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China to send nuclear-armed submarines into Pacific amid tensions with US
Law & Politics
The Chinese military is poised to send submarines armed with nuclear
missiles into the Pacific Ocean for the first time, arguing that new
US weapons systems have so undermined Beijing’s existing deterrent
force that it has been left with no alternative.
Chinese military officials are not commenting on the timing of a
maiden patrol, but insist the move is inevitable.
They point to plans unveiled in March to station the US Thaad
anti-ballistic system in South Korea, and the development of
hypersonic glide missiles potentially capable of hitting China less
than an hour after launch, as huge threats to the effectives of its
land-based deterrent force.
A recent Pentagon report to Congress predicted that “China will
probably conduct its first nuclear deterrence patrol sometime in
2016”, though top US officers have made such predictions before.
Saudi Arabia Has a Plan B ti Try to Stop Iran's Economic Rise @Business
Law & Politics
Saudi Arabia couldn’t stop the Iran nuclear deal from being signed.
Plan B is to limit Iran’s ability to reap its benefits.
The kingdom is mobilizing its Gulf allies to make sure that, more than
four months after the lifting of sanctions on the Islamic Republic,
Iran’s opening-up to the global economy doesn’t go smoothly. Last
month the Saudis scuttled a bid to stabilize crude prices because it
would have allowed their bitter foe to grab a larger share of oil
markets. And in Dubai, once their main gateway to the world, Iranian
businessmen privately complain of increasing restrictions.
“[The Saudis] are applying pressure on Iran wherever they are able to
do so” —Shashank Joshi
It’s a rearguard action by the Saudis as the U.S. reassesses its role
in the Middle East and investors are drawn to the allure of Iran as
the world’s last untapped major frontier market. Still, there are
other drags on doing business with Iran that play into the Saudi
effort: European banks are still reluctant to do business in the
Islamic Republic for fear of possible U.S. sanctions.
“The contest over Iran’s status in the region -- whether it is to be
isolated or accepted as a normal regional player -- is likely to
continue over the next few years,” said Paul Pillar, a professor at
Georgetown University. “The Saudis, in the pro-isolation camp, may not
win this contest. But they have allies in the person of hardliners in
the U.S. who opposed the nuclear agreement.”
Dubai is a city that’s always had close ties to Iran, but these days
business licences for Iranian nationals aren’t being renewed easily.
It’s also difficult for citizens to get residency, and bank accounts
are coming under increased scrutiny, according to Iranian businessmen.
Times Aerospace, a U.K.-based company that organizes events in Dubai,
cancelled its Aviation Iran gathering this year because of political
tension. “There are a lot of sensitivities at the moment with Iran in
the Gulf,” Mark Brown, director of the group, said in an interview.
“We recognize that it’s inappropriate at this moment to hold an
Saudi Arabia is also using oil as a weapon against Iran. Ahead of a
meeting in Doha last month, where producers were planning to freeze
production, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in two
interviews with Bloomberg that the Saudis would only go along with the
plan if Iran agreed to participate. That effectively torpedoed the
deal, since Iran has ruled out curbs on pumping because it’s trying to
recover markets lost during the sanctions years.
“Oil policy was one of the instruments,” said Mustafa Alani, head of
defense and security department at the Gulf Research Center. “The
other thing is to counter Iranian investment in the region. Under King
Salman it has become a clear-cut policy. There is no hesitation.”
I did not appreciate the Lens through which Saudi Arabia and the GCC
are viewing Iran until I got to Doha.
They see Iran as plain nefarious and their Influence everywhere.
Isis in Iraq: Citizens trapped in Fallujah fear destruction of the city as government forces advance
Law & Politics
A fighting force of some 20,000 Iraqi soldiers, special forces,
Interior Ministry troops, tribal fighters, militia groups known as the
Hashd al-Shaabi and an uncertain number of US advisers are tightening
the siege of Fallujah.
Isis is estimated to have some 900 fighters in the town who are
experienced in street fighting using not only snipers but IEDS, booby
traps, mortar teams and suicide bombers. They commonly dig a warren of
underground tunnels so they can remain hidden or suddenly appear
behind enemy forces. What is not known is whether Isis will make a
last stand in Fallujah sacrificing experienced fighters or withdraw at
the last moment having inflicted maximum casualties on the other side.
Though it has lost Ramadi in Iraq, Palmyra in Syria and a string of
towns and villages over the last year, Isis has generally tried to
preserve its fighters and heavy equipment.
Fallujah was always in the crosshairs even during the Iraq Wars.
