Saudi News

The Middle East Policy Council: A Conversation with Ford Fraker

SUSRIS | Pat Ryan | 4.22.14

The Middle East Policy Council: A Conversation with Ford Fraker In December the MEPC named Ford Fraker its new president. Board Chairman Omar Kader noted at the time that, “We believe that the Ambassador’s unique appreciation for U.S. national interests in the Middle East — as a banker, Ambassador and ... Continue Reading through continued engagement with the current U.S. administration – will advance the MEPC mission as the organization enters its fourth decade.” It has been four decades, as well, that Ford Fraker has been engaged in the Middle East, mostly in the world of finance. hide

Opinion: Saudi’s Prince Bandar did not fail Syria: the West lost its nerve

The National | Faisal Al Yafai | 4.22.14

Opinion: Saudi’s Prince Bandar did not fail Syria: the West lost its nerve In the swirl of rumours and gossip that passes for informed comment on Saudi Arabia’s secretive politics, the removal of Prince Bandar has been seen as part of a shift in policy of the Gulf state towards Syria. That is true, although the ... Continue Reading shift is subtle, in tactics not in intent. Saudi Arabia still seeks the removal of the Assad regime, but recognises that the reality on the ground has changed, that the dynamics of the conflict have altered. No longer is this simply the rebels versus the regime. The long drawn out civil war has brought in new actors, some with the agendas of foreign governments, some with their own religious wars. hide

Mega projects in Saudi Arabia to boost value of contracts

Arabian Industry | Daria El-Samad | 4.21.14

Roads and urban development sectors were the highest contributors to the $10.6bn (SAR39.7bn) worth of contracts awarded in Saudi Arabia during the first quarter of 2014. "While the power sector captured the highest share of awarded contracts, ... Continue Reading with 25%, it was the roads and urban development sectors that significantly contributed to the overall value by capturing 16% and 12% shares, respectively,” said the NCBC Index. hide

9/11 Lawsuits Continue

Crossroads Arabia | John Burgess | 4.21.14

The September 11, 2001 attacks on the US continue to be ground in the mills of the American courts. My local newspaper reports on a local suit to obtain information from the FBI concerning its investigation of a Saudi family that had been living ... Continue Reading in Sarasota, FL prior to the attacks. The article also notes ongoing suits in New York trying to find a lever to sue the Saudi government and some of the charities it established. Congress, meanwhile, is seeking the release of 28 pages that had been redacted from the official report on 9/11. hide

Analysis: The Saudi-Brotherhood divide

Al Monitor | Caryle Murphy | 4.22.14

The relationship’s abrupt rupture has created confusion and fear, say many Saudis. While the Brotherhood has no overt organization in the kingdom — all political parties are banned — its ideology enjoys widespread sympathy. And several ... Continue Reading generations of Saudis were raised in an educational system whose curriculum was heavily influenced by Brotherhood ideas. hide

Arab News: ‘A Window into the heart of Saudi Arabia’

Arab News | Siraj Wahab | 4.22.14

Arab News: ‘A Window into the heart of Saudi Arabia’ Editor in Chief Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi was visibly unhappy. He called in all the senior editors and reporters and issued a sharp diktat: “We need to focus on what’s happening here and now, in this country. We are this country’s window to the ... Continue Reading world. We want the Arab News Front Page to reflect on events happening in Saudi Arabia.” That was the start of what we now call in the newsroom the “new look, new direction.” hide

Saudi Arabia Removes Health Minister as Deadly Virus Spreads

Bloomberg | Deema Almashabi | 4.22.14

Saudi Arabia Removes Health Minister as Deadly Virus Spreads Abdullah al-Rabeeah was relieved of his duties and will become an adviser to the royal court, the official Saudi Press Agency said late yesterday. He’ll be replaced on an acting basis by Labor Minister Adel Faqih, the SPA said. hide

Saudi’s King Abdullah named Cultural Personality of the year 2014

Khaleej Times | 4.21.14

He mentioned excerpts from the official verdict that showcases some of the reasons for the decision, including the co-establishment of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz International Centre for Inter-religious and Intercultural Dialogue and the ... Continue Reading establishment of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology which integrates research and education, and works to catalyse the diversification of the Saudi economy through economic and technology development. hide

Number of Saudi students in US reaches 111,000

Arab News | Ibrahim Naffee | 4.21.14

Number of Saudi students in US reaches 111,000 The number of Saudi students in the United States has reached 111,000 this year, up from 10,000 in 2007 while the number of Saudi students studying medicine in the States is over 600. The Department of Commerce in the US said that international ... Continue Reading students have contributed to revive the US economy with $22.7 billion in 2011. “The number of Saudi students increased by 50 percent in 2011 alone,” local media said. hide

Concerns Spread as New Saudi MERS Cases Spike

Wall Street Journal | Ellen Knickmeyer and Ahmed Al-Omran | 4.21.14

MERS globally took 1-½ years since its September 2012 discovery in the Middle East to reach its first 200 cases; last week alone, however, the cases jumped by about one-fourth. That includes, besides the new Saudi cases, another large cluster in ... Continue Reading the United Arab Emirates. The disease sickens mainly with respiratory infections. hide

