different from oil. Vitally important to some MENA economies – Qatar, Algeria, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt.
Impressions of the Vienna OPEC meetings. Complicated interpretation of the final communiqué. All more or less satisfied, price likely to settle around $75. Long-term issues ducked.
OPEC plus Russia respond vaguely to Trump’s tweets – “need to keep prices down!” Russia plays it soft but everything hangs on Saudi Arabia.
Syria – next major fighting expected in the south-west, near Golan Heights, Israel and Jordan.
Qatar vs. the four: no sign of compromise. The dispute static but not safe, and causing harm. The four have won no friends.
Asad government strengthens its position, but still faces rebels in two main areas. US does a deal with Turkey and concentrates on mopping up IS. Coalition bombing of Raqqa criticised.
Unforeseen rise in the oil price. Middle East factors include Saudi requirements and expected sanctions on Iran.
Iranian and Israeli strike and counterstrike the most serious yet. Targets chosen to avoid heavy casualties. Not outright war yet – but just one mistake away from it.
Iraq – elections. Turmoil at home, balance abroad but with a tilt towards Iran.
US/French/UK strikes against chemical weapons facilities. Success in narrow terms, limited impact in Syria and the region. The war goes on.