China imposes ‘reciprocal’ restrictions on US diplomats: spokesperson

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China imposes ‘reciprocal’ restrictions on US diplomats: spokesperson

Xinhua

China on Friday said it had taken “reciprocal” measures on US diplomats in the country.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a press conference that the Chinese side issued a note to the US Embassy in China on Wednesday, informing it of reciprocal measures going into immediate effect.

Hua made the remarks when asked to respond to reports that China had taken countermeasures in response to the previous restrictions imposed on Chinese diplomatic and consular officials posted in the United States.

In October, the United States ordered Chinese diplomats to notify the State Department in advance of any official meetings with US diplomats, local or municipal officials and before any visits to colleges or research institutions.

Asked to confirm reports that US diplomats in China are required to notify the Foreign Ministry five working says in advance of meetings with local officials, Hua said, the countermeasures “are reciprocal to the US State Department’s restrictive measures against Chinese diplomatic and consular officials.”

“We once again urge the US side to correct its mistake, withdraw the decision and provide support and convenience for Chinese diplomatic and consular officials posted in the United States as they fulfill their official duties,” she said.

Hua said China has always supported diplomatic and consular personnel from other countries, including the United States, in carrying out normal official duties according to law.

“We will take appropriate measures in response to US actions,” she said.

Iran: Petrol rationing and price hikes take Iranians by surprise

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AL-JAZEERA NEWS)

 

Petrol rationing and price hikes take Iranians by surprise

Drivers in Iran were caught off-guard by snap plan that includes a steep increase in the cost of motor fuel.

by

Iranians queued at petrol stations after fuel rationing and price hikes were announced [File: Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA/Reuters]
Iranians queued at petrol stations after fuel rationing and price hikes were announced [File: Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA/Reuters]

Tehran, Iran  When 37-year-old apparel retailer Farshad was getting ready to go to sleep just after midnight on Friday, his phone alerts suddenly blew up with social media posts reacting to a government policy that many figured was in the pipeline, but that had still struck without warning.

The government in Iran had announced that – effective immediately – petrol would be rationed and prices would triple.

“I guess we all knew this was happening one way or another, since the government has been reintroducing fuel cards for rationing,” said Farshad, who asked Al Jazeera to withhold his surname to protect his privacy. “But a midnight announcement and this price hike came out of nowhere.”

In the early hours of Friday morning, Iranian state television broad cast a statement by the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company saying petrol will now be rationed across the country using smart fuel cards.

Vehicles for private use are to be restricted to 60 litres (16gal) of fuel monthly, while the price of petrol will jump 50 percent to 15,000 Iranian rials ($0.13 at open market rates) per litre. Any fuel purchases in excess of allotted rations will incur an additional charge of 30,000 rials ($0.26) per litre.

‘We’re all drowning’

In early May, after hardline Iranian news websites reported that fuel rationing was imminent, long queues formed at petrol stations all over the country.

Friday’s news was not telegraphed in advance, but people still started queueing at petrol stations. Though the price hike was immediate, any unused monthly ration quotas can be saved for up to six months.

Petrol in Iran – the world’s number five oil producer – is cheaper than in most countries. That could bolster justifications for a price hike, given the beating that Iran’s budget has sustained since the administration of United States President Donald Trump started applying its “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions on Iran over a year ago.

Still, as many Iranians pointed out on social media, average incomes are too low to comfortably absorb the fuel price hike.

“I wish economic austerity wasn’t only for average people. That way this would hurt less,” wrote a journalist on her Instagram account. “We’re all drowning, it’s only a matter of time.”

Iranians, especially those getting by on low- and middle-income wages, have taken a massive hit due to a currency crisis and an inflationary wave that formed on the back of US sanctions imposed after the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

‘At the expense of the people’

The government of President Hassan Rouhani has tried to reassure the general public that the initiative is meant to help improve peoples’ quality of life.

Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, head of the Plan and Budget Organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran, announced that the revenues from the initiative will be distributed among 18 million households – about 60 million people – in the form of monthly cash handouts.

A family of five or more will receive 2.05 million rials (around $18). This is separate from the 445,000 rials ($3.90) that each household member is eligible to receive under Iran’s long-running monthly state cash subsidies plan.

