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Saudi, UAE back OPEC cuts as US envoy warns of ‘uncertainty’

Saudi, UAE back OPEC cuts as US envoy warns of ‘uncertainty’

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates defended on Monday a decision by OPEC and its allies to cut oil production, even as an American envoy warned of “economic uncertainty” ahead for the world.

While cordial, the comments at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference showed the stark divide between the United States and Gulf Arab countries it supports militarily in the wider Middle East. Already, American politicians have threatened arms deals with the kingdom and described it as siding with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid his war on Ukraine.

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, hinted at that in brief remarks to the event.

“We don’t owe it to anybody but us,” the prince said to applause, noting that upcoming U.N. climate change summits will be held in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. “It was done for us, by us, for our future, and we need to commit ourselves to that.”

Emirati Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei echoed that defense. While saying that OPEC and its allies are “only a phone call away if the requirements are there” to raise production, he offered no suggestion such a boost would be on its way anytime soon.

“I can assure you that we in the United Arab Emirates, as well as our fellow colleagues in OPEC+ are keen on supplying the world with the requirement it needs,” al-Mazrouei said. “But at the same time, we’re not the only producers in the world.”

OPEC and a loose confederation of other countries led by Russia agreed in early October to cut its production by 2 million barrels of oil a day, beginning in November.

OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, has insisted its decision came from concerns about the global economy. Analysts in the U.S. and Europe warn a recession looms in the West from inflation and subsequent interest rate hikes, as well as food and oil supplies being affected by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“The global economy is on the knife’s edge,” insisted Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the managing director of the state-run Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.

American politicians, meanwhile, have reacted angrily to a decision likely to keep gasoline prices elevated. An average gallon of regular gasoline in the U.S. now costs $3.76 — down from a record $5 a gallon in June but still high enough to bite into consumers’ wallets. Benchmark Brent crude oil sat at $95 a barrel Monday.

“I think at the end of the day, we are facing an economic uncertainty globally,” said Amos Hochstein, the U.S. envoy for energy affairs. “Energy prices have to be priced in a way that allow for economic growth. And if they are not … they will rise too high and accelerate an economic downturn, which ultimately is the one thing that will be terrible for energy demand itself.”

Hochstein declined to speak to The Associated Press after appearing on stage at the Abu Dhabi event.

President Joe Biden, who traveled to Saudi Arabia in July and fist-bumped Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before a meeting, recently warned the kingdom that “there’s going to be some consequences for what they’ve done.”

Saudi Arabia lashed back, publicly claiming the Biden administration sought a one-month delay in the OPEC cuts that could helped reduce the risk of a spike in gas prices ahead of the U.S. midterm elections Nov. 8.

The back-and-forth between Riyadh and Washington shows how tense relations remain between the two countries since the 2018 gruesome killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi security forces. American intelligence agencies believe the slaying came at Prince Mohammed’s order.

The Soufan Center, a New York-based think tank, said Monday that it appeared “trust and mutual respect between the United States and Saudi Arabia appear to have reached a nadir” amid the dispute.

“The U.S.-Saudi relationship could fundamentally shift to an almost purely transactional one, characterized by ‘strategic drift,’ as Riyadh continues to act against its own self-interest, a move borne of spite, not strategy,” the center said.

“If Saudi Arabia again votes to cut production, it will lead to a further rift with the United States and will signal Riyadh’s growing drift closer to Moscow,” it added.

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Chief Of Defence Staff Says Military Under Pressure To Compromise 2023 Polls

The Nigerian military on Thursday revealed that despite the fact that it is facing constant pressure to compromise the 2023 elections, it will continue to be neutral.

General Lucky Irabor,  Chief of Defence Staff disclosed this to journalists at the 61st session of the State House Ministerial Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

According the him, military personnel face pressure through inducements, but the armed forces would remain apolitical as it is taking the necessary measures to ensure compliance with the directive of the President Muhammadu Buhari  to maintain neutrality.

Irabor added that personnel are being trained to be more professional even as the rules of engagement have been codified for distribution before, during and after the elections.

The CDS also revealed that several military rescue operations and negotiations have led to the freeing of at least 300,000 people from the hands of their abductors since 2014 while refugees who fled the North-East due to insurgency, have started to return.

He said that former insurgents, now being trained, would graduate in February next year before their reintegration into the society. He added that the military is recruiting more personnel into all branches of the security services.

The goal, Irabor said, is to increase the number of on-the-ground personnel to combat insurgency and banditry and curtail oil theft which will eventually lead to increased crude oil production.

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ICPC Arraigns NSCDC Official Over N12m job Scam

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has arraigned a Superintendent of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Solomon Ogodo, over allegations bordering on forgery, employment racketeering, and fraud.

ICPC, in charge no: CR/503/2022 brought before Justice M.S. Idris of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, sitting in Jabi, Abuja, accused the defendant of defrauding unsuspecting job seekers the N12.2 million.

In the five-count charge, the commission told the court that the accused person on different occasions hoodwinked members of the public into parting with different sums of money in the guise of securing employment for their relatives in the Nigeria Correctional Services (NCoS).

The court was further informed of how Mr. Ogodo, with the intent to commit fraud, forged offers of provisional appointments for some applicants into the Nigeria Correctional Services.

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Okonjo Iweala Makes Forbes List Of World’s Most Powerful Women

A former Nigerian minister of finance and current Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been named one of Forbes’s World’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2022.

Forbes, an American business magazine owned by Integrated Whale Media Investments and the Forbes family, has a particular focus on business, technology, communications, science, politics, and law.

The African leadership person of the year awards are vote-based and reserved yearly for leading Africans who are making positive impacts and promoting a favourable image of the continent.

Okonjo-Iweala polled over 60 percent of the 15,000 votes in the category at the close of the poll on 2nd of December 2022.

Forbes said, “The World Trade Organization head Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (No. 91 of 100) continue to play a crucial role in providing financial assistance and promoting global trade as the threat of a global recession rises.”

Recall that Okonjo-Iweala was recognized by another media platform, Time magazine as one of the world’s most influential people in 2021.

This would be Okonjo-Iweala’s 6th recognition in her career.

Okonjo-iweala reacted on Twitter, saying that she was excited by the awards she had received in her career.

“An honour and a privilege to be part of this list of a very distinguished group of women for the 6th time in my career, Congratulations to my other sisters. Let’s continue to show that good governance, good public policy and a people-centered approach to work matters,” he said.

Winners for the 11th edition of the award shall be presented with the honour on 16th of February 2023, at a ceremony scheduled to be held in Port Louis, Mauritius.

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