The Next Big Seller Are Chinese Firms, Looking To Offload Western Companies

The Next Big Seller Are Chinese Firms, Looking To Offload Western Companies

Before the next recession strikes and valuations reset, who around the world will be the next bagholder? The Chinese have understood in the last several years, it could be them. Their recent acquisitions of foreign companies were paid at hefty premiums, and now, it seems that with an imminent global trade recession, these folks are ready to dump.

Bloomberg outlines a significant problem. Since the Chinese overpaid for many foreign companies in the last several years, volatile markets across the world have made it impossible at the moment to sell for the right price.

Since the ability to offload some of these companies through public markets has shut in 2019, one needs to look at the IPO implosion in the US, as these companies are now trying to reduce their debt piles, which is an acknowledgment that bad times are ahead.

Ferretti SpA, an Italian superyacht maker, owned by China’s SHIG–Weichai Group, shelved its IPO last week. Ferretti blamed macroeconomic headwinds for the dealy, as the IPO was seen as a way for SHIG–Weichai Group’s to cash out of its position in the company.

Since the trade war began a little over 15 months ago between the US and China, the Chinese have been selling assets across the world to build liquidity as domestic capital controls become tighter.

The global IPO and M&A markets are slowing, something we recently highlighted, has made it much more difficult for Chinese firms to sell foreign companies and assets in 2H19.

“It’s a big process of adjustment,” Mark Webster, managing director at BDA Partners in Shanghai, told Bloomberg in a phone interview. “Some Chinese companies made overseas acquisitions at the top of the cycle and ended up overpaying for assets that did not make a lot of strategic sense. They are now finding it challenging to offload those businesses at fair values.”

Another example of Chinese firms attempting to liquidate companies is PizzaExpress Ltd., a UK casual dining chain acquired by Chinese private equity firm Hony Capital in 2014.

Sources told Bloomberg that PizzaExpress had hired a financial adviser to prepare debt talks with creditors. There’s also a possibility that advisors are preparing the company for a sale.

China’s HNA Group Co. recently attempted to dump its stake in Avolon Holdings Ltd. for $8.5 billion, a deal that has yet to close.

Data compiled by Bloomberg shows the volume of Chinese outbound deals dropped to $59 billion so far this year, down 13% over last year, and well off 2016 high.

It’s only a matter of time before Chinese firms become forced sellers of Western companies, only to realize that there will be no buyers at the valuations they paid several years ago, as forced selling will then crush valuations.

Tyler Durden

Wed, 10/23/2019 – 19:30

via ZeroHedge News Tyler Durden

NYT Stealth-Edits Story To Hide Hillary’s Accusation Russia Is “Grooming” Gabbard

NYT Stealth-Edits Story To Hide Hillary’s Accusation Russia Is “Grooming” Gabbard

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

The New York Times stealth edited a story to hide Hillary Clinton’s claim that Tulsi Gabbard was being groomed by Russia, instead making it appear as though Clinton had said Republicans were grooming Gabbard.

Last week, Clinton told David Plouffe, “I’m not making any predictions but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She’s the favorite of the Russians.”

The context of the conversation was Russian election meddling.


The New York Times initially reported Clinton’s comments accurately, writing that Hillary said “Russia was “grooming” Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii as a third-party candidate for president.”

However, this line was subsequently changed with no notice that the edit had been made to say that Clinton said “Republicans were “grooming her as a third-party candidate for president.”


“NYT just stealth edited the original story about Hillary Clinton to claim that she didnt say the Russians were grooming Tulsi But that Republicans were. There is no correction, no notice, this was done quietly,” tweeted Tim Pool.

It appears as though the NY Times is literally trying to change history to cover for Clinton given the massive backlash she received for falsely claiming Gabbard was a Russian asset.

*  *  *

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Tyler Durden

Wed, 10/23/2019 – 19:10


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Iraq Urges UN To Kick “Unauthorized” US Forces From Country

Iraq Urges UN To Kick “Unauthorized” US Forces From Country

The Iraqi government’s efforts to expel what it increasingly considers an ‘unauthorized’ American occupation have just escalated dramatically, as Baghdad is now urging the United Nations to expel US troops from sovereign Iraqi territory

As we noted previously, Baghdad officials rejected a Pentagon plan to relocate some 1,000 US troops now exiting Syria to US bases in western Iraq, saying the additional troops had “no approval to stay”

On Wednesday Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi announced he’s taking “all international legal measures” over the entry of U.S. troops from neighboring Syria, again underscoring the Pentagon had no authorization for such a move, and that the troops are “not allowed” to remain in the country, but only “transition” on their way to other US bases in Kuwait and Qatar.

