Economy

A man casts his vote during European Parliament election in Riga
A man casts his vote during European Parliament election in Riga, Latvia, May 25, 2019. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

May 25, 2019

By Alastair Macdonald

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Europeans vote on Sunday in an election expected to further dent traditional pro-EU parties and bolster the nationalist fringe in the European Parliament, putting a potential brake on collective action in economic and foreign policy.

Right-wing populists top opinion polls in two of the big four member states – Italy and supposedly exiting Britain – and could also win in a third, France, rattling a pro-Union campaign championed by centrist President Emmanuel Macron.

However, exit polls in some countries that have already voted have given pro-EU parties some comfort. The Dutch Labour party, all but written off, looks to have finished first, helped by the visibility of having the EU socialists’ lead candidate, current EU deputy chief executive Frans Timmermans.

In the Netherlands, pro-Union parties scored 70%, up three points on the last European Parliament vote in 2014, and left the upstart anti-immigration party of Thierry Baudet fourth on 11%.

The Dutch also turned out in bigger numbers, albeit at just 41%, reinforcing hopes in Brussels of reversing a 40-year trend of declining turnout that critics cite as a “democratic deficit” that undermines the legitimacy of European Union lawmaking.

An exit poll after Friday’s vote in deeply pro-EU Ireland pointed to an expected “Green Wave”. Across the bloc, concerns about climate change and the environment may bolster the pro-EU Greens group and could mean tighter regulations for industry and for the terms the EU may set for partners seeking trade accords.

Britain also voted on Thursday and a new party focused on getting out of the EU was forecast by pre-vote opinion polls to come top, but there has been no exit poll data. Attention there has focused on the resignation of Prime Minister Theresa May. Results will be out late on Sunday, when all countries have voted.

WAY AHEAD UNCLEAR

The challenges facing the European project include unprecedented transatlantic slights from a U.S. president who fetes Europe’s populists, border rows among its own members over migrants and an economy hobbled by public debt and challenged by the rise of China.

But parties seeking collective action on shared issues such as trade, security, migration or climate change should still dominate, albeit with a smaller overall majority.

Europeans are preparing to remember events that shaped the Union. It is 75 years since Americans landed in France to defeat Nazi Germany and since Russian forces let the Germans crush a Polish bid for freedom, and 30 since Germans smashed the Berlin Wall to reunite east and west Europe. But memories of wars, hot and cold, have not sufficed to build faith in a united future.

Mainstream parties pushing closer integration of the euro currency zone’s economy are struggling to capture the imagination of a public jaded by political elites.

Matteo Salvini’s League in Italy may pip the Christian Democrats of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the bloc’s power broker, to become the biggest single party in the 751-seat chamber.

Right-wing ruling parties in Poland and Hungary, defying Brussels over curbs to judicial and media independence, will also return eurosceptic lawmakers on Sunday.

The results should be clear by late on Sunday, with exit polls in Germany at 1600 GMT and France at 1800 GMT setting the tone before the final end of voting, in Italy at 2100 GMT, sees the Parliament publish its own seat forecast.

The result will usher in weeks of bargaining among parties to form a stable majority in the Parliament, and among national leaders to choose successors to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and other top EU officials.

Many expect a clash as early as Tuesday, when leaders meeting in Brussels are likely to snub Parliament’s demands that one of the newly elected lawmakers should run the EU executive.

(EU election graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/2HvZs1M)

(Reporting by Alastair MacDonald; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Botswana's President Ian Khama returns to his seat after giving a speech during the Botswana-South Africa Bi-National Commission (BNC) in Pretoria
FILE PHOTO: Botswana’s President Ian Khama returns to his seat after giving a speech during the Botswana-South Africa Bi-National Commission (BNC) in Pretoria, South Africa, November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

May 25, 2019

GABORNE (Reuters) – Former Botswana President Ian Khama quit the ruling party on Saturday as a policy feud with his hand-picked successor deepened, threatening to split the party that has ruled the country since independence in 1966.

Khama handed power to his then-deputy Mokgweetsi Masisi last year after serving as president of the diamond-rich southern African nation for a decade, and he remains an influential figure in the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

But Masisi, only the third person from outside the Khama political dynasty to lead Botswana since independence from Britain, has clashed repeatedly with his former ally since he took over.

Their latest disagreement was over Masisi’s decision to lift the suspension on big game hunting imposed by Khama’s government in 2014.

