In retaliation to the Russian military offensive against Ukraine, the European Union has blocked the assets of Russian oligarchs worth nearly €10 billion (over Rs 82K crore) as part of sanctions, TASS reported.
Further, another set of frozen assets was reported in the month of April.
Earlier in April, the European Union had frozen about €30 billion (Rs 2,48,418 crore) in assets of Russian and Belarusian oligarchs and businesses.
Assets worth €29.5 billion have been frozen, and transactions worth €196 billion have been banned, according to the EU statement.
Josep Borrell has also recommended taking frozen Russian foreign exchange assets to reconstruct Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the European Union has approved a 500 million euro military aid tranche for Ukraine.
Egypt rakes in $15m daily from Suez canal vessel traffic
Egypt is making bountiful harvests of revenue from its man-made Suez canal with daily earnings of $15millon from the maritime traffic.
Suez Canal stretches from Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea to the city of Suez on the northeastern shores of the Gulf of Suez, separating Egypt from the Sinai Peninsula.
Safwat explained that up to one billion tons of maritime cargo passed through the canal every year and that up to 20,000 ships had passed through the canal in the first quarter of 2022, carrying goods to various countries around the globe.
He said that the canal, the longest man-made in the world, had recorded increased revenue, generating about $5.61 billion in 2020, due to the determination and doggedness of Egyptians.
Safwat announced that the company made about $6.3 billion from its activities last year, saying that the construction of the canal 152 years ago, demonstrated the willpower and can-do spirit of the citizens of the Arab nation.
Tracing the history of the canal, the spokesman said it took the labour of about one million Egyptians and 120,000 deaths to put the canal in place in 1859.
Safwat noted that the number of ships using the canal daily had also increased from 45 per day in 2015 to 60 per day at present, describing the route as one of the safest in the world.
In March 2021, a huge container ship, known as Ever Given, belonging to Evergreen Shipping Lines, got wedged and blocked the Suez Canal, disrupting global maritime trade for weeks.
However, the ship, which the Egyptian Government impounded, was later released after agreeing to a deal on compensation with the government.
The 193-km Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean Sea at the canal’s northern end to the Red Sea in the south and it provides the shortest link between Asia and Europe.
The authorities of the SCA took the visiting journalists on a boat cruise on the old and new canals built by the government.
The journalists noticed the intense maritime activity taking place round the hour on the canal, helping to boost the prosperity of the North African country.
Egypt, which is currently one of Africa’s biggest economies, has embarked on various developmental projects, to sustain its position as a pacesetter in both the Arab world and sub-Saharan Africa.
The rich North African country has a population of about 106 million people, making it the third-largest country in Africa.
Competing economic interests of Europe militarise Gulf maritime waters
Cinzia Bianco, Matteo Moretti
In February 2022, the Council of the European Union (E.U.) gathered in Brussels to discuss the extension of the Coordinated Maritime Presence (CMP) concept to the North-Western Indian Ocean.
EMASOH, a French initiative, was launched in January 2020 to promote regional de-escalation in the Gulf and ensure freedom of navigation in the seas around the Strait of Hormuz.
The Council’s decision to officially embrace EMASOH, which operates in parallel to the U.S.-led International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC), is a small step in the direction of Europeans acknowledging that they won’t always be able to rely on the United States to defend their interests, even in the Gulf, long perceived in Europe as an “American lake.”
Whither a European security role in the Gulf?
This is not to say that the U.S. is leaving the Gulf or the Middle East more broadly.
Conversely, in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Europe is seeking to strengthen its energy ties with Middle Eastern suppliers to overcome its dependence on Russian oil and gas — an effort that is only likely to ramp up if the E.U. moves to ban Russian oil imports.
While North Africa, Iran, and the eastern Mediterranean are feasible long-term options, current energy infrastructures in these places is either derelict or non-existent, precluding a quick fix for Europe’s energy crisis.
This maritime space is already of strategic importance for Europe economically.
Finally, a stronger role for Europe as a security provider in the Gulf has a geopolitical rationale, too.
The E.U.’s decision to become strategically more involved in the maritime security of the North-Western Indian Ocean will have several future implications.
The CMP will enable the E.U. to share intelligence and operationalize coordination in the North-Western Indian Ocean, effectively establishing links between EMASOH and Operation Atalanta, an E.U. mission to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia.
