Iran's six month agreement with P5 + 1, Egypt's transition after the ouster of Mohammed Morsy and Syria's long and catastrophic civil war have nudged a plan to revitalize the Palestinian Territories right off the global agenda.
I was in the room when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry unveiled, on the evening of May 26, what he saw as an ambitious plan to deliver hope to Palestinians by jump-starting investment. His speech closing out the World Economic Forum regional meeting at the Dead Sea in Jordan was met with a heavy dose of skepticism because it lacked specifics.
Kerry presented an economic road-map, calling for $4 billion of private investment covering eight sectors from agriculture to tourism. If you build the right framework, according to the top U.S. diplomat, investors will come. The goal is to boost the economies of the West Bank and Gaza by up to 50% in just three years.
While no one can really argue with the spirit of the economic initiative, the reality on the factory floor, whether it is light manufacturing or in telecommunications, is very different. Palestinian businessmen suggest it is time to be more holistic in the approach. One cannot divorce the peace process from business. FULL POST
(CNN) - The historic six-month agreement over Tehran's nuclear program may begin a new era of relations with Iran, but it will be a long road back for the country's most vital sector, oil.
Iran produces about two and half million barrels a day - far off its 4-million-barrel-per-day peak a decade ago. Output is hovering at a level last seen at the end of Iran's war with Iraq. With North Sea Brent crude averaging over $100 a barrel for a record three years running, the sanctions on energy alone are costing Tehran about $50 billion in lost annual revenue.
"During the six month phase, the oil sanctions that will remain in place will continue to cause over $25 billion in lost revenues to Iran or over $4 billion a month," he said.
With every year that has passed, the screws have been tightened by Washington and the countries of the European Union. It was not only sanctions against oil, but also blocking Iran's ability to secure shipping insurance and to trade in U.S. dollars and euros. That economic isolation, many Middle East strategists I have spoken with suggest, is what brought Iran's new government to the negotiating table.
Despite the deal breakthrough, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said most of the sanctions will stick as the world gauges the intentions of this relatively new administration in Tehran.
The message is clear: the pressure remains, but if all goes well, in a half year's time Iran can expect more in return for transparency.
It is still early days, but this country of nearly 80 million people has been described as potentially being the Germany of the Middle East with plenty of natural resources - that is, if it can emerge from years of economic isolation.
CNN's John Defterios looks at an innovative scientific research program seeking to unlock the energy potential of algae as potential replacement for fossil fuels.
Algae requires a lot of fresh water for cultivation. Dr. Hector Hernandez told CNN: "It's only been very recently that we've realized that the desert is teeming with life... as we've explored more that all these exciting things have started to show themselves."
(CNN) – Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says China will begin to revise its future policy on North Korea.
Rudd outlines three reasons for this shift including North Korea’s nuclear weapons program aggravating regional U.S. allies; the potential for an escalating conflict should North Korea attack South Korea; and the damage to China’s foreign reputation as a supporter of the regime.
Rudd adds that China faces huge challenges in transforming its domestic economic growth model to meet the workforce demands for higher wages and living standards.
(CNN) –Opposition Leader Mohamed ElBaradei says the solution for Egypt's terrible shape is a political one, not a military one.
ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, tells CNN's John Defterios that Egypt must start political reconciliation to stop the social unrest and violence in the country.
The North African state needs support from the International Monetary Fund to "jump start" the economy, according to ElBaradei.
(CNN) – Moira Forbes talks about women in the workplace after Forbes recently named Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg the world's most powerful woman in business.
Forbes says Sandberg has received much attention around the release of her book "Lean In" focusing on women in the workforce.
Forbes added that Sandberg has grown Facebook into a multi-billion dollar company and her success if "extraordinary" with a book that is "personal and candid."
(CNN) – Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council, says the Iranian-Pakistan gas pipeline could be a strategy by Pakistan to align more closely with Iran.
The new pipe labeled the “peace pipeline” runs between south Iran to the Pakistan city of Multan.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari met on March 11 to mark the beginning of construction on the Pakistani side.
The U.S. says the pipeline could violate sanctions on Iran over the country’s nuclear program.
(CNN) – Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who died this week, built his support on a populist platform of sharing the country's oil wealth with the poor.
Yet Venezuela's economy, and the future of its oil industry, remains deeply vulnerable.
CNN's John Defterios talks with Fereidun Fesharaki, the chairman of FACTS Global Energy, who says the country's oil industry is in a "shambles." So what challenges a new leader face?
Former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker says the country's debt problem is a "ticking time bomb." He describes the U.S. as "broke" and says if it wasn't for the dollar as the global reserve currency the U.S. would be "Greece."
(CNN) - The Moscow Stock Exchange is the latest company to trade on its own platform.
It comes after the company sold its shares at an Initial Public Offering last week - at the low end of the IPO range.
The stock began trading Friday , providing a valuation of more than $4 billion.
John Defterios sat down with Kirill Dmitriev, the chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund and asked him why, despite the lukeman response, he sees potential in the exchange.
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