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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

‘Turkish province Mossad, CIA spy hub’

Tue, 31 Jul 2012 12:52:52 GMT A member of Turkey’s parliament says the country’s Hatay Province on the border with Syria has become a hub for swarms of CIA and Mossad spies infilterating into Syria freely. The legislator of the Republican People’s Party, Refik Er-Yilmaz, said that thousands of CIA and Mossad agents are currently in the province and are moving freely in the area, Turkish media reported. He noted that local people in the province are getting agitated over the presence of the strangers. Turkish police remain mute spectators as the spies carry various types of identification, Er-Yimaz went on to say. He also accused the authorities of allowing American and Israeli troopers on Turkish soil without any approval from the parliament. Er-Yilmaz’s comments came after the deputy of the Republican People’s Party, Osman Faruk Logoglu, on Monday blamed Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party for fomenting the unrest in Syria. Logoglu criticized the Turkish government for aggravating the situation by sending military forces and vehicles towards the Syrian border. The former Turkish ambassador to the United States also criticized Turkey’s foreign policy towards its neighbor, saying it has been irrational and unsuccessful. Syria has been the scene of unrest since March 2011. The violence has claimed the lives of many people, including large numbers of security forces. Damascus blames “outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorist groups” for the unrest, asserting that it is being orchestrated from abroad.

Iraq opens ‘all’ borders to Syrian refugees – senior border commander

Al-Waleed border crossing Published: 23 July, 2012, 18:50 A Syrian-Kurdish refugee woman carries a container as she walk along a road in the Domiz refugee camp, 20 km southeast of Dohuk city, in northern Iraq, on July 17, 2012. (AFP Photo/Safin Hamed) TRENDS:Syria unrest TAGS:Conflict, Military, Politics, Human rights, Iraq, Syria Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has formally authorized Syrian refugees to enter Iraq. No details were given following the announcement that was broadcast on Iraqi state TV. ­“The prime minister directed Iraqi forces and police and the Iraqi Red Crescent to receive Syrian refugees and help them and provide them with services,” the country’s state Iraqiya television said. An Iraqi general at the Al-Waleed border crossing with Syria confirmed the statement. “The order came 30 minutes ago,” General Issam Yassim was quoted by Reuters as saying. He said it applied to all border posts with Syria. The announcement was a reversal of a previous decision by the Iraqi government to seal off the border with Syria and only allow Iraqi citizens fleeing the unrest in Syria back in. Thousands of Syrians have been fleeing their country since the beginning of the anti-government uprising 16 months ago. Syrian emigration has intensified recently as rebels launched assaults on the government strongholds of Damascus and Aleppo. A number of rebels, some of them claiming allegiance to al-Qaeda, said they seized control of checkpoints on the country’s border with Iraq and Turkey. Iraq sent two army brigades and a helicopter unit to the border following reports of checkpoints being captured by rebels, the country’s local officials said. Over 2,000 Iraqis have returned to their homeland by plane in recent days, the country’s Transport Ministry says. Authorities also estimate that “thousands” more made their way back on foot, entering Iraq through the Al-Waleed border post. The massive influx of Syrian refugees into Iraq is a reversal of the trend that was prevalent over the course of the previous decade, when scores of Iraqis fled their war-torn homeland into the much more tranquil Syria. This time, however, both countries are being rocked by violence. As the conflict openly rages on in Syria, over 100 people were killed in a series of blasts that ripped through a number of cities throughout Iraq. Some of the bombings targeted Shia Muslim sites, suggesting that they had been orchestrated by radical Sunni militants.

US squanders $200m on ‘useless’ Iraq police program

Get short URL email story to a friendprint version Published: 30 July, 2012, 15:18 Edited: 30 July, 2012, 22:50 Iraqi police and internal security forces stop cars at a checkpoint in central Baghdad on July 24, 2012 (AFP Photo/Ahmad Al-Rubaye) TAGS:Conflict, Military, Politics, Terrorism, Law, Security, CIA The US spent over $200m on a police training program in Iraq – the largest in the world – that was never approved by authorities, according to a govt audit. Iraq’s Interior Ministry reportedly branded the initiative “useless” and “unnecessary.” The report, published on Monday by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, revealed that Baghdad never gave formal written authorization for the program. According to the audit, the US investment in the Police Department Program (PDP) amounts to a “de facto” waste of funds. The Department of Defense (DoD) contributed an estimated $108 million to the construction of training and housing facilities at the US-controlled Baghdad Police College Annex (BPCA). Additionally, the DoD poured $98 million into constructing the Basra Consulate for the training of Iraqi security forces. The training facility at BPCA will be turned over to Iraqi control at the end of this year, while training will be discontinued at the Basra Consulate. “A major lesson learned from Iraq is that host country buy-in to proposed programs is essential to the long-term success of relief and reconstruction activities. The PDP experience powerfully underscores that point,” the audit says, adding that the decision to pursue the initiative without a written commitment from the Interior Ministry was “costly.” Assistant Secretary of State Carol Z. Perez disputed the audit, claiming the funds had not been wasted since training was still being conducted at the BCPA. She stressed that the Interior Ministry had agreed to a scaled-down version of the program. Stephanie Sanok, expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said the program was “doomed from the beginning,” having worked at the US embassy in Baghdad from 2009 to 2010. “This was such an expensive program, and there was plenty of time to get the Iraqi government to help shape it in such a way that they could eventually take it over. But we never got that buy-in,” she said. The PDP was envisioned as a five-year, multimillion-dollar initiative aimed at training Iraqi security forces following the US withdrawal last December. In the wake of the 2003 invasion and occupation, the US spent roughly $8 billion to train and equip Iraq’s military. Michael Maloof, who formerly worked at the Pentagon's Technology Security Operations, says the PDP demonstrates how the US has gone to great lengths to justify its continued presence in Iraq. “Inevitably they [Baghdad] could get similar training elsewhere if they needed that kind of training. The United States is trying to justify in many respects maintaining a presence in Iraq, because it was told so abruptly that it had to leave,” Maloof said. "I think they [Washington] are trying to come up with creative programs that keep the presence of the United States in the area and, frankly, Iraq doesn’t want it,” he continued. Some US officials argue that al-Qaida has taken advantage of the US troop withdrawal to step up their operations in Iraq. A wave of insurgent attacks swept the country last Monday, with strikes in multiple locations resulting in over 100 deaths. Despite their efforts, the US failed to flush out al-Qaida insurgent groups that became entrenched across Iraq following the invasion. The US plans to cut personnel at its largest CIA station in Baghdad by 40 percent and deploy them to conflict zones in other strategically important Middle Eastern regions.This announcement comes amid mounting concerns over the resurgent threat of al-Qaida in Iraq. US intelligence estimates that the number of insurgent attacks per month in Iraq has risen to 25, from 19 last year. Washington maintains that al-Qaida in Iraq does not constitute a growing threat to operations in the country.

Rain dance

Rain dance Take hope from India's power and water failures 31 July 2012 | By Jeff Glekin India’s economic reform agenda has lost its way. Forget trivial reforms like permitting more foreign direct investment in aviation. What the county needs most is improvements in chronically mismanaged infrastructure. But change is hard when the systems are working, even badly. So a huge power outage – the worst blackout for more than a decade which left more than 300 million people without electricity – and yet another unnecessary crop shortage – due to a weak monsoon – could prove a blessing. New Delhi’s reform programme has become synonymous with opening markets to foreign competition. While such liberalisation would be good for India, the chronic failures in power and water management are more pressing and the economic pay-off from improvement would be much greater. The government owns 90 percent of the country’s electricity assets. It gives power away to the agriculture sector. The country fails to meter much of its supply and theft of electricity in collusion with electricity board employees is unfettered. The main source of energy is coal, which is abundant in India and made available to generators at about 45 per cent less than global prices. But environmental concerns have delayed new coal-mining projects, so the power producers which have invested in new coal-fired power stations are short of supply. Imported coal is uneconomic at the state-set electricity price. Then there’s water. This year’s poor monsoon is likely to lead to the third drought in 10 years. But two-thirds of the water India receives is wasted because of inadequate storage and management. The National Council of Applied Economic Research in Delhi estimates that a project to interlink the country’s rivers, which was first proposed in the 1970s, would add more than 5 per cent of GDP on a cumulative basis over 13 years. For the past eight years the government has been trying to open markets to foreign capital. That’s yielded little, and has only diluted political capital which could have been better spent elsewhere. A fundamental overhaul of public infrastructure is too much to expect. But a re-calibration of the government’s reform programme to put power and water at the forefront is likely to gain more popular support than any sort of liberalisation, especially as the state-run infrastructure is so obviously inadequate. Grid failure left more than 300 million people without power in New Delhi and much of northern India for two consecutive days, in the worst blackout for more than a decade, Reuters reported on July 31. Indian ministers will meet on July 31 to discuss measures to deal with a feared drought, including curbs on commodity derivatives, extra subsidies to farmers and the distribution of seeds, but are not expected to ban farm exports, Reuters reported. The government could also consider providing a diesel and electricity subsidy to farmers in the four worst-hit states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Annual monsoon rains are 21 percent below average since the four-month season began in June, threatening crops.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Only a desperate desire to change the situation, only a desperate desire to change the situation