Khama told a gathering on Saturday in the northeastern village of Serowe, where he is paramount chief, he was switching support from the BDP to opposition alliance Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) ahead of an October general election.

“I came here to tell you that I am cutting ties with the BDP as I do not recognize this party anymore. It was a mistake to choose Masisi as my successor. I will now work with the opposition to make sure that the BDP loses power in October,” Khama said.

Khama served the maximum two terms as president before stepping down in a scripted succession that compelled him to hand power to his deputy.

In a 2014 general election, the BDP failed for the first time to score an outright majority as the country struggles to make its ailing economy less reliant on diamond sales.

(Reporting by Brian Benza; Writing by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Helen Popper)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Botswana's President Ian Khama returns to his seat after giving a speech during the Botswana-South Africa Bi-National Commission (BNC) in Pretoria
FILE PHOTO: Botswana’s President Ian Khama returns to his seat after giving a speech during the Botswana-South Africa Bi-National Commission (BNC) in Pretoria, South Africa, November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

May 25, 2019

GABORNE (Reuters) – Former Botswana President Ian Khama quit the ruling party on Saturday as a policy feud with his hand-picked successor deepened, threatening to split the party that has ruled the country since independence in 1966.

Khama handed power to his then-deputy Mokgweetsi Masisi last year after serving as president of the diamond-rich southern African nation for a decade, and he remains an influential figure in the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

But Masisi, only the third person from outside the Khama political dynasty to lead Botswana since independence from Britain, has clashed repeatedly with his former ally since he took over.

Their latest disagreement was over Masisi’s decision to lift the suspension on big game hunting imposed by Khama’s government in 2014.

Khama told a gathering on Saturday in the northeastern village of Serowe, where he is paramount chief, he was switching support from the BDP to opposition alliance Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) ahead of an October general election.

“I came here to tell you that I am cutting ties with the BDP as I do not recognize this party anymore. It was a mistake to choose Masisi as my successor. I will now work with the opposition to make sure that the BDP loses power in October,” Khama said.

Khama served the maximum two terms as president before stepping down in a scripted succession that compelled him to hand power to his deputy.

In a 2014 general election, the BDP failed for the first time to score an outright majority as the country struggles to make its ailing economy less reliant on diamond sales.

(Reporting by Brian Benza; Writing by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Helen Popper)

Source: OANN

The Economic Innovation Group’s (EIG) Distressed Communities Index (DCI) shows a significant economic transformation (from two distinct periods: 2007-2011 and 2012-2016) that occurred since the financial crisis. The shift of human capital, job creation, and business formation to metropolitan areas reveals that rural America is teetering on the edge of collapse.

Since the crisis, the number of people living in prosperous zip codes expanded by 10.2 million, to a total of 86.5 million, an increase that was much greater than any other social class. Meanwhile, the number of Americans living in distressed zip codes decreased to 3.4 million, to a total of 50 million, the smallest shift of any other social class. This indicates that the geography of economic pain is in rural America.

“While the overall population in distressed zip codes declined, the number of rural Americans in that category increased by nearly 1 million between the two periods. Rural zip codes exhibited the most volatility and were by far the most likely to be downwardly mobile on the index, with 30 percent dropping into a lower quintile of prosperity—nearly twice the proportion of urban zip codes that fell into a lower quintile.

Meanwhile, suburban communities registered the greatest stability, with 61 percent remaining in the same quintile over both periods. Urban zip codes were the most robust—least likely to decline and more likely than their suburban counterparts to rise,” the report said.

Visualizing the collapse: Economic distress was mostly centered in the Southeast, Rust Belt, and South Central. In Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and West Virginia, at least one-third of the population were located in distressed zip codes.

Prosperous zip codes were the top beneficiaries of the jobs recovery since the financial crisis. All zip codes saw job declines during the recession, each laying off several million jobs from 2007 to 2010. But by 2016, prosperous zip codes had 3.6 million jobs surplus over 2007 levels, which was more than the bottom 80% of distressed zip codes combined. It took five years for prosperous zip codes to replace all jobs lost from the financial crisis; meanwhile, distressed zip codes will never recover.

EIG shows that less than 25% of all counties have recovered from business closures from the recession.

