Germany’s worldview. With the Munich Security Conference in full swing, Germany is again framing its vision of global security. Speaking at the conference on Feb. 16, Chancellor Angela Merkel described how the world order was disintegrating. She stressed the need for NATO not only as a military organization, but also because it serves as “a community of shared values.” Though she voiced support for sanctions against Moscow, Merkel also warned against cutting ties with Russia. She suggested that China should be included in any disarmament talks with Russia. Merkel said that a quick withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria could give Russia and Iran an opportunity to expand their influence. The chancellor justified Germany’s decision to honor the Iran nuclear deal as a tool for the West to exert pressure on Tehran. Her speech reflected the need for European states to take greater ownership of their security interests at a time when competition between the United States, China and Russia is in full swing.
Pakistan under pressure. The U.S. and Iran have called on Pakistan to stop harboring terrorists. In the wake yesterday’s Kashmir attack, India is working with all political parties – and the United States – to craft its response to Pakistan. Washington pledged support for India’s counterterrorism efforts and for New Delhi’s right to self-defense and renewed calls for Pakistan to prevent Jaish-e-Mohammed from conducting more attacks. Meanwhile, a commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps warned Pakistan that if Islamabad does not tamp down Jaish al-Adl (the Sunni militant group responsible for an attack earlier this week that killed 27 IRGC members), Iran reserves the right to retaliate and protect itself from threats on the border. Iran also threatened action against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both major lenders to Pakistan, for their support of Jaish al-Adl.
Pemex bailout. The Mexican government will inject $3.6 billion in to the state oil company, Pemex, whose debts stand at more than $100 billion. The Finance Ministry said the measures will include debt refinancing and tax cuts but exclude new debt. By the end of 2018 public debt amounted to 44.8 percent of Mexico’s gross domestic product, and the government is working to reduce that figure. Pemex’s oil production has been steadily declining, averaging just 1.8 million barrels per day last year. The company has also been losing about $3 billion per year because of fuel theft and pipeline taps. Reviving Pemex and its production is more than just President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador fulfilling a campaign promise – it’s about increasing revenue and making Mexico less dependent on the U.S. for energy. But increasing production won’t be enough; Mexico will need to build out its refining and storage infrastructure, too.
- The economic arm of Iran’s IRGC said it will take a more proactive approach toward improving the country’s economy.
- Lithuania has not yet agreed to terms for the creation of a common gas market by 2020 with Finland, Estonia and Latvia. Vilnius seeks a profit distribution scheme that would provide a return on previous investment, rather than one that reflects gas consumption.
- Kenya’s parliament will investigate the terms of a loan made by China’s Export-Import Bank for the construction of its standard gauge railway in which the port of Mombasa may have been put up as collateral.
- Local reports indicate that the unrecognized Dniester Moldovan Republic deployed 22 military patrols along its border with Moldova.
- In a strong show of confidence, 111 of 128 members of Lebanon’s parliament voted in favor of proposed reforms aimed at national development.
- U.S. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency along the U.S. border with Mexico. Democrats are expected to contest the move.