Posts tagged ‘Saudi Arabia’

July 20, 2012

The US Senate, HSBC and Saudi Funding of Terrorism

Hsbc

Hsbc (Photo credit: green_kermit)

via Paul Stott:

Today’s Telegraph Business pages and London’s City A.M. both gave priority to the US Senate Committee investigation into HSBC.

The Committee found HSBC’s lax procedures allowed it to be used to launder millions of dollars by Mexican drug cartels, the Saudi bank Al Rajhi (linked to Al Qaeda) and, in the face of international restrictions, the Iranian and Sudanese governments.
At the moment media attention in the UK is centred on Trade Minister Lord Green. An ordained Church of England Vicar who writes on business ethics, Green was Chairman of HSBC from 2003-6 and then Chief Executive until 2010, when he joined David Cameron’s government.

Researchers such as Robert Pape have in the past pinned down that Al-Qaeda appears to be a mostly Saudi organisation. Al Rajhi bank, the Kingdom’s largest financial institution, seems to have played a key role in the activities of the world’s most infamous terrorist organisation. The executive summary of Carl Levin‘s senate report states:

In particular, HSBC has been active in Saudi Arabia, conducting substantial banking activities through affiliates as well as doing business with Saudi Arabia’s largest private financial institution, Al Rajhi Bank. After the 9-11 terrorist attack in 2001, evidence began to emerge that Al Rajhi Bank and some of its owners had links to financing organizations associated with terrorism, including evidence that the bank’s key founder was an early financial benefactor of al Qaeda. In 2005, HSBC announced internally that its affiliates should sever ties with Al Rajhi Bank, but then reversed itself four months later, leaving the decision up to each affiliate. HSBC Middle East, among other HSBC affiliates, continued to do business with the bank.

There is plenty more along those lines – but I encourage you to read Levin’s report executive summary, and/or the report in full here.

July 22, 2011

More news behind the headlines

In this edition, the shifting sands of power in the Middle East, the alliance between Iran and North Korea, the politics of India’s oil supply, Vince Cable’s corrupt dealings, and why Mongolia matters.

Is Libya trying to sell off its shipping fleet? – By Robert Zeliger

blog.foreignpolicy.com – How desperate is Muammar Qaddafi to raise cash? According to a new report, the Libyan leader is trying to unload the country’s fleet of 22 shipping vessels as economic sanctions and continued fight.

Why Mongolia Matters « Commentary Magazine

commentarymagazine.com – Our colleague Michael Rubin makes a good case for why we should care about Mongolia as well as why we should reject the realpolitik that would have the United States eschew friendship with small st..

How Saudi Arabia and Qatar Became Friends Again – By Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi

foreignpolicy.com – In the spring of 2006, Qatar’s then energy minister broke his silence on a stalled, multibillion-dollar project to supply Qatari gas to Kuwait. “We have received no clearance from Saudi Arabia” he…

North Korea and Iran increase collaboration on nuclear missile, report claims

telegraph.co.uk – It was capable of manufacturing high strength steel that Iran has been unable to manufacture. Iran has instead relied on carbon fibre materials that are less reliable.”What previously had been a on…

‘India can cope with oil supply halt’

timesofindia.indiatimes.com – NEW DELHI: India has back-up plan to cope with a halt to crude supplies from Iran, oil minister S Jaipal Reddy said, as the Islamic republic upped the ante in an oil payments row and Indian refiner…

Cable flies into controversy with £32m for Westland Business News, Business

independent.co.uk – AgustaWestland has secured a £22m government loan to build the new AW169 helicopter at its Yeovil factory, along with £10m in research and development grants. The funds, announced by the Business…

July 20, 2011

Opinions: the shifting tectonic plates of geopolitics

Two items from the very cool Al Arabiya website:

Market Moves / Hello, Venezuela, possessor of biggest oil reserves. Welcome to the oil games

By EMAN EL-SHENAWI

Over the past year, many will have thought of Saudi Arabia, the oil goliath, as being home to the largest proven crude oil reserves in the world and that the country will maintain this title for many years to come. After all, the kingdom is the largest oil exporter in the world. But creeping up behind Saudi throughout 2010 was the South American oil bigwig, Venezuela. […]

Hillary Clinton should be fed noodle soup in New Delhi

By RAVI SHANKAR

Empires do not have friends. They only have allies.