“US business formation has been dismal in both magnitude and distribution since the Great Recession. The country’s population is almost evenly split between counties that have fully replaced (with 161 million residents) and those that have not (with 157.4 million). This divide is due to the fact that highly populous counties—those with more than 500,000 residents—were far more likely to add businesses above and beyond 2007 levels than their smaller peers. Nearly three in every five large counties added businesses on net over the period, compared to only one in every five small one,” the report said.

To highlight the weak recovery and geographic unevenness of new business formation, EIG shows that the entire country had 52,800 more business establishments in 2016 than it did in 2007.

Five counties (Los Angeles, CA; Brooklyn, NY; Harris, TX (Houston); Queens, NY; and Miami-Dade, FL. ) had a combined 55,500 more businesses in 2016 than before the recession. Without those five counties, the US economy would not have recovered.

On top of deep structural changes in rural America, JPMorgan told clients last week that the entire agriculture complex is on the verge of disaster, with farmers in rural America caught in the crossfire of an escalating trade war.

“Overall, this is a perfect storm for US farmers,” JPMorgan analyst Ann Duignan warned investors.

Farmers are facing tremendous headwinds, including a worsening trade war, collapsing soybean exports to China, global oversupply conditions, and crop yield losses in the Midwest due to flooding. This all comes at a time when farmers are defaulting and missing payments at alarming rates, forcing regional banks to restructure and refinance existing loans.

Today’s downturn of rural America is no different than what happened in the 1920s, 1930s, and the early 1980s.


Trump hit China with 25% on more than half of their exports. The stock market panicked this week. Here’s why you should celebrate…

Source: InfoWars

The Economic Innovation Group’s (EIG) Distressed Communities Index (DCI) shows a significant economic transformation (from two distinct periods: 2007-2011 and 2012-2016) that occurred since the financial crisis. The shift of human capital, job creation, and business formation to metropolitan areas reveals that rural America is teetering on the edge of collapse.

Since the crisis, the number of people living in prosperous zip codes expanded by 10.2 million, to a total of 86.5 million, an increase that was much greater than any other social class. Meanwhile, the number of Americans living in distressed zip codes decreased to 3.4 million, to a total of 50 million, the smallest shift of any other social class. This indicates that the geography of economic pain is in rural America.

“While the overall population in distressed zip codes declined, the number of rural Americans in that category increased by nearly 1 million between the two periods. Rural zip codes exhibited the most volatility and were by far the most likely to be downwardly mobile on the index, with 30 percent dropping into a lower quintile of prosperity—nearly twice the proportion of urban zip codes that fell into a lower quintile.

Meanwhile, suburban communities registered the greatest stability, with 61 percent remaining in the same quintile over both periods. Urban zip codes were the most robust—least likely to decline and more likely than their suburban counterparts to rise,” the report said.

Visualizing the collapse: Economic distress was mostly centered in the Southeast, Rust Belt, and South Central. In Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and West Virginia, at least one-third of the population were located in distressed zip codes.

Prosperous zip codes were the top beneficiaries of the jobs recovery since the financial crisis. All zip codes saw job declines during the recession, each laying off several million jobs from 2007 to 2010. But by 2016, prosperous zip codes had 3.6 million jobs surplus over 2007 levels, which was more than the bottom 80% of distressed zip codes combined. It took five years for prosperous zip codes to replace all jobs lost from the financial crisis; meanwhile, distressed zip codes will never recover.

EIG shows that less than 25% of all counties have recovered from business closures from the recession.

“US business formation has been dismal in both magnitude and distribution since the Great Recession. The country’s population is almost evenly split between counties that have fully replaced (with 161 million residents) and those that have not (with 157.4 million). This divide is due to the fact that highly populous counties—those with more than 500,000 residents—were far more likely to add businesses above and beyond 2007 levels than their smaller peers. Nearly three in every five large counties added businesses on net over the period, compared to only one in every five small one,” the report said.

To highlight the weak recovery and geographic unevenness of new business formation, EIG shows that the entire country had 52,800 more business establishments in 2016 than it did in 2007.

Five counties (Los Angeles, CA; Brooklyn, NY; Harris, TX (Houston); Queens, NY; and Miami-Dade, FL. ) had a combined 55,500 more businesses in 2016 than before the recession. Without those five counties, the US economy would not have recovered.

On top of deep structural changes in rural America, JPMorgan told clients last week that the entire agriculture complex is on the verge of disaster, with farmers in rural America caught in the crossfire of an escalating trade war.

