Saudi Arabia - U.K. 'exploring' Saudi entry to fighter jet project with Italy and Japan

Price tops $95 a barrel raising fears of return to rising inflation


23-09-19 12:07

The price of crude oil has surpassed $95 a barrel, which could lead to higher petrol prices and increased inflation. Markets are predicting that the latest inflation figures from the Office for National Statistics will show an increase in the annual rate of consumer price inflation to 7% in August. This could pose a problem for both Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who promised to halve inflation by the end of the year, and the Bank of England, which is tasked with bringing inflation back down to its 2% target.
‘Level up’: Lewis Hamilton sends strong message to Mercedes engineers

The Independent

23-09-19 11:51

Lewis Hamilton has called on Mercedes to "level up" and improve their performance in order to challenge Red Bull and Max Verstappen in the 2024 Formula 1 season. Verstappen is on track to win his third consecutive world title and Red Bull are currently 308 points ahead of Mercedes in the constructors' championship. Hamilton, who recently signed a contract extension with Mercedes until 2025, believes that the team needs to do a better job in order to compete with Red Bull. Despite his winless streak, Hamilton remains optimistic and pointed to previous periods of adversity in his career as evidence that fortunes can turn around in Formula 1.
Tuesday evening news briefing: Britain touted as future 'associate member' of the EU


23-09-19 17:30

Labour leader Keir Starmer has expressed his desire to build a stronger relationship between the UK and France if his party wins power in the next general election. Starmer made the comments during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, where they discussed post-Brexit relations. The meeting came after France and Germany proposed a four-tiered system for the UK's potential rejoining of the European Union, which would see the UK governed by the European Court of Justice.
Argentina's former detention and torture site added to UNESCO World Heritage list

The Toronto Star

23-09-19 17:24

The United Nations has recognised Argentina's ESMA Museum and Site of Memory as a World Heritage site. The former Navy School of Mechanics in Buenos Aires housed one of the most notorious illegal detention centres operated by the country's military dictatorship that ruled from 1976 to 1983. The ESMA now functions as a museum and site of memory, highlighting the horrors and crimes committed during the dictatorship. The decision to include the ESMA in the World Heritage list was motivated by the recognition that it represents the illegal repression carried out by military dictatorships in the region.
Argentina’s former detention and torture site added to UNESCO World Heritage list

Associated Press

23-09-19 17:22

Argentina has welcomed the decision by a UNESCO conference to include the ESMA Museum and Site of Memory in the list of World Heritage sites. The former Navy School of Mechanics, known as ESMA, was the most infamous illegal detention center during Argentina's military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983. The site now operates as a museum and a larger site of memory, including offices for government agencies and human rights organizations. The inclusion of a former detention and torture center as a World Heritage site is a rare instance in which a museum of memory related to recent history is designated to the list.
Canada’s inflation rate rises to 4% in August, putting pressure on central bank

The Globe and Mail

23-09-19 17:20

Canada's annual inflation rate rose to 4% in August, up from 3.3% in July, the highest annual inflation rate since April, according to Statistics Canada. The increase was driven by higher gasoline prices and rising rents, with mortgage interest costs also continuing to rise. Core measures of inflation, which exclude volatile price movements, also increased, reaching 4% in August, twice the central bank's 2% inflation target. The Bank of Canada recently paused its monetary policy tightening campaign after 10 interest rate hikes over the past year-and-a-half, due to a slowdown in economic growth. However, the higher-than-expected inflation rate is putting pressure on the central bank to raise interest rates again. Interest rate swap markets are now pricing in a 40% chance of another rate increase in October, compared to a one-in-five chance before the release of the inflation data.
Neither Biden nor Netanyahu Can Afford a Bad Meeting


23-09-19 22:14

When U.S. President Joe Biden sits down with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday in New York on the margins of the UN General Assembly opening, their private thoughts might not exactly reflect their public talking points.

“I wish Trump were president,” Netanyahu might be thinking.

“I can’t believe this guy’s still around,” Biden may muse. “Can’t Israel come up with a better prime minister?” Aaron David Miller Aaron David Miller is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, focusing on U.S. foreign policy. More >

Smiles and warm words will almost certainly be on display. But those gestures will mask a growing divergence between a staunchly pro-Israel U.S. president and an Israeli prime minister. The latter is the longest serving in the country’s history, who is on trial for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust and who has become desperate to remain in power even at the expense of presiding over the most extreme and fundamentalist government in Israel’s history.

