|Thursday 09th of January 2020
PEPE ESCOBAR: Trump to De-Escalate: Intel Source @Consortiumnews
Law & Politics
“It is most unlikely Trump will escalate at this point, and this could
provide him with the opportunity to leave the Middle East except for
the Gulf States. Trump wants to get out,” a U.S. intelligence source
President Donald Trump will de-escalate the crisis with Iran when he
speaks to the nation at 11 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, a U.S.
intelligence source has told me.
Last night Iran retaliated for the assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassem
Soleimani with missile strikes on two U.S. military bases in Iraq. So
far there have been no casualties reported.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that the ballistic missile
strikes launched from Iran completed Tehran’s military action.
It is now up to Trump to determine whether the crisis will continue.
A top U.S. intel source sent me this analysis in response to a
“It is most unlikely Trump will escalate at this point, and this could
provide him with the opportunity to leave the Middle East except for
the Gulf States. Trump wants to get out.
The fact that Israel would be hit next by Iran [as promised, among
others, by the IRGC as well as Hezbollah’s secretary-general Hassan
Nasrallah] will probably cause them to pull back, and not order Trump
to bomb Iran itself.
“DEBKA-Mossad acknowledged that Iran’s offensive missiles cannot be
defended against. Its secret is that it hugs the ground going
underneath the radar screens.” [the source is referring to the
Hoveizeh cruise missile, with a range of 1,350 km, already tested by
“What is amazing is that Iraq has allowed US troops into their country
at all after seeing over a million of their people murdered by the US
if we include the 500,000 dead children [during the 1990s, as
acknowledged by Madeleine Albright].
The royals in the U. A. E. told me that this is because Iraq is more
corrupt that Nigeria.
“The key question here is what happened to the Patriot Missile Defense
for these bases who were on high alert assuming this is not similar to
Trump’s missiles hitting empty buildings in Syria after the chemical
false flag operation. I saw no report that any defense missile was
working, which to me is very significant.”
Judd Deere, the deputy press secretary of the White House, confirmed
on Tuesday night what I had learned earlier from another source. The
White House said Trump, in a phone call, thanked Tamim bin Hamad Al
Thani for “Qatar’s partnership with the United States”, and they
discussed Iraq and Iran.
According to my source, who is very close to the Qatari royal family,
Trump actually sent a message to Tehran via the emir.
The message has two layers. Trump promised sanctions would be
cancelled if there were no retaliation from Tehran (something that
Trump simply wouldn’t have the means to assure, considering the
opposition from Capitol Hill) ; and there would be de-escalation if
Tehran came up with a “proportional” response.
Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif described the Iranian missile strikes
as a “proportional response”.
That may explain why Trump did not go on TV on Tuesday night in the
U.S. to announce total war – as much as neocons may have been wanting
Details are still sparse, but there’s ultra-high level, back room
diplomacy going on especially between Iran and Russia, with China
discreet, but on full alert.
There’s consensus among the Axis of Resistance that China has a major
role to play, especially in the Levant, where Beijing is seen in some
quarters as a possible future partner ultimately replacing U.S.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has just been to Syria and Turkey
this week. And according to Russian sources, Foreign Minister Sergey
Lavrov is making clear to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Russia’s
stance that there should be no escalation.
OCT 15 :: Putin is a GeoPolitical GrandMaster
Law & Politics
However, the big set piece was surely Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who
spent less than 24 hours in New York during this visit.
Putin has always been considered a grandmaster of geopolitics, but of
late has been placed under tremendous pressure by the oil warfare
specialist –President Barrack Obama of the US.
The wrestling of the oil price from above $100.00 to below $50.00 a
barrel, was always intended to wither Russia’s power, and send it into
What remains interesting is how what is perceived as external pressure
can actually create a situation where the people rally behind their
Putin’s popularity held rock steady throughout this period, as the
stock market and the Russian Ruble crashed. The resilience around his
domestic popularity seemingly confounds many.
Putin has been on the back-foot big time. The body language between
President Obama and Putin is also another avenue worthy of study.
Obama has a barely concealed, evidently visceral dislike of Putin.
You see this in the frozen handshakes and a number of other interactions.
Let us return to UNGA, where Putin set out his stall and I quote: ‘’I
cannot help asking those who have caused the situation, do you realise
now what you’ve done?’’
With hundreds of thousands of refugees entering Europe, his question
was a sharp one.
Within 24 hours of delivering that speech, Russia instructed that the
US should vacate Syrian Air Space. This message was not delivered to
Ashton Carter by his Russian counterpart Shoigu.
It was delivered to the US Embassy in Baghdad. And pretty soon after
that message was delivered, Russia began its intervention on the side
of President Bashar Assad of Syria.
Putin fancies himself the fly-catcher and syria the fly-trap. The
speed of execution confirms that Russia is once again a geopolitical
actor that will have to be considered. It is a breath-taking rebound.
