Category: اخبار

لبنان بسوی خفقان سیاسی

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Lebanon in the Face of the Winds of Change

Fri, 24 June 2011
Husam Itani


The Lebanese should be concerned, and even fearful, over the remaining public freedoms and spaces to express one’s opinion.

This is not directly linked to the formation of the new government or the political and media campaigns launched against it by the new opposition. It is rather linked to a series of phenomena and escalating measures to which public life is being subjected, namely cultural and social life. Indeed, two movies were banned in less than a week. The first is Lebanese called “What Happened” regarding a massacre that took place in the Akkar region during the civil war, and the second is an Iranian movie called “Green Days” about the uprising demanding democracy which followed the Iranian presidential elections in 2009.

On the other hand, the Lebanese authorities reinforced the measures to prevent the entry of the refugees fleeing the oppression of the Syrian regime, but also to arrest those seeking security in Lebanon in a blunt defiance of all the pacts signed by the Lebanese government in regard to the protection of human rights. This behavior was accompanied by warnings from the deputies of the new majority, that each Lebanese citizen who helps a Syrian refugee will be considered a partner in the American-Israeli plot against the state of rejectionism in Syria.

But the relevant phenomena did not stop at this level, as those convened at Dar al-Fatwa issued a statement in which they announced their categorical rejection of a draft law sanctioning domestic violence against women, under the pretext that the draft was submitted by secular women’s associations based on “the savage principles of capitalism, market values and individualism.”

There is something distinguishing the aforementioned measures and events, leading each of them back to a specific political and social context for which the sides in the ruling coalition – regardless of the majority or minority in the government formation – are responsible. Indeed, there is no arguing about Hezbollah’s role and that of the March 8 forces in the prevention of the Syrian refugees from entering the country and the refusal to host international fact-finding committees to learn about the violations committed against the Syrian civilians. On the other hand, there is no doubt that the position of Dar al-Fatwa toward the draft law and before that, the slightly exaggerated position towards a violation committed by some Palestinians on lands affiliated with the Sunni endowments, stem from a feeling of encirclement, domination and threat prevailing over a wide faction of Sunnis. This is being expressed through excessive sensitivity toward anything that might feature a threat to the status and interests of the sect, even if the issue is related to helping poor Palestinian families get set.

It is believed there is one climate that produced all these steps and measures. It is a mixture of puzzlement and terror vis-à-vis the major changes which are being witnessed in the Arab world and are shedding light on the extent of the rottenness on the internal levels, and the expiry of the exploitation of foreign threats to uphold the oppression, tyranny and disregarding of the freedoms.

We could even go a step further and say that what Lebanon is witnessing today – in terms of the deterioration affecting public freedoms and the measures targeting foreign journalists – conveys an attempt by the system of the Lebanese sects to defend itself against the Arab revolutions. In the face of the freedom called for by these revolutions, the Lebanese are returning to repression. And in response to the demands to open up to the world, the Lebanese are pursuing their Syrian brothers among the refugees. Furthermore, in order to stop the massive media communication from which the Arab revolutions are benefitting, the institutions of the sectarian system have nothing to do but prohibit movies revealing the simple facts in regard to what the people of this part of the world have endured in terms of civil wars and the confiscation of opinions.

We believe that the Arab revolution is extending to Lebanon from these doors, and not from ones that were exploited by the leaders of the dominating sects


لبنان بین گزینه جنبش خیابانی یا تغیر دولت فعلی

عربستان بسوی ایجاد نیروی هسته ایی

عراق رقیب آینده عربستان در نفت

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تولید نفت  در عراق  با چنان شتابی رشد میکند که از ظرفیت پمپ ها و خطوط لوله عراق پیشی دارد. این اعتقاد وجود دارد که عراق تا سال ۲۰۱۷ رقیب عربستان سعودی خواهد شد


Iraq struggles to boost oil production

Nabil al-Jurani/ASSOCIATED PRESS – Oil workers work at Zubair oil field near Basra, 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, May 15, 2011.

By Aaron C. Davis, Published: June ۲۳

RUMAILA OIL FIELD, Iraq — Here in Iraq’s southern desert, efforts to boost oil production have pushed the country’s dilapidated oil infrastructure to the brink.