According to the Rouhani administration, not a single rial yielded from the rationing initiative will go to government coffers.

“The government is doing it differently this time, but it still feels like they’re trying to make up for their deficits at the expense of the people,” said Saeed, a 48-year-old architect who asked Al Jazeera to withhold his surname.

“And whenever gasoline prices go up, prices of other goods go up, too, so I doubt the cash handouts will be able to make up for it,” he told Al Jazeera.

‘Can afford less fuel’

The populist administration of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2007 rationed gasoline and increased prices, but that move failed to curb rampant fuel smuggling or decrease consumption.

Some Iranians on social media have pointed to the irony of a 2015 tweet by President Rouhani, in which he said, “Gasoline offered at two prices created corruption, so we unified the prices”.

Iran has some of the largest energy reserves in the world, but due to limited refining capacity – and sanctions that limited the supply of spare parts for plant maintenance – it has for years faced an uphill battle in meeting its domestic fuel needs.

Despite the public dissatisfaction and anger, some Iranians still hold out hope that a silver lining may emerge from the rationing scheme if fewer people are driving. Tehran has been battling smog and air pollution for the past week that led to the closure of schools.

“People are under so much pressure,” said 27-year-old Tehran resident Anahid, who asked that his surname be withheld. “But there’s no denying this pollution and traffic either, so maybe more people will turn to public transport if they literally can afford less fuel.”

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

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China lifts restrictions on US poultry imports

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

China lifts restrictions on US poultry imports

Xinhua

China has lifted restrictions on the import of poultry products from the United States, according to a joint statement of the General Administration of Customs and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Thursday.

In a bid to ward off the flu epidemic and protect China’s poultry production, China banned the import of poultry and related products from the United States after avian influenza outbreaks occurred in some parts of the United States in 2013 and 2014.

The United States actively took preventive and control measures afterward, and no new cases have been reported in the United States since March 2017. The United States submitted a report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) to close the event in August 2017.

At the invitation of the US side, a Chinese team of experts visited the United States in July 2017 to conduct a field assessment of avian influenza prevention and control systems and poultry meat surveillance measures.

In May 2018, China and the United States held consultations on this issue. After a comprehensive assessment, China believes that the avian flu epidemic in the United States has been effectively controlled, and the country’s poultry meat regulatory system meets the requirements of relevant laws and regulations in China.

The poultry industry in the United States is relatively developed, with its poultry output ranking first in the world, said officials with the General Administration of Customs and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

After lifting the restrictions on US poultry products, China’s poultry import source will be further expanded so as to meet market demands effectively, the officials said.

Trump Orders U.S. Companies Out Of China?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

BIARRITZ, France — President Trump asserted on Saturday that he has the authority to make good on his threat to force all American businesses to leave China, citing a national security law that has been used mainly to target terrorists, drug traffickers and pariah states like Iran, Syria and North Korea.

As he arrived in France for the annual meeting of the Group of 7 powers, Mr. Trump posted a message on Twitter citing the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 — a law meant to enable a president to isolate criminal regimes but not intended to be used to cut off economic ties with a major trading partner because of a disagreement over tariffs.

“For all of the Fake News Reporters that don’t have a clue as to what the law is relative to Presidential powers, China, etc., try looking at the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Case closed!”

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

For all of the Fake News Reporters that don’t have a clue as to what the law is relative to Presidential powers, China, etc., try looking at the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977. Case closed!

35.2K people are talking about this

The president’s tweet could further unsettle American companies that still conduct an enormous amount of business with China amid a trade war that has already strained ties. Stock markets fell sharply on Friday after Mr. Trump first raised the prospect of cutting off trade altogether.

The threat came after the Chinese government said it would raise tariffs on American goods in retaliation for the latest levies imposed by Mr. Trump on $300 billion in Chinese imports. Mr. Trump vowed hours later to raise tariffs further.

Under the weight of Mr. Trump’s tariff war, China has already fallen from America’s largest trading partner last year to the third largest this year.

China’s commerce ministry issued a strongly worded statement on Saturday evening warning the United States to turn back from ever-escalating confrontation, but it did not threaten any new trade measures.

“This unilateral and bullying trade protectionism and extreme pressure violate the consensus of the heads of state of China and the United States, violate the principle of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, seriously undermine the multilateral trading system and the normal international trade order,” the Chinese statement said.

