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Oil price rises to two-year high after Saudi Arabia purge



Mohammed bin Salman  - 1860 - Oil price rises to two-year high after Saudi Arabia purge

The oil price has hit its highest level since July 2015 after Saudi Arabia’s crown prince increased his power in the kingdom by launching an anti-corruption purge.

Billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was among the princes, ministers and officials detained by Mohammed bin Salman, who said recently that he backed an extension to production curbs by the world’s biggest oil-producing countries.

Oil cartel Opec is to consider prolonging the production cuts at a meeting in Vienna at the end of November. Analysts said the uncertainty generated by the future king’s actions were behind the price of international benchmark Brent jumping to more than $62 a barrel, compared with around $50 in the first half of the year.

“The price rise is a reaction to the uncertainty from Saudi Arabia,” said Mihir Kapadi, chief executive of wealth management company Sun Global Investments.

Oil price chart

Other factors have edged the oil price upwards. Saudi Arabia, Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan met over the weekend and said they were willing to maintain restrictions on oil production, to address a glut in supply and prop up prices.

“The participating states expressed satisfaction with the decline in commercial oil inventories and expressed their readiness to continue joint efforts in this direction,” the Russian energy ministry said in a statement.

The growth in US oil rigs this year – indicating a production increase by the world’s third largest producer – has muted the recovery of the oil price but the number of rigs plateaued in August. Last week the number fell by 11, down to 898.

Other recent geopolitical events have also played a role in oil’s new high, with concerns over the Iraqi government’s actions in Kurdish oil-producing areas and increased attacks on oil infrastructure in the Niger delta.

However, experts at Swiss banking group Julius Baer said the oil price high would not last and was likely to fall back towards $50 a barrel, as demand eased off.

“The seasonal soft patch should challenge the market tightening narrative while the market mood can only deteriorate from today’s overly bullish levels,” said Norbert Rücker, the bank’s head of macro and commodity research.

The crackdown by Saudi Arabia’s future king is seen by industry watchers as unlikely to change the country’s position on Opec policy. Mohammed bin Salman is pushing the sale of 5% of the the kingdom’s national oil company, Aramco, the valuation of which hinges on the oil price.

Analysts at investment bank RBC Capital Markets said the crown prince “seems strongly committed to anchoring the Opec agreement deep into 2018 and moving ahead with the Aramco sale”.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest oil-producer, and Opec’s key player. The UAE and Iraq, which are both in the oil cartel, have also said they would back an extension to production curbs which were due to end in March 2018. The deal involves oil countries reducing production by 1.8m barrels a day, in an effort to bring global oil supply and demand back into balance.

theguardian

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kurdistan

Iraqi security arrest drug gang led by Governor of holiest Shia city’s son

- najaf son - Iraqi security arrest drug gang led by Governor of holiest Shia city’s son


ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi security on Sunday arrested a drug-trafficking gang in a southern suburb of Baghdad led by the son of the Governor of Najaf, one of the holiest cities in the world.

“The group had three members and was led by Jawad Luay al-Yasiri, the son of the Governor of Najaf,” a security source told Kurdistan 24.

The Baghdad Operations Command in a statement issued on Sunday night said a security force arrested the gang in the predominantly Shia Bayaa district, south of Iraq’s capital.

The gang was caught with a large amount of narcotics in their possession, according to the statement, without giving further details.

Activists posted pictures of six kilos of cannabis, 800 narcotic pills, forged identity cards, and weapons which were seized by Iraqi security.

The pictures show official access cards for the intelligence service, the Iraqi cabinet, the province of Najaf and other places, all in the name of Jawad Luay Jawad. One even designated him a Lieutenant.

Najaf Governor Luay al-Yasiri is a member of the Dawa Party led by former Iraqi Prime Minister and current Vice-President, Nouri al-Maliki, a prominent member of the State of Law coalition, and served as Director of Najaf Traffic Police for several years. The Najaf Governor holds the military rank of Colonel within the Interior Ministry.

Recently, the Governor launched a crackdown on unlicensed casinos and cafes and launched a campaign to spread the veil in the city where the shrine of Imam Ali, the Prophet Mohammed’s cousin, is located.

“I express my keenness for the rule of law and the fight against crime in all its forms. Justice and the rule of law must apply to everyone without exception,” Luay said in a statement since his son’s arrest.