Rusted pipelines are running full and are in danger of rupturing on the floor of the Persian Gulf. Rickety pumps seize and spring leaks in the heat. The entire network meant to get oil from fields to tankers is maxed out and prone to backups that cause permanent damage to wells.


Iraqi leaders travel here to use the backdrop of roaring flames from oil-well flares to illustrate a dramatically different point. By the numbers, Iraq’s oil industry is red-hot. Production is on pace to be the best in more than 20 years, since the beginning of the Persian Gulf War of 1991, and the money is rolling in. In the first five months of 2011, rising exports and high oil prices have all but erased Iraq’s full-year deficit of more than $12 billion.

As Iraq has bogged down in so many other areas, it has gone full throttle when it comes to oil. Its trajectory to raise oil profits has been audacious and at times dangerous.

Pushing its systems to capacity is the first phase of an outsize plan to increase production fivefold, and by 2017, to rival Saudi Arabia as the largest exporter of oil in the Middle East.

Iraq’s announcement of that plan two years ago attracted little attention, other than skepticism from most industry watchers. But in hot pursuit of that goal since, Iraq has been moving quickly and in some ways recklessly.

Despite pleas from the United States and other international observers, for example, it has not yet signed contracts for how to contain a spill or conduct emergency repairs should its roughly 35-year-old pipelines burst underwater.

Scientists believe the 31-mile pipeline used most heavily to send oil to offshore loading docks has in places nearly entirely disintegrated, leaving only an outer ring of concrete tunneling oil in the right direction.

The pipeline, considered a top terrorist target in the region, is so fragile that Iraq has not dared conduct a pressure test to see how much it can handle. But it has continued to pump nearly all of its growing exports through the line.

More than a dozen multibillion-dollar contracts that Iraq signed with international oil companies also now appear to have been done in haste. Nearly all are in need of renegotiation, less than two years after they were signed, Iraqi officials and industry analysts said.

Iraq structured most of the deals in such a way that it could be impossible for most companies to realize the profits they were counting on unless Iraq reaches its goal on paper to rival Saudi Arabia. New deals are likely to have to include better terms for oil companies at the expense of country profits, Iraqi officials and industry analysts said.

Iraqi officials still have high hopes that their country might one day rival their southern neighbor. But Iraqi officials have begun to acknowledge the dream remains far out of reach. Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul-Kareem Luaibi this month began inching toward acceptance of an industry consensus that Iraq might be able to accomplish half of Saudi Arabia’s output, or less, over a much longer time frame.



  • “The Iraqi government bit off more than it could chew. It was proposing to do in seven years what it took the Saudis 70 years under a much more benign set of circumstances,” said Raad Alkadiri, a country risk specialist for PFC Energy who returned recently from Iraq. “You can put on paper the biggest project you like, but that requires a much more functional administrative process than exists right now.”

Iraq’s lowered sights on oil typifies a problem still common across the country. With Iraq’s government and security situation still evolving, marrying Iraqis’ grand ambitions, intense national pride and nascent capabilities remains no easy task for its leaders. The timeline for progress in almost every arena continues to slide invariably to the right.


But a forced revision on oil comes on no bigger stage. It diminishes any hope that Iraq could soon tilt the needle lower on worldwide oil prices. Markets analysts, who had remained skeptical of Iraq’s production promises, have yet to build most of them into expected future oil prices. But with the second-biggest reserves in the world, Iraq remains a wildcard capable of easing global demand and reducing prices.

Iraq has already signed a contract with an Australian company to replace its most dangerous underwater pipeline by the end of 2012. That alone will not increase production because the old pipeline is scheduled to be retired when the new one is complete. But a second new pipeline and pumping station could come online by 2013.

Under a best-case scenario, analysts say, Iraq could hit 4.5 million barrels per day by the end of 2013, and then it would probably take several more years to significantly increase production further.

Still, such an increase would be no small feat and could continue to have profound effects domestically for Iraq in coming years.

In recent years, as the global recession plunged nearly every government budget into the red, rising oil profits put Iraq on a different path. In each of the past five years, it forecast a year-end deficit but ended up instead with a perennial surplus.

