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As blood flows in Riyadh, Woodward allegation is trashed

Whatever value Woodward's report had originally, the "Kingdom Trashes Woodward Allegation" as of today, (April 21, 2004). According to ARAB NEWS ("the Middle East's leading English language daily"), Adel Al-Jubeir, a Saudi spokesman speaking officially for the Kingdom, yesterday stated that the "allegation that the Kingdom is manipulating the price of oil for political purposes or to affect elections is erroneous and has no basis."
As posted here at Indymedia on last Monday (April 19, 2004), well-known (Watergate) journalist Bob Woodward stated on CBS's "60 Minutes" that Saudi Arabia had pledged to cut oil prices before November --- a move that was understood as for the purpose of favoring the prospects of the Bush administration in the November elections. Shortly after that report appeared here, I posted a report from the PRI radio program "To The Point" quoting a prominent economist in Dubai that any such deal was off --- as of Bush's approval of Sharon's plan for annexation of West Bank settlements into Israel proper --- because no Arab government now can afford to be seen as allied with the U.S. or with the Bush administration. Whatever value Woodward's report had originally, the "Kingdom Trashes Woodward Allegation" as of yesterday, (April 20, 2004). According to ARAB NEWS ("the Middle East's leading English language daily"), Adel Al-Jubeir, a Saudi spokesman speaking officially for the Kingdom, yesterday stated that the "allegation that the Kingdom is manipulating the price of oil for political purposes or to affect elections is erroneous and has no basis." White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett told CNN's "Inside Politics" Monday that "what Prince Bandar [Saudi ambassador to the U.S.] said was the long-term oil strategy for Saudi Arabia is the same that they've been publicly stating." Specifically, although "there was no secret deal," Bartlett stated that "there would be an oil price per barrel of $22 to $28." According to a Reuters report, as of today (April 21), London Brent crude was down 46 cents at $32.65 a barrel, while U.S. light crude futures fell 47 cents to $36.03 per barrel. However, a standard source of oil price data, "NYMEX", stated that as of yesterday, (April 20), "NYMEX West Texas Intermediate for May delivery closed up $0.18 at $37.602 per barrel."

Entire Reuters report, which is loaded with hedges and about as clear as something by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, can be found at ---

 http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=businessNews&storyID=4894162

Daily quotes for one-month delivery of crude oil are available at "NYMEX" ---

 http://www.wtrg.com/daily/crudeoilprice.html

Financial reporting is generally down-playing the car bomb incident in Riyadh earlier today that gutted the headquarters of the Saudi general security services, but it has been reported by Reuters as "the first major militant attack on a government target." It definitely isn't being down-played by the Saudi government. According to al-Jazeera, at least 10 people were killed and hundreds injured. More recent AP report gives the death toll as "at least four" and 148 wounded. Entire AP story is available at ---

 http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-4006006,00.html


Here is the Arab News story about the Woodward allegation (reposted):

Wednesday, 21, April, 2004 (02, Rabi` al-Awwal, 1425)

Kingdom Trashes Woodward Allegation

By Barbara Ferguson, Arab News

WASHINGTON, 21 April 2004 Veteran journalist Bob Woodward has alleged that President Bush made a secret pact with Saudi Arabia to lower oil prices to help him in the November presidential election. The White House and the Saudi ambassador to the United States have denied these charges.

In his book, "Plan of Attack," Woodward reports that prior to the invasion of Iraq, Prince Bandar ibn Sultan, Saudi ambassador in Washington, was briefed on top-secret US war plans in order to enlist Saudi support during meetings with Bush at the White House.

White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett told CNN's "Inside Politics" Monday that Bush and Bandar discussed the possibility that military conflict in Iraq would lead to "a major disruption of oil supplies across the globe, particularly hurting Americans here at home."

"What we were reassured by was the fact that Saudi Arabia was not going to allow that to happen, was going to work with other OPEC members to make sure there was not an emergency spike in prices," he said.

Asked whether Woodward's reporting was wrong, Bartlett said, "I'm saying what Prince Bandar said was the long-term oil strategy for Saudi Arabia is the same that they've been publicly stating. There would be an oil price per barrel of $22 to $28. There was no secret deal."

Prince Bandar, who appeared Monday on CNN with Woodward, said his characterization of Saudi policy was "accurate."

"We hoped that the oil prices will stay low, because that's good for America's economy, but more important, it's good for our economy and the international economy," he said. "This is nothing unusual. President Clinton asked us to keep the prices down in 2000. In fact, I can go back to 1979. President Carter asked us to keep the prices down to avoid the malaise.

"So yes, it's in our interests and in America's interests to keep the prices down. But that was not a deal.

"Saudi Arabia does not live on the moon. When the world economy gets hurt, we get hurt," Bandar said.

Meanwhile, Adel Al-Jubeir, a Saudi spokesman, made a statement in Riyadh yesterday to counter suggestions in Woodward's book that the Kingdom reached an agreement with the White House to increase oil production.

"The allegation that the Kingdom is manipulating the price of oil for political purposes or to affect elections is erroneous and has no basis," Al-Jubeir said.
tablesturned 21.Apr.2004 21:35

NorthMan

I love unfounded political rumor..I would shout with glee if "prankster energy" was afoot here!