Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Millennium Development Goals Reveal Mixed Results
Declining oil and commodities prices impact states in Africa and the Middle East

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

2015 is the year that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were scheduled to reach certain objectives in the reduction of poverty and the improvement of living standards in so-called developing countries.

In 2000 the United Nations drafted a program to achieve income increases, universal education, gender equality and other forms of material advancements. By this year there was supposed to be substantial gains which could be easily measurable through healthier, liberated and happier people throughout Africa, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Latin America.

In an article published by the London-based Guardian it notes that “The millennium development goals have targeted eight key areas – poverty, education, gender equality, child mortality, maternal health, disease, the environment and global partnership. Each goal is supported by 21 specific targets and more than 60 indicators.” (July 6)

Statistics indicate that there have been improvements in raising household incomes and reducing rates of illiteracy and child mortality. In addition, school attendance for girls and women have increased in various regions of Africa and Asia making a profound impact on illiteracy and abject poverty.

With respect to incomes, it was said that in 1990 nearly two billion people lived on less than $1.25 United States dollars per day. Today the number of people attempting to survive on such an income has decreased by more than half says the UN figures yet any analysis of these statistics must take into account the rising cost of living in various developing states amid increased access to telecommunications, light industrial and mining employment.

With the movement of many people from rural and small town areas to major urban centers, the resources needed to survive inevitably increase. Consequently, in countries like Nigeria, there are thousands living underneath bridges in the commercial capital of Lagos despite the fact that the West African state was designated as having the largest economy on the continent in 2014.

Channel News Asia in a report on the UN assessments of the social status of the world’s population said “About 800 million people still live in dire poverty and suffer from hunger despite the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) being the most successful anti-poverty push in history.” (July 6)

In a statement issued by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon he claims that “Following profound and consistent gains, we now know that extreme poverty can be eradicated within one more generation. The MDGs have greatly contributed to this progress and have taught us how governments, business and civil society can work together to achieve transformational breakthroughs." (July 6)

Nonetheless, growth has been an uneven process across the various regions and countries, the UN had to admit. Further reference was made to the fact that any sustainable development agenda must address social disparity so that qualitative improvements can be made in the lives of the poorest and most marginalized people.

 Consequently, UN member-states are scheduled to draft and ratify a list of renewed development aims, known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This will be the focus of a UN summit in September. The new goals aim to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030.

Moreover, even within those states which have been cited for phenomenal economic growth since 2000, there are deeper levels of class divisions emerging.

For example in West Africa, the states of Nigeria, Ghana and Burkina Faso, are noted for significant levels of growth prompted by foreign exchange earnings due to the escalation in the exploitation of resources such as oil, natural gas and strategic minerals. However, in all of these states unrest has erupted emanating from the sharp divisions among the national bourgeoisie and the working masses of proletarians, students and farmers.

Nigeria is facing one of the worse economic crises since independence 55 years ago. A war of insurgency by the Boko Haram group in the northeast has interrupted economic activity and fostered widespread dislocation extending across its borders into Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

In Ghana, a newly-emerging oil producing state, civil servants, teachers, healthcare workers and petroleum employees have engaged in strikes and mass demonstrations demanding that the government take action against inflation triggered by the declining value of the cedi, the national currency.

Neighboring Burkina Faso witnessed an uprising last October when a military-turned-civilian dictator fled the country after 27 years of plunder and political repression against the people at the aegis of France and the U.S. Unemployment in Burkina Faso is astronomically high despite the growth in the gold producing sector of the economy making it the fourth largest exporter of this valuable mineral on the African continent.

These social problems are a by-product of global capitalism which remains the dominant mode of production throughout the region.

Imperialist War, World Capitalism Prompts Dislocation and Underdevelopment

Any serious observer of international affairs in 2015 would have to acknowledge that in many regions the situation has worsened due to imperialist war and the decline in oil and commodity prices. In Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Sudan and Nigeria the conditions have resulted in widespread dislocation and deaths.

The precipitous decline in oil prices during 2014-2015 has created additional difficulties in countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, the Republic of Sudan and South Sudan, etc. In Nigeria, the incoming government of President Mahamadou Buhari says that they have inherited a regime which has no money, where state governments have not paid civil servants in months while thousands line up for hours in urban areas to acquire fuel in the largest oil-producing nation in Africa.

Children and women throughout Africa, the Middle East and Asia are heavily impacted due to war and the lack of food, water and other essential services.

U.S.-engineered wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen have led to the massive crisis of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees. Events in the Mediterranean since the beginning of the year has resulted in over two thousand documented deaths.

There are tens of millions of refugees and IDPs throughout the Middle East, South-Central Asia and North Africa in response to the conditions under which people are living in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and other states. The UN Refugee Agency issued a report several months ago documenting that approximately 60 million people have been displaced in recent years, proving to be the worse situation in existence since the conclusion of World War II.

With the gap between rich and poor widening significantly there can be no genuine development for the majority of humanity. The activities of transnational corporation, international finance capital and imperialist regimes such as the U.S. and the European Union (EU), are undermining any efforts on the part of the governments and people of the developing states to improve their social conditions.

Aggressive diplomatic and military actions have not been confined to the developing states. The war in eastern Ukraine is a direct outcome of the concerted campaign by the U.S. to weaken, contain and encircle Russia through destabilization efforts such as sanctions and the expansion of NATO.

On July 4 the foreign ministry of the People’s Republic of China accused Washington of unnecessarily raising tensions in the Asia-Pacific region. Xinhua news agency criticized “the Pentagon’s latest military report and urged the United States to give up cold-war attitudes.”

“We are dissatisfied with and oppose the U.S. report which has played up ‘the China threat’,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a daily press briefing in Beijing. The official’s comments came after the release of the U.S. Defense Department report on July 1, which said “China’s actions are adding tension to the Asia-Pacific region,” in reference to Beijing’s land reclamation in the South China Sea. 
UN Seeks Humanitarian Pause in Yemen War
United States supported coalition bombs marketplace, residential areas killing civilians

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Hundreds have been killed and wounded in Yemen as a direct result of the ongoing bombing campaign supported and coordinated by the Pentagon.

On July 6 the Saudi Arabian and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) attacked the party headquarters of the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. An alliance between the General People’s Congress (GPC) and the Ansurallah (Houthis) has been fighting forces backed by ousted fugitive President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi who is based in Riyadh.

Aerial bomb attacks on the offices of the GPC caused casualties among workers and security personnel at the building located in the south of the capital, party official Faeqa al-Sayed told the international press.  The strikes on the headquarters took place while GPC members were holding a meeting with the UN's Yemen envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed in a separate area of Sanaa.

Sayed described the bombings as "an attempt to derail the UN envoy's mission".

Ahmed, who is from the North African state of Mauritania, arrived in Yemen on July 5 ostensibly to create the conditions that would result in an humanitarian ceasefire in an effort to end the fighting so that real negotiations can occur leading to peace in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula nation.

"As we were conducting consultations with the UN envoy to find solutions to the political crisis gripping the country... Saudi forces bombed the party headquarters, killing employees and guards and destroying the building," Sayed was quoted as saying by the GPC's news site, Almotar.Net.

Hadi has insisted that there can be no ceasefire until an agreement is reached to return him to power. The failure of the recent talks in Geneva was due to the failure of the Washington-backed regime in Riyadh to hold discussions aimed at a resolution of the political crisis.

Furthermore, the Saudi-GCC alliance which is supporting Hadi are demanding that any UN humanitarian relief can only be guaranteed if the Ansurallah and GPC forces are withdrawn from the vast territories they now control in Yemen.

A spokesperson for Hadi, Rajeh Badi, told Reuters that "We are now in consultations for guarantees to ensure the success of the truce. The mechanism we presented to implement (the U.N. resolution) demanded real guarantees to ensure aid is delivered to those who need it…to lift the deliberate siege on Aden, Taiz, Lahj and Dhalea". (July 6)

Southern Areas Bombed by U.S.-backed Fighter Bombers

Another major attack by the Saudi-GCC alliance took place in the south of the country where a market place was bombed killing many civilians on July 6.

