April 08 - 14, 2002
ISRAEL DEEPENS WEST BANK PRESENCE
The Israeli military operation in the West Bank has gone into
its eighth day, with tanks reported to have pushed deeper into the town of
Other Israeli forces have been battling Palestinian gunmen in
the West Bank city of Nablus and the Jenin refugee camp.
And Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is still confined to his
compound in Ramallah.
In Bethlehem, troops are besieging a church where more than
200 Palestinians have sought refuge.
The Israelis say most of those taking refuge in the Church of
the Nativity are armed fighters, but Palestinian officials say they are largely
ordinary Palestinians who fled there from the fighting.
Israeli forces are now occupying all major towns in the West
Bank except Jericho and have detained hundreds of suspects.
Palestinian fighters inside the Bethlehem church told on
Thursday that Israeli forces had blown open the back door.
One of the priests trapped inside, church warden Father
Ibrahim Faltas, said a gun battle had broken out.
The Israeli army denied that it had stormed the church, but
said its soldiers had fired shots while chasing militants who had escaped.
More than 100 Israeli tanks and armoured vehicles occupied
Nablus, the West Bank's biggest city, on Wednesday night.
Four refugee camps in the city are surrounded and there have
been fierce exchanges of fire.
Casualties are reported on both sides, but there are no clear
The Palestinian leadership has asked the international
community to intervene "urgently", while vowing that its fighters will
continue to resist.
SAUDIS WITHDRAW $27BN
Some $27 billion was withdrawn from foreign banks by Saudi
investors after the Sept 11 attacks up to January this year, market sources told
the daily Asharq Al-Wast.
Most of the repatriated Saudi investments brought back were
re-invested either in real estate or in the local stock market.
Ever since the Sept 11 incidents, and the negative fallout of
the events for the Arabs and the Muslims in the United States and the West,
there have been regular reports appearing here saying that the Saudi investors
were feeling uneasy about their investments in that part of the world. Their
worst apprehensions later became true when the authorities in the US froze the
investments and the assets of a number of Saudi investors on charges of being
linked to the perpetrators of the attacks on New York and Washington and a sort
of racial profiling in the US.
The level of private Saudi investments in the US and
elsewhere in the West are difficult to suggest and open to guesstimates. Some of
the market analysts say it runs into hundreds of billion dollars or even more.
Some of this money has apparently started trickling back into the kingdom, where
it actually belonged, it now seems.
Dealers in real estate here point out to the rapid growth
witnessed in the real estate market in the last quarter of 2001 and in January
and February of the current year. This led to a perceptible revival of property
development in the kingdom, specially in Riyadh, which is one of the fastest
growing cities in the world.
Riyadh has recently witnessed a huge construction boom
concentrating on the building of residential and commercial complexes, holiday
chalets and expansion of property development in the north and east of the city.
Many say this boom owes to the returning dollars.
The Eastern Province has also experienced a strong real
estate revival, particularly along the sea front from Al-Khobar to Dammam,
market analysts pointed out.
BUSH SENDING POWELL TO MIDEAST
Tanks thrust into another Palestinian city shortly before
U.S. President George W. Bush called on Israel to begin withdrawing from West
Bank towns it has reoccupied over the past week.
He said he had told U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to
go to the region to revive efforts to achieve a ceasefire.
Bush, responding to key Arab and Palestinian demands, said
Israel "must stop" building Jewish settlements in occupied lands and
end its occupation in line with U.N. resolutions.
"The storms of violence cannot go on," Bush said in
a White House speech. "Enough is enough."
Bush's speech coincided with another day of violence across
the West Bank, where troops battled gunmen in the cities and refugee camps of
Nablus and Jenin and tanks made a new incursion into the divided city of Hebron,
Bush called on the Palestinians to stop suicide bombings and
had critical words for President Yasser Arafat, besieged by Israeli troops at
his West Bank headquarters since last Friday.
OPEC HAS NO CONTROL OVER HIGH OIL PRICE - RODRIGUEZ
Opec Secretary-General Ali Rodriguez said the exporting group
would boost output only in the event of a supply shortage and had no control
over speculation currently driving oil prices higher.
Speaking to BBC radio, he said Opec would be taking a big
risk if it opened up the taps now when demand for crude was low.
"We have to wait and see the situation because if we
increase production now and the situation returns to normal maybe we can face a
collapse of prices," he said, referring to Middle East violence which has
fuelled oil market speculation.
"In this moment the fundamentals are balanced. The
supply is satisfactory. In this quarter normally for seasonal reasons the demand
is lower than in the rest of the year," Rodriguez said.
Asked if Opec was prepared to see the oil price stay at
around $27 or higher, Rodriguez said: "If this is the result of speculation
yes. If it is the result of some shortage of supply we will take some kind of
QATAR POISED TO EMERGE AS GAS TO LIQUIDS CAPITAL OF THE WORLD
Following recent initiatives on this front, Qatar has the
potential to emerge as the gas to liquids "capital of the world".
"Gas to liquids will provide us with a great deal of
flexibility and will provide the green fuel of the future. Gas to liquids
development will complete Qatar's basket of gas products, perfectly
complementing our LNG production and export facilities and our natural gas
exports via pipeline," said Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah, Minister of
Energy and Industry.
In February, Qatar signed a statement of intent with Shell
Gas & Power to study the development of building a gas to liquids facility
in the Gulf state, using gas from the North Field.