China warned that the United States would suffer as a result.

“The Chinese side strongly urges the U.S. side not to misjudge the situation, not to underestimate the determination of the Chinese people, and immediately stop the wrong approach, otherwise all consequences will be borne by the U.S.,” the statement added.

In raising the possibility of forcing American businesses to pull out of China on Friday, Mr. Trump framed it not as a request but as an order he had already issued.

Image
Credit Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times

“Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing our companies HOME and making your products in the USA,” he wrote on Twitter, adding, “We don’t need China and, frankly, would be far better off without them.”

In fact, aides said, no order has been drawn up nor was it clear that he would attempt to do so. Instead, it could be the latest negotiating tactic by a president who favors drastic threats without always following through on them in hopes of forcing partners to make concessions.

Andy Mok, a trade and geopolitics analyst at the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing, said that the Chinese government was coolly assessing the latest American actions.

“In negotiations, and especially in high-stakes negotiations, the side that reacts emotionally generally is the side that does not do well,” he said. “The U.S. side is approaching this from a more emotional side, while China is more calm and calculating.”

Mr. Trump’s threat to invoke the 1977 act to force companies to leave China would be his most recent unorthodox use of authorities that Congress delegated to the presidency for exigent circumstances.

The president previously threatened to use emergency powers to impose tariffs on Mexican goods, unless the Mexican government did more to stop migrants from illegally entering the United States. He backed off after Mexico promised to take tougher action.

His effort to use emergency powers could also be challenged in court, given the restrictions surrounding when it can be invoked.

The International Emergency Economic Powers Act says that if the president decides that circumstances abroad have created “any unusual and extraordinary threat” to “the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States,” the president can declare a “national emergency.” This triggers special authority for the leader to regulate “any transactions in foreign exchange” by Americans.

The law was passed to define and restrain presidential power, which until then had been seen by critics as interpreted too expansively. It has served ever since as the main source of authority for presidents to sanction other countries or individuals in response to specific national security threats, such as the Iranian hostage crisis that began in 1979.

As of March 1, presidents had declared 54 national emergencies under the law, of which 29 were still active, according to the Congressional Research Service. Among others, presidents have used it to target international terrorists, drug kingpins, human rights abusers, cyber attackers, illegal arms proliferators, and multinational criminal organizations.

Presidents relied on the law’s authority when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, when Serbia sent troops into Kosovo in 1998 and when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. Among the countries targeted at various points over the years have been international outliers like North Korea, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Congo and Venezuela.

Seeking to use it in a trade dispute with a country like China would be a drastic departure from its history. But Mr. Trump could make the argument that China’s theft of intellectual property constitutes a national security threat akin to cyber attacks or other nonviolent attacks on American sovereignty.

Credit Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

Mr. Trump came to office criticizing President Barack Obama for abusing his executive authority but has himself asserted new and creative ways of taking action that his predecessors never used.

Among other things, he invoked a related national emergency law to finance parts of his proposed wall along the Mexican border even though Congress explicitly refused to authorize the money. So far, Mr. Trump has successfully rebuffed legal challenges to that decision.

Speaking with reporters before leaving Washington for France, Mr. Trump made clear how much of a priority his trade war with China has become for his presidency.

“This is more important than anything else that we’re working on, just about,” he said.

But he brushed off the stock market drop in reaction to his statements on Friday, saying he was “not at all” responsible and, besides, the markets had gone up substantially since he took office.

“So don’t talk to me about 600 points,” he said, minimizing the drop in the Dow Jones industrial average.

Mr. Trump’s meetings in Biarritz could be tense given the economic uncertainty and his many policy differences with his global counterparts. The American president has become such a dissenter from the international consensus that President Emmanuel Macron of France, the host, has decided even not to bother trying to craft a single joint statement for the first time in the history of the summit.

“This is another G7 summit which will be a difficult test of unity and solidarity of the free world and its leaders,” Donald Tusk, the president of the European Union, told reporters in Brussels.

“There is still no certainty whether the group will be able to find common solutions, and the global challenges are today really serious, or whether to focus on senseless disputes among each other.”

He warned against further economic conflict.

“Trade deals and the reform of the W.T.O. are better than trade wars,” he said, referring to the World Trade Organization. “Trade wars will lead to recession while trade deals will boost the economy.”

