Links for 08.08.09 to 08.09.09

Middle East Report Online: Rachel Corrie in Palestine…and in San Francisco | Joel Beinin on the hysterical reaction to the screening of French-Israeli filmmaker Simone Bitton's film on Rachel Corrie at the San Francisco Film Festival. Israeli agents to screen judges before appointment - Middle East, World - The Independent | Israel - just another Middle Eastern autocracy: "Israel's internal security service has been given a de facto veto over the appointment of judges in an unprecedented decision that has the country's embattled liberals up in arms. The move by the Judges Selection Committee on Friday is likely to make it harder for members of Israel's Arab minority and others with views that are not mainstream to become judges, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (Acri)." Obama's letter to Assad .... | FLC: "According to the Lebanese daily Al Akhbar, President Obama heeded a "french advice" and transferred the Lebanon-Syria file (s) to the White House, away from the tractions and the oversight of such officials as Jeffrey Feltman... Moreover, and always according to Al Akhbar, a senior Arab diplomat in Beirut said that President Obama sent a "three pages letter" to President Assad asking him to "turn a new page in the bilateral relations between the US and Syria" ... and outlining ways to move forward. " Typhoid outbreak in Egypt | In Qaloubiya governorate, due to water sanitation issues. There are increasing water sanitation and distribution problems in Egypt, a sign that the government is not sufficiently investing in infrastructure. Central Bank: Egypt's remittances drop 26 percent (AP via Yahoo! Finance) | The crisis hits. Al-Ahram Weekly | Living | Obituary: Fayza Hassan, 1938-2009: Life interrupted | Very sad to hear about the death of this wonderful writer. Egypt's National Security Threatened By Sorcery: Psychiatrist | Mountain = molehill. EGYPT: Anwar Sadat's daughter sues information minister over Hollywood movie | Babylon & Beyond | Los Angeles Times | Because of the film "I love you, man." Which isn't very good anyway (and the dog does not resemble Sadat). Reptile wreaks havoc on Cairo-bound flight | Funny: "A “small crocodile” running up and down the aisle of a Cairo-bound flight recently sent passengers into a frenzy. No one claimed ownership of the creature, which turned out to be a lizard." Israeli settlement freeze 'not enough for Saudis' (AFP) | I almost hate to praise Saudi Arabia, but they have this right.
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Links for 08.06.09 to 08.08.09

Informed Comment: Statement on Iran by Engaged Scholars | It starts: "If we speak out against the threat of force against Iran (regarding the nuclear conflict) and warn against a military strike, we cannot be silent on the use of force in Iran itself against its own civil society. For solidarity with the civil society and a peaceful order in the region constitute the primary concern of our efforts. If we condemn foreign sanctions against the Iranian people, we deplore all the more domestic sanctions directed at peaceful demonstrators, journalists, trade unionists, professors, students and others. Thereby the government deprives itself from the domestic basis needed against foreign threats." Sex and the Saudi: one man riles a nation - Middle East, World - The Independent | "In this ultra-conservative kingdom, where husbands and wives rarely even kiss in public, many Saudis have been scandalised by a compatriot who spoke frankly about sex on satellite TV, showing off erotic toys and fantasising about joining the mile-high club." The silly man might now be lashed. Wily Walid | Walid Jumblatt, after saying he might leave M14, says he just thinks it should change its slogans. Is there anything more to M14 (or M8 for that matter) than slogans? In any case too many people focus on the significance of Jumblatt leaving. He was probably renegotiating his participation in M14 without really intending to leave, and was trying to raise his price. ‘Atlantic’ concedes the groundbreaking impact of a piece it killed | Good post on The Atlantic miserably dishonest coverage of the Israel/Palestine issue. Le Quotidien d’Algérie, le journal de l’éveil algérien - De violents affrontements entre Chinois et Algériens à Bab Ezzouar | Riots between Chinese laborers and Algerians. Popularity contest - The National Newspaper | On the false hope that Iran's political turmoil will change Arab public opinion about resistance.
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Links for 07.22.09 to 07.23.09

