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Topics - Rudi Jan

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1
Syrian Army Cuts Terrorists' Most Important Supply Road to Idlib

Sun Aug 18, 2019 5:44
source: https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980527001003



TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army continued its military operations around Khan Sheikhoun in Southern Idlib, and cut off the most important and main route used by the terrorists from Ma'aret al-Numan to Khan Sheikhoun.

The Syrian Army troops, meantime, continued their clashes with Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) to the Northwest of Kham Sheikhoun, took control of the town of Tal Kafar Eidoun just three kilometers to the West of the International Aleppo-Damascus Highway.

The Syrian Army troops, meantime, continued their advances from Tal al-Nar to the East of Tal Alas and captured Mohammad Qassem al-Najm Farms and Sifu to the East of Kafar Nab.

A military source, meantime, pointed to the Syrian Army troops' efforts to lay full siege to Khan Sheikhoun, and said that by imposing control over the Aleppo-Damascus Highway, the Syrian Army has managed to cut off the main road linking Khan Sheikhoun to Ma'aret al-Numan that hosts the largest bastion of the terrorists in Idlib province.

The English-language al-Masdar reported that the Syrian Army is now just one kilometers away from Khan Sheikhoun.

In a relevant development earlier on Sunday, the Syrian Army continued its military operations in Southern Idlib, and further tightened its grip over the terrorists after capturing strategic areas around Khan Sheikhoun.

The Syrian Army units backed by artillery units engaged in fierce clashes with Tahrir al-Sham in Northwestern Khan Sheikhoun in Southern Idlib and managed to take control of Khan Sheikhoun Farms and the strategic hilltop Elnar near Khan Sheikhoun City.

The Arabic-language website of the Russian Sputnik news agency, meantime reported that the Syrian Air Forces in consecutive attacks hit the terrorists’ military positions in Khan Sheikhoun, Rakaya, Kafar Sajneh and Sheikh Mustafa in Southern Idlib, destroying a number of their centers and military vehicles as well as movements.

A military source, meantime, pointed to the killing of tens of terrorists in the Syrian Army’s military operations, and said that the government forces have taken full control of Khan Sheikhoun’s Western to Northern frams.

It, meantime, reiterated that the Syrian Army captured the strategic al-Nar hilltop and paralyzed terrorists in military terms in the city of al-Rakaya and took full control of the Western part of Kafar Sajneh city.

The terrorist groups are losing their militants in Syrian Army's continued advances near Khan Sheikhoun and sustaining heavy defeats.

R And here we thought the USG and it's evil coalition had defeated the terrorists months ago while Russia and Syria stood idly by. Isn't that so Mr. Trump?

2
Go For Gold: Here's Why Russia Can Become Fourth Biggest Reserve Holder

11:26 18.08.2019(updated 11:29 18.08.2019)
source: https://sputniknews.com/business/201908181076576617-go-for-gold-heres-why-russia-can-become-fourth-biggest-reserve-holder/


© Sputnik / Павел Лисицын

For the first time in eight years, Russia can overtake Saudi Arabia as the fourth biggest holder of foreign currency reserves, precious metal, and other securities, according to a Bloomberg assessment.

Russian gold and foreign exchange reserves are set to outstrip those of Saudi Arabia, allowing Moscow to "leapfrog" Riyadh in international rankings, while the top spots are held by China, Japan, and Switzerland.

The steadily growing stockpile would likely provide Russia with increased influence within OPEC and stabilise its national currency, the rouble, even in the event of plummeting oil prices.

'Sluggish' Demand for Oil

The assessment was made by Bloomberg analysts, who concluded that Russian international reserves have grown by 45 percent over the past four years, while according to the data released by the Central Bank of Russia, the figure amounted to roughly $520 billion in late July.

Over the same four-year span, Saudi gold and foreign currency reserves have shrunk by a quarter, from $700 billion in April 2015 to $527 billion in June 2019, thus reducing the gap between Moscow and Riyadh.

Intriguingly, both economies are dependent on hydrocarbon exports — and the situation on the oil market is increasingly uncertain.

