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Why Netanyahu Really Wanted Trump to Scuttle the Iran Deal @NewYorker
Law & Politics
On Wednesday night, twenty rockets were fired, from Syria, at the
Golan Heights by, according to Israel, Iran’s Quds force, a
special-forces unit of the Revolutionary Guard. Some got through
Israel’s advanced missile-defense shield, but there were no injuries.
Israel responded by launching seventy missiles, killing at least
twenty-three fighters, including five Syrian troops and eighteen
allied militiamen. The Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman,
said that the I.D.F. had destroyed “nearly all” of Iran’s military
infrastructure in Syria. The Iranian attack had been expected; for
days now, the Israeli media has been full of reports of people on the
Golan cleaning out their shelters. On April 9th, Israel reportedly
attacked the T-4 Syrian air force base near Homs. Seven members of
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, who had apparently been establishing an
airbase, complete with anti-aircraft batteries, were killed. Last
week, Israel reportedly bombed a major cache of Iranian missiles north
of Hama, in Syria. “Everyone knows Israel has conducted over a hundred
such attacks,” the veteran Syrian analyst Charles Glass told me in a
telephone conversation from London. Iran threatened retaliation, which
came last night.
The Netanyahu government, for its part, is both anticipating a crisis
and helping to precipitate one. On April 26th, Avigdor Lieberman told
the London-based Saudi newspaper Elaph that Israel did not want war,
but, if the “Islamic regime” attacks Tel Aviv, Israel “will strike
Tehran and destroy every Iranian military site that threatens Israel
in Syria, whatever the price.” Lieberman has also insisted that Israel
will maintain freedom of operations in Syria and “respond forcefully”
to any party there with the capacity “to launch missiles or to attack
Israel or even our aircraft.” Not coincidentally, Trump’s abandonment
of the nuclear deal means that the U.S. will have to prepare detailed
contingency plans for an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites, which are
spread throughout the country. Meanwhile, the U.S. has been backing
Israel’s preëmptive actions in Syria and southern Lebanon.
The former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy, who normally preaches
restraint, told Israel’s Channel 10 that Russia got Syria to establish
itself and will “stay the course.” It will not accept the defeat of
Iran, its “regional partner.” Israel will not seek a confrontation
with Russia, but if, he said, “God forbid, confrontation is
unavoidable, Israel will have to come out with the upper hand.” He
might have added that Israel could never count on having the “upper
hand” without American help.
But Iranian leaders must also know that the same technological
asymmetry that encourages Israeli leaders to suppose they can
decisively win a war of airplanes, drones, and missiles also makes the
Israeli economy far more vulnerable than that of Lebanon or Syria,
should war be protracted. Attack Beirut’s airport for a month and
Hezbollah is hardly affected. Attack Ben Gurion Airport for a month
and the startup nation shuts down.
30-APR-2018 :: "A new history starts now. An age of peace, from the starting point of history."
Law & Politics
The Events that took place on Friday at the truce village of Panmunjom
and during the Inter-Korean Summit were breathtaking for the Hollywood
Optics. The Opening Shot of Kim Jong Un surrounded by a Phalanx of
North Korean Officials [later replayed as Chairman Kim sat in his
Presidential Vehicle surrounded by his Ninja bodyguards] was almost as
good as the opening Sequence in PT Anderson's Boogie Nights [Steadicam
operator Andy Shuttleworth]. This was Cinema of the highest level
which is no surprise when You consider that Kim Jong-Il the Father was
obsessed with Cinema and amassed arguably the world’s largest personal
film collection: over 20,000 bootlegged 35mm screening copies. Kim
Jong-Il also had a penchant for Hennessy Paradis cognac and for two
years in the mid-1990s, he was the world's largest buyer of Hennessy
Paradis cognac, importing up to $800,000 of the stuff a year. Kim
Jong-Il began his career as the head of the state’s propaganda and
agitation department and its clear that Kim Jong-Un's sister Kim Yo
Jong who holds the same role and evidently handles all the optics, is
a chip off the old Block. Friday was tip-top Geopolitical Optics. Mike
Pompeo, the newly minted US Secretary of State [His predecessor was
fired via Twitter] had visited Pyongyang the previous week and
pronounced; that the young North Korean leader was "a smart guy who's
doing his homework"
Marwan Bishara was a little jaded by the Optics tweeted
''When pictures are the news and symbols are the facts, cliches become
truths and media turns into propaganda or BS''
''For now, We are short on facts long on images and hence any
perspective is likely to be speculative. Globally, we are being played
in a ‘game of nations’ which could produce more of the same or
12-FEB-2018 :: he is the buffer state between China and more than 30,000 US soldiers parked on their doorstep in South Korea.