Within Iraq, Fallujah is known as the "city of mosques" for the more than 200 mosques found in the city and the surrounding villages.
Law & Politics
Under the Ottoman Empire, Fallujah was a minor stop on one of the
country's main roads across the desert west from Baghdad.
In the spring of 1920, the British, who had gained control of Iraq
after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, sent Lieut.-Colonel Gerard
Leachman, a renowned explorer and a senior colonial officer, to meet
with local leader Shaykh Dhari, perhaps to forgive a loan given to the
sheikh. Exactly what happened depends on the source, but according to
the Arab version, Gerard Leachman was betrayed by the sheikh who had
his two sons shoot him in the legs, then behead him by the sword.
Under Saddam Hussein, who ruled Iraq from 1979 to 2003, Fallujah came
to be an important area of support for the regime, along with the rest
of the region labeled by the US military as the "Sunni Triangle". Many
residents of the primarily Sunni city were employees and supporters of
Saddam's government, and many senior Ba'ath Party officials were
natives of the city.
During the Gulf War, Fallujah suffered one of the highest tolls of
Fallujah was also the site of a Ba'athist resort facility called
"Dreamland", located a few kilometers outside the city proper.
On 31 March 2004, Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah ambushed a convoy
containing four American private military contractors from Blackwater
USA, who were conducting delivery for food caterers ESS.
The four armed contractors, Scott Helvenston, Jerry (Jerko) Zovko,
Wesley Batalona, and Michael Teague, were dragged from their cars,
beaten, and set on fire. Their charred corpses were then dragged
through the streets before being hung from a bridge spanning the
Euphrates River. This bridge is unofficially referred to as
"Blackwater Bridge" by Coalition Forces operating there.[
This led to an abortive US operation to recapture control of the city
in Operation Vigilant Resolve, and a successful recapture operation in
the city in November 2004, called Operation Phantom Fury in English
and Operation Al Fajr in Arabic. Operation Phantom Fury resulted in
the reputed death of over 1,350 insurgent fighters. Approximately 95
American troops were killed, and 560 wounded.
Banks That Lured Diamond to Africa Stumble as Economies Wilt
“Two years ago the ‘Africa Rising’ story was probably overblown,” said
Ronak Gadhia, a research analyst at London-based Exotix Partners LLP.
“Those investors with hot money have been disappointed and are
“Financial stability risks have risen across sub-Saharan Africa,”
Adesoji Solanke, Renaissance Capital’s head of research in Nigeria,
said by phone on May 20.
A slowdown in China, Africa’s largest trading partner, a commodity
price rout and an energy shortfall are combining to change the playing
field. Add depreciating currencies and widening government budget
shortfalls and the outlook dims. The International Monetary Fund cut
its 2016 growth forecast for sub-Saharan Africa by 1 percentage point
to 3 percent.
“The markets most at risk are those with highly concentrated sector
loans, for example the oil and gas sector in Nigeria,” said Andy
Bates, head of Africa financial services for Ernst & Young LLP in
The continent’s larger banks also aren’t standing still. Morocco’s
Attijariwafa Bank is eyeing Kenya, Ethiopia and Nigeria. Banks from
South Africa, which hold more capital than regulators require, are
also looking for potential targets. Johannesburg-based FirstRand Ltd.,
the continent’s largest bank by market value, and Old Mutual Plc’s
Nedbank have both expressed interest in Kenya.
“Initially, African banks with stronger balance sheets will be able to
benefit, however investors from China, the Gulf, and other Asian
countries such as India and Japan will certainly seek to enter new
markets too,” Exx Africa’s Besseling said.
The continent’s growth story isn’t over, according to Exotix’s Gadhia.
It has a young and growing population of 1.1 billion and commodity
cycles turn. The price of oil has jumped 85 percent from a 12-year low
earlier this year.
“The dedicated money is still in Africa,” Gadhia said. “The
opportunity remains. It’s still under-penetrated with fairly
fast-growing economies. People forget what a frontier market really
is. You’ve got to realize there are risks and structural challenges
Nigeria Needs Prices That Work Bloomberg View Editorial
Nigeria took a step toward economic sanity Tuesday by announcing plans
to let its currency weaken. Africa’s largest economy is facing
recession, and exchange-rate flexibility will help it cope. For best
effect, those plans should also include junking the foreign-exchange
controls that have blighted its businesses and scared off foreign
Nigeria’s currency, the naira, has been pegged at about 200 to the
dollar since March 2015 -- a policy that President Muhammadu Buhari
has defended. Oil exporters from Russia to Colombia let their
currencies depreciate when the falling price of oil hit their
foreign-exchange receipts; Nigeria tried to shield consumers and
businesses from inflation by propping up the naira and keeping imports
cheap. It didn’t work. Inflation hit a nearly six-year high last
Restrictions on currency trading -- importers of everything from
wheelbarrows and glass to margarine and toothpicks were barred from
buying dollars -- led to shortages, with factories idled by lack of
inputs. Insiders profited by trading dollars on the black market.