In an Associated Press article on July 6, its says “A massive airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition targeting rebels hit a local marketplace in Yemen, killing over 45 civilians on Monday (July 6), security officials and eyewitnesses said. More than 50 civilians were also wounded in the strike in Fayoush, a suburb just north of the southern port city of Aden, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information otherwise.” (AP)

An eyewitness to the damage from these airstrikes, Abu-Ali al-Azikbi, told the AP that "I came right after the explosion and saw dozens of dead strewn about and a sea of blood, while the wounded were being evacuated to nearby hospitals. (There was) blood from people mixed with that of the sheep and other livestock at the market."

Thousands have been killed since the United States backed alliance embarked upon an air war on March 26. The Pentagon continues to provide intelligence and refueling technology along with diplomatic cover to the Riyadh-based alliance.

UN Says Population Facing Peril

Millions are facing critical food shortages and death due to the targeting of civilian areas and infrastructure such as ports, imposing a blockade preventing goods from entering the already underdeveloped Middle Eastern nation.

Since the beginning of the bombing on March 26, 20 million Yemenis are without access to safe drinking water while over one million people have been driven from their homes, says UN officials.

On July 1, the world body announced the highest-level humanitarian crisis in Yemen where it is reported that over 80 percent of the people are in dire need of assistance.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report released June 29 that airstrikes on an Ansurallah-held areas in Saada killed at least 59 people, in what it said appeared to be a violation of international law. These particular attacks also destroyed markets, homes and a gas station.

One strike on a residential neighborhood killed 27 members of the same family, including 17 children. With the U.S. providing technical assistance and political support for the war, Washington is just as responsible for these atrocities as their allies in the region.

Iran Calls for Peace Settlement in Yemen

This war has been described as an indirect conflict between the Islamic Republic of Iran and those countries in the Middle East that are aligned with Washington and Wall Street. However, efforts by Tehran to provide humanitarian assistance or to work towards a peace settlement have been rebuffed by Saudi Arabia and the U.S.

Amid the escalation in bombing and the worsening humanitarian crisis in the country, an Iranian official said the only real solution to the war in Yemen is the announcement of a ceasefire and the adoption of a framework for dialog between the various parties. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian made these observations as part of a telephone discussion with UN special envoy Ahmed on July 5.

Press TV quoted Abdollahian as saying “The Islamic Republic believes Yemeni groups and factions can reach sustainable agreement under the supervision of the UN. Since the onset of the foreign military strikes on Yemen, Iran has unequivocally announced that the Saudi military action is a strategic mistake, the only outcome of which will be the slaughter of the people of Yemen and the spread of terrorism and insecurity in the sensitive Persian Gulf region.” (July 6)

Nonetheless, despite these diplomatic overtures by Tehran, the UN has refused to impose sanctions or other punitive measures against the Saudi-GCC alliance and their supporters in the U.S. It is the Washington-backed forces that are carrying out the airstrikes as well as supporting surrogate rebel forces on the ground who are fighting against the Ansurallah-GPC alliance.

A leading Saudi-based news agency reported in early July that Tehran was coordinating Ansurallah military activities in Yemen through military advisers, one of which was killed inside the beleaguered state. Iran denied such allegations saying they were not based on facts.

Deputy Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian made remarks after Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV channel claimed that some Iranian military experts had been killed in fighting in Yemen. Iran has been a fierce critic of Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen, calling it a big strategic mistake. (Iran Times, July 4)

Amir-Abdollahian noted that the ongoing Saudi-GCC alliance’s war on the innocent Yemeni people represented instances of war crimes which have no justification.

This war of destruction and genocide is part and parcel of a broader strategy by U.S. imperialism to dominate the regions of the Middle East and North Africa. The development s in Yemen cannot be viewed independently of what has taken place in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Egypt where Washington’s interventions have left a trial of destruction, dislocation and death.
Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Featured on Press TV: 'Saudis Conducting War of Genocide in Yemen'
Sun Jul 5, 2015 2:35PM

To watch this interview on Press TV just click on the website below:

A Yemeni watches from the roof of a building as people inspect the debris of a house destroyed in an airstrike by Saudi Arabia in the capital, Sana’a, July 3, 2015. (AFP photo)
Press TV has conducted an interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of Pan-African News Wire in Detroit, to discuss Saudi Arabia’s ongoing military aggression against Yemen.

The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: A hundred days into the Saudi war on Yemen. Do you think Saudi Arabia has got what it was after?

Azikiwe: Absolutely not. All they are doing is creating more destruction and death and displacement inside Yemen and it is spreading to other countries throughout the region even the Horn of Africa across the Red Sea.

This is clearly a war of genocide. The United Nations recognizes that there is a looming humanitarian crisis inside the country. Some people have even described the current situation in Yemen as bordering on famine. What the Saudi [P]GCC alliance is doing it is bombing  airstrips, it is bombing ports, it is preventing medicines and foods from getting inside the country. They have knocked out electricity, power lines. It is clearly a war against the Yemeni people.

Press TV: And how can Yemen take legal action against Saudi Arabia when we see no concrete action by the United Nations and the international community?

Azikiwe: Yemen is a very underdeveloped state but at the same time it occupies a strategic location in the Arabian Peninsula and also offshore in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, where tremendous amount of international commerce and defense equipment flows through every single day. So this is what is at stake and the United States is supplying intelligence, a re-fueling technology to the Saudi, [P]GCC and their allies, planes for carrying out these atrocities against the people in Yemen and they are propping up the ousted president Hadi, who is refusing to negotiate a ceasefire saying that the only solution to the crisis in Yemen is to reinstall him in power there. So his position is totally untenable.

Press TV: How much do you think diplomacy could solve the crisis in Yemen?

Azikiwe: Well we saw the sabotage of the recent talks in Geneva. This was done by the forces that are supporting Hadi, being Riyadh, and of course this is not helping the situation of the people at all in Yemen and this war is also spreading now into eastern Saudi Arabia where attacks have been carried out by the Ansarullah forces.

So the conflict is becoming more regionalized and it has to be a regional as well as an international solution but as long as the United States is calling the shots in this, because they were essentially forced to withdraw from Yemen, then there is going to be very difficult to reach any type of solution politically.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Pan-African Journal: Special Worldwide Radio Broadcast for Sun. July 5, 2015--Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe
Listen to this special edition of the Pan-African Journal hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

To hear the podcast of this broadcast just click on the website below:

This program will feature our regular PANW reports on events surrounding the current political crisis in Lesotho and the role of the Republic of South Africa; the escalating refugee problems emanating from the political stalemate in the Central African state of Burundi; the People's Republic of China's call for an end to the United States cold war mentality related to foreign affairs; and the challenges of the transitional political process coupled with the burgeoning economic problems in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The second hour of our the broadcast continues the month-long focus on the literary contributions of African people. In this segment we present a rare archival lecture by legendary African American novelist, playwright, essayist and political activist James Baldwin from 1983 on the social role of the writer.

In the final segment of the program we will hear a 1975 "Annual October Radio Lecture" by the immortal Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe. 
Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast for Sat. July 4, 2015--Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe
Listen to this edition of the Pan-African Journal hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

To hear this radio broadcast just click on the website below:

This program features our regular PANW reports with dispatches on events surrounding the continuing Boko Haram attacks coupled with the ruling party crisis in Nigeria; a retreat from several towns by the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) troops in Somalia due to Al-Shabaab attacks; a national governmental campaign against illicit alcohol consumption in Kenya along with efforts to increase regional economic cooperation with Zambia and the development of wind energy technology in partnership with the People's Republic of China; and the role of the military in Lesotho where the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has deployed South African Vice-President Cyril Ramaphosa in response to the assassination of a former military commander last week.

The third hour continues the month-long focus on the literary contributions of African people with a rare archival radio interview with African American poet and activist Sonia Sanchez from 1974 discussing her evolution as a writer. In the previous hour we began with a presentation of an archived 1981 lecture by Johnetta Cole discussing racist violence and gender oppression during this time period. 
Pan-African Journal: Special Worldwide Radio Broadcast for Friday, July 3, 2015--Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe
Listen to this special broadcast of the Pan-African Journal hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

To hear the broadcast just click on the website below:

The program features our regular PANW reports on events in Charleston, South Carolina where the final funeral was held for the victims of the racist massacre at Mother Emanuel AME Church on June 17; the hidden character of the US economy as distorted by the jobless figures released every month; a settlement reached in the BP oil spill in 2010; and developments in Tunisa and Libya in light of the growing instability in the region.