Law & Politics
“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock,
which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft,
and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another
paradox: What is soft is strong,” Lao Tzu
South Korea is set to be peeled off and going by his puppy dog smiles
President Moonriver will be in PyongYang before you can pronounce Kim
Yo Jong correctly. Russia always had their back. China was never
interested in bringing him to heel. After all, he is the buffer state
between China and more than 30,000 US soldiers parked on their
doorstep in South Korea.
18 SEP 17 :: "A screaming comes across the sky" North Korea. @TheStarKenya
Law & Politics
Gravity’s Rainbow is a 1973 novel by Thomas Pynchon which is about the
design, production and dispatch of V-2 rockets by the German military.
In particular, it features the quest undertaken by several characters
to uncover the secret of a mysterious device named the “Schwarzgerät”
(black device), slated to be installed in a rocket with the serial
number “00000”. As the world watches PyongYang, I cannot help
wondering if Kim Jong-Un has read Pynchon which speaks of “A screaming
comes across the sky” and North Korea.
“But it is a curve each of them feels, unmistakably. It is the
parabola. They must have guessed, once or twice -guessed and refused
to believe -that everything, always, collectively, had been moving
toward that purified shape latent in the sky, that shape of no
surprise, no second chance, no return.’’
Commentary: Emerging markets risk vicious dollar, yields, reserves spiral @ReutersJamie
It goes something like this: rising dollar-denominated debt
refinancing costs hit emerging currencies, triggering capital
outflows, prompting central bank intervention by selling U.S.
Treasuries, which pushes yields and the dollar even higher.
There is an inverse relationship between the dollar and global FX
reserves, a large chunk of which consists of U.S. Treasury notes and
A falling dollar is generally associated with looser global financial
conditions, increased cross-border capital flows, strong growth and
rising trade surpluses across emerging markets. Those surpluses are
used to build up FX reserves.
But a rising dollar has the opposite effect, and the pace of reserve
accumulation slows or even reverses.
In some emerging market hot spots, that cycle may be getting underway.
Between March 1 and April 27, Argentina sold $8 billion of reserves to
stop a run on the peso. That’s nearly 15 percent of its total FX
Since April 27, the peso has slumped to a record low, the central bank
has hiked interest rates to 40 pct and President Mauricio Macri has
confirmed that Argentina is seeking a financing deal with the
International Monetary Fund.
Argentina may be an extreme case, but no emerging country can afford
to be complacent. According to the Institute of International Finance,
more than $900 billion of emerging market bonds come due this year.
Indonesia’s FX reserves fell by $7.1 billion to $124.9 billion between
February and April as the central bank tried to support the rupiah.
But the rupiah still lost 5 pct of its value in that three-month
Turkey’s reserves are down nearly $3 billion since February.
The sums involved in these countries are small when set against global
FX reserves of over $11 trillion, and the IIF expects emerging market
central banks to accumulate over $220 billion of FX reserves this
year. But that will be less than 2017 and will probably be even less
should the dollar and U.S. yields continue rising.
U.S. Signals New Approach to Horn of Africa Ally
Furthermore, recent developments in the US Congress may also have a
bearing on what happens next. On April 10, the US House of
Representatives unanimously adopted House Resolution-128: “Supporting
respect for human rights and encouraging inclusive governance in
The resolution—uunusually outspoken for US public policy in it
criticism of Ethiopia’s government—condemns “the killings of peaceful
protesters and excessive use of force by Ethiopian security forces;
the detention of journalists, students, activists, and political
leaders; and the regime’s abuse of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation to
stifle political and civil dissent and journalistic freedoms.”