Writer banned from ‘DailyKos’ after satirizing settlements | Shame! More of the Worlds Worst Dictators | Parade.com | What, Hosni only at #20? מגזין הכיבוש Occupation Magazine | How Israel is hiring students and demobilized soldiers to wage a propaganda war through comments across the web. Israeli FM wants Hitler photo to mute world pressure - Yahoo! News | Pathetic. Saudi Efforts to Combat Terrorist Financing - WINEP | I hate to link to WINEP's fluff piece for Stuart Levey, but my hatred for the al-Sauds trumps all. Of course they tolerate individuals who donate to extremists, and we still don't know enough about their role in 9/11. Mubarak invited to Washington in August | The Cable | Egyptian reports had put date at August 15, this says August 17. But will it not be a state visit? Nothing formal announced by White House yet. Amnesty condemns Saudi anti-terror campaign | World news | The Guardian | This comes after years of hearing about how great the Saudi rehabilitation model is... but many of those arrested in anti-terror campaign are just dissidents.
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Links for 07.21.09

Israel weighs confiscation of more Palestinian land - Haaretz - Israel News | In other words, trend set in past 40 years set to continue, despite what Bibi says, unless more forceful action is taken. BM News: American troops expected in Egypt this September « Bikya Masr | 425 National Guard troops expected to be stationed near Rafah. Apollo astronauts advocate trip to Mars - Bring the Tang | I love the space program, even thought it might be pretty pointless in the end. But can't we seize all the assets of Goldman Sachs and use them to build a rocket for Mars? Come on... Saudi Authorities Arrest Over 65,000 Illegal Immigrants in Three Months |
Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Saudi Security apparatus has revealed that it has arrested over 65,000 illegal immigrants and 1,084 smugglers attempting to illegally enter Saudi Arabia during the second
Internationally Recognised Core Labour Standards In Morocco | WTO report on labor issues in Morocco. Make no little plans - The National Newspaper | On NYU's plans to open a school in Abu Dhabi as part of "global network university" and questions about academic freedom in the Gulf.
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Links for 07.18.09 to 07.20.09

Gambling with peace: how US bingo dollars are funding Israeli settlements | World news | The Guardian | More Moskowitz. There should be an international financial blockade against any institution involved in the settlements. 'U.S. tells Israel to halt East Jerusalem building' - Haaretz - Israel News | More on Irving Moskowitz's settlement plans. Asma Al Assad: Syria's First Lady And All-Natural Beauty (SLIDESHOW) | HuffPo celebrates the beauty of Asma al-Assad. Never mind her hubby being a dictator and all... WaPo bows cravenly to pro-Israel lobby | WaPo publishes inaccurate "correction" on Gilo settlement. De “Freej” à “Hamdoon” : le dessin cartonne aux Emirats | On the spread of homegrown cartoon characters in the UAE. French agents kidnapped in Somalia | Security trainers were posing as journalists and staying at journalists' hotel — can't say I feel any sympathy for them. Publier ici votre bilan des dix de règne - Comme une bouteille jetée à la mer! | Larbi, one of the best Moroccan bloggers, is inviting readers to send in their assessment of the first 10 years of Muhammad VI's reign. Breaking the silence | Soldiers’ Testimonies from Operation Cast Lead, Gaza 2009 Al-Ahram Weekly | Egypt | Cementing the rift via dialogue | Update on Egypt-brokered Palestinian reconciliation talks after Ramallah meeting, takes the position that Fatah is sabotaging talks for electoral purposes. But does not acknowledge Egypt's acquiescence in this plan. The freegans' creed: waste not, want not | Environment | The Observer | Article on freeganism, i.e. eating free food that's been thrown away. Clearly only possible as a lifestyle in the first world. Somaliland's addict economy | GlobalPost | About Qat (also spelled Khat, the drug) in Somaliland. EGYPT: Poet accused of insulting Mubarak awaits final verdict | Babylon & Beyond | Los Angeles Times | Ridiculous. OpenStreetMap | Not bad alternative to Google Maps. For Cairo not bad, but Google is more detailed and in Arabic. Still, good effort that might improve, and does not lock us in to the G-Man. Revisiting Obama's Riyadh meeting | The Cable | So the idea that Obama came out empty-handed out of his pre-Cairo Speech meeting with Saudi King Abdullah is gaining ground. But it is ridiculous to imagine that Abdullah would pre-emptively agree to concessions before the Israelis have made even a single concession. Egyptian chronicles: Ahmed Rushdie-Barely-Speaks For The First Time | Very interesting post on former Egyptian minister of interior Ahmed Rushdie, described here as the only minister of the Mubarak era to have resigned and the only interior minister who was respected. (I don't know how true this is, but it's interesting!) International Crisis Group - 152 Sudan: Justice, Peace and the ICC | New ICG report on Sudan warns of laying off pressure on Khartoum over Darfur as focus shifts to the south and the CPA again. Among key recommendations to the ruling party is that Bashir should step down as soon as possible. US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman Talks to Asharq Al-Awsat | Sharq al-Awsat interview, mostly on Syria. The Obama administration sure loves Saudi media. Palestinians aim for massive pastry record Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English) | I'm all for building the world's largest ball of twine or baking the biggest kunafa, but the reporting on this is over the top. Taboo Topics on Contemporary Foreign Policy Discourse | Stephen M. Walt | Excellent post on the Ten Commandments of foreign policy wonks. You could add plenty more, but I would add (as far as Egypt is concerned) "Thou shall greet yesterday's oppressor as today's reformer, or vice versa if appropriate." Walt makes so many good points it's hard to choose a favorite, although #9 is up there.
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Links for 07.14.09 to 07.18.09

