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G-8 leaders to marshal support for Arab nations; President Barack Obama and the other leaders will seek to marshal their combined economic might behind …


G-8 leaders to marshal support for Arab nations
May 25, 2011, 9:57 a.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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PARIS (AP) — Arab uprisings are pushing aside deficits and austerity as the biggest worry of the leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations this year.

President Barack Obama and the other leaders will seek to marshal their combined economic might behind the grass-roots democracy movements that have swept the Arab world — and driven away tourists and investors.

Egypt and Tunisia, where popular revolts this year overthrew authoritarian regimes, want to show G-8 leaders and international financiers that they are still sound investment destinations — which might be a tall order as the future shape and policies of their governments remains unclear.

The discussions starting Thursday in the chic Normandy resort of Deauville will see the host, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, bring together the heads of wealthy nations for what one of Sarkozy’s top advisers describes as “the founding moment” of a partnership between the G-8 and the Arab countries.

That partnership may be strained, however, by tensions over how to handle Libya’s rebel movement and entrenched leader Moammar Gadhafi. NATO appears to have no exit strategy, and efforts to oust Gadhafi remain elusive.

The leaders of the U.S., Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Japan, Italy and Russia will greet counterparts from Tunisia, Egypt and the head of the Arab League to hash out details of what some are calling a new “Marshall Plan” for these countries, similar to the massive U.S. aid to Europe after World War II that helped the continent rebuild and stave off communism.

The historic parallel is fitting, as Deauville is just a short drive along the English Channel from the D-Day landing beaches where the U.S. and its allies began to roll back the Third Reich in 1944.

A top Sarkozy official drew another historical analogy, saying the aid and investment to be promised to the Arab nations would resemble that which the G-8 offered to Eastern and Central European nations after the collapse of communism in 1989.

Last week President Barack Obama said the U.S. has asked the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to present a plan at the G-8 summit that sets a path to stabilize and modernize the economies of Tunisia and Egypt.

The U.S. will forgive up to $1 billion in Egyptian debt and guarantee another $1 billion to finance infrastructure and new jobs. Obama said he will ask Congress to finance enterprise funds that will provide money for investment in both countries — a request that comes as Congress seeks to cut spending.

Tunisia, followed by Egypt, kicked off change around the Arab world, as broad-based popular movements took to the streets demanding greater rights and political representation from their authoritarian governments.

But the street demonstrations in Cairo and Tunis that thrilled and inspired the Arab world also drove away the tourists and investors on which these economies are heavily dependent.

“The first thing they will be looking for is direct financial aid,” said Said Hirsh, a Middle East economist with Capital Economics consultancy in London. “Both countries need quite a lot of money considering the hit to their economies and their revenues.”

While U.S. officials say G-8 countries will discuss their role in the process, they say it is too soon to reach a deal on dollar amounts for assistance.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, a London-based institution set up in 1991 to foster transition to market economies in post-communist Europe, could be “repurposed” to focus its expertise on the southern Mediterranean region, a top official in Sarkozy’s office said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of protocol.

The heads of the World Bank and the United Nations will also be present and add their signatures to the partnership declaration. Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, under house arrest in New York following his indictment for sexual assault, will be replaced for the event by the institution’s acting managing director John Lipsky.

Finding a permanent replacement for Strauss-Kahn is likely to take up a good part of the summiteers’ small talk.

Nuclear safety will be another topic, with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan scheduled to provide leaders with an update on the continuing crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

The future of the Internet will also figure in the G-8 leaders’ talks. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Eric Schmidt of Google and other Internet executives took part in two days of debates focused broadly on the Internet’s impact on the global economy. Several of the Internet conference’s speakers will then take policy recommendations to Deauville in talks with the G-8 leaders.

Police have established one security cordon around the conference center where the leaders are meeting, and another perimeter encompassing all of Deauville. Local ports, train stations and the airport will be shut from Wednesday to Friday, and a no-fly zone enforced over the town.