The resolution and its wording deeply angered the Ethiopian
government, which even suggested it might cut off security cooperation
with the US if the resolution was passed. Ethiopia is viewed by the US
as its most important ally in the volatile East African region, and
hence receives one of the largest security and humanitarian aid
packages among sub-Saharan African countries.
“The passage of HR-128 by the US House of Representatives without any
opposition was a historical achievement,” says Tewodrose Tirfe, chair
of the Amhara Association of America, a US-based advocacy group for
the Amhara, Ethiopia’s second largest ethnic group. “The main
difference this time, compared to previous attempts to get legislation
through, was Ethiopian-American advocacy organizations working in
coordination with human rights groups to bring to the attention of [US
state] representatives the humanitarian and political crisis that has
been unfolding in Ethiopia, especially the past three years.”
“The resolution could give Abiy a freer hand to deal more decisively
with those resisting change—so far he has been very conciliatory and
accommodating,” says Hassen Hussein an academic and writer based in
Minnesota. “The new resolution by the US House of Representatives is
a reminder to the Ethiopian government that should it fail to reform,
it can no longer rely on US largesse to contain problems at home.”
While HR-128 is an important development, what further US legislation,
if any, follows it, is likely to have the most tangible impact on
strengthening—or not—the hand of the new prime minister in persuading
those power brokers within the EPRDF who control country’s security
apparatus and the intelligence and economic sectors, to participate in
negotiations for reform.
“The TPLF has ruled Ethiopia for the last 27 years with the support of
the US and the UK,” Alemante says. “If it loses this support—
financial, military, diplomatic, etc.— it has very little else to
Remembering a warlord democrat @mailandguardian
Although I was Renamo’s fiercest critic of its human rights record
during the last years of the civil war, I always appreciated that, at
its core, Renamo was a response to injustice and inequality in
Mozambique as much as it was about being an instrument of Rhodesian
and later apartheid South Africa destabilisation.
Nonetheless, Renamo was addicted to covert support from Rhodesia and
South Africa. It was only in the late 1980s that Dhlakama really
started to define Renamo’s own political identity — as the grip of
apartheid South Africa weakened, it had to survive largely on its own.
At about the same time, Renamo began to lose its main tactical
advantage. South Africa had provided Renamo with specialist radio
equipment, which neither the Mozambican nor the Zimbabwean governments
could intercept. But, by 1989, the batteries and handsets had
degenerated and this compromised Renamo’s military effectiveness.
Communications became so difficult that, in 1991, the provision of a
satellite phone by Italian mediators was enough of an incentive to
persuade Dhlakama to sign a key protocol that led to the Rome General
It was this very satellite phone that he used for our conversation.
For 38 years Dhlakama led Renamo. He proved to be an accomplished
guerrilla leader, building a rebel group from 76 members in 1977 to
almost 20 000 in 1992. His peace-time achievement was also impressive,
growing Renamo to be one of the largest opposition parties in Africa
by 1999. Although he regularly claimed to be Mozambique’s father of
democracy, he never allowed pluralism in Renamo or permitted any
Dhlakama was also quixotic, prone to changing his mind and often
influenced by the last person he had spoken to. Reports that he
deliberately wore glasses to look more intellectual were untrue and he
had an impressive forensic memory right up to the day he died,
especially for the Mozambican Constitution and Renamo’s rights.
Peace-time politics was difficult for him but, in the last few years,
he had shown political agility that surprised many. Dhlakama’s lasting
legacy is political pluralism in Mozambique and hopefully greater
political devolution with elected provincial governorships.
A fragile recovery Africa's economies are turning a corner @TheEconomist
A MONTAGE of miracles plays on the giant screens in the Perez Dome, a
Pentecostal church in Accra. A paralysed man tosses away his crutches.