Nonetheless, Biden—driven by his own personal regard for Israel, domestic politics, and matters of state—isn’t prepared to go to war with Netanyahu or to fully embrace him. Indeed, Biden is the only president since Jimmy Carter who has not met an Israeli prime minister at the White House during an Israeli leader’s first year. A White House meeting might be possible by the year’s end if the judicial overhaul Netanyahu is pursuing goes into a deep freeze or if the Biden administration’s megadeal normalizing Israeli-Saudi relations—requiring Netanyahu’s close cooperation and concessions—moves forward.

For the Biden administration, after a rather easy relationship with the Bennett–Lapid rotational Israeli government, the inauguration of Netanyahu’s government in December was an unwelcome surprise. The Bennett–Lapid government— composed of parties from the right to the left, including the participation of an Israeli Arab party formally within the government—was risk-averse and cautious. Now, the new Netanyahu government is risk-ready in the extreme.

Netanyahu put together a coalition of right-wing religious Zionists and ultra-Orthodox parties, enabling him to return to power and perhaps find a way to undermine or even cancel his ongoing trial. His government—largely driven by the agendas of three right-wing extremist ministers—set into motion a series of radical policies designed to create and ensure permanent Israeli control of the West Bank and Jerusalem. On the domestic side, the coalition aimed to restructure the balance between the government and the judiciary, effectively ending any judicial oversight and an independent judiciary.

The threat to the judicial system produced the largest, most organized, and most sustained protests—now in their eighth month—in the history of Israel. Once seen as a cautious and careful reader of public opinion, Netanyahu now seems unchained, desperate, and hostage to a government he is responsibile for creating. Polls indicate that if elections were held today, Netanyahu could not form a government. He knows he has little choice but to go with the radicals—at least for now.

The last thing the Biden administration needed—given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a muscular China, and a busy legislative agenda—was a disruptive Israeli government, serious violence in the West Bank, or a major crisis with Iran on the nuclear issue. In several rare, public interventions and at least one more pointed call with the prime minister, Biden spoke out in favor of the common democratic values that bound Israel and the United States, in an implicit criticism of the Israeli government’s judicial overhaul. But by and large, the president allowed the Israelis in the streets to do the walking and the talking on what was seen to be a domestic issue.

Biden isn’t looking for a fight with Netanyahu but isn’t prepared to embrace him either. Three reasons stand out.

First, the president’s persona. The model here for Biden isn’t Barack Obama but Bill Clinton. Support—even love—of Israel is deeply embedded in Biden’s emotional DNA. His first instinct isn’t to confront Netanyahu but to find a way to work with him.

Second is domestic politics. Presidents don’t like to fight with Israeli prime ministers. It’s distracting, messy, awkward, and potentially politically costly. The Republican Party has set itself up as the Israel-Right-or-Wrong Party and is eager to paint Biden as anti-Israel. This is the last place the president wishes to be, especially entering what will likely be a close election running against a former president who styles himself as the most pro-Israel president ever.

And finally there’s policy. Netanyahu stands at the center on two issues: the Iran nuclear issue and Israel–Saudi Arabia normalization. One is potential crisis, and the other a major opportunity. And Biden needs Netanyahu’s cooperation on both.

All of this leads to one inescapable conclusion. Despite what divides them, neither Biden nor Netanyahu can afford a bad meeting. Netanyahu will press Biden on toughening U.S. policy on Iran, and Biden will look for Israeli concessions on the Palestinian issue that will help him sell a Saudi deal. Biden will also remind Netanyahu that his judicial overhaul needs to find a compromise solution, lest it impact the shared democratic values that bind the two countries together.

But all of this is largely performative. The readouts of the meeting may differ slightly, with the Israeli leader putting out a warmer, more effusive to tone. But no one will be fooled. Biden is increasingly frustrated and annoyed with Netanyahu, but the U.S.–Israel relationship is too big and important to fail. In the end, it seems Biden can’t live with Netanyahu, but he can’t live without him either.