US exiting Syria, via Getty/Al Jazeera

“We have (already) issued an official statement saying that and are taking all international legal measures. We ask the international community and the United Nations to perform their roles in this matter,” Abdul Mahdi’ said.

He said that any American forces coming from Syria have four weeks to leave Iraq, as reported by the AP.

The firm ‘red line’ assertion came immediately after the prime minister met with US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who arrived earlier in the day on an unannounced visit, apparently to negotiate a compromise. Without Iraq’s cooperation, the White House’s Syria exit strategy and its logistics are in question. 

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper in a likely attempt to placate growing Iraqi anger, said, “The aim isn’t to stay in Iraq interminably. The aim is to pull our soldiers out and eventually get them back home.”

Currently there are more than 5,000 American forces stationed in the country as part of a prior controversial agreement with Baghdad. One senior Pentagon official noted to Reuters this week that the situation remains “fluid and plans could change”.

There’s growing popular anger at the continued US presence largely due to a spate of Israeli drone strikes over the past few months on Iran-backed Iraqi paramilitary bases, mostly in and around Baghdad. 

Washington’s priorities in the country have generally been expressed by defense officials as countering the threat of any resurgent ISIS , and preventing Iranian entrenchment and expansion in the region. 

Tyler Durden

Wed, 10/23/2019 – 18:50

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‘Be Careful What You Wish For’ – Establishment Democrats Are Looking For A “Savior” To Enter The Race

‘Be Careful What You Wish For’ – Establishment Democrats Are Looking For A “Savior” To Enter The Race

Authored by Michael Snyder via The End of The American Dream blog,

Establishment Democrats are becoming extremely nervous, because they are starting to realize that the field of candidates currently running for the Democratic nomination is exceedingly weak. 

The campaign is nearly a year old, there have been nationally televised debates month after month, and at this point only three candidates in the field have any chance of winning.  All of the other candidates have completely flopped, and establishment Democrats are deeply concerned about the weaknesses of the three candidates that are still standing.  Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are considered to be way too liberal to win a general election, and Joe Biden has been slipping in the polls and his fundraising numbers have been absolutely terrible.  

With just a few months left until voting begins, many establishment Democrats are now desperate for a “savior” to come along and bail them out, and that could potentially result in a very familiar name entering the race.

This cycle, more Democrats have run for president than ever before, and at first it seemed like at least a few of them would generate a significant level of enthusiasm.  But now that it is clear that it is a three way race between Biden, Warren and Sanders, key Democratic operatives all over the country are evaluating whether there are other options.  The following originally comes from the New York Times

When a half-dozen Democratic donors gathered at the Whitby Hotel in Manhattan last week, the dinner began with a discussion of which presidential candidates the contributors liked. But as conversations among influential Democrats often go these days, the meeting quickly evolved into a discussion of who was not in the race – but could be lured in.

What Democrats care about more than anything else is beating Donald Trump in November 2020, and right now there are serious doubts about those that are leading the race.

Former Obama adviser David Axelrod put it this way

“With Trump looming, there is genuine concern that the horse many have bet on may be pulling up lame and the horse who has sprinted out front may not be able to win,” said David Axelrod, a former adviser to President Barack Obama.

Of course the horse that is “pulling up lame” is Joe Biden.  For most of the race he was leading in the polls, but recently his numbers have been falling and his fundraising has been abysmal.  The following comes from Vanity Fair

While Vice President Joe Biden may still be the front-runner in the 2020 polls, he’s falling woefully behind when it comes to campaign cash. New campaign finance filings released Tuesday reveal that while the 2020 candidate took in $15.7 million in the third quarter, Biden’s campaign only has $8.9 million on hand going into the fourth quarter. And with the Iowa caucuses rapidly approaching in February, his donors are reportedly starting to get nervous about Uncle Joe making it to the finish line.

Biden’s third quarter cash haul falls far behind his fellow top-tier 2020 candidates. Senator Bernie Sanders took in $25.3 million and has $33.7 million cash on hand, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Biden’s closest rival in the polls, took in $24.7 million and has $25.7 million on hand. Though slightly further down in the polls, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was one of the top third-quarter fundraisers with $19.2 million and $23.4 million on hand.

Biden’s pitiful fundraising haul is yet another indication of the lack of enthusiasm surrounding his campaign.

