- Democrats take the lead in Georgia.
- The surprise move from Saudi Arabia.
- China denies entry to the WHO team to investigate coronavirus.
Democrats Take the Lead in Georgia
Raphael Warnock took the Democrats one step closer to the blue wave by winning one of the two seats in the Georgia Senate elections, which will determine the majority of the US Senate and therefore the fate of the policies of the elected president Joe Biden.
For the state’s two senate seats, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff compete to grab the seats of Republican senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.
According to the report of Bloomberg, Democrat candidates lead the race against their Republican rivals by a small margin, according to 60 percent of the votes. However, it may take days for final results to be obtained due to the large number of votes cast remotely, as in the presidential election.
Based on the processing of 97% of ballots, John Ossoff is ahead of Republican and incumbent Senator David Purdue with a score of 50.1% to 49.9%.
In Warnock’s case, incumbent Republican Senator Kelly Lofler is 1% behind him or 46,551 votes.
In the states, which became clear in the elections on November 3, the distribution of seats remained in the 100-seat Senate, 50 Republicans versus 48 Democrats. If they get even a seat in the Georgia election, Republicans will retain their majority in the Senate. Republican control of the Senate will make it difficult for Democratic President Joe Biden to implement his policies.
In the second scenario, if they win both seats in Georgia, Vice President Democrat Kamala Harris will upset the balance among the Democrats. Harris, who will also be the President of the Senate, will have the Democrats find the majority.
If the control of the Senate passes to the Democrats, the Democrats aim to carry out a more harmonious process by taking both the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House into their hands.
The Surprise Move from Saudi Arabia
While there was a disagreement between OPEC + members between the options of maintaining the supply cut at current levels or increasing the supply to 500,000 barrels, a surprise move came from Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia has decided to cut its daily oil production by 1 million barrels in February and March. While the decision provides margins for members who want to increase oil production, it also means a U-turn from the kingdom’s policy of supply cuts in coordination with oil-producing countries.
Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Selman pointed out the importance of supporting energy markets at the press conference.
Selman announced that Saudi Arabia will voluntarily cut an additional 1 million barrels of oil production in February and March in order to support the economies of OPEC + countries.
“We are the guardian of this industry,” Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said as he gleefully announced the cut on Tuesday. “This gesture of goodwill made by our leadership, in the name of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”
Accordingly, with the additional cut announced by Saudi Arabia, the daily production cuts of the OPEC + group will be 8 million 125 thousand barrels in February and 8 million 50 thousand barrels in March.
“Instead of letting everything fall apart, the Saudis let the Russians have what they want,” said Bhushan Bahree, an executive director at IHS Markit, a research firm.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak described the Saudi Arabian move as a “New Year’s gift to the oil industry”.
“We have the responsibility of looking after the market, and we will take all necessary actions. I have said this repeatedly and even advised that no one should bet against our resolve,” Prince Abdulaziz said in an interview with Bloomberg News after the OPEC+ meeting. “Those who have listened are now bearing the fruits; the others – good luck with their ouching.”
China Denies Entry to the WHO Team to Investigate Coronavirus
WHO specialists who intend to establish the origin of the coronavirus have not been given permission to enter China. Two experts were already on their way, but were unable to enter the country, according to WHO, due to visa problems.
Visa problems are definitely a bad sign for the WHO investigation because the planned visit of the organization’s specialists cannot be called unexpected, Huang Yanzhong, senior researcher for global health at the New York Council on Foreign Relations, told FT.
They were supposed to arrive in Wuhan, where the virus was first detected at the end of 2019. It was believed to have originated in the local market. After long months of negotiations, the leadership of the World Health Organization agreed on this trip with the Chinese authorities back in December.
According to the head of this organization, Tedros Gebreyesus, he is very upset that Beijing did not approve the entry permit, given that two specialists were already on their way to Wuhan.
“I was assured that China is speeding up its internal procedures for the early arrival of international specialists,” the head of WHO said at a press conference in Geneva on Tuesday.
For several months, WHO has been seeking admission of 10 of its specialists to the PRC for the collection of viral samples in order to establish the origin of the coronavirus and how it was transmitted from animal to person.
In December, it was announced that this work would begin in January 2021. On Tuesday, the first two members of the team traveled to China, but one of them was sent back, and the other is still in a third country, Reuters reported, citing WHO’s head of emergency situations, Mike Ryan.
“I am very disappointed with this news,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference in Geneva on Tuesday. “I have been in contact with senior Chinese officials and I have once again made clear that the mission is a priority for WHO and the international team.”