“Overall, this is a perfect storm for US farmers,” JPMorgan analyst Ann Duignan warned investors.

Farmers are facing tremendous headwinds, including a worsening trade war, collapsing soybean exports to China, global oversupply conditions, and crop yield losses in the Midwest due to flooding. This all comes at a time when farmers are defaulting and missing payments at alarming rates, forcing regional banks to restructure and refinance existing loans.

Today’s downturn of rural America is no different than what happened in the 1920s, 1930s, and the early 1980s.


Trump hit China with 25% on more than half of their exports. The stock market panicked this week. Here’s why you should celebrate…

Source: InfoWars

Ramaphosa takes the oath of office at his inauguation as South African president, at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria
Cyril Ramaphosa takes the oath of office at his inauguation as South African president, at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria, South Africa May 25, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

May 25, 2019

By Nqobile Dludla

PRETORIA (Reuters) – Trade unionist-turned-businessman Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in as South Africa’s president on Saturday, vowing to create jobs and tackle deep-rooted corruption that has strangled economic growth.

Ramaphosa, who becomes the country’s fourth democratically elected president since the end of apartheid, took the presidential oath before a crowd of about 32,000 people in a rugby stadium in the capital, Pretoria.

“Today our nation enters a new era of hope and renewal,” said Ramaphosa, 66, wearing a dark suit and flanked by foreign leaders including Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

“Let us forge a compact for growth and economic opportunities, for productive land and wider opportunities … A compact of an efficient, capable and ethical state. A state that is free from corruption,” said Ramaphosa, a former anti-apartheid activist and trade union leader who has wide-ranging business interests.

Ramaphosa’s African National Congress (ANC) clinched a 57.5% majority in a general election earlier in May, down from 62% in 2014 as voters turned against the ruling party due to revelations about government corruption and record unemployment.

Ramaphosa narrowly won the ANC leadership race in late 2017 and replaced scandal-plagued predecessor Jacob Zuma as state president in February 2018, a year before the latter’s term was due to expire.

Since then he has struggled to mend factions in the party opposed to his reform plans, especially at cash-strapped state power supplier Eskom. His promises to punish party members accused of corruption have also stuttered.

The challenges facing Ramaphosa were highlighted on Friday by the resignation of Eskom’s chief executive, who quit only a year since he was appointed to stabilize the utility and keep the lights on after nationwide blackouts.

Also on Friday, S&P Global Ratings kept South Africa’s credit rating unchanged one notch below investment grade.

The economy is set for a first quarter contraction after mining and manufacturing weakened, prompting the central bank to cut its 2019 growth forecast to 1%, well below the rate of at least 3% needed to bring down debt, budget deficits and joblessness.

“The challenges our country faces are huge and are real but they are not insurmountable. They can be solved and I stand here to say they are going to be solved,” Ramaphosa said in his speech on Saturday.

Many in the crowd at Pretoria’s packed Loftus stadium were optimistic.

“I love my president Cyril Ramaphosa. I know that as long as we have him here he is going to give us jobs and change many things,” said Patience Shabangu, 45, a volunteer at a local clinic.

Political analysts say a key test of Ramaphosa’s ability to deliver reforms will be his announcement of new cabinet, which is expected to take place next week.

“The speech was an honest and brutal reflection of South Africa’s recent problems. But it was also optimistic,” said Daniel Silke, director of the Political Futures Consultancy.

“He will be judged on a very high bar and the next step is the cabinet. If it contains any semblance of the dead wood from the past he will be severely critiqued,” Silke added.

(Writing by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Helen Popper)

Source: OANN

Ramaphosa takes the oath of office at his inauguation as South African president, at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria
Cyril Ramaphosa takes the oath of office at his inauguation as South African president, at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria, South Africa May 25, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

May 25, 2019

By Nqobile Dludla

PRETORIA (Reuters) – Trade unionist-turned-businessman Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in as South Africa’s president on Saturday, vowing to create jobs and tackle deep-rooted corruption that has strangled economic growth.

Ramaphosa, who becomes the country’s fourth democratically elected president since the end of apartheid, took the presidential oath before a crowd of about 32,000 people in a rugby stadium in the capital, Pretoria.

“Today our nation enters a new era of hope and renewal,” said Ramaphosa, 66, wearing a dark suit and flanked by foreign leaders including Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

“Let us forge a compact for growth and economic opportunities, for productive land and wider opportunities … A compact of an efficient, capable and ethical state. A state that is free from corruption,” said Ramaphosa, a former anti-apartheid activist and trade union leader who has wide-ranging business interests.

