EconSource: ISIS Imposes Fuel Blockade on Rebel-Held Northern Syria

The Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) is blocking oil sales to northern Syria, activists say, unleashing an economic weapon that could cause food shortages and hospital shutdowns. The blockade demonstrates how heavily dependent ISIS’s enemies are on the crude oil it produces. ISIS controls the oil-rich eastern region of Syria and rebels say it is using the blockade to weaken the rebel fight against its advance into northern Aleppo province. As a result of the blockade, prices for essential goods have skyrocketed throughout rebel-held regions. Both bread and oil have had their prices triple since the blockade began on June 10. Rebels have responded by trying to impose their own blockades on goods moving into ISIS areas, although the effort may be futile given the supplies coming from Iraq. [Financial Times, Business Insider, 6/18/2015]

Saudi Arabia, Russia sign nuclear power cooperation deal
Saudi Arabia and Russia have signed an agreement to cooperate on nuclear energy development, a Saudi government body in charge of such projects said. The King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy announced the cooperation deal on its website on Thursday but gave no further details. Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV, citing unnamed sources, said the kingdom planned to build sixteen nuclear reactors, which Russia will play a significant role in operating. It is not clear if this new deal will take cooperation with Russia to a more advanced level. Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi was due to meet his counterpart Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak in St. Petersburg on Thursday to discuss a broad cooperation agreement. [Reuters, 6/19/2015]

Egypt draft 2015/2016 budget projects 9.9 percent deficit, 5 percent growth
Egypt’s cabinet approved a draft 2015/2016 budget that projects a deficit of 9.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), narrowing slightly from an expected gap of 10.8 percent in the current fiscal year. The draft budget, which has yet to be approved by the president, also includes a large increase in social welfare program expenditure. The budget also earmarks 38.4 billion pounds for bread and commodities subsidies. Growth is projected at about 5 percent versus a projected 4.2 percent in the current fiscal year, while the projected deficit increased to 281 billion Egyptian pounds. [Reuters, 6/19/2015]

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