According to a monthly report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), in the first five months of 2019, world demand for black gold grew by only 520,000 barrels per day, which is the lowest figure since the financial crisis of 2008.

The agency assessed that the ongoing trade wars, which have already caused the collapse of the shipping industry around the world, to be the main reason for the "very sluggish" demand for fuel. The unresolved trade dispute between China and the United States and the imposition of new US tariffs on Chinese goods in September will only excerbate the existing trend, pushing the demand for transport fuel, as well as oil prices, into further decline.

If developments unfold this way, Saudi Arabia will have to spend money from its reserves, while in Russia the situation is different.

Putting All Eggs in a Golden Basket

In the past few years, Russia has steadily stockpiled gold, becoming the world's largest buyer of the precious yellow metal in the first quarter of 2019, while simultaneously drastically reducing its US Treasury holdings as part of a so-called de-dollarisation drive (from $160 billion in early 2013 to $10.8 billion in June 2019).

Saudi Arabia holds more than $170 billion in US Treasuries, but its gold reserves accounted for only 0.08 percent as of June, while the share of precious metals in the reserves of the Bank of Russia skyrocketed from 3.5 to 18.6 percent over a five-year span.

Meanwhile, the yield of US government securities last week fell to record low values ​​- less than two percent per annum. Gold is updating long-term records, having risen in price from $1,280 in early June to $1,530 last Friday.

Given that gold prices bounced back to the $1,530 mark last Friday from $1,280 in early June, it's no wonder that in the first week of August alone, the Bank of Russia's foreign exchange reserves increased by $10.2 billion to $527.1 billion.


Gold Produced in Russia  © SPUTNIK / PAVEL LISITSYN

The price of the precious metal is expected to continue to grow amid investors' mounting concerns about a looming global crisis, or a so-called "wall of worry", that include trade wars, Brexit, political crisis in Venezuela, protests in Hong Kong, escalating tensions in Iran, and the renewed row between India and Pakistan over the disputed region of Kashmir, etc.

The "wall of worry" was complemented by an odd bond market phenomenon in the US on Wednesday: the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note broke below the two-year rate, which basically means that investors are better compensated for loaning the US over two years than for 10 years.

The so-called inversion has been a reliable indication for economic recessions, with economists giving the spread between the 10-year and the two-year special attention: a similar phenomenon was observed in December 2005, two years before the financial crisis and subsequent recession.

'Stockpiling' Influence?

With the "wall of worry" in sight, investors are not willing to take a risk, which leaves them with no option but to transfer money from stocks to gold - this, in turn, will push the demand for precious metal and cause its price to surge. Analysts at the Switzerland-based Julius Baer Bank believe that in the next three months, gold will rise in price to $1,575 per ounce.

Subsequently, the value of Russian gold reserves will see an upswing, which practically guarantees fourth place in international rankings.

"OPEC can no longer ignore Russia because of its importance as an oil exporter and its economy. The Russians will continue doing just enought to engage with the Saudis on oil production", Bloomberg cited Elina Ribakova, deputy chief economist at the Institute of International Finance in Washington, as saying.

Aside from gaining more clout within OPEC, the nation's growing international reserves would guarantee the rouble's stability regardless of fluctuations in world oil prices.

R ~ Gold is not in any basket conjured up by bankers, imaginary baskets filled with paper. Illusionists of the worst kind, fraudsters and spinners of false wealth passed on to others while squirreling away gold and silver, deeds and trusts. Real wealth they never produced by their own sweat and blood. Our worldly gods of finance. Parasites all.

3
Justice Department officials get their dates wrong on 'Grace 1' warrant

Sat Aug 17, 2019 02:19PM [Updated: Sat Aug 17, 2019 02:20PM ]
source: https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/17/603787/US-Warrant-Justice-Department-Grace-1-Adrian-Daria



Amidst all the confusion surrounding the fate of the Iranian oil tanker Adrian Daria (formerly Grace 1), one glaring mistake by the US Department of Justice officials has been missed by the international media.