A woman’s tumour vanishes. It is not only the sick who need help. “I
pray for businesses,” intones the pastor, promising that struggling
ones will “resurrect”. A stall outside sells recorded sermons on
“financial prophecy” and “creating wealth God’s way”. Someone up there
is listening. After several tough years Ghana’s growth rate in 2017
was 8.4%, the third fastest in the world.
African economies often seem like victims of divine whimsy. Most of
the continent’s workers are farmers, reliant on the rains. Much of its
wealth comes from oil and minerals, at the mercy of markets. When
prices are high, as they were in the first decade of the century,
Africa booms. But in recent times drought and a commodities slump have
stymied growth. In 2016 economies in sub-Saharan Africa grew by just
1.4%, the slowest rate for two decades.
Now the gods are smiling, faintly. Commodity prices are up. Better
harvests have helped reduce inflation. Governments in the region have
already sold about $12bn of international bonds in 2018, a full-year
record. In its latest regional update, published this week, the IMF
forecasts growth across sub-Saharan Africa of 3.4% this year.
Abebe Aemro Selassie, the director of the IMF’s African department,
plays up the potential for faster growth. “The question I ask is why
isn’t a country growing at 6 or 7%?” But he frets that the recovery is
fragile. Rising debt or a weaker world economy could stop it in its
Aggregate figures for the region are driven by three big economies,
all recovering from recession. Nigeria and Angola stumbled when oil
prices fell; in the former, militants also choked off production by
blowing up pipelines. Both made their situation worse by trying,
quixotically, to prop up exchange rates. They have now seen some
sense. Nigeria partly eased restrictions on its currency last year to
encourage investment and is pumping more of the black stuff. Angola
has let its currency slide by 28% against the dollar this year, though
the adjustment will make it costlier to repay dollar-denominated
South Africa, the third big beast, is also on the mend. Cyril
Ramaphosa, its new president, took over in February with promises to
lure $100bn of investment and stop the rot in state-run firms. That
was enough to save the country’s only investment-grade credit rating.
But Mr Ramaphosa will struggle to achieve many of his goals because of
infighting in his party, the African National Congress, says Azar
Jammine of Econometrix, a consultancy. One in four jobseekers can’t
These three countries are less of a drag on regional growth than they
were (see chart). But their recoveries are modest. The IMF expects
that income per person will shrink in all three in 2018, for the
fourth consecutive year. This mirrors a wider trend. In 12 countries
with about one-third of the region’s population, incomes per person
declined last year. They will fall again in most of them this year.
But three risks loom. The first is public finances. Governments have
borrowed heavily to replace oil revenues or fund capital projects. The
median level of public debt rose from 30% of GDP in 2012 to 53% last
year. The median country’s interest payments now swallow a tenth of
revenues. Six governments are already in a debt crisis. Anzetse Were,
an economist in Kenya, questions whether public investments there will
do much for productivity. She thinks some of the money may have been
diverted into private pockets.
A second risk is the world economy. Distant trade wars could crimp
demand for African raw materials. Hikes in American interest rates
would push up the cost of refinancing debts. And the oil price is
still too low for many African exporters. Even if it doubled, Cameroon
and Nigeria would still not balance their books.
The third risk is politics. Elections typically rip holes in public
budgets and can cause months of uncertainty. The only thing worse is
not holding a vote at all. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, while
billionaires bicker over cobalt, the president is driving his country
off a cliff.
Some think growth rates are a distraction. “We don’t see it,” says
Courage Gamli, a Ghanaian barman, of his country’s recent spurt. The
numbers are only a rough guess: a rebasing of the calculation next
month may add more to Ghana’s GDP than several years of actual growth.
A more basic problem is how to share the benefits. “The economy is
growing but it’s not translating into jobs,” says George Boateng of
the African Centre for Economic Transformation, a think-tank in Accra.
There is reason to worry, then, when the IMF says that regional growth
will hover below 4% for the next few years. Since populations are
rising, income per person will creep up by barely 1% a year. That
makes Africa look more like Italy than China. Better keep praying.
