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US, Israel punish Turkey's Erdogan @BhadraPunchline
Law & Politics
“Turkey is a global “swing state.” It has a large and growing economy,
a strategic location, a democratic government, and mixed views about
prevailing international arrangements. Like the other three global
swing states — Brazil, India, and Indonesia — Turkey’s choices will
influence whether today’s international order evolves and endures or
fragments and fails.”
The above passage is reproduced from a policy brief titled Turkey: A
Global Swing State by the German Marshall Fund of the United States,
the American think tank. Indeed, from the US perspective, several
fault lines in regional politics are affected by Turkish policies. At
least half a dozen major templates can be readily identified: Syrian
conflict, Kurdish autonomy, Palestinian problem and Israel’s security,
US sanctions against Russia and Iran, Turkey’s entente with Russia,
Qatar, Iran, etc., NATO presence in the Black Sea and Mediterranean
and the alliance’s base in Incirlik and so on. It is no big secret
that the US and its European allies and Israel view Turkish President
Recep Erdogan’s regional policies with growing disquiet. Erdogan’s
independent foreign policies weaken western regional strategies and
his support for Hamas (and his visceral dislike of Netanyahu) isolates
Israel in the region. On the other hand, the US’ containment
strategies against Russia and Iran are undermined by Erdogan’s
policies. The Turkish-Russian-Iranian troika created new facts on the
ground in Syria and rendered untenable the US military presence in
Syria. Turkey frontally challenges the US’ alliance with Syrian Kurds.
The deepening Turkish-Russian partnership challenges the cohesion of
NATO. The so-called Middle Eastern Entente between Turkey, Qatar and
Iran creates much-needed strategic depth for Tehran. Suffice to say,
Erdogan has become a thorn in the flesh for the US and Israel. All
this goes to explain the unusually high level of western interest in
Turkey’s local elections, which concluded on Sunday. The big question
is how far the election results affect Erdogan’s hold on power. Put
differently, do the election results show any signs of this
charismatic politician losing his grip?
The turnout of voters has been appreciably high — 84.67%. Overall, AK
Party (Erdogan’s party) and its ultra-nationalist ally MHP (under the
banner People’s Alliance) polled 51.62% votes as against the secular
‘Kemalist’ and liberal opposition (known as National Alliance) which
secured 37.56% votes. The AKP is leading the race securing 16
metropolitan municipalities (out of 30) and taken control of 24
cities, with the main opposition winning in 10 municipalities. But the
opposition has wrested control of Ankara and may have scraped through
in Istanbul, the country’s main centre of business and industry.
On the whole, there has been no significant shift in the established
pattern of social and political polarisation — the southern
(Mediterranean) and western (Aegean) provinces supporting the
opposition parties with liberal, ‘westernist’, secular outlook, while
the Islamist AK Party retains its vast power base in the deeply
conservative Anatolian heartland.
Simply put, the AK Party emerges as the winner for the 15th
consecutive election under Erdogan’s stewardship. Erdogan said in an
address to the nation, “There will be no elections for four and a half
years. What will we do? We will focus on national and international
issues, and hopefully raise our country above the level of our
contemporaries.” Erdogan prioritised the strengthening of the economy,
development and job creation.
A pall of gloom would have descended on the western capitals as the
realisation sinks in that Erdogan will be around as Turkey’s helmsman
for the foreseeable future. Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary
elections are due only in 2023. It is a sign of the times that
Russian President Vladimir Putin telephoned Erdogan on Monday to
congratulate him. Erdogan is due to travel to Russia next week to
co-chair with Putin the eighth meeting of the High-Level
Russian-Turkish Cooperation Council scheduled for April 8 in Moscow.