The Justice Department’s warrant, which can be found at (https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-release/file/1196366/download), gets the date wrong. Instead of filing August 16, it files the date of the warrant as November 16.

Whilst the full legal consequences of this mistake are not altogether clear, at minimum the current date on the warrant would suggest that the US authorities cannot execute any warrant or searches on the Adrian Daria, at least, not until November 16.

Based on the warrant in its current form, any interference with the Adrian Daria would contravene the US’s own laws, let alone international law as enshrined in the Law of the Sea.

4
France joins pressure campaign to prevent Syria's Idlib liberation

Sat Aug 17, 2019 08:33AM [Updated: Sat Aug 17, 2019 09:06AM ]
source: https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/17/603752/France-Syria-Idlib


This handout picture released by Syria's official SANA news agency on August 11, 2019 shows Defense Minister
General Ali Abdullah Ayyoub visiting army soldiers in al-Hobeit, Idlib Province. (Via Reuters)


France has joined a pressure campaign on Syria to prevent the liberation of northwestern Idlib Province, the last terrorist stronghold in the Arab country, as the army edges closer to final victory over the Takfiri terrorist groups.

On Friday, the French Foreign Ministry called for an immediate end to the anti-terror fight in Idlib.

The request followed fresh Israeli airstrikes on Syria, which are usually viewed as attempts to prop up terrorists suffering defeats at the hands of Syrian government forces.

Also recently, an official in the so-called National Syrian Army announced that the Turkey-backed terrorist group would send reinforcements to the frontlines of the town Khan Shaykhun in Idlib Province.

Idlib remains the only large area in the hands of anti-Damascus terrorists after the Syrian army -- backed by Iran and Russia -- managed to undo militant gains across the country and wrest back control of almost all of Syrian soil.

In January, the UN estimated that there were 20,000 terrorists in Idlib associated with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which is a coalition of different factions of terror outfits largely composed of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front.

Over the past week, Syrian forces have managed to advance on Idlib's southern edges with the aim of retaking Khan Shaykhun, which lies on a key highway connecting the capital Damascus with the city of Aleppo.

Foreign-backed terrorists resort to beheading tactic

Latest reports said terrorists have now resorted to their old tactics of beheading Syrian soldiers.

In the last few days alone, the Takfiri elements released at least five videos of beheading Syrian troops in Idlib's southern countryside.

On Friday, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah, stressed that Syria has withstood "a universal war" and is now "moving steadily towards the final victory."

Earlier this month, American and Turkish officials agreed to quickly set up a Turkey-based operations center “to coordinate and manage the implementation of the safe zone” in northeastern Syria.

The area is currently under the control of the US-backed Kurdish militants, who are considered terrorists by Ankara.

Speaking on Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova reiterated Moscow's support for Syria’s sovereignty.

"Attempts to isolate Syria’s northeast are a source of growing concern,” she said. “Russia’s approach to this issue has remained unchanged. As before, we support efforts to reach long-term stability and security in the northeast by restoring Syria’s sovereignty and a productive dialogue between Damascus and the Kurds."

Syria had already rejected the US-Turkey agreement as “blatant aggression” against the country’s territorial integrity and a “flagrant violation” of the international law and the UN Charter.

R ~ Macron faces liberation in France. He can't afford to send troops to Syria. He needs them at home to protect his dictatorship.

5
US unseals warrant to seize Iranian Grace 1 tanker released in Gibraltar

Published time: 16 Aug, 2019 22:15
Edited time: 16 Aug, 2019 23:12
source: https://www.rt.com/news/466682-us-warrant-grace-tanker-iran-gibraltar/


Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 sits anchored, with its name and Panama's flag removed, after the Supreme Court of the British territory lifted its
detention order, in the Strait of Gibraltar, southern Spain, August 16, 2019. © REUTERS/Jon Nazca


The US has ordered the seizure of newly-freed Iranian oil tanker Grace 1, charging the ship with illegally using the US financial system to sell oil to Syria to support the IRGC after Gibraltar released the vessel.