People that give money to campaigns generally do so because they truly believe in the candidate that they are giving money to.

But throughout his political career, Biden has never been able to generate much national enthusiasm, and the same thing is true today.

And if Biden is really struggling to raise money now, how in the world is he going to compete with Trump’s fundraising machine in the general election?

Top Democrats all over the nation are talking about these things, and many of them are intent on finding a “savior” that can rescue them from the potential disaster that they see looming in November 2020.

In recent days, two of the biggest names that are being thrown around are Hillary Clinton and Michael Bloomberg.

Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Bloomberg have both told people privately in recent weeks that if they thought they could win, they would consider entering the primary — but that they were skeptical there would be an opening, according to Democrats who have spoken with them.

Bloomberg is an interesting figure, but the Democrats are simply not going to nominate a rich, white billionaire, and so he might as well forget it.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, would instantly become the front runner if she were to enter the race, and according to the Stamford Advocate she thinks about it “all the time”…

Those close to Clinton, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment on her behalf, say she has felt vindicated over the past few weeks as Trump’s political difficulties have deepened. That sentiment was reinforced this week when the State Department announced its probe into emails sent to a private server, a major complication of her 2016 campaign, found no evidence of deliberate mishandling of classified information by department employees.

“Ultimately, it’s unlikely she would do it,” said one person who has spoken with her. “But put it this way: It ain’t zero. And does she think about it all the time? Absolutely.”

This month, Hillary Clinton has been all over the mainstream media, and she has been frequently asked about the 2020 race.

In response, she has repeatedly stated that she is not endorsing any of the current candidates, and she has refused to shoot down the persistent rumors that she may enter the race herself.

For example, at the latest stop on her “book tour” she had every opportunity to say that she was not running, but instead she seemed to welcome the speculation

“All that matters is that we win,” Clinton told Strayed. “I hate to be so, you know, simplistic about it. We have to nominate (cough) … the best …

“You!” someone shouted from the audience, drawing a big smile and laugh from Clinton.

She didn’t disavow the idea.

“Oh, my. Well, thank you,” Clinton said. “I just feel so strongly that, look, I just want to say a little bit more about this, because what’s going on now with the impeachment inquiry is not a choice it was an obligation under the Constitution.”

You can watch her making these remarks on video right here.

And then on Tuesday, Clinton sparked even more speculation when she shared a very cryptic quote from Beyonce on Instagram

Hillary Clinton on Tuesday kicked up more 2020 buzz after posting a quote from pop megastar Beyoncé about the need to take power, praising the sentiment and adding, “Beyoncé speaks the truth.”

The failed presidential candidate posted the quote from the “Halo” singer on Instagram on Tuesday. It read, “Power’s not given to you. You have to take it.”


@Beyonce speaks the truth.⁣ ⁣ #GutsyWomen

A post shared by Hillary Clinton (@hillaryclinton) on

Clinton’s post has received more than 58,000 likes so far, and most of the candidates currently in the Democratic field would kill for that sort of enthusiasm.

And when asked about a potential rematch with Trump during a recent appearance on PBS Newshour, Clinton responded by saying that “maybe there does need to be a rematch – I mean obviously I can beat him again.

Of course that could only happen if Trump actually makes it to the 2020 election.  After the Democrat-controlled House impeaches Trump, there will be a trial in the U.S. Senate, and many experts are assuming that the Republican-controlled Senate will protect Trump and keep him in office.

But when the Daily Caller recently contacted every Republican in the Senate, only 7 of them said that they have ruled out voting to remove President Trump from office.

Only 7 out of 53.

I am extremely concerned about what is going to happen in the Senate, because removing Trump from office would throw our entire country into a state of chaos.

And with our nation in a state of chaos, it would be the perfect opportunity for the most evil politician of our generation to step forward and pick up the pieces.

Tyler Durden

Wed, 10/23/2019 – 18:30


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Millennial “Oceans 11” Crew Busted In Global Insider-Trading Scam Stretching From Manhattan To Monaco

Millennial “Oceans 11” Crew Busted In Global Insider-Trading Scam Stretching From Manhattan To Monaco

Two junior investment bankers, one from Moelis & Company and another from Centerview Partners LLC., fell in love with one another, then decided to operate an international insider-trading scheme using nonpublic information from each other’s firms to sell to securities traders around the world, reaped millions of dollars, are currently on the run as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed a civil complaint against the pair, reported The Wall Street Journal.

