06 March 2011

Saudi Kingdom bans "Day of Love"

As reported today by David Randall in The Independent,
"The Saudi Interior Ministry said the kingdom has banned all demonstrations because they contradict Islamic laws and social values."
Saudi Arabia bans all marches as mass protest is planned for Friday
Read the official Saudi announcement, in the regime-controlled Arab News: Kingdom Bans Demonstrations

Now, when news-gathering is both imperative and a danger-filled adventure of confusion, Randall's claim that the Saudi regime's move "comes before a ' day of rage ' threatened for this Friday by opponents of the regime" must be another laughably wrong translation.

The Friday demos must be for a Day of Love, for how else could Abdullah be The People's King, as Bloomberg's Business Week as well as many other news reports in the Arab News (which covered the return of the king with "RIYADH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s return home sparked celebrations among Saudis and expatriates alike. The nation’s capital became the site of an impromptu festival…") have assured us nervous oil addicts?
"The contrast between Libya and Saudi Arabia on Feb. 23 couldn't have been more striking … King Abdullah returned from three months of medical treatment abroad laden with gifts for his subjects. Abdullah, known as the people's king, announced $36 billion worth of new jobless benefits, education and housing subsidies, and debt write-offs. The government even unveiled a new sports channel."
– Glen Cary and Joseph Carroll, Calm in Saudi Arabia: Generous benefits and a popular king help stabilize the oil-rich kingdom
Of course, a little persuasion-power doesn't hurt, as they state, so reassuringly:
"Observers like Peter Zeihan, of geopolitical consultants Stratfor, are betting that Saudi Arabia will escape the turmoil. 'Odds are the Saudis would hold on because they have much better social control in the form of policing powers, and they are better able to insulate the minority group that might like to see a change from events in the outside world,' he says."
Three days ago, Peter Coy was a bit more conditional in his certainty, saying in his Bloomberg column, Saudi Arabia Must Keep Pumping Oil to Buy Stability. Coy calls the ruler a Gradualist Reformer, and says,
"The Saudi kingdom … is ringed by revolts in Bahrain, Yemen, and Oman. It is undemocratic, inegalitarian, and economically sluggish. It has high youth unemployment (30 percent in 2009) and a disgruntled Shiite population in its oil-rich Eastern Province. Investors are getting nervous … The kingdom is staging elections for the first time this year, but they are only for members of city councils, and only men can vote. The likely successors to King Abdullah are considered less reform-minded than he is."
However, Coy ends the column on an uplifting note, focussed on what matters:
"Saudi Aramco may outlast the family that took it over."
As this is Women's History Month, an aside:

"Everything we see in the world is the creative work of women."
Kemal Atatürk

The contrast between women couldn't be more striking

"Gianna Bern, a former BP (BP) crude trader now at Brookshire Research and Advisory, puts it this way: "The real concern is that if we see these sorts of disturbances spread to Saudi Arabia or Iran, then we're going to see turmoil in energy markets go to another level, an unprecedented level."
Calm Speaks Volumes
“There are no more borders for ideas,” Mai Yamani, an anthropologist who is a daughter of former Saudi Oil Minister Ahmed Zaki Yamani, told Bloomberg TV on Feb. 28."
Must Keep Pumping Oil

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