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Qatar to quit Saudi Arabia-dominated OPEC amid rift with kingdom – National

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The tiny, energy-rich Arab nation of Qatar announced Monday it will withdraw from OPEC in January, a rebuke of the Saudi-dominated cartel as the kingdom’s boycott of Doha continues unabated and a crucial meeting of the group looms this week.


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The surprise declaration could make Qatar the first Middle East nation to leave the cartel since its founding in 1960. It again injects politics into an organization that long has insisted it is nonpartisan, stealing headlines just as the cartel deliberates production cuts to halt a slide in global crude oil prices.

Although contributing only a fraction of OPEC’s overall production, Qatar’s decision also throws into question the viability of the cartel. Once muscular enough to grind America to a halt with its 1970s oil embargo, OPEC needed non-members like Russia to push through a production cut in 2016 after prices crashed below $30 a barrel. That’s unlikely to change, especially as the United States regained the throne of the world’s top oil producer.

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“The Qatari leadership is no longer interested in remaining an active part of an organization that largely shuns it,” the Eurasia Group said in an analysis. “The two individuals that markets focus on are Saudi Arabia’s energy tsar Khalid al-Falih and Russia’s Alexander Novak. Qatari energy officials are not consulted, at the very least not sufficiently, and its leaders are no longer an active part of the organization’s machine.”

The decision was announced by Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, Qatar’s minister of state for energy affairs. He said Qatar, the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, planned to increase its exports from 77 million tons of gas per year to 110 million tons. He also said Qatar wants to raise its oil production.

“In light of such efforts and plans, and in our pursuit to strengthen Qatar’s position as a reliable and trustworthy energy supplier across the globe, we had to take steps to review Qatar’s role and contributions on the international energy scene,” al-Kaabi said.


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There was no comment from Vienna-based OPEC, which meets Thursday to discuss possible production cuts. In November, al-Falih said OPEC and allied oil-producing countries will probably need to cut crude supplies, perhaps by as much as 1 million barrels of oil a day, to rebalance the market.

Qatar produces only about 600,000 barrels of crude oil a day, making it OPEC’s 11th biggest producer. The loss of production, under 2 per cent of overall OPEC supply a day, won’t greatly affect the cartel’s position in the market.

Anas Alhajji, an oil analyst, said Qatar’s decision “has no impact on the market either way whether they’re in or they’re out.”

“The cost for them is higher than the benefit” of remaining in OPEC, Alhajji said. “This is just like shutting down a losing business.”

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Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, Qatar’s former prime minister who remains a powerful figure in the country, called the withdrawal from OPEC a “wise decision.”

“This organization has become useless and adds nothing to us,” Sheikh Hamad wrote on Twitter. “They are used only for purposes that are detrimental to our national interest.”

Qatar, a country of 2.6 million people where citizens make up over 10 per cent of the population, discovered its offshore North Field gas deposit in 1971, the same year it became independent.

It took years for engineers to discover the field’s vast reserves, which shot Qatar to No. 3 in world rankings, behind Russia and Iran, with which it shares the North Field. It also has made the country fantastically wealthy, sparking its successful bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

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Qatar also hosts the al-Udeid Air Base, the home of the forward headquarters of the U.S. military’s Central Command and about 10,000 U.S. troops.

Qatar’s wealth has seen it take on a larger importance in international affairs. Its political stances, often supporting Islamists, have drawn the ire of its neighbours, particularly Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s largest exporter.

In June 2017, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates cut ties to Qatar in a political dispute that is still going on. They also launched an economic boycott, stopping Qatar Airways flights from using their airspace, closing the country’s sole land border with Saudi Arabia and blocking its ships from using their ports.

They say the crisis stems from Qatar’s support for extremist groups in the region, charges denied by Doha. The four nations also have pointed to Qatar’s close relationship with Iran. Qatar restored full diplomatic ties to Iran amid the dispute.

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OPEC, or the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, was formed in 1960 as a reaction to Western domination of the oil industry.

Qatar was the first nation outside of its founding members to join the cartel, entering its ranks in 1961. Counting Qatar, OPEC has 15 members, including Algeria, Angola, Congo, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. OPEC nations like Ecuador, Gabon and Indonesia have either withdrawn or suspended their membership in the past, only later to rejoin. Qatar could potentially do the same.

OPEC sets production targets for its members in an effort to control the price of oil available on the global market.

President Donald Trump repeatedly has criticized both OPEC and U.S. ally Saudi Arabia over rising oil prices in recent weeks, demanding a production increase to drive down U.S. gasoline prices. That rising supply, coupled with the Trump administration allowing many countries to continue to import Iranian oil despite his targeting of Tehran with sanctions, has seen global prices drop.

Benchmark Brent crude, for instance, reached over $85 a barrel in early October, only to drop sharply in the time since. It traded at just over $61 a barrel Monday.



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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA

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Harris accepts VP nomination

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Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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