Erdogan’s meeting with Putin will be crucial as both sides are
conscious that stormy days lie ahead in Turkish-American relations.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is due to travel to the US
even as Washington is ratcheting up pressure on Ankara to pull out of
the S-400 missile deal with Russia and to comply with the US sanctions
Things may come to a head between the two NATO allies in the coming
weeks since Russia is due to deliver to Turkey in July the first batch
of the missile system. Turkey is buying four batteries of the S-400
air defence system for $2.5 billion. On Thursday, a bipartisan bill
was introduced in the US senate to block the transfer of F-35 stealth
fighter jets to Turkey unless Ankara scrapped the S-400 deal. The US
is also reportedly considering removing Ankara from the joint
production program on F-35s. But the Turkish Foreign Minister
Cavusoglu reiterated on Friday that Ankara will go ahead with the
missile deal with Russia. He scotched the rumours that Ankara might
resell the missiles to a third country.
More importantly, last Tuesday, the US introduced sanctions on 25
individuals and firms on grounds of violation of sanctions on Iran,
including firms and persons based in Turkey. On Wednesday, Sigal
Mandelker, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence in
the US Treasury, called on Turkey to strictly observe the sanctions
against Iran. Without doubt, the Israeli lobby in Washington is
pulling all stops to punish Erdogan. His support for Iran and Hamas
infuriate Israel. Erdogan said last week that Turkey will never accept
Israel’s illegal occupation of Golan Heights and intends to raise the
issue in the UN. The US media which is heavily under Jewish influence
has been harshly critical of Erdogan. Sunday’s election results are
being displayed as ‘setback’ for Erdogan. Given the Jewish influence
on Wall Street, the game plan would be to create difficulties for the
Turkish economy so that mass discontent rises and threatened Erdogan’s
At such a sensitive juncture when an escalation of tension in ties
between Ankara and Washington looks possible in the days ahead and
Turkey is hard-pressed to strike a balance between the US and Moscow,
the results of the local elections on Sunday would relieve the
pressure on Erdogan. But the loss of control of Ankara and Istanbul
creates new headaches.
The head of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli, ally
and coalition partner of Erdogan, said on Monday that “external forces
seeking to implement shady machinations over Turkey have failed” in
the local elections. Bahceli said that the “economic hitmen, currency
gangs, terrorist groups and intentions” lost hope thanks to the will
of the nation and “got the answer they deserved.”
However, looking ahead, Bahceli added, “Elections are now past and
Turkey has replenished its hope. It is of crucial importance to focus
on worsening social and economic issues along with international
KIEV, Ukraine - A Ukrainian comedian who plays an accidental president on television delivered a walloping rebuke to the country's political class in the presidential election on Sunday by emerging first @nytimes
Law & Politics
The comedian, Volodymyr Zelensky, 41, captured more than 30 percent of
the vote, according to two authoritative exit polls. It was a strong
showing by a maverick with no political experience, though far below
the 50 percent needed to win the first round outright.
If exit polls translate into real votes, Mr. Zelensky will face
President Petro O. Poroshenko, who emerged second with around 18
percent, in a runoff in three weeks, on April 21. Yulia V. Tymoshenko,
a former prime minister making her third bid for the presidency, was
third with about 13 percent.
After the polls closed, Mr. Zelensky and Mr. Poroshenko lost no time
in attacking each other.
“I want to thank all Ukrainians who voted today not just for kicks,”
said Mr. Zelensky, taking a dig at Mr. Poroshenko for saying the
incumbent alone should be taken seriously. “This is only the first
step toward a great victory.”
Mr. Poroshenko said that the time for jokes was over and that Mr.
Zelensky would make just the kind of weak president sought by
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, the bogeyman of Ukrainian
“He dreams of a soft, submissive, gentle, giggling, inexperienced,
weak, ideologically amorphous and politically uncertain president,”
Mr. Poroshenko said. “Will we gift him this?”
Mr. Poroshenko, a chocolate tycoon who is among the richest men in a
country dominated by oligarchs, appeared to offer a tacit admission
that younger voters had abandoned him in droves. He said he had heard
— and understood — their desire for a faster pace of change.
It was a stunning result in an election that will help to determine
the future of a country that has become the European front line in a
new era of confrontation between Russia and the West. The grinding war
it has spawned has left 13,000 dead and displaced millions since 2014.
“He is the only candidate who is not contaminated with our politics,”
he said. “That is why he is the only candidate for me.”
Ukrainians seem more fed up than ever. A mere 9 percent say they have
confidence in the government, and 91 percent see it as corrupt,
according to a Gallup poll conducted in March.