In the second hour we focus on two leading African American writers of the 20th century Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellision through the poetry of the former as well as a classic audio archive from the CBS Radio Workshop of 1948 and an interview with Arnold Rampersad, biographer of Ralph Ellision.

Finally, in the third hour we listen to an audio documentary on the current state of South African literature some two decades after the overthrow of the apartheid system.
Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Interviewed on RT Satlellite TV: 'Europol Launches Cyber-unit to Tackle Jihadists’ Propaganda'
July 01, 2015 16:23

To watch this news report and read the web version of the story directly from RT just click on the website below:

Europol has launched a cyber-unit consisting of some 15 experts aimed at combatting terrorist propaganda and related violent extremist activities. Officials cited the increasing online terror campaigns “challenging” EU security.

The so called European Union Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU) will grow in number and capability reaching full maturity by July 2016, the Europol said in a statement Wednesday.

The unit will “identify and refer relevant online content” to reduce the “level and impact of terrorist and violent extremist propaganda on the internet,” the statement said.

The police agency said the unit was launched due to the significant increase of terrorists’ social media and internet campaigns.

“Jihadist groups, in particular, have demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of how social networks operate. They have launched well-organized, concerted social media campaigns to recruit followers and to promote or glorify acts of terrorism or violent extremism,” Europol said.

According to the agency, the EU IRU will cooperate with law enforcement authorities particularly across the EU, with the private sector and the onsite Europol Liaison Officers' network.

Citing the recent terrorist attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait, Europol officials underlined the importance of the unit’s work.

Rihards Kozlovskis, Interior Minister of Latvia and chairman of the Justice and Home Affairs Council of Ministers, said that "the recent events demonstrated that one of the top priorities on our agenda is to counter violent extremism in order to contain the growth of online content produced by terrorists."

EU Counter Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove said that the EU IRU will respond to the terrorist groups which “challenge our security.”

“We have also built a constructive new partnership with relevant social media and other private companies,” he said. “Together we will deliver a determined response to this problem affecting the safety and liberty of the internet."

The initiative to establish EU IRU was mandated by the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council on March 12.

According to media reports, the unit was modeled on the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) established in 2010 by the UK’s Scotland Yard and Home Office.

Officials have blamed social networks for the success of Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL) terror campaigns.

CIA director John Brennan said in March that the jihadists have been so successful at staying intact and afloat largely because it has embraced new tools such as social media.

The psychological warfare waged by the US and the EU “obviously has not been effective” in curbing the IS recruitment campaigns or the activity of other terrorists, Pan-African News Wire editor Abayomi Azikiwe told RT.

“The war they are supposedly waging on ISIS has not gained or reached their strategic objectives. If we look at what is going on in Iraq, Syria and Yemen as well as Libya, they are carrying out operations which they are utilizing to promote their propaganda and therefore recruit new people throughout Western countries and countries of the Middle East,” he said.

ISIS forces who have conquered large swaths of northern Syria and parts of Iraq have actively used social media to promote their cause.

A March report by the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, identified 46,000 human-run accounts tweeting on average 7.4 times a day to advance the group’s campaigns during the last four months of 2014.

“Much of ISIS’s social media success can be attributed to a relatively small group of hyperactive users, numbering between 500 and 2,000 accounts, which tweet in concentrated bursts of high volume,” the report said.

Using a spam and bot analysis of ISIS social media accounts, the researchers suggested that 20 percent of all the messages were created with automated software.
Rift Emerges as Europe Gears Up for New Talks on Greece Bailout
JULY 6, 2015
New York Times

Photo: Euclid Tsakalotos at a ceremony in Athens on Monday after he replaced Yanis Varoufakis as Greece’s finance minister.

ATHENS — Germany continued to maintain a hard line with Athens on Monday, just a day after Greek voters decisively rejected a bailout deal from its creditors. But some European countries showed a willingness to soften the push for austerity that has proved so contentious.

The growing rift among European leaders threatens to complicate any new negotiations, as the Greek government moves to restart talks for an international bailout. It also adds to the pressure on Greece, which is close to financial collapse with both the banking system and the government quickly running out of money.

If a deal is not struck soon, Greece will probably default on a batch of international debts this month and face even more trouble paying civil servants and pensioners. Should Greece ultimately run out of euros, it could be forced to issue a parallel currency or i.o.u.s to pay its domestic bills, prompting it to leave the euro currency.

The country’s financial state is growing increasingly dire.

As Greek banks faced a shortage of cash, the European Central Bank decided on Monday to extend just enough of an emergency lifeline to keep them from failing. But the amount, about 89 billion euros, will not necessarily be sufficient to keep the money flowing to depositors.

Faced with a funding crisis, the government extended a weeklong bank holiday through Wednesday and said that a withdrawal cap of €60, or $67, per day from A.T.M.s could be tightened. On Monday, long lines formed again at cash machines throughout Athens as people continued to withdraw whatever funds they could.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of Greece has moved quickly to take advantage of the vote results, making the first steps toward conciliation with the country’s creditors.

The combative finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, abruptly resigned at Mr. Tsipras’s behest. He was replaced by Euclid Tsakalotos, an Oxford-educated economist who took over from Mr. Varoufakis as Greece’s lead negotiator in April.

“I won’t hide the fact that I’m nervous and anxious,” Mr. Tsakalotos said at his swearing-in Monday.

“I understand that I’m assuming my post at a difficult time.”

The prime minister also persuaded most opposing political parties to back his basic demands from the country’s creditors.

After a six-hour meeting, the leaders of Greece’s five main political parties issued a statement saying they wanted any negotiation to include a discussion of relief from the country’s debt load — a key sticking point with creditors. They are also pushing for immediate help to keep the banks afloat, quick economic aid to tackle unemployment and new bailout money to cover current debt obligations.

In return, they said, Greece would be willing to deliver “credible reforms based on the fair distribution of the burden and the promotion of growth with the smallest possible recessionary impact.”

But the impasse over a bailout threatens to take on bigger dimensions, with implications for European unity.

Germany, the eurozone country to which Greece owes the most money, remained resistant. A spokesman for the Finance Ministry said Berlin saw no new basis for negotiations with Athens at this point. The spokesman for Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, said that while Greece was still in the eurozone, it was up to Athens to determine whether the country would stay.

Despite Germany’s tough stance, other European leaders seemed eager to avoid the specter of a Greek exit from the euro. While officials in France and Brussels said on Monday that they were unhappy and dumbfounded with the vote, they held the door open to the possibility of a compromise between Greece and its creditors.

At a news conference in Brussels on Monday, the European Commission’s vice president for euro affairs, Valdis Dombrovskis, said that the vote in Greece would “dramatically weaken” the country’s negotiating position with creditors and had made things “more complicated.”

So the people of Greece have democratically decided that the tax payers of the EU, especially the Euro-Zone, have to keep on supplying them with billions of Euros, but from now on without guarantees, control and conditions.

But now was the time to seek a way forward, he added, saying: “If all sides are working seriously, it’s possible to find a solution, even in this very complicated situation.”

In France, the finance minister, Michel Sapin, told French radio that while Greece’s vote “resolves nothing,” France could support debt relief for Greece should Mr. Tsipras come forward with a proposal containing “serious” terms for a new bailout package. Mr. Sapin’s remarks came ahead of a meeting set for Monday evening in Paris between President François Hollande of France and Ms. Merkel to discuss how to deal with Greece.

Both leaders called on Greece to submit urgent proposals to avoid a possible exit from the eurozone. The Greek government said that Mr. Tsipras and Ms. Merkel agreed that he would present new debt proposals on Tuesday, when eurozone leaders are set to meet in Brussels.

The eurozone finance ministers planned to meet in Brussels on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the offer by Athens to resume discussions. They might then pass along any recommendations to the heads of state meeting on Tuesday evening. Because the deadline for the country’s second bailout package has lapsed, any talks would most likely focus on the terms for a third aid package for the country.

In the meantime, the financial situation in Greece is rapidly growing more tenuous.

Greek banks could continue to limp along for a few more weeks. But they may face an existential crisis at the end of the month if the Greek government does not make a payment of €3.5 billion due July 20 on bonds held by the European Central Bank. That would seem nearly impossible unless Greece gets some financial aid.

A missed payment to the central bank would signal unmistakably that the government is bankrupt. It would drag the Greek banks down, too, since they would suffer huge losses on their portfolios of the country’s government bonds.