Why is Saudi Arabia buying up African farmland? | FP Passport | More Arab landgrabs in sub-Saharan Africa. Will NBC's The Wanted Endanger Foreign Correspondents? | The New York Observer | This looks like a really stupid idea. WPR Article | The End of Political Islam? | No, it's not. A good passage from this story:
The basic goal of all Islamists, from Salafis to the Muslim Brotherhood, is the revival of Muslim society, and the reversal of the perceived decline it has been experiencing for several centuries. All Islamists agree that this decline occurred because of a shift from the original foundations of its greatness, Islam. Thus, they agree that revival means the re-Islamicization of society through ridding it of what they consider corrupting Western ideas, such as secularization.
Hamas makes feature film about slain militant - Yahoo! News | "the screenplay was penned by Mahmoud Zahar, the Gaza strongman seen as one of the architects of the group's violent takeover of Gaza two years ago." It'd be nice if Zahar was referred to as Hamas' foreign minister, and also if wasn't such an idiot for spending money on this at this time. Who does he think he is, Saddam Hussein or Muammar Qadhafi? BBC NEWS | Middle East | Saudi 'genie' sued for harassment | About time that genies learn that they are not beyond the law. Boston Review — Helena Cobban: Peace Out | The decline of Israel's progressive movement, by Helena Cobban.
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Israel prepares for ground invasion of Iran

That got your attention, didn't it? Well it's just as ridiculous as stories from the London Times (which I use to work for and whose publication of this kind of alarmist stories I lament as one more evidence of the decay associated with being owned by Rupert Murdoch) such as this one:
Israeli navy in Suez Canal prepares for potential attack on Iran Sheera Frenkel in Jerusalem Two Israeli missile class warships have sailed through the Suez Canal ten days after a submarine capable of launching a nuclear missile strike, in preparation for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The deployment into the Red Sea, confirmed by Israeli officials, was a clear signal that Israel was able to put its strike force within range of Iran at short notice. It came before long-range exercises by the Israeli air force in America later this month and the test of a missile defence shield at a US missile range in the Pacific Ocean
So, from the Gulf of Aqaba Israel is preparing a "potential" solo strike at Iran with two corvettes (that's what those ships are, they are not destroyers or cruisers, they are for coastal defense and perhaps missile defense) and one submarine (they don't carry much ammo). Right. Now more worrying but, since it's cast in this article, pretty untrustworthy are the following:
The exercises come at a time when Western diplomats are offering support for an Israeli strike on Iran in return for Israeli concessions on the formation of a Palestinian state. If agreed it would make an Israeli strike on Iran realistic “within the year” said one British official. Diplomats said that Israel had offered concessions on settlement policy, Palestinian land claims and issues with neighboring Arab states, to facilitate a possible strike on Iran. “Israel has chosen to place the Iranian threat over its settlements,” said a senior European diplomat.
So let's say these boats and subs are being deployed in exercises for upgraded missile defense (in case of an Iranian counter-strike after an Israeli air strike against Iran's nuclear targets and command targets like the Revolutionary Guards). I still do not think an Israeli air strike is imminent on Iran. I do think these moves may be signals: they signal Israeli cooperation with the US, Israel and (more discreetly Saudi) over looking tough on Iran. But not necessarily acting tough on Iran. This story was probably leaked to the Times (which with its Sunday paper is the worst repeat offender when it comes to publishing Mossad disinformation) to create precisely the impression of an Israel on the warpath, secure in its newly improved alliances with what might be called in Tehran "the Sunni axis" of Cairo-Riyadh. In the meantime, I wonder how long we'll have to wait for Iran-allied media outlets to talk about Israeli ships being within target range of Mecca. Or for al-Qaeda to point to Egypt allowing Israeli warships to cross the Suez Canal as a recruitment tool for, er, blowing up ships crossing the Suez Canal. (Also check out al-Ahram Weekly.) Haaretz offers a much saner analysis of the ships crossing the Suez Canal, btw, even if it and the Israeli media have continued to inflate the anti-Iranian "Cairo is our new best friend" line:
It therefore seems unlikely that Israel would have embarked on such a public maneuver now - the ships were easily visible from the shore - on a day when diplomats from the Nonaligned Movement were holding a conference in Egypt's Red Sea resort town of Sharm al-Sheikh, in the Sinai Peninsula - without prior coordination with Cairo. Though neither side says so publicly, there is ongoing security coordination between Israel and Egypt, which could be expanded if necessary in the future. Israel has an interest in a naval presence in the Red Sea for two reasons: the effort to halt arms smuggling from Iran to the Gaza Strip - which, according to international media reports, mainly takes place by sea from Iran to Sudan, and then overland via Egypt, and the effort to bolster its deterrence against Iran in the event of a direct conflict breaking out. In March, American media outlets reported that Israel Air Force jets had attacked a large arms convoy heading from Sudan toward Gaza two months earlier. The passage through Suez significantly shortens the time it would take Israel Navy ships to reach the Persian Gulf as compared to the only alternative - going all the way around Africa. Because Israel's submarines, according to foreign reports, are armed with missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, a shorter Israeli route to Iran may worry the regime in Tehran. Cairo vs. Tehran Tuesday's voyage also reflects two broader Middle Eastern developments - Cairo's open opposition to Iran, especially following the discovery of a Hezbollah spy network operating in Egypt, and a decline in Iran's regional status due to mass demonstrations against the disputed results of its presidential election last month. The Sa'ar 5 gunboats are the most advanced in the Israel Navy, capable of attacking several targets on land, at sea and undersea simultaneously, even from fairly long distances. While small naval patrol boats regularly patrol the Gulf of Eilat, at the northern tip of the Red Sea, submarines and Sa'ar 5 gunboats both usually stay in the Mediterranean Sea. The presence of either in the Red Sea is very rare.
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Links for 07.13.09

