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Israel-Lebanon maritime agreement: Historic deal helps cool tensions between rivals

Plus: Wildlife populations are plummeting, Parisians protest rising prices, and Putin plays host to UAE President.

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Today’s briefing is a ~4.5 min read:

  • 🤝 Israel-Lebanon maritime agreement: Historic deal helps cool tensions between rivals.

  • ➕ Plus: Wildlife populations are plummeting, Parisians protest rising prices, and Putin plays host to UAE President.

📰 GLOBAL HEADLINES
🤿 DEEP DIVE

A breakthrough in the Eastern Mediterranean

In brief:

  • Israel and Lebanon have agreed to settle a long-running maritime border dispute involving two natural gas fields in the Mediterranean.

  • The US-brokered agreement could benefit both countries in economic and security terms, but it’s not yet set in stone.

The new maritime border will be demarcated along line 23. Source: Middle East Eye

A line in the water

After weeks of (in)tense negotiations, Israel and Lebanon have accepted the terms of a US-brokered agreement that defines once and for all their maritime borders, inshallah.

  • The deal is designed to settle competing claims over a section of the Eastern Mediterranean containing two rich natural gas reservoirs and end one the many long-running disputes between the two adversaries.

The terms: Israel will retain complete control over the smaller Karish Gas Field, while Lebanon will hold the rights to the Qana Reservoir, although it will have to share a portion of the extraction profits with Israel.

Mutually advantageous

Shared interests often help bridge divides:

1. 💰 Economic benefits

Lebanon’s economy has cratered over the past four years, with GDP falling by more than half and the Lebanese pound shedding 95% of its value. While revenues will take several years to materialise, the deal could bolster Lebanon’s international investment credentials.

  • However, corruption may undermine Lebanon’s hydrocarbon windfall. As Mona Yacoubian, Senior Advisor at the United States Institute of Peace, notes:

“Given Lebanon’s pervasive corruption, safeguards that ensure the deal does not merely entrench further the country’s deep-rooted cronyism and patronage will be important.”

2. 🔒 Improved regional security

Lebanon and Israel have no diplomatic ties and have technically been at war since 1948.

  • After decades of discord, many hope the border agreement will inject much-needed stability into Lebanese-Israeli ties.

Importantly, Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militant and political group, announced that it will respect the new maritime framework after previously threatening Israeli development projects in the disputed areas.

According to expert Randa Slim, the deal:

“[r]emoves a point of tension between Israel and Lebanon. [... and] may also undermine Hezbollah’s resistance narrative about using force to settle disputes with Israel.”

3. 🇪🇺 Europe sniffs a new source of energy

Much like Beetlejuice, the ghost of a European energy minister will appear if you repeat 'natural gas’ three times in a row.

  • Europe is understandably delighted at the prospect of a new, non-Russian source of energy, and Israeli officials believe they can extract and export gas from the Karish Field within weeks.

Still, current output levels can only support Israel’s domestic needs, and advanced infrastructure will need to be built before Israel can become a major supplier of hydrocarbons to its allies across the Mediterranean.

No one's getting carried away

While US President Joe Biden has hailed the agreement as “historic”, others aren’t as enthusiastic.

  • Some Lebanese hardliners feel shortchanged, and Lebanese President Michel Aoun has made it clear the agreement will not lead toward wider reconciliation.

  • And, of course, Israel still has to ratify the deal. Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who might reclaim his old job after November’s legislative elections, described it as a “surrender” to Hezbollah.

So while this deal is good news, it’s unlikely to lead to Lebanon and Israel kissing and making up. Still, many journeys to peace and stability start with a single mutually-beneficial economic deal.

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🔦 REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT

Europe

🇨🇾 Cyprus

Cyprus has launched the much-awaited EuroAsia Electricity Interconnector, an EU-backed initiative to end the island’s “energy isolation”.

  • The EuroAsia Interconnector is a 1,200-kilometre undersea cable connecting Cyprus’ electricity grid to mainland Greece.

  • The project will strengthen the island’s energy security by allowing it to diversify its electricity sources.

🇫🇷 France

Huge crowds gathered in Paris last Sunday to protest the cost of living crisis and urge government action on climate.

  • It’s yet another headache for French President Emmanuel Macron, who already faces fierce opposition in parliament and public discontent over fuel shortages and rising inflation.

  • Author Annie Ernaux, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature earlier this month, was present during the demonstration alongside several left-wing politicians.

🇬🇷 Greece

Nearly 100 migrants were found (stripped of their clothes but thankfully alive) near the Greece-Turkey border last Friday.

  • Migration has become a contentious issue between Greece and Turkey, but their uncooperative approach has endangered the lives and dignity of migrants and asylum seekers.

  • The UN has called for a full investigation of the incident.

🇮🇹 Italy

In what may go down as the world’s clearest example of the pot calling the kettle black, Italian Senator Silvio Berlusconi was caught referring to his coalition mate Giorgia Meloni as “patronising, bossy, arrogant, and offensive.”

  • Berlusconi scribbled the flattering adjectives on a piece of paper after relations between the two right-wing politicians soured over future political appointments.

  • Last month, Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party won Italy’s parliamentary election, making her likely to become the country’s next Prime Minister.

🇷🇺 Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin and UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan met last Tuesday to discuss the Russo-Ukraine War and reiterate their support for OPEC’s latest resolution.

  • Earlier this month, OPEC announced it plans to cut oil output in a move likely to boost Russia’s energy revenues.

  • Despite Western efforts to isolate Russia on the world stage, Gulf countries have retained strong business ties with Moscow.

🗞 IN OTHER NEWS...

Bad news for the birds and the bees (and just about everything else)

We're as shocked by this report as you are, friend. Source: Giphy.

The news: Wildlife populations around the globe have decreased by a staggering 69% since 1970, according to a newly published report by the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF).

  • To address the “devastating drop”, the WWF calls for comprehensive change, not just conservation efforts.

The biggest drivers: Land conversion for commercial use remains the biggest threat to biodiversity loss.

  • However, the report also notes that “climate change is likely to become the dominant cause of biodiversity loss in the coming decades” if the world marches past 1.5 degrees of warming.

At a glance: Latin America has shown a 94% decline in average wildlife population abundance, the steepest deterioration out of all the studied regions.

  • Meanwhile, monitored populations of vertebrate animals plummeted by 66% in Africa and by more than half in the Asia Pacific region.

The suggestions: Reversing the trend will require leaders to embrace “transformational changes” to environmental policy.

  • Adopting more sustainable production and consumption practices will likely require resetting our financial, socio-cultural, and governance systems.

The authors are undoubtedly hoping this message will get to world leaders in advance of next month’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP27), where countries will discuss committing more resources towards protecting the earth’s climate and environment.

🤔 WE'RE INTRIGUED BY...

Floppy disk, who?

The Buddhists have accomplished something far more impressive than the beloved floppy disk, for those of us who remember it (eek): Tripitaka Koreana, most likely the largest successful large data transfer over time since the year 1237 😮.

  • The Tripitaka Koreana is the largest and most complete collection of Buddhist texts, laws and treaties, engraved on ~80,000 woodblocks between 1237 and 1248.

The characters engraved in the woodblocks are of such high quality and accuracy that experts believe the work was done by a single hand. And here we were complaining about handwriting our uni finals...

  • The buildings that hold these ancient carvings are responsible for their impeccable preservation: the architecture provides natural ventilation that manages both temperature and humidity which has also protected the woodblocks from rodent or insect infestation.

To read more about this ~2 gigabytes data transfer that has survived 8 centuries without damage, check out this thread by @incunabula.

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