The weak link in the 19-nation eurozone is struggling to tame its debt. On Sunday, Greeks decisively rejected in a referendum the terms of an international bailout.

The European Central Bank would have little choice but to stop providing emergency loans that have been keeping the banking system afloat. The central bank is not allowed to lend to insolvent banks.

“The moment of truth will be no later than July 20,” said Wilbur Ross, an American investor who owns a large stake in Eurobank Ergasias, the third-largest bank in Greece. “A default there would likely force the E.C.B. to come down on the banks.”

Ominously, the central bank also said on Monday that it would tighten requirements for collateral that Greek banks must post in return for loans. The move means that, even if the European Central Bank decides to later increase the lending limit, Greek banks might not have enough collateral to qualify for more emergency cash.

The decision, a concession to hard-liners on the central bank’s Governing Council, was a sign the central bank is worried about losses it will suffer if Greek banks fail.

Bankers in Athens are beginning to worry that without additional aid, banks could run out of cash on Friday, according to Stefanos Kotronakis, who works in Athens for ACI Worldwide, a company that provides payment processing services for banks and A.T.M.s.

“The situation from a liquidity perspective is really critical,” said Mr. Kotronakis, country manager for the company.

People can continue to use debit and credit cards and make electronic transfers within Greece. But Mr. Kotronakis said many merchants insist on cash, in part because they are not sure that their money is safe in a bank.

Without a banking system serving as a conduit for euros and a platform for transactions, Greece might have little choice but to begin printing its own currency.

Liz Alderman reported from Athens and Jack Ewing from Frankfurt. Niki Kitsantonis contributed reporting from Athens.
'Merkel Has lost' - How the Greece Referendum Vote Split Europe
Greece's rejection of a cash-for-austerity package in its referendum on Sunday has opened old rifts between European rivals

By Gordon Rayner,
Chief Reporter, Telegraph, UK
8:10PM BST 06 Jul 2015

“Merkel has lost. Germany has lost.” Not the reaction from a rabidly left-wing Greek tabloid to the country’s referendum vote, but from Benoit Hamon, the former French education minister and ally of Francois Hollande.

For Mr Hamon, the resounding “no” vote was “an opportunity for Francois Hollande to resume leadership” in Europe. Old divisions run deep across the continent, and the Greek crisis brought them right back to the surface as Europe’s financial superpowers squabbled like children at playtime.

Watching gleefully from the wings was the Russian President Vladimir Putin, who took the opportunity to stir the pot by ringing the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and offering to strengthen “Russian-Greek co-operation”.

With Greece’s membership of the euro now hanging by a thread, it became increasingly clear as the day wore on that Greece’s present will decide the whole continent’s future.

Major banks now rate a Greek exit from the euro as a probability. The man installed as Greece’s new finance minister believes a Grexit would lead to the “break-up” of the Eurozone. Elsewhere there was talk of humanitarian aid, rather than cash, for the Greek people. Doom-laden language was easy to come by. Answers were not.

Even before the no voters had slept off the hangover from their street celebrations of the night before, the day began with a surprise announcement by Yanis Varoufakis, the shaven-headed Greek finance minister. He told his Twitter followers at 6.31 that he had resigned.

Greece’s rejection of further austerity measures by an unexpectedly high 61 per cent had vindicated his hard line with European creditors, but Mr Tsipras saw him, ultimately, as an obstacle in the road to a new deal with Eurozone countries over Greece's 330 billion euro debt mountain.

Mr Varoufakis said in a typically bullish blog that: “I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride.”

In the rest of Europe, the referendum result had gone down like a rotten oyster, but Greece had won praise from such dubious admirers as the former Cuban president Fidel Castro, who said Greece "has won admiration across Latin America" and Bolivia’s president Evo Morales, who called the referendum a defeat against “European imperialism”.

Predictions of a collapse in share prices on European stock exchanges did not materialise; the FTSE opened 1.07 per cent down, but major banks rated the chances of a Grexit at 70 per cent, and Stephanie Flanders, the former BBC economics editor who now works for JP Morgan, said: “A messy Greek exit is now more likely than not.”

The Greek people had spoken, now it was time to hear from for the most powerful woman in the world (and the least popular woman in Greece).

Angela Merkel, a woman constantly trying to reconcile her own passion for European union with German taxpayers’ exasperation at propping up Greece’s corrupt economy, stood firm. She said she would wait to see what proposals the Greek government came up with, but saw no reason to enter negotiations on a new bailout program as things stood. She said as much in a lunchtime phone call to Mr Tsipras, who said he would be presenting a Greek proposal for a deal at Tuesday’s crucial Eurozone summit.

Germany’s economics minister Sigmar Gabriel was rather less measured. He made it clear that unless Mr Tsipras compromised, Greece would only be offered food and medicine.

"For the Greek population, life will get even more difficult in the coming days and weeks,” he said.

“The definitive insolvency of the country now is an imminent threat. We must now cover their needs very quickly, the people there need help and we should not refuse it just because we're unhappy with the result of the referendum.” This meant “humanitarian aid”, not more cash, raising the image of food parcels being handed out on the streets of Athens.

“We can not endanger the stability of the monetary union by Greece enforcing their own national interests unconditionally against 18 other [countries],” he went on. Debt relief would not be offered.

It was a flat contradiction of Alexis Tsipras’s position after the referendum. He had said: “This is not a mandate of rupture with Europe, but a mandate that bolsters our negotiating strength to achieve a viable deal.

"This time, the debt will be on the negotiating table. It is now up to European prime ministers,
meeting tomorrow, to propose any new bailout deal including on debt.”

Meanwhile the European Commission president Valdis Dombrovskis dismissed the referendum as illegal and warned the Greeks that “there is no easy way out of this crisis”. He refused to say whether he expected Greece to stay in the euro.

The European Central Bank had even harsher words for Greece. Ewald Nowotny, a member of the ECB’s governing council, said Greece’s suggestion of a deal within two days was “illusory” and that the no vote had “not made it easier for the ECB to act”.

And the Council of Europe – which is independent of the European Union – warned that the referendum did not meet international standards as it was called with one week’s notice and the lengthy question on the proposed bailout was unclear.

France, it seemed, was Greece's last ally. Mr Hamon’s claims that “Merkel has lost” reflected a desire in the country to capitalise on Greece’s woes by tilting the balance of power between the two main architects of the European Union towards Paris.

The French Minister of the Economy, Emmanuel Macron, rather crassly delved into Germany’s troubled past by urging Europe to avoid another "Versailles moment" with Greece, referring to the humiliating post-war conditions imposed on a defeated Germany in 1919 that later allowed the Nazis to flourish.

With such dark rhetoric circulating, the intervention of Vladimir Putin was the last thing Angela Merkel would have been hoping for.

The Russian President would be all too happy to drive a wedge between European countries, and in a phone call with Mr Tsipras he “expressed support for the Greek people in overcoming the difficulties facing the country”, and discussed the "further development of Russian-Greek cooperation".

It was Mr Tsipras who had initiated the call to Putin, to crank up the pressure ahead of crucial Eurozone meetings, but it nevertheless led to talk among some analysts of Greece joining the Eurasian Union, the Moscow-led trade bloc that includes Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Armenia.

David Cameron, viewing events from outside the Eurozone, was distinctly non-committal. He spoke on the phone to Mrs Merkel and met George Osborne and the Bank of England Governor Mark Carney to discuss the crisis, but his spokesman said: "He thinks that clearly Greece and the Eurozone need to sit down and talk through the implications of the result. They need to find a sustainable solution. It is a matter for Greece and Eurozone partners."

By mid-afternoon Greece had a new finance minister, but it was not immediately obvious whether he would be any more amenable than his predecessor.

Euclid Tsakalotos, a 55-year-old Marxist who was educated at Oxford, was never a fan of joining the euro, and has predicted that a Grexit from the single currency would lead to the break-up of the Eurozone.

George Osborne’s take on the day’s developments as he addressed Parliament at 4pm was that “the prospects of a happy resolution of this crisis are sadly diminishing”. He urged British holidaymakers going to Greece to take plenty of cash and their own supplies of medicines.

The ECB announced that it had extended emergency liquidity assistance to keep Greece’s financial institutions ticking over, but Greece faces at least one more agonising day in limbo, and its banks will remain shut until Wednesday.

Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande sat down to dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris, having issued a brief statement in which Mrs Merkel stressed the importance of Greece taking "responsibility" for reforming its economy and Mr Hollande told Europe to show "solidarity" with Greece.

Their brief statement distilled the divisions between the two countries in how to handle the Greek problem, and set the tone for a crucial series of talks on Tuesday.

They will begin with a Eurogroup meeting of finance ministers, and culminate tonight with a summit of the 19 leaders of the Eurozone countries.

If those talks fail, default on an ECB debt repayment due on July 20 could finally end Greece’s membership of the euro, and put the whole future of the single currency in doubt.
Greek Defiance Cheered by Europe’s Far Right and Far Left
Pablo Iglesias, leader of Spain's anti-austerity Podemos party, at a news conference in Madrid. He cheered Sunday's “no” vote in Greece, saying on Twitter: “Today in Greece democracy won.”

By Griff Witte
Washington Post
July 6 at 12:47 PM

ATHENS — When voters in Greece did the previously unthinkable and defied Europe’s political titans by spurning their bailout proposal, some of the loudest rejoicing came from well beyond the country’s borders.

Across the continent — from north to south, from the far right to the far left — parties that have rocketed to prominence with populist rhetoric celebrated what they saw as perhaps the most direct strike yet at the heart of the European order.

“Today in Greece democracy won,” Pablo Iglesias, leader of the radical leftist Spanish party Podemos, cheered on Twitter.

The result was a victory against “the oligarchy of the European Union,” declared Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Front party.

The enthusiastic response from such unlikely bedfellows reflects the strange new politics of Europe, which have pitted mainstream parties against formerly fringe movements that, for different reasons, are determined to tear down the systems and ideologies that have governed the continent for decades.

Lately, the outsiders have been surging. And in Greece, they see the first true battleground in a much wider war — a potential beachhead that can ultimately help them achieve either Europe’s profound transformation or its undoing as an integrated union.

“There’s a general euphoria among the populist parties because a national government and its people have been able to stand up to the dictatorship and the bureaucracy of Brussels,” said Vincenzo Scarpetta, an analyst with the think tank Open Europe. “Greece has become a testing ground for the European project.”

But whether European populists gain or lose in the coming years may turn on the question of how the Greek crisis is settled.

The reasons for the populist challenges vary from country to country and from party to party. But they are all built on a shared sense that Europe has gone badly off track, whether through merciless economic policies that have widened the gap between rich and poor or through an overly permissive approach to immigration.

The parties also differ in their prescriptions. Some, such as Le Pen’s National Front, want to get rid of the European Union altogether and restore national supremacy, including tight border controls.

Others, such as Greece’s ruling Syriza and Spain’s Podemos, seek to fundamentally reshape the E.U. from within by overturning the dogma of austerity, which took hold in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis.

A tricky path forward

The broader challenge to the European status quo is one reason Greece’s fate in the coming days and weeks matters so much — not only to Greece but also to those, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who see it as their responsibility to maintain the existing order.

It also explains why Merkel’s calculations are so tricky — and have become even more so in the aftermath of Sunday’s referendum in Greece.

When Syriza won national elections in January, it became the first radical leftist party in the European Union’s history to take power. The party immediately threw down a gauntlet, demanding that Europe forgive a chunk of Greek debt and allow the new government to ease the strict austerity that had been implemented as a condition of the bailouts given to the country.

Merkel and her fellow European heavyweights have stood firm, not wanting to allow Syriza a victory that could inspire similar movements in other debt-ridden nations.

That risk may be especially pronounced now that the Greek public has so resolutely backed its government and spurned European leaders who had been hoping that a “yes” vote could be a catalyst for regime change in Athens.

Since the vote, German and other European officials have shown no new leniency. But Scarpetta said that although they may not want to encourage other leftist parties by giving in to Syriza, they will still seek to avoid the unraveling of the 19-member euro zone.

“Merkel’s probably not keen to be remembered as the chancellor who let Greece go and, therefore, burst the myth of the irreversibility of the single currency,” he said.

Podemos and other leftist parties in southern Europe sent emissaries to Athens on Sunday to express solidarity with Syriza, and they ended up partying into the wee hours alongside thousands of Greeks.

On Monday, Iglesias, Pod­emos’s ponytailed, 36-year-old leader, said the results had emboldened the anti-austerity camp across Europe.

“It’s a very clear message,” he told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser. “The citizens of Greece have said that austerity isn’t the way to end the economic crisis.”

But he was also cautious about drawing too close a parallel between his country, which has been modestly recovering under a conservative-led government, and the one that’s on the cusp of being ejected from the euro zone.

“We have a great friendship with Syriza, but, luckily, Spain is not Greece,” he said.

That sort of restraint is warranted, said German Marshall Fund fellow Timo Lochocki. If Greece exits the euro zone and its economy goes into free fall, he said, it will turn Sunday’s referendum into “a Pyrrhic victory by epic standards.”

And that, he said, will blunt the appeal not only of far-left parties such as Podemos but also of far-right parties, because it will allow mainstream governments to claim that they are resisting a giveaway to Greece.

“They can say, ‘We’re standing up for your interests,’ ” he said. “Greece’s government isn’t the only one in Europe that’s been democratically elected.”

Populist political players

Of the other far-left parties in Europe — which are far stronger in southern Europe than in the north — Podemos has the best chance of taking a share of power. Spain is due to vote toward the end of the year, and although the party is not expected to win, it could emerge as a kingmaker.

Populist parties on the right have become critical players in Danish and Finnish politics this year after elections in which they swept up a larger share of the vote than ever before.

In Britain, too, populism is on the rise. The anti-austerity Scottish National Party trounced its opposition in May elections, and the anti-immigration U.K. Independence Party won the third-highest share of the vote across Britain.

The governing Conservative Party is hardly populist. But Prime Minister David Cameron’s ambition to win reforms for the E.U. ahead of a referendum on Britain’s membership in the 28-member body could get an indirect boost from Greece.

Scarpetta said that as the crisis escalates, Cameron may have an easier time convincing his European counterparts that the union needs to change its ways.

Perhaps that is why, even as Cameron called for Greeks to vote “yes,” London Mayor Boris Johnson, a fellow Conservative, did little to conceal his delight with the outcome.

“EU bluff called,” Johnson tweeted. “EU political class told Greece to vote yes — and Greeks told them to bog off.”
Oil Prices Tank as Greece, China Concerns Trigger Selloff
July 7, 2015 - 7:25AM

Oil prices suffered their biggest selloff in five months on Monday, falling as much as 8 per cent as Greece's rejection of debt bailout terms and China's stock market woes set off a deepening spiral of losses.

Adding to the pressure on oil, Iran and global powers were trying to meet a July 7 deadline on a nuclear deal, which could bring more supply to the market if sanctions on Tehran are eased. The self-imposed deadline could be extended again, officials at the negotiations said.

A slump that began last week gathered pace through the session, taking four-day losses to more than 10 per cent, the largest rout since early January, as weeks of range-bound trading abruptly ended. Global Brent prices collapsed below the $US60 a barrel mark for the first time since mid-April.

"With the number of bearish elements weighing on the market now, the only support has been the seasonal demand in gasoline, and even that will be going away soon," said John Kilduff, partner at New York energy hedge fund Again Capital.

US crude settled at $US52.53 a barrel, down $US4.40 or 7.7 per cent, from its settlement on Thursday and below the 100-day moving average. It was the biggest per centage drop in a day for US crude since early February, and more downside momentum could push it to test the six-year low of $US42.03 set in mid-March, technical analysts said.

Brent settled down $US3.78, or 6.3 per cent, at $US56.54, also below the 100-day average.

Greeks voted a resounding no to a referendum on an international bailout that also put in doubt its membership in the euro. The euro fell against the dollar, weighing on demand for dollar-denominated commodities from holders of the single currency.

Commodities were also sucked into market turmoil that has seen Chinese shares fall as much as 30 per cent since June due in part to the economy growing at its slowest pace in a generation.

In Vienna, a dispute over U.N. sanctions on Iran's ballistic missile programme and a broader arms embargo were among issues holding up a nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers.

Iran is seeking to restore oil exports that have dropped from 2.5 million barrels per day in 2011 to about 1 million bpd in 2014. Morgan Stanley analysts said up to 700,000 bpd in new Iranian exports were likely to arrive between late 2015 or early 2016, delaying the recovery in oil prices and US output by 6 to 12 months.