Settlers are encountering their first real opponent - Obama - Haaretz - Israel News | An interesting article even for an Obama-settlements skeptic like me. Provides good details and background. Grand Ayatollah Montazeri’s Fatwa – Tehran Bureau | "[TEHRAN BUREAU] In a very important development, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the most senior cleric living in Iran, and one of the top two* marja’ taghlid (source of emulation) in Shiite Islam, issued a series of Fatwas, calling the Supreme Leader illegitimate and saying that he was working with the government against religion. Montazeri has called on people to take action against this injustice, even if they have to pay a heavy price for it." Egypt's President Mubarak planning to retire and transfer power to son - The Irish Times - Sat, Jul 11, 2009 | The Irish Times has a scoop. I really must get around to writing that post warning against following the hysteria of the Egyptian and Arab press on succession etc. MIDEAST: Succession Issues Face Key U.S. Allies - IPS ipsnews.net | Helena Cobban on Egypt and Saudi Arabia's dueling successions. Brothers divided by Gaza rivalry - The National Newspaper | Cool story on two brothers - one from Fatah, one from Hamas - and how they make do. News | Egyptians protest award to controversial writer | Sayed al-Qimni receives award, Islamists angry. Don't let it be said that the MB does not do this anymore. Israel phone firm's West Bank wall gag fails to amuse (Reuters) |
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Most bizarre website ever

Someone please explain this website to me: Michael Jackson Family. Its address is even more mysterious: http://michaeljacksonestate.blogspot.com/ This is its about blurb:
My name is Princess Zaynab bint Fahd bin Khalid al-Saud. My father is popularly known as Satan the Devil. I am from Saudi Arabia and I am married to the American Superstar Singer Michael Jackson as Nona Paris Lola Ankhesenamun Jackson.
Of course, it's one of those sites that starts playing music as it loads. In other words, not work safe.
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Links for 06.30.09 to 07.01.09

