Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

North Africa

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

North Africa

Article excerpt

OPEC Gets Tested in Algeria

The toughest challenge in any multinational organization is ensuring that member states comply with policy decisions. For OPEC, this is especially difficult when a member state-in this case, Algeria-has ambitions to increase its output capacity while OPEC policy is asking for exactly the opposite. The Jan. 22 Khaleej Times reported that just two weeks after OPEC imposed its fourth supply cut in a year, Algeria tapped another oil field that began producing at around 75,000 barrels a day. The dispute arose after Algeria, with its largely unexplored petroleum basins and loose official regulations, managed to attract some of the world's biggest oil companies to the country. As OPEC is asking it to cut output to the lowest level in years, Algeria has been working to boost overall capacity to 1.5 million barrels per day by 2005. As one analyst summed it up: 'Algeria's position within OPEC is difficult" especially since the outcome of this impasse will likely serve as a precursor to similar situations elsewhere.

Sudan Gets Sugary Deal

Good news from Sudan regarding its relationship with Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom has agreed to import raw sugar from Sudan for a Jeddah refinery, while Sudan gets a $30 million factory to produce vegetable oil, reported the Jan. 22 Arab News. The deal will have Sudan growing 250,000 acres of sugarcane in central and eastern parts of the country. In addition, Saudi Arabia has resumed importing meat and livestock from Sudan after a year-long ban that Sudanese officials said cost their country more than $170 million in hard currency. Sudan hopes to export two million heads of livestock to Saudi Arabia during 2002.

Bizarre Trial in Tunisia

The BBC reported that on Jan. 2, after years of living underground, three men-Hamma Hammami, Abdel-Jabar Madouri and Samir Taamallah, all members of the opposition Communist Party-surrendered to Tunisian authorities because they thought pro-democracy forces and human rights groups had grown strong enough to ensure a fair trial. Instead, as they stood surrounded by their lawyers, a group of some 30 uniformed and plainclothes policemen burst into court and seized the men. According to the Feb. 4 Independent, the judge locked himself in his office as the police harassed the defendants and their lawyers. Hammami, whose 9-year in absentia sentence was renewed in court, said that "the police have confiscated all my past, the few pictures of my childhood, my high-- school report cards, the poems I have written since I was 13, all the memories I kept from my childhood. …

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