WASHINGTON -- April 25 --
AS'AD ABUKHALIL, AAbukhalil@csustan.edu, http://angryarab.blogspot.com AbuKhalil is author of the book "The Battle for Saudi Arabia: Royalty, Fundamentalism, and Global Power," professor in the Department of Politics at California State University, Stanislaus, and visiting professor at University of California, Berkeley. He said today: "The meeting today will cement the continued improvement in U.S.-Saudi relations despite criticism of the Saudi regime that emerged in the U.S. media after 9-11. The irony of this trip is that here is the head of one of the most oppressive governments in the world -- a religious dictatorship -- meeting with a U.S. president who continues to produce hollow rhetoric about democracy in the region. To the people of the region, this trip is not surprising. It's a continuation of decades-old U.S. policy of embracing 'convenient' dictatorships, especially if they produce crude oil. It's unlikely that Bush will make mention of the prisoners of conscience suffering in Saudi prisons -- especially those who are also critical of the U.S. like professor of communications Sa'id bin Zu'ayr, who was sentenced to four years in jail after criticizing the U.S. government on Al-Jazeera."
JAMES PAUL, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.globalpolicy.org Executive director of the Global Policy Forum, Paul is author of the report "Oil in Iraq: The Heart of the Crisis." Paul said today: "The Bush administration would have the U.S. public believe that there's an unlimited supply of oil and that the nasty environmentalists and greedy sheiks are keeping oil from reaching consumers. It's a catastrophic lie. There is growing consensus that worldwide oil production is reaching its peak. The Saudis are now pumping very near full capacity and all of OPEC is operating at full tilt. OPEC has been trying to lower oil prices to keep the markets stable but without success. Worldwide demand is going up and supply can't rise to meet it. The U.S. is thirsty for more, the markets in China and India are growing rapidly, so market forces are driving prices higher and higher. The administration's plans for controlling Iraqi oil and putting U.S. and U.K. companies in charge have thus far been a failure. Exxon's profits are setting new records, but the world's energy future is a chaos for which the oil giants are largely responsible."