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Iran sanctions: 5 things to know

On Monday, fresh US sanctions against Iran come into effect, the next salvo in its economic conflict with Tehran. The main targets are oil exports and the financial sector. Europe is having difficulty forming a response. Which sanctions are going into effect? US punitive sanctions are aimed at Iran's economic heart: energy exports. All business with Iranian oil companies will be prohibited, as are insurances of any kind, including policies on oil shipments. Existing sanctions on Iran's financial sector will also be tightened — from Monday onward, all financial transactions with Iran's central bank and a number of other banks will be banned. The US is intent on bringing Iranian oil exports to zero. Oil sales account for some 80 percent of all state income in Iran and since 60 percent of Iran's budget expenditures are distributed to state-run businesses and institutions the country is extremely dependent upon the revenue they produce. What sanctions had been in place already? When it unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — also known as the Iran nuclear deal — on May 8, the US gave its partners two deadlines to wind down business with Iran. The first 60-day deadline came on August 6. At that point Iran was barred from trading in US dollars. Key Iranian industries such as the automotive sector and carpet production were also sanctioned. The sale of commercial airliners or replacement parts for existing models — access to which had already been greatly hampered — were forbidden entirely. The second deadline was set for November 5. What is the aim of the sanctions? According to the Trump administration, "maximum pressure" on Iran is a tool to force Iranian leaders to change course. On May 21, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo presented a list of 12 demands that the US said must be met before sanctions would be lifted. Among other things, Tehran had to stop its missile program, and "end support to Middle East terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad." Furthermore, Pompeo said Iran must remove all troops under its command from Syria and demobilize Shiite militias in Iraq. Regime change is not among the declared aims of US sanctions. Nevertheless, public statements by National Security Adviser John Bolton suggest that destabilization and regime change would be more than welcome from Washington's perspective. Can the EU defend itself against unilateral US sanctions? The US is using its predominance in global financial markets and its comparative attractiveness as a place to do business as opposed to Iran, as leverage in pursuing its political aims. As a result, measures that essentially allow Washington to regulate European and other international businesses have been correspondingly harsh. In late September, the EU's chief diplomat, Federica Mogherini, announced that the EU was developing a mechanism known as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to facilitate business transactions with Iran. The SPV would operate like an exchange, allowing European and Iranian businesses to settle accounts with one another at an EU clearing house. Oil deliveries, for example, could be paid for with textile production machinery. The set-up would make the flow of cash across international financial markets disappear. That said, the SPV is far from operational and no one knows where the institution will actually be based. While announcements of new EU institutions generally draw a great amount of attention from those eager to host their headquarters, that has not been the case with the SPV. European member states have been loath to volunteer for fear of drawing Washington's ire. Trump's security adviser Bolton threatened that the USA would not "allow our sanctions to be evaded by Europe or anybody else." What effect have sanctions had so far? Iran's currency, the rial, is in free fall, having lost 70 percent of its value this year and inflation is skyrocketing. Iranian energy exports have dropped by almost a third since June. Rising energy costs — which are painfully felt at the country's gas stations — are also tied to shortages brought on by sanctions. After a short honeymoon of cooperation and international investment in Iran, many international companies have headed for the exit since May. Among those who left were manyEuropean businesses fearful of being locked out of the far more lucrative American marketshould they stay. Imports to Iran have been greatly hampered across the board. Life-saving drugs, for instance, have become hard to find and are extremely expensive. Still, Iran has years of experience in dealing with US sanctions and has announced its shift to a "resistance economy." From a political standpoint, Washington's sanctions only bolster Iran's ultra-conservative forces, who have always been critical of any form of rapprochement with the West. Moreover, Washington's one-sided withdrawal from the JCPOA nuclear agreement and the implementation of unilateral sanctions have deepened the trans-Atlantic divide. Now, Europe is standing side by side with Beijing and Moscow and against Washington in one of the central international questions of our day.

On Monday, fresh US sanctions against Iran come into effect, the next salvo in its economic conflict with Tehran. The main targets are oil exports and the financial sector. Europe is having difficulty forming a response. Which sanctions are going into effect? US punitive sanctions are aimed at Iran’s economic heart: energy exports. All business with Iranian oil companies will ... Read More »

What is the UN migration pact — and why do some oppose it?

