Sign In   |   Sign Up   |   Contact Us

International News

  • 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
  • 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 and targeted the Hezbollah Brigades faction, also known as Brigade 45. 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 13:57:00 -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 13:54:33 -0400
  • AP Interview: Sudan PM seeks end to country's pariah status news

    Sudan's new prime minister says in an interview that ending his country's international pariah status and drastically cutting military spending are prerequisites for rescuing a faltering economy. Abdalla Hamdok, a well-known economist, told The Associated Press on Sunday 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. Hamdok was sworn in last week as the leader of Sudan's transitional government.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 13:17:35 -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
  • US, Japan agree to trade deal at G-7 summit, as Trump says allies 'respect' China tariff war news

    In an unexpected announcement at the Group of 7 summit, President Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said they have agreed in principle to a trade deal following months of negotiations. Trump said that the United States and Japan planned to sign the agreement around the same time as the United Nations General Assembly in New York this September. The deal will focus on "agriculture, industrial tarries and digital trade," per U.S. Trade Rep Lighthizer.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 11:48:00 -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
  • 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 an unexpected and dramatic attempt to break a diplomatic deadlock over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme. Zarif's presence had not been announced and represented a risky attempt by French host Emmanuel Macron to find a way to soothe spiralling tensions between Iran and the United States. Zarif will "continue talks regarding the recent measures between the presidents of Iran and France," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi tweeted, after flight tracking sites spotted that Zarif's plane had landed in Biarritz.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 11:05:56 -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 program 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 a 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 program. 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
  • 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
  • UK's Labour says it is offering other parties "fail safe" way to stop no-deal Brexit

    Britain's opposition Labour Party is offering opponents of a no-deal Brexit a "fail safe" procedure in order to stop that outcome, the party's trade spokesman Barry Gardiner said on Sunday. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is holding a meeting with leaders of other political parties on Tuesday to discuss ways of trying to prevent Prime Minister Boris Johnson taking Britain out of the European Union without a deal at the end of October.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 04:20:52 -0400
  • Trump backs 'right man' Johnson at fractious G7 summit news

    US President Donald Trump on Sunday backed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the "right man" for Brexit as the two leaders held a warm first meeting at a G7 summit marked by tensions over trade and worries about the Amazon. Johnson and Trump were on obviously friendly terms as they sat down for a working breakfast in the southern French resort of Biarritz where Group of Seven leaders have gathered this weekend. "He's going to be a fantastic prime minster," Trump said in their first face-to-face meeting since Johnson took office last month.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 03:47:03 -0400
  • UPDATE 5-Trump caught off guard as Iran's Zarif lands in G7 summit town

    Iran's foreign minister flew into the French resort hosting a G7 summit on Sunday, an unexpected twist to a meeting already troubled by differences between U.S. President Donald Trump and Western allies over a raft of issues, including Iran. A White House official said France's invitation to Mohammad Javad Zarif for talks on the sidelines of the meeting in the Basque beachside town of Biarritz was "a surprise", and there were no immediate plans for U.S. officials to meet him.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 02:50:17 -0400
  • First Jet-On-Jet Kill? That Accolade Goes to the Navy's F9F Panther news