Ramaphosa’s African National Congress (ANC) clinched a 57.5% majority in a general election earlier in May, down from 62% in 2014 as voters turned against the ruling party due to revelations about government corruption and record unemployment.

Ramaphosa narrowly won the ANC leadership race in late 2017 and replaced scandal-plagued predecessor Jacob Zuma as state president in February 2018, a year before the latter’s term was due to expire.

Since then he has struggled to mend factions in the party opposed to his reform plans, especially at cash-strapped state power supplier Eskom. His promises to punish party members accused of corruption have also stuttered.

The challenges facing Ramaphosa were highlighted on Friday by the resignation of Eskom’s chief executive, who quit only a year since he was appointed to stabilize the utility and keep the lights on after nationwide blackouts.

Also on Friday, S&P Global Ratings kept South Africa’s credit rating unchanged one notch below investment grade.

The economy is set for a first quarter contraction after mining and manufacturing weakened, prompting the central bank to cut its 2019 growth forecast to 1%, well below the rate of at least 3% needed to bring down debt, budget deficits and joblessness.

“The challenges our country faces are huge and are real but they are not insurmountable. They can be solved and I stand here to say they are going to be solved,” Ramaphosa said in his speech on Saturday.

Many in the crowd at Pretoria’s packed Loftus stadium were optimistic.

“I love my president Cyril Ramaphosa. I know that as long as we have him here he is going to give us jobs and change many things,” said Patience Shabangu, 45, a volunteer at a local clinic.

Political analysts say a key test of Ramaphosa’s ability to deliver reforms will be his announcement of new cabinet, which is expected to take place next week.

“The speech was an honest and brutal reflection of South Africa’s recent problems. But it was also optimistic,” said Daniel Silke, director of the Political Futures Consultancy.

“He will be judged on a very high bar and the next step is the cabinet. If it contains any semblance of the dead wood from the past he will be severely critiqued,” Silke added.

(Writing by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Helen Popper)

Source: OANN

Finland's central bank governor Rehn in Helsinki
Finland’s central bank governor Olli Rehn in Helsinki, Finland July 17, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

May 25, 2019

By Anne Kauranen

HELSINKI (Reuters) – European Central Bank presidential hopeful Olli Rehn spelled out the challenges facing Mario Draghi’s successor in an interview published on Saturday, but declined to comment on the process.

The ECB rate setter and Bank of Finland chief has been tipped as a potential successor to Draghi when the ECB president leaves on Oct. 31, but the process is steeped in secrecy.

“I trust that EU decision makers will find a person for the job who will be able to manage it even through tight spots which will also come,” Rehn was quoted as saying by Finland’s Helsingin Sanomat newspaper.

Replacing Draghi, who famously pledged in 2012 to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro, has left markets anxiously awaiting news of his successor.

“The governor has to be both qualified in monetary and financial policy as well as capable of team play,” Rehn said, while declining to comment on the deliberations.

Rehn’s previous posts include Finnish minister for economic affairs as well as a decade working as a European commissioner overseeing the bloc’s enlargement as well as economic policy.

In March, a Reuters poll of economists found that while French ECB board member Benoit Coeure was considered best-suited for the top job, the most likely compromise candidate was Rehn’s compatriot Erkki Liikanen, a former Finnish central bank chief.

When asked who was the most likely to win, well over a third named Liikanen, with the remainder almost equally split between Coeure, Rehn, French central bank chief Francois Villeroy de Galhau and Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann.

In the newspaper interview, Rehn paraphrased former England soccer player Gary Lineker’s line that, in the end, the Germans always win, although no German has so far held the top ECB job.

“It’s good to remember that even Germany can be beaten. You can ask Antonin Panenka about it,” Rehn added, referring to the former Czech footballer who scored the winning goal against West Germany in the 1976 final of soccer’s European Championships.

The goal? A softly chipped penalty in the middle of the net as the goalkeeper dived to one side.

(Writing by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Alexander Smith)

Source: OANN

72nd Cannes Film Festival - Photocall for the film
FILE PHOTO: 72nd Cannes Film Festival – Photocall for the film “Pain and Glory” (Dolor y Gloria) in competition – Cannes, France, May 18, 2019. Director Pedro Almodovar poses. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

May 25, 2019

By Sarah White

CANNES, France (Reuters) – An introspective turn by Spanish director Pedro Almodovar with a movie about an filmmaker, and a darkly humorous South Korean thriller are among the movies sparking awards buzz at Cannes in an unusually crowded field of runners and riders this year.

