Despite Saudi compromise, OPEC unlikely to meet oil cut targets

OPEC is unlikely to deliver fully on its target to cut production despite Saudi Arabia reducing oil output to its lowest in 2 years. Under the deal, every OPEC member committed to cutting production except Iran, which was allowed to increase its output to recover from years of sanctions. The oil cartel agreed a deal last December to cut output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to 32.5 million bpd from the first of January to reverse the drop in oil price. Russia and other non-member countries also planned to cut production. Top exporter Saudi Arabia and Kuwait said yesterday they had cut production by more than they committed to. Kuwait, the head of a committee to monitor compliance […]

UN: Yemen farmers need urgent support to ease hunger crisis

In the midst of one of the world’s worst hunger crises, Yemen’s farmers urgently need support so they can grow more food and provide young people with jobs, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said. Nearly two years of war between a Saudi-led Arab coalition and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels has left more than half of Yemen’s 28 million people facing hunger, its economy in ruins and food supplies disrupted. Nearly half of Yemen’s 22 governorates are officially rated as being in an emergency food situation, which is four on a five-point scale, where five is famine, the United Nations said last month. “People’s access to food is rapidly worsening and urgent action is needed,” said Salah Hajj Hassan, […]

Hamas praises South African president’s stand on visits to Israel

The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement has praised the stand taken by President Jacob Zuma against South African citizens visiting Israel. Zuma’s expression of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation was reported on Thursday by the Times of Israel. A spokesman for Hamas said that the movement “values” the South African president’s support. Hazem Qassem hailed Zuma’s continuous backing for the Palestinian cause and freedom for the people of Palestine. He called on the world to boycott Israel until the “Zionist occupation” ends and the Palestinian issue is resolved. The leader of the ruling African National Congress repeated his government’s longstanding travel directive on Sunday, urging senior South African officials not to visit Israel. “The people of Palestine […]

Russia: US should be involved in Syria peace talks

Russia has agreed for the United States to be involved in the Syrian peace talks planned for 23 January in Astana, though notably only after US President Barack Obama has left office. The news was confirmed by Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu who said: “The United States should be definitely invited, and that is what we agreed with Russia.” Cavusoglu was speaking to journalists in Geneva yesterday after an international conference to thrash out a deal on Cyprus’ reunification. Moscow and Ankara last month brokered a fragile Syrian ceasefire, but without the involvement of Washington. The truce – which does not include Daesh or Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham (JFS), formerly known as the Al-Nusra Front – has brought a reduction in […]

Syria’s Al-Assad linked to WMD attacks for first time

International investigators have said for the first time that they suspect President Bashar Al-Assad and his brother are responsible for the use of chemical weapons use in the Syrian conflict, Reuters reported, citing a document they had seen. A joint inquiry for the United Nations and global watchdog, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), had previously identified only military units and did not name any commanders or officials. Now a list has been produced of individuals whom the investigators have linked to a series of chlorine bomb attacks in 2014-2015 – including Al-Assad, his younger brother Maher and other high-ranking figures – indicating the decision to use toxic weapons came from the very top, according to a […]

Terrorism cannot be defeated without political reform

This week the National Intelligence Council (NIC), which is an arm of the US intelligence community that is in charge of long-term strategic analysis, published its assessment of the future. Taking into account the forces and choices shaping the world, it provided a forecast of the direction the world is heading in over the next two decades. Unsurprisingly, it paints a gloomy picture not least caused by the uncertainty about the United States, an increasingly introverted West, growing repression around the world, the rise of terrorism and the erosion of universal principals and norms. Titled “Global Trends: The Paradox of Progress”, it is the sixth report in a series published every four years. This edition of Global Trends focused on […]

British MPs call for arms embargo on Saudi Arabia, but government holds back

British MPs from all sides of the House of Commons have urged the government to impose an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia and expressed concern over the Saudi postponement of its investigation into civilian deaths in Yemen. The views were expressed during a parliamentary debate about the humanitarian situation in the country. Foreign Affairs Minister Tobias Ellwood is a long-term defender of the selling of arms to the kingdom. He rose to Riyadh’s defence by saying that the delay in the completion and publication of the results of the investigation is simply down to the inexperience in carrying out a major military operation. Ellwood’s comments were met with scorn. The chair of the Select Committee for Arms Export Controls, Chris […]

France sees modest prospects Israel-Palestine peace talks

French President Francois Hollande yesterday played down prospects for Middle East peace talks this weekend in Paris, saying only direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians could resolve the conflict. France has tried to breathe new life into the peace process over the past year, holding a preliminary conference in June where the United Nations, European Union, United States and major Arab countries gathered to try to revive moribund talks. Some 70 countries and organisations are due in Paris for a meeting on Sunday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected as “futile”. Hollande, giving his last speech to the foreign diplomatic corps before stepping down in May, said the objective was to reaffirm the support of the international community […]

Saudi energy minister expects fall in oil supply in two or three years

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said on Thursday that he expects a fall in the global oil market in two or three years. Khalid Al-Falih made his comments on the fringe of the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi. While predicting that the global demand for oil will grow by over 1 million barrels per day in 2017, Falih pointed out that the market is moving towards a balance between supply and demand. The agreement signed by OPEC and non-OPEC producers earlier in December to cut output will accelerate that process. The agreement is for six months but producers will discuss the possibility of extending it, he added. Moreover, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman announced last April […]