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  • G7 wrestles with Iran, Amazon fires and trade, but own unity shaky news

    The summit in Biarritz, a high-end surfers' paradise in southwestern France, saw a dramatic shift of focus Saturday when Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif flew in to discuss the diplomatic deadlock on Tehran's disputed nuclear programme. Zarif's presence had not been expected and it represented a gamble by French host Emmanuel Macron who is seeking to soothe spiralling tensions between Iran and the United States.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 22:07:27 -0400
  • China Says U.S. Is Using Fentanyl Feud as Political Weapon

    (Bloomberg) -- In the shadow of the broader trade war between China and the U.S., a parallel battle is heating up between the two countries over America’s opioid crisis.The sparring accelerated on Friday, with China’s narcotics regulator accusing the U.S. of politicizing the issue of illicit Chinese exports of fentanyl and using it as a weapon against the Asian country.Liu Yuejin, deputy head of the National Narcotics Control Commission, rebutted accusations from the U.S. that China is not doing enough to curb the flow of fentanyl, a highly addictive opioid painkiller, beyond its borders. Some American politicians “are up-ending the facts for their own political necessities,” Liu said in an interview in Beijing on Friday.The comments come just weeks after President Donald Trump lashed out at his Chinese counterpart in a tweet, saying Xi Jinping hadn’t stopped the flow of Chinese-made fentanyl as promised, and citing this failure as one reason that another 10% tariff would be levied on $300 billion of Chinese exports on Sept. 1.In a series of new tweets on Friday, Trump said that he would order U.S. shipping companies to search for and reject any packages containing fentanyl, from China or any other country.FedEx Corp. already has extensive security measures to prevent the use of its network for illegal purposes, the company said in a statement. United Parcel Service Inc. said it works closely with authorities to monitor for prohibited substances, and takes a “multi-layered” approach to prevent such shipments. Inc. didn’t respond to a request for comment.The U.S. Postal Service said it’s “aggressively working” to implement provisions of an existing law to keep illicit drugs from entering the U.S.As an example of facts being twisted by the U.S., Liu cited three Chinese nationals whom the U.S. issued economic sanctions against earlier this week for allegedly producing and trafficking fentanyl. Liu said Chinese authorities have been closely cooperating with their American counterparts on the issue of the three men, but that the individuals’ actions occurred before China’s tightening of its laws regulating the drug in April.“It was hard to prosecute them with the law at that time and U.S. enforcement knows this very clearly,” he said. “Some U.S. politicians refuse to face the reality, upend the facts, turn black into white and muddy clear water. And they mislead Americans who may not know the truth.“Fentanyl has played a role in the opioid epidemic that’s been blamed for thousands of overdose deaths in the U.S. and been declared a public health emergency. It’s also been an issue in trade war negotiations. Last year, China’s move to tighten supervision and revise rules around fentanyl production after the two presidents met at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina was talked up by Trump as a major concession.But earlier this month, he tweeted that “my friend President Xi said that he would stop the sale of Fentanyl to the United States – this never happened, and many Americans continue to die!”The three Chinese nationals, Zheng Fujing, Zheng Guanghua and Yan Xiaobing, were added to the U.S. Treasury’s “Specially Designated Nationals List” earlier this week for running what the agency said was “an international drug trafficking operation that manufactures and sells lethal narcotics, directly contributing to the crisis of opioid addiction, overdoses and death in the U.S.” The move allows the government to freeze their U.S.-based financial assets.“These actions by the U.S. are not constructive and will hurt the good relationship between the two countries’ law enforcement organs,” said Liu. He added that China is still open to working with the U.S. on the fentanyl problem.China has repeatedly pushed back against the U.S. claim that it is responsible for the fentanyl problem, arguing that the epidemic is due to the U.S.’s own lax regulation over the prescription of addictive opioids to patients. Liu pointed out that China doesn’t have a domestic opioid abuse issue because of its strict regulation over the use of painkillers.\--With assistance from John Liu and Ben Brody.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Dong Lyu in Beijing at;Tom Mackenzie in Beijing at tmackenzie5@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rachel Chang at, Jeff Sutherland, Timothy AnnettFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 20:31:07 -0400
  • G7 leaders vow to help Brazil fight fires, repair damage news

    Leaders of the Group of Seven nations said Sunday they are preparing to help Brazil battle fires burning across the Amazon region and repair the damage as tens of thousands of soldiers got ready to join the fight against blazes that have caused global alarm. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country and others will talk with Brazil about reforestation in the Amazon once fires there have been extinguished. "Of course (this is) Brazilian territory, but we have a question here of the rainforests that is really a global question," she said.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 20:13:15 -0400
  • Trump Aides Say He Has Power to Force Companies From China news

    (Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Two top White House officials said President Donald Trump has the authority to force American companies to leave China -- as he claims, and which trade experts question -- yet whether he invokes those powers is a another question.Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking on “Fox News Sunday” from the Group of Seven meeting in Biarritz, France, said Trump would have the ability under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, if he declared an emergency. White House economic director Larry Kudlow agreed, in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” but said “there’s nothing right now in the cards” to do so.Trump cited the 1977 measure in a tweet late Friday, saying it gave him the power and declaring, “Case closed!”Some China hardliners in the Trump administration have been urging the president to invoke the law on a number of fronts over the past two years. Using it as a way to curb U.S. investment into China would be extreme, though, and take aim at operations of American businesses ranging from automakers General Motors Co. and Tesla Inc., to industrial companies such as Caterpillar Inc. and retail giants including Walmart Inc.Experts say applying the law, known as IEEPA, in this fashion was never the intent of the legislation, but it wouldn’t be the first time the administration has looked into it. Trump cited the power when he threatened in May to place levies on Mexican goods as a way to force curbs on the flow of undocumented immigrants across the U.S.-Mexican border.The intensifying trade battle between the world’s two largest economies, and the potential for Trump to push the limits of presidential authority, has roiled markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 623 points, or 2.4%, on Friday, trimming its 2019 gains to below 10%, and pushing it lower on a year-over-year basis.U.S. equity futures tumbled while the yen and Treasury contracts climbed in Asia on Monday morning. The yuan weakened and stocks looked headed for steep losses in Asia.Mnuchin and Kudlow fielded questions Sunday after a series of tweets from Trump on Friday, in which he “hereby ordered” American companies to seek alternatives to business in China, including moving operations “home and making your products in the USA.”The president’s comments were followed hours later by tweets declaring that the U.S. would increase the rate of existing and impending tariffs on Chinese goods. Trump’s moves were in response to an earlier announcement Friday that China was planning to impose tariffs on $75 billion of U.S. imports.Trump’s warning on Twitter Friday reflected the possibility of a long trade war, Mnuchin said.“What he was saying is he’s ordering companies to start looking, because he wants to make sure to the extent we are in an extended trade war that companies don’t have these issues and move out of China,” he said.Kudlow echoed the point, while emphasizing that the president wasn’t currently making an order.“There’s no emergency powers being invoked right now,” Kudlow said. “Ultimately, we do have such authority, but it is not going to be exercised presently. What he is suggesting to American businesses -- and it’s something he has said to many companies, in many different forms, on many different occasions -- you ought to think about -- to the companies -- you ought to think about moving your operations and your supply chains away from China.”While at the G-7 meeting in France, Trump also answered questions about his reasoning around IEEPA, and why it would be appropriate to invoke it.“In many ways it’s an emergency. I have no plan right now,” the president said. “Actually we’re getting along very well with China right now. We’re talking. I think they want to make a deal much more than I do.”President’s PowerTrade experts have questioned Trump’s authority to impose tariffs under IEEPA. The act’s been used primarily to sanction countries in national security threats, such as Iran during the hostage crisis in 1979-1981. It would allow Trump to bypass Congress to “investigate, regulate or prohibit” everything from foreign-exchange transactions to transfers of credit, and freeze assets.Trump would have to first declare an emergency to invoke IEEPA. Some legal experts said he likely has the authority to do so given the administration’s repeated efforts to highlight China’s theft of intellectual property and other trade and security concerns.“I’m not saying it’s an easy case to make, but I don’t think it’s laughable,” said Raj Bhala, a specialist in international trade law at the University of Kansas School of Law.If Trump did invoke IEEPA, he would have to craft a remedy that’s proportional to the threat, Bhala said. Thus, a complete ban on doing business in China probably wouldn’t stand, but restrictions on companies dealing with sensitive intellectual property might, he said.Any such effort would be litigated, and while there’s disagreement about what IEEPA permits, it probably allows Trump to block imports or exports, freeze Chinese assets, and exclude Chinese institutions from the U.S. financial system, said Bill Reinsch of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.“It is not what Congress intended, but that does not necessarily mean he wouldn’t be able to do it,” Reinsch said.Bhala said legal challenges probably wouldn’t have great odds for success, given the deference courts have given to a president’s authority on national security matters.Tech-Industry ReactionThe Information Technology Industry Council, which represents companies such as Inc. and Facebook Inc., responded Saturday with alarm.“Like tariffs, using emergency national security powers to compel U.S. companies to exit China would continue to create economic uncertainty, raise costs for consumers, and chill the business environment in the United States,” ITIC’s Chief Executive Officer Jason Oxman said.Tariffs and the uncertainty around Trump’s trade policies has already slowed business investment, muddled supply chains and weighed on the U.S. manufacturing sector. Federal Reserve officials explained repeatedly at last week’s gathering in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, that trade disputes are poisoning the global economy and making it difficult for the central bank to keep the economy humming.In Trump’s announcement Friday of another wave of higher tariffs, he said existing 25% tariffs on some $250 billion in imports from China would rise to 30% come Oct. 1, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Planned 10% tariffs on a further $300 billion in Chinese goods will be taxed at 15% instead of 10% starting with the first tranche on Sept. 1.China is “seriously making” preparations for relations with the U.S. to deteriorate, according to Global Times’ editor-in-chief Hu Xijin. The Global Times is a Chinese tabloid run by the People’s Daily, which is the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party. Hu has said the paper voices opinions that official sources can’t.(Updates with Asian markets in seventh paragraph.)\--With assistance from Jennifer Jacobs.To contact the reporters on this story: Reade Pickert in Washington at;Shawn Donnan in Washington at;Mark Niquette in Columbus at mniquette@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Scott Lanman at, Ros Krasny, Steve GeimannFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 20:01:05 -0400
  • Israeli aircraft strike Hamas site after Gaza rocket fire

    Israeli aircraft carried out multiple strikes on Hamas military positions early Monday in the Gaza Strip after three rockets were launched from the territory into southern Israel. The military said the airstrikes included one on the office of a Hamas commander in the northern Gaza Strip. Late on Sunday, the army said two rockets fired from Gaza were intercepted by Israel's missile defense system, but did not disclose what happened to the third.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 19:56:07 -0400
  • AP Interview: Sudan PM seeks end to country's pariah status news

    Sudan's new prime minister said in an interview Sunday that ending his country's international pariah status and drastically cutting military spending are prerequisites for rescuing a faltering economy. Abdalla Hamdok, a respected former official with the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, told The Associated Press that he has already talked to U.S. officials about removing Sudan from Washington's list of countries sponsoring terrorism, and portrayed their reaction as positive. Sudan stagnated for three decades under former President Omar al-Bashir, convulsed by a bloody civil war and rebellions in its far-flung provinces.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 17:29:53 -0400
  • Sudanese police: Tribal clashes kill 17 in eastern port city

    Sudan's police have released a statement saying clashes between two tribes in an eastern port city have killed 17 people in three days. The violence led Sudan's new joint military-civilian council — formed just last week — to declare a state of emergency in Port Sudan on Sunday, and troops have been deployed in the city. The clashes in the Red Sea province erupted earlier this week between the Bani Amer tribe and the displaced Nuba tribe, and have wounded more than 100 others.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 16:42:47 -0400
  • Saudi intercepts six Yemen rebel missiles: coalition news

    Saudi Arabia intercepted six missiles fired by Yemeni rebels at the southern city of Jizan on Sunday, a Riyadh-led military coalition said, as the insurgents escalate cross-border attacks. The missiles fired by the Iran-aligned Huthis targeted civilians in Jizan, the coalition said in a statement released by the official Saudi Press Agency. The rebels' Al-Masirah television said the Huthis had launched 10 "Badr 1" ballistic missiles targeting military aircraft and apache helicopters in Jizan airport and nearby military sites.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 16:23:23 -0400
  • Drone war takes flight, raising stakes in Iran, US tensions news

    From the vast deserts of Saudi Arabia to the crowded neighborhoods of Beirut, a drone war has taken flight across the wider Middle East, raising the stakes in the ongoing tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Since the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal last year, there has been an increasing tempo of attacks and alleged threats, notably this weekend, from unmanned aircraft flown by Tehran's and Washington's allies in the region. The appeal of the aircraft — they risk no pilots and can be small enough to evade air-defense systems — fueled their rapid use amid the maximum pressure campaigns of Iran and the U.S. As these strikes become more frequent, the risk of unwanted escalation becomes greater.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 15:59:07 -0400
  • Iran foreign minister makes surprise visit to G7 summit news

    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif flew into Biarritz in southwestern France for the G7 summit on Sunday in a surprise attempt to break a diplomatic deadlock over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme. Zarif's presence had not been announced and represented a gamble by French host Emmanuel Macron who is seeking to soothe spiralling tensions between Iran and the United States. The Iranian top diplomat did not hold talks with US President Donald Trump in the French surf town, French diplomats said, but the presence of the two men in the same place sparked hopes of a detente.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 15:50:47 -0400
  • Ban on international trade in otters aims to avert extinction by Instagram craze news

    The international trade in a social-media friendly otter has been banned, after influencers on Instagram were accused of fuelling their extinction. The smooth-coated otter, which is found in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and several other Asian countries, is increasingly being poached from the wild to become a social media accessory. Videos show the semi-aquatic creatures walking on a lead, playing with toys and looking for all the world like the perfect pet. Otter cafes, where visitors can stroke and interact with the animals, have sprung up across Japan.  However, the species is under threat: according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, smooth-coated otters are vulnerable to extinction. Demand for young otters in the pet trade is listed as one of the concerns for their survival. Now, the trade in the creature will be heavily regulated after a vote by world leaders attending the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES CoP18), currently being held in Geneva, Switzerland.  The animal will now be listed on Appendix I of CITES which lists species threatened with extinction and prohibits commercial trade in them internationally. This will effectively make the pet trade in otters illegal unless they are bred in captivity. The craze for smooth-coated otters as novelty pets is driving the species to extinction Credit: ORIKO HAYASHI/NYTNS / Redux / eyevine Mark Simmonds, senior marine scientist at Humane Society International, said: “The ‘cuteness’ of this species may prove their down-fall in that many people, especially in Asia, now want to own them.  "Hopefully this listing will also inspire further vital actions within the otters’ home ranges to ensure their survival. We commend India, Nepal and Bangladesh for bringing these proposals forward, and all the countries and conservation organizations that supported them.”   Mako sharks, known as the "cheetahs of the sea", have also been given a reprieve from commercial trade at CITES, after facing extinction because of demand for its meat and fins, and has been listed on Appendix II. Mako sharks are one of the ocean's fastest predators and can reach speeds of up to 42mph, and jump to heights of 30ft. The species is classified as Endangered by the IUCN. The short and longfin mako shark proposal, led by Mexico and also backed by multiple countries, faced fierce opposition from countries reluctant to see CITES involvement in industrial scale pelagic fisheries.  CITES Appendix II listings means international trade in the species’ meat and fins must be regulated. This will prompt regional fishing management organisations to address their woeful neglect of mako sharks caught in longline fisheries. Rebecca Regnery, Humane Society International wildlife senior director, said: “Over-fishing, including for the lucrative Asian shark fin market, is having a devastating impact on longfin and shortfin mako sharks. Securing CITES protections for these species is an important first step in stopping the brutally cruel and wasteful practice in which sharks and rays have their fins cut off their bodies, sometimes while fully conscious.  “But Appendix II protection doesn’t in itself ban trade, so to secure the future for these sharks and rays, this new CITES listings needs to be the start of a whole raft of other measures aimed at cracking down on this vile trade."

