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Sat, 22nd July 2017

Anirudh Sethi Report

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Archives of “jordan” Tag

“Islamic State Leader Baghdadi Is Still Alive” Iraq, Kurds Claim

Less than a week after Reuters confirmed a previous report from the Russian foreign ministry, that Islamic State head Aby Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed during an airstrike in Syria, conflicting reports have emerged about Baghdadi’s death, with the Iraqi interior ministry first cited by Al-Arabiya that the terrorist group head is “likely still alive and hiding near Raqqa”, and subsequently a top Kurdish counter-terrorism official echoing the same, and telling Reuters that “he was 99 percent sure that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was alive and located south of the Syrian city of Raqqa, after reports that he had been killed.”

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“Baghdadi is definitely alive. He is not dead. We have information that he is alive. We believe 99 percent he is alive,” Lahur Talabany told Reuters in an interview, adding “don’t forget his roots go back to al Qaeda days in Iraq. He was hiding from security services. He knows what he is doing.”

 By now, however, it no longer matters whether the “leader” is alive or dead: after Iraqi security forces retook Mosul from ISIS control last week, and the group under growing pressure in Raqqa, ISIS is scattered and on the run. If anything, Baghdadi has become a liability to others and himself.

Recall that it was the Islamic State which originally reported Baghdadi’s death, perhaps as a means of easing the blow from the ongoing ISIS failure:

“Daesh organisation (IS) circulated a brief statement through its media in the (IS-held) town of Tal Afar in the west of Mosul, confirming the killing of its leader al-Baghdadi without giving further details,” Xinhua news agency cited Iraqi news agency al-Sumaria News as saying. “Daesh called on the (IS) militants to continue their steadfastness in the redoubts of the caliphate and not being dragged behind the sedition.”

Still, Talabany said the Islamic State was shifting tactics despite low morale and it would take three or four years to eliminate the group. After defeat, Islamic State would wage an insurgency and resemble al-Qaeda on “steroids”, he said. Which likely means more unrest in Europe.

As Reuters also adds, the future leaders of Islamic State were expected to be intelligence officers who served under former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the men credited with devising the group’s strategy.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin which originally reported news of Baghdadi’s death now appears to be backing off, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying the Kremlin has “no precise info on ISIL leader al-Baghdadi’s death”, adding that “conflicting reports on the matter keep coming.”

Russia Dep. UN envoy on possible US strikes in Syria: ‘Negative consequences’

Reuters headline:

  • When asked about possible US strikes in Syria, Russia deputy UN envoy said “think about negative consequences,” citing Iraq, Libya
Reuters add more:
Russia’s deputy U.N. envoy, Vladimir Safronkov
  • “We have to think about negative consequences, negative consequences, and all the responsibility if military action occurred will be on shoulders of those who initiated such doubtful and tragic enterprise” 
  • When asked what those negative consequences could be, he said: “Look at Iraq, look at Libya.”

Oil – “OPEC deal a tough task”

Reuters on all the talk of expectations of an oil output freeze

  • OPEC and non-OPEC nations meet next month
Will we get an output freeze?
  • “Saudi Arabia appears to want higher prices, according to OPEC sources, although Iran, Iraq and Russia present obstacles to a deal”
If so, at what level?
  • “The comments by the Saudi energy minister give a ‎positive indication that they are willing to go for a freeze deal but the question remains: on what level?” said an OPEC source from a key Middle Eastern producer.
  • “Will the freeze be at January levels? And what about Iran‎?And then there is Nigeria, which has lost a lot of production since January,” the source added.
There is more at the Reuters piece; but really it asks more questions than provides answers. (Nothing wrong with that BTW.) I expect plenty more specualation ahead of the meeting and no answers yet.

WikiLeaks: Emails From Hillary’s Server Expose Criminal Clinton Foundation

Wikileaks TruckIn mid-June, WikiLeaks announced that they were preparing “upcoming leaks in relation to Hillary Clinton,” that the information was recovered from the former Secretary of State’s private homebrew server, and that the evidence would be sufficient to indict the beleaguered politician who continues to ride a campaign of Russia-baiting her political opponent Donald Trump to fend off her own historical levels of unpopularity and an unprecedented level of distrust held by the public of her candidacy.

In an interview with RT’s Afshin Rattansi on Friday, WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange opened up about the coming email release acknowledging that the files will implicate the Clinton Foundation if not revive the case dropped by the FBI earlier this year into whether or not she mishandled US state secrets in her role as Secretary of State. 

“Our view is that the evidence that the FBI already has is enough for a grand jury to indict,” explained Assange. “It’s not hard. It is saying that a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich if you order it to, but the prosecutor has to ask the grand jury to indict and if the prosecutor doesn’t ask then the grand jury cannot indict.”

