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 Saudi Arabia

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PostSubject: Saudi Arabia   Saudi Arabia I_icon_minitimeWed Feb 23, 2011 3:16 pm

Saudi Arabia looks to be the next fuse that gets lit, protesters there are calling for a "Day of Rage" March 11th.

Fill your gascans now if that happens because we will see gas over $4 a gallon or more. Couple this with the rise in food costs world wide and the fiscal insolveny of local,state and federal governments here in the US, this summer is going to be less then fun possibly.


The time to prepare may have come to an end.

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PostSubject: Re: Saudi Arabia   Saudi Arabia I_icon_minitimeFri Mar 11, 2011 12:39 pm

Protests hit eastern Saudi Arabia but are prevented by police in capital

By Hassan Ammar, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press – 28 minutes ago.

.....RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Several hundred people protested in heavily Shiite eastern Saudi Arabia Friday but hundreds of police prevented protests in the capital calling for democratic reforms inspired by the wave of unrest sweeping the Arab world.

Police blocked roads and set up random checkpoints in Riyadh, searching residents and vehicles around a central mosque as large numbers of people gathered for Friday prayers. Witnesses said groups of policemen manned street corners and intersections and a helicopter flew over the city.

By midday, no protesters had showed up in the capital and the police presence significantly decreased.

In the eastern city of Qatif and nearby areas where the country's minority Shiites live, several hundred people staged protests, shouting slogans calling for reforms and equality between Shiites and Sunnis. In Qatif, the protesters were surrounded by armoured personnel carriers and dozens of riot police in full gear.

On Thursday, violence broke out at another protest in Qatif, when Saudi police opened fire to disperse demonstrators. At least three protesters and one police officer were wounded. Friday's protest was largely peaceful.

Although protests have so far been confined to small rallies in the east, activists have been emboldened by other uprisings in the region that have toppled longtime rulers of Tunisia and Egypt. The Saudi activists have set up online groups calling for protests in Riyadh on Friday.

Any violence at Friday's planned protests could reverberate through the world's markets because of the importance of Saudi oil exports.

Security officials on Friday said security measures around state-run oil giant Saudi Aramco and its oil facilities in the east were beefed up protectively, in case of any violence. The company is based in Dhahran district on the kingdom's eastern coast.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said the new measures were "considered normal under the current circumstances," referring to the online call for protests in the area.

Investors are sensitive to any sign of upheaval in Saudi Arabia because the OPEC leader has been using its spare capacity to make up for output lost amid the violent uprising against Libya's government. When news broke that Saudi Arabian police fired shots to break up the protest Thursday, prices soared $3 in just 12 minutes.

Discord is common between Saudi authorities and the country's Shiites, who make up 10 per cent of the kingdom's 23 million citizens. The Shiites have long complained of discrimination, saying they are barred from key positions in the military and government and are not given an equal share of the country's wealth.

The pro-Western monarchy is concerned protests could open footholds for Shiite powerhouse Iran and has accused foreigners of stoking the protests, which are officially forbidden.

In Riyadh, the Interior Ministry organized a tour for a few journalists who were escorted by police around the city Friday. At one point in front of a government building, the journalists encountered a man, Khaled al-Juhni, standing outside a government building, shouting calls for more freedoms.

Police and journalists watched as the man criticized the regime as a "police state" and "a big prison" before he got in his car and left.

Despite the ban on demonstrations and a warning that security forces will act against them, protesters demanding the release of political prisoners took to the streets Thursday for a second day in the eastern city of Qatif. Several hundred protesters, some wearing masks to avoid being identified, marched after dark asking for "Freedom for prisoners."

Police, who were lined up opposite the protesters, fired percussion bombs followed by gunfire, causing the crowd to scatter, a witness said. Other witnesses said the protesters threw Molotov cocktails and stones from rooftops on the security troops.

Mainly Sunni Saudi Arabia has struggled to stay ahead of the unrest that has led to the ouster of the Egyptian and Tunisian leaders in recent weeks.

Last month, the ultraconservative Saudi government announced an unprecedented economic package worth an estimated $36 billion that will give Saudis interest-free home loans, unemployment assistance and debt forgiveness.

At the same time, it reiterated that demonstrations are forbidden in the kingdom because they contradict Islamic laws and society's values and said security forces were authorized to act against anyone violating the ban.