The film festival’s top Palme d’Or prize will be announced on Saturday evening after the jury headed up by Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu hash out their picks from the movies vying in the main selection.

“It’s been quite a strong year in all the competitions at Cannes,” said Meredith Taylor, editor of arthouse film site Filmuforia, adding that she had handed out more four-star reviews than usual.

Cannes juries have been known to stump critics, however.

“Quite often an outsider comes in,” Taylor said.

French director Celine Sciamma has also earned glowing praise for period love story “Portrait Of A Lady On Fire”, while first time director Ladj Ly of France impressed with the politically charged “Les Miserables”, a tale of police violence.

And as well as Almodovar’s “Pain And Glory”, the festival was not short of other strong entries from Cannes darlings, including two-time Palme d’Or winner Ken Loach with a searing swipe at Britain’s gig economy in “I’m Sorry We Missed You.”

Almodovar’s return with his loosely biographical film starring Antonio Banderas, on top form as a tormented filmmaker looking back at his life, has nonetheless sparked talk of long overdue recognition at Cannes.

The “All About My Mother” director has never won the top prize at the French cinema festival, where he headed up the jury two years ago.

His latest entry has him vying against another Cannes heavy-hitter in the field of filmmakers delving into the world of cinema for inspiration – Quentin Tarantino presented “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood”, his ode to a bygone era in tinseltown.

Its star-studded premiere this week marked one of the high points of the festival, as Tarantino walked the red carpet with Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in tow, though despite critical acclaim few have billed it as the one to watch.

Instead, Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite”, a suspenseful, wickedly funny satire about class struggles has sparked buzz of awards glory for the South Korean director.

Few films out of the 21 selected for Cannes’ main competition hit a bum note with critics – bar one-time award-winner Abdellatif Kechiche, whose three-and-half hour movie with extensive close-ups of a young girls twerking in a nightclub, “Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo”, was panned by reviewers.

(Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sits for an interview with Reuters in New York
FILE PHOTO: Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sits for an interview with Reuters in New York, New York, U.S. April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

May 25, 2019

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Saturday that the U.S. decision to deploy more troops to the Middle East in response to the perceived threat from Iran was “extremely dangerous” for peace.

The United States said it was sending 1,500 troops to region in what it called an effort to bolster defenses against Tehran, and it accused Iran’s Revolutionary Guards of direct responsibility for attacks on tankers this month.

“The Americans have made such allegations to justify their hostile policies and to raise tensions in the Persian Gulf,” Zarif told state news agency IRNA.

“Increased U.S. presence in our region is extremely dangerous and it threatens international peace and security, and this should be addressed,” he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump also invoked the threat from Iran to declare a national security-related emergency that would clear the sale of billions of dollars’ worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries without congressional approval.

It follows decisions to speed up the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group as well as to send bombers and additional Patriot missiles to the Middle East.

Separately, a Revolutionary Guards commander said the security of the Strait of Hormuz, an oil shipping route, was linked to Iran being able to export its oil, the semi-official news agency Fars reported.

“Major General Gholamali Rashid said that talking about security and stability in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz is not possible without considering the interests of the Iranian nation, including the export of oil,” Fars said.

Iran has threatened to disrupt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if the United States tries to strangle Tehran’s economy by halting its oil exports through increased sanctions.

Separately, an Iranian military official said Iran could sink U.S. warships in the Gulf, while another said it was unlikely for a war to start in the region.

“America…is sending two warships to the region. If they commit the slightest stupidity, we will send these ships to the bottom of the sea along with their crew and planes using two missiles or two new secret weapons,” General Morteza Qorbani, an adviser to Iran’s military command, told the Mizan news agency.

Western experts say Iran often exaggerates its weapons capabilities, although there are concerns about its missile program and particularly its long-range ballistic missiles.

“We believe rational Americans and their experienced commanders will not let their radical elements lead them into a situation from which it would be very difficult to get out, and that is why they will not enter a war,” Brigadier General Hassan Seifi, an assistant to Iran’s army chief, told Mehr news agency.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Sam Holmes and Angus MacSwan)

Source: OANN


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