For the night of 17 January 2012
China-United Arab Emirates: The United Arab Emirates and China announced their intention to form a strategic partnership in various fields, including the military and energy sectors, Xinhua reported, citing a statement released on 17 January during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's official visit to the United Arab Emirates. The two announced a 12-point program to strengthen relations.
Comment: China has maintained a strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia since before the first Gulf War. The closer relationship with the UAE signifies that China intends to be consequential in both Sunni Arab states as well as Shiite Iran.
A recent analysis concluded that Arab states friendly to the US now perceive that the will to use US influence in the Middle East is waning and thus have begun looking for other partners to help ensure their long term security. China is the obvious candidate and is showing that it is prepared to fill any power vacuum the US choses to leave.
Saudi Arabia: Last week, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdallah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, issued a royal decree relieving Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Humain from his duties as president of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (the vice and virtue police) replacing him with Sheikh Abdullatif Bin Abdulaziz Bin Abdulrahman Al Al-Sheik.
Comment: The experts assess this change as a major breakthrough because the new Sheikh has a PhD. in Islamic studies and supports women working in stores for women, instead of the current practice of using male clerks to sell women's clothing and accessories.
Saudi Arabia-Iran: For the record. Tehran urged Saudi Arabia to reconsider its offer to compensate for any shortfalls in Iranian oil exports in the event of new sanctions, according to Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi. Salehi said the offer was not a friendly signal.
Comment: Saudi Arabia will not reconsider. The sanctions provide cover for the Saudis to wage economic warfare against the Iranians.
End of NightWatch for 17 January.
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