The Justice Department has unsealed a warrant ordering the seizure and forfeiture of the Iranian tanker, all of the oil it is carrying, and $995,000, claiming the Iranians illegally used the US banking system to finance the shipment of oil to Syria to support the IRGC, which the US designated a terror group earlier this year as Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran ramped up.

Accusing the ship of violations of bank fraud and money laundering laws, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and terrorism statutes, the US complaint alleges “multiple parties affiliated with the IRGC” used voyages like that of Grace 1 to support illegal activities and claims “a network of front companies” laundered millions of dollars through these shipments.

Gibraltar released the Iranian tanker after claiming to receive a written assurance from her captain that the vessel was not bound for Syria as the UK Royal Marines who seized it last month had alleged, though Iran has denied providing such an assurance. Despite multiple formal US requests and attempts to hold up the departure in court - which Iran’s ambassador to the UK called “desperate, last-minute efforts” - Grace 1 was finally permitted to leave the UK territory.

The ship has been renamed “Adrian Darya” and fitted with an Iranian flag for its onward journey at its owner’s request, according to Iranian state media. Meanwhile, the US has warned of “serious consequences” for its crew - though those consequences appear to be limited to barring them from travel to the US.

Gibraltar lifted the detention order for the vessel on Thursday, affirming in a statement that there are “no longer any reasonable grounds for the continued legal detention of the Grace 1 in order to ensure compliance with the EU Sanctions Regulation.”

R ~ 'Letter of marque. A letter of marque and reprisal was a government license in the Age of Sail that authorized a person, known as a privateer or corsair,' ~ Apparently still alive and well in THIS age.

The UK seizes a vessel in times of peace. The US is out to grab it now. British collusion anyone? Criminals at home and criminals on the high seas... and land.

6
Money & Markets / Russia Continues to Dump US Treasury Bonds
« on: August 16, 2019, 07:36:29 AM »
Russia Continues to Dump US Treasury Bonds

11:27 16.08.2019(updated 11:53 16.08.2019)
source: https://sputniknews.com/business/201908161076562669-russia-us-bonds-reduction/



Russia began to significantly reduce its investments in US national debt in the spring of 2018, in efforts that came amid Moscow’s drive to increase its gold reserves.

In June 2019, Russia slashed investments in the US government debt to $10.848 billion, according to data released by the US Treasury Department.

The reduction comes as Russia continues to dump US bonds for the fourth consecutive month.

In June, Russian investments in the US national debt totalled $12.024 billion, while in April and May, the figure stood at $12.136 billion and $13.715 billion, respectively.

The last time Russia increased investments in US bonds was in February 2019, when they grew to $14.507 billion compared to January’s figure of $13.180 billion.

Russia started to drastically cut its investments in US public debt in January 2018, when they were slashed to $96.898 billion.   

In April of that year, the total value of US sovereign debt investment diminished by almost half, to $48.724 billion; in May, they already amounted for only $14.905 billion.

Even though subsequent months have seen the volume of investments rise and fall, the figure hasn't hit the $15 billion threshold since then.

By contrast, in 2017, Russia increased its US Treasury bond holdings from almost $70 billion in March to more than $92 billion in December.

Russia decreasing its share of US Treasury securities comes amid Moscow’s push to increase its gold reserves. Last month, the Central Bank of Russia reported that the country’s bullion holdings had totalled 2,208 tonnes, worth $100.3 billion, as of 1 July.

Moscow has repeatedly criticised the US for "abusing" the reserve status of its currency, with Russian President Vladimir Putin describing the dollar as a “tool for the issuing country to put pressure on the rest of the world”.

7
Gibraltar releases Iran-operated tanker despite US pressure: Paper reports

Thu Aug 15, 2019 02:40PM [Updated: Thu Aug 15, 2019 02:48PM ]
source: https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/15/603617/Iran-Gibraltar-release-tanker-Grace-1-UK-United-States

Gibraltar’s government has reportedly released an Iranian-operated supertanker, which was seized by British marines in the Strait of Gibraltar on July 4, despite pressure from the United States for the vessel’s continued detainment.