Arab Techies in Business | More Arab geekery. Arab Techies | Cool Arabic tech/web projects. Love in KSA « Saudiwoman’s Weblog | On the importance of women's reputation in Saudi. "Politics, culture, and dissident:" New study maps out trends in Arab blogosphere | Menassat | Cool map of the Arab blogosphere, divided by country, language, and political trends. Saudia Arabia leads Arab regimes in internet censorship | World news | guardian.co.uk | Saudi, UAE, Syria and Tunisia top the list. Syria Comment » Archives » Apologies to Howard Schweber and Barak’s Settlement Shuffle | Josh Landis has some good links on the US-Israel settlements face-off here. As well as on the question of the impact of Iran's political crisis on Syria.
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Saudi princess and (unpaid) €70,000 lingerie bill | World news | The Guardian

Saudi princess and (unpaid) €70,000 lingerie bill | World news | The Guardian
Typical al-Sauds:
When Maha al-Sudairi's representative arrived at a Paris boutique bearing a vast order for top-of-the-range lingerie, payment to follow, the owner did not hesitate. As well as being a valued customer for eight years, the Saudi princess is married to Naif bin Abdulaziz, the country's interior minister and one of the most senior members of a royal family not known for struggling to pay bills, even ones for €70,000 (£60,000) in undergarments. But, more than a year later, Jamila Boushaba, who runs the O Caprices De Lili store, says she is still waiting for her money – as, it is reported, are a whole series of luxury shops and hotels dotted around the French capital's most exclusive arrondissements.
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Saudi princess and (unpaid) €70,000 lingerie bill | World news | The Guardian

Saudi princess and (unpaid) €70,000 lingerie bill | World news | The Guardian
Typical al-Sauds:
When Maha al-Sudairi's representative arrived at a Paris boutique bearing a vast order for top-of-the-range lingerie, payment to follow, the owner did not hesitate. As well as being a valued customer for eight years, the Saudi princess is married to Naif bin Abdulaziz, the country's interior minister and one of the most senior members of a royal family not known for struggling to pay bills, even ones for €70,000 (£60,000) in undergarments. But, more than a year later, Jamila Boushaba, who runs the O Caprices De Lili store, says she is still waiting for her money – as, it is reported, are a whole series of luxury shops and hotels dotted around the French capital's most exclusive arrondissements.
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Op-Ed Columnist - Arabs, Persians, Jews - NYTimes.com

>> Op-Ed Columnist - Arabs, Persians, Jews - NYTimes.com - Exactly - it's not just about Iran, it's about the inability of the Arab regimes to imagine a post-American Middle East: "What’s really at issue here is that neither Israel nor the Arabs want a change in a status quo that locks in Israeli regional military dominance and the cozy relationships — arms deals, aid and all — that U.S. allies from the Gulf to Cairo enjoy."
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Obowma

I get what happened: he got confused, having just seen the Japanese guy. Meanwhile this appears to be, aside from the nationalization of the economy and introduction of state socialism, Obama's biggest gaffe to date for the US conservative movement. As a card-carrying Saudi-basher, I say, "eeeekh!" The whole thing is getting quite ridiculous:
The White House is denying that the president bowed to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at a G-20 meeting in London, a scene that drew criticism on the right and praise from some Arab outlets. "It wasn't a bow. He grasped his hand with two hands, and he's taller than King Abdullah," said an Obama aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The Washington Times called the alleged bow a "shocking display of fealty to a foreign potentate" and said it violated centuries of American tradition of not deferring to royalty. The Weekly Standard, meanwhile, noted that American protocol apparently rules out bowing, or at least it reportedly did on the occasion of a Clinton "near-bow" to the emperor of Japan. Interestingly, a columnist in the Saudi-backed Arabic paper Asharq Alawsat also took the gesture as a bow and appreciated the move. "Obama wished to demonstrate his respect and appreciation of the personality of King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, who has made one of the most important calls in the modern era, namely the call for inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue to defuse the hatred, conflict and wars," wrote the columnist, Muhammah Diyab.
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Qadhafi never disappoints

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Saudi's King Abdullah walks out of opening session of Arab Summit:
"Doha: Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz walked out of the opening session of the Arab Summit in Doha on Monday, following remarks made by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.  Tempers flared shortly after the summit host Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, ended his opening address, in which he said King Abdullah will represent the Arab nation at Thursday’s G20 economic summit in London. 'He is in fact the best representative any one could have,’ said Shaikh Hamad. The Arabs should be part of the restructuring of the global financial system, he said. ‘We should not sit on the sidelines watching.’ Following the speech, the Libyan leader took over the microphone without requesting a permission to speak, a Gulf News correspondent inside the meeting hall said. 'I don’t know why we should be happy that King Abdullah is representing us at the G20. He is a British-made monarch and an American agent,' Gaddafi said, and went on despite the repeated attempts by Shaikh Hamad to stop him. Frustrated over the attempts by the Emir of Qatar to stop his from talking, Gaddafi looked at the rest of the Arab leaders and said: 'I am the King of African Kings, I am the prince of the faithful and I don’t think my international prestige would allow me to sit with people like you.' The remark and the subsequent apology by the Emir of Qatar led to an angry walkout by King Abdullah, who few years earlier had a similar spat with Gaddafi. "
Bonus pics [Thanks Diana]:
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And to think once he was handsome:
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Saudi royals feuding for succession