That gave rise to Mr. Zelensky, who has blurred the lines between his
television character and his candidacy. His show, “The Servant of the
People,” became the name of his party.
Many voters say they feel as if they know him after watching him on
television for years, similar to what many Americans say about
01-APR-2019 :: World's End
Law & Politics
“The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and
the new cannot be born” ― Antonio Gramsci,
There is certainly a Fin de siècle even apocalyptic mood afoot. The
conundrum for those who wish to bet on the End of the World is this,
however. What would be the point? The World would have ended.
I learnt that in the last 44 years, we have achieved what we haven’t
in all this while: a mass annihilation of our fellow earthlings.
Between 1970 and 2014, Earth lost nearly 60% decline of its mammals,
birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians, almost all of it due to human
activity. What with the biblical Cyclone in Mozambique, its all too
easy to think like Pompeo that the moment of ''rapture'' might well be
WB Yeats' The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
"I was the most innocent human being" President Trump told Sean
Hannity. And the entire Claque [Wikileaks, Greenwald et al] did a
“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”
Over in the United Kingdom The Brexit Story continues to play out
longer than the longest Oresteia [The Oresteia (Ancient Greek:
Ὀρέστεια) is a trilogy of Greek tragedies written by Aeschylus] and I
have watched the play and its long. Mrs. Theresa May who has been
previously characterised as a Bot, brought her May Deal for the third
time only for it be rejected again. She is proposing to bring it a 4th
time next week. Sterling re-tested the 1.3000 level. There are two
schools of thought. The Majority View is that we have had an eternity
to price everything into the Pound and all the bad news is baked into
the price now and therefore this is a Yazz Moment and ''The only way
is up'' The minority position about 20% versus 80% is saying there is
a chance that what is soft will become hard [Brexit] and brittle and
therefore, there is a risk the whole edifice will come crashing down
and career off course. The Theatre of the UK Parliament is I am
ashamed to admit rather more interesting than was the Oresteia.
Further afield, The Head of the Army in Algeria is trying to remove
President Bouteflika the wheelchair-chair bound who might be
remembered in the history books as Bouteflika the Sticky. Article 102
of Algeria's constitution allows the constitutional council to declare
the presidency vacant if the incumbent is too ill to exercise his
functions, then ask parliament to declare him unfit. In Africa, in
particular, a lot of Leadership is in the departure Lounge but
Bouteflika is surely the most extreme example.
@SunChartist whom I follow on Twitter said this
The premise of ZIRP / NIRP was always these are temporary measures for
atrial fibrillation of the economy. 10 years later same medicine in
ever larger dosage to keep the patient alive. The definition of [a]
The Bond market is surely in a vegetative state. The Market Value of
Global Negative Yielding Bonds rose +$518 Billion Thursday to $10.42
Trillion and is just $1.75 Trillion away from a record high. Japan
and Germany account for 64% of Negative Yielding bonds. It is worth
pointing out that Germany and Japan are being paid to borrow money.
TThe Central Bankers flipped and administhis level of dissonance in
the bond market is unprecedented. Just about everything rallied in Q1.
Following on from an Annus Horribilis in 2018 [where 93% of assets
declined in value], Q1 2019 was a Quarter mirabilis. Central Banks
administered huge doses of drugs. Just about everything from Crude Oil
[+31% in Q1] to Frontier market Debt [Kenya +10%]. has been pumped up.
This cannot last notwithstanding the fact that somehow its been going
on a for a decade. Eventually this zombification will end and only the
debris will be left.
The latest Signal of Stress is being emitted by Turkey where Erdogan
pronounced 'I'm in charge,' the day after the overnight rate clocked
an eye-popping 1,336%. He added that Turkey had thwarted “attacks” by
the United States and the West on the lira and he accused some banks
of playing games with the currency ahead of Sunday’s vote.
“They can’t find lira now, they are struggling in terms of payments.
The tables have turned. While they can’t do this, the lira firms and
the dollar falls,” Erdogan said. His [lack of analysis] of the
situation is his Achilles heel.
