Four stories from GERTZ:
- Saudis assembling 35,000-member oil security force
- Gulf leader appeals for a resolution to Iran crisis
- Fearing Iran, Saudis buy more jet fighters
- Kuwait plans response to Iran missile strike resulting from U.S. attack
ABU DHABI — Saudi Arabia's new rapid reaction force has installed radars, sensors and night-vision systems to prevent attacks by Al Qaida and Iranian-aligned Shi'ite insurgents.
| Saudis are not saying whether the Nov. 18 at Aramco's Hawiyah gas liquids recovery plant (above) which killed at least 28 people was the result of an Al Qaida attack. |
That would be nice, but I have a low degree of confidence
Officials said the Interior Ministry has been organizing a 35,000-member force with a separate budget to protect energy facilities.
In February 2006, Saudi forces repulsed an Al Qaida strike on the world's largest oil processing plant at Abqaiq. Officials said the new rapid reaction force has recruited nearly 10,000 troops. They said the force would reach its full strength by 2011.
Until then, what, nothing to worry about? What's the plan Stan?
The security force was meant to protect the state-owned Saudi Aramco, which produces crude oil and natural gas. On Nov. 18, fire swept through Aramco's Hawiyah gas liquids recovery plant and at least 28 people were killed in one of the worst incidents that involved the kingdom's energy sector.
"Twenty-eight have lost their lives and 12 are still missing," Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al Naimi said.
Aramco has sought to bolster output at Hawiyah to 310,000 barrels of ethane and natural gas liquids products by 2008. Neither Aramco nor Saudi officials disclosed whether the facility might have been attacked by Al Qaida.
"Necessary operational adjustments have been made to the gas system to normalise operations to ensure continuity of fuel supply," Aramco said.
ABU DHABI — The Gulf states have appealed for a resolution to the Iranian nuclear crisis, warning that an arms race could set back the region.
Gulf Cooperation Council secretary-general Abdul Rahman Al Attiyah said any plan to block an Iranian confrontation with the United States required what he termed a bold and unconventional vision.
"We believe that there is still a good opportunity for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis, but we require a bold vision outside of conventional parameters," Al Attiyah said on Nov. 19.
What planet are they on?
Al Attiyah said an arms race in the Gulf would hurt the six GCC member states.