oil diplomacy

Through its Petrocaribe initiative, Venezuela has sold discounted oil to energy-deficient clients, practically giving it away in some cases. Lately, however, that generosity has diminished with Venezuela's economic misfortunes, hastened by tumbling global prices for oil -- the country's only viable source of export revenues. Even Brazil, with a fraction of Venezuela's reserves, now pumps 25 percent more oil.

This week, China announced that it was sending 700 military personnel to join the UN's peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, an oil-rich east African state and site of an ongoing civil war. China has contributed to UN peacekeeping missions before, but the unprecedented size of its contribution, and its purpose in sending troops, reveals just how complicated China's foreign outreach has become as the country continues its rise to super-power status.

According to interviews, diplomatic cables, and other documents obtained by Mother Jones, American officials—some with deep ties to industry—also helped US firms clinch potentially lucrative shale concessions overseas, raising troubling questions about whose interests the program actually serves.

As talks between Iran and six major powers on limiting its nuclear program enter the final stages of diplomacy this week in Vienna ahead of a July 20 deadline, global companies are fact-finding, meeting with potential Iranian partners and jockeying for position should an end to sanctions open the isolated economy.

There is most probably no left wing leader who had influenced public opinion inside and outside the Latin American part of the Western hemisphere to the same extent as the unconventional Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez had over the last decade. Doubtlessly, his death three weeks ago ended one phase of Venezuela’s political development. Now facing the caudillo’s loss, the electorate has to determine the sustainability of principal public diplomacy paradigms of the Chavez government.

The presidents of Sudan and South Sudan signed a long-awaited cooperation agreement on Thursday, paving the way for the resumption of oil exports and casting their ailing economies a desperately needed lifeline. But several analysts said the deal came up far short.

Russia’s tactics, Grigas writes, take the form of oil sanctions, ‘gas isolation’ and dissuasion of Western firms from investing in Baltic energy projects. Business elites are co-opted through bribes, financial incentives and the ‘appeal’ of Russian business culture, which is network- rather than market-driven. More legitimately, Russian culture is also promoted vigorously.

The Qatar Foundation sponsors Barcelona football club, a reminder that in 10 years' time it will play host to the World Cup. Then there is the Doha-based al-Jazeera television, considered the most important Arab news TV channel, owned by Qatar through the Qatar Media Corporation—which last week claimed that it had evidence that the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was poisoned with polonium.