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Africa’s 3rd largest oil producer? 16, July 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Africa.
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Equtorial Guniea

Well, according to Foreign Policy magazine, it’s Equatorial Guinea. Yet, the BP Annual Statistical Review of World Energy – the most authoritative and comprehensive set of statistics published – disagrees quite significantly:

Oil production (thousand barrels per day) 2008

Nigeria 2170
Algeria 1993
Angola 1875
Libya 1846
Egypt 722
Sudan 480
Equatorial Guinea 361
Rep. of Congo (Brazzaville) 249
Gabon 235
Chad 127
Tunisia 89
Cameroon 84

However, this doesn’t detract from the main thrust of the FP article which places Equatorial Guinea as the 3rd least free place on earth, behind North Korea and Burma (Myanmar).

If you aren’t depressed enough by that story, they’ve got an excellent article with innovative, intuitive and informative graphics analyzing this year’s most failed states along side some excellent photography.

Saudi crackdown on migrant labour problems 14, July 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia.
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Saudi Arabia is to introduce fines of up to 1 Million Saudi Rials (around $266,000) and lengthy jail terms of up to 15 years for human trafficking. Their definition of this is suitably wide-ranging and includes ‘holding a person under control for sexual abuse, forced labour, involuntary begging, slavery or slavery-like practices, and enforced organ removal or medical experimentation.’

This is good news. Saudi Arabia is currently in the lowest tear possible on the US State Department’s list of human traffickers. It is an insidious and dirty problem affecting swathes of the Middle East. Any kind of legislation that hints that Saudi is getting tougher with abusers is welcome. However, I would wager that it will be a long time – if ever – before a Saudi citizen is imprisoned for anything like 15 years. In a country where wasta is king, I can simply not see that happening. Is a Saudi court really going to convict a Saudi citizen where some poor, battered Philippine maid gives evidence? I – alas – can’t see it but fervently hope that I am proved wrong sooner rather than later.

The darker half of Kuwait 13, July 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Kuwait, Middle East.
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The Egypt Daily News has published an article of mine commenting on the darker half of Kuwaiti (and Gulf) society generally: namely the severe problems of migrant worker abuse. Do go and have a read

Iranian nukes and the Gulf’s balance of power 12, July 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Kuwait, Middle East.
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I’ve written an article for the Kuwait Times discussing the geopolitical ramifications for the Middle East were Iran to acquire Nuclear Weapons. Do go and have a look…

Stealth F-35s in return for settlement movement? 11, July 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
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F-35 JointStrike Fighter

Thanks again the the MEI Editor’s blog for pointing out that Israel has officially just asked the Pentagon for permission to buy a new generation of Stealth F-35 fighter aircraft from America. Dunn asks whether this will be used by Obama as some kind of carrot in return for real movement on, for example, settlements. Quite frankly, I just don’t see how Obama could not use this as leverage. This seems like a golden opportunity for Obama to exert some real pressure. These planes aren’t key to Israel’s security. The hundreds of advanced fighters that Israel has now are more than adequate, as has been proven time and again, to vastly out-match whatever Israel’s enemies could possible throw at them. I suppose that Israel might prefer these Stealth aircraft were they to want a safer way to, for example, go after Iran’s nuclear weapons, but I’m sure that they’ve got aircraft already that are more then capable of this. Also, symbolically, I think that holding back on giving Israel access to some of America’s most advanced technologies could be a useful in currying favour in the other camp.

Jerusalem’s parking issues 11, July 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
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The MEI Editor’s blog has an interesting couple of hundred words on the Jerusalem parking lot issue. As fascinating as that doesn’t sound, it’s worth a brief read as it highlights the divisions which are often forgotten within Israeli society by ‘Jewish Americans who idolise Israel and Arabs who hate Israel’ to paraphrase Dunn’usalems key sentence.

Man killed in bull run 10, July 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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Apparently a man has been killed in the running of the bulls in Pamplona. Alas, I’m struggling to dredge up any sympathy. You pays your money, you takes your chances…

US, Israel & Iran Negotiations Cartoon 9, July 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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US Israel Iran Negotiations Cartoon

Cartoonist: Abdallah Jaber

Source: Al-Jazirah, Saudi Arabia, July 7, 2009

Hat tip- MEMRI

BNP leader: ‘sink refugee boats’ 8, July 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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The delightful indvidual that is Nick Girffin, the leader of Britain’s racist rightwing party, has said that refugees (ie. people, human beings) crossing the Mediterranean in boats ought to be sunk if they attempt to enter Europe. Though, to give Griffin his due, he very charitably said that we could ‘throw them a lifeboat’ afterwards. What a nice chap.

Mona-Lisa in a Burka 8, July 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in French IR.
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A tribute to Sarkozy’s attack on the Islamic Burka.

Mona-Lisa-Burka

Hat tip: (i.e. stolen from) this excellent blog on Kuwait with an unusual and welcome focus on human rights and migrant worker issues.