Very interesting overview of the inner rivalries among the al-Saud family:
Keys to the kingdom: Inside Saudi Arabia's royal family - The Independent One theory in political circles in Riyadh is that Prince Bandar was seeking to oust King Abdullah before Prince Sultan dies, thus placing his father on the throne. Other rumours claim that Prince Bandar is ill, or that he angered King Abdullah by dabbling in Syrian politics without authorisation. The Saudi embassy in London could not be contacted for comment last week, but this weekend political tensions in the kingdom came dramatically to the surface. On Friday night King Abdullah unexpectedly announced the appointment of one of his half-brothers, Prince Nayef, the 76-year-old interior minister, to the post of second deputy prime minister, which had been left vacant. This was immediately taken as an indication that he would become crown prince when Prince Sultan dies or becomes king. But yesterday Prince Talal, another senior figure, publicly demanded that the king confirm that the appointment did not mean Prince Nayef would automatically become the next crown prince. Such public disagreement among senior Saudi royals is highly unusual. Another indication of friction among the many descendants of the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Ibn Saud, who had 22 wives and more than 50 children, was the publication of a report last week by the Saudi National Society for Human Rights, one of the country's two human rights organisations. It was highly critical of Prince Nayef's draconian interior ministry, and is unlikely to have been released without the express say-so of another powerful member of the royal family. Both Crown Prince Sultan and Prince Nayef are members of the "Sudairi Six", the powerful surviving sons of Ibn Saud and his favourite wife, Hassa bint Ahmad Al-Sudairi. The seventh and eldest brother was King Fahd, who died in 2005; when he nominated his successor, in line with tradition, he bypassed his full brothers and chose Abdullah as crown prince. The vying for position is intensified by Crown Prince Sultan's poor health. Aged about 85, he was first diagnosed with colon cancer in Jeddah in 2004. He has received treatment in Geneva and the US, and spent time convalescing in Morocco. Throughout his illness, Prince Nayef and another of the six brothers – Prince Salman, 73, the governor of Riyadh and another potential candidate for the succession – have stayed close to the crown prince's side. Three weeks ago Prince Nayef surprised viewers of prime-time Saudi TV by telephoning in during the news hour to tell viewers that Prince Sultan was recovering well, and would be returning home soon. More independent information about the prince's condition has been suppressed, however. Last year, the long-serving Reuters bureau chief in Riyadh, Andrew Hammond, was told to leave the kingdom after reporting that Prince Sultan had cancer.
Do read the whole thing. It does bring to mind how this region is constantly in the midst of some succession crisis, currently Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Yemen and I'm sure I'm missing some.
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Links February 17th to February 19th

Links for February 17th through February 19th:

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Blair blackmailed by Bandar over BAE

Prince Bandar: with friends like these...

Saudi Arabia's rulers threatened to make it easier for terrorists to attack London unless corruption investigations into their arms deals were halted, according to court documents revealed yesterday.

Previously secret files describe how investigators were told they faced "another 7/7" and the loss of "British lives on British streets" if they pressed on with their inquiries and the Saudis carried out their threat to cut off intelligence.

Prince Bandar, the head of the Saudi national security council, and son of the crown prince, was alleged in court to be the man behind the threats to hold back information about suicide bombers and terrorists. He faces accusations that he himself took more than £1bn in secret payments from the arms company BAE.

He was accused in yesterday's high court hearings of flying to London in December 2006 and uttering threats which made the prime minister, Tony Blair, force an end to the Serious Fraud Office investigation into bribery allegations involving Bandar and his family.

The threats halted the fraud inquiry, but triggered an international outcry, with allegations that Britain had broken international anti-bribery treaties.

Lord Justice Moses, hearing the civil case with Mr Justice Sullivan, said the government appeared to have "rolled over" after the threats. He said one possible view was that it was "just as if a gun had been held to the head" of the government.

Can we invade Saudi Arabia now? Please?
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