“I would like to express my surprise at the large and systematic media exaggeration and the timing of the coverage which coincided with the proceedings of the case. This indicates the existence of a political smear campaign against the Governor of the holy city of Najaf, so near to the upcoming legislative elections in May.”

The Governor of Najaf called on the Iraqi judicial authorities to handle his son’s case “with full impartiality, regardless of the identity of the accused and background as he is an Iraqi citizen accused under the rule of law and institutions.”

Najaf is a wealthy city known as the third holiest site for Shia Muslims, where millions, namely Iranians, travel to each year as part of their pilgrimage.  

The people of Iraq have repeatedly complained on social media networks that family members and relatives of Iraqi officials and party leaders flaunt the rule of law and have acted with impunity over the past 14 years since the fall of the authoritarian system.

Editing by Nadia Riva



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SOHR Reveals Latest Statistics of Casualties in Afrin

- 0687d493ba6ea9e690c5a0e84edb08cd L - SOHR Reveals Latest Statistics of Casualties in Afrin


The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights (SOHR) revealed the latest statistics of the casualties in Afrin.

According to SOHR report released on Monday, January 22th, the number of casualties has risen to 21 due to the Turkish bombardments on Afrin.

“War has started in Shingal, Edmani, Shadiya, Sorka,Hamam, Kurdo which are located in Afrin, among the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) which is the military wing of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Tukish army.

The Media sources belonging to PKK pointed out that 7 civilians were found dead, and 11 others wounded under the devastated buildings in the village of Jilbar due to the Turkish attacks on Afrin.

Turkey on Saturday launched a new air and ground operation on Afrin, a Kurdish city in the northern Syria, under the name of “Olive Branch Operation”.
 
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to eliminate every single YPG fighter in Syria. Meanwhile, PKK had already given orders to have immediate reactions if the Turkish army attempts to attack Afrin.





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Turkey says campaign against Kurdish YPG in Afrin will be swift – Middle East

- 413711 - Turkey says campaign against Kurdish YPG in Afrin will be swift – Middle East


Turkish soldiers are seen near the town of Hassa on the Turkish-Syrian border in Hatay province, Turkey.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

HASSA, Turkey – Turkey shelled targets in northern Syria on Monday and said its three-day-old operation against Kurdish YPG fighters who control the Afrin region would be completed swiftly.

Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies began their push to clear YPG fighters from the northwestern enclave on Saturday, opening a new front in Syria’s civil war despite calls for restraint from United States, which has armed the YPG.

YPG spokesman Birusk Hasaka said clashes between Kurdish and Turkey-backed forces persisted on the third day of the operation. He said Turkish shelling had hit civilian areas in the northeast of the Afrin region.

Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist organisation with ties to Kurdish militant separatists within Turkey, and it has been infuriated by US support for the fighters. Washington, which is backing the YPG in the battle against Islamic State in Syria, said on Sunday it was concerned about the situation.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to crush the YPG in Afrin and then target the Kurdish-held town of Manbij to the east, part of a much larger swath of northern Syria controlled by YPG-dominated forces.

That raises the prospect of protracted conflict between Turkey and its allied Free Syrian Army factions on one side and on the other the Kurdish YPG, who spearheaded the US-backed campaign to drive Islamic State out of its Syrian strongholds last year.

But Mehmet Simsek, Turkey’s deputy prime minister who oversees economic affairs in the government, played down the potential for a damaging and drawn-out military campaign.

“Our investors should be at ease, the impact will be limited, the operation will be brief and it will reduce the terror risk to Turkey in the period ahead,” Simsek said at a ceremony in Ankara.

TURKISH SHELLING

A Reuters cameraman near Hassa, across the border from Afrin, saw Turkish shelling on Monday morning. Dogan news agency said Turkish howitzers opened fire at 1 a.m. (2200 GMT) against YPG targets.

It said militia targets were also being destroyed by Turkish warplanes and multiple rocket launchers.

On Sunday a Turkish official said Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army rebel factions had captured a Kurdish village with no resistance and were clearing landmines. The YPG said it had repelled the Turkish forces.

Turkey’s military operation to drive back Islamic State and YPG fighters, which it launched in August 2016 and named “Euphrates Shield”, lasted seven months. So far there has been no indication of major gains on the ground by Turkey-backed forces in Afrin.





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