Saudi spy chief removal may not change U.S. ties — or end his career

Los Angeles Times | Sherif Tarek | 4.21.14

Robert Lacey, a noted British journalist, historian and author of the 2009 bestselling book "Inside the Kingdom," said “Saudi relations with the U.S. are not as broke" as some reports have suggested. Lacey believes Bandar was relieved of his ... Continue Reading post for “health not policy reasons … so I foresee no major change of Saudi policy" toward the Syrian conflict. hide

Saudi Arabia to build world’s tallest building one kilometer tower

CNN | 4.18.14

Dubai -- long champion of all things biggest, longest and most expensive -- will soon have some competition from neighboring Saudi Arabia. Building a structure that tall, particularly on the coast, where salt water could potentially damage it, ... Continue Reading is no easy feat. The foundations, which will be 200 feet (60 meters) deep, need to be able to withstand the saltwater of the nearby ocean. As a result, ACTS will test the strength of different concretes. hide

Regional & Related News

Iran admits nuclear agency reshuffle to pave way for 5+1 talks

Reuters | Mehrdad Balali | 4.22.14

Iran admits nuclear agency reshuffle to pave way for 5+1 talks President Hassan Rouhani's government confirmed rumors on Monday it had reshuffled the leadership of Iran's atomic agency to sideline nuclear experts opposed to talks on its atomic program with the West. Rouhani and his negotiators have been ... Continue Reading under intense pressure from Islamic hardliners opposed to the talks with the United States and five other powers seeking greater transparency in the hide

GCC population put at 47.4m in 2012

Emirates 247 | 4.22.14

The number at the end of 2012 meant that the population of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) grew by nearly three per cent above 2011, when it stood at around 46 million, showed the figures by the Riyadh-based GCC secretariat. hide

Opinion: Arab election season

Washington Post | Marc Lynch | 4.22.14

All told these four elections cover 183 million people, or some 50 percent of the population of the Arab world. (Lebanon’s parliament is also set to choose a new president on April 23, but isn’t actually holding an election.) Few expect these ... Continue Reading elections to matter much. Only in Iraq’s parliamentary ballot is real power at stake, and the outcome unknown in advance. hide

Drone strikes alone won’t stamp out al Qaeda in Yemen: analysts

Reuters | Mohamed Ghobari and Yara Bayoumy | 4.22.14

A weak central government, a rivalry-ridden and poorly equipped security force, endemic poverty and corruption have made Yemen the ideal haven of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), whom U.S. President Barack Obama has described as the ... Continue Reading group "most active in plotting against our homeland." Desperate to prevent AQAP from planning more attacks like its attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner in December 2009, Washington has used drones to kill group members and leaders. hide

Iraq Oil Output Exceeds Hussein Era

Wall Street Journal | Sarah Kent, Justin Scheck and Matt Bradley | 4.22.14

Iraq oil production was higher this year than since before Saddam Hussein took power. The problem: getting it out of the country. Iraqi oil fields pumped 3.6 million barrels of crude a day on average in February, 50% more than four years ago. ... Continue Reading That beat—if only for a month—the country's annual-output record, 3.5 million barrels a day, in 1979 during Iraq's petroleum heyday. hide

Sisi, Sabbahi, and the Future of Egypt’s Economy

The Atlantic Council | Daniel Stoker | 4.21.14

The success of Egypt’s next president will, for the most part, depend on how he addresses the economy. Burdened by instability, lack of foreign investment, high unemployment, acute energy crisis, and crumbling infrastructure, Egypt’s battered ... Continue Reading economy will require sound macroeconomic policies to recover. The uprisings against both Hosni Mubarak and later Mohamed Morsi were in part related to Egypt’s deteriorated economic conditions. While neither candidate has proposed any clear economic policy for their administration, both have given subtle hints about how they would address Egypt’s economic ills. hide

Source: ‘Massive’ attack targets al Qaeda in Yemen

CNN | Mohammed Jamjoom | 4.21.14

Source: ‘Massive’ attack targets al Qaeda in Yemen An operation targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is under way in Abyan and Shabwa, Yemen, a high-level Yemeni government official who is being briefed on the strikes told CNN on Monday. The official said that the scale of the strikes ... Continue Reading against AQAP is "massive and unprecedented" and that at least 30 militants have been killed. The operation involved Yemeni commandos who are now "going after high-level AQAP targets," the official said. hide

Israel’s military revolution

Al Monitor | Ben Caspit | 4.21.14

Following in-depth background talks and internal discussions in the IDF, it is becoming apparent that in the past three years the Israeli military has undergone one of the most important revolutions in its history. Almost every area has been ... Continue Reading dramatically transformed — the military’s ORBAT (order of battle), target prioritization, operational doctrine, intelligence collection and dissemination, as well as its internal and external structure. Or, to quote a senior officer: “Today, no general in the IDF’s General Staff does the same work he did just barely three years ago. Everything has changed — the job description, the tasks, the modus operandi, as well as the agenda. Everything that existed prior to that is water under the bridge. Welcome to the new world.” hide

Guantánamo Bay detainees’ release upon end of Afghanistan war ‘unlikely’

Guardian | Spencer Ackerman | 4.21.14

Passed by Congress days after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the Authorization to Use Military Force cleared the legal path for the invasion of Afghanistan – and much more. Known as the AUMF, its broad language blessed not only ... Continue Reading the Afghanistan war, but a global battle against al-Qaida without an expiration date. Subsequent interpretations of the AUMF broadened the definition of the adversary to include al-Qaida’s “associated forces”. hide