Darina Windsor (Centerview) and Benjamin Taylor (Moelis & Company), two former junior-level bankers, were not just young millennial lovers, they also operated a yearslong global insider trading ring.

They stole confidential documents detailing upcoming corporate transactions for mainly US-listed companies that were then sold off to traders in various countries. The scheme yielded the pair millions of dollars, SEC prosecutors said.

Court documents filed by the SEC Tuesday said Windsor, 32, and Taylor, 35, were among six people charged in separate indictments.

SEC prosecutors allege the couple stole nonpublic corporate documents from eaches respected firm and shared it with traders across Europe.

Windsor worked at Centerview until 2016, and Taylor was an employee at Moelis from 2012-2014. It’s believed the couple is still on the run.

“The insider trading charges announced today lay bare a long-running international scheme stretching over the course of years, whose participants earned tens of millions of dollars in illicit profits from illegally trading on stolen inside information,” said Audrey Strauss, the deputy U.S. attorney in Manhattan.

Court documents allege the couple sold inside information on 22 companies from 2H12 through 1Q18. Some of the nonpublic information were upcoming deals on Merk, Amgen, and Celgene. The data was then passed onto intermediaries, who then supplied it to a network of traders in Switzerland and London. SEC prosecutors said these traders made tens of millions of dollars in illicit gains.

Taylor used several burner phones and cryptic smartphone apps to communicate with intermediaries.

“Once upon a time, there was a Pops searching for Truffles in the Forest,” the subject line of an email Windsor wrote to Taylor that had inside information about Amgen buying out Onyx Pharmaceuticals for $8.5 billion in 2013 — the data was then passed onto middlemen who supplied it to traders in Europe.

The SEC alleges the couple made millions of dollars from selling nonpublic information to various traders.

In a separate indictment, Joseph El-Khouri, a London-based trader, was charged by the SEC for paying an intermediary for inside information, who was part of Windsor and Taylor’s scheme.

El-Khouri was arrested in London on Monday and will likely be extradited to the US in the near term.

And to come full circle with our earlier report last weekend, detailing how Bryan Cohen, a vice president at Goldman Sachs, was arrested last Friday by the Feds for leaking nonpublic information. It appears Cohen has now been linked to the international insider-trading ring.

Tyler Durden

Wed, 10/23/2019 – 18:10

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NASA: Ozone Hole Is Now The Smallest On Record

NASA: Ozone Hole Is Now The Smallest On Record

Authored by Mac Slavo via,

NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, says that Earth’s ozone hole is now the smallest it’s been since it’s discovery. Abnormally warm weather patterns in the upper atmosphere over Antarctica dramatically limited ozone depletion in September and October 2019, resulting in the smallest ozone hole since 1982, NASA and NOAA scientists reported.

NASA says the hole is smaller due to a “rare event.” That rare event is warmer weather patterns in the upper atmosphere over Antarctica and we are constantly being told that warming is all man-made “climate change.”

“It’s a rare event that we’re still trying to understand,” said Susan Strahan, an atmospheric scientist.

“If the warming hadn’t happened, we’d likely be looking at a much more typical ozone hole.”

The ozone layer is approximately 7 to 25 miles above the Earth’s surface and acts as a “sunscreen” for the planet, NASA added. It keeps out harmful ultraviolet radiation from the Sun that has been linked to skin cancer, cataracts, immune system suppression and can also cause damage to plants.

The government agency said that the hole had shrunk to 3.9 million square miles for the remainder of September and October, according to satellite data. The peak in the hole was 6.3 million square miles, observed on Sept. 8. During normal weather conditions, the hole is usually around 8 million square miles during this time of year. -Fox News

“It’s great news for ozone in the Southern Hemisphere,” said Paul Newman, chief scientist for Earth Sciences at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in a statement on NASA’s website.

“But it’s important to recognize that what we’re seeing this year is due to warmer stratospheric temperatures. It’s not a sign that atmospheric ozone is suddenly on a fast track to recovery.”

Experts tend to agree that the Antarctic ozone will recover back to levels seen in 1980 around 2070 thanks to the Montreal Protocol. The 1987 Montreal Protocol was enacted after scientists found a hole in the ozone over Antarctica and Australia in 1985. It was enacted by the United Nations Environment Program. Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said it was “[p]erhaps the single most successful international agreement to date” and it has been widely regarded as successful, with the ozone continuing to recover each year.

Tyler Durden

Wed, 10/23/2019 – 17:50

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Google Confirms ‘Quantum Supremacy’ – Completes 10,000 Year Calculation In 200 Seconds

Google Confirms ‘Quantum Supremacy’ – Completes 10,000 Year Calculation In 200 Seconds

Google has officially confirmed that they’ve achieved quantum supremacy.