    Instead, Amen made aviation history by scoring the first air-to-air victory in an all jets dogfight when he downed Grachev’s MiG-15.The Korean war, that raged for three years from Jun. 25, 1950 to Jul. 27, 1953, saw the first widespread use of jet engine-powered fighter aircraft for both sides of a conflict.This article first appeared last month.These machines brought the air combat to a new, more faster and more lethal level. In fact the jet engines offered a significant increase in performance over the last piston engines, such as higher top speed, twice the cruise speed, greater ceiling and sustained climb rate. During the Korean War the fighter jets were deployed not only by the U.S. and their allies, but also by the North Korea and China and eventually some of these jets were flown by Russian pilots.The first air-to-air combat between fighter jets took place on Nov. 8, 1950 when, during an attack on the Sinuiju bridges near the mouth of the Yalu River, a U.S. Air Force F-80C belonging to the 16th Fighter Squadron encountered a MiG-15. The subsequent dogfight saw the Shooting Star pilot, 1st Lt. Russel Brown, claiming the first victory ever in a jet-Vs-jet engagement. although decades later was discovered that his Russian opponent returned to base safely, as reported by Barrett Tilman and Henk van der Lugt in their book VF-11/111 Sundowners.However the first jet-Vs-jet victory in history wasn’t too far, since it was scored by Lt. Cdr. William T. Amen, the commanding officer of VF-111 Sundowners, the following day. In fact on Nov. 9, 1950, another attack against the Sinuiju bridges took place, this time conducted by the U.S. Navy aircraft launched from the USS Philippine Sea (CV-47) aircraft carrier.The MiG-15s from 139th GvIAP (Guards Fighter Air Regiment), responsible for protecting the Sinuiju bridges, were scrambled to intercept the U.S. attack aircraft, with Capt. Mikhail Grachev leading the 1st Squadron into combat. As the MiGs reached the American aircraft, attacking before Corsair and Skyraider fighter bombers, the combat became a dogfight in and out the clouds.In the midst of the furball Amen who was Leading the Flying Target CAP (Combat Air Patrol) in a VF-112 Grumman F9F-2B Panther (it was not unusual in fact that for maintenance requirements the two Panther squadrons on the same ship flew one another’s aircraft interchangeably, and the VF-112 was the VF-111 sister squadron onboard the Philippine Sea) checked his tail and noticed an unidentified aircraft closing. He immediately turned his VF-111 section towards the bogey. The MiG, which was driven by Grachev, after having performed a climb from 4,000 to 15,000ft, yawed trying to find the F9Fs. In doing this Grachev allowed Amen and its wingman George Holloman not only to reduce the distance from him, but also to open fire against his MiG, which was hit by both US pilots.Grachev started a vertical dive that Amen could not easily follow. Nevertheless, despite his Panther entered buffet since it approached the terminal velocity forcing him to fight rudder reversal, Amen was able to fire as the MiG crossed his sight, scoring more 20mm rounds into the target.At about 3,000 ft both Grachev and Amen started to pull-through, with the latter being able to recover his Panther at only 200 ft. During this heavy G maneuver Amen lost sight of the MiG, but Holloman saw it hitting a hillside, erupting in a huge fireball, with no chance for Mikhail Grachev to survive.After the combat, Russians believed they have downed at least five or six American aircraft, but because of the disorganized flying of the 139th GvIAP, none of the US aircraft were lost during the action.Instead Amen made aviation history by scoring the first air-to-air victory in an all jets dogfight when he downed Grachev’s MiG-15.Noteworthy in 2007 the Sundowners were re-designated VFC-111 (with VFC standing for Fighter Composite Squadron) and since then they flew the Northrop F-5N Tiger II, providing Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) for all U.S. Navy and Marine Corps fleet replacement squadrons. Ironically, after having downed the first MiG in the first jet vs jet combat, the Sundowners fly reproducing the flight characteristics of the enemies they contributed to defeat.This article by Dario Leone originally appeared on The Aviation Geek Club in 2016.Image: Wikimedia.(This article was originally published earlier this year and is being republished due to reader interest.)

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 02:45:00 -0400
  • Inside Macron’s Plan to Control G-7 and Lecture Trump on Climate