Iraq is producing nearly 2.7 million barrels per day, up 15 percent from this time a year ago.

The ambitious goal it set was to reach 12 million barrels per day by 2017. Luaibi said this month that Iraq may eventually plateau at a much lower volume, of about 7 million or 8 million, and for twice as long.

U.S. officials have even lower expectations. In its latest forecast, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicted Iraq’s output will remain below 4 million barrels per day at the end of the decade.

Even in that scenario, however, the corresponding rise in profits could swell Iraq’s annual budget to well over $100 billion.

Iraqi parliament member Ahmed al-Alwani, who heads the branch’s economics committee, said any increase in production now amounts to Iraq having more income than it ever had previously. The problem is, he said, at least for the next decade or so, no amount will ever be enough to pay for rebuilding Iraq.

“Everyone focuses on the revenue and how much money [oil] can bring in, but the needs are even much greater,” he said.



در زندانهای میهنمان حکم اسلام حکومتی پیاده میشود

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مقامات زندانها به بزهکاران حرفه ایی کاندوم میدهند تا به فعالین سیاسی تجاوز کنند


notorious prison

Iranians opposition supporters 

Oppostition protests in 2009 – political activists have accused the intelligence ministry and the revolutionary guards of harassing inmates with sexual assaults. Photograph: Reuters

Prison guards in Iran are giving condoms to criminals and encouraging them to systematically rape young opposition activists locked up with them, according to accounts from inside the country’s jail system.

A series of dramatic letters written by prisoners and families of imprisoned activists allege that authorities are intentionally facilitating mass rape and using it as a form of punishment.

Mehdi Mahmoudian, an outspoken member of Iran’s Participation Front, a reformist political party, is among those prisoners who have succeeded in smuggling out letters revealing the extent of rape inside some of the most notorious prisons.

Mahmoudian was arrested in the aftermath of Iran’s 2009 disputed presidential election for speaking to the press about the regime’s suppression of the movement and is currently in Rajaeeshahr prison in Karaj, a city 12 miles (20km) to the west of the capital, Tehran.

“In various cells inside the prison, rape has become a common act and acceptable,” he wrote in a letter published on, the official website of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.

According to Mahmoudian and letters published on various opposition websites, political prisoners are locked up with some of the most dangerous criminals – murderers and ex-members of armed gangs.

Meanwhile, 26 prominent political activists who have been in jail since the 2009 election have written to an official prison monitoring body accusing the government’s intelligence ministry and the revolutionary guards of harassing inmates with unlawful tactics that included sexual assaults.

Mohsen Aminzadeh, a senior deputy foreign minister, Mohsen Mirdamadi, a leader of a reformist party and Behzad Nabavi, a veteran activist are among those who put their signatures on the letter.

Speaking to Jaras, a website run by opposition activists, families of political prisoners have alleged that prison guards are failing to protect them from rape or sexual assault.

“During exercise periods, the strong ask for sex without any consideration. Criminals are repeatedly seen with condoms in hand, hunting for their victims,” an unnamed family member told Jaras.

“If the inmate is not powerful enough or guards would not take care of him, he will be certainly raped. Prison guards ignore those who are seen with condoms simply because they were given out to them by the guards at first place,” the family member said.

The family members say prison guards are turning a blind eye to the systematic rape and have ignored complaints made by rape victims.

Amnesty International, which has documented rape inside Iran’s prisons and interviewed victims for a 2010 report, called on Iran to launch an investigation into the recent allegations.

Kristyan Benedict, Amnesty International UK’s Middle East campaign manager, told the Guardian: “Rape is a terrible crime and these allegations [mentioned in the letters] should be thoroughly investigated. Amnesty International has also documented the rape of male and female detainees by security officials. Many of those detained for taking part in post-election protests were tortured and did not receive fair trials. The Iranian authorities still continue to punish and persecute those who peacefully speak up against them.”

According to Mahmoudian, who has been transferred to a solitary confinement after his letter attracted attention, one young prisoner was raped seven times in a single night.

“In [Rajaeeshahr] prison, those who have pretty faces and are unable to defend themselves or cannot afford to bribe others are forcibly taken to different cells each night [to be raped],” he writes.