President Erdogan will learn what Norman Lamont learned and the
Turkish Lira is teetering at the precipice. Now if the Lira crashes
[which looks very likely], the Infection will spread out of Istanbul.
We could see a major wobble, a Flight to Quality and in that
environment you might well want to own some Yen.
@GoldmanSachs Sees a 'Big Finish' for Brexit, Opportunity in the Pound @markets
“We’re coming to a big finish here,” Zach Pandl, Goldman’s co-head of
global foreign exchange and emerging market strategy, said on
Bloomberg Television after the U.K. Parliament again rejected all
alternatives to Prime Minister Theresa May’s unloved deal to leave the
European Union. “We do think we’re making progress despite these
Instead of a prolonged stalemate or a chaotic no-deal scenario, Pandl
said a soft Brexit approach, which may include a permanent customs
union packaged with a second referendum, could come within the next
day or two.
“Sterling is maybe the biggest opportunity among developed market
exchange rates today,” Pandl said. The pound was at $1.3066 as of 9:49
a.m. in Hong Kong, at the weaker end of its recent range.
@Starbucks Has Brazil to Thank for Longest Coffee Rout Since 2001 @business
News out of Brazil just keeps getting better for Starbucks Corp. and
other buyers of smooth-tasting arabica-coffee beans.
Favorable weather and currency weakness in the South American country
are behind a sixth straight quarterly decline in arabica prices. In
fact, coffee futures are posting a string of superlatives.
The run of quarterly losses is the longest since late 2001
The quarterly average price is the lowest since 2005, and the lowest
in 15 years for a first quarter
A more than 7 percent drop this year is the worst performance among
major soft commodities tracked by Bloomberg
The world’s biggest coffee-shop company has abundant rains to thank
for cheaper prices. The beneficial weather is boosting prospects for
the next harvests in top supplier Brazil. In addition, waning optimism
that the government will be able to push through market-friendly
legislation is taking its toll on Brazil’s currency, giving exporters
more incentive to ship beans.
America would run out of avocados in three weeks if President Trump shut down the US-Mexico border, according to data from the US Department of Agriculture. @NBCNews
President Donald Trump's threat to shut down the U.S.-Mexico border
would hit American consumers — in the gut.
From avocado toast to margaritas, the United States is heavily reliant
on Mexican imports of fruit, vegetables and alcohol to meet consumer
demand. Nearly half of all imported U.S. vegetables and 40 percent of
imported fruit are grown in Mexico, according to the latest data from
the United States Department of Agriculture.
Americans would run out of avocados in three weeks if imports from
Mexico were stopped, said Steve Barnard, president and chief executive
of Mission Produce, the largest distributor and grower of avocados in
''You couldn't pick a worse time of year because Mexico supplies
virtually 100 percent of the avocados in the U.S. right now.
California is just starting and they have a very small crop, but
they're not relevant right now and won't be for another month or so,"
Algeria's Embattled President to Resign Before End of Term @bpolitics
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said he will step down before
his fourth term officially expires on April 28, bowing to weeks of
mass protests that had threatened to tip the OPEC exporter into
Citing a statement from the presidency, the official APS news agency
said the transitional period would begin with the departure of the
ailing leader, who would take ”important steps to ensure continuity in
the functioning of state institutions” during those changes.
The announcement comes as Bouteflika faces hundreds of thousands of
demonstrators demanding he end his 20-year rule over the North African
Protesters had been joined in recent weeks by unions and political
parties. The tide turned against Bouteflika last week when his
long-time ally, army chief of staff Ahmed Gaid Salah, said it was time
to invoke a constitutional article that could see the 82-year-old
declared unfit for office.
“This looks like it was effectively the outcome of a compromise
between the army and the Bouteflika faction after the statement by the
chief of staff,” said Riccardo Fabiani, senior analyst on geopolitics
for Energy Aspects. “It was clear that he couldn’t stay in power for
The drama unfolding in Algeria is being closely watched across the
Mediterranean. Under Bouteflika, Europe’s third-largest gas supplier
has been a bulwark against Islamist militancy and illegal migration
from other parts of Africa. Unrest in Algeria could be felt beyond its
The upheaval began when Bouteflika, incapacitated by a stroke in 2013
and rarely seen in public, announced a bid to run for a fifth term in
office in the face of popular opposition.