America is the only empire left after the Soviet Union collapsed. China is a perennial empire in waiting: perhaps it heeds history’s tutorials that it is better to be an imperial work in progress, the promise of menace and power a deterrent not only to the rest of the world but also to itself. Revolution may devour its children, but empires get devoured by theirs.[…]

March 16, 2011

Arming the dictators: How the west profiteers from anti-democracy actions in the Middle East

In its broadest sense, the arms industry encom...

Image via Wikipedia

Saudi Arabia uses UK-made armoured vehicles in Bahrain crackdown on democracy protesters

Saudi Arabia has sent scores of UK-made armoured personnel carriers into Bahrain to aid the government’s bloody suppression of pro-democracy protesters. The armoured vehicles, marketed as Tacticas, were manufactured by BAE Systems Land Systems Division in Newcastle Upon Tyne with final assembly taking place in Belgium (Jane’s Armour and Artillery 2009-10 pp. 664)

The Saudi Arabia National Guard (SANG) ordered 261 of the vehicles in 2006 for delivery in 2008. Saudi forces entered Bahrain in a convoy of the Tacticas on 13 March, at the invitation of the Bahrain’s ruling al-Khalifa family. It seems that the Saudi forces are being held in reserve, leaving the front-line repression of protesters by Bahrain’s military and security forces.

Saudi Arabia has been a major market for market for UK arms since the 1960s. The majority of contracts have been through the controversial Al-Yamamah arms deals of the mid-1980s, and their successor, the Salam Project, which involved arms giant BAE Systems (formmerly British Aerospace). However, the Tactica purchase was not part of either package but a separate contract with SANG.

Bahrain is also a market for UK arms. In the first nine months of 2010, the UK approved export licenses for over £5 million worth of arms including tear gas and crowd control ammunition, equipment for the use of aircraft cannons, assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles and sub-machine guns. In response to an earlier crackdown on 18 February 2011 the UK government revoked 24 individual licences and 20 open licences to Bahrain.[…]

Arms made in Newcastle used by Saudis to suppress protests

Saudi Arabia has sent scores of UK-made armoured personnel carriers into Bahrain to aid the government’s bloody suppression of pro-democracy protesters. The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has criticised the UK government for allowing the sale of the armoured vehicles, made by BAE Systems.

The vehicles, marketed as Tacticas, were manufactured by BAE Systems Land Systems Division in Newcastle-upon-Tyne with final assembly taking place in Belgium.[…]

Britain reviewing crowd control weapons exports, says Hague

Britain is reviewing its arms exports to the Middle East and north Africa, which have included crowd control weapons and small arms to Bahrain and Libya, the foreign secretary, William Hague, said on Wednesday.

Exports recently cleared for export to Bahrain include more than 100 assault rifles, over 50 sub-machine guns, stun grenades, tear gas ammunition, riot control agents, and components for “military devices for initiating explosives”, according to the latest official figures.

The Guardian reported last month that the British government had approved the sale to Libya of a wide range of equipment for use against civilians, including teargas and “crowd control ammunition”, as well as sniper rifles.

Export licences increased significantly and were valued at more than £200m over the first nine months of last year, according to figures compiled by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills for the Foreign Office.[…]

Bahrain Crisis: Is U.S. Military Assistance Hindering Democracy?

The increasingly violent crackdown on anti-government protesters in Bahrain has rekindled debate over whether U.S. military aid is being used to crush popular uprisings.

The Obama administration launched an investigation last week into the possibility that U.S. arms and training money were used by Bahraini security forces in violent crackdowns on protesters. The outcome of that probe is not yet known, but the Bahrain situation is stirring up uncomfortable questions about the effectiveness of military aid and to what extent U.S. assistance undermines emerging democracies, said Marine Corps Lt. Col. Christopher L. Naler, a federal executive fellow at The Brookings Institution, in Washington, D.C….

His own research revealed some troubling numbers. Between 2006 and 2011, annual U.S. assistance to Bahrain ranged from $5 million to $18 million. And even though the U.S. government can choose to allocate the aid to non-military programs, in this case it earmarked every penny to the security sector, Naler said. “This is one that caught me by surprise.” […]

Britain under fire for selling arms to Bahrain

The British Government has been heavily criticised for allowing arms sales to a number of Arab governments that have cracked down on pro-democracy protests in recent weeks, killing scores of people and injuring thousands more in demonstrations across the region….