    (Bloomberg) -- On the edge of a rocky cliff reaching into the Atlantic, Emmanuel Macron stood ready to point his guests toward the white lighthouse where he was about to sit his fellow Group of Seven leaders down to a serious talk about the climate, over glasses of champagne.Last in was Donald Trump, who doesn’t drink alcohol, doesn’t enjoy being lectured to (especially about the environment) and who, in spite of an outwardly amicable two-hour lunch with his host, suspected the French president might be trying to outwit the U.S. with his summit choreography.And he’s not exactly wrong to be worried.Macron had ripped up the script before anyone even landed in the seaside resort of Biarritz: picking a fight with Brazil over Amazon forest fires, surprising the Europeans with a threat to block a trade deal with Latin America, and keeping allies guessing about what trick he would pull next.The secrecy extended to the dinner that followed on Saturday night. Normally aides would be able to listen in to the leaders’ conversation from an adjacent room. Not this time. The French say their plan was to have a G-7 more like the intimate versions of the 1970s, when heads of state could talk frankly without handlers over a glass of brandy.At the table, the Amazon fires occupied the bulk of the meal before the dialogue segued to Iran, Ukraine and Russia. According to French officials, points of convergence were found. On Sunday, the economy was the focal point.Global ThreatsWith mounting threats to the global economy, divisions over Iran, and the Amazon fires creating a sense of crisis about the environment, the French organizers also want to avoid leaks that could lead to the kind of public bust-ups that have marred other recent international gatherings. For better or worse, G-7 meetings are a critical institution when it comes to addressing truly worldwide problems.What the French hosts can’t control is a U.S. leader who already seems on edge, after spending Friday lashing out at the Federal Reserve and China as the trade war he began risks tipping the world into recession.In Chancellor Angela Merkel’s view, Trump came to the summit weakened by the possible economic consequences of the trade dispute with China, according to a senior German official.U.S. ComplaintsAs soon as they landed, U.S. officials complained that Macron was trying to fashion the weekend’s agenda to isolate Trump, framing it around climate change and straying from the G-7’s original purpose as an economic bloc. French officials at every level had been difficult to deal with in preparation for the summit, the Americans said.They accused the French of ignoring U.S. input and then blaming Washington for blocking consensus. It was an attack that caught the French off-guard. Macron’s officials disputed the account, pointing out that the first item on the agenda when Sunday’s work sessions get under way will be trade and the global economy, Trump’s main priority.The cracks are showing, even as Macron tries to paper over them. He grabbed Trump as soon as the U.S. leader arrived and invited him for lunch -- a spur-of-the-moment gesture at an often meticulously-scheduled event. It looked cordial enough, although Trump did slip in that “every so often we go at it a little bit.”Still, in a tweet sent shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday local time Trump praised France, Macron and said his dinner with other leaders “went very well.”It never gets easier to deal with Trump, the German official said. Merkel always invites him to Germany when she sees him and he always accepts. But nothing comes of it; Trump’s main visit to Germany as president was for a G-20 summit in July 2017.Softening Up TrumpIn the opening maneuvers in Biarritz, the German official said, European leaders will be trying to soften Trump up so that he’ll be more responsive to their key message -- that his trade war is hurting all of them.But how to deliver that message in a way that it can be heard? Macron has already shelved the one-communique format in favor of statements on various things the leaders can agree on, but which U.S. officials saw as niche matters.French officials said Macron wanted to ease his conflicts with Trump over climate, trade and a new French tax that hits U.S. internet giants. But his main play was over Iran.Over lunch, Macron suggested a proposal allowing Iran to export oil for a limited period of time if it returned to compliance with the nuclear accord and agrees to formal talks. The French side had no comment on Trump’s reaction to the idea, but it would be a comprehensive reversal of his Middle East strategy if he signed up to it. A U.S. official deemed it a non-starter.Hot Mic IncidentMacron’s climate gambit doesn’t look likely to succeed either, and not just because of Trump. His fast-and-furious actions against Brazil were done without consulting his allies and many disagreed with the tactic of linking climate with trade, rather than tackling them separately.A German official said the chancellor found Macron’s knee-jerk reaction unhelpful and Boris Johnson, the newly-minted U.K. prime minister, wasn’t impressed either. “There are all sorts of people who will take any excuse at all to interfere with trade and to frustrate trade deals, and I don’t want to see that,” Johnson told reporters.As they settled down to the talks, a television camera caught a rare example of how high-level diplomacy works. The Europeans were gathered around a table, brainstorming on how to delicately apply pressure on Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to tame the Amazon fires, without antagonizing him all over again.Merkel said she would call him next week “so he gets the impression that we are not working against him.” Johnson nodded vigorously in agreement: “I think this is important.”“Yeah, yeah, I am with you,” said Macron. “Do we call him...?”Moments later, a hand jammed into the lens of the camera, and the feed died.(Adds details from dinner.)\--With assistance from Arne Delfs and Josh Wingrove.To contact the reporters on this story: Helene Fouquet in Biarritz at;Jennifer Jacobs in Biarritz at;Ian Wishart in Biarritz, France at iwishart@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at, ;Flavia Krause-Jackson at, Ben Sills, Ros KrasnyFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 01:49:26 -0400
  • UK Labour's McDonnell privately says party should campaign to prevent Brexit- report

