The OPEC+ countries, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, agreed Thursday to a schedule of crude-oil production cuts: 10 million bpd from May through June, 8 million bpd from July through December, and then 6 million bpd until April 30, 2022. However, OPEC+ conditioned implementing their price stabilization plan on Mexico consenting to cut production by 400,000 bpd. When Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador only acceded to a 100,000 bpd cut, President Trump said at a Friday press conference that the US would pick up the slack, with Mexico to "reimburse us sometime at a later date when they are prepared to do so." However, Trump was clearly referring to American oil companies voluntarily slashing production due to lower demand, not the government-ordered cuts demanded by OPEC+.
Not wanting to resort to an IMF loan to avert a balance of payments crisis as the response to COVID-19 has depleted its foreign currency reserves, Ankara is negotiating with the US to secure a swap line with the Federal Reserve.
Coalition negotiations between Blue and White and Likud resumed Friday. However, no progress was made on Likud's demand to get some kind of veto over judicial appointments. Also, Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly wants to enshrine any prime ministerial rotation agreement in legislation that would prevent Israel's High Court of Justice from ruling that an indicted person cannot serve as prime minister.
Despite their frosty relations, Turkey authorized selling Israel medical supplies – expected to include medical masks, protective equipment, and hazmat suits – which Israel requested earlier this month.
Patriot missile launchers and two other short-range systems are now operational at a military base in Irbil and al-Asad Air Base, the latter of which Iran attacked after the US killed al-Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani last January. The US also installed a short-range rocket defense system at Camp Taji.
On Friday, Yemen's internationally recognized government confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in the country. Years of civil war against the Houthi rebels have compromised Yemen's already limited medical infrastructure, contributing to uncontrolled outbreaks of cholera, dengue fever, and malaria. Authorities quarantined the infected port worker in the Hadramawt governorate while the neighboring Shabwa and al-Mahra governorates sealed their borders with Hadramawt.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that ISIS militants attacked the town of al-Sukhnah in the Syrian Desert on Thursday. Syrian forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, recaptured the town after a daylong battle resulting in the deaths of at least 32 regime soldiers and loyalists as well as 26 ISIS fighters. This comes as ISIS has been regrouping in the Syrian Desert, in the country's southeast.
President Hassan Rouhani and the National Headquarters to Fight the Coronavirus decided to start lifting on Saturday many of the restrictions imposed on economic activity to contain COVID-19. While cultural and sport centers, beauty salons, and hotels will remain closed, "low risk businesses" outside of Tehran may reopen and two-thirds of government employees will return to their offices on Saturday.
Lebanon's Internal Security Forces announced Friday the largest cannabis seizure in the country's history after intercepting on March 16 a convoy of eight trucks carrying almost 25 tons to be shipped to Africa. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime ranks Lebanon as one of the world's top sources of cannabis resin.
Micah Levinson is the Washington, DC Resident Fellow at the Middle East Forum