July 30 - August 05 , 2001
Curbs on Iran, Libya extended
The US House of Representatives voted
overwhelmingly on Thursday to extend for five years a 1996 sanctions
order that curbs foreign investment in the petroleum and gas
industries of Iran and Libya.
The decision in the lower chamber of the bicameral
US Congress comes after the US Senate on Wednesday voted 96-2 to
extend the sanctions against the two countries Washington considers
supporters of international terrorism and the development of weapons
of mass destruction. Both countries have denied the charges.
Minor distinctions between the two bills will have
to be reconciled in conference before the final bill goes to President
George W. Bush for signing into law.
The current sanctions regime, which expires in
August, allow the US government to penalize foreign businesses with
more than $20 million invested annually in either Iran's or Libya's
energy sector. The level had been fixed at $40 million for Tripoli.
"The Iran Libya Sanctions Act... will play a
vital role in our efforts to combat the terrorist agenda of these
rogue nations by deterring investment by foreign corporations,"
said bill sponsor Benjamin Gilman, a New York Republican.
Concerned their hands would be tied by Congress,
members of the Bush administration — most notably Secretary of State
Colin Powell — urged the sanctions be extended only for a two-year
period, but they were unsuccessful as lawmakers thought it would send
the wrong message to Tehran and Tripoli.
Under the new law, the president has the power to
waive the provisions citing the national interest and the
administration must report to Congress on the sanctions' success in
Jordan delays November vote until 2002
Jordan on Tuesday delayed parliamentary elections
due in November until at least early next year, saying a newly
approved elections law needed many months of preparation.
"It's not possible to hold elections this year
for procedural reasons," Deputy Prime Minister Awad Khulaifat
told reporters. On Monday, King Abdallah approved legislation
preserving an electoral system unpopular with the mainstream Islamist
Khulaifat declined to provide an election date but
indicated it will take at least 10 months to prepare new electoral
lists for Jordan's 2.7 million voters. A fraud-proof electoral card
printed in Germany would need at least five months to be commissioned,
The king pushed through the election legislation a
month after dissolving parliament. He was expected to issue a decree
later on Tuesday announcing the delay, but not setting a date.
The new law lowers the voting age to 18 from 19,
increases the number of seats to 104 from 80, streamlines the election
process and sets new safeguards against ballot fraud.
It did not address loopholes in a voting system
favouring staunchly tribal constituencies over the largely Palestinian
cities, which are Islamic strongholds and highly politicized.
There has been much recent speculation about the
fate of the November vote, the fourth since Jordan revived
parliamentary life in 1989 after civil unrest. The expected
postponement stemmed from concern over a Palestinian uprising against
Israeli occupation and tensions between Palestinians and Jordanians.
Senior politicians have warned the king recently
that regional violence and economic stagnation could lead to the
election of radical deputies bent on derailing unpopular IMF-guided
The Islamists have not yet said whether they will
participate in the elections. The political empowerment of Jordanians
of Palestinian origin is a sensitive issue in a country with a
population of five million, the majority of whom are of Palestinian
Yemen diesel prices up by 70pc
Yemen's government on Thursday hiked the price of
diesel fuel by 70 per cent to an all-time high of 17 rials (10 cents)
a litre to reap extra revenues for public spending, an official said.
Security forces in the Yemeni capital were put on
alert in case of any demonstrations as the new prices were put into
effect at service stations.
To sweeten the increase, a Yemeni minister told AFP
the government will increase salaries for state employees by 15 per
cent, and soldiers and police by 25 per cent from the start of August.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World
Bank had given Yemen until August 5 to implement the long-delayed
increase in diesel prices, a planning ministry official told AFP.
The move could provide government coffers with an
extra 3.4 billion rials (20.4 million dollars) a month earmarked for
the health sector and other public spending, he said.
OPEC to cut production by one million bpd
OPEC has decided to cut output by one million
barrels per day from September 1, the president of the oil-producing
organization, Algerian Energy Minister Chakib Khelil, said Wednesday.
"OPEC has decided to reduce its production by one million bpd
from September 1, (and will keep) options open to hold an
extraordinary meeting if the market requires it," Khelil told the
official Algerian news agency APS.
Khelil said the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting
Countries would not hold an extraordinary meeting at its headquarters
in Vienna in August.
Khelil — whose country currently holds the
rotating OPEC presidency — said the organization's move intended to
"assure market stability, satisfy global demand, and avoid price
volatility in the interest of producers and consumers." He added
that OPEC had considered "the impact of weak global economic
growth and a drop in demand due to high oil stocks." Oil prices
in London fell slightly on the news of the cut, with a barrel of Brent
North Sea crude for September delivery trading at 25.25 dollars, five
cents down from an intraday high.
Turkish trade deficit drops by 50.7%
Turkey's trade deficit dropped by 50.7 per cent to
4.45 billion dollars (5.7 billion euros) in the first five months of
the year from the equivalent figure last year, the state statistics
institute announced on Thursday.
The trade deficit in the first five months of 2000
was 9.33 billion dollars. The institute said that imports fell by 16.5
per cent to 17.12 billion dollars in January-May this year, while
exports rose by 10.3 per cent to 12.66 billion dollars.
In May alone imports fell by 24.7 per cent to 3.53
billion dollars, compared to the same month a year ago, while exports
rose by 19.1 per cent to 2.78 billion dollars, it added.
On a monthly basis, imports rose by 16.6 per cent
while exports increased by 7.6 per cent.
In April, imports stood at three billion dollars,
while exports reached to 2.6 billion dollars.
Turkey's trade deficit hit 26.7 billion dollars in
2000, a 89.1-percent rise from the previous year.