The show of force may have discouraged radicals and other protesters from attempting to organize demonstrations close to the summit. Anti-G8 protesters plan symbolic demonstrations in the neighboring towns of Caen and Le Havre, but they do not plan to try to disrupt the event in Deauville itself, according to a statement circulated by radical groups online.

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Associated Press writers Julie Pace in Washington, D.C., Geir Moulson in Berlin, Charmaine Noronha in Toronto, David Stringer in London and Paul Schemm in Rabat, Morocco contributed to this report.

Greg Keller can be reached at http://twitter.com/Greg_Keller

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Stocks plunge on economic news, oil price swings


Stocks plunge on economic news, oil price swings

Article Posted Here by Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr,

NEW YORK (AP) — Just when Americans put aside their fears and started buying stocks again, here come a host of reminders of why they left.

Ominous news from around the world caused stocks to plummet on Thursday, sending the Dow Jones industrial average to the worst one-day drop in seven months.

Claims for unemployment insurance rose unexpectedly. A credit rating agency lowered Spain’s credit grade, amplifying worries that Europe’s debt crisis will worsen. China’s economy showed a surprising sign of weakness — a trade deficit brought on in part by surging oil prices.

And just when markets started bouncing back, Saudi police opened fire on protesters in the eastern city of Qatif, raising concerns about the stability of the oil-rich kingdom. Oil prices swung wildly, and the Dow again dipped below the 12,000 mark.

Major stock indexes had been plodding steadily higher month after month, luring investors back in with gains of 24 percent since August. But Thursday’s steep drop, following a recent roller coaster of market dives, could cause some of them to return to their hiding spots.

“You’ve had people plowing into this market,” said Nicholas Colas, ConvergEx Group chief market strategist. “And nothing makes you take your foot off the accelerator like seeing an accident.”

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 228.48 points, or 1.9 percent, to close at 11,984.61. McDonald’s Corp. was the only stock in the Dow 30 that rose.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 24.91, or 1.9 percent, to 1,295.11. The Dow and S&P 500 are still up 3 percent since the start of the year. The Nasdaq composite fell 50.70, or 1.8 percent, to 2,701.02.

Thursday’s drop in the Dow was the biggest since Aug. 11. The S&P had a larger fall recently, dropping 27.57 points on Feb. 22 as the uprising against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi gained strength.

The stock market has become much more turbulent in the past three weeks. Blame it on oil.

Crude oil prices have jumped $20 a barrel since protests spread through North Africa and the Middle East, raising concerns that the flow of crude oil will be disrupted. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned last week that consistently high oil prices could undermine the U.S. economic recovery.

Since the uprising in Libya started and oil prices began rising in mid-February, the Dow Jones industrial average has lost 100 points or more on four days. Twice it gained 100 or more points.

By contrast, the Dow had just two such swings in January and two in December. And only one of those was a loss.

“The tone of the market has clearly changed,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. “The market trend had been to buy rather than sell and that bad news doesn’t matter.”

The sharp swings come shortly after individual investors, long wary of the stock market, started returning. Investors put $36.1 billion into U.S. stock mutual funds in January and February, according to the research firm Strategic Insight. Over the previous eight months, they had withdrawn $66.1 billion.

But the little guy has notoriously bad timing. When average investors pile in or out of stocks, it’s often a sign the market is about to reverse course.

Large investors like Bill Gross and Carl Icahn have recently been warning that the market rally could soon hit a wall. Icahn said this week he would return $1.76 billion to investors in his hedge funds because he doesn’t want to be responsible to them for “another possible market crisis.” Icahn also said he was concerned about the economic outlook and trouble in the Middle East.

Oil prices exceed $100 a barrel. They had declined significantly Thursday on weak economic news, but recouped most of those losses after the police shootings in Saudi Arabia.

Oil traders will be closely watching the kingdom again Friday, when activists demanding democratic reforms have called for more protests. Government officials have warned they will take strong action if activists take to the streets.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter and among only a handful that can increase production by sizable levels to meet demand increases.

Investors moved money into relatively stable investments as stock prices fell. Treasury prices rose, sending the yield on the 10-year note down to 3.37 percent from 3.47 percent late Wednesday.