“The situation is such that those exposed to rape even have an owner and that owner makes money by renting him out to others and after a while selling him to someone else.”

Rape victims in Iran usually stay quiet in order to protect the honour of their family but at the time when journalists based in the country are facing strict restrictions, these letters have become one of the only sources of information about the situation of hundreds of imprisoned activists.

Iranian officials have ignored the allegations and have previously denied any claims of rape inside jail.

هند و انها را تشویق میکنند تا به فعالین سیاسی تجاوز کنند

ننگت باد این رهبر بزهکاران!



بمب نرم افزاری آژانس

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یک نظر با مبنا گیری عرضه و تقاضا


بمب نرم افزاردانه آژانس جهانی انرژی بیشتر به یک بمب نرم افزارانه شبیه است تا بمب اتمی

IEA’s move more of a smart bomb than the nuclear option

By Javier Blas, Commodities Editor

Does the International Energy Agency know something that the market ignores?

The release of the strategic petroleum reserve is prompting questions in the market. True, Libya oil production is out-of-action; refineries are demanding more oil as we move into the second half of the year, and high oil prices are affecting economic growth. All of that is plainly evident to the market. Yet, it appears that there is something more.

For the critics, that something more is political interest.

The White House – and European governments – were concerned about losing votes due to high petrol prices. Other argue that the release is a response to the collapse of the meeting of the Opec cartel earlier this month. I think factor is relevant as background, but also that there is more to it than that.

The more to it is not a secret that the IEA is keeping close to its chest and the market ignores. I just think that the agency is putting more emphasis on some evident problems it sees lying ahead: the first one is the outage in Libya, the second is the health of demand.

On Libya, the release indicates that the country’s oil production is not going to recover any time soon. The north African nation pumped around 1.6m barrels a day of high quality light, sweet oil before the start of the civil war around 100 days ago. Since then, production has fallen to just 200,000 b/d. Even if the war were to finish today, production would not recover for months. The outage has already been long enough to inflict damage on the oil wells, some of which would need to be redrilled to recover. That would take time. So the release is clearly telling the market “forget about Libya for the rest of the year. If not longer”. Moreover, London, Paris and other capitals involved in the conflict probably have indicated to the IEA that the chances of a military or political solution over the short term are minimal, further delaying the return of oil production.

The health of demand is another key factor. True, economic growth in the US and Europe is slowing down, and so is oil demand growth there. But at the same time consumption growth remains robust in the rest of the world. The IEA hinted at this factor during a conference call with reporters on Thursday. In particular, it noted that some of the production boost by Saudi Arabia – which has brought oil output to more than 9.5m b/d and it is on its way to a 32-year high of 10m b/d – would be necessary to meet rising domestic demand by the kingdom during the summer, when the use of air conditioning and water desalinations triggers a spike of direct crude oil burning for power generation. While some on the market expect that economic weakness would cut demand growth, I believe that the IEA is telling the market the opposite: demand growth remains strong.

Conspiracy theorist are having a field day, but I think that the release is ground of simpler facts: the loss of Libya production for longer than anticipated, the surprising robustness of oil demand growth in China, India and Saudi Arabia, and, yes, the evident impact of high oil prices on economic growth in developed countries.

Add to that a new view in Washington and at the IEA’s headquarters in Paris of the strategic reserve as a smart bomb, to be used in the event of small oil output disruptions, rather than a nuclear option, to be used only as last resort, and the release makes sense


اوباما بمب نفتی را زمین زد

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Barack Obamah

خبر اینکه آژانس جهانی انرژی ۶۰ میلیون بشکه نفت را روانه بازار خواهد کرد مثل ک بمب در بازار جهانی بر زمین زده شد

اینک معلوم میشود که  این پرزیدنیت اوباما بوده است که آزانس را وادار به سرازیر کردن این وقدار نفت به بازار کرده است

Barack Obama Foto: AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB

Obama-press bak oljebombe

USA sendte embetsmenn på hemmelig reise – og jobbet i to måneder med å få til gårsdagens oljeslipp.