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 15:21:55 -0400
  • Nuclear Power Must Not Lead to Nuclear Bombs news

    Earlier this month, it was reported that Trump White House wants a new deal with Iran that would eliminate its uranium enrichment. Out of its highly developed suspicion of Iran’s intentions, the White House has stumbled on a principle that needs near-universal application if nuclear energy use is to be compatible with international security.The reason why is simple: Despite the brave talk from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about its technical capabilities to safeguard nuclear power facilities, the fact is, if plutonium or highly-enriched uranium are available to would-be bombmakers, they can be put to bomb use so quickly that other countries would be confronted with a fait accompli. We need to confront that basic fact world-wide.Decades ago, Fred Iklé reminded arms controllers in a classic 1961 Foreign Affairs article that detection is not enough. Treaties do not enforce themselves. The principal guardians of the treaty have to be willing to enforce it, and to make that manifestly clear. That means potential violators need to be convinced not only that they will be detected, but that they will come out of the experience worse than before they entered upon a treaty violation. But is that really so today for the members of the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)? Realistically, what could we do with a now nuclear-armed country, even if minimally so armed? Or, what would we want to do?In thinking about enforcing a stop to the spread of nuclear weapons we rely too much on an outdated model. During the Cold War, we had a single adversary and felt threatened by any increase in its military capacity. There was no question that we would want to react strongly to any arms control treaty violation, at least if we could do so.By contrast, in the case of most past and possible future violations of nonproliferation norms, we didn’t—or don't—feel directly threatened by their newly acquired nuclear weapons except in the more abstract sense that additional weapon states further complicate efforts to prevent nuclear wars. And in some cases, the potential violator is a friendly country whom we have no intention of punishing.So, for example, we appear ready to pounce on Iran if it crosses the line toward nuclear weapons, but would we come down on Japan? South Korea? Saudi Arabia? And if we don’t, where does that lead? Our record on enforcement of nuclear norms does not inspire confidence that we would try to reverse their actions.Consider India’s broken promise to use U.S. heavy water for peaceful uses, only to use it to make plutonium for its 1974 nuclear explosion. We did nothing in response.Nor did Israel suffer any consequences for its 1979 nuclear test off South Africa (which has now been established beyond reasonable doubt) in violation of the Partial Test Ban Treaty.In the 1980s, we ignored Pakistan’s nuclear weapons development because we thought we needed Pakistan’s help to oppose the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.When the IAEA found North Korea’s 1992 material declaration to be dishonest, we bribed Pyongyang with $5 billion in power reactors to keep it from leaving the NPT. That this deal later fell apart does not erase the weakness of the initial reaction.The 1998 Indian and Pakistani nuclear explosions triggered Glenn Amendment sanctions, but these were waived in 2001.Would it be surprising that a country contemplating crossing the line into nuclear weaponry would conclude that we are not likely to do much in response? What then?The only way to avoid being presented with an accomplished fact of a new entrant into the nuclear weapons club, and thus to preserve the enforceability of the NPT, is to, at a minimum, ban the access to nuclear explosives and the means to acquire them quickly.Commercial nuclear power does not need plutonium or highly-enriched uranium. Power reactors do need low-enriched uranium, but that enrichment should take place only in a small number of highly-trusted centers. That is basically the way the world enrichment market works today.Restricting access to fuels that are also nuclear explosives is in fact precisely what President Gerald Ford proposed in his 1976 Statement on Nuclear Power when he said we should put plutonium (then the explosive of most concern) back on the shelf until the world can cope with the proliferation consequences. Is there anyone who thinks we are there yet?Of course, we want to keep improving the IAEA’s technical detection capabilities. But current nonproliferation efforts are badly unbalanced. The answer to the problems posed by easy access to nuclear explosives does not lie in nuclear safeguards laboratories. It flows from a realistic assessment of the prospects for enforcement: To permit only those nuclear power activities whose possible misuse provides an adequate margin of protection against sudden diversion to weapons.What this means, at a minimum, for the immediate future is conditioning nuclear trade with all countries (other than the five NPT-authorized nuclear states) upon legally binding pledges not to enrich uranium or separate plutonium, and working with other suppliers to make that a universal standard.Victor Gilinsky is program advisor for the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC) in Arlington, VA. He served on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission under Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan.Henry Sokolski is executive director of NPEC and the author of Underestimated: Our Not So Peaceful Nuclear Future (second edition 2019). He served as deputy for nonproliferation policy in the office of the U.S. secretary of defense in the Cheney Pentagon.Image: Reuters

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 15:17:00 -0400
  • The Balkans Will Pay a Heavy Price for China's Global Ambitions news

    Since President Xi Jinping announced the Belt and Road Initiative in Kazakhstan in 2013, framing it as an overland strategy to connect Asia to Europe, China’s inroads in the Western Balkans have grown more deeply entrenched. Through bridge construction projects in Croatia, investments in Bosnia’s energy infrastructure, and a bid to develop Serbia’s 5G networks, Beijing has turned the Balkans into a critical transitway as it tries to boost the export of its manufactured goods to Europe and grease the wheels of foreign direct investment into China. Its diplomatic and economic activities in the Balkans are divorced, however, from an understanding of the complex patchwork of ethnic, political, and historical legacies that define the region—so much so that it is likely to brew instability in an already rattled region.China’s nexus in the Western Balkans is not without precedent. In the aftermath of the Second World War and failed rapprochement between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, Mao Zedong and Josip Broz Tito emerged as the region’s “communist mavericks.” Thus, began a tumultuous relationship between China and Yugoslavia as the two jockeyed for influence in Southeastern Europe while occasionally rallying against common rivals. China remained mostly neutral amid the series of ethnic conflicts in the early 1990s—including the ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims—and wars for independence that accompanied the dissolution of Yugoslavia. After the 1999 NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, however, the People’s Republic of China publicly reengaged with a $300 million infrastructure aid package. Today, China’s presence in the Western Balkans is most strongly felt in Serbia, where Beijing has established a strategic foothold. But the close relationship China is cultivating with Serbia, coupled with its egregious human rights violations against its Muslim minority population in Xinjiang, may exacerbate regional instability amid the growing rivalry between Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is particularly so as the Serb-majority entity, Republika Srpska (RS) in Bosnia is reinvigorating the Bosnian Serb secessionist movement. Since coming to power in late 2018, Bosnian President Milorad Dodik’s secessionist stance and ethno-nationalist rhetoric, including his defense of a former RS leader found guilty of committing genocide in Srebrenica, has stirred ethnic tensions. As Serbia and Bosnian Serb political leadership align more closely with China, Beijing is holding the already tenuous stability of the region captive by empowering its most illiberal elements. China’s repression of more than a million ethnic Uighurs has largely gone without consequence; when a geopolitical heavyweight commits gross human rights violations against an ethnic minority group with impunity, it is indirectly condoning and empowering other human rights violators that receive its patronage, such as the RS secessionist movement. Unless those responsible for China’s atrocities in Xinjiang are brought to justice, an unfortunately improbable goal, its activities in the Balkans will only embolden the ethno-nationalist sentiments of RS and other Bosnian Serbs. Lest we forget, instability in the Balkans has consistently led to deadly conflicts throughout European history. While China’s growing presence in the powder keg of Europe may not directly light the first spark, it may be laying the groundwork for the next Balkans crisis. Beijing has tried to paper over these early flickers of unrest with its monolithic narrative about the salutary effects of its Belt and Road investments—but this narrative belies the economic realities of the region. Underneath the veneer of “win-win” cooperation, Beijing is advancing its narrow economic interests at the expense of regional stability. When President Xi visited Belgrade in 2016, he proselytized to the Serbs the promise of jobs and higher standards of living that Chinese investments would bring. But in 2019, the World Bank reported that in most Western Balkan countries unemployment reached new historic lows, perhaps exacerbating the protests that have rippled through the region in recent months. Even with projects such as the Serbian steel mill Železara Smederevo, which China’s state-owned HBIS bought with an eye toward purportedly saving thousands of jobs, labor standards within the mill have taken a hit. Finally, Beijing’s growing diplomatic and economic activism in the region has been abetted by skepticism on whether the EU can formulate a common position toward its strategies. China has built up its softer political influence in southeastern and Central Europe, both through its 16+1 format, as well as more pernicious forms of political interference through building influence networks around current and former European politicians and cozying up to influential political parties in the region. Indeed, China’s approach to Europe and its primary political body, the EU, has been one of fragmentation. It has rendered the union incapable of reaching a common view of China and thus diminishing the possibility that the EU would develop a coherent response to its strategies.The Balkans, due to their geography, are of high strategic value to China’s near-term and long-term ambitions in Europe. Although China is engaging with many of the countries in the Balkans through the Belt and Road Initiative and other diplomatic initiatives, it has evinced a clear preference for Serbia, where illiberalism and autocratic political leadership mirrors the Chinese Communist Party’s model of governance most closely. In doing so, it is, either through lack of understanding or willful ignorance, contributing to the political alienation of Bosnia, which lies at the heart of the region’s political and ethnic tensions. Absent a common EU stance toward China, we can expect an emboldened yet fundamentally destabilizing Chinese presence in the Balkans. Karina Barbesino is a Joseph S. Nye, Jr. research intern. Kristine Lee is a research associate with the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. Image: Reuters

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 15:16:00 -0400
  • It’s Time the Pentagon Finds an Alternative to Djibouti news

    BERBERA, SOMALILAND—Djibouti’s role in U.S. national security has for decades been inversely proportional to its size. The tiny East African country has long been a logistical hub for the U.S. military. Its airfield helped supply U.S. forces in Somalia in the early 1990s, and U.S. Navy vessels visited its port frequently. Because Djibouti—a French colony or territory for nearly a century before its 1977 independence—hosted French forces, the U.S. military could utilize the French infrastructure when necessary.The real import of Djibouti to U.S. security calculations, however, came after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when the George W. Bush administration formed Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) first to coordinate and conduct regional stability operations and then to oversee counterterrorism operations in both Yemen and across the broader region. The Obama administration’s growing reliance on drone strikes—many of which it launched from Djibouti—only increased the country’s importance. Since formally arriving, the Pentagon has invested several billion dollars in Camp Lemonnier, today the largest U.S. military base in Africa and the keystone of U.S. Africa Command operations, hosting four thousand soldiers, sailors, and Marines spread over five hundred acres.The United States, of course, has not been alone in recognizing Djibouti’s strategic position. The French initially carved what now is Djibouti out from greater Somalia because of its position and harbor. The British had established a coaling station in Aden to support the United Kingdom’s military and commercial interests in East Africa and the Indian Ocean. Djibouti—with a natural harbor just 150 miles away from Aden—served much the same purpose as the French sought to keep Madagascar, Mauritius, and other regional interests secure. The Suez Canal, of course, made the Bab-el-Mandab chokepoint adjacent to the country even more important. Over the decades, technology may have changed by Djibouti’s strategic position did not. Today, in addition to the United States, France maintains a presence and hosts German and Spanish troops at its base. Italy and Japan also have facilities, and both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also rent space. China, meanwhile, has built a major new base in the country as it expands its interests in the Indian Ocean basin and Africa. Iran has, in the past, also sought to make inroads but was forced out because of U.S. and Western pressure.What goes around comes around, however. To date, China has tolerated the presence of its geopolitical competitors in Djibouti, and the Djiboutian government has been happy to leverage its location to collect rents from as many outside powers as possible. But, not every investor in Djibouti is equal. China has financed a water pipeline for Djibouti, as well as a railroad to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. While U.S. aid to Djibouti peaked at $31 million in 2017, a Chinese company signed a preliminary $4 billion natural gas deal with Djibouti that same year.That aid disparity might be enough to tip the scales toward deference to Beijing’s interests, but Djibouti’s corruption makes a tilt toward China—should Chinese authorities demand it—more likely. Djibouti has had only two leaders since its independence—Hassan Gouled Aptidon ruled the country with an iron fist for the first 22 years after its independence. Upon his death, his nephew and handpicked successor Ismaïl Omar Guelleh took over, and has run the country ever since. Corruption remains a major problem in the country, with few deals able to proceeds without Guelleh or his relatives personally benefiting, if not in bribes then in business contracts which any Western country would consider a conflict of interest.It seems, however, the Trump administration like the Obama administration before it remains in a state of denial. The Pentagon has invested so much money into its Djibouti facilities that it is hard to imagine let alone justify to Congress that those funds were in effect wasted. Inertia also remains a problem. For more than a decade, diplomats and the Defense Department turned a blind eye to the reality of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for fear that to acknowledge reality would mean recognizing the vulnerability of the U.S. presence at Incirlik Air Base. The Pentagon likewise continues to treat its facilities at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar as a get-out-of-jail-free card for Qatari terror sponsorship for fear that holding Doha to account would risk U.S. access.With time, however, U.S. military planners expanded U.S. access to facilities in Romania and Bulgaria, as well as northern Jordan in order to offset reliance on an increasingly erratic Erdoğan. While the Pentagon continues to double down on Qatar, nearby Bahrain could provide an alternative. Not only does it host the U.S. Fifth Fleet but, during Operation Desert Storm, Bahrain’s Isa Air Base hosted four times more American planes that Qatar’s Al Udeid Air Base does now.With China able to out leverage the United States in Djibouti at any time, it behooves the Trump administration to find an alternative to Djibouti now. Ethiopia is no recourse, both because it has no port and because Chinese investment and trade likewise ties it far more to Asia than to the West. Eritrea hosts a United Arab Emirates port and may cooperate with Israel as well, but an uncertain political transition, poor facilities, and a horrendous human rights situation make a U.S. presence untenable. Somaliland, however, could be an alternative. Its main port, Berbera, hosts one of the longest airstrips in Africa. During the Cold War, the United States maintained a military presence and, as one official in Berbera quipped during a recent trip, NASA’s contract for facilities on the airfield technically remains valid and so they could return “tomorrow.” While the United Arab Emirates is building a base, Somaliland authorities remain frustrated at the opacity of the UAE contract (signed with a previous government) which, regardless, is not exclusive. Berbera is a deep-water port able to accommodate most U.S. ships.Most importantly, Somaliland authorities want the United States there. As China and Russia both make approaches to Somaliland, the democratically elected, Western-leaning Somaliland government has been holding out for the United States, although it cannot do so indefinitely. The problem to date has been the State Department. Somaliland has been functionally independent since 1991, when it revoked its union with Somaliland and reclaimed its 1960 independence. While the United States recognized Somaliland then, the State Department now pursues a bizarre and expensive one-Somalia policy, effectively cutting off direct dealings with Somaliland for fear that interaction with Somaliland might anger Mogadishu, whose government cannot even control its own capital city. This deference is ridiculous on many levels, both because the Somali government in Mogadishu is more theoretical than real in its ability to control and govern, has recently deferred to China itself, has flirted with terrorism and, last but not least, is neither equal to Washington nor should it defer its national interests to Mogadishu.Rather than risk American security and interests, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Assistant Secretary of State Tibor P. Nagy, Jr., and U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto should recognize that military ties have never equated to formal diplomatic recognition: Just ask Syrian Kurds, Iraqi Kurds, or Taiwan. In both the Middle East and East Asia, however, a generation of officials recognized that they should prioritize American security and defense above more mundane and tendentious concerns.Putting all America’s eggs in one basket—and an increasingly shaky one at that—is not a strategy to protect America’s interests in the fight against terrorism, Iranian proxy groups, Al Qaeda affiliates and the Islamic State. The United States need not leave Djibouti, but it is time to consider a Plan B for otherwise a single whisper from Beijing to Djibouti’s president could cripple America’s ability to defend itself and its allies.Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.Image: Reuters

