Monthly briefing: 13 key developments in the region


Iran says nuclear deal rests with US agreeing to all terms; OPEC and non-OPEC partners to increase oil production; Iraq is struggling to form a new government after the latest elections; Saudi economy expected to grow at fastest pace in a decade

By Indrajit Sen

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> Iran responds to final nuclear deal proposal

> OPEC accepts a moderate increase in oil production

> Iraq struggles to break its political deadlock

> Turkey pivots to the Gulf

> Egypt becomes a climate hotspot

> Acwa Power targets $10 billion in Uzbek opportunities

> Abu Dhabi G42 creates $10 billion fund

> Hill will merge with GISI

> German/local team signs train operating agreement in Egypt

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NUCLEAR AGREEMENT

Tehran says deal rests with US agreeing to all terms

Iran has delivered its response to the latest potential draft deal proposed by the EU, calling for flexibility from the United States.

A final agreement to resume implementation of the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, could be closer, but remains contingent on resolving a few remaining areas of dispute.

Iran’s negotiating team said the disagreement was over three remaining issues – the terms of two of which have already been orally agreed to by the United States, leaving only one area of ​​dispute. Iran also insists that all terms be in writing. Read more

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian (second from left) meets with the International Atomic Energy Agency in Tehran in March 2022. Credit: Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

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OIL

OPEC and its partners will increase production in September

The Opec+ alliance of oil producers is expected to increase oil production by just 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) in September, amid growing fears of a global economic recession that will dampen demand for crude.

In June, OPEC+ agreed to increase its July and August crude output to 648,000 bpd.

The global benchmark Brent crude, which hit nearly $140 a barrel in March after Russia began war with Ukraine on Feb. 24, has given up most of its gains.

Despite OPEC+’s decision to increase production by 100,000 bpd in September, Brent fell further in August and traded at $95 a barrel as of August 22. Read more


ISRAEL/GAZA STRIP

Israel and Gaza return to truce after latest violence

After three days of violence in early August that claimed the lives of 44 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, Egypt brokered a ceasefire between Israel and militants in Gaza that came into effect on August 7 .

The three-day conflict began when Israel launched targeted attacks against operatives of the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad inside Gaza. Israel said it was responding to threats from the Gaza group after the arrest of one of its senior officials in the West Bank.

The latest conflict was unusual in that it was not a response to rocket or missile fire from Gaza, but a preemptive strike, and Hamas was not involved.


MENA REGION

UAE leads the region for venture capital funding in 2022

Companies in the United Arab Emirates raised $699 million in the first half of 2022, ranking the country as the leader in venture capital funding in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, according to data platform Magnitt.

The United Arab Emirates was also the favorite in terms of transactions, which increased by 10% in the six-month period compared to a year ago.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt finished second and third. The kingdom attracted $584 million, more than triple from the first half of 2021, from 79 deals, while Egypt’s funding more than doubled to $307 million from 78 deals.

Investments in Bahrain increased nearly eightfold to $116 million, placing the country in fourth place, followed by Tunisia, which rose by third to $36 million.


SAUDI ARABIA

The economy is expected to grow at the fastest pace in a decade

Saudi Arabia’s economy is expected to grow at the fastest pace in a decade and is likely to be one of the fastest growing economies in the world this year, according to the IMF.

The kingdom’s GDP is expected to grow 7.6% this year after growing 3.2% in 2021, the IMF said in its Article IV report. Non-oil growth will increase to 4.2% in 2022 before returning to its medium-term potential of 4%. The Saudi economy grew by 11.8% in the second quarter of 2022.

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IRAQ

Rivals meet to end stalemate over government

Rival Iraqi political leaders met Aug. 17 to try to break a 10-month stalemate over the formation of a new government in the country.

The meeting came amid fears that the current standoff could turn violent, as tension mounts between the opposing political blocs.

However, the Sadrist Movement, a major political group sponsored by Shia cleric and political leader Moqtada al-Sadr, did not take part in the meeting.

After the meeting, the office of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said that the participants expressed their commitment to ending the political crisis and did not rule out holding early elections as a way to end the dead end. Read more


LEBANON

Baghdad agrees to continue the supply of heavy fuel oil

The Iraqi government has agreed to continue supplying Lebanon’s national electricity company with heavy fuel oil for another year, Lebanese interim Prime Minister Najib Mikati has said. This will reduce pressure on the country’s ailing power grid.

Mikati said he made the request to Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who agreed to extend the same terms of the agreement signed last year.

In July 2021, Iraq offered the cash-strapped Lebanese government 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil per year in exchange for services, including health care, for Iraqi citizens.


REGIONAL

Israel and Turkey to restore full diplomatic relations

Israel and Turkey have agreed to restore full diplomatic relations and will return ambassadors to each other’s countries after relations steadily improve.

Turkey issued a statement saying that despite the resumption of relations, it was “not abandoning the Palestinian cause”.

In the past, warm relations between Israel and Turkey disintegrated under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who openly criticized Israel’s policy towards Palestine. Israel, in turn, has objected to Turkey’s support for the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip. Turkey reappointed an ambassador to Israel in 2020, but full relations have not been restored.


EGYPT

Rationed energy consumption to increase foreign exchange reserves

On August 11, Egypt’s cabinet approved an electricity rationing plan to save natural gas, which it will instead divert to the export market to generate foreign exchange.

The country has been suffering from a severe shortage of foreign currency since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which drove up global commodity prices, led to a collapse in tourism for both countries and raised the cost of borrowing .

Under the draft plan, stores will have to limit their use of strong lights and keep their air conditioning at no more than 25 degrees Celsius. Departments and government facilities will be required to turn off lights at the end of working hours. Public lighting will also be reduced.

In July, a planned increase in electricity prices was postponed for six months. The Prime Minister said the government hoped to reduce the amount of gas used to generate electricity by 15%.


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