Cecilie Langum Becker

Publisert: 24.06.2011 – 08:18 Oppdatert: 24.06.2011 – 10:45

Nyheten om at det internasjonale energibyrået IEA vil frigi 60 millioner fat olje frem til utgangen av juli slo ned som en bombe i markedene igår, og sendte oljeprisen ned over seks dollar.

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Også Oslo Børs falt kraftig.

Nå viser det seg at det var USA og den amerikanske presidenten Barack Obama som presset på for å få på plass frislippet, ifølge TDN Finans fredag. Nyhetsbyrået viser til avisen the Wall Street Journal.

Les også: IEA frigir olje fra krise-lagre

USA arbeidet i nesten to måneder for å få i stand frigjøringen av olje fra de strategiske reservene, og ansatte i Det hvite hus sier at USA vil vurdere oljemarkedet de kommende månedene, og at de strategiske oljereservene vil kunne bli benyttet igjen.

Ideen om å benytte seg av reservene for tredje gang i historien, ble lansert i slutten av april, da Brent-olje steg til over 120 dollar pr fat, skriver avisen.

Ringte til kongen
Vissheten om at Saudi-Arabia tradisjonelt er i mot amerikanske ønsker om å frigjøre olje fra strategiske reserver, førte til at president Barack Obama ringte Saudi-Arabias kong Abdullah i begynnelsen av mai for å diskutere saken. Deretter sendte Obama en delegasjon av ledende embetsmenn på hemmelig reise til Saudi-Arabia, Kuwait og UAE, får avisen opplyst.

Senere i mai presset Obama andre ledere på G8-toppmøtet i Frankrike til å støtte planen aktivt, sier representantene for Det hvite hus. Sist onsdag, selv etter at Saudi-Arabia kunngjorde at landet vil øke sin egen produksjon med 1,5 millioner fat dagen, godkjente Obama en plan om å starte diskusjoner med det internasjonale energibyrået IEA om å frigjøre en del av de amerikanske reservene.

– Og det var der vi endte opp klokken 09.00 i dag, sier kilden, som viser til torsdagens hendelse.

De 60 millioner fatene er mindre enn det globale oljekonsumet én dag.

Kan kutte 10-12 dollar
Banken Goldman Sachs tror frislippet kan kutte deres prismål på nordsjøoljen med 10-12 dollar til 105-107 dollar fatet, ifølge TDN Finans, som viser til en analyse torsdag kveld.

Samtidig sier det det nigerianske statsoljeselskapet NNPC at frislippet ikke vil endre noen ting i produsentlandene, fordi det stadig vil være behov for ytterligere tilførsel.

En myk landing
I løpet av IEAs 37 år lange historie har organisasjonen kun to ganger tidligere tatt kriselagrene i bruk, ifølge Upstream Online. Den første gangen var i 1990 da Irak invaderte Kuwait og den andre gangen var etter orkanen Katrina da IEA friga raffinerte produkter fra europeiske lagre til USA.

– I dag, for tredje gang i IEAs historie, har våre medlemsland besluttet å frigi oljelagre. Jeg forventer at dette tiltaket vil bidra til et godt forsynt marked og at det vil sikre en myk landing for verdensøkonomien, sa IEA-sjef Nobuo Tanaka på en pressekonferanse.

Norge er ikke invitert til å delta med frigivelse av olje fra lager, opplyste Olje- og energidepartementet til TDN Finans torsdag.

Oljeprisen har hentet seg litt inn igjen siden igår, og et fat nordsjøolje koster fredag morgen 108,4 dollar fatet – en oppgang på litt over en prosent siden torsdag. Samtidig stiger også den amerikanske oljeprisen WTI en drøy prosent til rundt 92 dollar fatet.

Les også intervjuet med Nordeas Thina Saltvedt igår: – IEA stoler ikke på


جنگ نفت !

