US not renewing sanctions waivers for importing Iranian oil, working with Saudi Arabia and UAE

President Donald Trump said the US would be ending sanction waivers for countries importing Iranian oil. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 23 April 2019

US not renewing sanctions waivers for importing Iranian oil, working with Saudi Arabia and UAE

WASHINGTON:  US President Donald Trump moved on Monday to cut Iranian oil exports to zero by ending eight countries’ exemption from US sanctions on buyers of crude from Tehran.

China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece will now be subject to full US economic penalties if they buy oil from Iran after May 2.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US wanted to deprive Iran of its lifeline of $50 billion in annual oil revenues by halting all exports. “We are going to zero. We’re going to zero across the board,” he said.

“We’ve made clear — if you don’t abide by this, there will be sanctions. We intend to enforce the sanctions.”

The aim was to pressure Tehran to curtail its nuclear program, halt ballistic missile tests and end its regional meddling in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere. “The Trump administration and our allies are determined to sustain and expand the maximum economic pressure campaign against Iran to end the regime’s destabilizing activity threatening the United States, our partners and allies, and security in the Middle East,” the White House said.

The US said it was working with Saudi Arabia and the UAE to ensure the oil market was “adequately supplied.” Pompeo said he was confident of Riyadh’s commitment to making sure there was sufficient supply in the market, and Trump said Saudi Arabia would “more than make up” for the absence of Iranian oil.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said the Kingdom was “monitoring oil market developments” and would coordinate with other producers to ensure a balanced market. Brent crude rose to more than $74 a barrel on Monday, the highest since November.

Saudi Arabia produces about 9.8 million barrels of oil per day but has the capacity for 12 million, so it could increase production to address any market shortfall, Faisal Mrza, a Saudi-based energy and oil marketing adviser, told Arab News.

“As the world energy industry’s only safety valve, Saudi Arabia is the only oil producer that can compensate for the loss of Iranian barrels,” he said. 

“Historically, Saudi Arabia has successfully proven its ability to maintain balance in the global markets, absorbing any supply shock caused by geopolitical or technical factors.”

(With Agencies)


‘Huge’ challenges ahead as Cyril Ramaphosa takes presidential oath in South Africa

Updated 25 May 2019

‘Huge’ challenges ahead as Cyril Ramaphosa takes presidential oath in South Africa

  • Promised a new era in which officials will improve the lives of South Africans
  • South Africa is the world’s most economically unequal country

PRETORIA: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday urged the country to pursue “an extraordinary feat of human endeavor” as he was sworn in for a five-year term with a delicate fight against government corruption ahead of him.
“The challenges our country face are huge and real. But they are not insurmountable. They can be solved. And I stand here today saying they are going to be solved,” Ramaphosa told some 30,000 people in the capital, Pretoria, with several African leaders in attendance.
He promised a new era in which officials will improve the lives of South Africans instead of enriching themselves. He called for a state free from graft and “resources squandered,” and urged fellow citizens to end poverty in a generation. Both would be immense achievements: Corruption and mismanagement have consumed billions of rand, and South Africa is the world’s most economically unequal country.
Ramaphosa’s inauguration followed his ruling African National Congress party’s 57.5% victory in this month’s election. It was the party’s weakest showing at the ballot box since the ANC took power at the end of the harsh system of racial apartheid in 1994, as voter turnout and confidence fell.
Ramaphosa first took office last year after former president Jacob Zuma was pressured to resign amid corruption scandals that badly damaged public faith in the ANC. A former protege of South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, Ramaphosa is seen by many as having the potential to clean up both the government and the ruling party’s reputation. Without him the ANC likely would have received just 40% of the vote, one party leader, Fikile Mbalula, has said.



Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent Ramaphosa a cable of congratulations on his swearing in. 
The crown prince expressed his sincere congratulations, best wishes for success and further progress for the people of South Africa


There was no sign at Saturday’s ceremony of Zuma, who has insisted he did nothing wrong and that allegations are politically motivated. His allies within the ANC leadership pose a challenge to Ramaphosa as he pursues reforms.
Ahead of the election Ramaphosa apologized to South Africans for the political turmoil. He also vowed to continue the fight against graft that has hurt the country’s economy, the most developed in sub-Saharan Africa.
The president’s resolve to impose clean governance will be tested with the appointment of his new Cabinet in the coming days. He faces pressure from opposition parties and civil society to reduce the number of ministers — there are now 34 — and appoint ones who are scandal-free.
In a sign his efforts are working, former deputy president David Mabuza was not sworn in as a member of Parliament due to an incriminating report on him by the ANC’s integrity commission. For now, Ramaphosa is without a deputy.
In his speech on Saturday the president also addressed public frustration with joblessness, patchy delivery of basic services and the legacy of inequality. Unemployment is above 25% and much of the country’s wealth and private levers of power are held by the small white minority.
“Many South Africans still go to bed hungry,” Ramaphosa said. “Many live lives of intolerable deprivation. Too many of our people do not work, especially the youth.”
One challenge for the president in the years ahead is engaging potential voters in South Africa’s “Born Free” generation , who never experienced apartheid and unlike their parents see the ANC not as a party of liberation but one expected to deliver for the future.