Russia's 'Pussy Riot' on trial for cathedral protest Mon, 30 Jul 2012 21:56 GMT Source: reuters // Reuters Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, members of female punk band "Pussy Riot", look out from the defendent's cell in a courtroom in Moscow 30/07/2012 REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov * Pussy Riot members on trial over altar protest * Case seen as test of Putin's treatment of dissent * Protest highlighted close Putin-church relationship By Alissa de Carbonnel MOSCOW, July 30 (Reuters) - Three members of a Russian female punk band went on trial on Monday, facing up to seven years in jail for protesting against Vladimir Putin inside a Moscow cathedral, a prosecution they said was aimed at spreading fear and silencing dissent. The trial of the women from the band "Pussy Riot" is being seen as a test of the longtime leader's tolerance of opposition at the start of his third presidential term. The trio were charged with "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred or hostility" for a performance in February when they entered the Christ the Saviour Cathedral, ascended the altar and called on the Virgin Mary to "throw Putin out!" Conservative writers and church leaders have demanded harsh punishment, while civil rights groups say a long prison sentence would be out of proportion with the crime, and prove that Putin is determined to crush opposing voices. Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, were brought to Moscow's Khamovniki court for Russia's highest-profile trial since another opponent of Putin, former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was convicted of embezzlement in 2010 in the same courtroom. Supporters chanted "Girls, we're with you!" and "Victory!" as the women, each handcuffed by the wrist to a female officer, were escorted from a police van into the courthouse. The group's members have consistently maintained that their protest was political and that they meant no harm to Christians. "We did not want to offend anybody," Tolokonnikova said from the same metal and clear-plastic courtroom cage where Khodorkovsky sat with his business partner during their trial. "Our motives were exclusively political." In opening statements read out by their lawyers, the women defended their actions and denounced the prosecution. The case marked "the start of a campaign of authoritarian, repressive measures aimed to ... spread fear among politically active citizens," Samutsevich said in her statement. Pussy Riot burst onto the scene this winter with angry lyrics and surprise performances, including one on Red Square outside the Kremlin, that went viral on the Internet. The band members see themselves as the avant-garde of a disenchanted generation looking for creative ways to show dissatisfaction with Putin's 12-year dominance of politics. The performance in the cathedral was designed to highlight the close relationship between the dominant Russian Orthodox Church and former KGB officer Putin, then prime minister, whose campaign to return to the presidency in a March election was backed by the leader of the church, Patriarch Kirill. The church, which has enjoyed a big revival since the demise of the Communist Soviet Union in 1991 and is seeking more influence on secular life, has described the performance as part of a sinister campaign by "anti-Russian forces". The prosecution dismissed accusations of political motives. "This is not a question of our parliamentary or presidential elections, but a criminal case about ... banal hooliganism with a religious motive," said Larisa Pavlova, who represents Lyubov Sokologorskaya, one of several people who work at the cathedral and are appearing at the trial as "victims" of Pussy Riot. Sokologorskaya, who described herself as a "profound believer", said only clerics were allowed at the altar and that the defendants' bare shoulders, short skirts and "aggressive" dance moves violated church rules and offended the faithful. "When I talk about this event, my heart hurts. It hurts that this is possible in our country," she said. "Their punishment must be adequate so that never again is such a thing repeated." Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev dismissed criticism of the case. The trial was a "serious ordeal" for the defendants and their families but "one should be calm about it" and await the outcome, he told Britain's Times newspaper in an interview posted on the Russian government's website. Whether the group's performance crossed the line from a "moral misdemeanour" to a crime was "up to the court to decide," Medvedev, in London for the Olympics, said. A defence lawyer for the musicians, Nikolai Polozov, said Medvedev's comments were aimed at putting pressure on the court to "punish blasphemers": "The court is being very one-sided, slanted towards the prosecution, which of course in our view is motivated exclusively by political bias in this case." ANGER OVER CLOSE CHURCH-STATE TIES The women looked thinner and paler than they did when they were jailed following the performance in late February, shortly before Putin, in power as president from 2000-2008 and then as prime minister, won a six-year presidential term on March 4. "She looks like she has been on a long hunger strike," Stanislav Samutsevich said of his daughter. "I think this is like an inquisition, like mockery." A reporter on state-run TV presented a different picture, focusing on occasional smiles and chuckles, by the women, who whispered to each other as a prosecutor read the charges. "Look at their faces; they are laughing and joking," the reporter said on the news, adding that a viewer might think they were "continuing the action" they carried out at the cathedral. In their opening statements the women said they were protesting against Kirill's political support for Putin and had no animosity towards the church or the faithful. "I have never had such feelings towards anyone in the world," Tolokonnikova said in her statement, describing the charge of religious hatred as "wildly harsh". "Our performance contained no aggression towards the public - only a desperate desire to change the situation in Russia for the better," she said. "We are not enemies of Christianity. The opinion of Orthodox believers is important to us and we want all of them to be on our side - on the side of anti-authoritarian civil activists." Alyokhina's statement said: "I thought the church loved all its children, but it seems the church loves only those children who love Putin." Prosecutors asked for the trial, which was streamed live on the Internet, to be closed to the public and the media. The judge rejected the motion but ordered live streaming shut off during witness testimony and some other proceedings. PROTEST MOVEMENT Amnesty International said the Pussy Riot performers "must be released immediately" and that the prison terms they face if convicted are "wildly out of all proportion." "They dared to attack the two pillars of the modern Russian establishment - the Kremlin and the Orthodox Church," regional programme director John Dalhuisen said in a statement. The performance was part of a lively protest movement that at its peak saw 100,000 people turn out for rallies in Moscow, some of the largest in Russia since the Soviet Union's demise. The trial comes as Putin, who is 59 and has not ruled out seeking another term in 2018, tries to rein in opponents who hope to reignite the street protest movement this autumn. On Monday, Putin signed a law enacting stricter punishment for defamation. That follows recent laws tightening controls on foreign-funded civil rights groups and sharply raising fines for violations of public order at street rallies. Opposition leaders including anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny and socialite Ksenia Sobchak have had their homes searched and faced repeated rounds of questioning over violence at a protest on the eve of Putin's inauguration on May 7. Lawyers for Navalny say investigators are preparing to charge him, in a separate case, with a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. He was summoned to the federal Investigative Committee on Monday and told to return on Tuesday.

New Saudi spymaster killed: Report

== (Chorus) St. Maria, Virgin, Drive away Putin Drive away! Drive away Putin! (end chorus) Black robe, golden epaulettes ((Epaulette ( /ˈɛpəlɛt/; also spelled epaulet)[1] is a type of ornamental shoulder piece or decoration used as insignia of rank by armed forces and other organizations. (invertebrate zoology) Any of the branched or knobbed processes on the oral arms of many Scyphozoa. The first haired scale at the base of the costal vein in Diptera. )) All parishioners are crawling and bowing The ghost of freedom is in heaven Gay pride sent to Siberia in chains The head of the KGB is their chief saint Leads protesters to prison under escort In order not to offend the Holy Women have to give birth and to love Holy shit, shit, Lord's shit! Holy shit, shit, Lord's shit! (Chorus) St. Maria, Virgin, become a feminist Become a feminist, Become a feminist (end chorus) Church praises the rotten dictators The cross-bearer procession of black limousines In school you are going to meet with a teacher-preacher Go to class - bring him money! Patriarch Gundyaev believes in Putin Bitch, you better believed in God Belt of the Virgin is no substitute for mass-meetings In protest of our Ever-Virgin Mary! (Chorus) St. Maria, Virgin, Drive away Putin Drive away! Drive away Putin! (end chorus) == 5 Thomas says to him: Lord, we know not whither thou goest, and how know we the way? 6 Jesus says to him: I am he way, and the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father but through me. 7 If you have known me, you shall know my Father also; and even now you know him and lave seen him. 8 Philip says to him: Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us. 9 Jesus says to him: So long a time am I with you, and hast thou not known me, Philip? He that has seen me has seen the Father: how sayest thou: show us the Father? 10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I speak not of myself: the Father, who abides in me, does the works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me: if not, believe because of the works themselves. 12 Verily, verily, I say to you, he that believes on me, the works that I do he also shall do, and greater works than these shall he do because I go to the Father. 13 And whatever you shall ask in my name, this will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask any thing in my name. I will do it. 15 If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will entreat the Father, and anther Advocate will he give you, that he may be with you for ever, == Tue, 31 Jul 2012 01:04:37 GMT Saudi Arabian spy chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has been assassinated, a report says. The Paris-based Voltaire Network confirmed the death of 63-year-old Prince Bandar on its website on Monday, citing unofficial sources. The international non-profit organization, which publishes a free website (voltairenet.org) in eight languages, said that Prince Bandar was killed because of his role in the July 18 deadly bombing in Damascus. The bombing killed at least four high-profile Syrian security officials, including Defense Minister Dawoud Rajiha and his deputy Assef Shawkat who is also President Assad's brother-in-law. However, there has been no confirmation or denial neither from Saudi officials nor from the Syrian government yet. Bandar, who was Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States from 1983 to 2005, was named the kingdom’s Secretary General of the National Security Council in 2005. On 19 July 2012, he was appointed Director General of the Saudi Intelligence Agency by King Abdullah. Many said his promotion was a reward for the role he played in organizing the attack in Damascus, the organization reported. Riyad neither confirms nor denies Prince Bandar’s death Voltaire Network | 30 July 2012 français All through the day, numerous media have tried to ascertain whether or not Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has been the victim of a deadly attack on July 26, as announced by Voltaire Network citing a non official-source [1]. Strangely, Saudi authorities have not responded to inquiries by the media, refusing to confirm or deny the death of their newly appointed chief of the intelligence services. Clearly, regardless of whether the Prince is dead or alive, such muteness denotes a serious disarray within the Saudi royal family. ====== Saudis hold anti-regime demo in Safwa Wed, 01 Aug 2012 08:05:25 GMT Saudi protesters have held a demonstration against the repressive regime of Al Saud in the eastern city of Safwa. Demonstrators took to the streets in Safwa, which is located about 13 kilometers (8 miles) north of the Qatif region in the Eastern Province, on Tuesday. Protesters chanted slogans against the Riyadh regime, calling for the downfall of the Al Saud family. The demonstration was held after the funeral of the wife of prominent detained Shia cleric Sheikh Nemr al-Nemr. The demonstrators in Safwa also demanded the release of Sheikh Nemr, who was attacked, injured and arrested by the security forces of the Al Saud regime while driving from a farm to his house in Qatif on July 8. On July 22, the family members of Sheikh Nemr were allowed to visit the cleric for a second time since his arrest. On July 13, Saudi security forces in the town of Awamiyah killed an 18-year-old protester during a demonstration held near a police station in support of Sheikh Nemr. Since February 2011, protesters have held demonstrations on an almost regular basis in Saudi Arabia, mainly in Qatif and Awamiyah in Eastern Province, primarily calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination. However, the demonstrations have turned into protests against the Al Saud regime, especially since November 2011, when Saudi security forces killed five protesters and injured many others in Eastern Province. Similar demonstrations have also been held in the capital, Riyadh, and the holy city of Medina over the past weeks. According to Human Rights Watch, the Saudi regime “routinely represses expression critical of the government.” ===== Saudi spymaster linchpin in CIA-Mossad plots against Syria: Analyst New Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan Thu Aug 2, 2012 2:22PM GMT Known as ‘Bandar Bush’ on account of his close ties with former US President George Bush, the prince-cum-spymaster is widely considered as a linchpin in CIA-Mossad dastardly subterfuges in Syria and Iran and his appointment to such a sensitive position is from an intelligence point of view regarded a strategic step to contribute to the materialization of these sinister plans.” Iranian author Ismail Salami A senior political analyst says Saudi Arabia’s spymaster Prince Bandar bin Sultan is the linchpin in the “dastardly subterfuges” of the CIA and Mossad against Syria. “Known as ‘Bandar Bush’ on account of his close ties with former US President George Bush, the prince-cum-spymaster is widely considered as a linchpin in CIA-Mossad dastardly subterfuges in Syria and Iran and his appointment to such a sensitive position is from an intelligence point of view regarded a strategic step to contribute to the materialization of these sinister plans,” prominent political analyst Dr. Ismail Salami wrote in an article on Press TV website. “Saudi Arabia has long been working on a plan to overthrow the regime in Syria and sabotage the Islamic Republic through Bandar bin Sultan,” he added. Salami pointed out that in 2006, Bandar visited Washington a couple of times and discussed the Bush administration’s plan for a new strategy in the Middle East with former Vice president Dick Cheney and Bush’s Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy Elliott Abrams. The two neocons together with the prince had wrought out a fiendishly meticulous plan to bring about changes to the satisfaction of Washington and the Saudi kingdom. Part of their grand scheme was to bring about regime changes in Syria and Iran and impose a rotten American version of democracy in the two countries. For his part, Bandar had given them assurances that the Saudi monarchy would wholeheartedly favor this plot. To this end, the Saudi Kingdom has since then spent a deluge of dollars on carrying out covert operations in Iran and Syria with the assistance of CIA. Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz appointed Prince Bandar bin Sultan to replace the sacked Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz as the director general of the country’s main intelligence agency on July 19. “As time passes and the situation in Syria unravels, the satanic role of Prince Bandar bin Sultan in stoking up chaos in the crisis-ravaged country under the aegis of the Saudi monarchy becomes more crystallized and the thickening plot to overthrow the Syrian regime under the banner of a popular uprising starts to surface,” Salami added. He noted that the Saudis sought to use the sweeping wave of Islamic Awakening in the region as an opportunity “to accomplish [a] long-entertained plot.” “With the flourish of Arab Spring in North Africa and the Middle East, Saudi Arabia found quite a good excuse to foment unrest in Syria with the help of the al-Qaeda elements who were readily at its disposal, innocuously attribute it to another popular uprising in the region and pave the ground for a regime change in Syria.” In pursuit of its objectives, Riyadh has even sought the allegiance of the US and Israeli intelligence agencies “such as Mossad and CIA in order to make sure their modus operandi would raise no suspicions whatsoever,” Salami concluded. ===================