سیاستمدار سعودی از مُچاله کردن ایران بخاطر برنامه هسته ایی سخن میگوید

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محاسبات غلط مقامات ایران را در همه زمینه ها گویی نه حدی است و نه حسابی. یکی از مقامات ایران در واکنش به امکان تحریم نفت ایران میگوید که در صورت تحریم نفت ایران بهای آن به هربشکه ۲۵۰ دلار خواهد رسید. من در پاسخ این مقام خیلی مطلع میگویم در صورت تحریم خرید نفت ایران غرب چنان تدابیری خواهد اندیشید که قیمت نفت نه تنها به ۲۵۰ دلار نخواهد رسید بلکه احتمال سقوط قیمت آن به زیر ۷۰ دلار هم خواهد بود. چرا؟ من در ۵ ماه پیش ـ لینکهای زیر ـ تقریباً ۴ مقاله راجع به مسئله نفت و احتمال تحریم نفت ایران نوشتم. منبع مورد استناد منهم روزنامه معتبر وال استریت ژورنال ۲۲ ژوئن و سایر منابع معتبر یود که کپی آنرا درج خواهم کرد.
در حدود این تاریخ «پرنس ترکی الفیصل» یکی از قدرتمند ترین سیاستگذاران دولت عربستان که قبلاً پستهای رئیس دستگاه اطلاعاتی و سفارت عربستان در آمریکا را داشته بود در یک سخنرانی برای گروهی از نظامیان انگلیس و امریکا در یک پایگاه نظامی در انگلیس میگوید؛ نفت جشم اسفندیار ایران است. ما رژیم ایران را با استفاده از این سلاح له و مچاله میکنیم.ما بازار دنیا را از نفت آنچنان اشباع میکنیم که دیگر مشتری برای نفت ایران وجود نداشته باشد.
درهمان زمان بعلت شروع انقلاب درلیبی روزانه مقدار ۱۷۰۰ هزار بشکه از عرضه جهانی نفت کاهش یافت. در کنفرانس ماه ژوئن اُوپک هم، که سخنرانی انگلیسی رئیس کنفرانس که نماینده کشور ما بود آنرا با زبان افتضاح آمیز انگلیسی خود تاریخی کرد، بین اعضای اوپک بر سر کاهش یا افزایش تولید بین ایران و عربستان جبهه بندی پیش امد. نتبجه این شد که: عربستان تولید خود را ظرف دو هفته یک میلیون و امارت و کویت هم یک میلیون دیگر افزایش دادند. متعاقب این افزایش تولید، عربستان با چین تماس گرفت و پیشنهاد داد که حاضر است عرضه مستمر نفت را به آن کشور تضمین کند . از آن تاریخ به بعد واردات نفت چین از ایران به نصف رسیده و واردات از عربستان دو برابر شده است.
از ان تاریخ به بعد تولید عراق افزایش یافته و هم اکنون جای ایران را در اوپک بعنوان دومین تولید کننده گرفته است و پیش بینی میشود تا ۵ سال دیگر با ۱۲ میلیون بشکه صادرات یعنی حدود ۵ برابر امروزِ ایران، از عربستان امروز هم پیشی گیرد. درضمن تولید نفت لیبی از سر گرفته شده و حد اکثر تا یکسال دیگر به سطح پیش از انقلاب خواهد رسید و احتمال اضافه تولید آنهم هم هست.
در همین زمان سازمان انرژی جهانی ( اینترناشنال انرژی آیجنسی) تصمیم گرفت بمدت ۲ ماه روزانه یک میلیون از ذخیره نفتی خود را به بازار عرضه کند . رئیس این سازمان در یک مصاحبه گفت که ما ذخیره نفت را برای چنین روزهایی میخواهیم.
بنظر من تحریم نفت ایران همراه با اشباع نفت در دنیا زا سوی عربستان و امارات و کویت و احتمالاً آزاد سازی مقداری از ذخیره آژانس جهانی انرژی IEA همراه خواهد شد تا دنیا بداند قطع خرید نفت ایران حادثه ای بزرگ نیست.
توصیه من به مقامات ایران اینست که بجای استخاره کردن و حرف زدن و یا از روی نشئگی و بخار معده حرف زدن قدری چشمهایشان را باز کنند ببینند در دنیا چه خبر است انگاه بزبان بیایند.

  • The Wall Street Journal
  • JUNE 22, 2011

Saudi Suggests ‘Squeezing’ Iran Over Nuclear Ambitions


A leading member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family warned that Riyadh could seek to supplant Iran’s oil exports if the country doesn’t constrain its nuclear program, a move that could hobble Tehran’s finances.