"Authorities in Gibraltar have released the Iranian supertanker Grace 1, which was seized on July 4 on suspicion it was shipping 2.1 million barrels of crude oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions," Reuters quoted the Gibraltar Chronicle as reporting on Thursday.

According to the report, the chief justice of Gibraltar's supreme court, Anthony Dudley, said there was no US application currently before the court.

The Gibraltar Chronicle also claimed that the decision to release the Grace 1 tanker came after receiving formal written assurances from the Iranian government that it would not discharge its cargo in Syria.

Iran has strictly rejected claims that the vessel was ever carrying crude to the Arab country.

Spain’s Foreign Ministry reported after the incident that the UK had seized the vessel at the request of the US, which has been trying to trouble Iran’s international oil vessels as part of its campaign of economic pressure against the Islamic Republic.

Earlier on Thursday, Gibraltar said that the US had applied to seize the Iranian-operated oil tanker after British media reported that the vessel’s release was imminent following a set of diplomatic exchanges between Tehran and London.

“The US Department of Justice has applied to seize the Grace 1 on a number of allegations which are now being considered,” the Gibraltar government said in a statement.

It added that the “matter will return to the Supreme Court of Gibraltar at 4 p.m. (1400 GMT) today."

A diplomatic dispute broke out between Iran and the UK on July 4, when Britain’s naval forces unlawfully seized Grace 1 and its cargo of 2.1 million barrels of oil in the Strait of Gibraltar under the pretext that the supertanker had been suspected of carrying crude to Syria in violation of the European Union’s unilateral sanctions against the Arab country.

However, reports show the confiscation took place upon a call by the US.

Tehran rejected London’s claim that the tanker was heading to Syria, slamming the seizure as “maritime piracy.”

Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization said Tuesday that Britain was expected to soon free Grace 1, after the two sides exchanged certain documents to pave the way for the supertanker’s release.

8
Israel planning to bomb Hashd Sha’abi ammunition depots in Iraq: Expert

Tue Aug 13, 2019 04:39PM [Updated: Tue Aug 13, 2019 04:43PM ]
source: https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/13/603448/Israel-planning-to-bomb-Hashd-Shaabi-ammunition-depots-in-Iraq-Expert


Fighters of the Iraqi pro-government Popular Mobilization Units, better known by the Arabic word Hashd al-Sha'abi, are
seen in Zumar subdistrict, Nineveh province, Iraq, on October 18, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)


A security expert close to Iraqi intelligence services says there is information that the Israeli military is planning to launch airstrikes against the arms depots of pro-government Popular Mobilization Units, better known by the Arabic word Hashd al-Sha'abi, in the Arab country.

“Available information suggests that Israel is preparing to bomb the weapons caches of Hashd al-Sha’abi forces, and not the command centers or fortifications of the fighters. This is quite likely to happen,” Fadhil Abu Ragheef told Russia's RT Arabic television news network on Tuesday.

He added that a powerful explosion, which rocked a military base in southern Baghdad on Monday evening, could be part of the Israeli scenario.

Sayf al-Badr, spokesman of the Iraqi Health Ministry, said in a statement that at least one person was killed and 29 others were wounded in the blast.

An unnamed source from Iraq’s Interior Ministry said an ammunition warehouse exploded inside a federal police military base, named Falcon, in Owerij area near the southern district of Doura.

The source added that the blast was followed by a series of explosions at the warehouse that sent a large amount of shrapnel to nearby houses.

In January, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hinted during a visit to Iraq that the Israeli regime could launch attacks against Hashd al-Sha’abi forces, who played a key role in the Iraqi army’s counter-terrorism battles against the Daesh terror group and helped the government to rid the country of the Takfiri outfit in late 2017.

Pompeo was reported to have made it clear to Iraqi officials at a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi that Washington would not react to possible Israeli attacks against Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters.

Abdul-Mahdi expressed concern about the statement and warned Pompeo that such actions by Israel would have grave consequences, RT Arabic service reported back then.


PressTV-Don’t play with fire: Iraqi anti-terror force warns Israel
Iraq's Hashd al-Sha’abi has warned Israel against “playing with fire” after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hinted that Tel Aviv may attack the anti-terror volunteer fighters.