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Securitizing rent has more problems than promise

Your rent is my bond Securitizing rent has more problems than promise 26 July 2012 | By Daniel Indiviglio Several firms, including Colony Capital and Waypoint Homes, are exploring using securitization to finance purchasing blocks of foreclosed homes. Issuers would rent out these homes and securitize their tenants’ monthly payments to create bonds for investors to purchase. The details of how such a transaction would look remain sketchy. Underlying properties may or may not secure the transactions. Wall Street’s wizards think they have finally have found a way to clear up foreclosures. The securitization industry is aching to work its magic on blocks of repossessed properties that have been, or could be, turned into rented accommodation. Done properly, that could help finance investors buying such homes from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But creating bonds from monthly tenant payments faces serious obstacles. Such a product - let’s call it a foreclosed rent-backed security, or FRBS - might borrow a couple of features from its asset-backed brethren. Like commercial mortgage bonds, for example, it would finance buildings that rely on rental income. But like credit card bonds, it might not be backed by any hard assets - it might simply rely on rental income alone. That makes it a real challenge because of the utter lack of useful data for this proposed security. First, the new product may require an entirely new infrastructure for appraising how rentable a home is and at what price. And the faults that the crisis exposed in securitization reinforce how crucial a good crop of historical information is on rental trends. Without them, investors and rating agencies will have no certainty on loss estimates. They’ll also have to make assumptions on new stats like vacancy rates, tenant turnover costs and property management fees. Moreover, potential buyers of the bonds are unlikely to assume the income on a property is stable until tenants have lived in the home for some time or signed a medium to long-term lease. That practice is unusual for renters just moving in. Property managers will also need vetting and monitoring. And with foreclosures focused in a few key regions and resulting rentals appealing to specific segments of the population, concentration risk is likely to be magnified. Tot it all up and these are more than enough challenges for bondholders to demand some juicy compensation for ponying up the cash. That raises the prospect that FRBS could cost more than it’s worth. But even if bankers and issuers do work out the kinks, a deal might not close for years.

Nuke Scientist Statement against SHARIF & Zaleel Brothers & Taliban Funded Chief Justice

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REAL AXIS OF EVIL=SAUDI WAHABIAT KINGDOM, TALIBANS, SHARIF BROTHERS , CHIEF JUSTICE IFTIKHAR CHAUDHRY, ISI, MI, PAK ARMY Dr. AQ Khan Outburst. Dr. Abdul Qadir Khan have not left any one spared in this detail interview. It seems that only qualified person to join his ranks will be Faisal Raza Abdi who is recently playing opposition role within PPP Core Committee. Iranians not to yield to pressure: Leader Sun, 29 Jul 2012 18:18:41 GMT The Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has noted that pressures exerted on the Iranian nation by foreign powers will not be able to weaken the resolve of the nation. “The Iranian nation is determined to reach its marked point through [strong] determination and resolve,” the Leader said in a meeting with researchers, specialists and innovators on Sunday. Ayatollah Khamenei added that Iran is incessantly progressing and there is no insurmountable obstacle or deadlock on the way of its march ahead. “The Iranian nation is in the middle of the scene and problems and pressures fall short of [influencing] decision, resolve and ideals of this nation,” the Leader said. The Leader noted that taking the economy of resistance seriously is one of the main ways of passing the current fateful juncture. “The economy of resistance is not a slogan, but a reality which should be realized,” Ayatollah Khamenei added. “One of the best manifestations and most effective components of the economy of resistance is knowledge-based companies which can make the economy of resistance more sustainable,” Ayatollah Khamenei said. The Leader added that true economic growth hinges on the generation of wealth through science and knowledge. “If knowledge-based companies are taken seriously and their qualitative and quantitative growth is supported, the country will achieve true prosperity by generating wealth through [promotion of] science,” the Leader said. ==================== Faisal Raza Abidi demands Chief Justice's resignation By Sidrah Moiz Khan Published: August 5, 2012 Abidi held Justice Chaudhry responsible for the alleged financial impropriety done by his son, Dr Arsalan Iftikhar. PHOTO: APP While hurling fiery allegations at Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Faisal Raza Abidi on Sunday demanded a resignation from him and other judges who were reinstated under the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO). During a press conference in Islamabad, Abidi held Justice Chaudhry responsible for the alleged financial impropriety done by his son, Dr Arsalan Iftikhar. The senator said that if the chief justice does not tender a resignation, then he will “force him out from the same way he had been restored as a judge.” “He [Justice Chaudhry] says that he did not have any idea where his son got all that money from…I ask, when the case emerged, did you ask him where he got Rs900 million from?” The senator produced bank account statements of Dr Arsalan and said that the person who used to “work under somebody else” now owns billions of rupees. He also showed that the billing address mentioned was that of the Chief Justice House in Islamabad. “You [Justice Chaudhry] are to be blamed for this. This happened right in front of you. You cannot pretend to not know anything. Who gave Dr Arsalan the right to use government’s property for running his own businesses? Could he not rent out an office in some other area? He said that he would now “personally” investigate about Dr Arsalan’s assets and will also fly to Dubai and London to inquire about his international bank accounts. “I will probe into the accounts he has activated under the name of mamu.” Abidi said that the Parliament is supreme and is above other institutions. “Parliament forms laws and constitutions. Who gave you the right to criticise and meddling in its affairs?” “I accept your challenge in the war you have waged against the parliament. But mine is not a war of arms, but is a war of words, because Pakistan cannot afford agitation at this moment as it is already going through tough times.”

‘Nuclear Riyadh as dangerous as Israel’