The UN's Global Compact for Migration sets out non-binding guidelines for an integrated approach to international migration. DW looks at the agreement and at why some nations are vehemently against it. The United Nations' Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration marks the first time the world body has ever agreed on a list of global measures to tackle the risks and challenges involved in migration for individual migrants, and at the same time to maximize benefits for the countries taking in immigrants. The agreement comes as huge numbers of people across the world, often driven by conflict and poverty, are leaving their countries of origin to seek refuge elsewhere. But not all countries agree with the compact's basic tenets and have been vocal in their opposition. The text of the agreement was finalized by UN member states on July 13, 2018, and is scheduled to be adopted at a December intergovernmental conference in Marrakesh, Morocco. The compact is based on the recognition that the entire world needs to cooperate if current and future massive migration flows are to be managed in a humane manner, while still taking account of the values of state sovereignty. What are the objectives? The compact comprises 23 objectives for the management of migration at local, national, regional and global levels. They include: • minimizing "adverse drivers and structural factors" that force people to leave their home countries • ensuring that all migrants have adequate documentation and identity papers • making objective information available on all stages of migration • promoting an "evidence-based public discourse" • saving lives and coordinating international efforts for missing migrants • creating conditions to allow migrants to contribute to sustainable development in all countries • cooperation on a safe return and readmission of migrants to their home countries if necessary The compact does not stipulate any mandatory number of migrants to be accepted by a country. The guidelines also call for combating trafficking and the "integrated, secure and coordinated" management of borders. Why do some countries object? According to the UN, the agreement as a whole takes into account "legitimate concerns of states and communities" and the fact that the repercussions of migration for respective countries and regions may differ according to their demographic, economic, social and environmental situations. However, these assurances, and the fact that the compact is not legally binding, have not been enough to convince several UN members, including the United States, Austria and Hungary, who say they will not sign the agreement. Governments in these countries have voiced several objections, among other things saying the compact mixes up the rights of asylum-seekers with those of economic migrants. The US under President Donald Trump also argues that multinational agreements in general, and this one in particular, go against the sovereign power of individual governments. States may agree to join the agreement at a later date even if their political climate is currently opposed to it. Refuting the objections In a bid to counter false information spread on the internet about the compact, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party has published a list of questions and answers to reassure "concerned citizens." They can also be seen as refuting the objections made by the countries that are refusing to sign. Among other things, it stresses that the non-binding compact does not require country that signs it to take on additional obligations. The top German party's document also insists that the agreement aims to strengthen the protection of national borders rather than to weaken it. The CDU also maintains that the compact enshrines national sovereignty in all border and security issues regarding migration, and makes a strict differentiation between legal and illegal migration.

The UN’s Global Compact for Migration sets out non-binding guidelines for an integrated approach to international migration. DW looks at the agreement and at why some nations are vehemently against it. The United Nations’ Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration marks the first time the world body has ever agreed on a list of global measures to tackle ... Read More »

Islamists block roads in Pakistan over Asia Bibi blasphemy case

Many schools were closed in Pakistan as Islamist groups blocked roads and rallied against the acquittal of Asia Bibi in a flashpoint blasphemy case. An Islamist leader called for Supreme Court judges to be killed. Pakistani authorities deployed troops to guard state buildings in major cities as Islamist protests over Asia Bibi entered their second day on Thursday. Supporters of the extremists Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party blocked 10 roads around Pakistan's biggest city, Karachi, several others outside Lahore and one major entry to the capital Islamabad. Private schools in all three cities were closed. Islamists launched protests after the country's Supreme Court ruled to acquit Bibi of blasphemy in a widely publicized case. Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan. TLP co-founder Muhammad Afzal Qadri told his supporters in Lahore that members of the three-judge panel that dismissed the charges should be killed. "All three deserve to be killed," Qadri said at a protest in Lahore. "Either their security, their driver or their cook should kill them." Qadri also said the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan should be forced to step down and urged military officers to rebel against powerful military head Javed Bajwa. We will not allow traffic to be blocked' TLP spokesman Pir Ejaz Shah had earlier told DW that the group "will embrace death but will not compromise on our stance" in the blasphemy case. On Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Khan urged the protesters not to "test the patience of the state." "We will not allow any damages. We will not allow traffic to be blocked," Khan said. "I appeal to you, do not push the state to the extent that it is forced to take action." Another Islamist group, the Milli Yakjehti Council, is meeting to discuss its response and possible protests over the Bibi case on Thursday. Meanwhile, Asia Bibi's brother told the AP news agency that the mother of four is set to leave Pakistan. Her paperwork is being processed and she is preparing to leave an undisclosed location where she is being held for security reasons. The brother did not say which country Bibi is traveling to. Both France and Spain have already offered her asylum.