Reacting to the reports, Moein al-Kazemi, a Hashd commander, said the force was ready to deliver a “strong” response to any aggression, advising the regime in Tel Aviv not to “play with fire.”

The Israeli regime has a record of attacking the forces fighting Daesh in Syria.

In June 2018, Hashd fighters came under attack in Syria’s border town of al-Hari, in the eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr, as they were chasing Daesh terrorists out of the area.

Both the Syrian government and Hashd al-Sha’abi declared back then that the attack near the Iraqi-Syrian border had been deliberate and could only have been carried out by either Israel or the US.

R ~ Israel and what lapdog army? - oh yeah, the US one.

9
China Denies US Navy Request For Two Upcoming Port Visits - Defense Dept

22:26 13.08.2019(updated 22:54 13.08.2019)
source: https://sputniknews.com/asia/201908131076544148-china-denies-us-navy-request-for-two-upcoming-ship-port-visits---defense-dept/


© Wikipedia

The US Defense Department revealed Tuesday that China has rejected inquiries from the US Navy, requesting permission for two vessels to make port in Hong Kong in the coming weeks.

It has been reported that the two ships in question were the USS Green Bay and USS Lake Erie, which were set for visits in the semi-autonomous city in late August and September.

Speaking to Reuters, a source familiar with the matter indicated that a specific reason was not given.

However, the denial is not unprecedented, as China previously denied a similar request in September 2018 from the US Navy's USS Wasp F-35 carrier. At the time, the rejected port call came amid trade tensions between the US and China and Beijing's decision to recall an admiral from the International Seapower Symposium.

The latest port denial comes as protests in Hong Kong continue to cause turmoil in the city and as demonstrators managed to paralyze the Hong Kong airport for a second day. Earlier on in the day, US President Donald Trump fired off a tweet, revealing that intelligence sources had indicated Beijing was "moving troops to the border with Hong Kong."

Protests in the city initially began as a result of outrage over a bill that would have allowed extradition to mainland China; however, that measure has since been withdrawn.

R ~ As if the Chinese government is so stupid as to let the USG get a foothold on Hong Kong. The arrogance of power knows no bounds.

10
Iran: UK expected to release seized oil tanker in near future

Tue Aug 13, 2019 08:19AM [Updated: Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:24AM ]
source: https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/13/603408/Iran-oil-tanker-Britain


The photo taken on July 06, 2019 shows Iranian-owned supertanker Grace 1 off the coast of Gibraltar. (By AFP)

Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization says Britain is expected to soon free an Iranian-owned oil tanker that it unlawfully seized last month off the coast of Gibraltar, after the two sides exchanged certain documents to pave the way for the supertanker’s release.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Jalil Eslami, the organization’s deputy head, said Tehran has been making efforts towards securing the release of oil tanker Grace 1, which was seized with a cargo of 2.1 million barrels of oil by UK marines in the Strait of Gibraltar on July.

The official said London had shown willingness to resolve the diplomatic dispute that has broken out between the two sides over the case, adding, “Certain documents have been exchanged, which would help settle the issue.”

“We hope that the problem will be resolved in the near future and that the ship can continue sailing with the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said

Britain has claimed the Iranian-owned oil tanker was seized on suspicion of violating the European Union’s unilateral bans against Syria, but reports show the confiscation took place upon a call by the US.

Tehran rejected London’s claim that the tanker was heading to Syria, slamming the seizure as “maritime piracy.”

The Iranian port official went on to say that the UK’s seizure of Grace 1 emanates from its “bias” and lacks true reasons.

Additionally on Tuesday, a spokesman for Gibraltar said the British overseas territory was seeking “to de-escalate issues arising since” the detention of Grace 1, Reuters reported.

Earlier, maritime security company Dryad Global had reported that Grace 1 had signaled a new destination of Morocco, but later removed the update.

TankerTrackers.com also tweeted that the tanker had been signaling Morocco as its next destination after having spent 5 weeks in Gibraltar.