Recent surge in WTI price curbs US oil flows to Europe, Asia


23-09-19 21:24

The recent surge in West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude prices has closed arbitrage routes for US crude to Europe and Asia and is preventing oil from the Atlantic Basin from heading east, according to traders. The increase in WTI prices, driven by OPEC+ supply cuts and falling US shale oil production, has altered global trade flows by keeping US oil in the country. This has driven up demand and prices for other oil imported by Europe and Asia. The surge in WTI prices has also widened the Brent-Dubai spread, making crude produced in the Atlantic Basin more expensive for Asian refiners who will now turn to the Middle East.
Japan's new jet fighter alliance pushes limits of defense policy

Nikkei Asia

23-09-19 21:00

Japan's largest maker of jet engines, IHI, is recruiting engineers to design advanced stealth engines for a sixth-generation fighter plane as part of the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP). The GCAP is a tri-nation project involving the UK, Italy, and Japan, with the aim of developing a future Japanese air force. The project is politically sensitive in Japan, a largely pacifist nation with strict constitutional limits on arms production and exports. However, recent changes in the global security environment have led to increased interest in the defense sector, with more young people becoming attracted to work in the defense business.

The GCAP is the flagship project of the Japanese government’s proactive defense policy, which seeks to transform Japan’s pacifist legacy in the face of an increasingly threatening international environment. To succeed, the government will need to reconsider the restrictions placed on defense projects by the country’s constitution. The government is also considering revising long-standing restrictions on arms exports, allowing the GCAP aircraft to be sold abroad. However, this would require a change in Japan’s interpretation of the pacifist constitution and could face opposition from the public and political parties.

The GCAP project is a challenging and complex endeavor, as it involves three countries with different military goals and approaches. Negotiations have been slowed by disagreements over who makes what and where, as well as disagreements over the export of GCAP aircraft to other countries. However, the project presents an opportunity for Japan to acquire the independent capability to develop an aircraft engine, which has been a top priority for the country. The GCAP aims to develop a fighter jet that can network with other military assets, locate enemy aircraft before being detected, and shoot them down using a range of weapons.

Wednesday Briefing: Zelensky’s Warning at the U.N.

NY Times

23-09-19 20:52

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has told the UN General Assembly that Russia's aggression would not end at Ukraine's borders. He said the goal of the war against Ukraine was to turn it, its people, resources and land into a weapon against the international rules-based order. Zelensky added that Russia was weaponizing essentials such as food and energy "not only against our country, but against all of yours, as well." The US president, Joe Biden, also condemned Russia's "naked aggression", warning that if Ukraine was "carved up", the independence of other nations would be in danger. Meanwhile, 50 defence ministers and other top officials were meeting in Germany to discuss providing military aid to Ukraine. The US defence secretary said US-made Abrams battle tanks would shortly arrive in Ukraine.
Red card helps Ronaldo's Al-Nassr win Asian Champions League opener


23-09-19 20:34

Cristiano Ronaldo's Al-Nassr defeated 10-man Persepolis 2-0 in their Asian Champions League match. Victory came after Persepolis had Milad Sarlak sent off for a second bookable offence. Abdulrahman Ghareeb and Mohammed Qassem scored for Al-Nassr to secure the win. The game was played in an empty stadium due to a ban imposed on Persepolis by the Asian Football Confederation. Al-Nassr's win puts them on top of their group. In another match, Al Ain defeated Pakhtakor 3-0, with Kodjo Laba scoring twice and assisting in the third goal.
Biden’s efforts to court India challenged by assassination claim

Washington Post

23-09-19 23:58

US President Joe Biden is attempting to balance relations with Canada and India after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused the Indian government of being behind the killing of a Sikh separatist leader in British Columbia. The Canadian investigation alleges that Indian officials may have been involved in the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who advocated for a separate Sikh state. The White House has voiced support for the investigation but has avoided any repudiation of India or Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The US is seeking strong relations with both countries as it tries to counter China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific.
UN General Assembly: Erdogan, Netanyahu meet for first time as relations thaw


23-09-19 23:39

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in person for the first time in years, signaling a thaw in their strained relationship. The two leaders discussed political, economic, and regional topics, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian issue. They also discussed opportunities for energy cooperation, particularly in natural gas exploration, production, and trade. This meeting marks a significant milestone in the slow improvement of ties between Turkey and Israel. Turkey has also been working to repair relationships with other regional rivals, including Egypt, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia reaffirms its commitment to promoting dialogue among all parties in Yemen -defence minister