Many schools were closed in Pakistan as Islamist groups blocked roads and rallied against the acquittal of Asia Bibi in a flashpoint blasphemy case. An Islamist leader called for Supreme Court judges to be killed. Pakistani authorities deployed troops to guard state buildings in major cities as Islamist protests over Asia Bibi entered their second day on Thursday. Supporters of ... Read More »

Indonesian divers locate crashed Lion Air black box

After days of searching, divers have recovered a flight recorder from a Lion Air jet that crashed in Indonesia this week. Investigators hope the device will reveal why the Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane plunged into the sea. Teams of divers in Indonesia found one of two flight recorders from Lion Air flight JT610, which went down with 189 people on board earlier this week, an official confirmed on Thursday. Authorities said the flight data recorder was recovered and that teams are still searching for the cockpit voice recorder. Both could contain key information that will help determine why the nearly brand-new plane crashed into the Java Sea just 13 minutes after takeoff. The latest developments: • Footage broadcast on Indonesian television showed two divers surfacing with a bright orange device that was transferred to a search and rescue ship. • One of the divers, identified as navy 1st Sgt. Hendra, told local TV that he was able to locate the device despite strong currents. "I started digging and cleaning the debris until I finally found an orange object," he said. • Indonesian officials confirmed that the flight data recorder was recovered and that the cockpit recorder is still missing. • Both devices record information about the direction, altitude and speed of the plane as well as flight crew conversations. • Teams are still looking for the main body of the jet, hoping that it will contain both the missing black box as well as more victims from the crash. • The find came as the first victim to be identified from the crash was buried. • Tragic crash: The Lion Air passenger plane crashed on Monday just 13 minutes after taking off from the Indonesia capital, Jakarta, with 189 people on board. The crash was Indonesia's worst airline disaster in two decades and sparked a massive search in the Java Sea. Data from flight-tracking sites show that the plane experienced erratic changes in its altitude and speed before it lost contact. Experts warn, however, that the data needs to be checked with the information in the black boxes to determine the cause. • Concerns over safety: The crash has raised questions about airline safety not only in Indonesia but also about the Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane. The jet had only been in service for around two months when the crash occurred, with Lion Air stating that both the pilot and co-pilot were highly experienced. However, the budget airline admitted that the new Boeing 737-MAX 8 experienced an unspecified technical issue on its previous flight from the island of Bali last Sunday. • What happens next: The data from the black box will need to be examined, with a preliminary report on the crash expected to be released within a month. A complete report may take months to complete. Meanwhile, search and rescue teams are continuing to look for the second flight recorder as well as the fuselage, or main body of the plane.

After days of searching, divers have recovered a flight recorder from a Lion Air jet that crashed in Indonesia this week. Investigators hope the device will reveal why the Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane plunged into the sea. Teams of divers in Indonesia found one of two flight recorders from Lion Air flight JT610, which went down with 189 people ... Read More »

