OPEC Warns of Oil Surplus in 2019

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

OPEC Warns of Oil Surplus in 2019

Wednesday, 14 November, 2018 – 10:45
A worker checks the valve of an oil pipe at Nahr Bin Umar oil field, north of Basra, Iraq. Essam Al-Sudani | Reuters
London – Asharq Al-Awsat
OPEC sees demand for its own crude falling even faster than expected in 2019 as a slowing global economy crimps demand and rival supplies surge.

For 2019, demand will likely grow by 1.29 million barrels per day to 100.08 million bpd — some 70,000 million barrels per day less than in the September report. Meanwhile, the cartel now sees the output from non-member nations increasing by 2.23 million bpd next year, up 120,000 bpd from its last forecast.

“Although the oil market has reached a balance now, the forecasts for 2019 for non-OPEC supply growth indicate higher volumes outpacing the expansion in world oil demand, leading to widening excess supply in the market,” the group wrote.

“The market now increasingly looks concerned about the prospects of too much supply,” said Norbert Ruecker, head of commodity research at Swiss bank Julius Baer.

“Hedge funds and other speculative money have swiftly changed from the long to the short side,” he added.

Saudi Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid al-Faleh said Monday that OPEC and its allies have agreed that technical analysis of the energy market shows a need to cut oil supply from 1 million barrels per day (bpd) from October levels.

“Hopefully, Saudi Arabia and OPEC will not be cutting oil production. Oil prices should be much lower based on supply!” US President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter.

Nigeria Increases Output

Nigeria will raise its crude oil production to 1.8 million bpd in 2019 from around 1.6 million bpd currently, head of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Dr. Maikanti Baru told Reuters on Tuesday.
Baru added that the country currently produces 1.6 million bpd of oil and 0.4 million bpd of condensate.

“The expected deals are to be signed this month. We are almost done,” he stated. The NNPC boss hinted that the corporation could also sign crude-for-product agreements with Shell and ExxonMobil.

Iran Warns Yemen’s People Not To Honor Their Murdered President Of One Year Ago

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Houthis Warn General People’s Congress against Commemorating Saleh’s Death

Wednesday, 31 October, 2018 – 19:00
Supporters of Yemen’s slain former President Ali Abdullah Saleh during a rally in Sanaa. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
The Iran-backed Houthi militias issued a strong warning to the General People’s Congress (GPC) in Sanaa against holding any event to commemorate the death of its leader, former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

GPC sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that head of the Houthis’ ruling council Mahdi al-Mshat summoned some two days ago a number of party leaderships to warn them against taking any “reckless” steps as the anniversary of Saleh’s assassination draws near.

Saleh was killed by the Houthis in December 2017 days after he announced that he was severing his alliance with them.

The sources added that the Houthis fear that any commemoration of Saleh’s murder would be exploited to launch a new uprising by his supporters against the militias.

GPC social media activists had urged supporters inside and outside of Yemen to organize events in honor of Saleh as a form of soft resistance to the Houthis.

Since his murder, the militias have been cracking down on hundreds of GPC leaders and loyalists, as well as Saleh’s relatives.

Iraq’s New Prime Minister Trips on His First Hurdle

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT AND FROM BLOOMBERG NEWS)

 

Iraq’s New Prime Minister Trips on His First Hurdle

Tuesday, 30 October, 2018 – 12:00
In an essay he wrote on his Facebook page five months ago, Adel Abdul Mahdi said he wouldn’t want to be Iraq’s next prime minister. The country’s toxic political culture would make it impossible to govern, he claimed. “Assuming I got accepted now, I will soon lose,” he wrote. “I will face majorities which will not allow their groups to provide necessary support.”

Now that Abdul Mahdi is prime minister, he’s discovering just how right he was. The question is whether he will seek to do anything about it.

On Thursday, after weeks of bickering, parliament finally confirmed Abdul Mahdi, and 14 of the 22 people he named to his cabinet. There was no vote on a number of key appointments, including ministers of defense and the interior. Nearly a third of the 329 members of parliament didn’t even bother to turn up, and those who did complained they weren’t given enough time to properly consider the nominations. Abdul Mahdi didn’t help matters by handing out one-sheet resumes of each of his nominees.