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 15:16:00 -0400
  • Iraqi militia says new drone attack kills 2

    Two unidentified drones killed two Iraqi members of an Iran-backed paramilitary force on Sunday, the group said in a statement, saying the attack took place in Iraq near the border with Syria. The statement issued by the force known as the Popular Mobilization Forces said the attack occurred in Anbar province near the Qaim border crossing with Syria. Two officials from the Hezbollah Brigades, which is separate from the Lebanese group of the same name, confirmed the attack and said the vehicles were being used to transport weapons.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 15:03:23 -0400
  • Could Russia's Su-57 Stealth Fighter Kill China's Best in the Sky? news

    The J-20, however, is probably not designed as a dedicated air superiority fighter like the Su-57 is. Its concept of operations seems to be based on American ideas about how to operate a fifth-generation fighter aircraft. Not much is known about the specifics of the J-20’s avionics and sensor suite, but the Chinese jet seems to incorporate an active electronically scanned array, a chin mounted EOTS, a passive infrared/electro-optical DAS 360-degree spherical camera system and passive antennas for an advanced electronic support measure suite similar to the F-35’s AN/ASQ-239 system.  The J-20 also seems to incorporate advanced datalinks, integrated avionics and a cockpit with a display similar to that found on the F-35. Indeed, the J-20 likely has avionics that are broadly comparable to that found on the F-22 and F-35, but which are not quite as refined as their American counterparts.Russia and China are both developing next-generation fifth-generation fighters as they struggle to challenge American dominance of the international system. However, the two great powers are taking somewhat differing approaches to developing these new next generation machines. Those differences are driven by a number of factors including threat perceptions and requirements as well as access to technology and financial resources.(This first appeared last year.)In terms of overall kinematic performance, the Su-57 is likely a superior performer compared to the Chinese J-20. With its three-dimensional thrust-vectoring capability and ample thrust, the Su-57 is likely to have excellent low speed high angle of attack maneuverability even with the current Saturn AL-41F1 afterburning turbofans, which are rated at 32,500lbs thrust each. The Russian jet should also have very good supersonic performance—with some degree of supersonic cruise capability even with the current AL-41F1 engines. However, once the Su-57 receives its second stage Saturn izdeliye 30 engines, which are expected to deliver roughly 28,000lbs of dry thrust and 42,000lbs of afterburning thrust, the PAK-FA should be able to achieve kinematic performance—including supersonic cruise and maneuverability—roughly on par with the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. Indeed, as one now retired military official with extensive fifth-generation fighter experience had told me sometime ago: “Performance-wise it certainly looks to compete with the Raptor.”Recommended: How an ‘Old’ F-15 Might Kill Russia’s New Stealth Fighter.Recommended: How China Plans to Win a War Against the U.S. Navy.Recommended: How the Air Force Would Destroy North Korea.While the Su-57 has excellent aerodynamic design, the Russian jet is far less stealthy than the Chinese Chengdu J-20, let alone American stealth aircraft such as the F-22 or the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. While neither the J-20 nor the Su-57 is particularly stealthy compared to American fifth-generation fighters, the Chinese aircraft places more emphasis of radar cross-section reduction measures than the Russian jet. The Su-57 has numerous obvious radar cross section hotspots including its rounded electro-optical sensor ball—which shows no effort at faceting—its moveable leading edge root extensions, where the leading edge flaps meet the outboard portion of the wing, its engine inlet design and a host of other problem areas. In short, the Russians consciously chose not to emphasize stealth in the Su-57 design.By comparison, the J-20—which seems to have been heavily based on F-22 and F-35 technology—makes much more of an effort at especially frontal radar cross-section reduction. While some analysts make the spurious argument that canards are not compatible with stealth, there are plenty of American stealth aircraft concepts and technology demonstrators that have use such aerodynamic features including Northrop Grumman’s proposal for the Naval Advanced Tactical Fighter and Lockheed Martin own early Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) —which eventually evolved into the F-35—development work. That being said, the J-20 does have some obvious radar cross-section hotspots, particularly toward the rear of the airframe.Nonetheless, the Chinese have incorporated advanced stealth features such as faceting for the J-20’s electro-optical/infrared targeting sensor (EOTS) housing—liberally borrowing concepts from the F-35. Moreover, the J-20 also similarly works to conceal its electro-optical/infrared distributed aperture sensors (DAS)/missile warning system (MWS) in a similar manner to the F-22 and F-35 designs. The Chinese jet also incorporates F-35-style diverterless inlets, which somewhat compromise aerodynamic performance, but are more conducive to stealth and ease of manufacture and maintenance. Overall, the Chinese J-20’s airframe shaping is far more conducive to stealth than the Su-57 air vehicle design.The Chinese aircraft likely falls well behind the Su-57 in terms of raw kinematic performance—both in terms of maneuverability and high-speed supersonic performance. The problem the Chinese face is that Beijing lacks a jet engine that can adequately power the J-20. Right now, the J-20 seems to be powered by the Russian-made Salyut AL-31FN engines, which provide roughly 32,500lbs of afterburning thrust each. However, some reports suggest that the Chinese are fitting early production J-20 aircraft with Chinese-developed thrust vectoring WS-10G copies of the AL-31FN. A more powerful and suitable indigenous 40,000lbs thrust class WS-15 is under development, but it is not clear when the Chinese will be able to consistently mass produce that engine. Theoretically, with the new engine, the J-20 should be able to cruise supersonically—but even then it will probably lack the Su-57 maneuverability.In terms of sensors, it is unclear which aircraft is more advanced—it is clear however that the Russians and Chinese have completely different concepts of operation. The Su-57 was never designed as a genuine stealth aircraft and has a sensor suite designed to neutralize Western stealth aircraft. The Russians are hoping the Su-57’s sensor suite—which includes N036L-1-01 L-band radar arrays—will alert its pilots to the general vicinity of enemy fifth-generation stealth fighters such as the Raptor. Tactical fighter-sized stealth aircraft must be optimized to defeat higher-frequency bands such the C, X and Ku bands as a matter of physics. Those aircraft show up on radar operating at longer frequency wavelengths such the L-band, however, the track is not precise enough to engage a target with a missile.However, the L-band radar—part of the N036 Byelka radar suite—narrows the search area down so that the Su-57 can scan a smaller volume of space with its X-band N036-1-01 and N036B-1-01 active electronically scanned array apertures. The radar is further augmented with the 101KS Atoll electro-optical targeting system and the L402 Himalayas electronic countermeasure suite, which would help further refine a track from the L-band radar. The idea is that a focused search by the Su-57’s other sensors would result in a weapons quality track to engage a fifth-generation fighter such as a F-22. It’s a good theory, but it is far from certain that it would work in practice.The J-20, however, is probably not designed as a dedicated air superiority fighter like the Su-57 is. Its concept of operations seems to be based on American ideas about how to operate a fifth-generation fighter aircraft. Not much is known about the specifics of the J-20’s avionics and sensor suite, but the Chinese jet seems to incorporate an active electronically scanned array, a chin mounted EOTS, a passive infrared/electro-optical DAS 360-degree spherical camera system and passive antennas for an advanced electronic support measure suite similar to the F-35’s AN/ASQ-239 system.  The J-20 also seems to incorporate advanced datalinks, integrated avionics and a cockpit with a display similar to that found on the F-35. Indeed, the J-20 likely has avionics that are broadly comparable to that found on the F-22 and F-35, but which are not quite as refined as their American counterparts.The J-20 has a sensor suite similar to the F-35 because it is likely designed primarily as a long-range strike aircraft intended to threaten American bases and maritime assets in the Pacific. It would also likely have a role in disrupting American air operations during wartime by attacking U.S. aerial refueling tankers and airborne assets such as the E-3 AWACS, E-8 JSTARS or E2D Hawkeye and other similar support aircraft with long-range air-to-air missiles using its combination of speed and stealth. It is probably not designed to directly engage American fifth-generation fighters such as the F-22 or F-35 except in self-defense. By contrast, the Russian Su-57 is a dedicated air superiority machine that is designed to hunt down American fighters such as the F-22 and F-35—where it is successful or not is another question.The bottom line is that the Russians and the Chinese had different requirements and design priorities that led them to make different tradeoffs when developing their respective fifth-generation fighters.Dave Majumdar is the former defense editor of The National Interest. Image Credit: Chinese Internet.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 15:00:00 -0400
  • Pope Francis calls for international action on Amazon wildfires news

    Pope Francis called for a global commitment to fight the fires in the Amazon as Emmanuel Macron, the French president, said on Sunday that G7 leaders were nearing an agreement on how to tackle them. The pontiff added his voice to growing international concern about the vast tracts of tropical forest ravaged by blazes in Brazil and neighbouring countries.  “That lung of forests is vital for our planet," said the pope, who is from Brazil’s neighbour Argentina, in his weekly address before thousands of people in St. Peter's Square. Mr Macron, hosting Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, at the summit of the G7 major industrialised nations in Biarritz, said a consensus was emerging about how to put out the fires and repair the damage. Mr Macron has made the Amazon a priority of the summit, declaring it a global emergency and threatening to block a trade deal between the EU and the South American common market, Mercosur, until the fires are extinguished.  The agenda prompted criticism from Mr Trump on Saturday that Mr Macron was focussing too much on “niche” issues designed to play well with French voters, such as climate change, income and gender equality and African development. Mrs Merkel came out against blocking the Mercosur trade deal over the Amazon fires but said she was in favour of treating them as an emergency. Undeterred, the French president told reporters on Sunday: “We are all agreed on helping those countries which have been hit by the fires as fast as possible.” Mr Macron said Colombia had appealed to the international community to help. “Our teams are making contact with all the Amazon countries so we can finalise some very concrete commitments involving technical resources and funding,” he added.  Pointing out that France itself is “an Amazonian nation” because of its overseas department, French Guiana, he said: “The Amazon is so important … in terms of biodiversity, oxygen and the fight against climate change, that we must proceed with reforestation.” Environmental campaigners pointed out, however, that Mr Macron announced no specific plan of action or timetable. French diplomatic sources suggested that more definite measures might be announced during the concluding session of the summit on Monday. Jair Bolsonaro, the Brazilian president, who has accused Mr Macron of a “colonial mindset” in his approach to the Amazon fires, has ordered in the army to fight the blazes. On Sunday two Hercules C-130 aircraft dropped thousands of litres of water in an attempt to douse the fires but hundreds of new blazes broke out. Thousands of Brazilians took to the streets in protest against the destruction of the rainforest. Increased land clearances allowed by the far-Right Bolsonaro government to make way for crops or grazing has exacerbated the region’s worst fires in years, experts say. Even with international action, French firefighters experienced in putting out smaller blazes in the south of France pointed out that it might be impossible to extinguish the huge Amazon fires without rain. Eric Flores, fire chief of the southern Hérault region, suggested that the Brazilian army could limit the spread of the blazes by lighting controlled fires “to create barriers of deforested areas” without vegetation.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 14:52:52 -0400
  • Iran Surprise Puts G-7 Divisions On Show

    (Bloomberg) -- Want to receive this post in your inbox every day? Sign up for the Balance of Power newsletter, and follow Bloomberg Politics on Twitter and Facebook for more.When Group of Seven leaders meet for dinner it’s always a spectacle. Not just the menu, but who sits where, who talks with whom — and who doesn’t. It seems the meal last night in the French seaside resort of Biarritz was particularly tense.Differences over Russia (U.S. President Donald Trump muses about bringing Vladimir Putin back to the group after his 2014 expulsion over the Crimea annexation) and Iran (after Trump nixed the nuclear deal last year) were wide, officials say. And now host Emmanuel Macron has thrown a further log on the fire.Word emerged today of a plane headed to Biarritz, carrying Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. He was there for a brief stop, Tehran said, and would not meet U.S. officials. Even so, just putting him in the same place as Trump is a risky move by Macron, and it appears he may not have discussed it with all his fellow leaders beforehand.It follows Trump’s musings about inviting Putin as a “plus one” to the G-7 in the U.S. next year. It’s hard to see most of the other leaders stomaching Putin coming, even as a guest rather than a club member.Coming on top of arguments over climate change, fires in the Amazon, Brexit and trade (despite a tentative U.S.-Japan deal), it’s unclear where the G-7 as an entity is headed, and, with doubts over whether there'll be any sort of communique, if it has outlived its usefulness.If Biarritz is any indication, its days could yet be numbered.Also in BiarritzPower play | Inviting Zarif wasn’t the only move Macron made with an eye toward throwing Trump off balance. U.S. officials already suspected the French president might be trying to outwit the U.S. with his summit choreography, in part by picking a pre-summit fight with Brazil's president – a Trump admirer not even at the G-7 – over Amazon forest fires.Doubling down | Trump acknowledged during his morning meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson that he’s having second thoughts on escalating the trade war with China — but not in the way you might assume. His top spokeswoman later said he meant he regretted not raising tariffs even more.Bright spot | It wasn’t all angst. The U.S. and Japan agreed in principle on a trade deal under which Japan will slash tariffs on U.S. beef, pork and other agricultural products, while continuing to face levies on its own auto exports. Trump said Japan also would purchase large quantities of U.S. wheat and corn.Brexit test | Johnson is using the G-7 to step up his campaign to convince the European Union to reopen Brexit negotiations. He had breakfast today with Trump, who described him as “the right man for the job” to take the fight to the Europeans, but it won’t be easy – while EU leaders are politely listening, they have given no indication they’re ready to give Johnson the concessions he wants.Happening ElsewhereTurkey sees its deal with the U.S. to carve out a narrow security zone in northern Syria as an opportunity to purge Kurdish fighters from a much larger section of the border region, Selcan Hacaoglu exclusively reports. A Hong Kong police officer fired a weapon, water cannons were deployed for the first time and multiple volleys of tear gas were launched in running skirmishes with protesters in the 12th weekend of unrest in the Asian financial center. While opponents in Libya’s civil war are locked in stalemate, their backers in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, both U.S. allies, are engaged in an aerial campaign that’s seen them target each other’s unmanned planes in a bid to determine the north African nation’s future.And finally ...Their husbands may have spent the morning sparring, but the first ladies of the U.S. and France were all smiles as they sampled local sangria in a Basque countryside town 30 kilometers to the southeast of Biarritz. “Just an advice, don’t drink too much,” Brigitte Macron could be heard warning Melania Trump and other world leaders’ wives. It was part of a spouses’ day out that included tours of a 16th-century church and a villa built by French playwright Edmond Rostand.  \--With assistance from Kathleen Hunter and Karl Maier.To contact the author of this story: Rosalind Mathieson in London at rmathieson3@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 14:04:26 -0400
  • Dump That History Book: Hitler Had 1 Way to Win World War II (And Change History) news

