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Blackwater USA – Daily Brief

U.S.

  • Pres. Trump fired “Mr. Tough Guy” NSA Bolton with a  tweet. Analysts say Bolton’s departure will shift the balance of foreign policy power within the administration towards SecState Pompeo.
  • Pompeo seems pleased: he told reporters “there were many times Ambassador Bolton and I disagreed, that’s for sure.” Pres. Maduro is probably also glad that his nemesis is no longer calling key shots.

Afghanistan

  • Reuters reports that fighting has picked up in northern Afghanistan since U.S.-Taliban peace talks broke down. Government officials reported fighting in at least 10 provinces.
  • Local reports say the Taliban has overrun six districts—or rather, caused the ANSF to make a “tactical retreat to avoid civilian casualties” in six districts—in the last two weeks; while the government has regained control of three other districts.

South Sudan

  • Pres. Kiir and former VP Machar met for three hours at the State House, and promised to resolve all outstanding hurdles blocking them from forming a unity government by November 12th—but didn’t announce any specific new agreements or practical steps towards resolution.
  • Machar complained that he’s still under house arrest in Khartoum, but hoped that “maybe IGAD [a regional group] will determine my status to be free to come and discuss more with [Kiir] here.”

China

  • Pres. Trump announced a two-week “good will” delay in implementing tariff increases on $250 billion of Chinese goods that were supposed to go into effect Oct. 1, and China offered a full-year delay on higher tariffs on a dozen U.S. products.

Iran

  • Pres. Trump is reportedly considering something like the $15 billion bailout for Iran that French Pres. Macron proposed earlier this year—if Iran comes back into compliance with the terms of the nuclear deal.
  • Pres. Rouhani, however, reiterated to French Pres. Macron by phone that Iran was not willing to enter talks with the U.S. until sanctions had been lifted.

North Korea

  • North Korea said it was willing to resume nuclear talks with the U.S. in late September—but then tested a “super-large multiple rocket launcher” later the same day. That sounds a bit like the Taliban’s strategy of continuing to antagonize the U.S. during negotiations, in order to squeeze out a better deal.

Guyana

  • JetBlue said it would start daily flights to Georgetown, Guyana on April 2, 2020. It’ll compete with American Airlines, which already flies to Georgetown daily.

Venezuela

  • Venezuela deployed 150,000 troops to the Colombian border for military exercises to practice anti-invasion strategies, worrying Colombia and its allies.

DRC

  • U.S. HHS Secretary Alex Azar will lead a delegation to DRC and neighboring countries “in the coming days” to study the ongoing Ebola outbreak.

Brexit

  • Vox reported on the “Operation Yellowhammer” report on no-deal Brexit scenarios that was officially published this week. It’s bleak. Article pasted below.

Yemen

  • Long War Journal says AQAP and IS have resumed a faster pace of attacks against each other, after spending the summer only conducting small, sporadic raids on the other side. AQAP seems to be the aggressor in most cases, while IS says it’s repelling AQAP attacks.

Middle East

  • Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri gave an address to celebrate and defend the 9/11 attacks as valid jihad, and pointed to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the latest front against the West. He called on followers to attack Israel and its allies wherever possible.

The UK government’s own assessment of what a no-deal Brexit looks like is dire (Vox)

“Operation Yellowhammer” leaked this summer, but the government made it public this week. The no-deal scenarios are still really, really bad.

Waits of up to 2.5 days at border crossings, delays in the arrival of medicines, decrease in the supply of fresh food, disruptions to financial services, potential fuel shortages — these are just some of the “reasonable worst-case” scenarios if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without a Brexit deal on October 31.

And that’s not according to Brexit opponents. That’s according to the UK government’s own planning documents.

The government’s conclusions are laid out in a report dubbed “Operation Yellowhammer,” which was officially made public on Wednesday.

Details of Operation Yellowhammer leaked earlier this summer. But on Monday, members of Parliament voted to force the government to release it, demanding the government be transparent about what the UK should expect — especially since Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he wants to leave the EU by the end of October, no matter what.

The document makes it clear just how bad a no-deal scenario would be for the UK, and not just in the short term. The report warns that some of the fallout could linger for weeks or even months as companies and citizens adjust to the new reality.

And if a no-deal Brexit happens on October 31, the report says some of the impacts could be even worse because of the season: autumn and winter could see severe weather or seasonal flu that make everything worse and “stretch resources of partners and responders.”

The Operation Yellowhammer document, whose findings are current as of August 2, 2019, also suggests the public and businesses still aren’t prepared for what may come with a no-deal Brexit. This is partly because Brexit remains so unsettled and the future of the EU-UK breakup is so uncertain that no one really knows what the heck they should be preparing for, anyway.

You can read the full text of the Operation Yellowhammer report here. Just one item, No. 15, is redacted, but reporters who saw the original document in August say it has to do with fuel shortages and job losses in that industry.