Five stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume was 4.8 billion shares.

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AP Business Writers Francesca Levy, David K. Randall and Chris Kahn contributed to this story.

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Thousands of mourners called for the downfall of Bahrain’s ruling monarchy


Bahrain mourners call for toppling of monarchy
Feb. 18, 2011, 5:59 a.m. EST
Article Published by Associated Press Writers
Article Posted by Public Blog News Posting Service Group

Bahrain mourners call for toppling of monarchy

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Thousands of mourners called for the downfall of Bahrain’s ruling monarchy and worshippers at Friday prayers chanted against the king as anger shifted toward the nation’s highest authorities after a deadly assault on pro-reform protesters that has brought army tanks into the streets of one of the most strategic Western allies in the Gulf.

The cries against the king and his inner circle — at a main Shiite mosque and at burials for those killed in Thursday’s crushing attack — reflect an important escalation of the political uprising, which began with calls to weaken the Sunni monarchy’s power and address claims of discrimination against the Shiite majority in the tiny island nation.

The mood, however, appears to have turned toward defiance of the entire ruling system after the brutal crackdown on a protest encampment in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, which left at least five dead, more than 230 injured and put the nation under emergency-style footing with military forces in key areas and checkpoints on main roads.

“The regime has broken something inside of me. … All of these people gathered today have had something broken in them,” said Ahmed Makki Abu Taki at the funeral for his 23-year-old brother, Mahmoud, who was killed in the pre-dawn sweep through the protest camp in Manama’s Pearl Square. “We used to demand for the prime minister to step down, but now our demand is for the ruling family to get out.”

The White House has expressed “strong displeasure” about the rising tensions in Bahrain, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet and the centerpiece of the Pentagon’s efforts to confront growing Iranian military ambitions in the region.

At a Shiite mosque in the village of Diraz, an anti-government hotbed, imam Isa Qassim called the Pearl Square assault a “massacre” and thousands of worshippers chanted: “The regime must go.”

In a sign of Bahrain’s deep divisions, government loyalists filled Manama’s Grand Mosque to hear words of support for the monarchy and take part in a post-sermon march protected by security forces. Many arrived with Bahraini flags draped over the traditional white robes worn by Gulf men. Portraits of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa were distributed.

“We must protect our country,” said Adnan al-Qattan, the cleric leading prayers. “We are living in dangerous times.”

He also denounced attempts to “open the doors to evil and foreign influences” — an apparent reference to suspicions that Shiite powerhouse Iran could take advantages of any gains by Bahrain’s Shiites, who account for about 70 percent of the population.

The pro-government gathering had many nonnative Bahrainis, including South Asians and Sunni Arabs from around the region. Shiite have long complained of policies to give Sunnis citizenship and jobs, including posts in security forces, to offset the Shiite majority.

Outside a Shiite village mosque, several thousand mourners gathered to bury three of the men killed in the crackdown. The first body, covered in black velvet, was passed hand to hand toward a grave as it was being dug.

Amid the Shiite funeral rites, many chanted for the removal of king and the entire Sunni dynasty that has ruled for more than two centuries in Bahrain — the first nation in the Gulf to feel the pressure for changes sweeping the Arab world.

“The government has shaken something inside us all and we have lost all trust in it,” Mohamed Ali, 40, a civil servant, said as he choked back tears. “Our demands were peaceful and simple at first. We wanted the prime minister to step down. Now the demands are harsher and have reached the pinnacle of the pyramid. We want the whole government to fall.”

There were no security forces near the mosque on the island of Sitra, where three of those killed had lived.

But in Manama, soldiers guarded the capital’s main areas and placed roadblocks and barbed wire around Pearl Square and other potential gathering sites. Work crews were busy trying to cover up the protest graffiti.

In another funeral in the Shiite village of Karzkan, opposition leaders urged protesters to keep up their fight but not to seek revenge.

“We know they have weapons and they are trying to drag us into violence,” said Sheik Ali Salman, the leader of the largest Shiite party, Al Wefaq, whose 18 lawmakers have resigned in protest from the 40-seat parliament to deepen the political crisis.