After landing in Biarritz, Mr. Trump had lunch with Mr. Macron and the two put on a friendly show for reporters.

“We will be allies, friends,” Mr. Macron said.

Mr. Trump insisted that he and Mr. Macron “actually have a lot in common” and “have been friends a long time.”

“Once in a while we go at it just a little bit,” he added, “not very much.”

Reporting was contributed by Michael D. Shear from Biarritz, Keith Bradsher from Shanghai and Matina Stevis-Gridneff from Brussels.

Follow Peter Baker on Twitter: @peterbakernyt.

China to counter any new US tariffs

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China to counter any new US tariffs

Shine

China’s Commerce Ministry said on Thursday that the country would have to take countermeasures if the United States imposes new additional tariffs on Chinese goods.

This came after the United States threatened an additional tariff of 10 percent on about US$300 billion of Chinese imports.

China’s position is consistent and clear. “Trade wars produce no winners. China does not want a trade war, but it is not afraid of one, and it will fight one if necessary,” Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng told a press conference.

Although the United States announced a plan to postpone the tariff hike on some Chinese goods, any new US tariff hike will lead to an escalation of trade frictions unilaterally, Gao said.

“If the United States acts arbitrarily, China will have to take countermeasures,” he said.

The tariff measures will damage the interests of both China and the United States, and may also have a recessionary impact on the global economy, Gao said.

“If the United States goes ahead willfully, it will have a serious negative impact on US businesses and consumers,” Gao said.

“Some US financial institutions have predicted that the tariffs would cost an ordinary US family US$1,000 a year on average.

“At the same time, the delay in imposing tariffs on some goods fully demonstrate that there are no winners in a trade war,” he said. “If the trade frictions escalate, US consumers and businesses will suffer heavy losses.”

Gao expressed the hope that the US side would stop its erroneous practice of imposing tariffs, meet halfway with China, and find a solution to the problem based on equality and mutual respect.

He said that the US move would pose certain challenges to China’s exports and economy, but the impact is fully controllable in general.

“The Chinese side is confident, determined and capable of meeting various challenges and maintaining the sound and stable development of its economy and foreign trade,” he added.

Chinese and US chief trade negotiators held a phone conversation on August 13 and agreed to hold another phone conversation in two weeks.

“The two negotiating teams have maintained communication,” Gao said.

US and Chinese negotiators are due to meet in September in Washington. The last round of talks in Shanghai in July ended with no indication of progress.

Gao also said Beijing is working on a planned corporate blacklist of “unreliable entities” that might face curbs on their operations but gave no timeline.

China announced plans for that list after Washington imposed curb on sales of US technology to telecom equipment producer Huawei Technologies Ltd.

The United States has imposed 25 percent tariffs on US$250 billion of Chinese products.

China retaliated with its own penalties on US$110 billion of goods from the United States.

China to impose sanctions on US companies in case of arms sales to Taiwan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

China to impose sanctions on US companies in case of arms sales to Taiwan

Xinhua

China on Wednesday urged the United States to immediately cancel the planned arms sales to Taiwan, saying China will take all necessary measures to defend its own interests including imposing sanctions on US companies involved in the planned sales.

The US Defense Department on Wednesday officially notified the US Congress of the plan to sell 66 F-16 fighters and relevant equipment worth around US$8 billion to Taiwan and to provide support.

“China firmly opposes the plan and has lodged solemn representations and protests to the US side,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a press briefing.

The US arms sales plan seriously violated international laws and basic norms governing international relations, as well as the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques, especially the August 17 Communique, Geng said.

“[Such a move] constitutes severe interference in China’s internal affairs, and undermines China’s sovereignty and security interests.”

The spokesman said the Taiwan question concerns China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is associated with China’s core interests. “China has firm determination to safeguard its own national sovereignty, unity and security.”

Geng urged the US side to abide by the one-China principle and relevant provisions laid out in the three China-US joint communiques, “immediately cancel the aforementioned arms sales plan, cease arms sales to Taiwan and sever military ties with the island.”

“Otherwise, all the ensuing consequences will be born by the US side,” Geng added.