Australian bushfire smoke drifts to South America - @WMO
Law & Politics
Smoke has crossed the Pacific, affecting cities in South America, and
may have reached the Antarctic
Smoke from wildfires in Australia has drifted across the Pacific and
affected cities in South America, and may have reached the Antarctic,
the U.N. World Meteorological Organization said on Tuesday.
Smoke from the fires had already turned skies bright orange over
Auckland in New Zealand.
But skies as far away as over central Chile have now gone grey because
of the smoke and the WMO cited reports that the sunset in Argentina's
capital, Buenos Aires, had turned red.
"The fires have led to hazardous air quality, which has affected human
health, in major cities in Australia, spreading to New Zealand and
sent smoke drifting thousands of kilometres across the Pacific to
South America," WMO spokeswoman Clare Nullis told reporters in Geneva.
Smoke had "probably" reached the Antarctic, she said.
India cuts growth forecast to slowest pace in 11 years @FinancialTimes
India’s economy is set to grow at 5 per cent in the current financial
year compared with a year earlier, its slowest pace in 11 years,
according to the latest government forecasts that underline the
challenge facing prime minister Narendra Modi.
Cooling private consumption, slowing industrial activity and stagnant
investment have all hit the country’s growth, according to figures
released by the ministry of statistics late on Tuesday.
Over the past year New Delhi has made a series of reforms to combat a
crisis in the shadow banking sector and counter the slowdown,
including corporate tax cuts and a flood of infrastructure projects.
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman last week announced a plan to
invest $1.4tn in infrastructure over the next five years.
But analysts expect the tight financial conditions to continue to
weigh on growth.
Indian factory growth hit a two-year low in October, according to
recently published data, while power demand fell for the fourth
straight month in December.
Private consumption expenditure remains subdued and consumer goods
companies have reported a sustained slowdown in sales.
Last month India’s central bank cut its forecast for GDP growth in
2020 to 5 per cent. The IMF is also expected to significantly lower
its growth forecast this month, down from a previous 6.1 per cent
“The question is how long do we continue in this funk? As long as the
financial system stays in the intensive care unit, the slow growth
will last,” said Saurabh Mukherjea, founder of Marcellus Investment
“Nothing suggests a rapid recovery.”
Concerns are growing among economists about whether Mr Modi’s
government can reinvigorate growth at a time when it is preoccupied
with pushing through its Hindu agenda.
Analysts say nationwide protests against a new citizenship bill have
drawn ministers’ focus away from economic policymaking, putting plans
to pass a key labour reform bill on the backburner.
“Tensions have meant policymaking has slipped and the government is
more interested in implementing populist policies,” said Shilan Shah,
India economist at Capital Economics.
On Monday, economist CP Chandrasekhar from the Jawaharlal Nehru
University Centre for Economic Studies and Planning resigned from a
recently formed statistics committee that had been designed to allay
concerns about the credibility of India’s official data.
In an editorial published in newspaper the Indian Express, Mr
Chandrashekhar said the decision of the government last year to hold
back the results of unemployment and consumption surveys “points to a
significant erosion of the statistical system”.
"To be GOVERNED is to be kept in sight, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled by creatures who have neither the right, nor the wisdom, nor the virtue to do so." Proudhon
Sub Saharan Africa
11-FEB-2019 :: Africa and the 'vision' thing
Cape Town on February 3rd 1960 and by a British Prime Minister Harold
Macmillan who said; ‘’The wind of change is blowing through this
continent. Whether we like it or not, this growth of national
consciousness is a political fact’’
Today as we scan our Continent, There are plenty of fluid situations,
from Bashir’s Khartoum to Mnangagwa’s Zimbabwe and many points in
Young People are connected to each other and to the World. So far it
is Prime Minister Abiy who appears to be sketching out a new African
political horizon and this brings me to the ‘’Vision’’ thing.
Where is it? Who is providing it? Its high time we authored it because
this is a ‘’Born Free’’ generation.
Last year the U.S. carried a record 63 drone strikes in Somalia - and al-Shabab is striking back. @thedailybeast @margotkiser H/T @csdickey
The Manda Bay attack is the first al-Shabab has carried out on a U.S.
military installation inside Kenya. It is also the first attack by
Islamic militants made against a U.S. installation in Kenya since al
Qaeda bombed the U.S. Embassy in 1998, killing more than 200 people.
Al-Shabab attacked a U.S. special forces base in Somalia on Sept. 30
after four of its militants were killed in three airstrikes in Somalia
the previous day, according to U.S. Africa Command.
Among the aircraft destroyed at the Manda Bay base were manned
surveillance planes that collect data across the border in Somalia, as
well as over Kenya’s dense Boni forest, about 10 miles north of the
Manda Bay base, where al-Shabab is thought to be hiding.
The intelligence, including the locations of villages, Shabab leaders
and members, is then fed to armed unmanned Reaper drones. In the view
of recent U.S. operations, it is no surprise that the group
specifically targeted surveillance aircraft on the Manda airstrip.