    The finance chief of Britain's main opposition Labour Party has said privately that the party should campaign to prevent Brexit, the Sunday Times newspaper reported John McDonnell has argued that Labour's position should be to revoke article 50 and stop Brexit in its tracks, according to the newspaper. A spokesman for McDonnell cited by the Sunday Times denied the report and dismissed its claims.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 01:08:10 -0400
  • UPDATE 3-Saudi-led coalition says downs Houthi drone fired at airbase

    A Saudi-led military coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen said it downed a drone on Sunday that the Iran-aligned group has said they launched in the direction of a Saudi airbase. "The coalition forces intercepted and downed a drone launched from the city of Sanaa in the direction of Khamis Muchait's residential neighbourhoods," coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki told the official Saudi Press Agency. A Houthi military spokesman cited by the group's Al-Masirah TV earlier said the group had launched drones targeting the control towers of the Abha airport and the Khamis Mushait airbase, both in the southwest of the kingdom.

    Sun, 25 Aug 2019 00:24:50 -0400
  • Why Iraq Is Ripe for Conflict with Israel news

    Israel has a strong military motive to strike such sites.There's plenty of speculation as to who was behind four explosions at Iran-linked sites in Iraq, but no definitive proof. Authorities have yet to conclude that the explosions were all even intentional, but the evidence suggests that either sabotage or airstrikes were involved — and if so, Israel stands at the top of the list of potential culprits. That is leading to suspicions that Israel might be on the verge of expanding its anti-Iran campaign from Syria to Iraq as part of its regional strategy to check the threat of the Islamic republic. But if Israel is considering bringing the fight closer to Iran by expanding its campaign into Iraq, it could find the country far more combustible than even Syria — a quality that would have grave implications for its stalwart American ally and regional peace as a whole.A Case of WhodunitBut first, the incidents in question. An explosion occurred at a Population Mobilization Unit (PMU) base near Amerli in Salahuddin province north of Baghdad on July 19; some local sources blamed the United States and Israel for the incident. Several days later, reports emerged of explosions occurring at another PMU base at Camp Ashraf nearer to the Iranian border. Then, on Aug. 12, a detonation rocked a PMU-linked ammunition depot south of Baghdad near al-Saqr military base. Most recently, on Aug. 20, explosions struck an arms storage facility near Iraq's Balad Air Base, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Baghdad, at sites associated with the PMU. Subsequent satellite photos have indicated that each of these locations suffered significant damage, while some evidence has suggested airstrikes might have caused the destruction. The Iraqi government itself has hesitated in assigning blame, although it said a drone strike caused the Aug. 12 explosion, prompting Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi to threaten to shoot down any plane or aerial vehicle that attempts to conduct another attack.If the evidence proves that the explosions were not accidental, eyes are likely to turn to Israel, in large part because it has a motive, means and opportunity to conduct such operations. Each of the sites has been linked to Iranian ballistic missiles or rockets — whose buildup in Iraq was first reported by Reuters in August 2018. The Aug. 12 incident, for instance, occurred at a stockpile linked to the Sayyid al-Shuhada (League of the Martyrs) militia, closely linked to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iraq's Iran-allied Badr Organization.Israel has a strong military motive to strike such sites. Iran is trying to shift some of its assets to Iraq after repeated Israeli strikes against its equipment in Syria. Iran, which is seeking to increase its influence in