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Politics - Nov 27

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Jordan King: 3 Mideast Civil Wars Possible in 2007

George Stephanopoulos, ABC News
The week's flare-up of violence in Iraq has been met by a flurry of new diplomacy. Vice President Cheney has just returned from a one-day visit to Saudi Arabia, and President Bush is heading to Amman this week for a summit with the Iraqi prime minister, hosted by King Abdullah of Jordan. ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent George Stephanopoulos spoke with King Abdullah on "This Week."

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it a civil war in Iraq right now?

KING ABDULLAH: Well, George, the difficulty that we're tackling with here is, we're juggling with the strong potential of three civil wars in the region, whether it's the Palestinians, that of Lebanon or of Iraq.
(26 Nov 2006)


No ‘Miracles’ in the Desert

Tim Hyland, University of Pennsylvania
The historians and journalists who have written about the Arabian American Oil Company in years past have generally told the same story: It’s a story of how American businessmen took on a missionary role in Saudi Arabia, helping to raise up a nation while at the same time building an oil powerhouse.

Robert Vitalis knows those stories well. There’s just one problem.

“None of these stories that have been told over and over and over again hold true,” explains Vitalis, a Penn associate professor of political science. “I found there was a different story to be told.”

Vitalis finally tells that untold story in his new book, “America’s Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier.” The book casts new light on U.S.-Saudi relations, delves deeply into the history of ARAMCO and makes the case that those oft-repeated myths about ARAMCO’s “missionary” work-some claimed the company worked “miracles in the desert”- are mostly false.

In fact, Vitalis argues that the American oilmen who built their empire early last century did so, in part, by instituting a “Jim Crow system” in the Dhahran oil camps. Further, he argues that social progress and change was enacted at the camps only because the oil powers’ hand was forced-and not because its leaders were progressive thinkers.

“The old stories get repeated more or less today by all the historians and journalists,” Vitalis says. “Nobody has ever challenged this. They’ve just accepted it point blank. But it’s not true.”
(14 Nov 2006)


G20 economic leaders call for energy investment and efficiency

AFX News/Forbes
Group of 20 (G20) economic leaders said strengthening energy markets and promoting investment and efficiency are needed to ensure the global energy supply keeps up with soaring demand.

In a communique at the end of a two-day summit, finance ministers and central bank chiefs from the G20 said the expansion of energy supplies had struggled to keep pace with demand growth resulting in significant price increases. ..

The communique said little on climate change other than saying the links between energy and climate change policy were discussed and it was agreed the G20 would monitor the issue.

'I think some of the developing countries feel they are going through a process of industrialization. That is going to bring huge energy demand and they feel that emissions caps will make that energy more expensive,' [Australian Treasurer Peter] Costello said. 'In fact some say emission caps will hurt the poor.'
(18 Nov 2006)


China’s poorest worse off after boom

Richard McGregor, Financial Times
China’s poor grew poorer at a time when the country was growing substantially wealthier, an analysis by World Bank economists has found.

The real income of the poorest 10 per cent of China’s 1.3bn people fell by 2.4 per cent in the two years to 2003, the analysis showed, a period when the economy was growing by nearly 10 per cent a year. Over the same period, the income of China’s richest 10 per cent rose by more than 16 per cent.
(21 Nov 2006)


Saudis threaten to cut ties to Britain over corruption investigation

David Leppard, The Sunday Times
SAUDI Arabia is threatening to suspend diplomatic ties with Britain unless Downing Street blocks an investigation into a £60 million ($148 million) "slush fund" allegedly set up for members of its royal family.
A senior Saudi diplomat in London has delivered an ultimatum to Tony Blair that unless the inquiry into an allegedly corrupt military deal is dropped, diplomatic links between Britain and Saudi Arabia will be severed, a defence source has disclosed.

The Saudis, key allies in the Middle East, have also threatened to cut intelligence co-operation over al-Qai'da. They have repeated their threat that they will terminate payments on a military contract worth up to £40 billion that supports 10,000 British jobs.

The Saudis are furious about the Serious Fraud Office's criminal investigation into allegations that BAE Systems, Britain's biggest military supply company, set up the slush fund to support the extravagant lifestyle of members of the Saudi royal family. ..

A defence department official said the preliminary contract to sell the first 24 of 72 promised Typhoon warplanes, better known as Eurofighters, was then suspended. That contract alone is said to be worth £11 billion and would safeguard 9000 British jobs for the next decade.

While the Saudis have temporarily reversed their decision, they made it clear they would carry out their threats unless the demands in their letter were met.

That would include severing all diplomatic and intelligence ties with Britain -- withdrawing their ambassador to London, and sending home the British ambassador in Riyadh.
(20 Nov 2006)

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