Thursday, August 13, 2015

Today's links

1--Syria: 'ceasefire' signals Great Power carve-up?
2--For WaPo's Erin Cunningham "It Never Happened"
At $1 billion, Syria-related operations account for about $1 of every $15 in the CIA’s overall budget, ...

U.S. officials said the CIA has trained and equipped nearly 10,000 fighters sent into Syria over the past several years — meaning that the agency is spending roughly $100,000 per year for every anti-Assad rebel who has gone through the program.
Secret CIA effort in Syria faces large funding cut
Greg Miller and Karen DeYoung, Washington Post, June 12 2015
3--What Washington has called a “game changer” -- the agreement to use İncirlik Air Base

The facts regarding the Syrian theater leave little doubt that, given an apparent “mutual understanding” between Washington and Damascus, the Syrian air force already “respects” a de-facto no-fly zone by not attacking targets in northern Syria.....

But questions abound: Even if not entering foreign soil, who will protect this zone and how? Will Turkey, which has so far refused any international humanitarian aid and aid workers, allow cooperation? How will ISIL and other deadly radical groups be prevented from penetrating the borders of the zone? What will the role of the only efficient ground force, the YPG, be? What if Russia, Iran and even China object to such an implementation? So on and so forth.

All these questions lead to only one conclusion: Davutoğlu has in mind the political position of his party and its rattled stance at home, and is issuing rhetoric aimed at reinforcing domestic backing...

As the geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer told Business Insider, “If Turkey keeps going after the PKK while not trying to provoke ISIS [ISIL], it will leave the US without a Syria strategy

4---AKP’s silence on ISIL

As the new Republican People's Party (CHP) report on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has shown again, Turkey is known for harboring ISIL terrorists.....

both ISIL and al-Qaeda have been freely operating in different Turkish cities. Wounded ISIL terrorists receive medical help in Turkish hospitals. It has been reported that ambulances secretly carry ISIL terrorists from Turkey to Syria. In every poor conservative neighborhood, young people have been recruited to ISIL. The CHP report has focused on the Kurdish city of Adiyaman to highlight this fact. But also, many people have gone to Syria to fight with ISIL from many neighborhoods of İstanbul. Some of these youngsters leave with a contract and return after “working” six months for ISIL. They freely talk in their neighborhoods about their adventures in Syria, how much they have been paid and what they have done.

Journalists and opposition politicians can easily reach these youngsters and talk to them. It seems it is only the Turkish intelligence organization and security forces that fail to detect them!

5---Hopes for grand coalition falter amid meddling by President Erdoğan

6--Republicans’ Have A New Plan To Kill Government Employee Unions
7--Blair angry over surge in support for Corbyn ahead of Labour leadership vote

A spokesman for Corbyn has also dismissed the latest warning saying the Blairite faction is disconcerted by their abrupt loss of power. “It is the biggest non-revolutionary upturning of the social order in modern British politics and Blairite have a duty to remain loyal to the Labour party as the left has always done”, Michael Meacher, a former minister and supporter of Corbyn, said

8--US should consider deploying ground troops to Iraq: Army general

9--Afghan delegation in Pakistani capital for talks over bomb attacks
The visit follows an angry speech by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani where he claimed Islamabad was involved in a spate of devastating militant attacks that recently struck the Afghan capital, Kabul.
President Ghani on August 10 alleged that some of the attacks in the Afghan capital were “designed and planned by terrorist groups in Pakistan.”  The Afghan president said “bomb-making factories and training camps” on Pakistani soil continue to send “mercenaries” across the border to kill Afghans.

10--The messy US ‘strategy’ in Syria

What the Turks – and America’s Arab vassals – do want is for Syrian ‘moderate rebels’, jihadists included, to get together and make a decisive play to conquer Aleppo. Syria’s largest city also happens to be Erdogan’s key strategic target. That, according to Ankara and the House of Saud’s wet dreams, would be the beginning of the road towards regime change.
And regime change is exactly what Jubeir spelled out to Lavrov once again in Moscow. Lavrov was polite enough to observe their “differences” over Syria remain – even as Moscow is doing everything possible to facilitate some sort of intra-Syrian dialogue....