Taiwan’s independence rally draws thousands, irks China

The first large-scale pro-independence rally in a generation has brought thousands of people onto the streets of Taipei. China has recently strengthened its determination to bring the self-ruled island under its control. Several thousand pro-independence activists have rallied in Taiwan's capital, Taipei, to push the Taiwanese government to hold a referendum on whether to declare independence from China. Organizers claimed more than 100,000 people turned out for the march against Beijing's increasing hostility toward the self-ruled island. Some carried placards bearing the message: “No more bullying; no more annexation." The demonstration was organized by a new political outfit, the Formosa Alliance, which is backed by two pro-independence former Taiwanese presidents, Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian, as well as leaders of several other smaller political parties. Read more: Will China-Vatican deal have a diplomatic domino effect for Taiwan? Independence activist George Kuo founded the alliance in February 2018 to pressure the government to amend the island's Referendum Act and initiate the process for organizing a public referendum on independence from China. "In order to help Taiwan be recognized as a sovereign state internationally, our government needs to amend the Referendum Act to allow the Taiwanese people to express their desire to achieve Taiwanese independence through votes," Kuo told DW, ahead of the rally. Maintaining the status quo China sees self-ruling democratic Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified, despite the two sides being ruled separately since the end of a civil war on the mainland in 1949. Taiwan views itself as a sovereign state, with its own currency, political and judicial systems, but has never declared formal independence from the mainland. Beijing has warned it would respond with force if Taiwan tried an official split. China also demands its international allies forfeit diplomatic recognition of the island. Furthermore, China's growing international political and economic clout in recent years have allowed Beijing to curtail Taiwanese presence on the international stage, by blocking it from global forums and poaching its dwindling number of diplomatic partners. Taiwan's currently ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is traditionally independence-leaning, but President Tsai Ing-wen has said she wants to maintain the status quo with China. Tsai's measured approach has alienated some pro-independence supporters of her party. This hasn't prevented relations between Beijing and Taipei from further deteriorating since Tsai took office in 2016, as she has refused to adhere to Beijing's line that Taiwan is part of "one China." Read more: US to sell Taiwan military gear worth $330 million Kuo argued that the pro-independence rally gave the Taiwanese people the opportunity to come out and show to China that they disapprove of Beijing's "barbaric way of intimidating Taiwan and its people." Chinese authorities, meanwhile, have said the Formosa Alliance should not go down what they called a "dangerous path." Electoral considerations? Saturday's protest took place at a sensitive time in Taiwan, ahead of local elections in November. Even though the Formosa Alliance denied that its decision to organize the demonstration was influenced by electoral considerations, some analysts believe otherwise. Kharis Templeman, an expert on Taiwanese democracy and security at Stanford University, pointed out that Tsai and the DPP are struggling domestically, and, therefore, it's understandable that these pro-independence activists are now coming to their rescue. "It makes sense for independence activists to hold events now to rally support for their cause, as the DPP is in danger of getting trounced in the local elections," Templeman told DW. Read more: Is Taiwan's tourism industry too reliant on China? A high-risk gambit A vote on independence in Taiwan would require an amendment to current laws, which bar referendums on changing the constitution or sovereign territory. Many believe Tsai would be unlikely to allow such an amendment due to fears that it would enrage Beijing. "Acknowledgement of Taiwan's existing de facto independence is high, but because of the risks involved in pursuing de jure independence, the mainstream position in Taiwan is to support the status quo," Jonathan Sullivan, director of China programs at Nottingham University, told DW. According to local media reports, the DPP prohibited its officials and candidates from attending Saturday's protest, which was held outside the party headquarters. But some independence activists say this is the right time to press forward, given the DPP holds the presidency as well a parliamentary majority for the first time. Yi-Chih Chen, the chairperson of the pro-independence Taiwan Radical Wings, argues that the key for Taiwan to achieve independence is for the government to turn the Taiwanese people's collective will into a parameter that Western allies have to take into account when dealing with China. "President Tsai's government should tell the US that there is a consensus among the Taiwanese people that Taiwan should become independent, and it is not purely DPP's political agenda," Chen told DW.

The first large-scale pro-independence rally in a generation has brought thousands of people onto the streets of Taipei. China has recently strengthened its determination to bring the self-ruled island under its control. Several thousand pro-independence activists have rallied in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, to push the Taiwanese government to hold a referendum on whether to declare independence from China. Organizers claimed ... Read More »

