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Middle East & African Monitor – 20 July 2017

  • Iran Threatens Retaliation As US Implements New Sanctions.
  • Arab Quartet Repeats Six Principles As Framework For Finding A Resolution To The Qatar Crises.
  • Shell Nigeria Declares “Force Majeure” - UN To Advise Government On Diversification.
  • Ghana Will Not Extend IMF Program.
  • Foreign Tourists Begin Returning To Tunisia.
  • Egypt Considers Building Giant Petrochemical Complex.
  • Abu Dhabi Listed As 2nd Best City In the World To Live & Work.

REGIONAL COMMENTARY

Iran Threatens Retaliation As US Implements New Sanctions.
The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control have sanctioned 18 individuals and entities who are reportedly providing support to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, especially in the area of ballistic missile technology. These latest sanctions freeze any assets these entities may have in the US, and ban American citizens and firms from doing business with them. Those targeted include "an Iran-based transnational criminal organization and three associated persons," as well as companies and businessmen involved in military technology procurement, the Treasury Department said in a statement. Most of those named are Iranian, although a Turkish marine equipment supplier and a Chinese procurement firm are also reportedly on the list according to a NY Times article. In response the commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafarai has been quoted by Iran’s state media outlets warning that the US will “pay a high price for any miscalculations,” and adding "If the United States wants to pursue sanctions against Iran's defences and the Guards, then it has to move its regional bases to a distance of about 1,000 km around Iran." His comments come soon after President Rouhani said that “Surely, if the Americans seek to apply sanctions against us under whatever title or pretext, the great nation of Iran would aptly respond to them.”

Arab Quartet Repeats Six Principles As Framework For Finding A Resolution To The Qatar Crises.
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UN was quoted as saying this week that the quartet was willing to compromise, but not on the six principles the group outlined following its meeting in Cairo earlier this month on the Qatar issue. “Implementation and monitoring of any mechanisms agreed upon within the six categories is essential. Of course we are all for compromise, but there will be no compromise on these six principles. The tactics and tools for implementation are the grounds for negotiation, that’s where we can have discussion and compromise,” Abdalla Al Mouallimi was quoted as saying by the UAE’s ‘National’ newspaper, adding that “it should be easy” for Doha to agree to these conditions. The principles were originally listed within a joint-statement on July 5th and read as follows: 1. Commitment to combat extremism and terrorism in all its forms and to prevent their financing or the provision of safe havens. 2. Prohibiting all acts of incitement and all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify hatred and violence. 3. Full commitment to Riyadh Agreement 2013 and the supplementary agreement and its executive mechanism for 2014 within the framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council for Arab States. 4. Commitment to all the outcomes of the Arab-Islamic-US Summit held in Riyadh in May 2017. 5. To refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of States and from supporting illegal entities. 6. The responsibility of all States of international community to confront all forms of extremism and terrorism as a threat to international peace and security.

Shell Nigeria Declares “Force Majeure” - UN To Advise Government On Diversification.
Shell Petroleum’s subsidiary in Nigeria has again declared ‘force majeure’ on its Bonny Light crude exports after one of its pipelines was damaged by oil thieves. This is the second attack on the company’s pipeline network in the past 30 days. According to a recent study by the energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie, almost 30% of oil transiting through the Niger Delta is stolen, slowing down the country’s output recovery. Nigeria continues to rely on oil exports for 97% of its export earnings, and despite a number of plans, proposals and discussions on diversification over the past few years very little progress has been made in this regard. However the UN’s Industrial Development office has recently begun working with Nigeria in finding ways to develop the non-oil sectors of the economy with a focus on small and medium sized businesses.

Ghana Will Not Extend IMF Program.
In somewhat of a surprise move, the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, announced this week that his government would not extend its 3-year aid program with the IMF beyond April next year. Most regional and domestic analysts had been expecting the country to ask for the program to be extended until at least December 2018, especially as the IMF had encouraged it to do so in order for it to meet planned targets. "There is no question about the IMF program being extended beyond April 2018, we want to complete it and move on," the President stated this week. “Following a significant setback in program implementation last year, making sure that the original program objectives can be achieved will take more time than initially expected,” the IMF’s mission chief in Ghana was quoted as saying by Reuters in reaction to the news.

Foreign Tourists Begin Returning To Tunisia.
According to data recently released by the Tunisian Hotels Federation, the number of foreign visitors to the country rose by almost 30% during the first half of 2017 compared to the same period last year. However, whilst the percentage of Belgian and Italian visitors increased, the bulk of arrivals reportedly came from neighboring countries, especially Algeria (766,000) and the number of Russian tourists, which totaled 630,000 during 2016, was down by 20%.

Egypt Considers Building Giant Petrochemical Complex.
Egypt’s Petroleum Minister, has said his ministry, in partnership with the Egyptian Petrochemicals Holding Company and Japan’s Toyota, are currently conducting feasibility studies over the potential construction of the largest petrochemical complex in the Middle East. The complex is to be located in the El Ein el Sokhna area of Suez, and once finalized building work is scheduled to begin in early 2018 and take 3 years to complete.

Abu Dhabi Listed As 2nd Best City In the World To Live & Work.
According to the latest IPSOS City Index survey, Abu Dhabi leapfrogged London and Paris to claim the number two spot on the list of the world’s best cities to live, work and conduct business in. New York was rated number one, while London came third.

20-07-2017

AND FINALLY…
Did you know that Masdar City, located within the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is the world’s first zero-carbon, zero-waste, car-free city?

Glenn Wepener, Executive Director & Geopolitical Analyst Middle East & Africa
National Bank of Abu Dhabi
MarketInsights&Strategy@nbad.com
Tel: +971 2 6110 127

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