Iraq, wants to establish a new front to deter Israeli attacks against its assets. Israel, in turn, has reason to take aggressive action to prevent such a buildup from creating a credible deterrence in a new theater separate from the Lebanese front against Hezbollah.In addition to the military incentives, Israel has a political motive for staging the strikes: Likud, the country's ruling party, is playing up Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's warnings from September 2018 that Israel would take action in Iraq as part of his bid to win nationalist votes in the Sept. 17 elections. That contest will be narrow, and for Likud, every vote will count.  Israel also has the means to stage such strikes. Its intelligence apparatus would be capable of sighting targets or conducting on-the-ground sabotage. The Israeli air force also boasts cutting-edge technology, which it has demonstrated in strikes in Syria against Iranian forces. Finally, the Israelis have the opportunity. The Israelis fly the same aircraft as their U.S. ally, making it harder to track strikes back to Israel directly. This is especially helpful to the Israelis given that the Americans remain active over Iraq in continuing operations against Islamic State remnants. Even if the Iraqis could identify the aircraft as hostile Israeli jets amid the thicket of similar U.S. aircraft, they lack air defenses or an air force capable of stopping many of them — a marked contrast to Syria, where Russian air defenses hamper Israeli operations. Finally, to add to the opportunity, the Iranian buildup in Iraq is still in its early stages: by striking it as it forms, Israel has more chance of hurting Tehran now than it would if it waited until the Iranian presence was firmly established.A Regional Can of WormsIf Israel intends to expand its anti-Iran operations to Iraq, there will be substantial ramifications for Iraq, the United States, Iran and Israel itself. For the Iraqis, Israel's move to bring the fight to its soil will stir up internal political problems that affect Baghdad's foreign relationships, particularly as most Iraqis are loath to see their country become even more of a proxy battleground among Iran, Israel and the United States.In such a scenario, Iraqis of differing political stripes — including nationalists like Muqtada al-Sadr to pro-Iranian actors like Hadi al-Ameri of the Badr Brigade to anti-Iranian demonstrators and politicians, like the anti-Tehran elements of the Basra protest movement and Sunni political parties — will unite to pressure Abdul-Mahdi to prevent such violations of national sovereignty.That pressure, of course, will compound the turmoil in the Iraqi political system, creating diplomatic problems for Baghdad with the two capitals it cannot afford to alienate: Washington and Tehran. Some will seek to penalize the United States, since Iraq cannot directly retaliate against Israel itself. That would complicate America's security relationship with Baghdad and expose U.S. assets in Iraq to retaliation. Such a violent response could come from the PMUs that are targeted in drone or airstrikes, Iranian forces in Iraq or otherwise non-political Iraqi protesters. As a result, U.S.-linked companies and assets could face the ire of anti-U.S. and anti-Israel forces inside Iraq. And while the United States is an obvious target for pro-Iranian forces in Iraq, so too are other countries that are growing closer to Israel, like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. In June, Iraqi demonstrators attacked the Bahrani Embassy in Baghdad after Manama's foreign minister publicly floated the idea of normalizing relations with Israel, and other embassies and assets linked to these states could also become targets. Such anger could also scuttle projects like Saudi Arabia's construction of a massive new stadium in Iraq.If the Local Tide Turns on IranOther factions, however, would blame Iran and pressure Baghdad over its relationship with Tehran. Already, Iranian-backed PMUs are irking more nationalist, Sunni and anti-Iran factions. Despite repeated attempts to bring the PMUs into