David Cameron and other leading Conservative cabinet ministers have long standing ties to Bahrain. A year before last May’s General Election, the then Leader of the Opposition received a “gift of a fountain pen and half suite cufflinks and studs, provided by His Majesty Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa,” the King of Bahrain. The present is listed in the Register of MPs’ interests. Defence Secretary Liam Fox registered travel expenses worth £1,400 paid for by the Bahrain government….

Denis MacShane said that the idea of civilians dying because of British manufactured arms made him feel “physically sick”. “With the protests spreading across the Middle East, I am very concerned that once Britain is going to be caught on the wrong side of history again, defending the indefensible,” he said.

The Foreign Office policy to date chimes with a determination at the top of government to put commercial interests at the heart of British foreign policy. Within weeks of entering Downing Street last year, David Cameron embarked on one of Britain’s biggest ever trade delegations, to India, during which the two governments announced a deal between BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and Indian aerospace group Hindustan Aeronautics to supply 57 Hawk trainer jets….

Britain’s ingrained position in the Middle Eastern arms market is further underlined by the expected presence of at least 92 British companies at a pan-Middle East arms fair, scheduled to be opened in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. The chairman of the IDEX event, Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, a member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family, and the chairman Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, says on its website: “Over the recent years significant investment in resources and facilities at our host venue… have enabled IDEX to sustain its reputation as the largest defence exhibition in the Middle East and North Africa region.”[…]

German arms used to crush protests in Bahrain: MP

German weapons are being used to suppress peaceful protests in Bahrain, said a senior legislator of the opposition party The Left (Die Linke) here Wednesday.

Addressing the German parliament during a live debate on the upheavals in the Arab world, Wolfgang Gehrcke pointed out that part of the weapons deployed by Bahrain’s security forces against anti-government protesters were supplied by Germany.

The foreign policy spokesman of The Left party called for an ‘immediate end’ to the delivery of German arms to the Bahraini regime. Germany’s overall arms export to the Near-and Middle East hovers around 1.1 billion euros and includes other recipient countries like Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. In 2009, the United Arab Emirates was among the three leading recipients of German weapons, according to the latest report released by the German government.

The tiny Persian Gulf sheikdom was ranked second after the US in terms of total German arms exports last year which stood at 5.04 billion euros. Germany sold around 540.7 million euros worth of military hardware to the UAE, among them radar and steering systems, torpedoes, simulators, missiles, hand grenades, armored vehicles, tank spare parts, automatic cannons. amphibious vehicles and trucks.

Meanwhile, another Persian Gulf country, Saudi Arabia, was listed sixth in the overall export of German weaponry with 167.9 million euros.[…]

March 4, 2011

Who owns the US?

Federal_Debt-VS-Taxes

Image via Wikipedia

By Greg Bocquet, here:

Regardless of how much closer Obama’s budget brings our economy into a balance of payments not seen since 2001, we will continue to run deficits for the next decade, and the national debt will keep growing every year that happens.

While most of the country’s $14 trillion debt is held by private banks in the U.S., the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Board estimate that, as of December, about $4.4 trillion of it was held by foreign governments that purchase our treasury securities much as an investor buys shares in a company and comes to own his or her little chunk of the organization.

Looking at the list of our top international creditors, a few overall characteristics show some interesting trends: Three of the top 10 spots are held by China and its constituent parts, and while two of our biggest creditors are fellow English-speaking democracies, a considerable share of our debt is held by oil exporters that tend to be decidedly less friendly in other areas of international relations.

Here we break down the top 10 foreign holders of U.S. debt, comparing each creditor’s holdings with the equivalent chunk of the United States they “own,” represented by the latest (2009) state gross domestic product data released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Obviously, these creditors won’t actually take states from us as payment on our debts, but it’s fun to imagine what states and national monuments they could assert a claim to.

foreigndebt-flags.jpg
©Radar Communication

1. Mainland China

Amount of U.S. debt: $891.6 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 20.4%

Building on the holdings of its associated territories, China is the undisputed largest holder of U.S. foreign debt in the world. Accounting for 20.4% of the total, mainland China’s $891.6 billion in U.S. treasury securities is almost equal to the combined 2009 GDP of Illinois ($630.4 billion) and Indiana ($262.6 billion) in 2009, a shade higher at a combined $893 billion. As President Obama — who is from Chicago — wrangles over his proposed budget with Congress he may be wise to remember that his home city may be at stake in the deal.