Brexit: Jewish families in UK who fled Nazis seek German passports

As Brexit approaches, figures show that Germans who made Britain their home are increasingly applying for repatriation. The majority are the families of those who fled because they were persecuted by the Nazi regime. An increasing number of people living in the UK have applied for repatriation to Germany since the June 2016 referendum result for Britain to leave the EU, according to government figures. Individuals who were persecuted by the Nazis and their descendants made up the majority of those applying, a report on Friday said. Of the 3,731 applications since 2016, 3,408 referred to the German Constitution's Article 116. Under the article, former German citizens who were deprived of citizenship on "political, racial, or religious grounds" — and their descendants — are entitled to have citizenship restored. Read more: Will Brits say 'au revoir' to French dream post-Brexit? Tens of thousands of Jews fled Germany for the UK before and during World War II. They included some 10,000 children who were evacuated as part of the so-called "Kindertransport” between December 1938 and August 1939, most of whom never saw their families again. Sharp rise in applications The increase in those applying for repatriation increased significantly after the UK's Brexit referendum, according to figures published by the Funke Mediengruppe newspaper group. In 2015, there were only 59 applications, while in 2016 — the year the UK Brexit vote took place in June — there were 760. In 2017, 1,824 applied, and 1,147 applied in the first eight months of 2018. The Funke Mediengruppe figures were obtained in response to a parliamentary question from Germany's pro-business Free Democrats (FDP). Read more: Germany preparing for no deal on Brexit, says Merkel Aside from Jews, many other groups fled Germany and the Nazi regime, including members of the Roma community, homosexuals and political opponents. 'Not surprising' According to FDP interior affairs spokesman Konstantin Kuhle, the development showed that many UK citizens were keen to retain "the benefits of European citizenship" within the EU. "This is not surprising given the British government's chaotic Brexit negotiation line," Kuhle said, adding that the EU should not forget "that many people in the UK feel close to the EU." Read more: Plotting Conservatives reject Theresa May's Brexit plan The 2016 referendum, called by then Prime Minister David Cameron, ended with 52 percent voting in favor of Brexit, and 48 percent against. The number of Britons living in Germany who seek German citizenship has also increased significantly since June 2016.

As Brexit approaches, figures show that Germans who made Britain their home are increasingly applying for repatriation. The majority are the families of those who fled because they were persecuted by the Nazi regime. An increasing number of people living in the UK have applied for repatriation to Germany since the June 2016 referendum result for Britain to leave the ... Read More »

Donald Trump threatens to shut US-Mexico border with troops

US President Donald Trump has threatened to order the military to close the US-Mexico border to stop an "onslaught" of migrants. Mexico itself geared up for the arrival of up to 3,000 people from Honduras on its border. US President Donald Trump on Thursday accused the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras of conducting an "assault" on the United States by allowing people to travel north into Mexico. He went on to threaten to use the military to close the border if Mexico did not stop the migrants traveling through the country to the United States. Trump appealed to Mexico to stop the migrants, and also warned that he would stop aid payments to Central American countries "which seem to have almost no control of their population." Trump's threats — which appeared in a string of tweets — came as thousands of migrants made their way through Guatemala toward the Mexican border. One single caravan, estimated to include between 1,500 to 3,000 people, left Honduras headed north last Saturday. Many, seeking to escape gang violence and poverty, are believed to be seeking a route to the United States. Some told the AFP news agency that they planned to enter Mexico en masse. Trump's tweets also blamed Democrats for the situation, claiming that weak laws were to blame, and said the migrants included criminal elements. It remained unclear whether Trump's threat would result in any military deployment. Read more: US-Mexico border scandals sink bilateral ties to historic low Huge quantities of goods and hundreds of thousands of people move across the border legally each day. Trump has made immigration across the border from Mexico, including his call for a wall across the frontier, a central policy in his administration. His administration's policy of separating familes and detaining thousands of children, mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, prompted widespread condemnation. Playing to the crowd? While Trump's tweets on Thursday were particularly robust, Mexico's foreign minister-designate Marcelo Ebrard downplayed them, saying they were aimed at his US political base. "The position of President Trump is the one he has always raised," Ebrard told local radio station Radio Centro. "It was predictable and also the election process is very close, so he is making a political calculation." Read more: Migrants gamble with their lives on the 'death train' Mexico has said it will ask the United Nations refugee office for help with the arrival of the Honduran migrants, who include many families with children. Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said he planned to make the formal request in a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York. "For the Mexican government it is essential first to respect and protect the human rights and fundamental dignity of all of the migrants and to do so under a logical and humanitarian and respectful treatment," said Videgaray.