On Thursday, Bahrain’s leaders banned public gatherings to try to keep the protest movement from re-igniting. But the underlying tensions in Bahrain run even deeper than the rebellions for democracy that began two months ago in Tunisia and later swept away Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and is challenging old-guard regimes in Libya and Yemen.

In the government’s first public comment on the crackdown, Foreign Minister Khalid Al Khalifa said Thursday it was necessary because the demonstrators were “polarizing the country” and pushing it to the “brink of the sectarian abyss.”

Speaking to reporters after an emergency meeting with his Gulf counterparts in Manama to discuss the unrest, he called the violence “regrettable,” said the deaths would be investigated and added that authorities chose to clear the square by force at 3 a.m. — when the fewest number of people would be in the square — “to minimize any possibility of casualties.”

Many of the protesters were sleeping and said they received little warning of the assault. More than 230 people were injured, some seriously.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Washington must expand efforts for political and economic reforms in places such as Bahrain. “There is an urgency to this,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In the midst of the protests, WikiLeaks has released new State Department cables detailing basic Bahraini foreign policy and concerns about regional powerhouse Iran. One intriguing cable also consists of questions sent by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton asking the embassy to evaluate the leadership potential of the country’s top princes.

The cable includes questions about relationships between the princes, their influence on government, views of the United States and whether any of them have histories of drug or alcohol use. There is no record of any answers.

Elsewhere, the European Union and Human Rights Watch urged Bahraini authorities to order security forces to stop attacks on peaceful protesters.

The protesters had called for the monarchy to give up its control over top government posts and all critical decisions and address deep grievances by Shiites, who claim they face systematic discrimination and poverty and are effectively blocked from key roles in public service and the military.

Shiites have clashed with police before in protests over their complaints, including serious confrontations in the 1990s. But the growing numbers of Sunnis joining the latest demonstrations have come as a surprise to authorities, said Simon Henderson, a Gulf specialist at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“The Sunnis seem to increasingly dislike what is a very paternalistic government,” he said, adding that the crackdown was “symptomatic” of Gulf nations’ response to crises. “As far as the Gulf rulers are concerned, there’s only one proper way with this and that is: be tough and be tough early.”

The Bahrain violence forced the cancellation of a lower-tier open-wheel race in Bahrain for Friday and Saturday, and leaves in doubt the March 13 season-opening Formula One race at the same track.

Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone said he will wait until next week to decide whether to proceed with the race. He spoke Thursday to Crown Prince Sheik Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa about the situation.

___

Barbara Surk in Manama and Brian Murphy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.
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Uncertain future for US policy as Egypt shifts


Uncertain future for US policy as Egypt shifts
Feb. 12, 2011, 12:29 p.m. EST
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States faces an intensely uncertain future in Egypt, a stalwart ally of decades in the volatile Middle East, where key tenets of American foreign policy are now thrown into doubt.

Behind President Barack Obama’s praise for Egypt’s protesters and the outcome they achieved lie major unanswered questions about what will come next now that President Hosni Mubarak has been overthrown after 30 years of authoritarian rule. For many people in Egypt, they were years of oppression, corruption and poverty; but for the U.S., Mubarak was an anchor of stability at the helm of the world’s largest Arab nation, enforcing a peace treaty with Israel and protecting vital U.S. interests, including passage for oil through the Suez Canal.

For now, the military is in charge, but whether, when or how a transition will be made to the kind of democratic society that meets the protesters’ demands remains unknown. Speaking at the White House on Friday, Obama acknowledged difficult days ahead and unanswered questions but expressed confidence that the answers will be found.

Most tellingly, as the U.S. warily eyes the days ahead, Obama singled out the Egyptian military for praise in the restraint it showed through more than two weeks of largely peaceful protests. But the president emphasized the military’s role as a “caretaker” leading up to elections now set for September and said it must now “ensure a transition that is credible in the eyes of the Egyptian people.”

