War in Ukraine threatens Iran’s last economic lifeline

The European Union aims to join the United States and the United Kingdom in sanctioning Russian oil. European diplomats are trying to reach consensus on a deal to halt Russian oil imports to the bloc that could be signed by leaders meeting in Brussels on May 30.
For Iran, whose exports are already sanctioned, this means that the market for unsavory oil is going to be crowded. Buyers will have more options, potentially sparking a price war between producers that few rough want to touch. Russia is the world’s second largest oil exporter, after Saudi Arabia.
But the move could also give Tehran more urgency to reach a deal with world powers to revive the 2015 nuclear pact that was scrapped by the Trump administration in 2018. The deal would lift sanctions and open up the Iranian oil to the world market.
China has been Iran’s top oil buyer for two years, but Russia may have already started to eat away at that share.

Experts say there has been a drop in Iranian crude oil exports to China since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February, as well as an increase in Russian exports to China.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, China has purchased more than 7 billion euros ($7.5 billion) worth of Russian fossil fuels, according to the Center for Energy and Clean Air Research. Most of it was crude oil.

Meanwhile, Iran’s sales to China fell by more than a quarter, analysts said.

“I think right now it’s about a fourth, on its way to becoming a third,” said Amir Handjani, a nonresident fellow at the US think tank Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. As Chinese buyers buy less and demand higher discounts, Iran could lose vital foreign exchange earnings, he added.

Russia offers China cheaper barrels, better quality oil and none of the secondary US sanctions that put non-US entities that deal with Iran at risk of being cut off from the US market, experts say. That worries some Iranians amid worries about a price war.

“The only lifeline that Iran currently has for its crude is through China,” Handjani said. “It’s really China that is keeping Iran afloat.”

This month, Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji said Iran was selling its oil at “a good price” and that “new markets had been identified”.
Hamid Hosseini, board member of the Union of Iranian Oil, Gas and Petrochemical Exporters, said the government should be aware that Iranian oil exports to China could suffer from the entry of Russia in this market, the semi-state news agency ILNA reported.

“You could say that ultimately Russia has taken our side,” he said, adding that the situation presented “the best opportunity” to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

Talks between Iran and world powers aimed at reviving the deal have stalled since March. The last major sticking point remaining is Iran’s pending demand that the United States remove Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps from its list of foreign terrorist organizations.

Russia and Iran, often aligned on international issues, now find themselves in a rivalry.

In March, Moscow emerged as an unlikely obstacle to the nuclear deal, when it sought written guarantees from the United States that its relations with Iran would not be hampered by Western sanctions against Moscow. He then backed down from his demands.
4 ways Russia is trying to prove it can live with sanctions

“They [Iran] have options,” Handjani said. “The best option for them is to join the [nuclear agreement].”

Abhi Rajendran, research director at news firm Energy Intelligence, said increased Russian oil exports to China do not yet change the equation significantly, noting that Asia is a big market. tanker.

But “there are limits to what these buyers can accept,” he said, adding that the current lockdown in China after a spike in Covid-19 cases could affect demand.

The summary

Palestinian investigation reveals Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli forces

A Palestinian Authority investigation into the murder of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh says she was shot dead by Israeli forces using an armour-piercing bullet, Palestinian Attorney General Akram said Thursday. Al-Khatib. He said Abu Akleh was fleeing the direction of the shots when the bullet hit her in the head, lacerating brain tissue and killing her. The Israeli army’s top officer, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi immediately dismissed the Palestinian claims, saying that “there is one thing that can be determined with certainty – no IDF soldier deliberately fired on the journalist. We investigated it. This is the conclusion and there is no other.”

  • Background: Abu Akleh was killed in the West Bank city of Jenin on May 11 while covering an Israeli raid there. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz dismissed the Palestinian allegations, reiterating Israel’s willingness to work with the Palestinian Authority on an international investigation into his assassination. The Palestinians refused, saying they did not trust Israel.
  • why is it important: The Palestinian Authority and Al Jazeera accuse the Israeli army of having intentionally killed Abu Akleh since she was shot. A CNN investigation found evidence suggesting that Israeli forces killed Abu Akleh with a aimed shot. Israel said she was killed either by indiscriminate Palestinian fire or by Israeli soldiers who returned fire in a firefight.

US officials visited Saudi Arabia to discuss Iran and energy

Two senior US officials traveled to Saudi Arabia this week for talks on global energy supplies, Iran and other regional issues, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday. US officials have not asked for an increase in Saudi oil exports, she said.

  • Background: The meeting comes amid tensions in Saudi-US relations. Saudi Arabia has pushed back on calls from the United States to increase oil production, which could lower oil prices and bring global inflation under control. A drop in the price of oil could also impact Russia’s war efforts in Ukraine, as Moscow depends on energy exports for much of its revenue. “Asking for oil is just plain wrong,” Jean-Pierre said.
  • Why is this important: President Joe Biden and Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman could meet for the first time as early as next month, sources told CNN last week. A meeting would come after months of diplomatic activity and represent a turnaround for a US president who once declared Saudi Arabia a “pariah” with “no redeeming social value”.

Iraq outlaws any attempt to normalize relations with Israel

Iraq’s parliament on Thursday approved a law banning normalization of relations with Israel, at a time when several Arab countries have established formal ties.

  • Background: The Iraqi parliament was unable to meet on any other issue, including the election of a new president and the formation of its own government. The law was proposed by influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose party opposes close ties to the United States and Israel won more seats in parliament in elections last October.
  • Why is this important: Iraq has never recognized Israel since its creation in 1948 and Iraqi citizens and businesses cannot visit Israel, but the new law goes further, specifically criminalizing any attempt to normalize relations with Israel.

What is the trend

#Hunter X Hunter

The return of a popular comic strip to distant Japan is delighting Arabs from Algeria to the United Arab Emirates.

After a four-year hiatus due to illness, Yoshihiro Togashi, the creator of the “Hunter x Hunter” manga posted a teaser on Twitter, saying “4 more episodes at the moment”. The tweet received 1.3 million likes in less than 12 hours.

In the manga-crazed Arab world, the hashtag was trending in several countries. Many Arabs grew up watching anime manga dubbed in Arabic.

Arabs know “Hunter x Hunter” from its Arabic-dubbed comic book adaptation called “Al Qannas” (The Sharpshooter). The show was a staple in many Arab homes, and for many Arabs its intro song evokes memories of the early 2000s, when cartoons were watched on satellite receivers and CRT televisions.

Syrian singer Rasha Rizq was the voice of this tune. During a 2017 concert at the Roman Amphitheater in Jordan, she surprised the audience by singing the iconic Hunter x Hunter song, prompting an enthusiastic response.

Manga, or Japanese comics, and anime, or cartoons, are extremely popular in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has festivals dedicated to anime, while at least one publisher specializes in creating localized manga.

By Mohamed Abdelbary

Photo of the day

An Iranian carries a portrait of slain leader of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, during a rally at the Azadi stadium in the capital Tehran on May 26 to watch a performance of the song


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