US President Donald Trump has threatened to order the military to close the US-Mexico border to stop an “onslaught” of migrants. Mexico itself geared up for the arrival of up to 3,000 people from Honduras on its border. US President Donald Trump on Thursday accused the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras of conducting an “assault” on ... Read More »

Saudi Arabia: Powerful, but not omnipotent after Khashoggi affair

Saudi Arabia's reputation has suffered massively as a result of Jamal Khashoggi's suspected murder. World leaders are keeping their distance. The country could be hostile in the face of criticism, or enact reforms. Christine Lagarde will no longer attend the upcoming investors' conference in Riyadh. In the initial wake of the disappearance and suspected murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the International Monetary Fund chief confirmed that she would still participate in the meeting. Finally, she has pulled out. Lagarde's spokesperson declined to give a reason for the decision. The cancellation, however, is in line with the announcements of several leading Western politicians who also do not want to be seen in the Saudi capital. Global business leaders have changed their plans as well. The CEOs of major banks including HSBC, Standard Chartered and Credit Suisse do not want to travel to Ryiadh. Others attendees have left their participation open. The CEO of German manufacturer Siemens, Joe Kaeser, said he would reach a decision in the coming days. While Kaeser views the disappearance of Khashoggi as a serious matter, he does not necessarily see boycotts as the solution. "If we stop conversing with countries where people have gone missing then we might as well stay home because we couldn't converse with anyone," he said. 'We cannot mold Saudi Arabia and the royal house' "We cannot mold Saudi Arabia and the royal house the way we want, but we have to deal with the situations as they arise," said Jürgen Hardt, a lawmaker from Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Party, during a recent radio interview. Hardt, a foreign policy expert in Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, added that politicians must maintain dialogue with each other, even when their attitudes do not align or when they completely reject their decisions. Read more: Could the Khashoggi case spell the end for Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman? Hardt pointed out that Saudi Arabia is an active player in the Middle East peace process trying to bring Israelis and Palestinians closer together. At the same time, however, the country is waging a brutal war in Yemen that has resulted in one of the world's worst humanitarian catastrophes. "That's why we have a highly ambivalent view of Saudi Arabia," Hardt said. "With what has unfolded in recent days in the Khashoggi case, and what may be revealed in the coming few days, we will further sharpen our view. And then, if necessary, Europe will adjust its policy on Saudi Arabia." A political heavyweight Any change in European Union policy towards Saudi Arabia would be a decision of enormous significance. For years, the kingdom has been trying to present itself as a reliable political partner to the West. Riyadh has not only declared its intention to mediate in Middle East conflicts; it also claims it wants to play an active role in the fight against terrorism. The country plays an important role in the war in Syria, as well. It sees itself as an important counterweight to Middle East rival Iran, which has massively expanded its presence and influence in the region. In this context, Saudi Arabia has huge political and strategic value for the West. Saudi Prince Khalid bin Farhan al-Saud, who currently lives in exile in Germany, said that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is facing increasing pressure to answer to the suspected murder of Khashoggi, is a particularly important partner for the United States. "The American government could hardly afford to be without a man like Mohammed bin Salman who is easy to influence and control," bin Farhan told DW. The exiled prince also believes that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recent trip to Saudi Arabia had an ulterior motive: "To keep the crown prince in power so that [the US] can pursue its own plans." Middle East expert Thomas Richter from the German Institute of Global and Area Studies told DW that if the suspicions about Khashoggi's violent death continue to intensify, the kingdom, in particular the crown prince, might be viewed by German politicians in a new light. Richter believes if this happens, a "serious reflection" would begin. "One could reach the conclusion that Saudi Arabia is an authoritarian monarchy ruled by a few people and apparently led by a young prince who does not shy away from anything," he said. Petrodollars and investments However, the economic might of Saudi Arabia could limit the extent of any diplomatic reorientation towards the country, and perhaps, even a direct response to the Khashoggi affair. Saudi Arabia's massive oil reserves give the ruling family substantial leverage. Every day, the world's largest oil exporter sells 10 million barrels. Global demand for oil already exceeds supply in OPEC states. Additionally, due to the imminent sanctions against Iran, around 1.7 million fewer barrels are expected to become available on the market. Should the relationship between the West and Riyadh deteriorate in the aftermath of the Khashoggi affair, Saudi Arabia could retaliate by reducing its exports. The result would be an increase in oil prices. Such a scenario would be reminiscent of the so-called oil crisis of 1973, when OPEC states reduced their production volumes as a result of the Yom Kippur War. Within a few days, the price rose from around $3 to more than $12 per barrel. The result was a worldwide recession. Read more: Donald Trump vs. OPEC: What can he do to bring down oil prices? And Saudi Arabia is not only important as an oil exporter, but also as an investor. In the US alone, it holds bonds worth almost $170 billion (€148 billion). Should it sell them, interest rates on the bond markets would increase sharply. Such a rise would massively upset the monetary policy of the Trump administration, which is financing its latest tax cuts through further bond issues. Hope for a new political culture? Saudi Arabia remains a highly significant international player, both politically and economically. Thus, its reputation as a soon-to-be rogue state in the wake the Khashoggi affair is not entirely accurate. For the time being, Riyadh is responding with threats against its partners. But Saudi Arabia will now have to face the music: Very few international players want to come to the table publicly now. If the outrage over the Khashoggi affair does not subside shortly, the presumed crime could prompt the kingdom to reconsider its political culture.