He said that means lifting Egypt’s hated 30-year-old “emergency” police powers laws, protecting the rights of citizens, revising the country’s law and constitution “to make this change irreversible and laying out a clear path to elections that are fair and free.”

But just as the U.S. had limited influence during the uprising that seemed to spring almost out of nowhere to overtake Egypt, it has limited influence over what happens next. The U.S. provides some $1.5 billion a year in aid to Egypt, the vast majority of it to the military, and has a good relationship with the Egyptian military, which often sends officers here for training. That doesn’t guarantee a commanding U.S. role.

“Do we have leverage or influence?” asked Aaron David Miller, a former Mideast adviser to six U.S. secretaries of state. “Well, did we have leverage and influence over the past few weeks? That’s highly arguable.”

Miller, now with the Woodrow Wilson Center think tank, said it will take weeks or months to sort things out. And in the end, he said, “I think Egypt will be a far less forgiving place for American interests as democracy takes root — if in fact it does.”

Asked about the uncertainty ahead, especially with respect to the role of the military, presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs could only answer: “I don’t think we have to fear democracy.”

Beyond the question of who will end up in control in Egypt and whether the U.S. will still be able to count the country as a firm and stable ally, there are concerns over whether the unrest that brought down Mubarak will spread to other nations in the Middle East, including oil-rich autocratic neighbors.

That prospect looms even as the U.S. handling of the Egypt situation has angered some leaders in the region who thought Washington was too quick to abandon Mubarak — although Obama and his administration studiously avoided ever calling outright for the president’s ouster.

On Friday, after Mubarak’s resignation was announced, Obama was able to give fuller expression to his views.

“By stepping down, President Mubarak responded to the Egyptian people’s hunger for change,” Obama said, in words reminiscent of his own presidential campaign.

Of the protesters, the president said: “This is the power of human dignity, and it can never be denied.” He compared them to the Germans who tore down the Berlin Wall and to independence leader Mohandas K. Gandhi‘s nonviolent ranks in India.

Mubarak’s resignation came less than 24 hours after he’d surprised the White House and many others by delivering a defiant speech Thursday in which he refused to step down, confounding widespread expectations that he’d do so. Obama learned of the announcement of his resignation Friday morning when an aide brought him a note during a meeting in the Oval Office.

Then he spent a few moments, along with the rest of the world, watching the joyous celebrations in Cairo on TV.

The protests arose in a country with enormous social problems, with vast differences between the haves and the have-nots. It is a country where more than 50 percent of the adult population is illiterate and some 40 percent live below or close to the poverty line. Rising costs of food were among the leading factors underpinning the protests. Some of the impoverished Egyptians are beneficiaries of U.S. food aid; officials said Friday that U.S. aid to Egypt was not expected to be affected by Mubarak’s departure.

It was not clear what role Islamic militant groups such as the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood might play in the new government that emerges. Egypt’s ruling military on Saturday moved to resolve one area of uncertainty by reassuring its international allies that there would be no break in its landmark 1979 peace deal with Israel.

The top U.S. military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, will be in Israel on Sunday and Monday, with developments in Egypt expected to be at the top of the agenda. The meeting was previously scheduled. Mullen is also visiting Jordan, another Mideast ally facing the prospect of civil unrest.

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Associated Press writers Tom Raum, Robert Burns, Ben Feller and Mathew Lee contributed to this report.
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The standoff in Egypt and uncertainty about where it will lead is causing global economic jitters


Egyptian turmoil helping to lift oil, food prices
Feb. 5, 2011, 7:09 a.m. EST
Article Published by Associated Press
Article Posted by Public Blog News Posting Service

WASHINGTON (AP) — The standoff in Egypt and uncertainty about where it will lead is causing global economic jitters. It’s already pushing up the price of oil and food, and there’s no telling how long the turmoil will last.

The big worry is that popular uprisings and revolution will spread to Egypt’s rich autocratic neighbors who control much of the world’s oil supply.

How far will anti-government movements go? Will oil supplies be disrupted? Will the U.S. see its influence in the region decline and that of Iran and other fundamental Islamic regimes surge?

