Global News Update: Three Ticking Time Bombs

January 9, 2014 10:45 AM

We have been watching these and other stories unfold and while tensions are on a hair trigger, today we find these three at a pause. One to decide for or against a national policy of violence, one has to figure out how to oust rebels and save that nation's oil production capacity and one must decide what to do with a few thousand remaining, anti-government protesters.

Ukraine -- The government of Ukraine last month received a $20 billion financial bailout package from Russia that will both help ease the nation's financial woes and may have driven the last nail into the coffin of the Association Agreement with the European Union. Protesters are still barricaded in Independence square although the end of the holiday season has most of the protesters back at work, leaving a slim few to hold the torch for Ukrainian reform.

If President Yanukovych cracks down too harshly on the few thousand protesters left, he risks re-igniting the national blaze of revolution. If Yanukovych lets it slide, he may be seen by Russia as too passive, kowtowing to human rights sensitivities.

Nitrogen plants that had been off-line -- or partially so -- are incrementally returning to full production capacity. Meanwhile, U.S. Senators have penned a resolution that would include visa bans and asset freezes against officials who either ordered or carried out violence against protesters. The question remains as to whether or not the United States has the authority, even with the backing of the E.U. to hold sway in Ukraine's internal politics.

Egypt -- The attitude of the people is turning against a democratic solution to three years of violence and turmoil. What the people really want is stability in the short-term and most feel that democratic means would both take too long, and leave the Muslim Brotherhood fit to fight another day. Currently, those who supported the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood believe the only way to secure their country against despots is with violence.

A vote is set for next week on a constitution drafted by appointees of the military-backed government. If passed, the measure could open the floodgates of disorder as once democratic citizens face what the installed military-government has labeled a terrorist organization -- the Muslim Brotherhood. Many believe the only way to rid Egypt of the Muslim Brotherhood is violence.

The democratic leaning side of the nation favors aggressive pursuit of exports to the United States of nitrogen fertilizers including urea, ammonia and most notably, UAN. A takeover of Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood would confront the United States with a dilemma between conducting commerce with a terrorist state, and increased demand for UAN solutions as a nitrogen source on the farm. 

Libya -- Libyan crude oil production has been cut in half by dissidents who have captured crude oil export terminals on the Eastern coast of Libya. The Libyan government has said it would destroy or sink any tankers that look to load at the rebel strongholds dubbed 'Cyrenaica'. The rebels, meanwhile have shot at at least one tanker headed to Libyan ports and have intimidated others away from the crude hub.

This threatens to increase the price of Brent crude oil and if enough WTI is making it on to the global market, we could see increases there as well. The turmoil has cost Libya production capacity amounting to 1 million barrels per day. As the rebels who have accosted the Eastern ports of Libya look to capitalize on their foothold and sell their oil, tension grows between them and the Libyan government at large.



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