Sharon's undeclared war
While Israeli troops are amassing in the occupied
West Bank and Gaza, with the siege tightening to unprecedented
proportions and with the Palestinians being increasingly subjected to
a policy of persistent shelling, political assassinations, abductions,
house demolitions, and destruction of crops and trees, the global
question seems to focus on whether there will be a war or not.
From the Palestinian perspective, war has already
broken out — a unilateral, brutal war launched by a powerful army of
occupation against a captive civilian population.
Granted, the dramatic impact of a massive military
onslaught is not immediately visible, but the lethal effects of a
war-by-installments are just as painful and morally abhorrent.
Daily incursions, murders, and across-the-board
mayhem and destruction are taking place before the very eyes of those
who are holding their breath awaiting the "invasion."
'Opec sales drop in first half of 2001'
Sales by Opec countries dropped slightly in the
first half of 2001, reflecting the global economic slowdown, the
weekly trade journal Petrostrategies reported on Monday. Members of
the oil producing organization sold $118.2 billion worth of oil
through June 2001, against $121.1 billion during the first half of
The 11-member cartel sold $2.9 billion less oil in
the first half of 2001, but the journal said 72 per cent of that
figure was because of the Iraqi decision. OPEC was able to hold
numbers fairly steady despite a global economic slowdown in large
industrialised countries and a fall in demand for oil products around
In the second quarter of 2001 Opec revenues dropped
to $59.1 billion, against $62.2 billion in the first half of 2000.
Half of the fall came from the Iraqi export suspension, the rest from
a cut in Opec production by 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) to support
Lebanon's Hizbollah slams Qatar over WTO meeting
Lebanon's Hizbollah on Tuesday condemned Qatar for
allowing an Israeli delegation to take part in the World Trade
Organization meeting to be held in the Gulf state in November.
"The simplest duty of Arab countries is to cut
all ties with the enemy to show support to the Intifada and the
Palestinian people against continued Israeli aggressions," a
statement by the group said.
The Arab League decided in May to ban political
contacts with Israel in support of the Palestinian uprising against
Israeli occupation. But Qatar has said that Israel will attend the WTO
meeting as it is an international conference.
Hizbollah was the main force behind Israel ending
its 22-year occupation of south Lebanon in May of last year. The group
is still fighting Israeli troops in the occupied Shebaa Farms, a strip
of land adjoining Lebanon, Israel and Syria.
Israel kills Hamas activist
A Palestinian activist was blown up when a volley
of Israeli tank shells slammed into his car in the northern West Bank
town of Nablus on Wednesday, witnesses and hospital officials said.
The dead man, Salah Darwazeh, 36, was a member of
the Hamas movement, which vowed to avenge his death.
Oman will go to WTO meet
Oman will attend the World Trade Organization (WTO)
conference in Doha in November even if Israel takes part as planned, a
minister said Tuesday, brushing aside Arab boycott threats.
"The Sultanate of Oman will take part in the
WTO conference as a member of the organization" since November
2000, said Yussef bin Alawi, minister in charge of foreign affairs, in
an interview published by the national press.
"The presence or absence of Israel at this
conference is not a political problem," he said. "What
difference is there when the WTO meets in Geneva and every one attends
and when it meets in Qatar and some (countries) are absent?" he
Iraq denies risk
An Iraqi official was quoted on Monday as denying a
UN statement that its livestock and people were at risk of infection
with deadly Rift Valley Fever.
"Statements... that Rift Valley Fever is
threatening Iraq are baseless and Iraq is free from the disease,"
the Iraqi Agriculture Ministry official was quoted by the weekly Nabdh
Al-Shabab as saying.
Egyptian stock market
Former broker Alaa el-Ghandour has never looked
back since leaving Egypt's depressed stock market to raise chickens.
Radical career switches might seem risky and
stress-ridden, but 27-year-old Ghandour says it was the right decision
and has taken a load off his chest.
On Sunday, Egypt's benchmark Hermes index tumbled
to a low of more than seven years at 5,533.06, amid bearish global
markets, regional violence and local macroeconomic woes.
Saudi bourse soars
The Saudi bourse soared 2.9 per cent to close the
week ending Thursday at its highest level since 1985 on the back of
OPEC's decision to slash output by one million barrels a day to
bolster falling crude prices.
The NCFEI all-shares index closed at 2,468.97
points, up from 2,400.41 on July 19. It is now 9.3 per cent higher
than at the beginning of the year, Bakheet Financial Advisors (BFA)
Lebanon launched eurobond offer
Lebanese Finance Minister Fuad Saniora launched
Tuesday an offer of 400 million dollars in eurobonds, with a maturity
period of seven years, and the subscriptions hitting 600 million
dollars in less than two hours.
"The introductory offer was at 3:00 p.m. local
time (1200 GMT) and the subscription hit 600 million dollars two hours
later, with 130 million dollars coming from outside Lebanon,"
Saniora told a press conference, adding the full sum would only be
known after financial markets closed later in New York.
Jordan's state-run Social Security Corporation has
bought Kuwaiti shares in the Arab Bank for 96 million dollars in a
deal aimed at preventing "foreign control" over the bank,
analysts and officials said Tuesday. The deal was sealed on Monday
when the Social Security Corporation bought 400,000 shares in the Arab
Bank from Kuwait's General Investment Authority for a total of 68.6
million dinars (96 million dollars).
SABIC posts 27% fall
Saudi Basic Industries Co. (SABIC) posted a 400-million-dollar
profit in the first half of 2001, down 27.1 per cent from the same
period of last year, the company announced Saturday.