Libyan newcomers bring Malta mixed blessings

The small Mediterranean archipelago nation of Malta has long attracted sun-seekers from northern climes. Since joining the EU in 2004, it has also been positioning itself as a financial centre with liberal tax and regulatory policies. Besides the British and German tourists, well-heeled Arab and Russian businessmen can be seen in the baroque capital of Valetta and in the hotels of the nearby coastal towns. But the Arabic-speakers in Malta are not wealthy Gulf tourists that one would see in upscale Mediterranean destinations like France’s Cote d’Azur. They are mostly from Libya, the strife-torn state 180 miles south of Malta. more >

Could Egypt and Israel reach compromise over the Leviathan gas field impasse?

Israel’s long-delayed plans to develop the giant Leviathan offshore gas field have been dealt a new blow by Egypt’s decision to freeze talks on gas imports. The move came after international arbitrators ordered two Egyptian companies to compensate Israel in a long-running energy supply dispute. However, neither side is likely to severely escalate the dispute as this could harm the sensitive security and economic ties between the two countries. more >

The roots of Moldovan corruption

Moldovans are still struggling to come to terms with last year’s massive banking fraud that almost bankrupted the tiny European country. The scandal has been blamed on venal politicians, but what has led to corruption becoming so endemic?more >

Energy-rich Iraqi Kurdistan’s financial troubles are threatening political upheavals

The semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq says a financial crisis has left it struggling to pay the salaries of Peshmerga fighters battling ISIL in the north of the country. Erbil’s economic problems have also fuelled political tensions which have threatened the stability of the territory. more >

Crimea struggles to attract investment as its economy worsens

The Crimean economy has deteriorated under the weight of sanctions and a blockade by Ukrainian militants. Moscow is committed to reviving the region’s fortunes, but it faces an uphill struggle.more >

Extractive industries anti-corruption initiative put to the test

An international effort to promote greater transparency in the oil, gas and mining sectors has made significant progress since it was launched over a decade ago. But the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative is now facing a major test of its commitment to its values.more >

Iranian reformers face hardline backlash over nuclear deal

The historic deal to limit Tehran’s nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of sanctions is fueling a backlash from Iran’s hardliners keen to ensure that their dominant position within the country is not undermined by the deal. more >

Ukraine’s faltering peace plan running out of time?

The latest bid to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine is under threat amid an upsurge in ceasefire violations. But even before the outbreak of violence, the slow pace of the Minsk II peace plan had raised questions over whether the government in Kiev and the separatist authorities would meet the end-of-year implementation deadline.more >

Japan Joins China in Central Asia investment push

Japan has launched a big economic drive in Central Asia, just as China forges ahead with its ambitious Silk Road Economic Belt project that will see huge investment in the former Soviet republics. Could Tokyo’s move be an attempt to counter Beijing’s deepening involvement in the region?more >

Russia’s digital dissidents defy Kremlin crackdown

Having muzzled Russian broadcasters and newspapers, President Vladimir Putin appears determined to bring social media to heel. A raft of restrictive measures has been introduced over the last couple of years. How effective they will be remains to be seen. more >

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