He quickly backtracked on his re-election plan but pledged to stay in
office to shepherd the country through a transition that would include
drafting a new constitution. His proposal was swiftly rejected on the
streets, where protesters began to call for the removal of the entire
political elite that has ruled the country for decades.
Fabiani said that the latest arrangement was “all part of their script.”
“The script is always the same. The regime, even though it’s divided
internally, doesn’t want to let go of power,” he said. “They’re open
to the transition, but only on their terms.”
It was not clear who would replace Bouteflika pending new elections or
when that vote could be held. Originally planned for April 18,
Bouteflika, in announcing he wouldn’t seek a new term, scrapped the
presidential vote as part of what he said was a broader plan to
reshape the country, enact a transitional phase and draft a new
Under the constitution, the president of the senate takes over in the interim.
The statement from the presidency said that the appointment of a new
government on Sunday would be followed by other decisions to ensure
the continuity of state institutions.
The announcement capped a day of tumult in the oil exporter, with
authorities moving against several influential businessmen by
launching corruption investigations and banning them from travel, the
APS news agency reported. Among the men were three seen as
particularly close to Bouteflika.
The investigations appeared to be a response by authorities to
protester demands for a crackdown on the business elite that’s seen as
key to Bouteflika’s survival. They, along with military officials and
some members of the ruling FLN, are among “le pouvoir” -- a
loosely-defined group seen as the backbone of the ruling regime.
Sudan's Bid to Feed the Middle East Left Its Own People Furious @BW
When the Jordanian army went shopping for land in northern Sudan in
late 1999, its scouts came across what appeared to be a food-growing
paradise. The terrain was vast, flat, and fat with nutrients. The
water it could draw from the nearby Nile was almost embarrassingly
bountiful. And local officials were bending over backward to offer
favorable financial terms. It all seemed like a can’t-miss opportunity
to supplement Jordan’s national food supply while turning a tidy
profit. The military pension fund snapped up 9,000 acres of
backcountry scrub three hours’ drive north of Khartoum, and the
farmhands got to work.
Soon afterward, as news of potential riches spread, the surrounding
land began filling up. A Pakistani company leased a large plot to the
south. Syrians began farming to the north. Emiratis, Lebanese,
Yemenis, and others acquired 100,000-plus acres apiece. The main
north-south highway that runs alongside Al-Bashaer, the Jordanian
farm, grew clogged with tractor-trailers carrying hay bales that would
become fodder across the Red Sea. “There’s good soil, enough water,
sunshine, everything you need to grow a lot of crops,” says Abdelazim
al-Jak, a Khartoum native who now manages the farm. “It shouldn’t be a
surprise that everyone wants it.”
The mad dash has only accelerated in recent years, as Sudanese
authorities, desperate for revenue, have resurrected the country’s
long-standing dream of becoming an agricultural superpower. Since
losing access to most of the country’s oil revenue with the secession
of South Sudan in 2011, they’ve been trying to parcel out land to
cash-rich, food-poor investors. In 2016 the Saudi government leased 1
million arable acres in the east of the country. Not long after,
Bahrain leased 100,000 acres, a plot almost as large as Bahrain
By the time villages across Sudan’s River Nile and Northern states had
awoken to the full scale of foreign land acquisitions, even nonfood
producers such as Jordan’s Sayegh Group, the Middle East’s biggest
paint producer, were muscling in. “You could walk hundreds of
kilometers without stepping on Sudanese-owned land,” says Khaled
Khairallah, a livestock herder in Wad al-Habashi, a village to the
south and across the river from Al-Bashaer. “What is left for us?”
Arab policymakers have been touting Sudan’s ability to feed the
populous and water-scarce Middle East since the 1970s. The country
features as much as 200 million acres of arable land, a strategic
location less than a day’s sail across the Red Sea to the Saudi port
of Jeddah, and a roughly 25 percent share of the Nile’s waters under
regional agreements, much of it unused.