It was an inauspicious start to his premiership, but the messy process of cabinet formation was entirely consistent with his May prophecy. The political groups he warned about — a half-dozen factions whose backing he needed for his confirmation — jockeyed ferociously for control of key ministries, leaving Abdul Mahdi unable to deliver on his promise of a cabinet of “technocrats.” His picks to run the oil and electricity ministries may fit that description, but in other positions it seems clear that Abdul Mahdi’s choices were forced on him. None of the nominations came from an online application process he announced earlier this month, designed to attract fresh talent to government. Worryingly, his nominee for the powerful interior ministry is Falih al-Fayadh, who ran the Iran-backed militias known as Popular Mobilization Forces militias. (The vote on his nomination, and at least some of the others, is expected on Nov. 6.)

The difficulty Abdul Mahdi has already had with the cabinet-formation process bodes ill for the other challenges that lie ahead. Among those he prophesied in the May essay: resistance by political parties to the institutionalization of government departments, to ending rentierism in the economy, to the separation of powers between the legislative and the executive, to the dismantling of politically affiliated militias, and to transparency in security agreements with other nations, including Iran.

Those would be formidable challenges for any government; they seem insurmountable for one where the ministers are all, like Abdul Mahdi himself, political lightweights, lacking both mass appeal and parliamentary clout. This allows little optimism for reform at the ministerial level, where bureaucracies have long been packed with political appointees who answer to parties rather than to the state. The tradition of parties interfering in the day-to-day functioning of ministries is unlikely to change. As Abdul Madhi wrote in May, “There are large numbers of people who are used to considering this interference a right and not an [encroachment].” It is hard to imagine any of the new ministers cleaning house.

Problem is, while Abdul Mahdi showed himself an astute analyst of the country’s problems, his own track record is uninspiring. As oil minister from 2014-16, he did little to curb the influence of apparatchiks from his own party, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, who “treated it as their fiefdom, like any party would and did in any ministry,” says Ruba Husari, managing director of OZME Consultants, which provides consulting on Iraq’s oil and gas sector. Abdul Mahdi proved to be a poor administrator. “He was not a manager, not someone who had any sense of the details of his ministry,” says Toby Dodge, an expert on Iraq at the London School of Economic’s Middle East Center.

Sometimes being a compromise candidate can be an asset. Abdul Mahdi may be weak, but at least he now has a bully pulpit and a job that, in theory, few others want. Given his grasp of Iraq’s problems, it’s tempting to conclude he’s not trying very hard to tackle them. Maybe, despite his protests, he wanted the job a little too much.

(Bloomberg)

Syria: ISIS Leaves behind a Thousand Children with 100 Accents + 500 Wives

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

ISIS Leaves behind a Thousand Children with 100 Accents

Monday, 29 October, 2018 – 07:15
Kurdish officials say they are holding at least 500 women and 1,200 children from 44 nationalities in three camps across northeast Syria. AFP file photo
London – Asharq Al-Awsat

On a small hill in the flat brush lands of northeastern Syria lies the Roj camp for displaced people. With its white tents and red soil, it looks much like the scores of other refugee settlements in the region.

Shut away in a corner, however, behind a chain-link fence and under supervision by female Kurdish militia guards, are some inhabitants who are very different, The Sunday Times reported.

They are the women and children of the “caliphate”: ISIS brides who came from across the world to live under a so-called “Islamic state.” It did not go so well.

Kurdish officials say they are holding at least 500 women and 1,200 children from 44 nationalities in three camps across northeast Syria. Most of the women’s native countries are unwilling to take them back. The Kurd’s do not want to keep them.

According to the report, as ISIS imploded, these women and children were thrown into the strange limbo of camp life, waiting among displaced Syrians for their fate

Here a visitor can see all the bizarre combinations of lives turned upside down in the “caliphate”: an English-speaking boy in a Spider-man costume whose father was American, he thinks. A teenage girl who joined ISIS at 13, married two fighters and had been widowed twice. A smiling Dutch woman with her blonde children, who could have stepped out of a Vermeer painting.

The tents hum with dozens of different languages — Syrian Arabic words mixed with Dutch, English and Swedish in a hundred accents and dialects.

While the women are not really in prison, they are under guard. Internet access is heavily restricted, as is communication with family and officials.

Even if they wanted to leave, there would be few chances of escape across the flat savanna. The women are all intent on survival. Of the hundreds who joined ISIS, they are the ones who made it out — holding on through the paranoid horror of the fall of Raqqa and escaping, often across minefields or through intense fighting, with their children.

Whatever their reasons for joining ISIS they know that the stories they tell the officials here could decide the rest of their lives.

During several visits by The Sunday Times, the European women held in these camps were overwhelmingly friendly, erudite and polite.