​Assange also pointed to Hillary Clinton’s relations with Saudi Arabia that have led to great angst among Israel, a country that now worries where her allegiances fall in the region. “[Her connection to Saudi Arabia] is extensive. The relations between Hillary and Saudi Arabia. The Clinton Foundation and Saudi Arabia,” opined Assange. “Saudi Arabia is probably the single largest donor to the Clinton Foundation. You can see Hillary’s arms export policies where she was Secretary of State favoring Saudi Arabia extensively.”

Russia Warns US Against Striking Assad

As we reported yesterday, over 50 US State Department officials are now calling for “targeted military strikes” directly against Assad’s Syrian government as a means to defeat ISIS.

The irony of course is that we’ve now come full circle. The US created ISIS in hopes of toppling Assad, and now that the ISIS strategy is losing momentum (due in large part to Russia’ relentless pounding of the group), the US now wants to just fast forward to the end game, which is to take out Assad directly (using ISIS as a reason of course).

What has also emerged is that Saudi Arabia has now grown impatient with the fact that Assad is still in power, and have started to press the US to provide more sophisticated weapons to the rebels. Saudi foreign minister Adel al Jubeir who is visiting the US just confirmed as much yesterday when he said that “Saudi Arabia supports a more aggressive military approach in Syria to get Assad to agree to a political solution.

In response to calls to take this approach, the Obama administration has expressed concern that attacking the Assad regime could lead to a direct conflict with Russia and Iran, which of course is a rational way to view the situation because Russia has been steadfast in its support of Assad’s government, or at least not allowing the US to take it out.

Stunning Satellite Images Of The Global Tanker “Traffic Jams”

One week ago, we showed the latest MarineTraffic update of the unprecedented congestion of crude oil tankers located off the coast of Singapore, together with an extended analysis of what is causing this and what are the implications.

Today, we’ll spare readers the ongoing analysis – which hasn’t changed – and instead present the following dramatic satellite images just released from Reuters, showing “huge traffic jams of tankers which have formed around the world with some 200 million barrels of oil either waiting to be loaded or delivered as ports struggle to cope with record volumes in perhaps the most visible sign of the global oil glut.”

Bin Salman sends mixed signals on oil prices

Saudi Arabian Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman introduces plan to transform the Kingdom

The second-in-line for the Saudi crown is laying out the long-term vision of transforming the country into a broader, modern economy today.

On oil prices, he’s sending some mixed messages. He said the reform plans are based on the oil price assumption of $30 per barrel. But in almost the next breath, he said that it’s almost impossible for oil prices to fall below $30 because of global demand.

WTI is down 36-cents to $43.34 in a choppy session. It fell as low as $42.81 in Europe but bounced to $44.04 at the start of US trading.

The other takeaway from commodities traders is that Saudi Arabia plans to mine further. Bin Salman touted the huge unexploited mining opportunities in the country, including uranium, gold, silver and phosphate.

Isis second in command killed in US raid in Syria, Pentagon says

The Islamic State group’s second-in-command has been killed in a US raid in Syria, defence secretary Ash Carter has announced.

Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli had been a high-profile target. The US Department of State had offered a $7m reward for information on him – the most for any Isis leader apart from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who is valued at $10m.

Abd ar-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli.
“I’m not going to say where or how it was done,” Carter told a press conference at the Pentagon. “I’m simply not going to do that. It is consistent with our strategy there which is to put pressure on Isil every single way we can, from the leadership right down to local supporting forces on the ground.”

He added: “We are systematically eliminating Isil’s cabinet … The second senior Isis leader we’ve successfully targeted this month.”

The first was Omar al-Shishani, known as “Omar the Chechen”– who died after suffering injuries in a US-led coalition strike in north-eastern Syria.

Carter could not confirm whether Qaduli had any connection to this week’sterrorist attacks in Brussels, but said he and others had been part of the “apparatus of Isil” to recruit and motivate foreign fighters.

SNB leaves interest rates unchanged (Full Text )

  • Libor target remains at 0-0.25%
  • will maintain EURCHF peg at 1.200
  • prepared to buy fx in unlimited quantities
  • 2013 growth forecast unch at 1.5-2.0%
  • 2014 growth around 2.0%
  • 2013 inflation forecast -0.2% unch
  • 2014 forecast +0.2% vs +0.3% prev
  • 2015 forecast +0.6% vs +0.7% prev
  • there are signs that economic growth may weaken temporarily in Q4
  • considerable danger of a further build-up of imbalances on mortgage and real estate markets remains considerable
  • continues to monitor situation very closely and regularly assess whether the capital buffer should be adjusted

All as expected with the exception of the Q4 forecast but it does say temporarily. Like I said in my preview it’s a very fine line they’re treading at the moment

Press conference with Thomas Jordan coming up at 09.00 GMT. Live link here

EURCHF slightly higher at 1.2234. USDCHF 0.8874

Full statement here