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Geopolitics

ARABICA - A Daily Shot Of What the Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing

ARABICA - A Daily Shot Of What the Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing

The Arab world's eyes and ears continue to strain to better gauge the situation in Libya, where Muammar Gaddafi appears to be using all means at his disposal to hold on to power.

A R A B I C A ارابيكا

By Kristen Gillespie


FUZZY PICTURE

*The Arab world's eyes and ears continue to strain to better gauge the situation in Libya, where Muammar Gaddafi appears to be using all means at his disposal to hold on to power. There are reports of a major assault underway by loyal Gaddafi troops on rebel forces, and the Colonel gave another rambling televised discourse, accusing protesters of serving the interests of Al-Qaeda and trying drugging the coffee and milk of Libyans "to take control of them." Meanwhile, defections from his regime continued, with Libya's ambassador to Jordan announcing his resignation and support for the revolution.

*Lebanon reportedly refused to allow a private plane carrying the wife of Gaddafi's son, Hannibal, among others. Aline Skaf is of Lebanese origin.

Hannibal and Aline were arrested in Switzerland in 2008 for allegedly abusing their servants, sparking a serious diplomatic crisis between Libya and Switzerland.

‘SHOCKING" (IN THE GOOD SENSE) VIDEO

*This YouTube video shows an elongated Egyptian flag connecting a church to a mosque in the port city of Alexandria as people in the streets honk horns, applaud and cheer. Referring to widespread beliefs that the Egyptian government fomented sectarian strife between Muslims and Christians, one commentator wrote, "people in the state intelligence video would have a heart attack if they saw this video."

A QUESTION

*Democracy activist Wael Ghonim reminds his 94,000 Twitter followers about former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's son, Gamal Mubarak, a former adviser to his father who reportedly helped amass those hidden billions of dollars: "Gamal Mubarak is still free although all his friends are being tried or have had their assets frozen… Why?"

VIOLENT CLASH IN JORDAN

*The Jordanian government arrests two people in connection with violence against protesters last Friday; 11 more arrest warrants issued. Another opposition protest is scheduled for this Friday following afternoon prayers.

NON-VIOLENT CLASH IN JORDAN

*Employees of Jordan's state-run newspaper, Al Rai, staged the first sit-in in the paper's history, demanding higher salaries – and journalism standards. Omar Assaf, the former assistant editor who resigned in protest against the paper's editorial policies, said "We tried to reform the paper and make it more professional, but ran into a wall."

Feb. 24, 2011

photo credit: illustir

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

How Russia's Wartime Manipulation Of Energy Prices Could Doom Its Economy

A complex compensation mechanism for fuel companies, currency devaluation, increased demand due to the war, logistics disruptions, and stuttering production growth have combined to trigger price rises and deepening shortages in the Russian energy market.

Photograph of Novatek's gravity-based structure platform for production of liquefied natural gas, floating on a body of water.

Russia, Murmansk Region - July 21, 2023: A view of Novatek's gravity-based structure platform for production of liquefied natural gas.

TASS/ZUMA
Ekaterina Mereminskaya

In Russia, reports of gasoline and diesel shortages have been making headlines in the country for several months, raising concerns about energy supply. The situation escalated in September when a major diesel shortage hit annexed Crimea. Even before that, farmers in the southern regions of Russia had raised concerns regarding fuel shortages for their combines.

“We’ll have to stop the harvest! It will be a total catastrophe!” agriculture minister Dmitry Patrushev had warned at the time. “We should temporarily halt the export of petroleum products now until we have stabilized the situation on the domestic market.”

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As the crisis deepens, experts are highlighting the unintended consequences of government intervention in fuel pricing and distribution.

The Russian government has long sought to control the prices of essential commodities, including gasoline and diesel. These commodities are considered "signalling products", according to Sergei Vakulenko, an oil and gas expert and fellow at the Carnegie Endowment. Entrepreneurs often interpret rising gasoline prices as a signal to adjust their pricing strategies, reasoning that if even gasoline, a staple, is becoming more expensive, they too should raise their prices.

The specter of the 2018 fuel crisis, where gasoline prices in Russia surged at twice the rate of other commodities, haunts the authorities. As a result, they implemented a mechanism to control these prices and ensure a steady supply. Known as the "fuel damper," this mechanism seeks to balance the profitability of selling fuel in both domestic and foreign markets.

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