They all said they regretted joining ISIS. Many claimed they had been tricked into coming to Syria by their partners.

Those who did not insisted they had simply been attracted by a life of piety under ISIS.

Their dress has changed now they are beyond ISIS rule. None wore the face-covering niqab. All claimed they remembered Europe fondly. They even shook hands with male members of staff from The Sunday Times.

Most of them were lying through their teeth. They had joined ISIS at a time when videos had been posted online that showed captive journalists and aid workers being beheaded. Although they may not have fought, they were members of the militant group and supported its foul ideology.

For officials, as well as visitors, it can be almost impossible to piece together which parts of their stories are true. That is a task that interrogators will be faced with should British ISIS members return to the UK.

 

 

ISIS Kills 41 SDF Fighters in Eastern Syria: Monitor

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

ISIS Kills 41 SDF Fighters in Eastern Syria: Monitor

Saturday, 27 October, 2018 – 13:30
Members of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), part of the of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), gather in eastern Syria on September 11, 2018 | AFP
Beirut- Asharq Al-Awsat
The ISIS terrorist group has killed 41 US-backed fighters in Syria who are battling to oust the extremists from their eastern holdout of Hajin on the Iraqi border, a war monitor said Saturday.

The ISIS-linked Aamaq news agency said that more than 40 SDF fighters were killed and posted a video of six gunmen captured alive.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said and that ISIS gunmen late Friday attacked SDF positions on the eastern banks of the Euphrates river in east Syria and the fighting continued until early Saturday.

The SDF fighters, who are backed by US-led coalition air strikes, were killed overnight, the Observatory said.

In a statement on the Telegram messaging app, ISIS said it had attacked the village of Sousa late Friday and detonated a car bomb near the village of Al-Baghuza further south, down the Euphrates river.

The SDF last month launched an offensive against the militants in the Hajin pocket on the eastern banks of the Euphrates, in Deir Ezzor province.

ISIS has staged a bloody fightback.

Since September 10, 270 SDF fighters and 496 ISIS radicals have been killed in the offensive, the Observatory says.

The coalition estimates that 2,000 ISIS fighters remain in the Hajin area.

ISIS overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” across the land it controlled.

But the extremist group has since lost most of that territory to various offensives in both countries.

In Syria, its presence has been reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert and the Hajin pocket.

Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people since it erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

At Least 18 Children Die in Jordan Flash Floods

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

At Least 18 Children Die in Jordan Flash Floods 

Thursday, 25 October, 2018 – 18:00
At least 14 children were killed in flash flooding near the Dead Sea in Jordan. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
At least 18 school children died on Thursday in flash flooding in Jordan, rescuers and hospital workers said.

The students from a private school and their adult chaperones were touring near the Dead Sea when heavy rains led to flash floods in the area, Health Minister Ghazi al-Zaben and official media said.

Twenty-two people were also wounded.

Jordan’s state news agency Petra said Prime Minister Omar Razzaz was at the scene to oversee the rescue mission.

Hundreds of families and relatives converged on Shounah hospital a few kilometers from the resort area. Relatives sobbed and searched for missing children, a witness said.

Israel sent search-and-rescue helicopters to assist, an Israeli military statement said adding the team dispatched at Amman’s request, was operating on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea.

Civil defense spokesman Captain Iyad al Omar told Reuters the number of casualties was expected to rise.

Saudi Crown Prince: Khashoggi’s Killers Will Be Brought to Justice

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Saudi Crown Prince: Khashoggi’s Killers Will Be Brought to Justice

(WHAT IS THE CROWN PRINCE GOING TO DO, HANG HIMSELF? IS IT MORE LIKELY HE WILL FIND 15 OTHER ENEMIES TO BLAME, AND HANG THEM?)
Wednesday, 24 October, 2018 – 17:00
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at FII 2018 in Riyadh. (SPA)
Asharq Al-Awsat

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, described on Wednesday the murder of a citizen Jamal Khashoggi as “ugly and painful” to Saudis and the world.

“We are working with Turkey to uncover the truth and complete the investigations. We will bring the criminals to justice,” he told the Future Investment Initiative forum that is being held in Riyadh.

Some sides are exploiting the Khashoggi case to drive a wedge between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, he continued.

“I want to send them a message that they cannot do this as long as King Salman is here, and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is in Saudi Arabia and the head of Turkey, whose name is (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan … this division won’t happen.”

On the economy, Prince Mohammed said: “Numbers will speak about the improvement of the Saudi economy.”

