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)


New Chicago mayor gives Arabs hope

Updated 12 min 15 sec ago

New Chicago mayor gives Arabs hope

  • The election of Lori Lightfoot as mayor gives Chicago’s Arabs an opportunity to reverse the damage that Rahm Emanuel has caused
  • Emanuel’s first acts as mayor included blocking the annual Arabesque Festival, which Jewish groups complained against

Plagued by ongoing controversies and criticism that he tried to hide a video of Chicago police killing a black teenager in October 2014, Rahm Emanuel decided he had had enough as the city’s mayor and decided to retire.

Elected in 2011 with a big boost from his former boss, US President Barack Obama — also a Chicago native — Emanuel served two full terms.

But his hopes of reversing the city’s tumbling finances, improving its poorly performing schools, and reversing record gun-related violence and killings, all failed.

However, Emanuel did have one success. He managed to gut the involvement of Chicago’s Arab-American minority in city-sponsored events, responding favorably to its influential Jewish-American community leadership, which complained about Palestinian activists who advocated for statehood and challenged Israeli oppression.

Emanuel’s first acts as mayor included blocking the annual Arabesque Festival, which Jewish groups complained included photographs of Palestinians protesting against Israel. The festival had only been launched four years earlier by his predecessor in 2007.

Emanuel also disbanded the Advisory Commission on Arab Affairs, and ended Arab American Heritage Month, which had been held every November since it was recognized by Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor.

Emanuel refused to discuss his reasons for these decisions with leaders of Chicago’s Arab community.

He declined repeated requests by me to interview him, despite my having interviewed seven Chicago mayors. He declined similar requests from other Arab journalists.

While he hosted iftars for Muslims, he never hosted an Arab heritage celebration during his eight years in office.

His father was a leader of the Irgun, which was denounced as a terrorist organization in the 1940s by the British military.

The Irgun murdered British soldiers and thousands of Palestinian civilians, and orchestrated the bloody Deir Yassin massacre on April 9, 1948.

Before becoming mayor, Emanuel volunteered at an Israeli military base repairing damaged vehicles. His pro-Israel stance was never challenged by the mainstream US news media.

But with the election in February of Lori Lightfoot as mayor, Chicago’s Arabs have an opportunity to reverse the damage that Emanuel caused.

Lightfoot was sworn into office on Monday and serves for four years. She has already reached out to Arabs, appointing at least two Palestinians to her 400-person transition team, whose members often remain and assume government positions with new administrations.

The two Palestinians in her transition team are Rush Darwish and Rami Nashashibi. Darwish has organized several successful marathons in Chicago and Bethlehem to raise funds for the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. Nashashibi is involved with the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN).

As an African American, Lightfoot knows what it is like to be the victim of racism, stereotypes and discrimination. That makes her more sensitive to the concerns of Chicago’s Arabs.