[…]

4. Oil Exporters

Amount of U.S. debt: $218 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 5%

Another grouped entry, the oil exporters form another international bloc with money to burn. The group includes 15 countries as diverse as the regions they represent: Ecuador, Venezuela, Indonesia, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Gabon, Libya, and Nigeria. As a group they hold 5% of all American foreign debt, with a combined $218 billion of U.S. treasury securities in their own treasuries. That’s roughly equivalent to the combined 2009 GDP of Nebraska ($86.4 billion) and Kansas ($124.9 billion), which seems to be an equal trade: The two states produce a bunch of grain for export, which many of the arid oil producers tend to trade for oil.

[…]

6. Caribbean Banking Centers

Amount of U.S. debt: $155.6 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 3.6%

You have to have cash on hand to buy up U.S. government debt, and offshore banking has given six countries the combined capital needed to make the Caribbean Banking Centers our sixth-largest foreign creditor. The Treasury Department counts the Bahamas, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the Netherlands Antilles, Panama and the British Virgin Islands in this designation, which as a group holds $155.6 billion in U.S. treasury securities. That’s equivalent to the GDP of landlocked Kentucky ($156.6 billion), whose residents may not actually mind if they were ever to become an extension of some Caribbean island paradise.

7. Hong Kong

Amount of U.S. debt: $138.2 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 3.2%

At No. 7 on the list of our foreign creditors is Hong Kong, a formerly British part of China that maintains a separate government and economic ties than the communist mainland. With $138.2 billion in U.S. treasury securities, the capitalist enclave could lay claim to Yellowstone Park and our nation’s capital: The combined GDP of Wyoming ($37.5 billion) and Washington D.C. ($99.1 billion) totaled $136.6 billion in 2009.

[…]

10. Russia

Amount of U.S. debt: $106.2 billion

Share of total foreign debt: 2.4%

Starting off the list of our major foreign creditors is Russia, which holds about 2.4% of the U.S. debt pie that sits on the international dinner table. Its $106.2 billion in treasury securities is equivalent to the 2009 GDP of our sparsely populated North: The combined output of North Dakota ($31.9 billion), South Dakota ($38.3 billion) and Montana ($36 billion) matches up nicely with the Russian holdings, at $106.2 billion.

Let’s hope Russian president Dmitry Medvedev doesn’t come to collect.

February 17, 2011

News from other parts of the Middle East

This post focuses on the ever-growing power of Chinese economic imperialism in the Middle East, but also the rising soft power of South Korea. It looks at the impact of the unrest in the region on the big oil countries, showing how oil has sustained authoritarian governments, which are fearing the changes. Labour conflict remains rife in the region, including the growing militancy of the hyper-exploited migrant workers from South Asia. Even Israel is seeing an upswing in labour militancy, with  a general strike a real possibility. 

read more »

January 10, 2011

Essential reading on world affairs

Rising powers: China’s hard and soft power

Robert Gates Clarifies China’s Stealth Capabilities

The newest big oil company: China?

Global food crisis: feeding rebellion

Frontline Tunisia

Governments Around the World Struggle with Surging Food Prices

11 dead in Tunisia rioting

Unrest spreads to Algeria

Big oil and corporate corruption

Climate Change Skeptics are Stooges for Big Oil

Big oil’s intriguing resurgence

2011: The Arctic vs Big Oil

Big Gas Find Sparks a Frenzy in Israel

China remains world’s biggest car producer and market for second year

Blood for oil: Saudi’s hard power

Saudi Arabia’s Terror: What Hillary Clinton Knows

Saudi Arabia: Taliban Lite (With U.S. Complicity)

ANALYSIS: Saudi Arabia and Pakistan

Labour on the march

Israel port strike settled as workers win 6% pay increase, big gains for new workers, more vacation and sick days

