Kenya, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Uganda Throwing Away Oil-Wealth – According to The Economist, the four east African countries cannot agree on a joint plan to tap and export new oil discoveries. Last March, the leaders of Kenya, South Sudan, and Ethiopia met to launch the construction of a $6 billion port and pipeline that would jointly serve all countries. Soon, the deal fell through, with disagreements over where the pipeline would run through and an obsession with refining rather than exporting the crude in all four countries. The magazine argues that “building refineries makes no sense for east Africa” as they would be wasteful and “unlikely to give countries the energy security they seek, as some of the fields will run dry quite soon”. Instead, they should continue to buy fuel from mega-refineries in Asia which will continue to be cheaper for a long time. Therefore, “by failing to co-operate, the new oil states are likely to waste part of their wealth on duplicate infrastructure, building too many refineries and pipelines”.
Iranian Elections – An article in Canada’s The Globe and Mail describes Iran’s election slated for June 14th as the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s “slow motion power grab”. After current President Ahmedinejad, an apparent supporter of the Supreme Leader when he was elected in 2005, started to distance himself and chart his own course, the Ayatollah “mused about abolishing the presidency in favour of a prime ministerial system in which the PM would simply carry out the Supreme Leader’s wishes in Parliament”. For this election cycle at least, he seems to have decided to”forgo the constitutionally complex job of abolishing the presidency”, “in favour of the simpler task of engineering the election of a president who will do as he is told”. Seven out of the eight candidates are seen as belonging to the faction that strongly supports the supreme leader, with the one candidate with links to the reformist faction not having a realistic chance of victory.
Russia Provides Arms to Syrian Regime – A day after the EU voted to lift an arms embargo to supply arms to rebels, Russia has said that it would go ahead and deliver advanced anti-aircraft missiles to the Syrian regime. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov condemned the EU move, warning that those actions amounted to “willingly or unwillingly are undermining the idea of the conference”, according to the Associated Press. He also said that that supplying weapons to the Syrian rebels “goes against all norms of international law.” Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister said that the missiles being supplied to the regime were a “stabilising factor” that could dissuade “some hotheads” from entering the conflict. Meanwhile, Israel has threatened to strike these missiles if they are delivered into Syrian soil. FT quotes Israel’s Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon as saying that “but if by some misfortune they [Russian missiles] arrive in Syria, we will know what to do.”
IMF Cuts China Growth Forecast – The International Monetary Fund has cut its growth forecast for China from 8% to 7.75%, adding to concerns that the world’s fastest growing major economy is slowing down. According to the Financial Times, this forecast is above the Chinese government’s official target of 7.5 per cent, “but in line with recent revisions, including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which pared its forecast this month to 7.6 per cent from 8 per cent, and Standard Chartered, which cut its estimate to 7.7 per cent from 8.3 per cent.”
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