While the breakthrough leaked last month, the company provided new details with the publication of a new article in the scientific journal, Nature

The company says that their 54-qbit Sycamore processor was able to perform a calculation in 200 seconds which would have taken the world’s most powerful supercomputer 10,000 years

Unsurprisingly, IBM, the company that operates the supercomputer that Google claims to have beaten, and a key quantum computer competitor, is disputing Google’s claims. In a blog post published pre-emptively on Monday, the company said that the same task could be performed on a classical system in just 2.5 days, rather than the 10,000 years that Google is claiming. IBM says that Google “failed to fully account for plentiful disk storage” when estimating how long its traditional supercomputer would take to perform the calculation. –The Verge

Quantum supremacy has raised concerns that the company will be able to crack the strongest encryption, including the blockchain. That said, ex-Bitcoin Core developer Peter Todd called the achievement a “primitive type of quantum computing that is nowhere near breaking cryptography.”  

“We still don’t even know if it’s possible to scale quantum computers; quite possible that adding qbits will have an exponential cost,” he added. 

Some scientists have likened the breakthrough to the Wright brothers’ first plane flight in 1903, “proof that something is really possible even though it may be years before it can fulfill its potential,” according to the New York Times

“The original Wright flyer was not a useful airplane,” said University of Texas computer scientist Scott Aaronson. “But it was designed to prove a point. And it proved the point.” 

Tyler Durden

Wed, 10/23/2019 – 17:29

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Tesla Explodes Higher As Company Reports Blowout EPS, Even As CapEx Shrinks Again

Tesla Explodes Higher As Company Reports Blowout EPS, Even As CapEx Shrinks Again

Three months ago, the main question for Tesla’s second quarter results was whether the electric-car maker was on a stable path to finally turn profitable. The answer, at the time, was not as Tesla not only missed on the top and bottom line, but the company slashed its capex outlook, suggesting that its vision for the growthy future has become far more cloudy. It also sent the company’s stock tumbling.

Fast forward to today, when looking at Tesla’s Q3 earnings the question for investors will again be more or less the same: will Tesla finally be able to turn a profit in a quarter in which Tesla delivered a record number of vehicles (yet coming light of expectations) with focus increasingly shifting to whether the company can sell cars profitably.

Tesla’s margins have come under pressure in recent quarters, as the carmaker has been selling more lower priced, lower margin Model 3 sedans compared with the older Model S and Model X. A further squeeze could also come from rising battery prices, according to Roth Capital Partners analyst Craig Irwin. As a result, the average analyst estimate for Q3 gross margin had fallen sharply after the second quarter, and is down 27% over the past year.

Separately, revenue estimates suggest the company’s top line will fall compared with last year, the first such drop for Tesla since 2012 when the Model S started production.

Another key metric will be cash flow with analysts expecting free cash flow to drop to $35.9 million for the period, which according to Bloomberg Intelligence is “The single most important number to track… Paying the bills, supporting global expansion and servicing the debt are the bottom line necessities. Almost all of the other metrics are just noise.”

Also under the microscope will be Tesla’s guidance – Musk has said he expects to deliver 360,000 to 400,000 vehicles in 2019, although many analysts believe it will be tough for the company to reach these numbers.

* * *

So with all that in mind, here are the main numbers that Tesla reported for the third quarter, bizarrely in a totally different format to Elon Musk’s previous investor letter:

  • Revenue as expected, was a disappointment, at $6.30BN, far below the estimate of $6.45 billion
  • But it was EPS that blew investors away, as Tesla reported a mindblowing EPS of $1.91, orders of magnitude above the 24c estimate. Non-GAAP EPS was even higher, at
  • Free cash flow was $342MM, also far above the estimate of $35.9 million
  • Automotive gross margin was 22.8%, below the estimate of 25.0%
  • However, capital expenditures was just $385 million, once again far below the estimate of $561.9 milliond

The company’s new reporting format at least makes following the numbers somewhat easier:

And visually, revenues:

And EPS:

While analysts are scratching their heads to figure out just how Musk padded results this quarter, the stock is exploding higher in a furious short squeeze, trading up 17% to just shy of $300, the highest since April.

Bizarrely, while Elon Musk didn’t sign the actual quarterly letter – a first – he did Tweet his own summary of the company’s results.