China, Trump And Tariffs: My Idea On How To Best Do The Tariffs

China, Trump And Tariffs: My Idea On How To Best Do The Tariffs

 

First, the government of China is no one’s friend just as Putin’s government in Russia nor is the fat little Rocket Man in North Korea. I know that statement will bring a rebuke from Mr. Trump who thinks these guys love him, but then again, he is possibly the world’s biggest idiot. I did not say that the people of these countries are ass-hats like their Leaders and Ours are. I have nothing against the people of these Countries, just their Leaders, and our Leaders.

 

Now, about those tariff’s, this is what I wish our government’s policies were toward China. Personally I believe that the whole world should stop buying anything that has to do with China as long as they have a Communists government in place who seems to think that everything on earth should be theirs to control, including all the land, oceans and air space. When anyone buys anything that is made in China you are feeding their military buildup that they will use to subjugate their own people and the people of the Nations around them.

 

But for a more doable emmediate tariff policy I believe the following approach should be adopted. Instead of having a trade war with China via tariff’s I believe that our government should only put tariffs on products that are coming into the U.S. from companies who have outsourced jobs that used to be here in our Country.  Including to China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Mexico or any other Nation. For the purpose of an example let us use General Motors. If General Motors wants into the Chinese market for the purpose of making vehicles for the Chinese market I have no problem with that at all. But, if they take jobs away from our people and then want to sell in our market I believe that our government needs to put a 100% tariffs on all of those imports. Make it very un-profitable for the company to take away American jobs if they want to sell to our market. This program would keep American companies from closing factories here and it would force the companies who have closed shops here to reinvest in our Nation, not an enemy Nation like China.

 

As I said earlier, the people of China are not our enemy, but their government damn sure is. And, in my opinion, companies who have outsourced American jobs for the sole purpose of higher profits should be treated as enemies of the American people. If you have noticed, when a company closes shop here in the States and moves to a “cheaper” place to make their products they never ever lower the prices they sell their products for. If a company made a product here in the States and sold it for $20 then they close shop here and move to China they still sell the product for $20, the name of the game is all and only about profits, to hell with the people, they only want your money. We need to quit giving it to them. Force them to move back here, if they refuse then tariff the hell out of them and also sell all of their stock, don’t allow it to be sold on the U.S Stock Exchange, bankrupt their asses. If our Leaders really want to put America, then prove it!

Inside Iran: What Iranians think of stand-off with US

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Inside Iran: What Iranians think of stand-off with US

Media caption Inside Iran: Iranians on Trump and the nuclear deal

As tensions rise between Iran, the US and its allies, the BBC has been given rare access to Iran.

Iranians remain furious that US President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal last year and has imposed crushing sanctions on the country.

BBC correspondent Martin Patience, along with cameraman Nik Millard and producer Cara Swift, have been in Tehran and the holy city of Qom, talking to Iranians about the escalating crisis.

While in country, recording access was controlled – as with all foreign media the team was accompanied by a government representative at all times.

Tehran hills
Image caption The hills provide respite from the heat and the pollution that choke Tehran

Even in the sweltering summer months, you can still see snow on the towering peaks of the Alborz mountains that form the stunning backdrop to the Iranian capital.

Tehran’s wealthiest suburbs cling to the slopes, which provide respite from the heat and the pollution that choke this city of almost nine million people.

At the weekends, many Iranians – young and old – take to the trails with their rucksacks and hiking sticks to leave the city behind them. But even up in the clean mountain air there is no escape from the US sanctions.

“Who’s not suffering?” asks one man rhetorically. As if to make the point, he shows me his climbing clip, hanging from his belt. It now cost four times what it did a year ago.

Donald Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran last year after he unilaterally pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers.

The US president said the previous deal was too generous to Iran and gave the country a free hand to develop ballistic missiles and meddle in the Middle East.

Mr Trump wants to use “maximum pressure” to force Iran back to the negotiating table. Many fear it could lead to conflict.

Iran is furious. It feels betrayed by the US and abandoned by European countries that still support the deal – the UK, France and Germany.

America’s decision has strengthened the hardliners here who say that Washington should never have been trusted in the first place. That mistrust of the US (and the UK) runs deep in Iran.