Still, it seems Doha yielded a particular important decision; there won’t be a partition of Syria. No imperial Balkanization. If Kerry actually agreed to that, call it a real game-changer.
So a road map now implies a ‘transition’, organized according to a Russian proposal, with input from Iran. That would entail a sort of ‘managed’ departure of Bashar Assad; a real coalition to fight IS, including the Arabs and Iran; and no discrimination against Shia or Alawites in any future Syrian scenario
America’s Arab vassals are still reluctant to admit that the most developed parts of Syria – which support Assad, and/or are defended by Hezbollah and Iran – won’t submit, by weapons or otherwise, to any possible Sunni majority. And this while Damascus remains calm about the whole military and security situation in the capital and environs all the way to the Lebanese border.
At the same time, the House of Saud at least started to listen – in theory – to what Moscow is saying. That includes Putin’s suggestion of a real coalition against IS – not this US/Turkey UFBO - including Damascus, Riyadh and Tehran, as well as Ankara and Amman.
Moscow’s proposal also includes a major regional conference to clear the final hurdles - including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, the UN, US and Russia.
The diplomatic merit of the initiative is obvious. And yet Erdogan chose to spin it in his own reductionist way: “Putin’s current attitude toward Syria is more encouraging than before. He is no longer of the opinion that Russia will support Assad to the end. I believe he can give up Assad.”

11---What the Latest Currency 'War' is All About

When the US embarks on perennial quantitative easing, that's OK. When the EU does QE as well, that's OK. But when the Bank of China decides it's in the best interest of the nation to let the yuan go down a bit instead of infinitely up, that's Armageddon.
It took the Bank of China to devaluate the yuan on two consecutive days — moving within the 2 percent band that it's allowed to — for the proverbial global financial banshees to go completely bonkers.
Forget the hysteria. The heart of the matter is that Beijing has stepped on the gas in a quite complex long game; to liberalize the yuan exchange rate; allow it to free float against the US dollar; and establish the yuan as a global reserve currency....

Just do the math
Having the yuan track close to the US dollar served China very well — until now. QEs in the EU and Japan led to a weaker euro and a weaker yen — while the yuan remained stable against the US dollar.
Translation; since over a year ago, in June 2014, the yuan's real exchange rate has been the world's strongest, increasing by 13.5 percent. That was more than that of the US dollar (12.8 percent).
It was not hard for Beijing to do the math; the strong link with the US dollar was eroding China's competitiveness with top trading partners Japan and Europe...

the IMF itself praised the recent devaluation; "China can, and should, aim to achieve an effectively floating exchange rate system within two to three years."
And the IMF also admits that, "a more market-determined exchange rate would facilitate SDR operations in case the Renminbi were included in the currency basket going forward."
So this is what it's all about; Chinese adjustments with an eye to get the yuan ready to qualify for reserve currency status. The IMF's final decision is expected to be made by the end of 2015 or by the fall of 2016.
An internationalized yuan established as a global reserve currency implies a "market-determined" exchange rate policy. That's what the Bank of China is ultimately aiming at. The rest is a tempest in a (US dollar) teacup

12--China cannot risk the global chaos of currency devaluation
China has nothing to gain from triggering a deflation shock. Its economy is recovering as stimulus builds, creating 1.2m jobs a month

13---China's currency devaluation could spark 'tidal wave of deflation'
Western central banks advised to resist raising interest rates and told to prepare to ward off deflationary slump in face of cheaper Chinese exports

14--Deflation Ice Age Looms After Yuan Move, Albert Edwards Says

“We expect the acceleration of emerging market devaluations to send waves of deflation to the west to overwhelm already struggling corporate profitability and take us back into outright recession,” he wrote.
Renowned for his prescient warning in the late 1990s of an impending Asian crisis, he’s also been telling investors to reduce their holdings in equities for almost 20 years. At the end of 2012 he said the New Year would bring nothing but disappointment, just before U.S stocks proceeded to soar 30 percent.

China Move

The world’s second-biggest economy shocked markets this week by depreciating its currency by the most in two decades, with the goal of aligning the yuan more closely to the market rate. China’s decision to make its goods cheaper for the rest of the world to buy also makes it more difficult for wages and consumer prices to increase globally

15--Departing US army chief says Iraq may have to be partitioned

16--Iran nuclear deal opens diplomatic channels for Syria

Iran has said it is preparing to submit a four-point peace plan proposal for Syria to the United Nations. According to some reports, it includes a "national unity government." That is code for allowing Assad a face-saving period in which he shares power — and elections under international supervision. But it would also bring some prominence to the otherwise marginalized relative moderates who have failed to dislodge Assad militarily.

17--Danger mounts of US/NATO war with Russia

18--Pentagon manual justifies war crimes and press censorship

19--Obama authorizes escalation of US war against Syria

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