The Middle East Channel

Japan agrees to cut Iranian oil imports

Japan agrees to cut Iranian oil imports Japan has agreed “to reduce Iran oil imports” after meeting in Tokyo with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, on an Asian trip to advocate cooperation in applying pressure on Iran to curb its nuclear program. Japan is integral in the measures as the second biggest customer of Iranian ...

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Japan agrees to cut Iranian oil imports

Japan has agreed “to reduce Iran oil imports” after meeting in Tokyo with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, on an Asian trip to advocate cooperation in applying pressure on Iran to curb its nuclear program. Japan is integral in the measures as the second biggest customer of Iranian oil after China. Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi said that over the past five years the country had reduced Iranian imports and also said that, “We wish to take planned and concrete steps to further reduce this share, which now stands at 10 percent.” China and Russia have meanwhile refused to stem oil imports. In a meeting between Geithner and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and other government officials, China said it would not connect its domestic oil trading with the international Iranian nuclear issue. However, this weekend the Chinese premier is scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, to attend a conference and deliver a speech on China’s energy policy. Some analysts said this trip could signal Chinese efforts to seek out alternative oil suppliers. The increasing sanctions have been taking a toll on Iran’s economy, which saw its rial currency lose 20 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar this week. In that context, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is on a diplomacy trip of his own looking to ratchet up support in Latin America. In a statement released by Ahmadinejad with Cuban President Raul Castro, the two agreed to the “right of all nations to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.”

Headlines  

  • A French journalist was killed in Syria in a government sponsored media trip. Meanwhile, the Arab League is delaying sending additional monitors after 11 of the observers were injured in an attack.
  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denied any U.S involvement in an assassination yesterday of an Iranian nuclear scientist. However, many experts reckon that the U.S and Israel are nonetheless using a strategy of covert actions to halt nuclear development in Iran.
  • Lebanon has arrested a man on allegations that he spied for Israel’s Mossad for “over 35 years”, supplying telecommunications information.
  • After a meeting with Egypt’s military leader, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said he was optimistic about steps toward democracy but believes the SCAF would not cede full control.
Daily Snapshot

Mohammed Badie, head of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, (R) speaks with former US president Jimmy Carter during a meeting in Cairo on January 12, 2012. The Carter Center is one of the few monitoring groups to have had a licence to witness Egypt’s first post-revolution election, in which the country’s two main Islamist parties have scored a crushing victory (STR/AFP/Getty Images).

Arguments & Analysis

‘Art in Egypt’s revolutionary square’ (Ursula Lindsey, Middle East Report online)
“In these tempestuous and trying times in Egypt, art projects that engage with the revolution as an ongoing process, rather than an event to be encapsulated or commended, seem to be the most fruitful. Open-air movie screenings, free cultural festivals, touring theater troupes, street art — these forms and events create new venues and new audiences, mix art and politics, and start conversations. Many of these ventures have unabashedly gone about the business of consciousness raising. But, generally, they do not seek to make programmatic statements or issue manifestoes; they simply want to show and to share.”

‘When victory becomes an option: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood confronts success’ (Nathan J. Brown, Carnegie Endowment for Int’l Peace)
“If it is to be successful in government, however, the Brotherhood must start setting its foreign policy, economic, and cultural priorities. While the movement’s appeal has always been strongly cultural, moral, and religious, there are few areas where it sets off fears more quickly than in this realm. As a result, the cultural agenda has been sidelined. But with the ultraconservative Salafis entering the political arena for the first time, the Freedom and Justice Party may be forced to choose between competing with them for the Islamist base and reassuring non-Islamist political forces at home and abroad.”

‘Six questions for Dr. Hanan Ashrawi’ (Jonathan Guyer, Huffington Post)
Q: Do think that after one, two, or three years the PLO would say that it is time to pursue a one-state option? Would the PLO seek citizenship from the State of Israel and the right to vote?
A: It probably might be even sooner than one, two, or three years, because at the pace that is being pursued by this Israeli government, they really are making sure that the two-state solution is dead. They are trying to advance “Greater Israel.” And I said, if they want to work for Greater Israel then we will work for historical Palestine…So they better not go down that path, but they are. t’s a very dangerous path — it’s irresponsible and it will lead to the perpetuation of the conflict.

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