‘Nuclear Riyadh as dangerous as Israel’ Sat, 28 Jul 2012 15:05:36 GMT Following reports about Saudi Arabia’s attempts to buy nuclear weapons from Pakistan, a political analyst says an “archaic, kleptomaniac and totalitarian” Riyadh armed with nukes is as much a danger as Israel. “Saudi Arabia is as much a danger as Israel. Its stunted development means that it will always have aggressive feelings towards more successful societies and, in particular, it is terrified of any expression of democracy. It has already occupied Bahrain and Wikileaks revealed the Saudi desire to attack Iran,” Rodney Shakespeare wrote in an article published on Press TV website. Shakespeare emphasized that Saudi Arabia, “which has no depth of culture, no political legitimacy, [and] no technological success,” feels threatened by the political, cultural and technological progress of Iran. Describing the Saudi regime as “archaic, kleptomaniac and totalitarian” which has no place in the Modern world, Shakespeare added that, “Despite vicious suppression, democratic forces are stirring and have even reached the capital, Riyadh, where protesters [are] shouting slogans against the Saudi regime.” “Saudi Arabia, of course, is also a player of the sectarian card considering Shias as inferior, even non-Muslim. Playing the sectarian card is mad arrogance which will rebound on Saudi Arabia some day.” Citing German intelligence reports about Wahhabis committing Houla Massacre of over one hundred people in May 2012 in Syria, Shakespeare said Saudi Arabia is exporting bigotry and viciousness and sending terrorists to Syria. “We must hope that the Americans - who indulge the Saudis in their every whim and cruelty - will have the sense to stop Saudi Arabia from getting the atom bomb,” he concluded. === The House of Al Saud: In Over Its Head? In stories and books about the establishment of the Nation State of Saudi Arabia, King Abdul Aziz, the founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is romantically portrayed as the noble leader who "united" the tribes of Arabia. "Unite" seems an odd word to teach the masses, as history has shown most who establish control of a region do it through scheming, betrayal, politics, and lots of blood. The man was a great conquerer, he should be recognized as such. I do not wish to praise or condemn his character - however I cannot argue with the fact that he was a man willing to sweat and get his hands very very dirty to get the job done. His time was a much different generation, living within the harsh desert climate of Arabia – pre-oil boom and pre-convienience; a time that many Saudis argue were much harder times; but times that they say where one could found more quality, morale, drive and ethics within the community. The Sudairi seven, his seven sons from wife Hassa Al-Sudairi have managed leadership of the Kingdom between themselves, however, many have passed on, and more are elderly and sickly, and their time on Earth is surely very limited. Their generation saw a different Saudi Arabia than the one we know today, and was still very much in contact with the previous generation (the one of their father) who was used to living in the harsher times in Saudi Arabia. The late King Faisal responded to American oil threats during the 1973 oil embargo with: “We can go back to the desert and live off of dates and camel milk, but what will you do without oil?” This response worked at the time, because King Faisal’s was also a generation who needed to know how to survive, how to get their hands dirty, and how to "control" a nation, much different than the ones to follow. The “house of al Saud” has grown, and its youth are now very disconnected from the harsh Arabia of King Abdul Aziz. They are used to a hefty allowance, lavish lifestyles, with so many people around them sucking up that few have to deal with real conflict outside of their family circles and most don’t know how to deal with it; some murder, some get crazy drunk, some sniff cocaine, some get prostitutes, some get arrested, some give "good blow jobs"…but all no longer remember a Saudi Arabia without McDonalds, cars, money, Air Conditioning, and airplanes; and none of them had to get sweaty to have any of it. Theirs is a generation who may not be able to handle running the population of whom - I would argue - has greatly surpassed them. It used to be only the royals and major elites that could travel overseas to study. Only these elite few – already in control and to some extent free of many of the strict restrictions of Saudi society - got to taste the “freedom” taught in western schools and universities. Now a massive portion of Saudi students have been exposed to a world where leadership is not recognized by family name, and where ordinary people are encouraged to constantly question everything and think critically. This was once a message only the elites were exposed to, and with the King Abdullah scholarship, this door has been opened for a massive number of young Saudi men and women. The Ottoman Empire, Mohamed Ali’s Egypt, and the Qajar and Shahs of Iran all went through extensive reforms in their nations as they began to notice discontent– all plans included sending large number of students overseas to study – many of these students ended up being the very same students who would return to their countries to contribute to the fall of these regimes. Saudis are being educated within the Kingdom and outside the kingdom. Even Saudis within the Kingdom have been exposed to large number of foreigners who have have been invited in to work. They have seen the difference in lifestyle, they have been exposed to different ideas through books, movies, TV, internet (Saudi Arabia in the last year was by a landslide the country that experienced the most growth on Twitter). All these technologies opening the outside world to Saudi (to some extent) are at each individuals access, allowing for each Saudi citizen to have a window to a different way of thinking and to form their own personal experience with the outside world, something that wasn’t possible for the majority of even the most previous generation. The last generation tried for change, women tried to take to the streets in a driving protest in order to demand their rights and were met with brutality, Qatifis took to the streets around 30 years ago to demand rights and were met with brutality, prisoners piled into jails and were tortured for wanting simple reforms. They may have failed to reach their exact goals – but they definitley ignited a spark – and many of these people have had children. Their children live in a different time, and their children are trying once again for the change in Saudi Arabia. Protests are happening in the Kingdom now – from Qatif the Shiite center to Qassim the center of Wahhabism. The two most opposite cities in Saudi Arabia are both experiencing a common discontent with the way things are. The generation who could perhaps say “we will go back to living on dates in the desert and camel milk” is in its last days in leadership, and the power is to be eventually passed down to the next generation of royals. The majority of whom have been pampered and remain severly disconnected from reality…yet they are the ones who are to rule those educated and globally-connected Saudi youth? Between rampant poverty in a nation rich with wealth, to backward bureaucracy that forces everyone to run in circles before they can get anything accomplished, corrupt clerics who have deviated so far from Islam that many Muslims refuse to recognize it, to serious social issues (rape, sexual harassment, workers rights, etc) that are not spoken of, a Shiite and female population who have been mistreated and misunderstood for generations, to large amounts of people who have been thrown in prison for speaking out or wanting simple freedoms, and an educated youth who are beginning to challenge themselves to dream for the impossible…. The House of Al Saud has all the symptoms to an inevitable fall. When? I don’t know, but I think I’ll be alive to see it. Posted by Bint Battuta at 2:06 PM No comments: ================================ Sunday, July 29, 2012Sheikh Mohammed Al Arefe: For the Sake of the Syrian People…Or for the Demise of Shiites? The Saudi Arabian Sheikh Mohammed Al Arefe, often known to many in the West as the Sheikh who teaches Muslim men how to “properly beat their Wives” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhAYU_XN6DE), and to many Bahrainis and Saudis of the Eastern province as the Shia hater (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONd1oXIiZqA) now has a new identity among many Muslims, as the defender of the Syrian people. The Sheikh gave a rather moving speech (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GE6En9e7dew) after his visits to the Syrian border to work with refugees. In the speech he called on the wealthy to put their money towards the Syrian people, called on Syrians to rebel against Bashar Al Assad, called on the Army to leave the regimes side and not to shed innocent blood, called on the men present in the Saudi Arabian mosque to join the Free Syrian Army, and called on Muslims to join and support the Syrian Believers in their Jihad against Assad, whom he loudly added “gets his support from the Persians, the Shia, the Villians and Hezbollah” Al Arefe was never much of a supporter of the people of the Arab Spring, keeping much in line with the Saudi governments political positions. He kept mostly quiet during the Tunisian, Egyptian, Yemeni and Libyan uprisings, and was clearly quick to denounce the Bahrain uprising (Bahrain having a Shia majority with a Sunni regime). Yet the Sheikh seemed to suddenly develop a “revolutionary” spirit in light of the Syrian situation. All the while, people in his own country, in the Eastern province of Qatif were being shot down by Saudi forces. The major question is how could a man with such a hateful discourse towards the oppressed Shia minority in his own nation, suddenly turn into a humanitarian? Al Arefe assisted in raising a large sum of money for the Syrian people, estimated at around 66 million dollars. The Sheikh faced some problems, as Saudi regulations require a license for such types of donations. When Al Arefe was brought in for questioning in Riyadh, it is said he was called a “Kharajite”, a term in today’s context meaning one who rebels against the rulers. In response to this remark the Sheikh responded (In his own explanation): “Rafidites (a vulgar term used to refer to Shiites) send Khoms – millions of their assets into Qum (The Shia Religious center of Iran) and Najaf (Shia Religious Center of Iraq) to support Bashar and their training forces that are sent to them. And when we raise money we are called Kharajites?” Later he explains: “I told the investigator: if we do not support the Mujahideen in Syria so they can win…Bashar and Iranian Rafidites will attack us, and right now they are looking for your baby’s head, to tear it away.” Al Arefe reveals his own intentions and worry through his own account of his interaction with the interrogator. His major fear and goal in Syria seems not to be that innocent Syrian lives are being slaughtered and killed by the thousands, but he fears that Shia and Iran will attack in some way, and sees this as the perfect opportunity to fight the Shia of whom he so scornfully despises; a face much more fitting of the man with the hateful discourse, than that of the humanitarian. Take his money Syria, and do all you can to help your people. But dear people, don't be fooled once again by a little Saudi money, into praising this man and claiming he is a humanitarian. Posted by Bint Battuta at 12:12 AM No comments: ================ ‘Saudi succession crisis approaches’ Tue, 18 Sep 2012 23:35:35 GMT A US journalist believes that Saudi Arabia is nearing a crisis point since it will have to deal with a generational succession in a new Middle East and North Africa region forever changed by the pro-democracy uprisings that began in December 2010. In an article entitled Next up in the Middle East mess? Saudi Arabia’s succession fight, published in The Washington Post on Tuesday, Karen Elliott House writes that the elderly sons of Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, who have ruled sequentially since his death in 1953, are approaching the end of the line. The author notes that King Abdullah is nearly 90 years old and is in failing health and Crown Prince Salman is 76. The Saudi royal family can continue to pass the monarchy to the remaining brothers and half-brothers, but even the youngest of those is already in his late 60s, Ms. House pointed out. She noted that no Saudi prince is likely to have the insight and energy -- or even the time -- to steer the country in an era of reform or to solve the kingdom’s problems, such as poor education, high unemployment, a corrupt bureaucracy, and a crippled economy, or to deal with an increasingly young and frustrated society. External challenges, including the turmoil in the Middle East and a fraying alliance with the United States, must also be added to these domestic woes, Ms. House wrote. She stated that the three historic pillars of Saudi stability - oil, Wahhabi muftis, and the royal family -- are cracking. The massive revenue the country has obtained from oil for decades could be reduced by peak production and the sharp rise in domestic energy consumption. The extremist Wahhabi muftis, who have granted legitimacy to the House of Saud, are also increasingly divided and losing credibility in the eyes of the general public. In addition, the Saudi royal family is threatened by division as time has finally forced it to address the issue of generational succession. Ms. House added that sooner or later the Saudi crown will be passed to the new generation, which entails opportunity as well as risk. The opportunity in theory is that a new-generation royal -- educated, more open-minded and above all more energetic -- could begin to confront Saudi Arabia’s various problems by loosening up political and economic controls and increasing the competence of the government in order to assuage the people’s frustrations. However, the risk is that the divided Saudi royal family will splinter. The leadership in Saudi Arabia is unlike that of any other monarchy. It is a system where princes often marry multiple wives and thus produce dozens of progeny each -- now adding up to nearly 7,000 princes. Saudi Arabia these days is all too reminiscent of the dying decade of the Soviet Union, during which one weak leader succeeded another, she wrote. Ms. House said that given how large and divided the royal family has become over the decades, how a new-generation monarch will be selected is still an important question that remains unanswered. Many Saudis fear that the Allegiance Council, which King Abdullah established in 2006 in the hope of a smooth generational succession, will die with the monarch’s death. Saudi society now bears little similarity to the passive masses of a decade ago. Saudis now know about life inside their kingdom and in the wider world, and they dislike the inequalities they see. Sixty percent of Saudis are under 20 years old. Forty percent of Saudis live in poverty; 70 percent can’t afford to own a home; and 90 percent of workers in the private sector are foreigners Meanwhile, unemployment among 20- to 24-year-olds is nearly 40 percent. Saudi men won’t take the lower-skilled jobs for which they are qualified, and even well-educated Saudi women are not allowed to take jobs for which they are qualified. MP/HGL ====================== 'US to soon dump Al Saud a la Mubarak' Tue, 25 Sep 2012 06:29:03 GMT Saudi Arabia will face a similar destiny of Washington’s “number one ally,” former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, after its intervention mission in Syria is carried out, an analyst says. “Saudi Arabia’s role when the United States is done with it, we will see the Saudi Arabian regime crumbling just like the number one ally to the US former president Mubarak crumbled and I see this happening very soon especially if Russia and China succeed in finding a political solution to the Syrian crisis,” political analyst, Roula Talj told Press TV in an exclusive interview on Monday. Talj touched upon Saudi regime’s effort to topple the Syrian government through dispatching armed militants, financing the militancy and fueling the fighting in Syria, saying Al Saud regime and Qatar are competing for implementing Washington’s policies in the region. “They (Saudi Arabia and Qatar) are protecting themselves and they are imposing themselves as amazing partners to the US, and a pillar to the US foreign politics in the Middle East where they are trying to play this role and hoping that this will make them very important to the Americans and will keep the Arab Spring between brackets, away from Saudi soil,” she maintained. The Syrian government has accused Saudi Riyadh and Doha of providing arms to “terrorists” inside Syria. Earlier in August, spokeswoman for the so-called Syrian National Council (SNC), Bassma Kodmani announced that Saudi Arabia and Qatar were among the countries providing insurgents with weapons to fight the Syrian army. Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011. Damascus says outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists are the driving factor behind the unrest, and deadly violence while the opposition accuses the security forces of being behind the killings. Western states have been calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. However, Russia and China are strongly opposed to the Western drive to oust Assad. The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the armed militants are foreign nationals, mostly from Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan. =================

