Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

In India-Iran oil spat, nuclear row trumps Afghan war

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khatamiNot too long ago, you could have predicted relatively easily how regional rivalries would play out in Afghanistan.  Saudi Arabia would line up alongside Pakistan while Iran and India would coordinate their policies to curb the influence of their main regional rivals. 

But that pattern has been shifting for a while -- the row over Indian oil payments to Iran is if anything a continuation of that shift rather than a dramatic new departure in global diplomacy.  And as two foreign policy crises converge, over Iran's nuclear programme and the war in Afghanistan, the chances are that those traditional alliances will be dented further. It is no longer a safe bet to assume that rivalry between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Iran will fit neatly into Pakistan-India hostility so that the four countries fall easily into two opposing camps come any final showdown over Afghanistan.

India, which has been working to improve its relationship with the United States for much of the last decade, already earned Iran's wrath by voting against it at the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) over its nuclear programme, first in 2005 and then again in 2009. Though India has since been trying to repair the damage, comments by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei late last year criticising India over Kashmir soured the mood further between the two former allies.

The decision by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) last week to suspend payments for oil imports made by Indian companies from Iran that use the Asian Clearing Union (ACU), a clearing house used to process multilateral payments between South Asian countries and Iran, was pretty much in line with that trajectory of slowly deteriorating relations.

Volcano chaos: A pointer to potential Iran/Gulf smoke disruption?

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volcanoAs if they didn’t have enough to think about, planners trying to pin down the unintended consequences of a strike on Iran may be required to reorder their lengthy worry list.

The concern? Iceland’s volcano, or rather, the vivid reminder the exploding mountain provided to governments of the importance of civil emergency planning.

Which companies are oiling the cogs of EU legislation?

If Europe’s lobbying register is correct, oil giants like Shell and BP are spending just a few hundred thousand euros a year on EU lobbying, sums that are dwarfed by the millions they spend across the Atlantic.

Europe’s voluntary Register of interest representatives, launched in 2008, shows that Shell and BP spent 400,000-450,000 euros each on lobbying in 2008. 

Balancing powers in the Malacca Strait

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SINGAPORE-SHIPPING/THREAT  Singapore’s warning of a terrorist threat in the Malacca Straits has again highighted the issue of who is in charge of security in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

 Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia have stepped up sea patrols in the strait after Singapore’s navy said on Thursday it had received indications a terrorist group was planning attacks on oil tankers.

from Tales from the Trail:

Is Chavez helping Iran build the bomb?

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IRAN/

Veteran Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau is on Hugo Chavez's case.

Morgenthau warned last week at Washington's Brookings Institution that Iran is using Venezuela's financial system to avoid international sanctions so it can acquire materials to develop nuclear weapons and missiles.  He urged more scrutiny of the "emerging axis of Iran and Venezuela" in an op/ed article in the Wall Street Journal, in which he said a number of mysterious Iranian factories had sprung up in remote parts of Venezuela.

Chavez's man in Washington, Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Alvarez, called the allegations "outrageous ... unfounded and irresponsible" in a letter to the district attorney seen by Reuters.

from The Great Debate UK:

Squandered oil wealth, an African tragedy

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arvind ganesan-Arvind Ganesan is the Director of the Business and Human Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. The opinions expressed are his own.-

Equatorial Guinea is a tiny country of about half a million people on the west coast of Africa, but is the fourth-largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa.

from Africa News blog:

Will Niger Delta amnesty work?

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Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua has laid out the details of a 60-day amnesty programme for militants and criminals in the Niger Delta. Under the deal, all gunmen who lay down their weapons during a 60-day period ending in October will be immune from prosecution. The offer extends to those currently being prosecuted for militant-related activities, meaning Henry Okah – the suspected leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) – could also walk free if he agrees to renounce the notion of armed struggle.

Several factional leaders – including Ateke Tom, Farah Dagogo, Soboma George and Boyloaf – have said they accept the idea of amnesty in principle but want talks with President Yar’Adua to hammer out the details.

Oil’s run-up outpaces most price targets… more upside?

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    The recent run-up in oil prices could have further to go as most analysts are likely to begin raising their year-end oil price targets, according to market research firm Birinyi Associates in Stamford, Connecticut.    “Given several considerably lower expectations, we think it is reasonable to expect upgrades,” they said in a research commentary, noting that crude oil prices were already above most firms’ year-end targets.    U.S. front-month crude hit an intraday high of $73.23 on Thursday, the highest intraday level since prices hit $75.69 on Oct. 21.    A year-end oil price target of note recently came from Goldman Sachs, which raised its end-of-2009 oil price forecast on June 4 to $85 a barrel from $65.    Oil’s climb partly reflects weakness of the U.S. dollar and expectations that demand may be picking up as the global recession abates.— Graphic courtesy of Birinyi Associates, Inc.

Cattle Rustling, Pythons and Boogie Angola Style …. the best reads of May

Climate health costs: bug-borne ills, killer heat
Tree-munching beetles, malaria-carrying mosquitoes and deer ticks that spread Lyme disease are three living signs that climate change is likely to exact a heavy toll on human health. These pests and others are expanding their ranges in a warming world, which means people who never had to worry about them will have to start.  

Spain rearranges furniture as economy sinks

Moving a 17-metre high monument to Christopher Columbus 100 metres down the road is how the Spanish government is interpreting the advice of John Maynard Keynes. The economist once argued it would be preferable to pay workers to dig holes and fill them in again, rather than allowing them to stand idle and deprive the economy of the multiplier effect of their wages.

Red tape tripping up Iraq

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By Mohammed Abbas                                      

Many developing countries are mired in dated bureaucratic practice and tangled in red tape, but of all of them, Iraq can perhaps least afford to see its crucial post-war development suffocated under mounds of paperwork.
What hangs in the balance is nothing less than whether oil-rich Iraq can emerge from years of war as a prosperous, democratic and secure state — or whether it sinks back into the bloodshed that almost tore it apart.
A love of official stamps, seals and documents in triplicate is by no means only an Iraqi phenomenon. Receiving shipments at Cairo airport, for example, involves one queue to buy a ticket, another to receive it and a third to get it laminated.

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