“We will continue to develop our country and no one will stop us,” he vowed.

“I believe the new Europe will be the Middle East and the region will be different in five years’ time,” he stated.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain Add IRGC and Individuals to Terror Lists

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain Add IRGC and Individuals to Terror Lists

Tuesday, 23 October, 2018 – 15:00
Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards march during a military parade in Tehran September 22, 2007. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl/File Photo
Riyadh- Asharq Al-Awsat
In multilateral action, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain added on Tuesday Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and senior officers of its Quds Force to their lists of people and organizations suspected of involvement in terrorism.

SPA quoted a statement from the security services saying Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, and the force’s Hamed Abdollahi and Abdul Reza Shahlai were named on the list.

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia’s State Security Presidency and the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC), a US-Gulf initiative to stem finance to militant groups, sanctioned and designated nine individuals associated with the Taliban and their Iranian facilitators.

TFTC has taken action “in a collective effort to identify, tackle and share information related to terrorist financing networks and their activities of mutual concerns, including threats emerging from countries supporting terrorism and terrorist organizations,” a statement on SPA read.

It designated the following Taliban figures and Iranian facilitators: Mohammad Ebrahim Owhadi, Esmail Razzavi, Abdullah Samad Farugui, Mohammad Daoud Muzzamil, Abdulrahim Manan, Mohammad Naim Barich, Abdulaziz Shah Zamani, Sadr Ibrahim, and Hafiz Abdulmajid.

The center was established in May 2017 during US President Donald Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia and the US co-chair the group and Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. This action is the third collective TFTC designation action since the center’s establishment.

The TFTC is a bold and historic effort to expand and strengthen TFTC members cooperation to counter terrorist financing, coordination to disrupt funding of terrorism, sharing the information and capacity building to target the financing networks and the related activities that pose threats to the TFTC members national security.

As a result of this action, and pursuant to TFTC members domestic laws, all assets, properties and related revenues to these names will be frozen in the designating countries and persons are prohibited from engaging in any transaction with the designated names.

Saudi Shura Council Calls for Unity to Confront Media Campaigns against Kingdom

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Saudi Shura Council Calls for Unity to Confront Media Campaigns against Kingdom

Monday, 22 October, 2018 – 17:30
The Saudi Shura Council meets in Riyadh. (SPA)
Asharq Al-Awsat
The Saudi Shura Council called on Monday for unity to confront the media campaigns that are targeting the Kingdom, reported the Saudi Press Agency.

Speaker of the Council Sheikh Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al Al-Sheikh vowed that the campaign is doomed to fail.

He made his remarks during the opening of the 57th regular session of the Shura Council held in Riyadh.

He added that Saudi Arabia is victim of a fierce biased campaign that is targeting its regional and international image and is seeking to drive a wedge between its leadership and people.

He urged the people to display unity to defend the Kingdom’s achievements.

The Shura Council members must remain in contact with impartial media circles to help clarify facts and highlight the Kingdom’s role in maintaining regional and international stability and security, he added.

Syria: Flooding in Damascus as Dumayr Dam Collapses

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Flooding in Damascus as Dumayr Dam Collapses

Monday, 22 October, 2018 – 08:15
A general view of Damascus, Syria. (AFP)
Damascus – Asharq Al-Awsat
The Syrian capital’s Adra district was left devastated by flooding caused by the collapse of the al-Dumayr dam in the western Damascus countryside on Saturday.

An official told Asharq Al-Awsat: “A real catastrophe has taken place in the Adra suburb and in the industrial city.”

Adra is seen as a vital district in attempts to revitalize Syria’s economy that has been ravaged by years of war.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that a technical malfunction caused the collapse.

The dam has a capacity of 2.150 million liters and lies some 14 kms away from the industrial city. Dam workers were swept away by the rushing waters and many remain missing.

The losses are estimated a millions of dollars, said the official.

Residents of the industrial city were left trapped by the floods for several hours before rescue teams could reach them.

The SANA state news agency reported that two children and a youth in the towns of Deir Muqrin and Kafir Zeit in Wadi Barada were killed. Dozens of houses were also damaged.

Damascus and its suburbs witnessed similar devastating floods last year.

This year’s flooding was compounded by the blockage of drainage pipes.

The Damascus chamber of industry blamed the flooding on poor planning in the city and the rescue teams’ lack of preparedness.

It demanded that authorities take the necessary measures to avert such disasters in the future and to compensate those affected by the flooding.