‘Al Saud's archaic, kleptomaniac and totalitarian regime doomed to fall’

== ‘Nuclear Riyadh as dangerous as Israel’ Sat, 28 Jul 2012 15:05:36 GMT Following reports about Saudi Arabia’s attempts to buy nuclear weapons from Pakistan, a political analyst says an “archaic, kleptomaniac and totalitarian” Riyadh armed with nukes is as much a danger as Israel. “Saudi Arabia is as much a danger as Israel. Its stunted development means that it will always have aggressive feelings towards more successful societies and, in particular, it is terrified of any expression of democracy. It has already occupied Bahrain and Wikileaks revealed the Saudi desire to attack Iran,” Rodney Shakespeare wrote in an article published on Press TV website. Shakespeare emphasized that Saudi Arabia, “which has no depth of culture, no political legitimacy, [and] no technological success,” feels threatened by the political, cultural and technological progress of Iran. Describing the Saudi regime as “archaic, kleptomaniac and totalitarian” which has no place in the Modern world, Shakespeare added that, “Despite vicious suppression, democratic forces are stirring and have even reached the capital, Riyadh, where protesters [are] shouting slogans against the Saudi regime.” “Saudi Arabia, of course, is also a player of the sectarian card considering Shias as inferior, even non-Muslim. Playing the sectarian card is mad arrogance which will rebound on Saudi Arabia some day.” Citing German intelligence reports about Wahhabis committing Houla Massacre of over one hundred people in May 2012 in Syria, Shakespeare said Saudi Arabia is exporting bigotry and viciousness and sending terrorists to Syria. “We must hope that the Americans - who indulge the Saudis in their every whim and cruelty - will have the sense to stop Saudi Arabia from getting the atom bomb,” he concluded. == Sat, 28 Jul 2012 04:49:38 GMT A political analyst says the collapse of Al Saud regime is closer to reality now that internal frictions within Saudi officials and anti-regime protests are intensifying, Press TV reports. “I think we are seeing this end more realistic than before, the fact that they are now fighting within their ranks. Among the questions that the security forces have been asking certain activists that if they have any contact with members of their own families who have already departed and are working against the regime," said Ali Al Ahmed, the director of the Institute for [Persian] Gulf Affairs (IGA), on Friday. “We have a princess who sought asylum or others who are now outside the country and trying to really unseat the current leadership and just put it to the right stability because of the in-fighting and the end of the Saudi state will be mostly rousted not because of this protest movement alone, but because of the division where it is within the ranks of their own family,” he said. Al Ahmed also noted that the arrest of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nemr al-Nemr will accelerate the ongoing protest movement in the oil-rich country. “I think so since the arrest of Sheikh Nemr, the protest frequency has accelerated and the protest movement in the country not only in the Eastern region has expanded. We saw that yesterday in Jeddah where a few people were gathering outside the ministry of the interior in Jeddah’s, you know, the branch there,” he said. “We are seeing more protests across the country and I have information that the end of Ramadan will have many protests in different cities and new cities in fact to take advantage of the King’s announcement of the conference, so-called Islamic solidarity conference at the end of Ramadan,” Al Ahmed added. On Friday, Saudi security forces opened fire on anti-regime demonstrations in the eastern city of Qatif, injuring several protesters. The attack came after thousands of Saudi protesters took to the streets in Qatif, demanding the release of political prisoners, including Sheikh Nemr. Chanting slogans in support of social justice in the oil-rich Eastern Province, protestors also asked the regime to stop killing civilians by the Saudi-backed forces in neighboring Bahrain. Tensions have been running high in Saudi Arabia's oil-rich Eastern Province in the past weeks following the detention of the Shia cleric. Since February 2011, protesters have held demonstrations on an almost regular basis in the Kingdom's east, mainly in Qatif and Awamiyah, calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination. However, the demonstrations have turned into protests against the Al Saud regime, especially since November 2011, when Saudi security forces killed five protesters and injured many others in Eastern Province. ============== The Making of Kings in Saudi Arabia Print Email Comment -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia welcomes the Gulf Arab leaders as they arrive in the Saudi capital Riyadh to take part in the opening of the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, May 10, 2011. Related Articles Arabia's Pre-Islamic Past Revealed TEXT SIZE Cecily Hilleary December 06, 2012 Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah recently underwent relatively minor back surgery and his hospitalization triggered a host of increasingly dire rumors about the state of his health. Though the 88-year-old monarch has since recovered and appeared in public, the episode has raised new questions about royal succession, an issue that has loomed over Saudi Arabia for years. As they advance in age, one Saudi leader after another faces the same tough decision: should the crown continue to be passed from brother to brother – the sons of the Kingdom’s founder, Abdulaziz Ibn Saud? Or has the time come for a new generation of leaders? Short-term Kings After the sudden death of Saudi Crown Prince Nayef last June, his brother Salman, 76, was named Crown Prince and is likely to become the next king in spite of his poor health. But who should succeed him? Only a handful of his brothers are still living and in reasonable health, and some even ask whether they would be up to the task of leading the Kingdom. Simon Henderson, Baker Fellow and Director of the Gulf and Energy Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, describes the Saudi monarchy as a series of “short-term kings.” “The problem is that the kings have been becoming kings later in their lives and therefore they haven’t had the energy to properly serve,” Henderson said. “As a result, things do not get done as they might with a younger, more energetic leader — and it raises the likelihood of political unrest.” Some in the West suggest that the obvious solution would be to pass the scepter on to the next generation – something the Kingdom has been reluctant to do for deeply entrenched reasons. “The Saudi system confers seniority by age, and age is respected,” Henderson said. “And when you have got such a value system, it is very difficult to break out of the current way of doing things.” More problematic, said Henderson, is deciding who to choose. “Any selection of a future Crown Prince means excluding some people who are the residual sons of the founder of the Kingdom, Ibn Saud,” Henderson said, “and also deciding which line of the next generation should inherit the throne.” And that could lead to rivalry, which is not without precedent in Saudi history. ​ ​​​Karen Elliott House is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of On Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines — and Future. She has been travelling to the Saudi Kingdom for 30 years and has personally met many of the royals. She tells the story of a decade-long antagonism between former King Saud and his brother Faisal. “When Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdulaziz died,” House said, “he named his eldest son, Saud, as his successor and his second eldest son, Faisal, as Saud’s Crown Prince. And he told them over his deathbed, ‘Hold hands over my body and promise you will never quarrel in public.’” As it turned out, House said, the sons quarreled for nearly a decade -- until Faisal ousted Saud and made himself king. “And then he was murdered by his nephew,” House added. Observers say that perhaps the most obvious rivalry is between the so-called ‘Sudairi Seven,’ sons of Abdulaziz who share the same mother, Hassa al-Sudairi, said to have been a favorite among King Abdulaziz' wives. “The Sudairi Seven tried to dominate, did dominate, and they still do dominate,” Henderson said, “but to a lesser extent, because with the death of Kings Fahd, Sultan and Nayef, they are only a ‘Sudairi Four.’ And one of those, Turki, lives in exile, Salman is in poor health, Ahmed has just lost his job as Minister of the Interior, and Abdulrahman is annoyed for being passed over, so it’s really a ‘Sudairi Two-and-a-Half.’” ​​ Kingmaking House says there are no written laws governing the selection of future Saudi kings. “Traditionally, the king and a small inner circle of powerful princes have met in secret to decide on a crown prince,” House said. “Nobody is entirely sure how, and [what] the known qualifications are that he be, in essence, by age, but also be the most competent to rule.” In an attempt to pre-empt potentially bumpy transitions, King Abdullah established the Allegiance Council in 2006. The Council consists of 35 members representing each branch of the royal family. If any die or become incapacitated, they may be represented by their sons. Should the current king pass away, the Council is charged with naming the new king. He then has 10 days to inform the Council whom he wants as his crown prince. He is permitted to name as many as three candidates, and if none of them are to the Council’s liking, its members may propose an alternative. The trouble is that the Council has never been tested. “It’s the nature of the Saudi Kingdom that whoever is king can do whatever he wants,” Henderson said. That means Crown Prince Salman, if he ascends the throne, could give preference to his own family line. Royal Contenders Only two of the 16 surviving sons of Abdulaziz are considered to be suitable royal candidates: Former Interior Minister Prince Ahmed, Salman’s full brother. At 72, Prince Ahmed is the youngest of the so-called "Sudairi Seven. In November, Ahmed was removed from his post as interior minister and replaced by his nephew, Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, 53. House doubts Ahmed will be picked. “It might be a problem in the family to have two full brothers serving as King and Crown Prince,” she said. The former director of Saudi intelligence, Prince Muqrin,the youngest surviving son of King Abdulaziz, is another possible candidate. However, Henderson says Muqrin is not likely to be selected because his mother is foreign-born. “This produces a pedigree issue, which is a big deal in Saudi,” Henderson said. Both House and Henderson do agree that there is one candidate in the third generation of princes who could emerge as Deputy Crown Prince: The new Minister of Interior, Mohamed bin Nayef. “He speaks English, he’s very engaging, and he has run this terrorist rehabilitation program, which apparently has been very successful,” House said. She calls Mohamed bin Nayef "very "impressive." That said, it may be some time before any significant change occurs within the ruling family. “It’s a very uncertain future for the next couple of years,” Henderson said, “and of course the problems in the Middle East and the problems in the world don’t stand still, so we will have concerns about the Iran nuclear program, about oil, about changes in the Arab world described as the ‘Arab Spring.’ We’ll also have concerns about Shi’ites in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia and Shi’ites in neighboring Bahrain.” All of these issues will likely continue to “bubble,” said Henderson — if not constantly, at least occasionally, and this is bound to cause headaches for whoever occupies the Saudi throne.

