OPEC+, and Saudi Arabia’s, decision to cut oil production frustrates the US, an Israeli-Lebanese border deal, and the West Bank is on the edge. Here’s your round-up, written by Abubakr Al-Shamahi, Al Jazeera Digital’s Middle East and North Africa editor.
With the global economy struggling, in large part due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the United States had lobbied OPEC+ not to cut oil production when the cartel met on October 5. But, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, OPEC+ seemed to ignore the US and decided to make production cuts anyway, in an effort to push oil prices higher.
The US took that decision as a snub by the Saudis, their long-time allies. And with the US midterm elections just around the corner, President Joe Biden was not particularly impressed – because if there’s anything US voters can’t stand, it’s higher gas prices.
Biden has now threatened the Saudis with “consequences” after a leading Democratic senator said US arms sales to Riyadh should be frozen. The president’s press secretary even accused OPEC of siding with the Russians, because higher oil prices will only help Moscow, as my colleague Federica Marsi explains. But the Saudis say it isn’t personal, it’s just business.
Israel and Lebanon’s gas ‘deal’
As far as neighbours go, Israel and Lebanon might not enjoy official relations, not to mention their sour and confrontational history, but it looks like they’ve finally reached a deal to demarcate the maritime border between themselves in the gas-rich Mediterranean Sea.
Both Israeli and Lebanese officials say the US-brokered deal has been agreed to, and it looks like all that’s left is the signatures. But you never know. Only a couple of days earlier, the deal looked like it was about to fall through – so the thinking is anything can still happen.
Occupied West Bank heats up
Even for the occupied West Bank, the past week has been incredibly tense. Just look at what’s happened: An Israeli raid on Saturday killed two 17-year-old Palestinians, and an Israeli soldier was killed at a checkpoint in occupied East Jerusalem on the same day; on Monday, a 12-year-old Palestinian died from his wounds after he was injured in an earlier Israeli raid; and on Tuesday another Israeli soldier was killed near an illegal Jewish settlement. With no sign that Israel’s near-daily raids are going to let up, there’s a real fear that some kind of wider conflict is just around the corner.
And now for something different
The Washington Wizards basketball team want to break the Arab world by becoming the first NBA team to launch social media accounts in Arabic. It’s a common enough trend in football, but with basketball gaining popularity in the Middle East and North Africa, the Wizards want to get a steal on their rivals. But, they have gone for quite possibly the most basic of hashtags: #yallawizards
The Mexican official hiding out in Israel
Tomas Zeron used to be the head of Mexico’s Criminal Investigation Agency. Then he got caught up in a case involving the 2014 disappearance of 43 Mexican students and fled the country after being accused of torture and tampering with evidence. The case gets murkier: Zeron has been in Israel since 2019, and has applied for asylum. Why Israel? It reportedly has something to do with his ties to Israeli surveillance companies.
The leaders of Turkey and Armenia hold their first meeting since agreeing to improve ties – Banks in Lebanon say they’re going to close indefinitely after more attempted hold-ups – 15 refugees die off the coast of Libya after a fire on their boat – Canada designates Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organisation and imposes sanctions.
Tens of thousands of Syrians have gone missing since protests against the government started in 2011, shortly followed by the start of the war there. Writing for Al Jazeera, members of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria are calling on member states to set up a body to find out what happened to those people, and hopefully give their families some answers.
Quote of the Week
“The conflict makes people unwilling to spend because they fear more rainy days ahead. Only those who are wealthy, or war profiteers, see no value in the truce.” – Yunis Saleh, a grocery store owner in Sanaa, Yemen. The country’s truce ended after six months, with civilians now afraid that heavy fighting will soon follow.