Hadi (red shirt, on the right)
Image caption Hadi (right) says the US sanctions have united Iranian liberals and conservatives

“We Iranians have a very long history, and we’re always standing up against difficulties,” says Hadi, who runs one of the small cafes that offer refreshments to passing hikers.

His cafe is half-built, there is a tarpaulin for a roof, but he invites me inside for tea and fruits – cherries, apricots and watermelon.

Hadi says that the Americans thought the sanctions would lead to rioting and the Iranian government would have no choice but to compromise.

But he says the sanctions have done the exact opposite uniting both liberals and conservatives across the country.

“We have national unity here, and the more difficult the situation the more united the people become.”

Media caption The BBC’s James Landale went to Tehran’s Grand Bazaar last November to see what people think of the stringent sanctions

Away from the mountains and down below in the hazy fog of Tehran’s sprawling southern suburbs is where sanctions are being felt hardest.

It is a maze of narrow alleyways and homes piled on top of each other. This is where Iran’s working classes live.

They were already on the margins before sanctions but the past year has tipped many of them over the edge.

Food prices have more than doubled and because the economy is slumping many are struggling to find work and make ends meet.

“I’m not sure what Donald Trump gains by hurting us,” said Zohreh Farzaneh, a mother-of-three who folds clothes for living. She makes about $2 (£1.60) a day.

She says the sanctions have plunged her family into poverty and that she can no longer afford meat for family or an inhaler for her asthma.

She’s sending her 11-year-old son to a charity so that he can get at least one decent meal a day. The humiliation that she feels at having to ask for help pains her.

“We thank god that we have a piece of bread and cheese to eat,” she told me. “At least we have peace in Iran – there’s no war.”

Every Iranian I spoke to on this 10-day trip believed it was unlikely there would be a war with the United States, despite tensions escalating after the US blamed Iran for attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and Iran shot down of a US surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran’s former Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Sheikholislam said that was because it war was in neither country’s interest.

“There is not going to be a war. Of course, it’s possible somebody will make a mistake. But we do not want a war.

“And I believe that Mr Trump understands a war is not in his favour because a war against us means dead American soldiers – and he is not ready to make a funeral in Washington DC,” Mr Sheikholislam said.

Iranians hike on a trail
Image caption Hiking is a popular pastime for many Iranians

Back on the mountain, I keep pushing higher up the trail, passing a stream gushing with crystal clear water.

I met a young woman, Nasim, who was hiking with a group of friends.

I asked her what she thought of President Trump. She laughed. She raised her hands, palms turned upwards, gesturing that she didn’t know what to say.

But then what she said surprised me.

“Maybe it would even be better for us if a war happens,” she said.

I asked: Why would someone want war?

“It might actually lead to a change in our ruling system. It might lead to a better situation. But if it’s going to lead to a civil war then no, it’s not going to be good at all,” she replied.

In 2009, people like Nasim, took to the streets in protest after the disputed re-election of then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

It was dubbed the “Green Revolution”, after the colour used by one of the defeated opposition presidential candidates, Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has been held under house arrest since then.

The authorities cracked down hard on the mass protests and insist there is no powerful opposition movement in Iran.

But this is a country of many political opinions.

You have the hardline religious conservatives, as well as liberals – and probably a majority of Iranians who just want to keep their heads down. It’s these divisions that President Trump believes he can exploit.

Make no mistake, it’s the hardliners who run this country.

But when Iran is confronted by America, most Iranians, conservative or liberal, will put their country first.

Turkey takes delivery of Russian S-400 systems defying US

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

Turkey takes delivery of Russian S-400 systems defying US

Xinhua
Turkey takes delivery of Russian S-400 systems defying US

Xinhua

A Russian Antonov military cargo plane, carrying parts of the S-400 missile defense system from Russia, is unloaded after landing at the Murted Air Base in Ankara, Turkey, on July 12, 2019. The first batch of Russian S-400 air defense system was delivered in Turkish capital city of Ankara on Friday, the Turkish Defense Ministry said.

Turkey began taking the delivery of Russia’s S-400 air-defense system on Friday, completing a much-debated deal that is likely to trigger sanctions from the United States and test the NATO alliance.

The first components for the state-of-the-art system arrived aboard three Russian military planes at the Murted air base, located at a distant suburb of Ankara, the Turkish Defense Ministry said in a statement.

