Around Town …

  • The Western Sahara Research Watch (WSRW) has kept open an online petition urging the European Commission to cease granting licenses to EU vessels fishing the waters off the coast of the Western Sahara.  “No state in the world has recognised the Moroccan annexation of Western Sahara. Still, the EU is paying millions of Euros annually to the Government of Morocco to allow EU vessels to fish in the waters of Western Sahara. The EU fisheries activities in Western Sahara must immediately come to an end.” Read the complete post about this seemingly never-ending matter, here.  Efforts by groups such as the WSRW will continue to be matters that companies should consider before investing in a country with significant political challenges.
  • And while on the subject of the EU, be sure to read Goli Ameri’s latest op-ed posted in today’s Wall Street Journal, “Europe’s Trade with Iran’s Butchers.”  More robust economic sanctions are long overdue on the Iranian regime.  The issue is supposed to be taken up again shortly after the Congress reconvenes this year, including sending to the President the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act of 2009.  The measure could have been approved late last year but the Senate leadership refused to bring the matter up for a vote.
  • From the folks at Turtle Bay comes this “gem“:  the UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories has recommended a threat of economic sanctions against Israel if it does not end its blockade of Gaza.
  • The folks over at the Export Law Blog posted last week its Top 10 Export Stories for 2009.  He also penned his annual Christmas/Cuba message, but you’ll need to find that one on your own as we disagree on that point.  Santa always has an OFAC exception.
  • According to the Miami Herald, the Cuban regime last year faced its worst economic crisis in quite some time.  Who says economic sanctions are not working?  Imagine if we only applied them to  the fullest extent allowable under U.S. laws and regulations?  As is usual with articles such as these, it fails to point out that the problem is the Cuban regime, not U.S. sanctions.  On a bright note, Cuba is planning to “scrap the ration card, now good for 10 days of food a month, and issue food coupons to only the most needy and  all 24,700 free workplace cafeterias will close.”  Really now.  What dimension are these folks living in?
  • And, on a positive note and possible dent to Cuba’s budding travel business, the Obama Administration announced this week that all travelers arriving in the United States from state sponsors of terrorism, and select other countries, will be subject to more robust screening procedures.  And, yes, Cuba has been deservedly listed on the State Department’s terror watch list since 1982.  No doubt the pro-Cuban regime lobby in this town will kick in to high gear, yet again, to try to secure Cuba’s removal from the list.
  • A few weeks ago two F5-E jet fighter engines belonging to the Malaysian Air Force went missing.  Well, in reality, the engines seem to have disappeared about a year ago and it was only recently that it was discovered.  According to this anonymous source, it may have something to do with “pilferage” in the RMAF by senior officers with “second young” wives.  One wonders what the U.S. engine makers think of all this?
  • The New York Times reports that “an Iranian national who pleaded guilty to plotting to ship sensitive U.S. military technology to Iran is appealing his prison sentence.”  The defense?  A few weeks ago his lawyer was saying that his client was “lured” in a sting.
  • According to the Wall Street Journal, “Chinese companies banned from doing business in the U.S. for allegedly selling missile technology to Iran continue to do a brisk trade with American companies, according to an analysis of shipping records.”  No surprise here.  The Wall Street Journal review of the records and interviews with officials at some of the American companies indicate that the U.S. firms likely were unaware they were doing business with banned entities, and in many cases were tripped up by altered company names.
  • The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has notified Congress of a possible sale to Egypt of 450 AGM-114K3A Hellfire II missiles and associated parts, equipment, training and logistical support for approximately $51 million.  For more CNs visit the DSCA site, here.
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