Thursday, 15 November 2018

W Weekly Update

April 7-14

Tensions rise over Syria

BBC reports, that on April 7 the Syrian town of Douma was attacked with suspected chlorine gas. The international community immediately reacted to the reports about the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime. The U.S. President Donald J. Trump is poised to take serious measures against the Syrian regime and its allies: "We can’t let atrocities happen. In our world, we can’t let that happen, because of the power of the United States, the power of our country, when we can stop it."

According to The Telegraph, Mr Trump's comments were followed by a warning from France and the United Kingdom, who expressed their readiness to retaliate against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad if evidence emerges that it was behind the suspected chlorine gas attack. The United States’ Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley made the following remark: “Only a monster targets civilians and then ensures that there are no ambulances to transfer the wounded, no hospitals to save their lives, no doctors or medicine to ease their pain. We are beyond appeals to conscience. We have reached the moment when the world must see justice done.”

After Russia’s response that it will shoot down any missile over Syria, President Trump wrote in his Twitter: “Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”

According to Bloomberg, Trump weighs strike options on Syria as allies rally over attack. The article says, that “the escalating tensions weighed on investors already concerned about war, with crude prices holding high levels while the lira in Turkey, which has troops in Syria, weakened for the fourth day.”

 

Russia’s economy is in doldrums

On April 6 the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated seven Russian oligarchs and 12 companies they own or control, 17 senior Russian government officials, and a state-owned Russian weapons trading company and its subsidiary, a Russian bank, after which Russia’s economy appeared in a free fall. According to The Telegraph, “the US crackdown on Vladimir Putin’s inner circle over Russia’s “destabilizing activities” has prompted investors to abandon energy and mining giants controlled by oligarchs, wiping billions off their fortunes.”

Reuters informs, that “shares in Russia’s two biggest banks, Sberbank and VTB fell 17.3 and 9.1 percent respectively.” The inform agency also reports, that “United Company Rusal Plc, at the heart of Oleg Deripaska’s global aluminum empire, saw the price of its shares listed in Hong Kong fall over 50 percent. Rusal said in a statement that the impact of sanctions could trigger technical defaults on some of its debts.” Mr Deripaska was named on a US Treasury Department list of individuals who “benefit from the Putin regime and play a key role in advancing Russia’s malign activities”. According to the Financial Times, Russian ruble has suffered a major blow and hit a two-year low. The ruble is on track for its worst week since 1999.

 

Elections in Azerbaijan

Reuters informs, that “Ilham Aliyev won a fourth term as president of Azerbaijan on Wednesday in an election boycotted by major opposition parties, who accused him of authoritarian rule and suppressing political dissent.” According to the report, “the election commission said turnout was about 75 percent and there were no complaints about irregularities. Seven candidates ran, but critics questioned whether they were actual opponents.” Reuters further notes, that “Aliyev has tried to strike a balance between Azerbaijan’s former Soviet master Russia and the West, notably on energy policy. He has benefited from a boom fueled by oil exports, but a slump in global crude prices in the last three years has weakened the Azeri currency and shrunk the economy.”

 

Prepared by Marina Muradyan

10 November 2018
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