Friday, July 27, 2012

UPDATE 1-Jacobs says clients unfazed by Keystone XL delay

Tue, Nov 22 11:29 AM EST * Clients in oil sands likely to keep investing regardless * CEO also sees opportunity in U.S. shale, Saudi contracts By Braden Reddall Nov 22 (Reuters) - Jacobs Engineering Group Inc , a leading contractor in Canada's oil sands, sees the Keystone XL delay as a political decision, not technical, and expects the $7 billion pipeline will eventually be approved. Chief Executive Craig Martin said he believes Jacobs clients in Canada will keep investing despite the setback for their ambitions to send more crude to Texas refineries. "They're really starting to get what I would characterize as an Exxon-like attitude," Martin told analysts at a meeting in New York that was webcast. "They're in it for the long term," he said. The U.S. State Department ordered that a new route be found for Keystone XL, delaying the project by more than a year. Nebraska and TransCanada Corp agreed last week to find a new route for the pipeline, which would transport 700,000 barrels of crude daily, to steer clear of environmentally sensitive lands. Martin said the delay might even create opportunities to build upgrades to partly refine more oil sands crude in Canada, where the major producers include Suncor Energy Inc , Canadian Natural Resources Ltd and Cenovus Energy Inc . As head of the second-largest publicly traded U.S. engineering group, after Fluor Corp , Martin said his strategy for competing with big rivals is to bid for any type of work, from a $50,000 project to one worth $5 million. "We're willing to get in on the junky, dirty part of the food chain of projects," he said, adding that this ultimately could lead to winning the big deals. He said this had played out well in Saudi Arabia, where it was awarded a five-year deal from Aramco for general engineering and project management services (GES+), putting it among only a handful of eligible companies. Pasadena, California-based Jacobs also has its eyes on securing more work in mining, which is seeing a boom in activity that led KBR Inc to create a new division to compete better with Fluor. Martin said the $75 billion in anticipated investment in U.S. shale gas presented plenty of opportunities for Jacobs in its oil and gas division, as well as in chemicals because cheap natural gas was leading to a rebirth of the U.S. ethylene industry. Jacobs, after making 65 acquisitions in the past 17 years, would also continue to hunt for deals, he said. Asked about the European and U.S. debt struggles and the potential economic crisis, Martin said it was more "storm than substance" and was unlikely to have a major impact on Jacobs. "I think the economies in Europe and the U.S. are going to be weak, and they're going to be weak for a decade. That doesn't mean we can't grow our business," he said. "Absent a big bust, we can continue to motor on." In fact, looking at the local side of the economic crunch, Martin said Jacobs could provide more outsourced services for cash-strapped U.S. states and municipalities, having become a leader in Britain at such arrangements over the past decade.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ford recalls 484,600 Escape SUVs for throttle problem

Thu, Jul 26 15:52 PM EDT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co is recalling 484,600 older model Ford Escape SUVs, most of them in the United States, because their throttles can be stuck open, U.S. safety regulators said. Ford Escapes from the 2001-2004 model years with three-liter, V6 engines are affected by the recall. A week ago, Ford recalled about 11,500 new 2013 model year Escape SUVs with 1.6-liter EcoBoost engines due to a fire risk related to fuel lines. Ford asked consumers to keep the Escapes parked rather than drive them to dealerships for repair. For the 2001-2004 model years recall, 423,634 of the affected vehicles are in the United States, and 35,000 in Canada, 19,000 in Mexico, 4,500 in Europe and 4,300 in other regions, Ford said. In Europe, the model is called the Maverick. The issue involves the cruise control cable on the Escapes, and safety regulators are investigating whether it was a factor in the death of a teenager in Arizona earlier this year. The regulator, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said there have been 68 reported complaints of stuck throttles including nine injuries and the Arizona fatality. Last week, NHTSA announced an investigation into Ford Escape and Mazda Motor Corp Tribute SUVs. Ford and Mazda jointly developed the 2001-2004 Escape and Tribute models. Mazda has been working "hand-in-hand with Ford and NHTSA" on the stuck throttle investigation but by Thursday had not issued a recall of the Tribute SUVs from 2001-2004, said a company spokesman. Regarding the Ford recall, NHTSA said, "Inadequate clearance between the engine cover and the speed (cruise) control cable connector could result in a stuck throttle when the accelerator pedal is fully or almost-fully depressed." "NHTSA's investigation into this issue remains open, pending the agency's review of the documents provided by Ford in its recall action," NHTSA said. "Moving forward, NHTSA will continue to monitor any future issues involving a stuck throttle or unintended acceleration in these vehicles to ensure there are no additional safety risks that warrant further action." The recall came after NHTSA opened an investigation into the matter last week. (Reporting By Bernie Woodall; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Carol Bishopric and Steve Orlofsky) == Toyota recalls 760,000 RAV4s Wed, Aug 01 17:52 PM EDT (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp said on Wednesday it is recalling about 760,000 Toyota RAV4 utility vehicles and 18,000 Lexus HS 250h hybrid vehicles in the United States to correct a defect in rear suspension. The RAV4 cars were made from model years 2006 through 2011, while only 2010 models of the HS 250h were affected. Toyota said it had not yet developed a fix for the problem, which it said involves rust formation that could lead to wear and eventual separation of the rear suspension arms. Toyota said it will notify owners when a solution is available. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in a defect investigation opened June 4 into a similar problem with 2006-2008 Toyota RAV4s, said the rear suspension arm assembly "may fail due to corrosion, potentially causing a loss of vehicle control." The federal agency said at the time it was probing about 460,000 RAV4s. NHTSA said it had received seven complaints alleging corrosion-related failure of suspension arms on the RAV4. (Reporting By Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by David Gregorio)

Exxon Mobil output, chemicals unit dampen earnings

Thu, Jul 26 14:33 PM EDT By Anna Driver and Matt Daily (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, posted lower-than-expected quarterly earnings on Thursday as its oil and gas output sagged and weak margins hurt its chemicals business. Weaker global oil prices have weighed on earnings across the sector and Exxon also felt the sting of decade-low U.S. natural gas prices, especially in the United States where it is the largest producer of the fuel. The company, which has pledged to spend a record $37 billion this year as it brings new projects on line in countries including Canada, Papua New Guinea and the Gulf of Mexico said oil and gas output fell 5.6 percent to 4.15 million barrels oil equivalent per day during the quarter. "I think the big issue for the oil majors is they need high oil prices for all these exploration costs to pay off," said Michael Yoshikami, CEO of investment advisor Destination Wealth Management. "At $100 to $110 (per barrel), I think they are fine." Exxon is hoping those new projects will boost its long-term oil and gas output, since Wall Street has long pointed to weak growth as a problem for the oil majors. Analysts honed in on those figures again, but saw other issues as well. "Production was a little light," Pavel Molchanov, analyst at Raymond James, said. "The real swing versus our estimates was chemicals." Chemical demand in Europe was weak and commodity margins were pinched in Europe and Asia, David Rosenthal, an investor relations executive with Exxon, told investors on a conference call. The Irving, Texas, company reported a second-quarter profit of $15.9 billion, or $3.41 per share, up from $10.68 billion, or $2.18 per share, a year earlier. Profit was boosted by a $7.5 billion gain related to the sale of a stake in its Japanese refining and chemicals business, and tax items. Excluding those one-time gains, Exxon earned $8.4 billion, or $1.80 per share. On that basis, analysts' average forecast was $1.95, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Excluding one-time items, earnings from the company's chemical operations totaled $820 million, nearly 33 percent below Raymond James' estimate for the unit, Molchanov said. Analysts at Barclays had looked for Exxon to report chemical earnings of $859 million. Weakness in the chemicals market was also evident in the earnings of Dow Chemical Co, which reported a 34 percent drop in quarterly profit, missing Wall Street forecasts. Earlier on Thursday, Royal Dutch Shell posted lower-than-expected quarterly earnings of $5.7 billion, hurt by maintenance costs and shutdowns in the U.S. Gulf, where the company has some of its most profitable production, and in Australian Liquefied Natural Gas. Exxon's earnings from U.S. oil and gas production tumbled by more than half in the second quarter to $678 million, largely due to the steep decline in prices of natural gas. The company is the nation's largest producer of natural gas, but Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson warned last month that prices were too low to allow the industry to cover the cost of finding and producing new supply. "We are all losing our shirts today," Tillerson said at the time. Exxon shares rose 0.8 percent to $85.94 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange, helped by a rebound in oil futures prices. (Reporting By Anna Driver in Houston and Matt Daily in New York; editing by John Wallace and Marguerita Choy)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Transition from a trickle to a flood: The ripple of rumours is developing into a big barrel of a wave.