Alta Gracia, Dominica: How One Tiny Factory Is Challenging the Sweatshop Norm

Workers strike in UAE after labour riot

The bosses strike back

Labor lawyer imprisoned in Xi’an for organizing against corrupt privatization of state enterprises

Kraft Foods Employee In Colombia Killed By Gunman, Says Union

Recent worker deaths in the Bangladeshi garment industry from police repression and from a factory fire

And even under “actually existing socialism”, the workers are fucked over

Cubans fret as massive job cuts get under way

Venezuela: Fifty-one year-old welder and leader of Sintraferrominera ironworkers union, has spent over a year in prison

April 15, 2010

BIG OIL

NEWS:

Shareholders Press Big Oil for Risk Information [The Environment Report]

The major risks with tar sand include dealing with pollution, and with lawsuits from native tribes that live near the oil sands.

Several investors’ groups want four major oil companies to reveal the risks of getting oil from Canadian tar sands. Rebecca Williams reports shareholders will be considering this at BP’s general meeting this week.

[READ THE REST]

Think-tanks take oil money and use it to fund climate deniers [Jonathan Owen and Paul Bignell]

An orchestrated campaign is being waged against climate change science to undermine public acceptance of man-made global warming, environment experts claimed last night.

The attack against scientists supportive of the idea of man-made climate change has grown in ferocity since the leak of thousands of documents on the subject from the University of East Anglia (UEA) on the eve of the Copenhagen climate summit last December.

Free-market, anti-climate change think-tanks such as the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in the US and the International Policy Network in the UK have received grants totalling hundreds of thousands of pounds from the multinational energy company ExxonMobil. Both organisations have funded international seminars pulling together climate change deniers from across the globe.

[READ THE REST]

Chinese Purchase of Oil Sands Stake Could Revalue Resource [OilPrice.com]

The acquisition of a 9% stake in the Syncrude oil sands venture by China’s Sinopec for $4.65 billion – substantially more than expected – could pave the way for a revaluation of Canada’s vast deposits of a resource that is environmentally controversial.

Canadian Oil Sands Trust, the biggest stakeholder in Syncrude with 36%, led energy stocks higher in Toronto Stock Exchange trading after the Chinese company paid a hefty premium for the stake held by ConocoPhillips. Part of the stock’s gain was due to relief that Canadian Oil Sands would not be selling new shares to acquire the stake itself.

The investment is the largest so far by a Chinese company in a North American energy project as China continues to scour the globe for energy resources.

[READ THE REST]

ANALYSIS:

Big Oil Does the Math, Proposes a New Tax on Itself [Chris Morrison]

// //

A snowflake may have just fallen in Hell: Several large oil companies, including Shell and BP, have reportedly helped design a new gas tax for the United States that would add a significant cost to fuel for consumers and businesses.

But as with every move from Big Oil, there’s a logical reason for the support. They consider the tax as the lesser of two evils: though it might slightly dent demand for fuel, a gas tax would probably be better for business than taking a hit at their refineries.

[READ THE REST]

COMMENT:

You Can’t Always Get What You Want [Matthew Philips]

President Obama’s March 30 decision to open up vast tracts of the Atlantic Ocean to oil and natural-gas exploration triggered the predictable range of responses: drilling advocates, including Republican lawmakers, offered tepid approval, while environmentalists complained. But lost amid the political debates—did Obama secure conservative Democrats’ support for energy legislation? Could Republicans still run on “Drill, Baby, Drill?”—was a question with more practical impact: What’s down there?

[READ THE REST]

Fox News: 4th Largest Owner of Shares is Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal of Saudi Arabia: Will Big Oil Buy Our Next Election? [Julia Bodeeb]

Fox “news” is owned by the parent company News Corp. The four top shareholders of News Corp are the Murdoch family, Liberty Media, Fidelity Management & Research Company, and Prince Alwaleed bin Talan.

DC Bureau reports that Prince Alwaleed bin Talan, a nephew of the King of Saudi Arabia, “has personally donated huge amounts of money to the families of the Palestinian suicide bombers.” He also released a statement after 9/11 blaming the attacks on the U.S.: “not on the 15 airline hijackers from Saudi Arabia—but on the United States’ support of Israel.”

[READ THE REST]