    Skorzeny is probably best known in the West for, in December 1944, employing about two dozen English-speaking Germans in American uniforms and driving American vehicles to penetrate American lines in an operation called Greif (“Griffin”) that spread panic and confusion during the Battle of the Bulge. At war’s end, Skorzeny was involved in Germany’s Werwölfe (Werewolf) insurgency movement. He surrendered to the Americans on May 16, 1945, near Salzburg, Austria.In German it was called Operation Rösselsprung, which translates to “Long Jump.” Its goal was to kill or kidnap the Allies’ “Big Three” leaders––Soviet Premier Josef Stalin, British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill, and American President Franklin D. Roosevelt—when they met in Tehran, Iran, in November 1943. That the plan did not succeed is attributable to smart intelligence work, a drunken disclosure, and a bit of good luck.Perhaps no operation was more audacious or had greater consequences to the war’s outcome if it had succeeded than Long Jump. Former Soviet Lieutenant General and KGB intelligence officer Vadim Kirpichenko said, “The first secret report that this act was being planned came from Soviet intelligence officer Nikolai Kuznetsov, who learnt about it during a conversation with SS-Sturmbannführer Ulrich von Ortel. Ortel was the chief of the sabotage group in Copenhagen, which was preparing the operation. While drunk, the senior German counterintelligence officer blurted out that preparations were underway to assassinate the Big Three. Later the Soviet Union and Britain discovered other facts confirming that preparations had been made to assassinate Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt.”Soviet Counterintelligence in IranThe assassination was scheduled to take place in Tehran, the capital of Iran, after the three Allied leaders announced plans to meet there to hammer out the final strategy for the war against Nazi Germany and its Axis allies. Stalin, whose nation was then still bearing the brunt of the German onslaught, also wanted to know how and when Britain and the United States would open a second front in Western Europe (Churchill was still dead set against a direct assault on the continent, fearing it would lead to catastrophe). The momentous meeting, dubbed Eureka, would be held at the Soviet embassy in Tehran between November 28 and December 1, 1943.Iran was occupied by Soviet and British troops during the war and it was the “southern route” for Lend-Lease materials being shipped from the United States to the USSR. Although Iran had declared itself neutral on September 4, 1939, and despite the presence of Allied troops in the country, it continued to pursue an openly pro-German policy.“The USSR paid close attention to intelligence in Iran,” said Kirpichenko, “and not only because the country played a major role in the Middle East during World War II. Its territory was used [by the Germans] for espionage and subversive activities against the USSR, and for disrupting activities in the most important regions of the Soviet homeland.”In Tehran, the occupation armies maintained tight security, establishing numerous checkpoints at which pedestrians and vehicle drivers and passengers were required to show documents. The heavily guarded Soviet and British embassies were adjacent to each other inside a walled park in the center of town; the American embassy was a mile away.With a German spy network firmly established in Tehran (there were an estimated 400 German agents in the city), the Soviets countered by beefing up their own intelligence operations there. The Soviet Foreign Intelligence Service in Iran was established, headed by Ivan Agayants. Its main mission was to expose foreign spies and organizations that were hostile toward the USSR’s interests and to prevent possible acts of subversion and/or sabotage aimed at Soviet military and economic interests in Iran.Kirpichenko noted, “Soviet and British intelligence officers knew the real situation in that country, which helped them to frustrate Nazi plans in due time, including those to assassinate the leaders of the three great powers.”Otto Skorzeny: Nazi Germany’s Legendary CommandoChosen to plan and carry out Operation Long Jump was none other than SS-Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel) Otto Skorzeny, Germany’s mastermind of daring, unconventional, and audacious commando operations. The tall (6 feet, 3 inches), imposing Skorzeny was already famous (or infamous, from the Allies’ point of view) for his bold rescue of deposed Italian dictator Benito Mussolini in September 1943.On July 25, 1943, Italy’s Fascist Grand Council, reeling from the invasion of Sicily and fearing a subsequent destructive invasion of the mainland, forced Mussolini to resign. He was then taken into custody.Upon hearing this news, Hitler was determined to arrest those responsible for Mussolini’s ouster, including the king, and return Il Duce to power by force of arms. Additional German divisions were ordered to move immediately from France and the Eastern Front to Italy. But King Victor Emmanuel III moved faster and named Marshal Pietro Badoglio the new head of government. Badoglio declared Italy officially neutral while, at the same time, he began working secretly to effect an armistice with the Allies. Although Hitler had long ago eclipsed Mussolini as a powerful leader to be feared, he still felt it important to come to the aid of his fellow Axis partner.During the rescue-planning phase, the names of six German special agents were presented to Hitler as the possible leader of such an expedition. One name that stood out was that of Otto Skorzeny, and Hitler personally selected him to rescue Mussolini.From SS to CommandoOtto Skorzeny was born into a middle-class family in Vienna, Austria, on June 12, 1908. While attending the University of Vienna as an engineering student, he joined the fencing team and obtained the prominent dueling scar on his cheek (known in German as a Schmiss, for smite or hit) which was then a coveted mark of bravery among German and Austrian youth.In 1931, as Nazism was gaining popularity in Europe, Skorzeny joined the Austrian Nazi Party and soon became a member of the paramilitary SA, or Sturmabteilung, while working as a civil engineer.After Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Skorzeny volunteered for service in the German Air Force but was rejected because of his age (he was 31). He then joined the SS and was accepted into the Leibstandarte, Hitler’s bodyguard regiment, as an officer-cadet.In 1940, when Skorzeny was an SS-Untersturmführer (second lieutenant) in the Waffen-SS, his engineering skills gained notice when he designed ramps to load tanks onto ships. He also proved his courage under fire during combat in Holland, France, and the Balkans, where he was decorated after capturing a large Yugoslav force, after which he was promoted to Obersturmführer (first lieutenant).Skorzeny next saw combat with the 2nd SS Panzer Division (“Das Reich”) during the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. During the siege of Moscow that autumn, he was in charge of a “technical section” whose mission was to seize important Communist Party buildings, including the NKVD (People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs) headquarters, the Central Telegraph Office, and other high-priority facilities before the Soviets could destroy them. But when German forces failed to capture Moscow, the mission was canceled.In December 1942, Skorzeny, now a captain, was struck in the head by shrapnel from a Russian rocket. At first refusing medical treatment, he was evacuated to the rear, awarded the Iron Cross for bravery, and sent home to Vienna to recuperate. While there, he became intrigued by commando operations and read all the published literature he could find on the subject. He then began to submit his ideas on unconventional warfare to higher headquarters, which took an interest in his thoughts.His concepts soon reached the desk of Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the new head of the Reichsicherheitshauptamt (or RSHA, the Reich Security Main Office, which was composed of both the Security Police––Sicherheitspolizei, or Sipo––and the SD), who had replaced former head Reinhard Heydrich when the latter was assassinated in Czechoslovakia in June 1942. Skorzeny’s ideas were then passed on to SS-Brigadeführer Walter Schellenberg, head of Amt VI, Ausland-SD (the SS foreign intelligence service office of the RSHA), who requested a meeting with Skorzeny. So impressed was Schellenberg with the officer and his ideas that he appointed Skorzeny commander of the newly created Waffen Sonderverband z.b.V. Friedenthal. Skorzeny’s role was to train operatives in espionage, sabotage operations, and paramilitary techniques.In the summer of 1943, Operation François became Sonderverband z.b.V. Friedenthal’s first mission. The objective was to make contact with dissident mountain tribes in Iran and encourage them to sabotage Allied supply lines through Iran heading to the Soviet Union. He discovered that the rebel tribes weren’t all that eager to help the Germans, and the mission was abandoned.Operation Oak: The Daring Rescue of MussoliniAlthough Skorzeny had not yet scored any major triumphs, Hitler decided to take a chance on him for Unternehmen Eiche, or Operation Oak, the rescue of Mussolini. After Mussolini’s arrest, Il Duce’s captors had moved him to the area of Pratica di Mare, an airbase southwest of Rome, where German agents soon located him. On July 27, 1943, Skorzeny and a team of commandos were flying in to parachute onto the airbase and free him, but the Junkers Ju-52 in which they were riding was shot down; Skorzeny and his men were barely able to parachute to safety and escape.While new plans for a rescue were being made, Operation Avalanche put British and American forces ashore in southern Italy on September 3.The ex-dictator was continually moved from one hiding place to another, but the Germans soon discovered him at a villa on La Maddalena, near Sardinia. Skorzeny was able to smuggle an Italian-speaking commando onto the island who confirmed that Mussolini was indeed there. Skorzeny then flew over in a Heinkel He-111 to take aerial photos of the location. The bomber was shot down by Allied fighters and crashed into the sea, but Skorzeny and his men were rescued by an Italian warship.Mussolini was again moved, this time to the Campo Imperatore Hotel at the top of the Gran Sasso peak in the rugged Italian Apennine mountains in central Italy east of Rome––a place accessible only by cable car from the valley far below.Captain Skorzeny flew over the site and photographed the area; it was formidable in the extreme, but he, Luftwaffe General Kurt Student (who had earlier conceived Germany’s famous airborne and glider operations against Belgium’s Eban Emael fortress and the British-held island of Crete), and Major Otto-Harald Mors, a paratrooper battalion commander, came up with a workable plan. Skorzeny assembled a team of 107 commandos who would be landed in gliders.On September 12, 1943, Skorzeny and his 107 men silently descended on the mountaintop in 12 gliders, took the Italian Carabinieri guards by surprise without firing a single shot, and whisked the ex-dictator away in a Storch airplane to Rome. The rest of the commando team escaped by cable car. Skorzeny then flew Mussolini to meet with Hitler. It was a stunningly brazen, textbook example of the perfect commando operation––an operation that earned Skorzeny fame, promotion to major, Hitler’s gratitude (not to mention Mussolini’s), and the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross.German Intelligence Learns of the Tehran ConferenceIn mid-October 1943, after the Germans broke a U.S. Navy coded message, German intelligence learned the date and place of the Tehran conference. Exactly who first came up with the idea of assassinating the Big Three during the conference is unknown (Kaltenbrunner can’t be ruled out), but the plan was approved by Hitler and Kaltenbrunner was told to carry it out. Because of Skorzeny’s recent rescue of Mussolini, he was the logical choice to head the mission.On November 21, a German radio broadcast had announced that the Big Three would hold a meeting in Tehran at the end of the month, and there were rumors that the Germans might attempt to kill the leaders. As luck would have it, among a group of Soviet guerrillas operating in the Rovno forest in the German-occupied Ukraine was the legendary Soviet intelligence officer Nikolai Kuznetsov, who spoke perfect German. Posing as a Wehrmacht first lieutenant by the name of Paul Siebert, Kuznetsov penetrated German lines and became friendly with SS-Sturmbannführer Ulrich von Ortel, who happened to be well versed in the Long Jump plot.Kuznetsov/Siebert kept pouring the drinks and the inebriated Ortel kept talking, telling Kuznetsov that he would soon depart for the meeting of the Big Three in Tehran, where, “We will eliminate Stalin and Churchill and turn the tide of the war! We will abduct Roosevelt to help our Führer to come to terms with America. We are flying in several groups. People are already being trained in a special school in Copenhagen.” Ortel even promised to introduce the spy to Skorzeny.It was an intelligence coup of massive proportions.The Soviets Thwart the Assassination Attempt​With Moscow and the Soviet legation in Tehran now alerted, the plan was allowed to unfold. The first German group, consisting of six radio operators, was dropped by parachute at Qum. Soviet intelligence officer Gevork Vartanyan said after the war, “Our group was the first to locate the Nazi landing party––six radio operators––near the town of Qum, 60 kilometers from Tehran. We followed them to Tehran, where the Nazi field station had readied a villa for their stay. They were traveling by camel and were loaded with weapons.”Vartanyan noted that as the six men approached Tehran, a pre-arranged truck appeared and they loaded their equipment––radios, weapons, and explosives––into it. They moved into a “safe house” in Tehran, set up their communications equipment, changed into civilian clothes, and disguised their appearance by dyeing their hair. But then things started to fall apart.“While we were watching the group,” said Vartanyan, “we established that they had contacted Berlin by radio and recorded their communications. When we decrypted these radio messages, we learned that the Germans were preparing to land a second group of subversives for a terrorist act––the assassination or abduction of the Big Three. The second group was supposed to be led by Skorzeny himself, who had already visited Tehran to study the situation on the spot. We had been following all his movements even then.”Once Roosevelt and his party had arrived in Tehran, General Dmitry Arkadiev, head of the NKVD department of transportation, contacted Roosevelt’s chief of security, Mike Reilly, and told him of the plot. The American ambassador to the Soviet Union, Averell Harriman, then briefed the president on the still-sketchy details of the plot. All agreed that going ahead with the meeting was risky but that it should be done.To reduce the danger to Roosevelt, who would have to travel by car the mile between the American embassy and the Soviet embassy, where the meetings would be held, it was decided to allow FDR and his party to stay in guest quarters at the Soviet embassy––where the hosts had already liberally planted secret listening devices to learn every word spoken by the president and his team.Vartanyan said, “We arrested all the members of the first group and forced them to make contact with enemy intelligence under our supervision. It was tempting to seize Skorzeny himself, but the Big Three had already arrived in Tehran and we could not afford the risk. We deliberately gave a radio operator an opportunity to report the failure of the mission, and the Germans decided against sending the main group under Skorzeny to Tehran. In this way, the success of our group in locating the Nazi advance party and our subsequent actions thwarted an attempt to assassinate the Big Three.”(In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that, to this day, counterstories have appeared that have claimed there never was a Nazi plot to kill or kidnap the Big Three in Tehran. Some historians contend that the “plot” was an imaginary one hatched by Stalin himself as a way to get Roosevelt to stay in the “bugged” guest quarters on the grounds of the Soviet embassy. Others who were high-ranking officers in Soviet intelligence at the time swear the plot was real and have written books on the subject. As with many aspects of the labyrinthine former Soviet Union, the true facts may never be known.)Skorzeny’s Last Commando OperationsThe failure of Operation Long Jump did not diminish Skorzeny’s reputation in the eyes of the Nazi warlords, nor put an end to covert commando operations. In the spring of 1944, his unit, now renamed SS Jagdverbände 502, undertook a mission to abduct the Yugoslav partisan leader Josip Broz Tito, but the operation was compromised and called off.In mid-October 1944, Skorzeny was given a new assignment: Operation Panzerfaust (also known as Operation Mickey Mouse)––the kidnapping of Miklós Horthy, Jr., the youngest son of Admiral Miklós Horthy, Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary, who had earlier supported the Nazis but had become disenchanted with them and announced his intention to withdraw his nation from the Axis. Germany threatened to kill the younger Horthy if his father did not resign as regent. He did so and was placed under house arrest in Bavaria; his son was imprisoned at the Dachau concentration camp until the end of the war.Skorzeny is probably best known in the West for, in December 1944, employing about two dozen English-speaking Germans in American uniforms and driving American vehicles to penetrate American lines in an operation called Greif (“Griffin”) that spread panic and confusion during the Battle of the Bulge. At war’s end, Skorzeny was involved in Germany’s Werwölfe (Werewolf) insurgency movement. He surrendered to the Americans on May 16, 1945, near Salzburg, Austria.After the war, Skorzeny was charged by the Dachau Military Tribunal with breaching the 1907 Hague Convention in connection with his men masquerading as Americans during Operation Greif. He was, however, acquitted by the tribunal when it was learned that Allied teams sometimes did the same things. He fled from a detention compound in 1948 and, with help of a network of friends and former SS officers, changed his identity and moved relatively freely throughout Europe, eventually ending up in Spain, where he wrote a book about his exploits.A heavy smoker, Skorzeny died of lung cancer in July 1975, his legacy as a brilliant, unorthodox commander, tactician, and theorist tarnished by the evil regime for which he worked.But one wonders––had Operation Long Jump been successfully carried out, what would have been the consequences for world history? It remains another of the war’s many imponderables.Originally Published in 2018.This article by Mason B. Webb originally appeared on the Warfare History Network.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 14:00:00 -0400
  • Hezbollah leader: Israeli drones over Lebanon will be downed news