Iraq blacklists Chevron for Kurdish oil deals Tue, Jul 24 12:18 PM EDT By Ahmed Rasheed BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq hit out at Chevron Corp over its just-signed oil contract with Kurdistan, barring it from any oil agreements with the central government in a move meant to deter other companies from dealing directly with the semi-autonomous northern region. Baghdad has long held that contracts signed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are illegal, and last year Exxon Mobil Corp aroused its anger by striking a deal with the region while also running a project at a supergiant oilfield in the south. Baghdad retaliated by banning Exxon from an exploration tender in May. Chevron followed larger rival Exxon into Kurdistan last week and Baghdad's action on Tuesday will be closely watched by other oil majors, such as France's Total, which is widely expected to be the next to make a Kurdish oil play. "In line with Oil Ministry policy based on the constitution, the Oil Ministry announces the disqualification of Chevron company and bars it from signing any deals with the federal oil Ministry and its companies," an oil ministry statement said. Chevron could not immediately be reached for comment. Last week, the company confirmed its purchase of 80 percent of two blocks in Iraq's Kurdistan, an area where oil rights are a subject of fierce dispute. Whatever the impact on good will, for now Chevron has no material stake in the south to lose. The second largest U.S. oil company after Exxon was qualified to take part in Iraq's four oil and gas licensing rounds, but chose not to. The company found the commercial terms of Iraq's service contract unworkable, but -- like other investors -- found the production sharing contracts on offer in Kurdistan more attractive, industry sources said. Chevron said it would continue to monitor opportunities in both the north and south of Iraq. Iraqi oil officials said the company had shown interest in developing the giant southern Nasiriyah oilfield, which was not offered in any of the tenders. "The reputation and credibility of Chevron and other companies are being tested today and we are fully confident the result of its test is a total failure and it should feel ashamed of its action," the oil ministry statement said. THINK TWICE? Kurdistan said in June that it expected more oil majors to follow Exxon in the next few months and Total, which also has a stake in a project in the south, is widely believed to be close to doing a deal. "Total is waiting for the best time to proceed," said an Iraqi oil executive. "After today's announcement, they may think twice." And with Kurdistan and Baghdad regularly clashing over oil and land rights, securing interests in both is not clear cut. Just last month, Iraq asked U.S. President Barack Obama to stop Exxon from exploring in Kurdistan, saying that it could have dire consequences for the country's stability. Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Obama sent a "positive" written response. [ID:nL2E8IJKLQ] Seemingly undeterred, Exxon is close to awarding a contract for drilling rigs at its six exploration blocks in Kurdistan, said Iraqi oil sources. As part of its deal announced last week, Chevron is purchasing the Sarta and Rovi blocks from India's Reliance Industries Ltd, where it will be the new partner of Austria's OMV AG, holder of the other 20 percent interest. Baghdad has a long-running dispute with the Kurdistan regional government over oil, land and sharing revenues and insists that it has the sole authority to manage oil fields and sign deals in the north. As well as France's Total, Norway's Statoil is also looking closely at KRG exploration blocks, industry sources have said. A move into the north by Total could mean the tipping point has been reached. "Chevron has no contracts in the south, so that's likely to minimize the fallout," said an oil industry executive. "If Total joins the procession, that will signal the transition from a trickle to a flood." (Additional reporting and writing by Peg Mackey; editing by Alex Lawler and Anthony Barker) ============ July 24, 2012, 4:23 p.m. EDT Chevron hit by Iraqi ban, energy stocks clobbered Peabody Energy falls more than 11% on lowered profit estimateStories You Might Like •Sponsored: MarketWatch.com Penn State got off easy •Sponsored: this site Apple earnings jump, but miss estimates •Sponsored: this site VMware earnings down; Nicira acquired for $1.26B [?] 0 Comments Share Digg Yahoo! Buzz MySpace del.icio.us Reddit LinkedIn Fark StumbleUpon Newsvine newPortfolio Relevance LEARN MORE Want to see how this story relates to your portfolio? Just add items to create a portfolio now: XAddPeabody Energy Corp. (BTU)XAddS&P 500 Index (SPX)XAddChevron Corp. (CVX)Add Create Portfolio or Cancel Already have a portfolio? Log In By Steve Gelsi, MarketWatch NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Chevron Corp. and Peabody Energy Corp. weighed on energy stocks on Tuesday, as the sector fell into the red with the broad equities market. /quotes/zigman/282895/quotes/nls/btu BTU 20.55, -2.61, -11.27% /quotes/zigman/3870025 SPX 1,338.31, -12.21, -0.90% 25%0%-25%-50%-75%ASON12FMAMJJ Chevron Corp. /quotes/zigman/289939/quotes/nls/cvx CVX -1.53% lost 1.5% as one of the worst -performing components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/zigman/627449 DJIA -0.82% , which fell 104 points at the closing bell. Earlier, the Iraqi oil ministry said Chevron would be excluded from further participation in the nation’s oil industry because the San Ramon, Calif., petroleum producer inked a deal to buy stakes in two exploration blocks from Reliance Industries Ltd. IN:500325 +0.81% in the Kurdish region in the northern part of the country. The decision by the Iraqi central government marks the latest sign of friction over petroleum exploration and production with the semi-autonomous Kurds. Also in the spotlight, BP PLC /quotes/zigman/247026/quotes/nls/bp BP -1.46% dropped 1.5%. The oil major’s 50% stake in the TNK-BP Russian joint venture is drawing interest from state-run oil major OAO Rosneft of Moscow. OAO Rosneft said it’s taking part in talks with BP PLC on acquiring BP’s share of Russia’s No.3 oil producer TNK-BP. AAR, the Russian holding company that owns 50% of BP-TNK, has said it’s interested in buying part BP’s stake for around $10 billion. In the broad energy sector, the Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund /quotes/zigman/246199/quotes/nls/xle XLE -1.60% fell 1.6%. S&P 500 Index component Alpha Natural Resources /quotes/zigman/362718/quotes/nls/anr ANR -10.12% lost 10% and Tesoro Corp. /quotes/zigman/243084/quotes/nls/tso TSO -3.83% dropped 3.8%. In the broad energy sector, the NYSE Arca Oil Index /quotes/zigman/6015539 XX:XOI -1.36% declined by 1.4% and the Philadelphia Oil Service Index /quotes/zigman/1470028 OSX -1.62% moved down by 1.6%. The NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index /quotes/zigman/6015474 XX:XNG -1.35% dropped 1.4%. Reuters BP tanker refuels a transport plane in Wales. Peabody Energy Corp. /quotes/zigman/282895/quotes/nls/btu BTU -11.27% lost more than 11% after the coal producer said its expects adjusted third-quarter profit of 20 cents to 45 cents a share, below the Wall Street estimate of 65 cents a share in a survey of analysts by FactSet. The company cited Australian conditions that include performances at contractor-operated mines, lower average realized pricing and other factors. “While we see some bright spots within the global coal markets, there remain macroeconomic and industry challenges that Peabody is well positioned to weather given our global position and financial strength,” the company said. The losses in energy stocks came despite modest gains in commodity prices, with crude for September delivery /quotes/zigman/2203153 CLU2 -0.57% up 36 cents to settle at $88.50 a barrel. See Futures Movers for more on crude oil prices. /quotes/zigman/289939/quotes/nls/cvx Add to portfolio CVX Chevron Corp. US : U.S.: NYSE $ 106.30 -1.65 -1.53% Volume: 6.66MJuly 24, 2012 4:00pP/E Ratio7.75Dividend Yield3.39%Market Cap$212.95 billionRev. per Employee$3.92M /quotes/zigman/627449 Add to portfolio DJIA Dow Jones Industrial Average US : DJ-Index 12,617.32 -104.14 -0.82% Volume: 131.53MJuly 24, 2012 4:30p Add to portfolio IN:500325 Reliance Industries Ltd. IN : India: Bombay रु 724.55 +5.80 +0.81% Volume: 225,233July 24, 2012 12:00aP/E RatioN/ADividend Yield1.17%Market Capरु2353.58 billionRev. per Employeeरु154.40M /quotes/zigman/247026/quotes/nls/bp Add to portfolio BP BP PLC ADS US : U.S.: NYSE $ 39.81 -0.59 -1.46% Volume: 5.01MJuly 24, 2012 4:00pP/E Ratio4.97Dividend Yield4.82%Market Cap$127.12 billionRev. per Employee$4.73M /quotes/zigman/246199/quotes/nls/xle Add to portfolio XLE Select Sector SPDR-Energy US : U.S.: NYSE Arca $ 67.04 -1.09 -1.60% Volume: 12.66MJuly 24, 2012 4:00p /quotes/zigman/362718/quotes/nls/anr Add to portfolio ANR Alpha Natural Resources Inc. US : U.S.: NYSE $ 6.22 -0.70 -10.12% Volume: 16.03MJuly 24, 2012 4:00pP/E RatioN/ADividend YieldN/AMarket Cap$1.52 billionRev. per Employee$552,531 /quotes/zigman/243084/quotes/nls/tso Add to portfolio TSO Tesoro Corp. US : U.S.: NYSE $ 26.33 -1.05 -3.83% Volume: 5.37MJuly 24, 2012 4:01pP/E Ratio7.54Dividend YieldN/AMarket Cap$3.84 billionRev. per Employee$5.85M /quotes/zigman/6015539 Add to portfolio XX:XOI NYSE Arca Oil Index XX : NYSE Glb Ind 1,161.04 -16.06 -1.36% Volume: 0.00July 24, 2012 8:09p /quotes/zigman/1470028 Add to portfolio OSX PHLX Oil Service Index US : PHLX Ind Cur 211.23 -3.47 -1.62% Volume: 0.00July 24, 2012 5:17p /quotes/zigman/6015474 Add to portfolio XX:XNG NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index XX : NYSE Glb Ind 622.37 -8.52 -1.35% Volume: 0.00July 24, 2012 8:09p /quotes/zigman/282895/quotes/nls/btu Add to portfolio BTU Peabody Energy Corp. US : U.S.: NYSE $ 20.55 -2.61 -11.27% Volume: 21.64MJuly 24, 2012 4:01pP/E Ratio5.46Dividend Yield1.65%Market Cap$6.31 billionRev. per Employee$996,157 /quotes/zigman/2203153 Add to portfolio CLU2 Crude Oil - Electronic (NYMEX) Sep 2012 US : U.S.: Nymex $ 88.00 -0.50 -0.57% Volume: 2,353July 24, 2012 8:34p Steve Gelsi is a reporter for MarketWatch in New York. ============ Author bonobo77 View Profile Add to favourites Ignore Date posted today 06:59 Subject What's stopping them? Votes for this Posting Voted 49 times. Message The entry of Exxon was rumoured in June 2011. Exxon’s entry was announced in October 2011. Chevron and Total were rumoured to be weighing up deals in November 2011. They have both been confirmed this week. The ‘wave of consolidation’ that started with a ripple of rumours, has now become a swell and the ‘frontier’ operators like GKP are surely about to get towed-in. Surfing metaphors aside, GKP has been subject to more than its fair share of rumour. We’ve heard talk of £8 from Exxon. Chevron has run their slide rule over us. Total supposedly have the right expertise to deal with Shaikan’s heavier oil. And then there are the visits to China that Todd doesn’t like to talk about (unlike Todd to be coy, isn’t it). The ‘Exit Awards’ are, no doubt, there for a reason. So what is now standing in the way of Big Oil acquiring our company or Kurdistan’s ‘jewel’ at Shaikan (you know, the one that just keeps ‘getting bigger and bigger’; the asset from which Kurdistan expects to produce 50% of its entire oil)? We have been told that the Shaikan appraisal is finished, commerciality can be declared and an FDP has to be submitted by December at the latest. Does a major/NOC need this FDP to be written before they can make a bid? I doubt it. There were originally supposed to be two FDPs, one for GKP to move Shaikan to production and another written with a major in mind. We now know that only the latter will be written. And one assumes that any new operator at Shaikan would want to have input on any plan being drawn up for it. The earlier they can do this, the better. Is GKPs reported cancellation of a pipeline contract an indication that another party (or parties) are redrawing the plan? So the lack of FDP right now should not inhibit any bid. Perhaps the KRG is the block on a bid. Or rather, they do not wish a bid for Shaikan to be announced just yet. This would assume that a bid has been made, or a deal in principle signed, that is simply awaiting the green light from a KRG who want to play their Aces in an orderly fashion. It’s possible, but with an asset of the size and importance of Shaikan, it would be hard to keep such a deal quiet … especially as every man and his dog will have wanted a slice. So in this scenario, one of the biggest and most hotly contested auctions for the biggest oil find in 40 years, would have needed to take place under total lockdown. Is this likely? And has this provided the fuel for the GKP rumour mill? For me, the one obvious ‘hurdle’ that might prevent a bid forthcoming, or prevent an existing ‘deal in principle’ from being announced, is the court case. We know from Todd’s evasive answers at the AGM, that the company has likely been approached with offers, or at least ‘sounded out’ (‘have we announced any bids?’ was his deft, but transparent, rhetoric). If this is the case, one would assume that Todd and Co. would be talking up the value of Shaikan and the company to entice the ‘offer we cant’ refuse’. Todd has spoken of 20bn barrels at Shaikan, and JG said Shaikan is worth 560p on our previously announced