|Daily News BriefApril 3, 2023|
|Top of the Agenda|
OPEC+ Announces Surprise Cuts to Global Oil Output
International oil prices rose today (Bloomberg) after Saudi Arabia and other oil-exporting nations announced plans to reduce output (AP) by 1.15 million barrels per day between May and the end of the year. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its partners, collectively known as OPEC+, had not previously signaled plans to slash output. Additionally, OPEC+ member Russia extended its ongoing cut of five hundred thousand barrels per day through the end of the year. The White House called the cuts ill-advised and pledged to work with producers and consumers to bring oil prices down. The oil producers’ announcement comes as Australia, the European Union, and Group of Seven (G7) countries try to enforce a global price cap on Russian oil. However, Japan negotiated an exemption from the cap due to its energy needs, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.
|Analysis“[Saudi Arabia’s domestic interest] takes precedence in Saudi decision-making over relationships with international partners and is likely to remain a point of friction in U.S.-Saudi relations for the foreseeable future,” Kristian Coates Ulrichsen of Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy tells the Associated Press. “Profits for the world’s lowest-cost oil producers are beyond handsome at the moment—but unlike previous booms, they’re not reinvesting that money in their future,” Bloomberg’s David Fickling writes. “On the [oil] demand front, it’s as bearish a prognostication as you can imagine.”|
This Backgrounder looks at OPEC in a changing world.
| Pacific Rim|
Malaysia Restricts Use of Death Penalty
Malaysia’s Parliament voted to remove (BBC) the death penalty as the mandatory punishment for eleven serious crimes, including murder and terrorism. More than 1,300 prisoners on death row will be allowed to appeal their sentences.
Guatemala/Taiwan: Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen completed a three-day trip (Reuters) to Guatemala, where she pledged $4 million to modernize rural areas. Guatemala is one of Taiwan’s few remaining diplomatic allies; its neighbor Honduras chose to switch allegiance from Taiwan to China last week.
| South and Central Asia|
Pakistani Military Says Attackers From Iran Killed Four Soldiers
It was the second such attack (RFE/RL, VOA) at the Iran-Pakistan border in less than three months, Pakistan’s military said. While no group has claimed responsibility, the Balochistan Liberation Army has often taken credit for attacks on Pakistani security forces in the area.
UK/Afghanistan: The Taliban are holding three British citizens (Al Jazeera), including a charity worker, in their custody, an aid group from the United Kingdom (UK) said. The UK’s foreign ministry is working to make contact with the detainees.
| Middle East and North Africa|
Egyptian, Saudi Leaders Hold Talks
Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi visited Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader (AP), Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, during a surprise trip to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, yesterday. An official statement offered few details on the meeting, which came amid strained relations between Cairo and Riyadh over Egypt’s handling of its economic crisis.
Israel: The cabinet approved the creation (FT) of a new national guard under the leadership of far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir. Critics have warned that the force could be used to repress dissidents and Arab citizens of Israel given Ben Gvir’s previous convictions for inciting racism.
This Backgrounder looks at the Arab citizens of Israel.
| Sub-Saharan Africa|
Kenyan Opposition Group Halts Protests for Talks With President
President William Ruto called opposition leader Raila Odinga in for talks (Reuters) aimed at addressing the concerns behind weeks of anti-government protests, including high living costs and allegations of fraud in the election that brought Ruto to power last September. For the Africa in Transition blog, CFR’s Michelle Gavin discusses the uncertainty following Ruto’s election.
South Africa: John Steenhuisen was reelected leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance party yesterday. Steenhuisen said the party will seek a coalition (Bloomberg) to prevent the ruling African National Congress party from keeping power in next year’s elections.
Pro-war Russian Blogger Killed in St. Petersburg Café ExplosionAuthorities said they arrested a woman (FT) suspected of planning the blast that wounded thirty-two people yesterday and killed blogger Maxim Fomin, publicly known as Vladlen Tatarsky, who wrote in support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Finland: Sanna Marin lost the premiership after her Social Democratic Party of Finland placed third (AP) in general elections yesterday. The conservative National Coalition Party came first and will soon begin talks to form a majority coalition.
Ecuador President Allows Civilians to Carry Guns Amid Rising Crime
President Guillermo Lasso modified a decree (MercoPress) to allow civilians to carry firearms and declared a state of emergency in Ecuador’s largest city, Santiago de Guayaquil, and several other areas.
Canada: Police identified two of eight bodies (Globe and Mail) that were pulled from a river near the border with the U.S. state of New York. They believe the people were trying to illegally cross into the United States.
| United StatesNYT: Secret Contract Enabled U.S. Government to Purchase NSO SpywareA front company for the U.S. government purchased geolocation spyware from an arm of Israeli firm NSO Group in late 2021, around the time that the Joe Biden administration blacklisted NSO because its Pegasus spyware had been used to hack activists and journalists worldwide, the New York Times reported. An unnamed official said the White House was not aware of the contract.|
This In Brief explains how Pegasus stoked a surveillance debate.
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