    The leader of Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah said Sunday that his group will confront and shoot down any Israeli drones that enter Lebanese airspace from now on, raising the potential for conflict amid heightened regional tensions. Hassan Nasrallah also vowed to retaliate to an Israeli airstrike inside Syria that took place hours earlier, which he said killed two Hezbollah members. Nasrallah's speech came after one alleged Israeli drone crashed in a Hezbollah stronghold in south Beirut, landing on the roof of a building that houses Hezbollah's media office, while another exploded and crashed in a plot behind the building, causing material damage, authorities said.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 13:59:47 -0400
  • Donald Trump Upstaged at G7 By Foreign Minister of ... Iran news

    Jeff J Mitchell/ReutersIt looked like President Donald Trump was set up for a diplomatic ambush at the Group of Seven summit on Sunday when Iran’s foreign minister suddenly flew into town.The arrival of the smooth-talking Javad Zarif at the elegant French beach resort of Biarritz, where the leaders of the seven most industrialized democracies are gathered, underscored a key conflict between Trump and the rest about how to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions. ‘Absolute Amateur Hour’: Team Trump Mangles Messages to IranLast year, the U.S. pulled out of an agreement that severely limited for several years Iran’s production and stockpiling of nuclear fuel and imposed an extensive inspection regime. Trump claimed the accord forged under Barack Obama was a disastrous deal, and he could do better.A senior French diplomat told reporters at the G7 summit in Biarritz that Macron informed Trump over lunch on Saturday that Zarif would be coming, and told the rest of the summit participants at dinner that night. The Trump administration imposed sanctions specifically targeting Zarif earlier this month, but when Trump was asked for a reaction after the the visit became public, his initial comment was, “No comment.”Although Trump has said he would be willing to meet with Iran’s leaders, they have so far declined, and a tweet from the Iranian foreign ministry stated flaty, “There will be no meetings or negotiations with the American delegation on this trip.”Trump has insisted he can force Iran to make more concessions, not only about nukes, but about its missiles and extensive proxy forces outside its borders, most notably Hezbollah, and to that end the U.S. has imposed draconian sanctions crippling the Iranian economy while punishing its trading partners.Germany, France and Britain–all signatories of the Iran deal, and all represented at the G7–have sought desperately to shore up the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the agreement is called. They share Trump’s view that missiles and proxies are serious issues, but they believe it makes more sense to keep the nuclear agreement that exists rather than throw all the cards up in the air.To try to keep Iran on board, the Europeans have been discussing various mechanisms to try to bypass the American sanctions, but with little success. Meanwhile, step by calculated step, Iran terminates bits of the JCPOA. As Iran-U.S. Tensions Rise, Hezbollah Readies for War With IsraelIn June, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, also at the G7 this weekend, visited Tehran to try to calm the situation, but to no avail. Indeed, holes were blown in a Japanese tanker by mysterious, presumably Iranian, agents at the same time as Abe’s visit.It’s likely that Zarif’s visit to Biarritz is mainly political theater orchestrated by Macron, and there is little hope it will resolve an increasingly dangerous standoff between the U.S. and Iran. Already we have seen attacks on shipping near the strategic Strait of Hormuz and the recent British seizure, then release against U.S. objections, of an Iranian tanker at Gibraltar. Last month, when Iran downed an American drone it claimed was over its territorial waters, Trump gave a green light, then a red one, to a retaliatory attack that would have killed several Iranian personnel.Meanwhile, as The Daily Beast has reported, Iran’s clients in Lebanon and Syria, the Hezbollah militias, are preparing for war with Israel as part of a wider conflagration, and Israel is attacking Iranian installations in Iraq as well as Syria.What Zarif’s visit to the G7 summit might do is calm the situation and buy some time.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 12:50:35 -0400
  • The Latest: Hezbollah leader: Israeli drones will be downed news

    The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah says his group will confront and shoot down any Israeli drones that fly over Lebanon from now on. Hassan Nasrallah's speech Sunday came hours after one alleged Israeli drone crashed in the capital, Beirut, while another exploded, authorities there said.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 12:49:11 -0400
  • Merkel Defends Macron's Zarif-to-Biarritz Gambit: G-7 Update news

    (Bloomberg) -- Group of Seven leaders have gathered in Biarritz, France and the host, French President Emmanuel Macron, has just pulled a massive surprise on his guests by inviting the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.Merkel Defends Macron Decision to Fly in Zarif (6:39 p.m.)As news of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s lightning visit to Biarritz was still sinking in, German Chancellor Angela Merkel rode to Macron’s rescue. She espoused the French line that it is a meeting of two foreign ministers and therefore not part of the G-7. She told reporters that every attempt to solve the crisis in Iran was welcome. She later said she only knew Zarif was coming a short time before he arrived.The picture that is forming is that the French gave delegations a very short warning that this was happening. In any case, Zarif is leaving tonight. The turning point for flying Zarif over was the dinner last night. Merkel said that a "good talk about Iran will now be communicated to Zarif," in person, by his counterpart.That dinner is beginning to loom large in the G-7 storyline for 2019. All seem to agree it was tense, it was about both Iran and whether to let Russia’s Vladimir Putin back into the G-7 -- and that’s about it. Macron has said he believes the other leaders vested him with powers to deal directly with Iran at the dinner, though Trump has said Macron doesn’t speak for him.French Official Wants to See How Far Talks Can Go (4:43 p.m.)The French official was asked if there’s any chance Zarif could meet the U.S. delegation. He said that’s not planned at the moment. This is just a French-Iranian meeting at the moment. But they want to see how far those talks can go.French Won’t Say If Zarif Is Meeting Macron (4:05 p.m.)A French official said that Zarif hasn’t been invited to the G-7 talks. He’s instead meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. The official refused to say whether Zarif will also be seeing Macron.Zarif Confirmed as Iranian Dignitary in Biarritz (3:44 p.m)It appears Macron has thrown a curve ball at his fellow leaders by inviting Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Biarritz. It’s unclear in what capacity as French organizers have point blank refused to confirm anything. Officials from other delegations were surprised. The Italians found out from French news wire AFP.Macron had wanted to rip the script, and he had already irritated the Americans who accused the French of trying to manipulate the agenda to embarrass the president. Zarif was in Paris only last week, meeting with Macron about the future of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. Zarif described the talks as “constructive and good”, the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency reported.The Biggest Source of Tension Is Russia (2:26 p.m.)G-7 leaders just can’t seem to get on the same page about Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who was booted out of the club after ordering the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Whether to let him back in has become a sore point at the current gathering, according to an EU official briefed on the gala dinner Saturday night. The official described the mood as tense.Indeed, Trump described it as a” lively discussion” and Johnson agreed: “It was lively!” There are several reasons why the leaders are on the outs with Putin: from the festering conflict with Ukraine, the suspected meddling in their elections to its intervention in Syria.The U.K. holds Putin responsible for deploying a chemical weapon on British soil to poison a suspected Russia double agent and rallied international support to eject Russian diplomats. Trump went along with it but he’s always been of the view that it’s illogical not to have such an important global player at the table.Next year he will have the option to invite Putin as a guest.Johnson Goes Swimming (2:02 p.m.)Johnson has been switching from goofy Boris to serious statesman with some success. On arrival to the dinner on Saturday he struck a pose that saw his French hosts break out in laughter. And today he took a dip in the ocean before breakfast with Trump.While out on his swim, the prime minister said he had Brexit epiphany: “From here you cannot tell there is a gigantic hole in that rock. There is a way through. My point to the EU is that there is a way through, but you can’t find the way through if you just sit on the beach.”One local hotelier however suggested another interpretation of that symbolism. She warned that it’s not safe to swim out to the rock, because the waters can get choppy.No Coordinated Fiscal Stimulus (1:47 p.m.)In his midday update, Macron said there won’t be any coordinated stimulus for the global economy coming out of this meeting.“We need boosters for global economy,” he said. Still, “it’s not at the G-7 level that we decided to make budgetary or tax cuts.”He said leaders discussed mechanisms for shoring up growth, which would involve a combination of tax cuts, deregulation and stimulus spending for different countries.Trump Pulls Macron Back Over Iran (12:34 p.m.)Macron is touting an agreement to send a joint message from the G-7 to Iran as one of his victories from last night’s dinner. “We’ve enacted a common communication, which in my view has a lot of value,” he said this morning in a French television interview.But Trump cast doubt on how much authority Macron will have. “We’ll do our own outreach,” he said. “But I can’t stop people from talking.”One person familiar with the situation says Trump does not agree that Macron can convey a message from the G-7 to Iran since the leaders didn’t all settle on what the message should be.Trump has pursued a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, using sanctions to cut off their sales of oil in a way that’s hurting that nation’s economy. White House officials say the G-7 countries agreed Trump’s pressure campaign on Iran is having an impact, and that it should continue.Macron Is Talking Up Progress on Iran (11:50 a.m.)The French president is trying to show that he’s achieved something on the geopolitical issues he’s raised. He told TF1 television Sunday that leaders agreed they need to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons and destabilizing the region -- which was the state of play before talks began.The G-7 also agreed on a common way of communicating over Iran and a decision on action that enables them to “reconcile their positions a bit,” he said.When Johnson Sees Tusk, It Could Get Tense (11:20 a.m.)Johnson took care of Brexit business with Macron and Merkel in the days just before the G-7 -- everyone made their position clear (no budging).But the U.K. prime minister is beginning to realize that getting a divorce deal done with the European Union by the Oct. 31 deadline was not going to be quite as easy as he might have thought. As for the Europeans, they too are starting to think about what they can do to avert a no-deal scenario that could be economically bad news for all countries involved.Ian Wishart sets out the stakes, and the mood, as Johnson meets Donald Tusk, the EU’s president who tends to speak on behalf of the bloc’s leaders on matters related to Brexit.What is Macron’s Plan for Iran? (11 a.m.)After their 3-hour informal Saturday dinner where they discussed matters including Iran, leaders of the G7 gave Macron -- as chair of the Group -- the authority to hold talks and pass on a message from them to the Persian state, according to a French official.The official added that the message, based on the content of leaders talks Saturday, hadn’t yet been passed on. The official didn’t respond to request for details on the content of the message and of last night’s talks content.Second Thoughts on Trade War? (10: 52 a.m.)Trump rarely displays doubt, so when shows even a glimmer of it, it grabs one’s attention. The president is feeling the heat at the G-7 from his aggressive trade stance against China. Leaders are being careful on how to bring it but they are bringing it up -- persistently.During a meeting with Boris Johnson , he was asked whether he had “any second thoughts on escalating the trade war” with China, after he announced higher tariffs late Friday.“Yeah, sure, why not?” Trump replied. Reporters asked again whether he had second thoughts. “Might as well, might as well,” he replied, before reporters asked again. “I have second thoughts about everything,” he said.Trump has seen his poll numbers sag ahead of his 2020 re-election bid and he is relying on a strong economy to stay in power for another term.Trump Says ‘Very Close’ To Japan Trade Deal (9:50 a.m.)The U.S. is close to reaching a trade deal with Japan, Donald Trump said, as his trade chief hinted an announcement could come within hours.“We’re very close to a major deal with Japan,” Trump said Sunday morning during a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Group of Seven summit, with Trump due to meet Japan’s Shinzo Abe later Sunday morning in France. “Prime Minister Abe and I are very good friends, really good friends. We’ve been working on it for five months.”Japanese media have reported that the U.S. and Japan have agreed on a trade deal that will keep U.S. tariffs on Japanese cars in place while removing barriers to U.S. beef and pork sales to Japan.Johnson Finds a Way to Raise Tariffs With Trump (9:30 a.m.)Part of Johnson’s balancing act at the G-7 is to strike a good relationship with Trump -- whom he needs post-Brexit for a trade deal with the U.S. -- but also speak truth to power. Back home, the perception of a U.K. prime minister being America’s poodle is a bad look, especially if you could be heading into an election.So at the breakfast with Trump, Johnson found a way to raise criticism, “sheep-like.”Here it was: “I congratulate the president on everything that the American economy is achieving. It’s fantastic to see that. But just to register a faint, sheep-like note of our view on the trade war -- we’re in favor of trade peace on the whole, dialing it down a beat.”Johnson said that “the U.K. has profited massively in the last 200 years from free trade and that’s what we want to see. So, we’re keen to see that. We don’t like tariffs on the whole.”Trump responded with a tongue-in-cheek question about how the U.K. had fared in the past three years.Would Trump Declare a National Emergency on China? (9 a.m.)Trump has said a 1977 law known as the Emergency Economic Powers Act would allow him to order companies to leave China, though experts say that was never the intent of the law. In addition, it would be massive disruption to ask companies to pull up stakes in China, or even to re-route supply chains located there.Asked about whether it was on the cards, here was the answer: “For many years this has been going on. In many ways it’s an emergency. I have no plan right now. Actually we’re getting along very well with China right now. We’re talking. I think they want to make a deal much more than I do. We’re getting a lot of money,”The law isn’t usually used to regulate international trade, but more regularly has been used to impose sanctions on countries resulting from national security threats. President Jimmy Carter invoked it in 1979 during the Iran hostage crisis.Johnson Doesn’t Need any Advice, Says Trump (8:45 a.m.)There were 18 people sitting in on the working breakfast between Trump and Johnson. The two men had been photographed on Saturday night walking and talking in the margins of the summit.Trump was asked if he had Brexit advice for Johnson: “He needs no advice, he’s the right man for the job. I’ve been saying that for a long time. It didn’t make your predecessor very happy.”Johnson: “You’re on message there, I’m very grateful... we’re looking forward to having some pretty comprehensive talks about how to take forward the relationship in all sorts of ways.... And we’re very excited about that.”Trump: “we’re going to do a very big trade deal, bigger than we’ve ever had with the U.K. and now at some point they won’t have the obstacle, they won’t have the anchor around their ankle because that’s what they have.”Putin at Next Year’s G-7? It’s possible (8:35 a.m.)U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters it’s “certainly possible” he will invite Vladimir Putin as a guest of next year’s Group of Seven summit. He’s said before how he thinks it makes no sense not to have the Russian president at the table. Putin was ejected from the G-8 in 2014 over Russia’s annexation of Crimea. His eventual return into the fold has been a topic of debate -- but Europeans have said the Ukraine crisis needs to be resolved first.Next year Trump is the host, and as such has the discretionary power to invited who he wants. Macron this year, for example, invited the leaders of India, Chile, Australia and Spain.The most-watched bilateral is about to start (8:15 a.m.)Donald Trump is up and tweeting that there have been some very good meetings and leaders are getting along. He is about to sit down with Boris Johnson, making his debut at the summit after replacing Theresa May as prime minister. The two men seem to get on famously, in stark contrast with the forced, strained relationship with May.For a run-down on what to expect, read this:Protesters Kept at Bay, Police Use Tear Gas (last night)French riot police deployed water cannons and tear gas to disperse a crowd of activists that included Yellow Vest protesters, environmentalists and even some Basque separatists. They have been largely kept at a safe distance from the leaders, who are in the heavily-guarded red zone.Earlier stories:Macron Rips Up Agenda for His G-7 in a Fit of Climate FuryMacron Riles Bolsonaro, Setting Up G-7 Fight Over Amazon FiresDonald Trump Is Coming for Europe’s Most Important Alliance\--With assistance from Josh Wingrove and Alex Morales.To contact the reporters on this story: Jennifer Jacobs in Biarritz, France at;Helene Fouquet in Biarritz at;Arne Delfs in Biarritz at adelfs@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at, Craig Gordon, Flavia Krause-JacksonFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 12:39:52 -0400
  • First Ladies Raise Glasses on Morning Out in French Countryside