the Iraqi security fold, the forces continue to resist Baghdad's control, including defiance by most groups of an Aug. 1 order to standardize rules of engagement — upsetting many Iraqis who are wary of their power. Some citizens would likely blame the units' coziness with Iran and its refusal to fully integrate into the Iraqi army as the reason for any Israeli attack. That would subsequently fuel intra-Iraqi tensions, threatening Baghdad's ability to conduct operations against the many militant groups (including the Islamic State) that remain in Iraq, in addition to hurting the relationship with Iran.If Israeli forces were to begin a sustained campaign against Iraqi-based Iranian assets, it would create problems for the Islamic republic beyond the mere loss of proxies and materiel in its western neighbor. For one, it would seriously strain the credibility of Iran's regional strategy to use proxies other than Hezbollah to deter Israel. That, consequently, would have domestic ramifications at home: the expeditionary wing of the IRGC, the Quds Force, would face challenges if it fails to produce results against Israel it has promised. And then there's the prospect of a greater conflagration with the United States that Iran must worry about. Should Iraqi anger against Israel rise sufficiently to inspire attacks on U.S. forces or assets, U.S. retaliation may even drag Iran into a proxy conflict that could culminate in a wider U.S.-Iranian war. Since Iran does not exert total control over all its Iraqi proxies (many of which follow their own domestic agendas), this presents a potent risk going ahead, especially if Israeli strikes kill large numbers of Iraqi civilians or hit particularly sensitive targets belonging to the PMUs. Even in the absence of a regional war, there is a distinct possibility that Iran could find itself in a high-stakes proxy conflict with Israel in Iraq. What It Would Mean for IsraelFinally, for Israel, the successful expansion of its front to Iraq would embolden its anti-Iran strategy — especially as it enjoys the firm backing of the current White House. The country may be encouraged to consider more assertive action against Iran beyond Iraq; one option includes intelligence operations in Yemen, where the Houthis are becoming more integral to Iran's regional strategy (as evidenced most recently by a Houthi donation to increasingly cash-strapped Hezbollah and a high-profile visit to Iran by the rebel group's leaders). Israel is concerned about Yemen out of fear that the Houthis could target Israeli shipping passing through the Bab el-Mandeb, the waterway between Yemen and Djibouti. Closer Houthi-Iranian connections, as well as a desire to build relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which oppose the Houthis, have also encouraged Israel to expand its intelligence sharing in Yemen with the Saudi-led coalition. Nevertheless, any Israeli action in Iraq comes with high risk given the possibility that it could ignite a regional war. Killing a high-value target, causing large numbers of civilian casualties or simply fomenting a high degree of local anger against itself or the United States are all factors that could lead to attacks against U.S. forces or assets, destabilizing Iraq and potentially causing Washington to respond in a way that drags the region into war. Israel has managed to carry out much of its anti-Iran strategy in Syria without causing that major conflagration, but if it is to launch a similar campaign in Iraq, it will likely encounter many new, uniquely Iraqi, hazards. Editor's Note: After this assessment was published, reports in The New York Times and Associated Press quoted anonymous U.S. government sources as confirming that Israel was behind strikes targeting Iranian-linked assets in Iraq. Why Iraq Could Be the Next Regional Powder Keg is republished with the permission of Stratfor Worldview, a geopolitical intelligence and advisory firm.Image: Reuters.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 23:30:00 -0400
  • The Question India and Pakistan Don't Want to Ask the Residents of Disputed Kashmir news