EU PEACE BID ENDS IN FAILURE
A European Union mission to press for a Middle East ceasefire
ended in failure after Israel barred two senior EU envoys from meeting besieged
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Spanish Foreign
Minister Josep Pique cut short their trip, cancelled a meeting with Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and headed home rather than face humiliation as
Israeli tanks poured into more Palestinian cities in defiance of the
Pique told reporters after meeting the Israeli foreign and
defence ministers and international peace mediators that Sharon's decision to
deny the EU access to Arafat, a virtual prisoner in his Ramallah office, was
"a very deep error".
60 NATIONS DEMAND ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL
At an open debate of the UN Security Council over 60
countries on Wednesday demanded that Israel pull its tanks and troops out of the
West Bank cities immediately.
'US NOT DOING ENOUGH'
The former US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright on
Thursday joined hosts of critics saying that the White House was not doing
enough to end the violence in the Middle East. She urged her successor Secretary
of State Colin Powell to immediately travel to the besieged region.
ADNOC-SHELL CHARTS PLANS FOR SOUR GAS
A joint Adnoc-Shell study team has completed a feasibility
study and produced a development concept to utilise Abu Dhabi's significant sour
gas reserves, a top Adnoc official said.
"At the moment, Adnoc is using clean sweet gas for its
gas injection, but with supplies of sour gas readily available to us, we would
like to use this for injection into our oil and gas reservoirs," said
Mohammed Al Qubaisi, deputy director for exploration and production at Adnoc.
The Adnoc-Shell team was formed in January 1999 with
"the objective to inject sour or acid gas into oil and gas reservoirs in
Abu Dhabi to optimise liquids recovery and increase sweet gas available for
export," Al Qubaisi said.
QADOUMI BLASTS U.S.
A senior Palestinian official has blasted the U.S. for its
biased policy in the Middle East dispute and peace process.
Farouk Al Qadoumi, Palestine Foreign Minister, during a brief
visit to the capital on Wednesday, said the U.S. has lost its credibility in the
Middle East peace process as it continues to support the inhuman treatment of
Palestinians by the Israeli government.
TURKEY BLASTS ISRAEL FOR 'GENOCIDE'
Turkey's prime minister accused military ally Israel of
"genocide" against Palestinians and demonstrators marched in Muslim
and other countries as Israel vowed to pursue its drive to root out suicide
With shooting reported around the traditional birthplace of
Jesus in Bethlehem, Pope John Paul called for a world day of prayer on Sunday
for peace in the Middle East "to change the hearts of even the most
There was growing criticism of the United States for not
doing enough to halt the violence. But most of the protests were directed at
Israel, and some of them worried governments.
SYRIAN TROOPS EXTEND REDEPLOYMENT
Syrian troops took up new positions in eastern Lebanon,
extending a redeployment on the heels of Israeli warnings about border attacks
by Hizbollah guerrillas.
Diplomats see the move as a sign Damascus is keen to avoid
direct confrontation with Israel, which last year hit Syrian troops twice in
Lebanon in retaliation for Hizbollah attacks.
BAHRAIN GROUP TO SET UP $35M PLANT
A Bahraini group is to set up a plant at the Jubail
Industrial Area of Saudi Arabia to produce phthalic anhydride and maleic
anhydride with a projected investment of $35 million, a senior company official
According to Bader Abdulaziz Kanoo, President of Yusuf bin
Ahmed Kanoo Group's Petrochemical Division, the technical partners for this
project "will also provide management and marketing skills in order to
satisfy the whole Middle East market."
CRUISE SHIP CALLS ON DUBAI TERMINAL
The seventh cruise ship to dock at the Dubai Cruise Terminal
since the September 11 events, MV Astor, called on Dubai with 300 passengers on
BLAIR WARNS OF MID EAST 'CATASTROPHE'
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has warned that the tragic
situation in the Middle East has "the makings of a catastrophe".
Mr Blair is heading for the United States on Friday for a
weekend summit with US President George W Bush in Texas.
Ahead of the meeting, the prime minister joined in the
president's call for Israel and the Palestinians to act to halt the current
SAUDI PRINCE, BUSH TO MEET ON APRIL 25
Saudi Arabia's Middle East peace initiative will top the
agenda when Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz meets U.S. President George W.
Bush on April 25, a Saudi source said.
"We have a consensus on the initiative, now let us
formulate a strategy on how to implement it," the source said.
DUBAI DUTY FREE POSTS RECORD SALES
Dubai Duty Free registered a sales record of Dh251.2 million
during the first quarter of 2002. March was a record month as sales reached
Dh90.7 million beating the previous monthly record of Dh84.3 million set in the
same month last year.
EGYPT SCALES DOWN ISRAEL CONTACTS
Egypt is suspending contacts with Israel apart from
diplomatic channels which could help the Palestinians, the government has
Egyptian Information Minister Safwat el-Sherif said Egypt
would restrict ties with Israel to those that "served the Palestinian
Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab states which have full
diplomatic ties with Israel.
RUSSIA'S DELICATE LIAISON WITH IRAN
The Iranian Foreign Minister, Kamal Kharazi arrives in Moscow
The visit has been delayed for nearly two months, largely
because of Russian uncertainty as to how it might affect Moscow's relationship
The Americans have cited Iran as a potential enemy, which is seeking to
develop weapons of mass destruction. But Russia sees Iran as a trade partner.