    (Bloomberg) -- While their husbands sparred over Iran and the global economy in Biarritz, the first ladies of the U.S. and France were all smiles as they sampled local sangria in a Basque countryside town 30 kilometers to the southeast.Residents of the commune of Espelette -- known for its spicy dried red peppers -- greeted U.S. first lady Melania Trump warmly on Sunday morning as she browsed in local shops, accompanied by the spouses of other world leaders attending the Group of Seven summit nearby.But it was Brigitte Macron, the wife of French President Emmanuel Macron, who drew cheers of “Brigitte! Brigitte!” from the gathered crowd when the spouses emerged from a tasting a La Cave Des Barons D’ezpeleta.“Just an advice, don’t drink too much,” Macron could be heard warning her counterparts as reporters were ushered out of the local wine shop in the town center.The sangria was “very good,” Jenny Morrison, the wife of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed as she exited the tasting, glass still hand.Trump, Macron and Morrison -- along with the first ladies of Chile and Japan, as well as Malgorzata Tusk, the wife of European Council President Donald Tusk -- also visited a textile store, a bakery and a shoe merchant specializing in locally-made espadrilles.A White House official said the first lady didn’t make any purchases.At a sixteenth-century church on the town’s outskirts, Akie Abe, the wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, snapped photos on her phone as the group took in a choir performance in front of a Baroque altarpiece.Their next stop was Villa Arnaga, built in the early 1900s by French playwright Edmond Rostand. A dance troupe from La Bastide-Clairence, a village near the Spanish border, entertained the women as they sat in the shade to avoid the midday heat in the villa’s manicured gardens.For lunch, the group dined on fresh tomatoes in a light broth and farm-raised organic chicken with sweet bell pepper sauce, a local specialty. Dessert was a peach parfait and Basque-style cake.To contact the reporter on this story: Kathleen Hunter in Biarritz at khunter9@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Craig Gordon at, Kathleen Hunter, Ros KrasnyFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 11:21:47 -0400
  • G-7 summit: Trump strikes 'billion-dollar' trade deal with Japan

    Two of the world's countries with the largest GDP have agreed to a trade deal they plan to confirm at the U.N. General Assembly in September.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 10:51:39 -0400
  • Belgian parade goes ahead despite racism objections

    A Belgian street festival featuring a character called "Savage" played by a white person in blackface makeup has gone ahead amid objections from anti-racism activists. The character moved through the streets of the town of Ath, southwest of Brussels, on Sunday, chained and wielding a wooden stick, as part of a parade of floats and giant effigies with biblical and historical connotations. Anti-racism group Brussels Panthers has written to the United Nations cultural agency, UNESCO, urging it to remove the festival from its intangible cultural heritage list if the character is not removed.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 10:47:34 -0400
  • As Brexit looms, will US craft trade deal with Britain?

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Trump are efforting a post-Brexit free trade deal, but the U.K. leader warned they could not rush negotiations at the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France this weekend.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 10:22:07 -0400
  • Trump 'not happy' after N. Korea's Kim oversees latest rocket test news

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised the test-firing of a high-tech rocket system, state media reported Sunday, prompting criticism from US President Donald Trump, who said he was "not happy" with the latest launch. Pyongyang fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles on Saturday, South Korea's military said, the latest in a series of recent launches in protest at the South's joint exercises with the US, which wrapped up last week. North Korea's official news agency described the weapon as a "super-large multiple rocket launcher".

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 10:14:43 -0400
  • Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif arrives in Biarritz in surprise visit to G7 leaders summit news

    Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, unexpectedly flew into Biarritz on Sunday in a dramatic twist to a G7 leaders summit that is already riven by divisions over Russia, China and trade.  Mr Zarif, who went straight into talks with French officials after his surprise arrival on an Iranian government Airbus, showed up as French President Emmanuel Macron attempted a high-risk diplomatic gambit to defuse a confrontation that has brought Iran and the United States to the brink of war.  His presence caused immediate confusion in diplomatic circles, with a White House official saying that Donald Trump, who dined with other G7 leaders in Biarritz on Saturday night, was not informed in advance. Mr Trump's administration placed Mr Zarif under sanctions last month.  But a French diplomatic source said Mr Macron informed Mr Trump of the Iranian foreign minister’s visit when the two presidents had lunch on Saturday. Mr Macron then told the other leaders during dinner on Saturday night. “There was a very substantial conversation among the G7 leaders,” the source said.  The source added that the French and Iranian foreign ministers were also discussing “regional issues and Iran’s missile programme”. “We are working in total transparency with our US partners,” he said. Angela Merkel said she was only informed shortly before Mr Zarif arrived.  A White House official said Donald Trump was not told that Emmanuel Macron had invited Javad Zarif Credit: Jeff J Mitchell/Pool via REUTERS A highly-placed French political source told the Telegraph: “That [the foreign ministers’ meeting] doesn’t mean that Mr Trump is actively supporting the talks, only that he is allowing them to happen. If there are advances, he can welcome them and perhaps share the credit. If nothing comes of it, he won’t have to disown it because it was a French initiative. If it does succeed in reducing tension, it will be a huge diplomatic coup for Mr Macron.”   Earlier the French president played down briefings by his aides that the G7 leaders had mandated him to lead talks with Iran, which was quickly denied by Mr Trump who said the idea had not been discussed. Mr Macron said there was no such thing as a “G7 mandate” as the group is a forum for discussion rather than a formal structure. The Iranian foreign ministry said Mr Zarif had flown in for talks on saving the 2015 nuclear deal, but denied that Iran's missile programme was up for discussion. It said no talks with Mr Trump or the US delegation are planned. Mr Macron is hosting Mr Trump, Boris Johnson, Angela Merkel, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, and Giuseppe Conte, Italy’s caretaker prime minister, at the 45th G7 summit.  Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets U.S. President Donald Trump for bilateral talks during the G7 summit  Credit: Stefan Rousseau/Pool via REUTERS The meeting has exposed deep rifts over everything from the fires in the Amazon rain forest to Mr Trump’s trade war with China, and Mr Macron has warned that it will likely be the first summit in the Group’s 45 year history to end without a joint communique. There were reportedly lively discussions at Saturday night’s dinner of local Basque cuisine when European leaders including Mr Johnson pushed back at Mr Trump's suggestion that Russian president Vladimir Putin, who was suspended from the G7 after annexing Crimea in 2014, should be readmitted to the forum. Mr Trump and Mr Macron have also clashed over a proposed French "digital tax" which would hit US tech giants like Google and Amazon. Mr Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on French wine in retaliation.  Mr Trump sought to play down reports of division on Sunday, saying meetings so far have been “very good”. “Before I arrived in France, the Fake and Disgusting News was saying that relations with the 6 others countries in the G-7 are very tense, and that the two days of meetings will be a disaster,” Mr Trump tweeted.  An Iranian government plane is seen on the tarmac at Biarritz airport in Anglet on Sunday   Credit: REUTERS/Regis Duvignau “Well, we are having very good meetings, the Leaders are getting along very well, and our Country, economically, is doing great — the talk of the world!” Tensions between the US and Iran have spiralled since Mr Trump last year withdrew from a deal that offered Iran sanctions relief in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear programme. Since then the US has pursued a policy of “maximum pressure” in the hope that economic hardship will force the regime in Tehran to accept a more restrictive deal and end its support for armed groups like Hizbollah. The confrontation has caused tension with European allies including Britain which still support the 2015 nuclear deal.  Iran continues to hold the Stena Impero, a British flagged tanker that it seized in the Gulf in apparent retaliation for the arrest by Royal Marines of an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar in July.  Gibraltar released the Adrian Darya 1, formerly the Grace 1, on August 18, despite a US legal bid to impound it.  The Royal Navy sent a third warship to the provide maritime security in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday.  HMS Defender, a type 45 destroyer, will join the type 23 frigates HMS Kent and HMS Montrose.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 10:13:23 -0400
  • Boris Johnson news – live: PM says no-deal Brexit is ‘touch and go’ as he threatens to withhold divorce bill from EU news

    Donald Trump has praised Boris Johnson as the “right man for the job” of delivering Brexit.The US president promised a “very big trade deal” as the two leaders held their first meeting. However, the prime minister has warned a deal with the US will not be “plain sailing”.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 09:55:00 -0400
  • U.S. and Japan strike trade deal ‘in principle’ news

    Trump and Abe announced the agreement at the G-7 summit in France, with hopes for a formal signing in September alongside U.N. General Assembly meetings.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 09:36:32 -0400
  • British navy says 3rd warship en route to Persian Gulf

    Britain says a third Royal Navy vessel is heading to the Persian Gulf to protect merchant shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. The navy says the HMS Defender, a Type 45 destroyer, will join the frigates HMS Kent and HMS Montrose. Britain's navy has been escorting U.K.-flagged vessels in the region since Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker there last month.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 09:31:04 -0400
  • North Korea tests new 'super-large' rocket launcher news

    North Korea said Sunday that leader Kim Jong Un supervised the test-firing of a "newly developed super-large multiple rocket launcher," another demonstration of the North's expanding weapons arsenal apparently aimed at increasing its leverage ahead of a possible resumption of nuclear talks with the U.S. Kim underscored the need to "continue to step up the development of Korean-style strategic and tactical weapons for resolutely frustrating the ever-mounting military threats and pressure offensive of the hostile forces," according to KCNA.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 09:24:37 -0400
  • UPDATE 1-Trump dangles "very big" trade deal in front of Brexit Britain

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday said he and President Donald Trump were "gung-ho" about a post-Brexit trade deal but cautioned the United States would be tough negotiators and that he would not rush talks. Trump promised a big trade deal for Britain after it leaves the European Union, which he said had been a drag on Britain's ability to cut a good deal.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 08:59:38 -0400
  • UK PM Johnson told Tusk: We leave EU on Oct. 31 whatever the circumstances

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson told European Council President Donald Tusk that Britain would be leaving the European Union on Oct. 31 whatever the circumstances, a British official said on Sunday after the two met at a G7 summit in France. Johnson told Tusk that his preference remained to seek a deal with the EU, and repeated that he would be willing to sit down and talk with EU leaders, the official said. The two will meet again at the United Nations General Assembly next month.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 08:43:33 -0400
  • Israel says it strikes Iranian targets in Syria, Hizbollah says drones also target Beirut news

    The prospect of an Israel-Hizbollah war loomed closer Sunday after Israel bombed Iranian forces in Syria and was accused of carrying out a botched drone strike in Lebanon.  One Iranian and two fighters from Hizbollah, the Shiite Lebanese militia backed by Iran, were killed in the airstrike in Aqraba, south-east of Damascus late on Saturday night.  An Israeli army spokesman said the strike targeted a “killer drone facility,” run by Iran's Quds force, which it believed was preparing to launch a drone strike on Israel.  Hours later, residents in the southern suburbs of Beirut awoke to a loud blast as a drone exploded above a Hizbollah media centre in the Moawwad neighbourhood, just a few miles from Beirut's international airport. In the aftermath of the explosion, bystanders said the sound of reconnaissance aircraft, presumed to be Israeli, could be heard overhead. Hizbollah spokesman Mohamed Afif later said two drones came out of the sky in the early hours of Sunday morning.   "The first drone fell without causing damage while the second one was laden with explosives and exploded causing huge damage to the media centre," he said. He said Hizbollah had recovered the unexploded drone and that the pieces were "undergoing analysis".  No casualties were reported.  Lebanese military intelligence officers inspect the site of the alleged Israeli drone attack in Beirut Credit: REX/NABIL MOUNZER Saad Harirri, Lebanon’s prime minister called the incident a “clear violation” of Lebanese sovereignty and the UN resolution that ended the last Israel-Hizbollah war in 2006.  "This new aggression... forms a threat to regional stability and an attempt to push the situation towards more tension," Saad Hariri, said in a statement.  In Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the Syria strike as a "major operational effort".  "I reiterate: Iran has no immunity anywhere. Our forces operate in every sector against the Iranian aggression. 'If someone rises up to kill you, kill him first'," he tweeted, quoting the Talmud. Israel's military has carried out multiple strikes against Iranian and Hizbollah linked targets in Syria, but has rarely officially admitted doing so in the past.  It has neither confirmed nor denied any action in Lebanon. The twin attacks in Damascus and Beirut take the two belligerents closer to what analysts and leaders in each camp have warned would be a devastating war. Israel fears Hizbollah has become a more formidable opponent since it entered the Syrian conflict on the side of President Bashar al-Assad in 2012, which allowed its fighters to gain battlefield experience and build up a physical presence just east of the Golan. Israeli officials also claim Hezbollah has amassed a vast arsenal of rockets. Hasan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hizbollah, is expected to respond in a televised speech Sunday evening marking two years since the Lebanese army expelled Islamic State fighters from the country.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 08:15:55 -0400
  • Naval Expert: Iraq Could Have Sunk a U.S. Navy Battleship During the 1st Gulf War news

