Coming Up This Week
- The U.S. Federal Reserve meets tomorrow and Wednesday, and is widely expected to cut interest rates by a quarter point.
- The Israeli Knesset election is tomorrow. PM Netanyahu’s Likud party is tied in polling with the centrist Blue and White group.
- Pres. Trump is expected to name a new NSA this week, and said he has five candidates in mind.
- The United Auto Workers union expects to begin a strike at U.S. GM factories at midnight tonight.
- The Rugby World Cup opens in Japan next Sunday, with a match between Japan and Russia. New Zealand and Ireland are seen as favorites.
- The U.S. government released satellite images purporting to show that the attacks on Saudi oil assets came from the direction of Iraq or Iran—not Yemen, as the Houthis claimed.
- That said, Pres. Trump appeared to soften his rhetoric towards Iran after the attacks because he would “like to avoid” war with Iran.
- Oil prices in Asia opened $11/barrel higher this week, but then settled to ~$7/barrel higher than Friday’s close.
- Iran is naturally denying that it had anything to do with attacks on its Sunni arch nemesis’s oil infrastructure, even though it most likely supplied the weapons used—at the very least.
- Analysts say the attacks could cause a shift towards U.S. oil supplies, which are more disperse, and harder to target.
- Meanwhile, Iran tried to divert attention from the Saudi attacks by seizing a boat that it said was smuggling 250,000 litres of fuel to the UAE.
- Yet another U.S. soldier was killed in action in Afghanistan today—reportedly by small arms fire in Sayyidabad District of Wardak province. I don’t think IS is in Wardak, so this looks like another Taliban killing.
- The Taliban lifted its five-month-old ban on the Red Cross, and promised to start protecting (i.e., not targeting) aid workers again. This skirmish started when the Taliban felt the Red Cross was refusing to help some of its injured fighters in government prisons; I wonder if the Red Cross has now agreed to do that.
IS & Syria
- IS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi released his first public audio statement since April, in which he called on followers to release detained IS jihadis from Iraqi and Syrian prisons by any means necessary. Some analysts think he’s hiding in Libya, but it’s really unclear.
- Turkey is hosting talks with Russia and Iran on defusing the situation in Idlib, Syria.
- Tullow announced a second oil find in Guyana—this one at the Joe-1 exploratory well. It reached 14 meters of “net oil pay” at a depth of 2,175 meters (including 780 meters of water). Tullow now plans to drill at least three new wells off the coast of Guyana in 2020.
- Pres. Guaido said that Norway-mediated talks with Pres. Maduro’s side are “finished,” though we’ve learned about some side efforts to talk with high-level Maduro officials since these Norwegian-led talks started. Perhaps those are going better.
- Purdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin, filed for bankruptcy, as planned in its settlement agreement with plaintiffs who accused it of peddling opioids to addicts. The company will dissolve, and then reform with the OxyContin part split off into a separate branch whose revenues (rather than profits, if the article I read is accurate) will go to the suit’s plaintiffs.