The pressure on companies to make things work is intense—Saudi
businesses such as Almarai, Al Safi Danone, and Nadec, for example,
are contending with a ban at home on animal-fodder cultivation, forced
on them in November in response to depleted groundwater reserves. They
need to get their alfalfa, an extremely water-intensive crop,
somewhere. But despite the success certain foreign farms have had
growing it in Sudan, they’ve been slow to expand their smallish
existing operations. “We absolutely look at Sudan as the answer to our
problems. It’s 350 kilometers away. It should make economic sense,”
said a senior Saudi dairy executive. “But that infrastructure, that
government ... a lot still needs to change.”
@Mastercard to Join Investors in Africa Online Retailer #Jumia @technology
Jumia Technologies AG said Mastercard Inc. has agreed to invest 50
million euros ($56 million) in a private placement ahead of the
Africa-focused online retailer’s planned initial public offering in
The U.S. credit-card giant joins shareholders such as French drinks
maker Pernod Ricard SA, which bought a 5.1 percent stake for 75
million euros in December, and largest investors MTN Group Ltd. and
Rocket Internet SE.
The Pernod deal valued Jumia at about 1.4 billion euros, making the
Amazon.com Inc.-like firm a rare African unicorn -- a private company
valued at more than $1 billion.
It is selling 13.5 million American Depository Shares at $13 to $16
each, according to a filing last week, which could raise as much as
The move by Mastercard increases the chances of a successful share
sale for loss-making Jumia, which has about 4 million customers across
14 African countries.
Founded by French entrepreneurs Sacha Poignonnec and Jeremy Hodara,
the group is tapping into rising internet availability in Africa as
well as a lack of desirable items such as designer watches and
Mastercard also agreed to a new partnership to help Jumia grow its
operations, Berlin-based Jumia said in an emailed statement on Monday.
The U.S credit-card giant “has been rapidly expanding its presence and
partnerships in Africa, bringing new technologies,” Elcin Yanik, a
marketing executive at the Purchase, New York-based company, said in
the same statement.
@KenyaAirways Plc. is in discussions with @Airbus SE to acquire an unspecified number of planes but remains a "happy and loyal customer" of @Boeing Co., according to Chief Executive Officer @MikoszSebastian @business
Sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest carrier, which wants to add 50
airliners to its fleet over the next six years to ward off competition
from the rest of Africa and the Middle East, is “seriously thinking”
about Airbus’s medium-range A220, Mikosz said in an interview Tuesday
in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.
“If the producer offers us a good deal on the pricing and their
delivery and training conditions, we will adopt,” he said. The
long-haul A380, though, was out of the equation as it “never made a
dime for anybody.”
Besides the A220, the industry has “very limited alternatives” for
narrow-body aircraft other than Boeing’s 737 Max, which was grounded
after two deadly crashes in the last five months.
“We are one of the potential customers for this aircraft,” Mikosz said
of the 737 Max. “I’m not losing trust in them. I believe that once the
corrections are done, we will have to conduct a very detailed and
large communications exercise to explain what was wrong and what was
To finance acquisitions, the loss-making airline would consider
various alternatives, including swapping or trading-in aircraft or
entering into sale-and-lease arrangements, he said.
Kenya Airways hopes to get clarity by the end of the year on its
proposal to jointly manage the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in
the capital, Nairobi, with the state-owned Kenya Airports Authority
through a 30-year concession plan, Mikosz said.
The venture could increase passenger traffic at the airport by more
than half in under five years, according to the proposal.
“What we are advocating is a massive systemic change” in the country’s
civil aviation industry, he said. “The growth of the airline is
essential as it accounts for 80 percent of the airport’s revenues
Sellers withhold Sh590m tea as price hits 4-year low @BD_Africa
About three million kilos of tea was pulled out of the auction last
week as prices dipped further, forcing sellers to withhold their
By the Sh196 average price per kilo at the auction, the tea could have
fetched Sh588 million but was never sold.
According to East African Tea Traders Association (Eatta), the volume
offered for sale last week was 11.7 million kilos and only 8.5 million
The Mombasa auction has been witnessing a streak of low prices since
the beginning of the year in what has been attributed to high tea