The E.U.’s embrace of EMASOH is the ultimate green light for a new generation of ad hoc, flexible missions that can be deployed in sensitive areas for E.U. interests, offsetting the lengthy decision-making process of the E.U.’s Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP).
For now, Gulf countries are not in a position to provide maritime security around the Strait of Hormuz and the Arabian Sea on their own.
Finally, the European reference to the North-Western Indian Ocean indicates they might soon go beyond the existing operational areas of Atalanta and EMASOH.
Dr. Cinzia Bianco is a research fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, where she works on political, security, and economic developments in the Arabian Peninsula and Gulf region and relations with Europe. She is also a non-resident scholar with MEI’s Defense and Security Program and a senior analyst at Gulf State Analytics.
Matteo Moretti is a Junior Member at the International Affairs Institute (IAI) in Rome. His research interests include the EU’s foreign relations, especially with the Gulf.
U.S. picks 56 young Nigerians for Mandela Washington Fellowship
The United States Mission in Nigeria said it has chosen 56 young ‘changemakers’ for the Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) for 2022.
The statement also indicated that U.S. Mission Nigeria has selected 16 alumni from the MWF cohort from 2021 to take part in this year’s Alumni Enrichment Institute.
Kathleen FitzGibbon, Deputy Chief of Mission, made this known at the pre-departure orientation programme in Abuja organised for the beneficiaries in preparation for their fellowship in the United States this Summer.
“For the 2021/2022 MWF application cycle, over 19,000 Nigerians started the application, and over 8,000 submitted the application by the deadline.
“Following this, a total of 56 Mandela Washingon fellowship awards were made available to Nigerians this year,” she said.
In a joyous mood, one of the fellows,
“I believe this will be a game-changer for me and every other fellow as we will learn optimised ways to enhance the quality and widen the scope of impact of our works,” he said.
Chisom Nwankwo, a social entrepreneur and cleantech expert who runs the Skilled Women Initiative said: “after having a Virtual fellowship in 2021 as a result of the COVID19 pandemic, I am really excited to be heading to Drexel University Pennslyvania this summer as an Alumni Enrichment participant of the MWF.”
“I am looking forward to creating new relationships that will be pivotal to the growth of my nonprofit TSWINI and the improvement of my knowledge on sustainable clean technology solutions,” she said.
Babajide Oluwase, the founder of Ecotutu, a cleantech company delivering a suite of cold chain solutions to African businesses, said it is really an exciting feeling for him to be selected for the fellowship.
“Upon completion of my studies in the United States, I look forward to integrating the learnings into my work to advance Ecotutu’s mission of democratizing access to affordable cooling solutions for African businesses.”
While admonishing the fellows, MWF program coordinator, Diran Adegoke, told fellows that the opportunity to travel to the United States is one to be cherished.
While making a presentation on “elevator speech” to the fellows, he encouraged them to present themselves in the best version possible and always remember that they are in the United States to represent Nigeria.
Launched in 2014, the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship exchange programme of the U.S. government-sponsored Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) created to further the United States’ commitment to investing in the future of Africa.
Each year, U.S. Missions across Sub-Saharan Africa select accomplished leaders, who have established records of promoting innovation and positive impact in their countries.
This summer, the Fellows will travel to the United States to participate in six-week Leadership Institutes studying Business, Civic Engagement, or Public Management at U.S. colleges and universities.
At the conclusion of the Leadership Institutes, the Fellows will attend the annual Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit, where Fellows, U.S. government officials, and representatives from businesses and organisations with an interest in Africa engage in high-level sessions and workshops.
After completing the Leadership Institutes and Summit, Fellows are eligible to participate in several MWF alumni opportunities, such as the Alumni Enrichment Institute, that build on the skills and connections developed during their summer exchange program.
Recall that since 2014, more than 5,000 young leaders from every country in Sub-Saharan Africa have participated in the MWF with 456 Fellows of the lot coming from Nigeria. Thus far, Nigeria remains the largest contributor of Fellows each year.
Talking about the import of the MWF, Ambassador Leonard said, “The United States is dedicated to investing in the next generation of young Nigerian leaders reinforcing the strong partnership between both nations.
The vision, courage, and drive to innovate of Mandela Washington Fellows will help shape the future of Nigeria for many generations to come.”
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