The cameras – more precisely, the tickets and fines – have become a debating point in Saudi society. The fines are stiff, but what really upsets people is that, as in many countries around the world, the fines rise incrementally the longer they go unpaid. Clerics have been dragged into the fight to declare that the multiplication of the moneys owed is somehow ‘un-Islamic’. The issue has even been batted around in the Shoura Council, but it remains in effect. Red-light and speed cameras are an issue in the US as well. Some see them as merely a pretext for local governments to increase their incomes via traffic fines rather than taxes. Some cities, having put in the cameras, are now taking them out. At the same time, others are arguing that the cameras have been so effective in reducing vehicle offenses that they need to be taken out so that the cities can again collect the fines!
UNITED STATES: US HAS MORE OIL THAN SAUDI ARABIA, BUT…
People are often confused about the overall extent of U.S. oil reserves. Some claim that the U.S. has hundreds of billions or even trillions of barrels of oil waiting to be produced if bureaucrats will simply stop blocking development. In fact, in a recent debate between Republican candidates contending for Gabrielle Giffords’ recently vacated House seat, one candidate declared “We have more oil in this country than in Saudi Arabia.” So, I thought it might be a good idea to elaborate a bit on U.S. oil resources. Oil production has been increasing in the U.S. for the past few years, primarily driven by expanding production from the Bakken Shale Formation in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas. The oil that is being produced from these shale formations is sometimes improperly referred to as shale oil. But when some people speak of hundreds of billions or trillions of barrels of U.S. oil, they are most likely talking about the oil shale in the Green River Formation in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Since the shale in North Dakota and Texas is producing oil, some have assumed that the Green River Formation and its roughly 2 trillion barrels of oil resources will be developed next because they think it is a similar type of resource. But it is not, Forbes reports. REFERENCE: LIST OF SHALE GAS FORMATIONS IN THE UNITED STATES: This list includes the major shale gas formations in the U.S. Shale gas refers to natural gas that is extracted from shale, an unconventional reservoir of hydrocarbons, Ehelpfultips.com reports.
IRAN: COULD BOMBING IRAN PUSH IRAN TO BUILD A BOMB?
Pre-emptive military strikes aimed at forcing Iran to abandon its nuclear activities may end up having the opposite effect: convincing the Islamic Republic’s leaders they need an atomic arsenal to secure their hold on power. That is the argument from those in the West and elsewhere who say the negative impact of an Israeli or U.S. attack would eventually outweigh any gains – pushing Iran towards a decision that Western intelligence services believe it has not yet taken, Fredrik Dahl (Reuters) reports.
ISRAEL: PUSH ON IRAN INCLUDED STEADY DOSE OF MEDIA TALKS
Such access to Israeli experts for international journalists has been critical to spreading Israel’s view that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program. In recent months, talk of Iran’s nuclear ambitions has fueled the Republican presidential campaign, served as the backdrop for this week’s meeting between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and earned a pledge from Obama on Sunday that the United States would resort to military means if necessary to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability, McClatchy reports.
SETTLEMENTS: ISRAEL DEFENSE MINISTRY PLAN EARMARKS 10 PERCENT OF WEST BANK FOR SETTLEMENT EXPANSION
For years Israel’s Civil Administration has been covertly locating and mapping available land in the West Bank and naming the parcels after existing Jewish settlements, presumably with an eye toward expanding these communities, Haaretz reports. The Civil Administration, part of the Defense Ministry, released its maps only in response to a request from anti-settlement activist Dror Etkes under the Freedom of Information Law.
UAE: BEHIND THE FAÇADE OF DUBAI
No one wants to be reminded that if it wasn’t for its oil-rich emirate neighbour, Abu Dhabi, coming to the rescue with a US$20 billion bailout in 2009, the city-state would be in even deeper trouble. Dubai’s real estate-led boom began in 2003, following a decree allowing foreigners to buy and own freehold property in select areas. It was part of the ruling al-Maktoum family’s ambition to transform the second-largest of seven sheikhdoms that make up the United Arab Emirates into the Middle East’s tourist and trade hub, Chris Barton (Fraser Coast Chronicle) writes.
OIL: SENATE UPHOLDS BIG OIL TAX BREAKS
The U.S. Senate on Thursday killed a bill that would have stripped the five biggest oil companies of billions in tax breaks. The bill, which wasn’t expected to pass with bipartisan support, failed 51-47. Sixty votes were needed to adopt the measure sponsored by Sen. Robert Menedez, a Democrat from New Jersey, Pierre Bertrand (IBT) reports.
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