Oil prices were also weighed down by signs that US shale drillers were returning to the field, as the rig count for oil rose last week for the first time since December.

It is unclear whether the latest price decline will give drillers pause, though, as many oil producers had been counting on $US60 or $US65 prices to support new wells.


This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/business/oil-prices-tank-as-greece-china-concerns-trigger-selloff-20150707-gi6iz9.html
Violence and Chaos Await Migrants in Libya
Since the Central Intelligence Agency, Pentagon and NATO war of regime-change which engineered the counter-revolution against the government of the Muammar Gaddafi , Libya has been plagued by violence, with rival political factions and militias struggling for power. In the meantime, criminal groups have made the Libyan coastline one of the main stowaway points to Europe. But for the thousands of migrants fleeing wars, corrupt regimes and economic misery, this North African country is anything but a haven. Roméo Langlois reports from Tripoli.

At a detention centre in Tripoli, nearly 20,000 African migrants are being held in cramped conditions and stifling heat.

Fleeing misery, dictatorships or civil war, they have spent weeks and months in the desert, often suffering random attacks by passers-by, as they made their way to Libya.

Most had dreamed of making the journey across the Mediterranean to a better life in Europe. Instead, they find themselves in jail after being caught by the neo-colonial and rebel Libyan police.

“I'm from Somalia, I ran away from the Al Shabaab terrorists,” says a migrant named
Mohamed. “They killed our families, our sisters and brothers... And so I ran. That's why I'm here, to try and get to Italy... Anywhere but Somalia.”

Many detainees complain of shortages of food and water as well as mistreatment at the overcrowded detention center, run by the rebel government in Tripoli.

“We've been here two months, we're tired, we don't have anything to eat,” says one migrant, who chooses not to give his name.

“They beat us every day, like slaves. Yesterday during the night someone broke his foot, another broke his arm.”

The prison’s director, Nasr Ahzam, admits that the facility is overwhelmed.

“It's a big problem. You have to feed all these people, to house them,” he says.

But he denies there is any problem with the mistreatment of prisoners.

“If someone complains of having been abused, he should come and see me and I'll discuss it with him. He should tell me how he was beaten and why. There's certainly a reason. Those who are well behaved have no reason to be mistreated.”

With Libya currently divided between two rival rebel regimes – an imperialist recognized one in Tobruk and the other rogue administration in Tripoli – migration has become a political lever to force Europe to talk with both governments and to take more responsibility.

“Our neighbours and the European Union have to cooperate with us,” says Mohammed Shaeiter, the Tripoli government’s minister of the interior.

“They have to see us as partners, without politicizing the Libyan domestic issue, as some European countries do.”
Iran Demands End to UN Missile Sanctions
Hindustan Times, Vienna
Jul 07, 2015 01:40 IST

A dispute over UN sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile programme and a broader arms embargo were among issues holding up a nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers on Monday, the day before their latest self-imposed deadline.

“The Iranians want the ballistic missile sanctions lifted. They say there is no reason to connect it with the nuclear issue” a Western official said. “There’s no appetite for that on our part.”

Iranian and other Western officials confirmed this view. The foreign ministers of the six powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - met with Iranian foreign minister Javad Mohamed Zarif on Monday to try to strike a deal by Tuesday night. “The Western side insists that not only should Iran’s ballistic missile programme remain under sanctions, but that Iran suspend its programme as well,” an Iranian official said.

Iran is insisting on its rights and says all the sanctions, including on the ballistic missiles, should be lifted when the UN sanctions are lifted.”

A senior Iranian official said on condition of anonymity that Tehran wanted a UN arms embargo terminated as well. The West wants to keep the arms embargo in place.

The deal is aimed at curbing Tehran’s most sensitive nuclear work for a decade or more, in exchange for relief from sanctions.

If there is a nuclear deal, it will include a draft UN Security Council resolution that, once adopted, would terminate all UN nuclear-related sanctions while re-imposing other existing restrictions on Iran. An Iranian official said talks could continue until July 9. US Secretary of

State John Kerry said negotiators were aiming for July 7.
Air Strikes Kill Nearly 100 in Yemen, Cast Shadow on Truce Talks

Nearly 100 people were killed on Monday in air strikes across Yemen, the Houthi-run state news agency reported, as a Saudi-led coalition stepped up attacks that are likely to weigh on efforts to broker a humanitarian truce.

The United Nations has been pushing for a halt to the air strikes and fighting that have killed nearly 3,000 people in Yemen since March when the Saudi-led coalition intervened against the Iranian-backed Houthi forces to try to restore exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The Houthi-run Saba news agency said 54 people had been killed in a series of raids in the Amran province, north of the capital Sanaa, including 40 who had been shopping at a market in an area called Lower Joub in the Eyal Yazeed district.

It said a number of women and children were among the dead.

Saba said Saudi-led war planes had also killed more than 40 people in a raid on a livestock market in the town of al-Foyoush in southern Yemen.

Local residents also reported 30 deaths in a raid they said apparently targeted a Houthi checkpoint on the main road between Aden and Lahj. They said 10 of the dead were Houthi fighters.

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition could not immediately be reached for comment. But a spokesman has previously said the coalition does not target civilians.

U.N. special envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed held talks with officials from the dominant Houthi group to try to broker a ceasefire to allow aid supplies to be delivered.

The Yemeni government, exiled in Riyadh, said consultations were being held on implementing an April U.N. resolution calling for the Houthis to quit cities seized since September and for aid supplies to be sent to stricken Yemeni civilians.

"We are now in consultations for guarantees to ensure the success of the truce," Hadi spokesman Rajeh Badi told Reuters.

"The mechanism we presented to implement (the U.N. resolution) demanded real guarantees to ensure aid is delivered to those who need it," he said, noting that talks were underway to "lift the deliberate siege on Aden, Taiz, Lahj and Dhalea".

Major cities in central and southern Yemen have been racked by heavy fighting between the Houthis and a patchwork of military, regional and tribal forces allied with Hadi.

Badi said a sought-after "humanitarian pause" would last till the end of the three-day Eid, expected to start on July 17.

The Houthis have also signaled readiness to honor a truce.


The intensive diplomacy came amid a growing outcry over the deteriorating humanitarian situation after more than three months of air strikes on the impoverished country prompted by the Houthi advance south on an area controlled by Hadi's government.

Saudi Arabia sees the Houthis as proxies for arch-rival Iran, which they accuse of trying to expand its influence in Riyadh's immediate backyard.

The United Nations last week designated the war in Yemen as a Level 3 humanitarian crisis, its most severe category, and the United States and the European Union have endorsed calls for a humanitarian suspension of hostilities.

Residents in Aden said mortar shells fired from areas of the city held by the Houthis on Monday set a gas pipeline and empty oil storage tanks in the al-Buraiqah area on fire.

Overnight on Sunday, Saudi-led military planes destroyed the main headquarters of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh's General People's Congress party in Sanaa, residents said.

Saleh is an ally of the Houthi group and still enjoys the loyalty of much of the armed forces more than four years after being forced to step down by mass 'Arab Spring' protests.

Aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said on Monday medical facilities had received hundreds of people wounded in airstrikes and ground shelling across Yemen in recent days.

"It is unacceptable that airstrikes take place in highly concentrated civilian areas where people are gathering and going about their daily lives, especially at a time such as Ramadan," said MSF head of mission in Yemen, Colette Gadenne.

(Writing by Maha El Dahan; Editing by William Maclean and Gareth Jones)
Saudi-led Strikes on Yemen Hit Houthi Ally Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh's Party HQ
Monday, 6 July 2015 - 3:50pm IST |

Saudi-led air raids pounded the Sanaa headquarters of Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh's General People's Congress party late on Sunday, killing and wounding several people, witnesses and a party official said.

The strikes coincided with a visit to the capital by the UN special envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who is seeking to arrange a pause in fighting until the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on about July 17 to allow for deliveries of humanitarian aid.

Saleh is an ally of the country's dominant Houthi movement. A Saudi-led coalition has orchestrated a more than three-month bombing campaign against the Houthis and army units loyal to Saleh to try to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is in exile in Riyadh.