    Wouldn’t ruggedly armored battlewagons just shrug off mine strikes where their lightly built brethren could not? Maybe, maybe not. A floating sea mine would have struck at the waterline, where battleships’ armor exceeded a foot in thickness by far. Furthermore, an “armored box” encased vital innards such as the propulsion plants and fire-control plotting rooms. The shock from an explosion would have been transmitted to the hull and thence to the ship’s internals, and probably would have shaken loose some piping systems. Still, a vessel designed to withstand hammer blows from heavy-caliber gunnery would probably have ridden out such a strike with little lasting damage.Could Saddam Hussein’s armed forces have sunk a U.S. Navy battleship?That might seem like a question destined to launch an excursion into alt-history, but it was far from hypothetical to the 3,200 or so crewmen of the battleships USS Wisconsin and Missouri who squared off against Iraq in 1991. It was daily life, especially when they closed with hostile shorelines to render naval gunfire support to forces ashore—and thus came within striking reach of Iraqi defenses.My answer: yes.In the abstract. Under ideal conditions.If you ripped such an engagement out of its actual operational context, in other words, then yes, it was technically possible for Iraqi airmen or rocketeers to sink a dreadnought. One vessel can scarcely stand against the combined might of a nation. Yet sundering could-have-been events from reality reveals little of value. Iraqi prospects were farfetched when viewed in the real-world context of war in the Persian Gulf. Focusing that much martial throw weight against one surface combatant at the right time and place would have strained Iraqi capability—even if Saddam & Co. had made assaulting the American ironclads their uppermost priority.(This first appeared earlier in the year.)But first the hypotheticals. Events in the Gulf during the 1980s, when Iraq and Iran waged a brutal struggle for dominion, bore grim witness to the power of mine and missile warfare. During the 1987-1988 “tanker war,” the U.S. Navy organized convoys for Kuwaiti merchantmen reflagged under the Stars and Stripes. While they guarded against missile attack, escort ships took to trailing behind the tankers they were protecting, simply because the tankers’ massive hulls could withstand the blast from a sea mine far better than flimsily armored warships could. Protectors became the protected.Such an underwater blast broke the back of the guided-missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts in April 1988. (I happened to be in engineering school when the heavy-lift ship bearing the frigate hove into the Narragansett Bay. That was a sobering sight for any newcomer to marine affairs.) Rudimentary sea mines would temporarily cripple the cruiser USS Princeton and the amphibious helicopter carrier USS Tripoli—a vessel comparable in size and tonnage to an Iowa-class battleship—during Desert Storm. Battleships certainly came within reach of mines during the Gulf War. I saw them floating nearby myself more than once. The amphibious task force of which Wisconsin and Missouri were part subsequently ventured into minefields off the Kuwaiti coast should coalition leaders order an amphibious assault.Wouldn’t ruggedly armored battlewagons just shrug off mine strikes where their lightly built brethren could not? Maybe, maybe not. A floating sea mine would have struck at the waterline, where battleships’ armor exceeded a foot in thickness by far. Furthermore, an “armored box” encased vital innards such as the propulsion plants and fire-control plotting rooms. The shock from an explosion would have been transmitted to the hull and thence to the ship’s internals, and probably would have shaken loose some piping systems. Still, a vessel designed to withstand hammer blows from heavy-caliber gunnery would probably have ridden out such a strike with little lasting damage.But the armored belt cladding the hull tapers to two inches along a battleship’s keel, all the way at the ship’s bottom. Shipwrights built the Iowa class with surface gunfights in mind, not influence mines moored to the seafloor and triggered by the noise or magnetic field of a passing enemy ship. Had such a mine floated up and detonated underneath Wisconsin or Missouri, it could well have punctured the hull. Moreover, it could have wrought havoc with the massive intakes that sucked in seawater to condense steam exhausted from the ship’s boilers—and in turn required engineers to shut down that plant.Flooding and engineering casualties, then, would verge on certain following a strike from beneath. Still, battleships were built with redundant systems—four engineering plants, for instance—and with stout watertight bulkheads subdividing the hull to limit the spread of floodwaters. In all likelihood fire parties could have isolated any damage so the ship, rerouted power and vital fluids around the afflicted zone, and enabled the ship to carry on with its mission. Barring some extremely improbable event, such as many mines striking from beneath all at once, even influence mines posed little mortal danger.What about anti-ship missiles? The missile age had its inception with the sinking of the Israeli destroyer Eilat during the Six-Day War of 1967. An Iraqi F-1 Mirage fighter jet loosed two Exocet missiles at the frigate USS Stark twenty years later, in May 1987, during the tanker war and less than four years before Desert Storm. The mistaken attack left Stark in grave peril and cost thirty-seven sailors their lives. It is far from unthinkable that a missile fired from one of Saddam’s warplanes, a shore battery, or one of the navy’s Osa patrol boats could have struck home against a battleship cruising offshore.Indeed, Missouri had a close call with a couple of Iraqi Silkworms that February. What would have happened had one or both birds struck home? It depends on where they impacted. It may be commonplace to liken battleships to “castles of steel,” but the image misleads. No ship can tote heavy armor all around its exterior. It would be top-heavy, unstable, and unseaworthy. And even if weight and stability weren’t issues, no navy could afford to construct such a craft. Topside as on the hull, therefore, naval architects arranged armor plating to safeguard the most critical spaces, systems, and armaments.Owing to these selective defenses, a missile probably wouldn’t have penetrated one of the main gun turrets, sheathed as they were in heavy plating. (Although a strike at just the right place might have wrecked the machinery a turret used to rotate toward its targets.) Nor would it have stood much chance of piercing the “citadel,” in effect a massive armored tube where the bridge watch team could take refuge in times of battle. But it might have done grievous harm to the lightly protected superstructure or to crucial topside systems like Tomahawk or Harpoon missile launchers, radars, or fire-control directors. Or, for that matter, a hit on one of the ship’s two smokestacks may have impeded or interrupted the inflow of combustion air to two of the ship’s four propulsion plants as well as the outflow of exhaust gases—impairing mobility and the electrical power supply.This is far from trifling damage. It’s doubtful one or two Iraqi missile hits would have added up to a sinking-level catastrophe—but a ship can suffer a lot of ruin without sinking. The punch from two Silkworms surely would have degraded Missouri’s combat performance until the crew could make repairs. A “mission kill” that incapacitated the dreadnought for a time, in part or in whole, is far from unthinkable.So much for the technical details of attacks pitting an individual missile or missiles against a battleship. Now factor in the operational context. It is fair to say that the Iraqi military could have sunk a battleship. Provided the defenders could detect, track, and target it. Provided they could dedicate ordnance to the engagement in massive quantities. Provided enough missiles could slip past the anti-missile defenses that swaddled a battleship, including not just its own close-in weapons and electronic-warfare suite but those of escort ships commonly assigned to ride “shotgun” with battleship surface action groups. And provided coalition aircraft failed to furnish effective air cover. In short, Iraqis could have inflicted massive harm had they concentrated all of their energies and resources on bludgeoning a battlewagon.That’s a lot of provideds. How likely was such a confluence of events? Not very. Iraqi commanders had far more to worry about than gunfire and cruise missiles lofted shoreward by Missouri and Wisconsin. Aircraft carriers prowled the Gulf, striking deep inland in concert with U.S. Air Force and coalition aviators flying from airfields in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the region. They had to fret about U.S. Army and coalition ground forces staring at them across the front lines. Their plight almost elicits sympathy.This dismal operational situation compelled Iraqis to disperse manpower and assets in an effort to defend Kuwait and southern Iraq from most points of the compass, not to mention from the surface and above. They simply couldn’t afford to allocate the resources and firepower to take out one hulking surface combatant, no matter how troublesome.Apart from all that, it may be worth closing on a cultural point. Combatants came home from the Gulf with the eerie sense that we would have won even had we swapped our high-tech armory of ships, planes, sensors, and weaponry for Saddam’s lumbering, backward, largely Soviet-equipped force. Historian Victor Davis Hanson draws sweeping cultural contrasts in his book Carnage and Culture, ascribing Western military success against non-Western civilizations across the centuries to an ingrained lust for “shock battle.” Western fighting forces supposedly aim to annihilate their antagonists on the battlefield where combatants from other civilizations do not.You need not embrace Hanson’s views in whole—Saudi forces, to name one of many non-Western coalition partners, acquitted themselves well in Desert Storm—to appreciate that a cultural chasm did separate the Iraqi armed forces from their foes. Part of the Iraqi military’s problem must have stemmed from its drawn-out bloodletting with Iran, still a recent memory when Saddam ordered the invasion of Kuwait. This was an exhausted and demoralized force. But the nature of Iraqi society and government must be largely responsible as well.Saddam Hussein was a tyrant, and tyranny makes armed forces—or any institution, really—stupid.A ruler like Saddam, who appoints himself generalissimo of the armed services and regards ideas that contradict his own as a threat, squelches the lively debate that constitutes the lifeblood of strategic thought. Had Saddam encouraged freethinking among his commanders instead of crushing it mercilessly, it’s possible Iraqis would have fared far better in 1991—and that the defenders of occupied Kuwait may have landed far more telling blows against coalition navies, including battleships, that menaced their maritime flank.Alternative history is a pleasant diversion—and useful when it furnishes a reminder of timeless verities such as the need to size up prospective foes’ martial cultures as well as their arsenals.James Holmes is J. C. Wylie Chair of Maritime Strategy at the Naval War College. The views voiced here are his alone.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 08:00:00 -0400
  • 3 Turkish soldiers killed in northern Iraq

    Turkey's official news agency is reporting that three Turkish soldiers were killed in northern Iraq in clashes with Kurdish militants. Anadolu Agency, citing the Turkish Defense Ministry, said Sunday that another seven soldiers were wounded and hospitalized. Turkey launched the "Claw" operation in May into mountainous northern Iraq against the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 07:21:11 -0400
  • France's Macron says no formal mandate from G7 on Iran

    French President Emmanuel Macron said he had not been given a formal mandate from G7 leaders to pass messages to Iran, but that he would continue to hold talks with Tehran in the coming weeks to defuse tensions. "We had a discussion yesterday on Iran and that enabled us to establish two common lines: no member of the G7 wants Iran to get a nuclear bomb and all the members of the G7 are deeply attached to stability and peace in the region," Macron said, adding that both he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had taken initiatives on Iran.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 07:02:57 -0400
  • Naval Expert: North Korea Could Sink a U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier in a War news

    There’s little reason to suppose Pyongyang would enjoy better prospects today—unless, say, the DPRK military is a beneficiary of information passed to it by the PLA under the table. China might seek paybacks by proxy for 1995–96.Could North Korea’s armed forces sink an American aircraft carrier? Yes—depending on what type of carrier they confront, how skillfully U.S. Navy commanders employ the flattop and its consorts, how well North Korean warriors know the tactical surroundings and, most crucially, whom fortune favors in combat. Fortune is a fickle ally, prone to switch sides and back again in battle. It’s doubtful an American carrier would fall prey to undersea or aerial attack—but only the foolish say never or always in martial competition, a topsy-turvy affair in which the weak sometimes best the strong.It could happen, and that warrants forethought.(This first appeared last January.)First, some preliminaries. We know for a fact that the DPRK Navy can sink surface vessels. It did so in 2010, launching a sneak submarine attack on the South Korean corvette ROKS Cheonan. Granted, Cheonan was a single ship operating alone, not the centerpiece of a carrier or amphibious task force ringed with escort ships equipped to hunt and assail submarines. The Cheonan incident nevertheless offers proof, if more is needed, of a timeless truth about undersea combat: even a technologically backward diesel sub running slowly—and thus silently—can approach, strike and sink a modern surface craft crewed by highly professional mariners such as those comprising the ROK Navy. The same could befall the U.S. Navy.Indeed, examples are legion of weaker navies equipped with subs giving superior foes fits. In 1982, a Royal Navy task force defending the Falkland Islands expended most of Great Britain’s war stock of antisubmarine ordnance in a vain effort to dispatch a single Argentine Type 209 diesel-electric boat, ARA San Luis. The Argentine skipper reportedly brought his craft to rest on the seafloor in time-honored fashion. Stopping propulsion eliminated machinery noise, letting San Luis evade detection. Tactics refined during World War II worked on the lesser combatant’s behalf against a NATO navy optimized for antisubmarine combat.Or take 2006, when a Chinese Type 039 Song-class diesel boat slipped through the defenses of the USS Kitty Hawk carrier strike group, surfacing about five nautical miles from the flattop. While the carrier group wasn’t on guard against submarine attack, navy spokesmen nonetheless voiced concern that the Song’s approach had gone undetected. As well they might: antisubmarine warfare isn’t just a difficult art, but one the U.S. Navy consciously let slip after the Cold War. That’s when the leadership resolved to transform the sea service into a “fundamentally different naval force” that ventured only perfunctory efforts to prepare for high-seas combat. It is playing catch-up in the undersea realm.It’s amusing when commentators describe this or that submarine as a “stealth submarine.” Presumably that word stealth exudes sex appeal, and generates web traffic. But all subs are stealthy. A nonstealthy sub is wreckage strewn across the seafloor. DPRK skippers have demonstrated they can avoid that fate—and do their job—should they exploit their advantages at a time when circumstances align in their favor. Yes, American carriers are heavily armored and so forth, as carrier proponents like to say, and yes, sinking one would represent no easy feat. That’s a commonplace. But we’ve known for nearly a century that armored ships can be sunk by aerial, surface, or subsurface attack. Indeed, U.S. Navy aviators, battleship gunners and submariners honed antiship warfare to a fine art seventy-five years past, even before precision-guided munitions made their debut. There are no grounds for hubris vis-à-vis the DPRK Navy.Recommended: 5 Places World War III Could Start in 2018Recommended: How North Korea Could Start a WarRecommended: This Is What Happens if America Nuked North KoreaSecond, the DPRK Navy’s prospects depend on the type of carrier force it faces. A carrier strike group centered on a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (CVN) is a different creature from an amphibious ready group centered on an amphibious carrier (LHD or LHA) such as USS Wasp, currently steaming to its new homeport in Sasebo, Japan. Both CVNs and “amphibs” like Wasp can carry high-tech aircraft such as F-35 joint strike fighters. But the bigger CVN boasts a full-fledged air wing, with lots more fighter/attack aircraft along with associated support aircraft. It’s also outfitted with catapults capable of slinging warplanes into the sky bearing larger fuel loads and weapons complements. LHDs and LHAs displace about half as much as CVNs, they have no catapults, and thus they carry a humbler mix of helicopters and vertical-launch U.S. Marine F-35s featuring shorter range than their U.S. Navy brethren.An amphibious ready group, then, presents less formidable challenges to North Korean aviators, rocketeers and mariners than does a full-up carrier strike group. In all likelihood, then, U.S. Navy commanders would hold amphibious groups in reserve until the heavy fighting off Korean shores subsided. The “gators” could venture close to shore once air and missile attacks had abated the antiship threat—rendering it manageable for the group’s more modest defenses. In short, how U.S. commanders arrange forces on the nautical chart and sequence operations will help determine whether a carrier suffers assault from North Korean warbirds, surface or subsurface craft, or antiship missiles.American overseers will certainly exploit the rudimentary state of North Korean reconnaissance technology. Oceans and seas are big places, the biggest carrier group tiny by contrast. It is no simple task to detect, target and engage maritime forces riding the high seas. China’s People’s Liberation Army found this out to its chagrin during the 1995–96 Taiwan Strait crisis, when President Bill Clinton dispatched two carrier groups to the island’s vicinity to deter military action disrupting that year’s presidential elections. Beijing could neither target nor even find U.S. naval forces cruising the Western Pacific, ostensibly a Chinese nautical preserve. There’s little reason to suppose Pyongyang would enjoy better prospects today—unless, say, the DPRK military is a beneficiary of information passed to it by the PLA under the table. China might seek paybacks by proxy for 1995–96.But third, the strategic canon warns us to expect the perverse in martial competition or strife. Clausewitz counsels that chance and uncertainty help constitute the climate surrounding warfare, and that the wisest military sage can do little more than stack the deck in his favor. He may lose anyway. Edward Luttwak reminds us that while we may conduct our affairs according to rational cost/benefit logic in peacetime, combatants are susceptible to “ironic reversals” in wartime, meaning turnabouts of fortune on the battlefield. They tend to overextend themselves, whether out of ignorance or euphoria, and thereby expose themselves to setbacks or defeat.Luttwak’s “paradoxical logic” of strategy exempts no one—including U.S. naval aviation. So let’s frame maritime strategy toward North Korea with confidence, while abjuring overconfidence like the plague.James Holmes holds the J. C. Wylie Chair of Maritime Strategy at the Naval War College

