The recent appointment of 48-year old Prince Abdulaziz to Deputy Foreign Minister by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is a clear signal to the world that the reformist monarch of the world’s largest oil exporter plans to have his sons continue his legacy once he leaves the scene. Last year King Abdullah appointed his eldest son Prince Miteb to head the Saudi Arabia National Guard (SANG) — one of the main pillars of Saudi Arabia’s institutions. It is indeed in America’s national security interest to work closely with the sons of King Abdullah since they are more likely to continue their father’s reformist agenda. Prince Miteb is a graduate of Sandhurst and Prince Abdulaziz is well versed in the details of U.S.-Saudi relations. Both men will continue to support the institutions their father has put in place to ensure the gradual transition of the Kingdom into a more inclusive and open society. Continue reading “The Standard-Bearers of King Abdullah” »
Could this small Gulf state become America’s most important Arab ally?
THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION will get no help from most Arab nations in a war against Iraq. The Arab League not only opposes an attack, but last week lauded the Iraqis for opening talks with the United Nations about reviving arms inspections. The Saudis won’t let American warplanes fly sorties against Iraq from the U.S. air base in Saudi Arabia. And Bahrain was pressured by Iran into public opposition to any military action against Iraq. But then there’s Qatar, the small Persian Gulf state of 700,000 people that’s quietly promoting democratic reform and ties to America. Continue reading “Qatar Politics: The U.S.’s most important Arab ally?” »
The parties that got America into its current financial mess are still bickering over whether to cut spending or raise taxes to fix the problem. Missing from this debate is a third factor that is key to keeping America strong; namely, growing the economic pie through the private sector by implementing major tax reform and democratizing innovation. First we must cut overall spending. No program should be immune from cuts. The target should be to bring the overall Federal spending to the 2001 level (before 9/11). Second, we must institute a national sales tax (retail and wholsesale) for a three year period. This national sales tax would fluctuate after a three year phase in to whatever level is required to balance the budget for each year (i.e. a true pay as you go system). Finally, we must simplify our tax code to reward savings and allow U.S. companies to invest in America instead of keeping their cash overseas. If we fail Uncle Sam will end up being the real child abuser because we will have failed our children.
In the 2011 Spring issue of Harvard International Review an article I co-wrote with Dr. Fariborz Ghadar makes the case that since the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the country’s economic position vis a vis its neighbors has deteriorated. For example, whereas in 1974 Iran’s per capita income was 50% higher than Turkey’s, today Turks enjoy a per capita income double that of Iranians. Qatar, Iran’s neighbor to the south is today the leading exporter of LNG whereas Iran should have captured the natural gas markets of Europe and Asia since it started the implementation of a global export strategy in 1976. Continue reading “Iran’s Crisis Amid Plenty” »
In the aftermath of Ahmed Wali Karzai’s murder it is clear that Washington’s $1 trillion plus adventure in Afghanistan has not brought the country any closer to stability. The U.S. must immediately withdraw troops from Afghanistan but ensure the stability of this fragile nation by building a trans-Afghan pipeline. This pipeline from Turkmenistan would move south to Afghanistan then enter Pakistan and end in India. Building this $4 billion pipeline carrying natural gas to Pakistan and India would also decouple Turkmenistan from the monopoly of Russia of gas exports from the former Soviet Union.
Another round of scape -goating of Iran’s Baha’is by the theocratic regime started last week with a show trial of the seven men and women that make up the ad hoc coordinating body of the Iranian Baha’is – the country’s largest religious minority. Charged with stirring up all the unrest sweeping the country today, Iran’s 300,000 Baha’is find themselves in serious jeopardy.
As President Obama tries to tackle the troubling issue of America’s relations with Iran, he should keep the prayer for America that has been officially enshrined in Baha’i prayer books as his moral compass:
“Oh, God, let this American democracy become glorious in spiritual degrees and render this just government victorious. Confirm this revered nation to upraise the standard of the oneness of humanity, to promulgate the Most Great Peace, to become thereby most glorious and praiseworthy among all the nations of the world. Oh, God, this American nation is worthy of Thy favors and is deserving of Thy mercy.”
The prayer itself was delivered in Chicago on April 30, 1912, by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, the son of the prophet-founder of the Baha’i faith, Baha’u’llah, who was visiting the United States at the behest of the nascent Baha’i community in America. Since then, the Baha’i community has been able to flourish in America because of the protections granted by our Constitution. Continue reading “Flashback: Baha’is on Trial” »
What’s behind the timing of President Obama’s release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve? Energy Now! anchor Thalia Assuras talks with Rob Sobhani, president of Caspian Energy Consulting, to ask why policymakers released oil from the SPR now, instead of when prices were higher, and if Middle East turmoil is enough to justify it.
To watch the video, visit Energy Now!
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses members of Congress on Tuesday, he will get a rousing reception and – no doubt – a standing ovation if he suggests a military strike on Iran to destroy that country’s nuclear weapons facilities. Mr. Netanyahu rightly will point out that Iran is the No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism, a supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah and a threat to the Jewish state.
Members of Congress would be well-advised to take stock of the history between Iran and the Jewish state before giving the Israeli prime minister a green light to attack Iran. This 2,500-year-old history suggests that the character of the regime in Tehran has had the most immediate influence on Israeli-Iranian relations: Secularists have welcomed ties to the Jewish state, whereas Islamists have opposed cultivation of closer ties to Israel. Continue reading “Israel’s Iran Dilemma” »
FOX 5 television news gathered reaction to the killing of Osama Bin Laden by U.S. forces in Pakistan. Interviewees included Matt Hoh (Former Marine and U.S. Foreign Service Officer in Afghanistan), Dr. S. Rob Sobhani (Mideast Expert and Former Georgetown Professor), Doctor Tawfik Hamid (Chair of the Study of Islamic Radicalism at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies), Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Virginia’s 1st District), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland’s 8th District), and Doctor Vanda Felbab-Brown (The Brookings Institution).
To watch the video, visit Fox 5 News.
Dr. Rob Sobhani was interviewed on CNN World’s Global Public Square on the issue “What the Kings of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are thinking.” He discussed stability, growth, leadership, and more, with a focus on new opportunities for cooperation and reform:
Amar C. Bakshi: You’ve been in the region and you’ve talked to leaders in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Let’s start with Saudi Arabia. What are the Saudi’s main concerns?
Rob Sobhani: The foreign policy of Saudi Arabia first revolves around stability. Next, they desire economic growth because Saudi Arabia’s population is young. Third, the Saudis want to ensure that the region doesn’t fall into the grips of a sectarian divide – of Shia versus Sunni. Continue reading “What the Kings of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain Are Thinking” »