- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 5, 2006

‘Texas of the North’

Ralph Klein is one foreigner who does not mind being called a cowboy.

The premier of Alberta said the residents of his western Canadian province are proud that their region is called the “Texas of the North” because of its vast energy resources.

“We take that as a compliment,” he said in Washington last week, when he helped open the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which features Alberta among its exhibitions on the Mall.

Mr. Klein predicted that Alberta’s rich fields of oil sands soon will provide the United States with much of its foreign energy supply. Canada is the largest supplier of oil to the United States.

“By 2015, Canada is forecast to produce 3 million barrels of oil per day from the oil sands, and the United States will be our best customer,” he said, explaining that specialists have estimated the reserves at 174 billion barrels.

Advanced technology is making it easier, more economical and environmentally safer to extract oil from the thick tar, which has a consistency of cold molasses, that covers 54,000 square miles of the province.

Mr. Klein noted that Alberta is creating jobs for both Canadians and Americans and is eagerly seeking more U.S. investment.

“Our oil-sands industry buys billions of dollars’ worth of American goods, including giant trucks like the one on the Mall right now, only bigger,” he said, adding that the trucks are built in Illinois and that the tires are manufactured in South Carolina.

Mr. Klein was referring to an 18-foot-high off-road dump truck with 10-foot-tall tires that is part of the Alberta display.

“I invite you to visit the Mall … and experience the other Alberta energy — the energy of our people and our vision, the energy that comes with pride in who we are and confidence in where we’re going,” he said.

Fifth of July

While Americans prepared for July Fourth, the Algerian ambassador was getting ready for another independence day festival.

Ambassador Amine Kherbi wished the Algerian community in the United States a “Happy July Fifth,” as he celebrated the day in 1962 when the North African nation won its independence from France. Both Algeria and the United States fought an eight-year war against colonial powers.

“On the occasion of the celebration of Algeria’s Independence Day, I am delighted to extend my best wishes of success, prosperity and progress to all members of our community living in the United States of America,” Mr. Kherbi wrote in the Algerian Embassy’s latest newsletter.

Mr. Kherbi last week also noted another similarity between the two countries, besides having independence days within 24 hours of each other.

In a speech at Washington’s Hudson Institute, he discussed the struggle against Islamic terrorism, which gripped the secular majority-Muslim nation 10 years before the September 11 attacks in the United States.

Mr. Kherbi said Islamic extremists “embarked on their terrorist orgy on Nov. 27, 1991,” as the Armed Islamic Group began attacking government targets in an attempt to impose a theocratic regime. In January 1992, the government canceled a democratic election when the extremist Islamic Salvation Front appeared poised to win. Twelve years later — after repeated totalitarian governments and political assassinations — Algeria held a multiparty presidential election, which foreign observers judged to be free and fair.

The ambassador said the rebels tried to impose “imported values and culture” on a “secular country with a long tradition of hospitality and acceptance of religious diversity, which has always practiced a moderate and enlightened form of Islam.”

Algeria’s fight against terrorism was so successful that other governments seek advice from Algiers.

“Having restored social peace,” Mr. Kherbi said, “Algeria is now focusing its energies on development and the preservation of democracy through the consolidation of the rule of law.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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