Tyler Durden

Wed, 10/23/2019 – 17:10

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Tulsi’s Youtube, Suppressed!

Tulsi’s Youtube, Suppressed!

Authored by Serban V.C. Enache via Hereticus Economicus,

Yesterday, Steven Crowder very easily and quickly proved how Youtube [aka. Google] is sabotaging Tulsi Gabbard with its search results. Gabbard’s channel appeared in the first Youtube results when accessing the website with a Spanish IP. But when Crowder switched to a USA IP address, Tulsi’s channel no longer came up in the results. Crowder’s team made the discovery by carefully monitoring the popular website, after their channel got demonetized back in June.

Crowder also dedicated an entire video on the subject of Google meddling in the US election by targeting Gabbard specifically. He’s not a fan of her political views, however, he supports free speech across the board.

“So that Friday, you search, [Tulsi’s] trending number one on Twitter. All of a sudden [snaps fingers] boom, valve is pinched, you can’t find her exclusively in the United States. You can if you’re in Germany; you can if you’re Spain. United States however – nothing.” 

Crowder pointed out that Tulsi’s channel appeared as normal by Sunday, after Hillary’s “Russian asset” smears made their way out of the news cycle.

Anticipating the standard Google denial response [that their search algorithm is tailored for each unique user], Steven Crowder questioned how a “feature” blocking or suppressing a US presidential candidate’s Youtube channel was a positive thing for user experience.

“Could you please explain to me, your shareholders, and in all likelihood a congressional hearing why you believe it most appropriate in serving your audience to block the content of a United States presidential candidate exclusively in the country in which she is running?”

Tulsi Gabbard has a pending lawsuit against Google over suspension of her Google Ads account the night of her appearance on the 1st Dem Debate, when she was the most searched name on the platform. Thus far she hasn’t replied to Crowder’s discovery. She definitely should! Her campaign staff at the very least.

Tyler Durden

Wed, 10/23/2019 – 17:10

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It’s Official: Trump Says US Keeping Syria’s Oil, Secured By “Small Number” Of Troops

It’s Official: Trump Says US Keeping Syria’s Oil, Secured By “Small Number” Of Troops

“Now we’re getting out… let someone else fight over this long bloodstained sand,” President Trump said during a major, unannounced speech from the White House declaring America’s “big success” in Syria. 

As we predicted, he confirmed the US is “getting out” but it’s not quite the reality, because he also confirmed a “small number” of American troops will stay in Syria to protect oil in the region

“We have secured the oil and, therefore, a small number of U.S. Troops will remain in the area where they have the oil,” Trump said. “And we’re going to be protecting it, and we’ll be deciding what we’re going to do with it in the future.”

But of course, this oil belongs to the Syrian state and its people, as even former top White House Syria and Iraq envoy Brett McGurk, stated bluntly this week: “Oil, like it or not, is owned by the Syrian state.”

Trump also acknowledged during the Wednesday televised address, in a rare reference to past White House policy, that Obama embarked on a failed “regime change” bid in Syria, which morphed into a nightmarish war taking 500,000 lives. 

Currently, even amid a US troop pullback in the north, American special forces and Kurdish-led SDF forces remain in control of the key oil and gas infrastructure in the Deir Ezzor region, east of the Euphrates. The major oil and gas fields in the eastern region such as al-Omar, Conoco field, and Rumeilan oil field, remain Syria’s only significant domestic energy access.

Perhaps this policy of “we’re keeping the oil” will at least dispel among the public and media that Washington’s actions in the Middle East are somehow ‘noble’.

Clearly at the end of the day it appears more simply as just naked US imperialism, bent on economic strangulation of the Syrian people in order to bend Damascus (and its ally Iran) to America’s will. 

But there’s always a ‘fig leaf’ justification concocted. In this case it was expressed by the Secretary of Defense yesterday: “Esper said the main goal of leaving some troops around the oil fields would be to make sure the Islamic State doesn’t gain control of the revenue they generate,” the Associated Press reported.

Though Trump has now expressed his will to “protect” the oil for US interests, one key question remains: how on a practical military level will this be done? 

The Syrian Kurds have already done a deal with Assad, which will likely lead to further forced concessions (the oil and gas fields being primary, which clearly the White House is grasping for as last minute leverage).

So ultimately Trump’s plan could see a tiny contingent of US special forces stationed in the heart of a sovereign state, specifically in oil fields, with little practical logistical support and access, and surrounded by hostile powers. 

Tyler Durden

Wed, 10/23/2019 – 16:50


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