“Turkey received the first batch of S-400 air defense systems. The deliveries are sent to the Murted air base,” the ministry said. Two more deliveries are expected in the coming days.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara that “there is no problem in the deliveries,” adding that “the process will also continue in a healthy pace in the future.”

The purchase, which is the fruit of a controversial agreement inked between Ankara and Moscow in 2017, signals, according to observers, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s willingness to coordinate more with Russia and could set off a new crisis in relations between Turkey and the US, two major NATO allies.

The US President Donald Trump’s administration had given mixed signals about how it might respond if Turkey went through with the deal, but US officials had warned of repercussions, including canceling sales of around 100 high-tech US-made F-35 fighter jets to Ankara and the imposition of sanctions under a 2017 law in cooperation with adversaries.

During a visit to NATO headquarters in Belgium in June, acting US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said “if Turkey accepts delivery of the S-400s, they will not receive the F-35.”

However, Trump has been publicly supportive of the Turkish president and expressed recently sympathy for Erdogan’s decision to purchase the surface-to-air S-400s. Erdogan, after meeting Trump at the G-20 Summit in June in Osaka, said he did not believe that the United States would sanction Turkey.

Erdogan has refused to back down on the S-400 deal and defended the 2.5 billion US dollar acquisition of the Russian system as part of Turkey’s sovereign right to defend itself, and said he tried to purchase the US-made Patriot air defense system but was not offered favorable terms in the past.

US officials fear that Turkey’s possession of the S-400 could give Russia access to secrets of the F-35’s stealth technology and argued that it would create interoperability problems inside NATO.

Ankara has ruled out such a possibility, saying that it is a long standing NATO country, since 1952, and that the S-400 would not be integrated in NATO capabilities.

Nevertheless, Turkey’s purchase of F-35 planes could be compromised as a concrete move last month, the Pentagon said it would halt the training of Turkish pilots to fly the warplane.

Possible US economic sanctions would mark a new standoff in Turkish-American ties. Last year, Washington imposed sanctions on Turkey over its detention of an American pastor, triggering a currency crisis. Sanctions were lifted after Ankara released the clergyman.

Following the arrival of the first S-400 components to the Turkish capital, the Turkish lira dropped about 1.5 percent against the greenback, trading at 5.76 lira.

The deal with Russia also raised some concerns in Western circles that Turkey is drifting away, closer to Moscow’s sphere of influence.

Deliveries of the S-400 components to Turkey would continue “in the coming days,” according to a statement by Turkey’s defense industries authority, which did not say when or where the completed system would ultimately be deployed.

“Once the system is completely ready, it will begin to be used in a way determined by relevant authorities,” said the statement.

An official close to the matter said to Xinhua that the first battery could be deployed at Murted base and a second one likely in southeastern Turkey, near the Syrian and Iraqi border and be operational by October.

“Assessments are underway at several levels to decide on the issue, but everything is going according to plan,” said the official on the condition of anonymity.

China to Sanction U.S. Companies for Arms Sales to Taiwan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)

 

China to Sanction U.S. Companies for Arms Sales to Taiwan

Beijing says U.S. approval of $2.2 billion in military sales harms its national security

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, shown here in June, arrived in the U.S. on Thursday. PHOTO: RITCHIE B TONGO/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK

China will sanction U.S. firms that participate in arms sales to Taiwan, after Washington approved sales of $2.2 billion in tanks, missiles and related military hardware, Beijing said.

China’s Foreign Ministry said Friday that the arms sales “harmed China’s sovereignty and national security” and that the sanctions were necessary to safeguard its national interests.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, part of the United States Defense Department, notified Congress on Monday of proposed arms sales including 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks, Hercules armored vehicles, heavy equipment transporters and Stinger antiaircraft missiles.

The proposed sales risk further testing relations between the U.S. and China, already strained by protracted trade tensions. They swiftly drew the ire of Beijing, which sees such sales as interference in its sovereignty claims over the self-ruled island.

It coincided with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s arrival in the U.S. on Thursday, as part of a visit to four Caribbean allies, a trip that has also prompted anger from Beijing.

China’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday urged the U.S. to immediately withdraw the sale and said it had lodged “stern representations.” The official China Daily said Ms. Tsai was “playing a game of brinksmanship” by building up Taiwan’s military defense.

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