The General People's Congress party's assistant secretary general, Faeqa al-Sayed, said the party headquarters had been destroyed. The raids were an attempt to make the talks with the UN fail, she said, adding that several employees and others were killed. "This will not make us back down on our efforts .... to create the suitable environment to cooperate with the United Nations," she said in a statement on the party's website.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed arrived in Sanaa on Sunday for talks with the Houthis, after discussions in Muscat, Oman to push for a pause in fighting that has killed nearly 3,000 since March. Both sides largely observed a five-day truce brokered by the United Nations in May to allow in fuel and medicine to civilians trapped in conflict zones.

Saleh, the strongman who resigned following 2011 "Arab Spring" protests after more than three decades in power, has emerged as the main military ally of the Houthi Shi'ite fighters. The strikes late on Sunday also struck the home of former president Saleh's nephew and several houses belonging to Houthi supporters in the south and west of the capital Sanaa.
Emerging ‘No’ Vote in Greece Poses Merkel’s Biggest Challenge
German leader’s response will shape future eurozone, but options are limited

Wall Street Journal
July 5, 2015 6:03 p.m. ET

BERLIN—The resounding “no” vote in Greece on Sunday presents German Chancellor Angela Merkel with her toughest challenge since the eurozone crisis broke out five years ago.

Her choice is now between yielding to Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras and sweetening the bailout terms for his country, or sticking to her hard line—and her own voters’ sentiment—in refusing any further concession.

Both avenues are fraught with risks: Watering down the Greek bailout could spark a political rebellion at home and dilute the strict rules the eurozone has assembled in the past five years to ward off future crises.

Refusing to bend could see Greece exit from the euro and unleash economic and political chaos in the country.

Given how much Germany has shaped the management of the crisis—a mixture of emergency loans and unpopular economic overhauls in the affected countries—the strong “no” vote to the terms was a stinging blow.

On Monday, Ms. Merkel was to travel to Paris to consult with French President François Hollande. In a phone call Sunday night, where they agreed “that the vote of the Greek citizens is to be respected,” the two called for a summit of eurozone leaders Tuesday, according to her spokesman.

Yielding some ground on the terms of a new bailout, in particular by pledging some of the debt relief Greece and the International Monetary Fund have been asking for, could still save Greece from a devastating exit from the eurozone.

Yet while such a deal might secure the required approval of the German parliament thanks to opposition votes and those of Ms. Merkel’s Social Democratic coalition allies, it would face considerable opposition in the chancellor’s own conservative ranks. And it would still require a firm commitment to economic overhauls an emboldened Greek government is now unlikely to give.

Conversations with lawmakers in the past week suggest many conservatives might have rejected even the tough terms then under discussion. Any deal that requires lawmakers to pump more taxpayer money into Greece while seeing some of their past loans go up in smoke could spark a full-scale rebellion, lawmakers say.

“For a successful rescue operation, the one who wants to be rescued must let himself be rescued,” Gunther Krichbaum, the conservative chairman of parliament’s European Union Affairs Committee and advocate of a Greek exit from the eurozone, said last week. “As Greece obviously doesn’t want this, there’s no option left for those who want to rescue it.”

When parliament convened last week for a debate on Greece, Ms. Merkel’s cautious speech gathered tepid applause from the conservative benches—nothing like the thunderous ovations that greeted Wolfgang Schäuble, the chancellor’s uncompromising finance minister.

Broader public support for a fresh Greek bailout isn’t guaranteed either. While several polls published last week showed Germans were split on whether Greece should exit the euro, up to three-quarters rejected further concessions to Athens. Mr. Schäuble, the embodiment of German intransigence in Greece, received his highest rating ever.

A sweetened bailout could be particularly damaging for Ms. Merkel because it would invalidate the very rationale for Germany’s approach to the crisis: that it can only be fixed if uncompetitive economies are rebuilt and the eurozone’s fiscal rules never bent again.

In case of a Greek exit, German voters are sure to put the blame largely on Mr. Tsipras, as recent polls indicate they have done so far.

Given all that, principles and an instinct for self-preservation may persuade Ms. Merkel to opt for the second option and stick with her tough line, an outcome many analysts see as more likely.

In a research note published on Sunday, Deutsche Bank said the most probable result of a “no” vote would be the end of Greece’s euro membership, followed by the toppling of the Syriza government as economic hardship mounts.

Berlin officials have also warned about this scenario in case of a no.

Mr. Tsipras had “destroyed the last bridges across which Europe and Greece could have moved toward a compromise,” Vice Chancellor and Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel was quoted as saying in an interview with the Tagespiegel daily, to be published on Monday.

Write to Bertrand Benoit at bertrand.benoit@wsj.com
Is the US Strategy Towards Greece Different Than the EU?
Financial Times

In the left’s demonology, the US is an overbearing superpower that equates might with right. It intrudes on other people’s business and shapes them to its will. Nowhere is this more wrong than in Greece. Syriza’s conspiracy theorists may see neo-imperialist plots behind every tree. The reality is very different. Both the Obama administration and the International Monetary Fund — a tool of US global financial power — were ready to argue Greece’s corner with its European creditors. But the Syriza government’s antics have made life impossible for Greece’s friends. The US has long urged Europe to write off some of Greece’s debts in exchange for restructuring — but to no avail. On Europe, the US has been neither strong nor wrong, but weak and right.

Can it bring more of its leverage to bear? The answer ought to be yes. The US has two vital interests in preventing a Grexit. The first is economic. Although the Greek economy is only the size of the state of Oregon — and its population the same as that of Ohio — a full-blown default would weaken growth in America’s main trading partners. In addition to dampening US export growth, a Grexit could spill over into global markets. Nobody can predict how or to what extent. But the risk of Grexit contagion weighs on the US Federal Reserve. The biggest question over its return to normal interest rates sits in the Aegean.

is relaxed about the Russian threat. Through a mix of energy diplomacy, disinformation and other tools, Vladimir Putin is trying to sow divisions.

So far he has achieved only limited success, mostly in central Europe. A Grexit would make his task easier. The Balkans are a natural target. Greece’s sophomoric government harbours an affinity for Russia that Mr Putin would try to exploit. It is possible it could exit the euro but remain a member of the EU, like the UK. That might be the least bad outcome. It could also start a chain reaction that would result in Greece leaving both the EU and Nato. Nobody knows what path a destabilised Greece would follow. The US believes it would be better to not find out.

Perhaps there is little more America can do than continue as Europe’s “trusted adviser”, albeit one that is usually ignored. Greece owes its EU creditors hundreds of billions of euros. US direct exposure is minute by comparison — not much more than its share of the IMF’s $24bn Greek loan.

Nor is the US about to buy greater sway by supporting a larger IMF package. In the unlikely event Greece were in the position to negotiate one, it is hard to believe Congress would approve. Moreover, the Greek crisis poses an existential threat to the euro, which is the principal tool of European integration. In contrast, life after Grexit in the US would go on much as it had before. Since America has such little skin in the game, why should Europeans pay it greater heed?

The answer lies in the past and the future. The start of the European project is usually dated to the 1957 Treaty of Rome. In fact, it began ten years earlier in Greece when an exhausted Britain passed the baton to the US. Without the Truman doctrine, and its defeat of Greece’s Soviet-backed communist insurgency, it is hard to believe modern Europe would have been born. Without America’s Marshall Plan aid programme, it is difficult to see how it would have lived.

US underwriting of Europe’s security did not come to an end with the fall of the Berlin Wall. In the 1990s, it was the US that put an end to the destructive war in the Balkans. It took three years for Washington to bring Europe’s leading powers onside. But for America’s intervention, it is possible the Balkans would now be within Russia’s zone of influence.

The past may be another country. But the future could be uncomfortably familiar. Much as Jack Lew, the US Treasury secretary, spends countless hours on the telephone urging his European counterparts to hammer out a Greek compromise, so Ashton Carter, the US defence secretary, flies from one capital to the next trying to drum up concern over a revanchist Russia. He has had marginally more success than Mr Lew.

Most of Nato’s members, including a newly exhausted Britain, blithely undershoot the group’s defence spending target of 2 per cent of gross domestic product. Nato’s founding purpose was to “keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and Germany down”, as the quip went. Only the German rationale has changed. In terms of foreign policy, however, Germany prefers to keep itself down. In spite of Russia’s annexation of Crimea last year, its defence budget is just 1.2 per cent of GDP.