So far the demonstrations have been small, concentrated in the east among Shiites demanding the release of detainees. But activists have been emboldened by other uprisings have set up Facebook groups calling for protests in the capital, Riyadh, on Friday to demand democratic reforms.

One such group garnered more than 30,000 supporters. The group called the "Honein Revolution March 11" has listed a number of mosques in 17 Saudi cities for protesters to rally.

The group says it strives to have elected officials in Saudi Arabia, including the ruler.


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PostSubject: Re: Saudi Arabia   Saudi Arabia I_icon_minitimeFri Mar 11, 2011 12:45 pm

Planned day of protests key test for Saudi Arabia

By Cynthia Johnston and Ulf Laessing Cynthia Johnston And Ulf Laessing – Fri Mar 11, 6:07 am ET
RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia's capital was quiet on Friday ahead of a planned day of demonstrations that will test whether activists calling online for political reform will succeed in taking their protests to the streets.

A loose coalition of liberals, rights activists, moderate Sunni Islamists and Shi'ite Muslims has called for political reform and a Facebook page calling for demonstrations attracted more than 30,000 supporters, but protests are strictly forbidden in the conservative kingdom.

The government made those views clear late on Thursday, when police dispersed Shi'ite protests in the town of Qatif in the oil-producing Eastern province. Shots were heard from the area where some 200 people were demonstrating.

Dozens of uniformed police patrolled main squares in Riyadh as scores of police cars toured the streets. A helicopter circled above one city mosque and busloads of police were parked nearby, significantly raising the security presence. There was also a heavy police presence in the second city of Jeddah.

If protests take place, they might start up after noon prayers at 1 p.m. (1000 GMT) or after evening prayers around 5 p.m. (1400 GMT)

"The fact the Saudi regime is making a big deal of this suggests that it may be a big deal ... If the first kind of explicitly pro-democracy protests happen (on Friday) that sets a precedent and we'll probably see more pro-democracy protests," said Shadi Hamid, of the Brookings Center in Doha.

"Even if its 200 or 300 that is still, by Saudi standards, a big deal and something to worry about."

A diplomat in the Gulf region said protests were not expected to evolve into a mass demonstration on Friday and the Saudi government would respond through non-lethal means.


Riyadh is closely watching the outcome of protests elsewhere in the Gulf, especially in Bahrain where a disgruntled Shi'ite majority is seeking an elected government. Saudi Arabia, where Shi'ites make up about 15 percent of the population, fears sustained unrest there could embolden its own Shi'ite minority.

Protests were also planned across the Arabian Peninsula including in Yemen, Kuwait and Bahrain on Friday.

The time after Friday prayers has proved to be crucial in popular uprisings that have brought down Tunisian and Egyptian rulers who once seemed invulnerable.

The world's biggest oil exporter has made it clear it does not tolerate any protests or political parties, which it says are unnecessary in an Islamic state applying Islamic law.

Activists in Saudi Arabia are not seeking the downfall of the king but want political reform and economic opportunities.

"Saudi young men and women aren't just frustrated, they are miserably in despair. Everyone I have talked with here is complaining," Saudi blogger Murtadha Almtawaah wrote.

"They complain about the bad infrastructure of the cities and the roads, the absence of civil society and freedom, the bad education system, women rights and finally the corruption."

Human Rights First called on the government to use restraint in dealing with any protests. "We ask that all police forces be kept away from the streets or be completely neutralized," the Saudi-based group said.

A note by political risk analysts at Eurasia Group said that, unlike unrest that has rocked other Arab leaders' rule, Saudi protests were less of a threat to the kingdom's stability.

"They are appealing to the king, not demanding his departure. Thus, while there may be some unrest ... it will not threaten al Saud in the short term -- but things could get complicated if Saudi security forces overreact."

Saudi Arabia is home to Islam's holiest sites and a long-time U.S. ally which has ensured oil supplies for the West.

In a sign that Riyadh was keen to address brewing discontent, ruler King Abdullah unveiled benefits for Saudis worth about $36 billion last month when he returned from three months of medical treatment abroad.

(Additional reporting by Erika Solomon in Dubai; Writing by Reed Stevenson and Cynthia Johnston; editing by Crispian Balmer and Elizabeth Fullerton)


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