In closed-door remarks earlier this month, Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal also strongly implied that Riyadh would be forced to follow suit if Tehran pushed ahead to develop nuclear weapons and said Saudi Arabia is preparing to employ all of its economic, diplomatic and security assets to confront Tehran’s regional ambitions.


Agence France-Press/Getty ImagesPrince Turki al-Faisal, seen in March, suggested this month the Saudis could use oil policy to hobble Iran.

“Iran is very vulnerable in the oil sector, and it is there that more could be done to squeeze the current government,” Prince Turki, a former Saudi ambassador to the U.S. and U.K., told a private gathering of American and British servicemen at RAF Molesworth airbase outside London.

The Arab Spring uprisings are intensifying the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, who face off across the Persian Gulf and jostle for influence with neighbors from Syria to Yemen. It’s a Cold War, fueled by oil and ideology, between Shiite Islamists who rule Iran and the Sunni Saudi royal family, each of whom consider themselves leaders of the world’s Muslim populations.

The prince, the onetime head of the Saudi intelligence agency, currently has no formal government position. Saudi officials reached in the Middle East on Tuesday stressed that the 66-year-old royal was speaking only in his private capacity.

U.S. and Arab diplomats said Saudi Arabia’s monarchy often uses Prince Turki to float ideas concerning the country’s future policies. Saudi Arabia has pursued an increasingly aggressive foreign policy over the past year—sometimes at odds with the U.S. and driven by concerns about Iran and the recent political turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East.

Iran’s “meddling and destabilizing efforts in countries with Shiite majorities, such as Iraq and Bahrain, as well as those countries with significant Shiite communities…must come to an end,” Prince Turki said, according to a copy of his speech obtained by The Wall Street Journal. “Saudi Arabia will oppose any and all of Iran’s actions in other countries because it is Saudi Arabia’s position that Iran has no right to meddle in other nations’ internal affairs.”

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah sent troops into Bahrain and Yemen over the past 18 months to help support allies there against what Riyadh has described as Iranian-backed political rebellions. Saudi officials have criticized the Obama administration’s public support for democratic movements in Egypt and Bahrain, arguing that they served to strengthen Tehran’s regional hand. “A lot of people in the kingdom are talking along these lines,” said a senior Arab official briefed on Prince Turki’s speech.

Throughout its history, Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest producer of oil, has been reticent to use its energy reserves as a strategic weapon. But in recent weeks, Riyadh has pressured members of OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, to increase production as a way to tamp down global oil prices, a move Iran has strongly opposed.

On the same day Prince Turki spoke to the troops in the U.K., OPEC officials in Vienna split into two blocs—one led by Riyadh and the other Tehran—and failed to reach an agreement on the pricing issue. Saudi Arabia subsequently plans to increase in June its output by as much as 1 million barrels a day outside of OPEC as a way to suppress international prices, some Gulf officials have said. They added that the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait will likely increase production too.

Prince Turki said in his speech that Saudi Arabia could easily offset any reduction of Iranian oil exports, due to sanctions or other measures tied to international fears about Iran’s nuclear program. He said a reduction of Iran’s oil revenues could cripple Tehran, which generates half its overall revenues from oil sales.

“To put this into perspective, Saudi Arabia has so much [spare] production capacity—nearly 4 million barrels [per] day—that we could almost instantly replace all of Iran’s oil production,” the prince said.

U.S. officials on Tuesday said they hadn’t been notified by Saudi Arabia of any changes in its production plans. But senior Obama administration officials have lobbied Riyadh over the past two years to explore ways to pressure Iran through the energy markets. The White House has specifically asked Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. to guarantee China greater energy supplies in exchange for Beijing cutting off its energy investments in Iran.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly said it doesn’t seek nuclear weapons and supports the establishment of a United Nations-administered nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East, which would include Iran and Israel. But Prince Turki suggested this could change if Iran continues to work toward the point where it could produce nuclear bombs.

Tehran says it is developing a nuclear program solely for peaceful purposes. But in recent weeks, Iranian officials have said the government is preparing to triple production of nuclear fuel to levels closer to the enrichment rate used for weapons. The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has also reported that it has found accumulating evidence that Iran’s scientific experiments are part of a bomb-development program.