Also reportedly destroyed were aircraft operated by U.S. Special
Operations Command and modified Havilland Canada Dash-8 spy aircraft,
which carries the U.S. civil registration code N8200L.
Stig Jarle Hansen, analyst and author of Horn, Sahel and Rift:
Fault-lines of the African Jihad, puts it like this: “The attack shows
that Shabab is still able to hit Kenya inside its borders, and proves
they can strike at U.S. personnel. But perhaps the attack mainly
illustrates that Shabab can put a dent in the U.S. drone campaign in
EARF deploys to provide airfield security at Manda Bay @USAfricaCommand
Following a Jan. 5 terrorist attack at Manda Bay Airfield, Kenya, U.S.
service members comprising part of U.S. Africa Command’s East Africa
Response Force deployed to secure the airfield and augment security.
Manda Bay Airfield, a Kenya Defense Force Military Base, is utilized
by U.S. forces to provide training and counter-terrorism support to
East African partners, respond to crises, and protect U.S. interests
in a strategically important area.
The attack of the base began after an initial penetration of the
perimeter. Kenya Defense Forces and AFRICOM personnel then repelled
the al-Shabaab attack involving indirect and small arms fire. Shortly
after, the EARF arrived at the airfield.
“The EARF provides a critical combat-ready, rapid deployment force,”
said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler, director of operations,
“The EARF’s ability to respond to events spanning a vast area of
responsibility provides a proven and invaluable on-call reinforcement
capability in times of need.”
Al-Shabaab is a terrorist group that has repeatedly communicated an
intent to attack U.S. interests. This is the same terror group that
took more than 80 innocent lives in Mogadishu Dec. 28.
“Al-Shabaab is a brutal terrorist organization,” said Gayler. “It is
an al-Qaeda affiliate seeking to establish a self-governed Islamic
territory in East Africa, to remove Western influence and ideals from
the region, and to further its jihadist agenda. U.S. presence in
Africa is critically important to counter-terrorism efforts.”
Al-Shabaab senior leaders pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and are
believed to have trained and fought in Afghanistan.
In 2008, the U.S. Government designated al-Shabaab as a Foreign
Terrorist Organization. Historically, al-Shabaab has been willing to
engage large forces, often using surprise and asymmetric tactics.
The terrorist group has expressed the intent to attack the United
States homeland and target Americans, but U.S. persistent pressure
placed on them constrains their ability to carry out those desires.
Al-Shabaab has put out multiple press releases exaggerating the
security situation on the ground. This practice has proven common
place for this terror organization.
“Al-Shabaab resorts to lies, coercion, and the exertion of force to
bolster their reputation to create false headlines,” said U.S. Army
Maj. Gen. William Gayler, U.S. Africa Command director of operations.
“It is important to counter al-Shabaab where they stand to prevent the
spread of this cancer.”
Crisis response is only one part of the EARF’s mission. While one
company of troops is always on call, many of the remaining service
members provide security at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, or travel
throughout East Africa to conduct training engagement and best
practice sharing missions with CJTF-HOA’s partner nations.
The EARF responds to a broad range of military operations including
the protection of U.S. citizens and diplomatic facilities, support for
non-combatant evacuation operations, humanitarian assistance, disaster
relief operations, and other missions as directed.
Kenyan Stocks Seen Rising as Much as 15% in First Half on Banks @markets @eombok & Bella Genga
The removal of a cap on Kenyan bank-loan interest rates should help
the sector spur gains of as much as 15% for the country’s stocks in
the first half of 2019, according to local analysts.
The November repeal of a law imposing a ceiling of four percentage
points above the benchmark rate will allow banks to “price loans based
on the credit risk of borrowers and thus benefit from higher net
interest margins,” said Nairobi-based Cytonn Investments Management
Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Edwin Dande.
The move has already boosted Kenyan stocks, with the Nairobi benchmark
index posting a late-2019 rally that helped cement the market as
Africa’s best-performing of the past decade.
Even after the gains, there is scope for further upside as valuations
based on price-to-estimated earnings are still almost 11% short of
their record highs, according to Cytonn Chief Operating Officer Shiv
Banks and Safaricom Plc, Kenya’s biggest company by market value,
dominate share trading in Nairobi, with Cytonn estimating they account
for 75% of all stock transactions.
EFG Hermes Kenya Ltd. expects that lenders will remain key to
investors in 2020, following the relief on interest rates.
“The repeal of rate caps will reduce regulatory risks for the banks,
and we expect that the banking sector will continue to show leadership
in 2020 after several years in which Safaricom dominated,” EFG Hermes
Kenya said in its 2020 Year Book.
It named Equity Group Holdings Plc and KCB Group Ltd. among banks and
East African Breweries Ltd. as its top stock picks for the year.
The end of the interest-rate cap, along with prospects for monetary
easing in Kenya could prompt more local institutional investors to put
their money back into the equities market, said Vinita Kotedia, an EFG
Hermes Kenya analyst.