Articles and analysis

By George Friedman

The Saudis are hosting an interfaith conference June 4. Four hundred Islamic scholars from around the world will be there, with one day devoted to interfaith issues. Saudi King Abdullah will open the conference, over which Saudi Shura Council head Saleh bin Huma will preside. This is clearly intended to be a major event, not minimized by the fact that Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran's most influential leader -- who heads Iran's Assembly of Experts, the body that elects and can remove the Supreme Leader -- will be attending as well. Rafsanjani was specifically invited by the Saudi ambassador to Iran last Wednesday with the following message: "King Abdullah believes you have a great stature in the Islamic world ... and he has assigned me the duty of inviting you to the conference." We would not have expected to see a meeting on interfaith dialogue even a year ago.

By George Friedman

In geopolitics, we are frequently confronted with what appears to be a great deal of movement. Sometimes it is the current geopolitical reality breaking apart and a new one emerging. Sometimes it is simply meaningless motion in a fixed geopolitical reality -- nothing more than the illusion of movement generated for political reasons as players maneuver within a fixed framework for minor advantage or internal political reasons. In other words, we need to distinguish between geopolitics and politics.

By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

In a June 10 press conference, Rehman Malik, the internal affairs advisor to Pakistan's prime minister, reported that a suicide bombing plot had been thwarted when Pakistani authorities arrested nine individuals and seized four apparent vehicle-borne improvised explosives devices (VBIEDs) containing a total of over 1,100 kilograms of explosives.

Three of the VBIEDs were recovered by authorities on June 6. Of those, two vehicles contained 400 kilograms of explosives, while the third carried a 200-kilogram load, Malik said. On the same day, authorities advised that they were searching for a fourth VBIED, which appears to be the one they recovered June 9. According to Malik, it contained 180 kilograms of explosives.

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