    If the CIA is watching India and Pakistan now, it will have to do better than it did in 1998.In 1998, the CIA subjected India to strict surveillance to ensure it was complying with its commitment not to test nuclear weapons. The agency used satellites, communications intercepts and agents to watch the nuclear facility at Pokhran in Rajasthan state. India could not detonate warheads, which would inevitably lead Pakistan to follow suit, without the United States knowing in advance. Or so the United States thought.Washington went into shock on May 11, 1998, when Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced that his country had just detonated not one, but five nuclear warheads at Pokhran. "India is now a nuclear power state," Vajpayee declared. R. Jeffrey Smith reported two days later in The Washington Post that CIA analysts responsible for monitoring India’s nuclear program "had not expected the tests and were not on alert, several officials said. They were, according to one senior official, asleep at their homes and did not see the (satellite) pictures until they arrived at work in the morning." U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby called the negligence "the biggest failure of our intelligence-gathering agencies in the past 10 years or more." Pakistan responded by testing five of its nuclear bombs on May 28. Pandora’s box was wide open, threatening mass destruction to the Asian subcontinent if the Pakistani and Indian armies squared off along the Line of Control that separated their forces in the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir. That happened a year later when Pakistani paramilitaries masquerading as indigenous Kashmiri rebel jihadists penetrated the Line of Control in Kashmir’s Kargil region. The Indian army confronted them, and U.S. intelligence detected Pakistan moving tactical nuclear weapons onto the battlefield. American diplomat Bruce Reidel wrote in his informative book, Avoiding Armageddon: America, India, and Pakistan to the Brink and Back, "The last war that India and Pakistan fought, over Kargil, threated to expand to a nuclear conflict." It didn’t go nuclear, following U.S. President Bill Clinton’s demand that Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif withdraw his forces. It was a close call.A Matter of International ConcernIf the CIA is watching India and Pakistan now, it will have to do better than it did in 1998. In 2019, with passions high over India’s abrogation of Kashmir’s legal, if fictitious, autonomy, the outcome would not be waking up to discover one side or the other had tested weapons. It would be the sight of nuclear war taking millions of lives. Although the stakes in Kashmir could not be higher, the United States and much of the international community call the dispute India’s "internal affair" or a "bilateral" issue between India and Pakistan. It isn’t. A potential nuclear conflagration cannot be anything other than a matter of international peace and security. The Indian and Pakistani armed forces possess both strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, which local commanders could use on the battlefield in populated areas. This would be the first use in war of atomic weapons since the U.S. destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.The possibility of the conflict going nuclear may have increased on Aug. 16 when Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh seemed to abandon India’s "no first use" doctrine when he tweeted that "India has strictly adhered to this doctrine. What happens in the future depends on the circumstances." The circumstances are not hopeful. Correspondents for The New York Times in Kashmir reported meeting a herdsman beside his flock in the Kashmiri capital, Srinigar:As a car carrying a reporter slowed down to approach him, he sprang up and jogged to the window."We are ready to pick up guns," he said, unprompted.If the decadeslong armed rebellion in Kashmir grows more intense in response to India’s revocation of the region’s autonomy and its imposition of a total security lockdown, India will blame Pakistan, which in years past supported Kashmiri insurgents. Imran Khan, who became Pakistan’s prime minister in August 2018, was not involved in his predecessors’ interference in Indian-controlled Kashmir.Seeking a Moderating VoiceFollowing Modi's clampdown in Kashmir, Khan has sought mediation support from U.S. President Donald Trump (who had offered to mediate when he met Khan at the White House in July), the United Nations, fellow Muslim leaders and countries that might influence Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His pleas, he recently told me over the telephone, fell on deaf ears. His problem is how to avoid war while defending the people of Kashmir, who are overwhelmingly Muslim in India’s only Muslim-majority state. Muslims throughout India, who have been subjected to new tests to prove their right to citizenship, are living in fear of Modi’s Hindu nationalist government.India and Pakistan came to blows last February, following an insurgent attack on Indian troops in Kashmir. The Pakistanis downed an Indian fighter jet and captured its pilot, Abhinandan Varthaman. When Khan returned the Indian pilot on March 1, Modi did not acknowledge his conciliatory gesture. Nor has his government been willing to discuss Kashmir, whose people were promised a plebiscite on their future by India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1947. The vote never took place, but several wars have. The question is, what do the people of Kashmir — those in the Indian-held two-thirds of the region, the Pakistani-held western third and the Hindu Kashmiris who were expelled from their homes in 1947 and are still officially displaced — want? No one is asking them, but that may be the only way to save them, and the world, from nuclear war.The Question That Never Gets Asked About Kashmir is republished with the permission of Stratfor Worldview, a geopolitical intelligence and advisory firm.Image: Reuters.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 21:45:00 -0400
  • Hezbollah: Israeli drone falls, another explodes over Beirut