It is possible that events will take a happier course. Greece may turn things around. Russia might decide to pull back from its incursions into central Europe. Should things continue to slide, however, America’s voice will need to become louder. Richard Nixon once warned of the US turning into a “pitiful, helpless, giant”.

In few places do his words fit better than in Europe today. In the past the US was indispensable. Today it is too easy to ignore.


Wall Street Braces for Wild Ride After Greek Vote
Paul Davidson,
USA TODAY 2:03 a.m. EDT
July 6, 2015

Financial markets are braced for more turbulence this week after Greek voters on Sunday resoundingly rejected the bailout terms demanded by Athens' creditors, increasing the likelihood that the debt-wracked country will exit the euro.

"I think the equity market sells off" Monday, said Daniel Morris, global investment strategist for financial services firm TIAA-CREF.

Asian markets dropped sharply Monday. Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped more than 300 points, losing more than 1.5% at the start of trading. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 3.2%, by the afternoon.

The Shanghai Composite shot up nearly 6% when the market opened, but after retreated to 2.2% by midday. The surge was powered by a pledge from the country's largest investment firms to spend billions on market stabilization, as well as a promise of increased for market investments from China's central bank.

Sunday night, futures markets pointed to a slide on Wall Street Monday of close to 1.5% in the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index.

Many analysts expected a closer contest and a victory by bailout supporters, Morris said, so "the vote was worse than people expected."

That, he said, likely means Greece's left-wing government will be emboldened by the results and less willing to accept any harsh conditions put forth by its creditors — the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission.

Last Monday, after Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced the referendum, European stock markets fell about 4% and the S&P 500 in the U.S. dropped 2%. David Joy, chief market strategist for Ameriprise Financial, said declines on Monday could be bigger as fear and uncertainty grip markets, driving investments to safe assets such as U.S. Treasuries.

That would push up bond prices, and drive down yields, not just in the U.S. but also in financially sound euro zone countries such as Germany, a positive development for those economies. Morris estimates yields on U.S. Treasuries could fall as much as 15 basis points. Meanwhile, bond yields in struggling euro zone countries such as Italy, Spain and Portugal will likely rise.

The prospect of a Greek exit from the euro ignites fears that those cash-strapped eurozone countries could follow. Analysts said that's likely to further hobble the euro Monday and strengthen the dollar, potentially crimping the exports and earnings of U.S. multinationals that draw a big share of their revenue from the eurozone. Futures trading had the euro off 1% vs. the dollar Sunday night.

In the short term, the ECB should continue to provide emergency funding to Greek banks but it will probably not increase the cap, economist Diego Iscaro of IHS Global Insight predicts. That, he said, raises the odds that Greek banks will run out of cash within days and will not reopen as scheduled July 7.

Yet all three analysts expect Greece and its creditors to resume negotiations in coming days as Athens seeks fresh bailout money. Despite the current turmoil, Morris said he believes an agreement eventually will be reached that allows Greece to get some debt relief and stay in the euro.

As a result, the expected drop in stock prices this week "is essentially a buying opportunity," he said.

Joy, however, said he doesn't think stocks will bounce back quickly, as they did last week, noting that negotiations could drag on for weeks or months. Still, he said he doesn't believe the effect of the impasse on U.S. stocks or the dollar will be enough to keep the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates from near zero levels in September.

Contributing: The Associated Press
Backing Down on Greece's Debt is the Safest, Most Rational Option
John Quiggin
The Guardian

If Greece leaves the EU, the European project is over. If it leaves the euro and recovers, austerity is done for. The best option is a backdown on Greek debt

Monday 6 July 2015 00.20 EDT

Lots of people have raised the suggestion of applying game theory to the the Greek debt crisis. I haven’t attempted this, reflecting my general scepticism about game theory in the absence of a well-defined strategy space.

But now the Greek government and public have made what is, in effect, a final move.

In view of the No vote, Syriza can’t accept a deal that doesn’t include an explicit debt write-off, or one that obviously crosses its stated red lines. Within those parameters, it’s clearly eager for a face-saving compromise.

For the other side (effectively the Troika and the German government), since Syriza’s move has already been made, the problem has now been reduced to one of decision under uncertainty, which is something I am comfortable with.

More precisely, it’s a choice between a “safe” option, with an outcome that is fairly predictable, and a “risky” option where the outcome is uncertain.

The safe option for the European institutions is to back down, write off lots of debt and lose a lot of face.

The risky option is to foreclose and force Greece out of the eurozone, leading to a repudiation of debt.

The possible outcomes involve several interdependent sources of uncertainty:

Whether the Greek economy does so badly that the Greek public regrets their choice and throws the government out at the next opportunity;
Whether exit from the eurozone is followed by exit from the EU; and
Whether the process generates a broader financial crisis.
From the European viewpoint, all of these outcomes except one would clearly be worse than an immediate backdown.

If Greece leaves the euro and recovers, the whole austerity project will be shown up as the failure it is.

If Greece leaves the EU (and especially if the UK also does) the European project is done for.

And, while the institutions seem to have convinced themselves there won’t be a financial crisis, their past track record gives little ground for confidence.

So the only case that could conceivably counted as a win is the one when the Greek economy fails, but Greece stays in the EU and there is no immediate financial crisis.

I’d argue that, even here, the damage to confidence in the euro and to the European project would be greater than the costs of a backdown.

If that’s right, then the “sure thing” principle applies to this decision, leaving backing down as the best option.

Even if the least-bad case is regarded as slightly better than a backdown, any reasonable calculation of expected payoffs for the institutions concerned would indicate that backing down is the rational choice, in every possible case.

Analysis Greek referendum: we are back to wild markets of the 2008 banking crisis
If Greece could be on the way out of the eurozone, will investors be less willing to hold the debt of other states carrying heavy debt loads?
 Read more
That doesn’t mean such a choice will be made. People aren’t generally rational, after all. Moreover, individual rationality may not be the same as institutional rationality.

Quite possibly, failure will be seen as career-ending for key individuals, notably Christine Lagarde, Angela Merkel and perhaps Jean-Claude Juncker. So, they may prefer institutional disaster to personal failure.

From the viewpoint of Australia and the world at large, there’s no doubt about the outcome we should prefer. European austerity has been a complete failure and raises the threat of a new global financial crisis.

The sooner this delusion is abandoned, the sooner it will be possible to address the real source of the problem: the unsound and unsustainable growth of the financial sector.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Obama to ‘Snub’ African Union During East Africa Safari
by Zimbabwe Sunday Mail Reporter
Jul 5, 2015

The African Union’s political leadership is not scheduled to meet United States president Barack Obama when he visits Ethiopia and Kenya later this month as his engagements with the two countries are of a bilateral nature.

Last week, some private media reports claimed Mr Obama would see the AU Secretariat but would snub President Mugabe.

AU and Sadc Chair President Mugabe and his five deputies constitute the AU political leadership.

However, experts in the know who spoke to The Sunday Mail last week said Mr Obama’s visit to Ethiopia was purely bilateral, as was his stopover in Kenya.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and ministry Permanent Secretary Ambassador Joey Bimha were unreachable for comment.

However, a well-placed expert said: “These are completely misinformed reports that seem to be targeted at creating the wrong impression among readers. Obama will be visiting Ethiopia to engage the government of Ethiopia at a bilateral level.

“The same applies with his visit to Kenya. It is clear from this that the visit does not relate to the AU, but, instead, to the governments of these two countries. In any event, we know for a fact that there are no firm arrangements yet for him to meet the AU secretariat.”

Mr Adam Bakili, an international relations consultant, added that Mr Obama’s visits to Ethiopia and Kenya should be read against Washington’s foreign policy interests.

Both countries are strategic to the Americans given the surge in the Al-Queda-linked Al-Shabaab group’s activities in the Horn of Africa.

Mr Bakili said no American president had ever met an AU Chair individually in Africa.

“If he wanted to see President Mugabe, it would not be protocol for him to summon the President to Addis Ababa. If he wished to see President Mugabe in that capacity of the continental grouping’s head, he would have visited Zimbabwe, and this is what other leaders who want to see the AU Chair have done.

“It so happens, by coincidence, that Addis Ababa hosts the African Union. His visit to Addis Ababa is bilateral. Ethiopia is important to America’s foreign interests, particularly in the fight against terrorism in the Horn of Africa. The same applies to Kenya.”