“It is in our interest that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon, for their doing so would compel Saudi Arabia, whose foreign relations are now so fully measured and well assessed, to pursue policies that could lead to untold and possibly dramatic consequences,” Prince Turki said.

The Saudi royal also singled out Iraq as a battleground where Riyadh will increasingly challenge Iranian influence.


Saudi Arabia has withheld sending an ambassador to Baghdad due to charges that Prime Minister Nour al-Maliki’s Shiite-majority government is too close to Iran. Indeed, Iraq sided with Iran in the recent dispute over OPEC energy prices. And Prince Turki alleged that Iranian military officers were directly involved in formulating Iraqi security policy, a charge Baghdad has regularly denied.

“There are people and groups in Iraq that are, as much as they deny it, completely beholden to Iran, and that is not only unacceptable, but it is bad for the future of an ethnically and religiously diverse country,” the prince said.

سخنرانی اسد از روی نسخه همان سخنرانی قبلی بود

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Assad was reading from the same script as Ben Ali
and Mubarak

Syrian protesters can draw
consolation from the fact that the fallen Tunisian and Egyptian dictators used
similar language

Bashar al-Assad,
the Syrian president, addressing the country on Monday. Photograph: AFP/Getty

When Bashar
made his third speech in response to Syrian protests on
Monday, much of his rhetoric was oddly familiar to observers of the past few
months of the Arab spring.

As if reading from the same dictators’ playbook, Assad’s address had the
same mix of promises and threats, concrete plans and conspiracy theories, as
those of other leaders before him in their attempts to save their jobs.

Syrian opposition activists drew some consolation from the fact that two
recently ousted Arab leaders, Tunisia‘s
Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt‘s
, had each given three speeches that failed to satisfy their
people before their downfalls. Perhaps, the rebels suggested, the “three
strikes and you’re out” rule would apply to Assad too.

Supporters of the Syrian leader could meanwhile point to a fellow survivor
of the Arab spring, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, who has made half a dozen defiant
speeches since the revolt against him took off in February, and is still
hanging on in Tripoli.

Much of Assad’s speech could easily have been made by Ben Ali, Mubarak or

The Syrian leader likened alleged conspiracies against him to
“germs”; Gaddafi referred to rebels as “vermin”. Assad
sought to draw a distinction between a population with some legitimate
complaints and a small minority of criminals, Muslim extremists and foreign
conspirators. Gaddafi has labelled his opponents al-Qaida jihadists, adding his
own idiosyncratic variant that the protests were fuelled by milk and Nescafé
spiked with hallucinogenic drugs. In Egypt, Mubarak also warned his country
that “there is a fine line between freedom and chaos”, hinting darkly
at the “larger scheme” underlying the Egyptian protests, manipulated
by unseen forces bent on undermining the country’s stability and legitimacy.

It is an odd choice of tactics, considering how poorly it worked for Ben

The Tunisian ex-leader turned local protests into a nationwide revolt with
the tin ear he displayed in his first speech on 28 December, threatening to
punish the protesters. In his second address on 10 January, Ben Ali made things
worse by calling them terrorists. Three days later, he realised his mistake,
switched from Arabic to local dialect and humbly promised not to run for
re-election in 2014. By then, it was far too little and far too late. He was on
a plane to Saudi Arabia the following evening, although the ousted leader told
a court on Monday that he had been deceived into leaving, having intended
simply to accompany his family to safety and then return.

Mubarak’s concessions were also far too tardy to save him and did little
but signal his deepening weakness. In his second speech in February, the
Egyptian autocrat offered not to stand for re-election in September
presidential elections, and in his third and final address to his nation on 10
February, he grudgingly agreed to delegate day-to-day control of the country to
his deputy. But by then, Mubarak’s continued tenure was the only issue on the
streets of Cairo and his failure to get on a plane drew howls of derision in
Tahrir Square. He was gone the next day.

Assad has given no hint of any readiness to leave the scene and, on that
score, appears to have decided that Gaddafi’s uncompromising example has, for
now at least, shown better results

13 Apr 2011

Hosni Mubarak: from detention to where?1

Tunisian uprising fires a warning to region’s hardliners

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