    A Hezbollah official said Sunday that an Israeli drone went down over the Lebanese capital of Beirut and another exploded in the air, amid regional tensions between Israel and Iran. Residents of the Iranian-backed group's stronghold in southern Beirut reported one large explosion that shook the area early Sunday, triggering a fire. The Hezbollah official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity as the person was not authorized to speak on the record to journalists.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 21:35:09 -0400
  • Hezbollah official: Israeli drone falls in south Beirut suburbs, second drone crashes

    An Israeli drone fell in the southern suburbs of Beirut, dominated by the Iran-backed movement, and a second drone exploded near the ground before dawn on Sunday, a Hezbollah official told Reuters. The second drone caused damage when it crashed in a neighbourhood of the Dahyeh suburbs close to Hezbollah's media centre, the official said.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 20:48:38 -0400
  • North Korea’s Kim Guides Test Fire of New Rocket Launcher

    (Bloomberg) -- North Korea’s Kim Jong Un guided a test fire of a newly developed super-large multiple rocket launcher on Saturday, setting the stage for one of the busiest weekends for missile firings since talks began with U.S. President Donald Trump more than a year ago.The test firing comes after South Korea’s Defense Ministry said the same day North Korea launched two ballistic missiles, which Japan’s Coast Guard said had landed outside the country’s exclusive economic zone. “The test-fire proved that all the tactical and technological specifications of the system correctly reached the preset indexes,” state news agency KCNA said, without specifying if that’s similar to the launches reported by South Korean and Japanese officials.The missiles were launched from south Hamgyong in North Korea, the ministry said. The KCNA report didn’t say where the launcher was located.Kim’s regime has conducted a series of short-range ballistic missile tests in recent weeks as he seeks a more favorable negotiating framework in nuclear talks with Trump. The U.S. leader has said the tests shouldn’t disrupt talks, so long as Kim doesn’t launch longer-range missiles that could strike America.Trump and Kim first met in June 2018 in Singapore, followed by a second summit earlier this year in Hanoi that was abruptly cut short, jeopardizing talks on North Korea’s nuclear program. The two promised to restart working-level talks during their unprecedented June 30 meeting at the Demilitarized Zone.South Korea’s presidential office expressed deep concern over North Korea’s continued missile launches, despite the fact that joint drills between the U.S. and South Korea had finished, according to a text message. It urged North Korea to halt action that raises military tension in the peninsula.North Korea has issued several statements in recent days saying that military moves by the U.S. and South Korea are making it more difficult for the country to participate in talks. On Friday, North Korea’s top diplomat accused Secretary of State Michael Pompeo of undermining negotiations, even as Trump’s nuclear envoy, Stephen Biegun, was in Seoul.Related story: North Korea Testing Missiles Faster Than Days of ‘Fire and Fury’(Adds more details starting in fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Maria Jose Valero in New York at mvalero3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Polina Noskova at, Linus Chua, James LuddenFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 19:02:03 -0400
  • Israel says it thwarts imminent Iranian attack from Syria

    The Israeli military attacked targets near Damascus late Saturday in what it said was a successful effort to thwart an imminent Iranian drone strike on Israel, stepping up an already heightened campaign against Iranian military activity in the region. The late-night airstrike, which triggered Syrian anti-aircraft fire, appeared to be one of the most intense attacks by Israeli forces in several years of hits on Iranian targets in Syria. Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, said Iran's Revolutionary Guards' Al Quds force, working with allied Shiite militias, had been planning to send a number of explosives-laden attack drones into Israel.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 18:11:04 -0400
  • Johnson Seeks Legal Advice on Closing Parliament: Observer news

    (Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked Attorney General Geoffrey Cox if parliament can be shut down for five weeks starting early next month, the Observer reported, citing a leaked email from senior government advisers to an adviser in No. 10 Downing Street.The move appears to be part of a concerted plan to stop House of Commons lawmakers from further extending the Brexit deadline, according to the newspaper, which said the correspondence was written over the last 10 days.The period Johnson is asking about covers Sept. 9 to mid-October, by which time it would be too late for MPs to derail the Brexit process.The claim that the government is considering proroguing parliament in September in order to stop MPs debating Brexit is entirely false, a government spokesman said.It would be rare for any prime minister to try to bring a session of parliament to a premature close, known as proroguing, solely for strategic reasons. The issue has developed into a potential flashpoint since Johnson became premier and started openly pushing for the U.K. to leave the European Union without a deal on Oct. 31.Some members of Johnson’s Conservative Party, including former Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, have been plotting how to stop the country crashing out of the bloc. John Bercow, the House of Commons Speaker responsible for parliamentary procedure, reportedly told an audience this month that he would use “every bone in my body” to stop Johnson suspending parliament.(Adds government reaction)To contact the reporter on this story: Maria Jose Valero in New York at mvalero3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Polina Noskova at, James Ludden, Ros KrasnyFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 17:50:40 -0400
  • UPDATE 1-North Korean leader Kim oversaw test of 'super-large multiple rocket launcher' - KCNA

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the test of a "super-large multiple rocket launcher" on Saturday, state news agency KCNA reported on Sunday. North Korea fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea off its east coast, the South Korean military said, the latest in a series of launches in recent weeks amid stalled denuclearisation talks. Photos released by North Korean state media showed rockets launching from large tubes mounted on the back of an eight-wheel vehicle.

    Sat, 24 Aug 2019 17:39:01 -0400
Data by Localeze
Powered by Intelligenx