Saudi Arabia’s reputation has suffered massively as a result of Jamal Khashoggi’s suspected murder. World leaders are keeping their distance. The country could be hostile in the face of criticism, or enact reforms. Christine Lagarde will no longer attend the upcoming investors’ conference in Riyadh. In the initial wake of the disappearance and suspected murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, ... Read More »

Donald Trump says Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi likely dead, vows ‘severe’ consequences

While US officials said Saudi Arabia needs more time to probe the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, Trump said the journalist is likely dead. As tensions mount, the guest list for Riyadh's investment summit is dwindling. US President Donald Trump told reporters on Thursday it "certainly looks" as though Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead. Trump said consequences "will have to be very severe" if the Saudis were found to be responsible for his death, but he also added that it was still "a little bit early" to draw a conclusion about who may have been behind Khashoggi's suspected murder. The president's remarks came shortly after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would wait for the Saudis to complete an investigation into what happened to Khashoggi before deciding how to respond. Ministers dropping Saudi conference US Treasury Secretary Seven Mnuchin announced that he would not be attending an investment conference in Saudi Arabia. Earlier on Thursday, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire and British International Trade Secretary Liam Fox both said they would not be attending the October 23-25 conference. On Wednesday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he was postponing a planned trip to Saudi Arabia pending the outcome of the investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance, calling the case "extremely worrying ... and disturbing." Business leaders, media giants boycott summit Saudi Arabia's Future Investment Initiative, dubbed "Davos in the Desert," will be missing numerous major players after several world leaders and top business executives have decided not to attend. Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, as well as World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, will not be attending. The heads of JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Ford and other multinational companies have also pulled out, while several media companies have pulled their sponsorship, including CNN, The New York Times, CNBC, The Economist and Financial Times. Investigation ongoing Khashoggi disappeared on October 2 after entering Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, sparking international outcry and concern. Numerous media reports citing Turkish officials state that Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents in the consulate and that his body was dismembered. Saudi officials deny any involvement in his disappearance. Turkish officials have yet to release any evidence in the case, although forensic teams have searched both the consulate and the Saudi consul general's residence. Khashoggi, a US resident and columnist for the Washington Post, was a strong critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

While US officials said Saudi Arabia needs more time to probe the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, Trump said the journalist is likely dead. As tensions mount, the guest list for Riyadh’s investment summit is dwindling. US President Donald Trump told reporters on Thursday it “certainly looks” as though Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead. Trump said consequences “will have to ... Read More »

Israel and Jordan reopen key border crossings with Syria

The Quneitra crossing in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and a vital crossing between Jordan and Syria have reopened. The moves come as Syrian President Assad regains territory in the country’s civil war. Israel on Monday reopened its Quneitra crossing in the Golan Heights to UN observers who had left the area in 2014 amid fierce fighting between Syrian regime forces ... Read More »

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