23-09-19 23:16

Saudi Arabia's defence minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, has reaffirmed the kingdom's commitment to promoting dialogue among all warring parties in Yemen. This comes after the Houthi envoys left Riyadh following a five-day round of talks with Saudi officials. Progress has been made on key issues such as a timeline for foreign troops exiting Yemen and a mechanism for paying public wages. The sides are expected to hold further talks after consultations. The conflict in Yemen, which began in 2014, has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands and left 80% of the population dependent on humanitarian aid. The talks are focused on reopening Houthi-controlled ports and Sanaa airport, as well as rebuilding efforts and a timeline for foreign forces to leave Yemen.
What’s hap­pen­ing with nor­mal­is­ing ties be­tween Sau­di Ara­bia and Is­rael?

Al Jazeera

23-09-21 09:46

Saudi Arabia and Israel are reportedly close to reaching a normalization deal, according to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Riyadh is seeking a US defense pact, assistance in developing its own civilian nuclear program, and fewer restrictions on US arms sales. However, any agreement would also require major progress towards the creation of a Palestinian state, which poses a challenge for the right-wing Israeli government. The Palestinian Authority has pressed for conditions of its own, including the reopening of the US consulate in East Jerusalem and increased Palestinian representation at the United Nations.
Premarket: World stocks wilt, U.S. dollar marches higher as central banks spring surprises

The Globe and Mail

23-09-21 09:23

World stocks fell for the fifth consecutive session, the US dollar rose to its highest level since March, and the Swiss franc tumbled as central bank interest rate decisions continued to surprise markets. European equities dropped following the US Federal Reserve's indication that it still had room for another interest rate hike. The Swiss National Bank unexpectedly kept its rates steady, while Norway's central bank hiked rates, surprising analysts by signalling the possibility of another rate hike in December. The Bank of England is due to make a rate decision on Thursday, with Goldman Sachs and other banks changing their previous predictions for a rate increase.
UAE free-trade zone and Hong Kong business group sign deal on logistical support

South China Morning Post

23-09-21 09:11

The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), the UAE's largest free-trade zone, has signed an agreement with the Hong Kong-Middle East Business Chamber to promote greater commercial ties between the two regions. The deal aims to bolster exchanges of expertise, knowledge transfer, and trade and logistical support. The agreement comes as Hong Kong seeks to attract more businesses amid tensions between China and the US, and follows a deal between Dubai's Department of Economy and Tourism and Hong Kong's Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau to establish an economic corridor promoting cross-border trading, family offices, fintech and green finance.
Syria's Assad visits China for first time since civil war

Deutsche Welle

23-09-21 08:41

Syrian President Bashar Assad has arrived in China for a series of meetings, including a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Assad's visit is his first to China since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2012. The visit is expected to focus on securing help in rebuilding Syria, as China expands its influence in the Middle East. China has long backed Assad's regime and has used its veto power in the UN Security Council to block resolutions against Assad's government. The visit comes as Syria returns to the Arab League, signalling a possible easing of Assad's isolation.
Who is Gravenberch? The Liverpool midfielder with ‘massive potential’

The Independent

23-09-21 08:14

Liverpool midfielder Ryan Gravenberch could make his full debut for the club against LASK in the Europa League, with manager Jurgen Klopp speaking highly of the 21-year-old. Gravenberch, signed for £34m from Bayern Munich, impressed his teammates in training and has been praised by Klopp as a player with "massive potential." The Dutch midfielder has an opportunity to establish himself in Liverpool's midfield following the departures of several key players and the injury to Thiago Alcantara.
Saudi Crown Prince vows to keep ‘sportswashing’


23-09-21 14:38

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia has admitted for the first time that his country is "sportswashing" its image by investing in sports teams and events. Bin Salman stated that he would "continue sportswashing" due to its positive impact on the economy, and said he did not care what others thought. Critics have accused Saudi Arabia of using sport to divert attention from human rights abuses, including the execution of 81 men in one day, women's rights abuses, the criminalisation of homosexuality, and its involvement in the war in Yemen.