Right now, these are open questions. But there’s no question that the crisis has created new risks for still shaky world economies and put a cloud over world financial markets.

Instability in the Middle East, if prolonged, could jeopardize fragile recoveries in the United States and Europe. It could limit job creation and fuel inflation.

“If the turmoil is contained largely to Egypt, then the broader economic fallout will be marginal,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “Now, obviously, if it spills out of Egypt to other parts of the Middle East, the concern goes to a whole other darker level.”

“It is certainly now on my radar screen,” he said.

The situation remains tense after more than 10 days of street demonstrations as protesters demanding President Hosni Mubarak‘s immediate resignation continue to skirmish with pro-Mubarak loyalists in the center of Cairo.

Such protests earlier brought down the government of Tunisia and have already spread in more modest ways to include Yemen and Jordan.

“The real worry, I think is if these protests continue indefinitely and there isn’t more reassurance about stability in Egypt and in the broader region,” said Shadi Hamid, a researcher on Gulf affairs at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center in Qatar. “We’re going to see a continued decline in the regional economy and that will, of course, have an effect on the U.S. economy.”

Hamid suggested the Obama administration’s position of first supporting Mubarak and then upping the pressure on him to leave immediately was not helping the situation. “There is a real danger here that the Obama administration will be remembered as resisting change,” he said.

President Barack Obama said Friday he hoped Mubarak would focus on his legacy as Egypt’s leader for nearly three decades and “end up making the right decision” to step down. But Obama stopped short of calling on Mubarak to leave immediately.

Mubarak has said he will not run for re-election when his term expires in September, but that hasn’t satisfied protesters.

Although demonstrations at week’s end were more subdued than on Thursday, when the clashes were violent and hundreds were injured, the unrest already has had an impact on energy prices in the United States.

The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in the U.S. was $3.12 on Friday — up 2.4 cents just in the past week. Analysts expect prices to stay above $3 a gallon — the highest since 2008 — and likely go even higher until the conflict in Egypt is resolved and tensions are eased in neighboring countries.

Oil prices have hovered at around $90 a barrel over the past week, with some analysts predicting the Egyptian crisis will lead to $100 per barrel prices sooner rather than later.

Traders worry the unrest might spread to oil-producing countries in the region and even affect shipments through the Suez Canal. Egypt is not a major oil producer, but it controls the canal and a nearby pipeline that together carry about 2 million barrels of oil a day from the Middle East to customers in Europe and the United States.

Several large Egyptian refineries near the canal have been the site of recent protests.

So far, traffic through the canal has been unimpeded. But it’s high on everybody’s worry list. It was blockaded by the Egyptian military for eight years after the 1967 war with Israel and shut briefly during the Suez crisis of 1956.

“I think the major fear regarding the Suez Canal revolves around the power vacuum that’s being created by this uprising,” said Jeff Sica, president of Sica Wealth Management in Morris town, N.J. “The prospect for the Suez Canal being controlled by an unfriendly regime would further devastate the economy.”

The likelihood of the canal being shut or blockaded seems remote. It is a huge source of revenue for Egypt that the government will not want to lose, no matter who is in charge. Still, just the possibility could spook financial markets if tensions escalate.

Meanwhile, rising food prices helped fuel the popular uprising in Egypt, where most of the population is poor. And the turmoil there and unrest in Somalia and other Arab nations now appears to be driving food prices even higher.

Some nations in the region, including Saudi Arabia and Algeria, have indicated they may begin increasing their stockpiles of wheat and other grains.

Hoarding can lead to more hoarding, and political strife can accelerate the process. Egypt is the world’s largest importer of wheat.

Iranian leaders have much to gain from the Egyptian turmoil. Not only is Mubarak the most anti-Iranian of American allies, but rising oil prices have clear economic benefits to Tehran.

“Hundred dollar-a-barrel oil for the Iranians does a lot to take down the pain of the sanctions that we’re putting on them, so they must be sitting there rubbing their hands with glee at the moment,” said Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel.

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AP Diplomatic Writer Barry Schweid contributed to this report.

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Calvin L. Ledsome Sr.,


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