OIP. But they’ve recently gone coy on our valuation. The Edison report this week – commissioned by GKP – was ultra conservative on valuation. Mirabaud – our house broker – issued a note in advance of the AGM that certainly played down our worth. It does force us to consider that the company is seeking to keep a lid on our valuation just now. And I can only think that they are doing this because of the impending court case. There are two scenarios related to the October court case where it might be in Todd’s interests to keep our valuation low. The first: the company expects Excalibur to win the case and be awarded a slice. The lower our valuation, the smaller their award. Do you think Todd expects to lose? At the AGM he said they hadn’t lost any argument or decision yet, and they don’t intend to. And all the court reports to date have suggested that it would be a mammoth task for Excalibur to succeed, never mind secure everything they are demanding. The other scenario that might necessitate a suppressed valuation would involve an out of court settlement. And I believe this may be the reason why – since PW came on board – GKPs trumpets have been packed away, and they are now being subdued and even vague in their estimations for Shaikan. Todd’s divorce is behind us. Shaikan’s appraisal has been announced as complete. The clock is now ticking. Meanwhile, the KRG play three aces: Chevron, Total, Gazprom. The ripple of rumours is developing into a big barrel of a wave. We are perhaps awaiting only one event – an out of court settlement – before we pop-up and ride it. I’m guessing that could happen any time in the coming weeks. Or maybe everything will be allowed to coalesce on the August 31st 'ultimatum' that Maliki now faces? Worthy of debate, at least. =================== Insight: Oil's big players raise the stakes in Iraqi Kurdistan Sun, Aug 05 04:03 AM EDT By Peg Mackey and Andrew Callus LONDON (Reuters) - Iraqi Kurdistan's crude oil is plentiful and easy to get at, rare among undeveloped energy resources. The man managing it, a former North Sea engineer and consultant turned politician, knows how to attract investment. But the companies working there under contracts with the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are not getting much out, and they are not getting paid, all because of a dispute over control with the national government in Baghdad. Despite the row, rooted deep in the tinderbox politics of Iraq, ever bigger oil companies are moving into the northern region, angering Baghdad with their seal of corporate approval for a government that is seeking more autonomy in one of the most volatile parts of the world. Something has to give. "The northward migration continues," said a senior oil executive involved in Iraq. "And this could well be the tipping point." Output in this mountainous region bordering Turkey, Syria and Iran is an on-off trickle for now in global terms but, given the right investment and an export route, it could reach 1 million barrels per day by 2014, and 2 million five years later, according to Ashti Hawrami, the KRG natural resources minister. That would be more than Libya, the North African producer whose civil war outage led to a sharp jump in prices last year. Hawrami worked in Scotland for the British National Oil Company in the 1970s and early 1980s. He later ran an oil services firm, then moved into consulting before becoming a KRG minister in 2006. Oil men admire his commercial savvy. They say he understands that companies have a simple need for returns that justify investments, in stark contrast to suspicious governments they deal with elsewhere in the Middle East. "The difference is that they want us here while in the south of Iraq, it feels like they don't," said one oil executive. The sticking point for KRG development is that Baghdad has jurisdiction over all exports, and contests the validity of contracts signed with the Kurdish government in Arbil. It tries to keep the region on a tight leash, limiting supplies of fuel and restricting its flow of cash under an entitlement based on 17 percent of the country's oil export income. There is much friction, claim and counter-claim over the arrangements, and in its most recent act of protest, the KRG halted oil exports in April, saying Baghdad owed $1.5 billion. In 2002 Turkish company Genel Enerji blazed an exploration trail to the region. Norwegian company DNO and others followed after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Now more than 40 foreign companies are drilling in oil territory so rich that in some places the crude seeps out of the hillside and collects in the valley below. Proven reserves in Iraqi Kurdistan of 45 billion barrels amount to more than a third of the national total of 143 billion recorded in BP's annual statistical review, where Iraq accounts for 8.7 percent of all the world's known oil. EXXON GAME-CHANGER In 2007 Hawrami came within a whisker of making Royal Dutch Shell his first really big signing, but the board of the world industry number two ruled it too risky, an industry source said. Shell later became, and remains, the biggest oil investor in southern Iraq. Because of the politics and the payback issue, ventures into KRG territory remained the preserve of smaller explorers with an appetite for political risk and nothing to lose in Baghdad. In November last year, four years after Shell walked away, came the game changer. Exxon Mobil, the world's biggest private oil company, signed a deal for six exploration blocks. Last month, the U.S. number-two player Chevron moved in too, buying 80 percent of two blocks, Sarta and Rovi, from India's Reliance. And last week, Total of France piled in, buying 35 percent of the Harir and Safen blocks from Marathon Oil, along with Gazprom of Russia, which farmed in to the Garmian block operated by Canadian company Western Zagros. Suddenly, four of the world's top 10 international oil companies by market value have set up shop in Arbil. Baghdad is furious, and has made it clear that both Exxon and Total are risking their involvement in multi-billion dollar projects in the south of the country. So what are the big international oil companies thinking? There is still no obvious way to monetize these investments. Letters last week to the KRG from DNO, Genel and others with activities in Iraqi Kurdistan expressed their continued frustration at not getting paid. Executives say the move north by the big companies sends a message to Baghdad that its commercial terms on southern oilfield projects are unattractive, and that institutional chaos and the slow pace of postwar redevelopment are problems. "We understand the political risk of going into the north and the commercial terms are attractive enough to take that risk," said an oil industry source. "The economics of Iraq's service contract just can't compete with the terms on offer in Kurdistan." More new entrants may be beating a path to Hawrami's door for quality acreage and a safer operating environment as well as a better potential rate of return than the south. KRG production sharing contracts (PSCs) promise as much as 25-35 percent versus the 15 to 18 percent in the south for fixed-fee output-boosting and start-up deals on untested fields, oil experts say. Total's CEO Christophe de Margerie has been openly critical of Baghdad's service contract terms. The latest national tender for exploration blocks drew no interest from the oil majors. Norway's Statoil and Italy's Eni are both looking at KRG acreage, say industry sources. Statoil pulled out of its stake in the giant West Qurna-2 oilfield in southern Iraq earlier this year, while Eni is still leading a project to develop the huge Zubair oilfield in southern Iraq. Other big companies that still have all their Iraq eggs in the southern basket include Britain's BP, which recently produced its 1 billionth barrel in the southern Rumaila field, Russia's Lukoil, as well as the Chinese and Malaysian state firms CNPC and Petronas. Shell has stayed loyal to Baghdad too. According to industry sources it decided last year for a second time against a KRG tie-up, turning its back on a partnership with Exxon to focus on a $17 billion gas project and other commitments in the south. BP said it had plenty to keep it occupied in the south and no plans to look north. Although Shell would not comment, company officials privately have a similar view to that of BP. But those already on the ground in Kurdistan are likely to build up their positions. Exxon, risking operatorship of West-Qurna-1 with its dalliance in the north, is looking at unawarded blocks along the border with Turkey, and Chevron and Total are expected to snap up more acreage, industry sources said. BAGHDAD'S BLACKLIST "It's quite worrying for the Iraqi government to have the big companies walking away," said a senior oil executive who believes Baghdad will take action to deter further defections. "If the federal government does not act, other companies will think they can move north without further consequences. And they have to do what they say - so far, it's just been a lot of noise. "And we will, of course, use the situation as an argument to look for more reasonable terms (in southern Iraq)." Baghdad has protested at the highest political level about Exxon's floodgate-opening move, with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki writing to U.S. President Barack Obama predicting dire consequences for the country's stability. It has also threatened to throw out Exxon and Total and blacklist Chevron from future involvement. All to no avail - so far. "I don't think Exxon can hang onto and work both pieces and they will be forced to choose very soon," said a senior western executive, adding that he expected chief executive Rex Tillerson, if pushed, to opt for Kurdistan. In the latest twist, Arbil has responded to Baghdad's saber rattling with an apparent softening of its position, agreeing to resume exports until August 31 provided it gets the money it says it is owed. The oil concessions dispute between Maliki and KRG president Masoud Barzani forms part of a deeper political rift in Iraq, whose wobbly coalition of Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurdish leaders are embroiled in their second serious squabble since the last U.S. troops left in December. TURKISH QUESTION With their potential to produce immense wealth for whoever controls them, reserves in Kurdistan also play into the broader balance of power and ethnic tensions in the region. When it comes to exports, a fully independent Iraqi Kurdistan could in theory avoid Iraq territory altogether by sending its crude through Turkey. In May, the KRG announced plans to build a pipeline from the Taq Taq oilfield to hook up with an existing one that runs from Kirkuk in Iraq to Ceyhan on Turkey's Mediterranean coast, targeting August 2013 as the completion date and initial capacity of 1 million barrels a day. But there's a snag here too for the KRG and its investors, and one that could strengthen Maliki's hand. Turkey's prime minister Tayyip Erdogan performs one of the world's trickiest political balancing acts. Having turned his back last September on his one-time friend, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and embraced the rebels fighting him, Erdogan has made an enemy along his longest border. Iran, which backs Assad, is another potentially unfriendly neighbor. Meanwhile Turkey, like Syria, has a restless Kurdish population of its own. So Erdogan may be reluctant to upset Baghdad, and a Kurdish state flush with oil money on his frontier might not be the perfect outcome for him either. "The one thing in Baghdad's favor right now is that the Kurds don't have an independent export line," said Raad Alkadiri of Washington consultancy PFC Energy. "So a lot of this will come down to the Baghdad-Arbil-Ankara triangle, and given developments in the region, including Syria, how this relationship plays out could surprise the Kurds and investors there." (Additional reporting by Tom Bergin; Editing by Anthony Barker and Richard Mably) ===================== A Good Month for Iraqi Oil Shares Posted on 09 August 2012 Like good comedy, the secret of good investment is often said to be timing. Someone buying shares at the end of June in Heritage Oil, which has interests in Iraqi Kurdistan, may have had reason to be concerned if they planned to sell shortly afterwards, as the shares were suspended in early July pending the publication of a prospectus. However, their patience was amply rewarded when trading resumed on Tuesday and the shares gained 21% on the day. Those who held on were up another 19%, compounded, on Wednesday, giving them a total gain of 44%. But while Iraq-focused oil shares have had a bumpy ride over the years, the past five weeks have been particularly fruitful. Just look at these returns from a selection of the players: • Genel Energy, up 11.3% •DNO, up 22.7% •Afren, up 22.9% •Gulf Keystone, up 36.7% •Heritage Oil, up 43.9% •WesternZagros, up 48.4% And despite these significant gains, all of these except WesternZagros are still well below their peaks. Momentum traders may have on opinion on whether the upward trend will continue; fundamental investors will ignore these factors and consider such metrics as asset valuations and cash flows. However the shares will ultimately be valued, Iraq is floating on a lake of oil, and the whole country should reap the benefits of its development. ============