“Landmark Civic Polls Start Today,” by Raid Qusti and Nasser Al-Salti, Arab News, http://www.arabnews.com/?page=1§ion=0&article=58768&d=10&m=2&y=2005&pix=kingdom.jpg&category=Kingdom, 10 February 2005.
In the first non-story, our near-ally Russia agrees to sell military equipment to our near-ally Saudi Arabia, building on a base of selling to near-allies China, India, and Morocco
Moscow is preparing its first major defense contract with Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest arms buyer that has traditionally spent its petrodollars on U.S.-made weapons.
The deal is part of a strategy aimed at diversifying Russia’s arms buyers away from China and India, Sergei Chemezov, general director of state-owned arms exporter Rosoboronexport, told reporters Wednesday.
Russia also signed an arms contract with Morocco last month, he said, the first since the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Make that, outdated military equipment.
Rosoboronexport has orders of $12 billion through 2007, but Chemezov said that this year Rosoboronexport can expect to make $1 billion less in revenues.
“The reason? Our companies cannot produce more modern weapons. [The industry] is in need of investment either from private companies or from the state,” he said. “Today we sell weapons that were designed in the late 1970s and early 1980s.”
By itself, this is a puny deal. It’s chump change for obsolete and useless rockets. It is notable because it shows Saudi displeasure about… something. This signals they don’t like something that is going on, or something that we are making them do. Now what could that be?
Saudi citizens are set to cast their first ballots in history when Riyadh region goes to the polls in the first of a landmark municipal elections.
Todayâ€™s polls in Riyadh and surrounding areas are the first of three rounds that will eventually see elected representatives take up half the seats on 178 municipal councils across Saudi Arabia.
The remaining seats will be filled by government appointees. The rest of the country will vote in March and April.
“Democractic-style” elections in Araby. This is the second non-story. It’s only for local councils, and only for half of local seats at that. I could care less about women not voting — heck, even a 10% suffrage would be an improvement. But a vote for half the seats on useless councils is the bare minimum. The bare minimum we are forcing them to do.
Asked about the reasons of the substantial differences between the total number of voters in the Riyadh region and of that in the Eastern Province, Prince Mansoor attributed the larger number in the Eastern Province to the efforts exerted by the local committeeâ€™s chairman Prince Abdul Aziz Al-Muqrin.
These elections are phony. But that the Eastern Province is a different polity is not. The Iraqi Shias have their country, and when the decrepit and cynical Tehran government is overthrown the Persians shall have theirs too. And with free Shia across the desert, and free Shia across the gulf, the Eastern Province Shia shall wake up. And from their dreamlands they will take their freedom and their oil from the Riyadhi Wahabis.
And that will be the story of the House of Saud.