Airtel Raising $1,5 billion in Africa to pay debt in India. Not the story you usually hear. Hindustan Times via @LopesInsights
Bharti Airtel Ltd. is looking to pare $4.6 billion from its net
borrowings over the next three years by listing its African unit and
potentially selling some stake in its tower business, according to a
person with knowledge of the matter, in a bid to safeguard its
investment grade ratings.
India’s top wireless operator plans to raise as much as $1.5 billion
by listing a quarter of equity in its Africa unit by early 2019 in
either London or South Africa, the person said, asking not to be
identified as the information isn’t public. The parent will also look
to sell part of its stake in the $14.6 billion tower giant after
Bharti Infratel Ltd. merges with Indus Towers Ltd.
The twin deals will help the billionaire Sunil Mittal-controlled
carrier improve its balance sheet after net debt rose almost 45% to
$14.6 billion over four years as the company borrowed to buy spectrum
and defend its position against disruptive upstart Reliance Jio
Infocomm Ltd. The build-up, which came with an eight-quarter-long
stretch of earnings declines, has put Bharti Airtel at risk of a
downgrade to junk at both Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global
Beer Volumes Show Surge in Zimbabwe Consumer Confidence
Zimbabweans have been cheered by the ascension to power of President
Emmerson Mnangagwa, a politician known as “The Crocodile.” In November
he replaced Robert Mugabe, who saw the economy shrink 50 percent from
2000 until he was ousted. For the first time in at least five years
the country’s main brewer, AB InBev-affiliated Delta Corp., announced
that sales volumes increased with the company having said before that
consumption of lager beer is tied to consumer confidence.
Zimbabwe: Economy Goes 96pc Cashless - Chinamasa
Zimbabweans have embraced electronic platforms as means of
transacting, with 96 percent of transactions now being conducted
This was said by Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick
Chinamasa yesterday while responding to questions on cash shortages
from legislators in the National Assembly.
"As a matter of fact Mr Speaker Sir, because of these challenges, we
have overtaken Kenya in terms of the number of transactions that are
transacted electronically and through RTGS and through mobile," he
The way to go Mr Speaker Sir, developed country or not developed is
that we are moving towards a cashless society and the challenges we
have met because of cash shortages have expedited the movement of our
people towards a cashless society to the extent that of the $97
billion transactions that have been transacted in the this country, 96
percent of them are electronic."
07-MAY-2018 :: .@SafaricomPLC is a Need not a Want. Buy the Dip, add to the position if we react lower on the results
Let me loop now to Safaricom, which will be reporting its FY Earnings
Wednesday morning. I don't need to remind you of Safaricom's
centrality to the fortunes of the Nairobi Securities Exchange.
Safaricom has a market Cap of $11.2b about 43% of the total market Cap
of the Securities Exchange. Therefore, this is the Big Beast of
Earnings Releases at the Nairobi Securities Exchange. After hitting a
record high on April 5th, Safaricom corrected -20.00% through Friday
morning. Citibank were surely the Catalyst with a sceptical Earnings
perspective. Safaricom provided every Kenyan with an Entry Ticket into
the c21st. Jack Ma last year posed the question when asked about the
''But what is the most important Infrastructure of them all? Its the
information Superhighway and yours is fast.''
Safaricom is a Need not a Want. Buy the Dip, add to the position if we
react lower on the results. Safaricom has built the Superhighway.
Everyone else is still playing the tarmacking Game. You know what I
mean. The roads around Westlands are the best example.
More outstanding news on HF Group this week: @wazua
1⃣ CEO paid 64m in 2017 (half of net profit for the group, after a
precipitous 84% decline in earnings)
2⃣ Company sought emergency loans from its competitors at the same
rate you and I borrow
“During the year, HFC Limited received… two short term notes from NIC
Bank Limited Sh500 million and Co-operative Bank of Kenya Limited
Sh300 million at a rate of 14 and 13 per cent respectively for one
year,” HF says in the report.
The obligations had grown to Sh517.3 million on the NIC loan and
Sh309.6 million (Co-op Bank) as of December 2017.