Foreign investors, fearing an eventual drop in the currency, sold
Nigerian stocks and bonds.
Nigeria’s Breaking Point
Devaluing the naira and dismantling foreign-exchange controls won’t
solve the country’s economic problems. In the short run, inflation is
indeed likely to rise. But avoiding an artificially overvalued
currency is essential for repairing the country’s price system and
making the economy more productive.
A correctly valued currency would make foreign investors more
confident about putting their money down. It would make Nigerian
non-oil goods more competitive both at home and abroad, building up
both agriculture and industry. And dismantling currency controls would
help to curb corruption and rent-seeking. Those enormous benefits
would last long after the costs of any initial shock had been
Could Angola's first banana exports in 40 years its economy? Quartz
This map shows the distribution of Aedes aegypti across Africa and the
Asia-Pacific region (areas shaded pink). The red outline delineates
yellow fever-endemic regions. Yellow dots represent the location of
yellow fever cases related to the Angolan outbreak (source:
HealthMap). Commercial flight routes with direct connections between
Luanda and Beijing and indirect connections from Luanda to South and
Southeast Asia via Dubai (source: FLIRT) are also represented.
Courtesy of International Journal of Infectious Diseases
The spread of yellow fever (YF) is a global health threat. In response
to current outbreaks in Angola, other African countries, and China,
which represents the first ever documented cases of YF in Asia, the
World Health Organization (WHO) convened an emergency committee on May
19, 2016 to underscore the severity of the outbreak.
International Markets have been dynamic and volatile of late. Crude
Oil has surged through the $50.00 and closed at a 6 month high
yesterday. Lets see if it holds
I was visiting the Dr. this morning and I sat with him I suddenly saw
Folks rushing on Limuru Road towards 4th/5th Parklands road and then I
discovered it was the President making an impromptu Public Speech and
I thought to myself that represented a smart political response to
recent CORD Protests. The President was asserting that he too has
Equity and Leverage with the Street.
The Opposition have ''owned'' the Street for a few weeks of late.
Trading was seriously lackadaisical today with Equity Turnover clocking 184.41m.
The Nairobi All Share eased 0.49 points to close at 145.78
The Nairobi NSE20 Index slumped 40.59 points to close at 3871.74
N.S.E Equities - Commercial & Services
Safaricom closed unchanged at 17.25 and traded 3.477m shares.
Safaricom is +5.82% through 2016 and will glide higher as the recent
WPP-ScanGroup was well traded with 583,000 shares changing hands at an
unchanged 21.50. Volume Action has picked up clock speed at -28.33%
Year To Date.
N.S.E Equities - Finance & Investment
Standard Chartered Kenya rallied a further +3.48% to close at 208.00
and that makes it a +6.66% Rally over 2 trading sessions and since
reporting Q1 2016 Earnings which topped expectations with a +46.938%
Acceleration in Q1 Profit before tax and exceptional items to clock
3.697047b vs. 2.516058b. StanChart was trading at 210.00 +4.48% at the
Finish and 10,300 shares changed hands. Its a tightly held share.
Kenya Commercial Bank reported Q1 2016 Earnings after the closing
Bell. KCB reported a +16.4% Expansion Year on Year in Loans and
Advances, a +6.11% Acceleration in Q1 Profit after Tax. Kenya
Commercial Bank firmed +1.27% to close at 39.75 with 1.169m shares
changing hands. KCB is in Pole position to play a big Role in the
Process of Consolidation. They announced that they would take about 12
months to make a decision regarding a possible purchase of Chase Bank.
National Bank reported -38.4 decline in Q1 2016 Earnings Per Share,
and a +143.7% Year on Year Increase in Gross Performing Loans.
National Bank firmed 5 cents to close at 10.05. There is a view that
National Bank is a prime candidate for consolidation and that the
Price [NSSF have a very big chunk] will be higher than here, How much
higher is the Curve Ball.
N.S.E Equities - Industrial & Allied
KenGen traded 174,000 shares at an unchanged 6.50 and below the rights
Price of 6.55. The Price needs to hurdle the rights Price Offer
otherwise Folks will prefer to buy shares in the open market. Rights
traded 9.554m times at 5 cents.