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 07:00:00 -0400
  • US-UK trade deal within a year of Brexit will be tight -UK PM Johnson

    It will be tight to meet the United States' desire to do a post-Brexit trade deal with Britain within a year, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday. Johnson, who took office last month, had his first bilateral meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump earlier on Sunday at the G7 meeting in France and the two discussed a range of issues including trade. In interviews with British television media afterwards, Johnson said the United States wanted to do a deal within a year of Britain leaving the EU on Oct. 31.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 06:57:22 -0400
  • Hammond to Johnson: Apologize for Blaming Us for Brexit Leak

    (Bloomberg) -- Follow @Brexit on Twitter, join our Facebook group and sign up to our Brexit Bulletin.Former U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond may be out of government, but he’s determined to remain a thorn in Boris Johnson’s side. And he wants an apology on behalf of all the ministers ushered out when the new prime minister came to power.In a terse letter posted on Twitter, he took offense at Johnson’s handling of the leak of a government Brexit document that predicted food, fuel and medicine shortages and disruption at ports if it crashes out of the European Union. He cited media reports that said the Yellowhammer dossier was "deliberately leaked by a former minister in an attempt to influence discussions with EU leaders.”Hammond quit before he could be fired but Johnson also purged many other ministers from the Cabinet when he came to office last month. The former chancellor is a leading critic of Johnson’s hard-line approach that the U.K. will leave the EU on Oct. 31 come what may, downplaying the economic damage it could unleash.He felt the finger pointed at him and wants to clear his name.The August date on the document meant that any former ministers wouldn’t have had access to it, Hammond said. "Accordingly, I am writing on behalf of all former ministers in the last administration to ask you to withdraw these allegations which question our integrity, acknowledge that no former minister could have leaked this document, and apologize for the misleading briefing from No. 10.”To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at, Flavia Krause-JacksonFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 06:33:16 -0400
  • Boris bulldozing Brexit deal?

    On the heels of British Prime Minister Johnson’s first trip abroad since taking residence at 10 Downing Street, world leadership will discuss the fate of Brexit at the G7 this weekend. However, discussions this week have left some feeling uncertain about the potential Brexit divorce deal.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 06:19:48 -0400
  • Could Pakistan Sink an Indian Aircraft Carrier in a War? news

    Essentially, this makes Indian carriers’ self-defeating, with the flattops existing primarily to defend themselves from attack rather than taking the fight to their enemy. Carriers are also expensive symbols of national prestige, and it is unlikely the Indian Navy will want to risk losing one, two or all three. Under the circumstances, India’s investment in carriers makes more sense symbolically, and primarily as a way of keeping shipyards busy and shipyard workers employed.The Indian Navy has put out a proposal for its third aircraft carrier, tentatively titled the Vishal due to enter service in the latter 2020s. The 65,000-ton Vishal will be significantly larger than India’s sole current carrier, the Vikramaditya known formerly as the ex-Soviet Admiral Gorshkov, and the incoming second one, the domestically-built Vikrantwhich is expected to enter service later in 2018.(This first appeared in last year.)To see why Vishal is a big deal for the Indian Navy, one needs only to look at her proposed air wing — some 57 fighters, more than Vikramaditya — 24 MiG-29Ks — and Vikrant‘s wing of around 30 MiG-29Ks. While below the 75+ aircraft aboard a U.S. Navy Gerald R. Ford-class supercarrier, Vishal will be a proper full-size carrier and India’s first, as the preceding two are really small-deck carriers and limited in several significant ways.The Indian Navy is also looking at an electromagnetic launch system for its third carrier, similar to the one aboard the Ford class. India’s first two carriers have STOBAR configurations, in which aircraft launch with the assistance of a ski-jump, which limits the maximum weight a plane can lift into the air. Typically this means that fighters must sacrifice weapons, or fuel thus limiting range, or a combination of both.Recommended: 5 Places World War III Could Start in 2018Recommended: How North Korea Could Start a WarRecommended: This Is What Happens if America Nuked North Korea ​The Indian Navy is searching for a foreign-sourced twin-engine fighter for the Vishal, with the U.S. F/A-18 and French Rafale in the running, and India has already ordered 36 multi-role Rafales for its air force. This is a blow to advocates of an Indian-made fighter for the carrier such as naval version of the delta-wing HAL Tejas, which is too heavy for carrier workBut regardless of what kind of fighters Vishal uses, the question is whether India really needs a third carrier, which will cost billions of dollars over its lifetime. To be sure, a third and much larger carrier will free up the burden on the Vikramaditya and Vikrant, only one of which is likely to be battle-ready at any given time.These smaller carriers probably have fewer operational fighters than they do on paper, given that the air wings likely have serviceability rates below 100 percent. Vikramaditya by itself could have significantly less than 24 MiGs capable of flying — and fighting.Now imagine a scenario in which these carriers go to battle.Most likely, India would attempt to enforce a blockade of Pakistan and use its carriers to strike land-based targets. But Pakistan has several means to attack Indian carriers — with near-undetectable submarines and anti-ship missiles — which must also operate relatively far from India itself in the western and northern Arabian Sea. China does not have a similar disadvantage, as the PLAN would likely keep its carriers close and within the “first island chain” including Taiwan, closer to shore where supporting aircraft and ground-based missile launchers can help out.Thus, Indian carriers would be relatively vulnerable and only one of them will have aircraft capable of launching with standard ordnance and fuel. And that is after Vishal sets sail in the next decade.To directly threaten Pakistan, the small-deck carriers will have to maneuver nearer to shore — and thereby closer to “anti-access / area denial” weapons which could sink them. And even with a third carrier, the threat of land-based Pakistani aircraft will force the Indian Navy to dedicate a large proportion of its own air wings to defense — perhaps half of its available fighters, according to 2017 paper by Ben Wan Beng Ho for the Naval War College Review.“Therefore, it is doubtful that any attack force launched from an Indian carrier would pack a significant punch,” Ho writes. “With aircraft available for strike duties barely numbering into the double digits, the Indian carrier simply cannot deliver a substantial ‘pulse’ of combat power against its adversary.”Essentially, this makes Indian carriers’ self-defeating, with the flattops existing primarily to defend themselves from attack rather than taking the fight to their enemy. Carriers are also expensive symbols of national prestige, and it is unlikely the Indian Navy will want to risk losing one, two or all three. Under the circumstances, India’s investment in carriers makes more sense symbolically, and primarily as a way of keeping shipyards busy and shipyard workers employed.However, this is not to entirely rule out a carrier-centric naval strategy. Ho notes that Indian carriers could be useful when operating far out at sea and in the western Arabian Sea, effectively as escort ships for commercial shipping and to harass Pakistani trade. Nevertheless, this strategy comes with a similar set of problems.“In any attempt to impose sea control in the northern Arabian Sea and to interdict Pakistani seaborne commerce by enforcing a blockade of major Pakistani maritime nodes, Indian carrier forces would have to devote a portion of their already meager airpower to attacking Pakistani vessels, thereby exacerbating the conundrum alluded to earlier,” Ho added. “What is more, Pakistani ships are likely to operate relatively close to their nation’s coast, to be protected by Islamabad’s considerable access-denial barrier.”Another possibility is India massing its carriers in the later stages of a war after the Army and Air Force pummel and degrade the Pakistani military.But this raises the question as to whether India strictly needs carriers at all if it cannot use them during the decisive periods of a conflict — as opposed to, say, less-expensive warships, and more of them, equipped with long-range missiles.This first appeared back in 2018.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 06:00:00 -0400
  • Rohingya refugees rally to mark 2nd anniversary of exodus news

    COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh (AP) — Tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees marked the second anniversary of their exodus from Myanmar into Bangladesh by rallying, crying and praying Sunday as they demanded that Myanmar grant them citizenship and other rights before they agree to return. The rally was held days after Bangladesh, with the help of the U.N. refugee agency, attempted to start the repatriation of 3,450 Rohingya Muslims — a small fraction of the 700,000 who fled a 2017 security crackdown in Myanmar.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 05:36:23 -0400
  • Donald Trump's latest trade row with China threatens to disrupt G7 summit by shifting focus away from Amazon fires news

    The escalating trade war between China and the United States threatens to be an unwelcome distraction for the other leaders at the G7 summit as observers predict that US President Donald Trump may try to pressure the leaders of the other six countries attending to focus on the dispute.A day after slapping more tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods, Trump was set to join the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan in the French resort of Biarritz on Saturday for the three-day summit.French president Emmanuel Macron has already said the summit will not issue a final communique in an attempt to avoid further discord after last year's event in Canada ended acrimoniously, with the US president pulling his support from the final statement following a dispute with the host.Most of those attending would prefer to focus on topics such as climate change " a topic Trump has shown little interest in " and the fires in the Amazon, as well as trade relations between the US and European Union, global economic reform, Brexit, the Iran nuclear deal and international taxation on digital companies.Donald Trump announced new tariffs on Chinese goods before setting off for the G7 summit. Photo: AFP alt=Donald Trump announced new tariffs on Chinese goods before setting off for the G7 summit. Photo: AFPBut the escalating trade dispute between the US and China " Trump's move on Friday was in retaliation for Beijing's decision to impose tariffs on US$75 billion of goods " is also likely to feature prominently.While the trade war will "remain a critical issue for the G7 to discuss, and it was already going to be of high import on the agenda, the French hosts especially won't allow it to overshadow their priorities " particularly the environment and climate change," said Tristen Naylor, a fellow in international relations at the London School of Economics.Macron also vowed to focus the G7's attention on Brazil's handling of the extensive fires in the Amazon jungle, though Trump damped the prospect of concerted action after a phone call with President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday, saying that ties between the two countries were "stronger than ever before"."I am not sure the G7 meeting had not much chance of serving any really effective purpose anyhow. Macron's focus on the Amazon might be important, but ... what global issue can be solved with just these seven countries?" said Jim O'Neill, chairman of the London-based Chatham House think tank.He said the bloc's relevance had already been called into question with Trump frequently at odds with the other leaders, most recently with his suggestion last week that Russia should be reinstated following its exclusion when it annexed Crimea in 2014."No global issue can be solved without China " whether it be world economic issues, trade, climate change, antimicrobial resistance and so on. And you need most of the BRICS countries too," O'Neill added, referring to the group comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.As for the trade war, he said that while it was going to weigh heavily on financial markets, "there is little that the G7 can collectively say unless Trump decides to abruptly change his mind".Police officers keep watch from a roof in Biarritz ahead of the summit. Photo: AP alt=Police officers keep watch from a roof in Biarritz ahead of the summit. Photo: APChinese analysts also noted that Trump's dispute with the world's second-largest economy would have some bearing on the summit.Wei Zongyou, a US foreign policy expert at Fudan University in Shanghai, said it appeared increasingly unlikely that China and the US would reach a trade deal before the 2020 US presidential election."Trump's approach reflects his consistent position on trade and his style of applying extreme pressure, which will lead to the escalation in the trade war growing in intensity," he said."The possibility of the two sides reaching a consensus before the election is decreasing each day."Wei said other topics such as calls for free and fair trade, protection of intellectual property rights and reform of the World Trade Organisation would also feature in Biarritz, "but there is not likely to be any actual progress on trade issues".Wang Huiyao, founder and president of the Beijing-based Centre for China and Globalisation think tank, said the higher US tariffs on Chinese goods would not find support at the G7 meetings."China is not the one instigating this conflict " it has been forced to respond, it is not the initiator," he said. "The US is the one who initiated [the dispute], and so [these] measures will not be welcomed by the G7."The G7 is not necessarily unfavourable to China, and many will also be dissatisfied with Trump's threats."China unveiled retaliatory tariffs of 5 and 10 per cent on US$75 billion of American goods on Friday, blaming the US for escalating the dispute." Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 23, 2019Hours later Trump tweeted angrily that China and "many other countries" had taken advantage of the US in areas such as trade and intellectual property theft.He announced that the US would increase tariffs on US$250 billion in Chinese goods to 30 per cent from 25 per cent beginning on October 1, while raising duties on the remaining US$300 billion in Chinese products to 15 per cent from 10 per cent.China responded to the latest developments with hawkish pieces in its state-run media, with the official party mouthpiece People's Daily describing Trump's newest levies as "barbaric"."This kind of provocation only harms others and does not benefit anyone, and has already approached the limits of what the American people can tolerate," the commentary said.This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2019 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 05:30:00 -0400
  • UPDATE 9-Iran's Zarif leaves G7 talks, unclear if progress made to ease tensions

    Iran's foreign minister made a flying visit for talks with host France at the G7 summit on Sunday, as Paris ramped up efforts to ease tensions between Tehran and Washington, a dramatic diplomatic move that the White House said had surprised them. European leaders have struggled to tamp down the brewing confrontation between Iran and the United States since Trump pulled Washington out of Iran's internationally-brokered 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on the Iranian economy.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 05:20:58 -0400
  • Trump, UK's Johnson discuss Huawei on G7 sidelines news

    U.S. President Donald Trump and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed Huawei and 5G technology at a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of a G7 summit in France on Sunday, the White House said. "The President and Prime Minster also addressed global security issues of mutual concern, especially Iran’s threat to freedom of navigation in the Gulf, tensions in Hong Kong, 5G and Huawei, and instability in Libya and the Sahel region," the White House said in a statement.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 04:59:22 -0400
  • At G7 summit, Trump offers Brexit Britain a "very big" trade deal

    U.S. President Donald Trump promised a big trade deal for post-Brexit Britain to Boris Johnson on Sunday and praised the new prime minister as the right man to take Britain out of the European Union. Johnson, who faces a delicate task of assuaging European allies while not angering Trump at a G7 summit in France, said trade talks with the United States would be tough but there were huge opportunities for British businesses in the U.S. market.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 04:51:41 -0400
  • Trump, UK's Johnson discuss Huawei on G7 sidelines

    U.S. President Donald Trump and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed Huawei and 5G technology at a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of a G7 summit in France on Sunday, the White House said. "The President and Prime Minster also addressed global security issues of mutual concern, especially Iran’s threat to freedom of navigation in the Gulf, tensions in Hong Kong, 5G and Huawei, and instability in Libya and the Sahel region," the White House said in a statement.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 04:47:50 -0400
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