The Iranian official further defended Tehran’s confiscation on July 19 of the 30,000-tonne UK-flagged Stena Impero tanker, which was violating international maritime rules while passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

Esmaili said the UK and the US created hype around the confiscation, with Washington using it as a pretext to propose the formation a maritime coalition aimed at Iran, which the official said is doomed to failure.

The vessel had been involved in an accident with an Iranian fishing boat and had ignored its distress call, changing its route. It also switched off its tracking system and used the exit lane to enter the strategic strait.

R ~ If Brexit is any indication then Iran can expect the same sort of foot dragging that Britain is becoming infamous for.

11
General / Hong Kong phooey! Would you like any hypocrisy with that?
« on: August 13, 2019, 07:18:22 AM »
Hong Kong phooey! Would you like any hypocrisy with that?

George Galloway
Published time: 13 Aug, 2019 13:19
source: https://www.rt.com/op-ed/466396-hong-kong-british-hypocrisy/


© REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Where to start? For nearly 40 weeks hundreds of thousands of French people have been on the streets in anti-government demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron’s rule.

Some have lost eyes and hands in the police response. The public has begun to view the smell of tear gas as a normal part of a weekend in Paris. France is 29 miles from the coast of England. Siri just told me that “Hong Kong is about 5,992 miles from London as the crow flies.”

So complete has been the British media blackout on the Yellow Vests that many believe, wrongly, that there is some British government order banning on any mention of “les événements en France.” The truth is that there is no need for one.

Like a homing pigeon in reverse the entire UK media has flown like a bat out of hell away from France all the way to Hong Kong (as they had earlier flown to Caracas until the big protests turned into the wrong kind of protests).

There is nothing, except the shoe-sizes, of the demonstrators in Hong Kong that I don’t know thanks to the veritable blizzard of in-depth analysis of the protestors there and their each and every demand. Protesters in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain can be executed, but we will never be told their names.

And the hypocrisy of the media is just for starters.

If a group of British protesters broke into the British Parliament and hung, for argument’s sake, a Russian flag over the Speaker’s chair it is “highly likely” that a commando force would quickly and violently overwhelm and arrest them accompanied by volleys of accusations about Russian interference.

If a crowd of British protestors occupied Heathrow Airport in such numbers and so disruptively that British Airways had to stop flights in and out of the airport, causing massive financial loss, dislocation, and personal inconvenience, I promise you that their protest would have been cleared out by the above mentioned commandos on the very first day of their protests.

If protesters in London were hoisting Chinese flags and singing the Chinese national anthem then, well, I’m sure you get my point.

The struggle between the government of China and its citizens is no more the business of the British than it is of the Slovakians. It’s true that Hong Kong was a British colony for 150 years but the least said about the shame and disgrace of how that came to be, the better, I promise you.

Suffice to say that to acquire territory by force, followed by unequal treaty at gunboat-point to punish the actual owners of the land for resisting the British opium trade, is, even by British Imperial standards, extraordinary. So shameful is it you’d think the British would want to draw a veil over it. But not so.

The British tell us that Hong Kong want democracy but nobody ever says that across a century and a half of British rule in Hong Kong the people there were allowed no democracy of any kind.

They tell us about the justice system without ever mentioning that even today the ‘draconian’ courts of Hong Kong are still stuffed by white English judges.

They tell us about NGOs and “civil society” without telling us whose pounds and dollars the “NGOs” are stuffed with.g

In fact, these foreign-funded and guided organisations are carefully stabled Trojan Horses chomping their British and American supplied hay until the time came for them to be told to gallop, and gallop they now are.

This is all Hong Kong phooey! No other country in the world would have shown such forbearance in the face of foreign-sponsored rioting destruction and sabotage of the national economy as China has. If in the days to come China’s patience runs out, it will not be before time so far as the great majority of Chinese citizens, including Hong Kong citizens, are concerned.

China signed up to the one country, two systems in the territory. It did not agree to two countries, two systems. Not one inch of Hong Kong belongs to anyone but China. The days when foreign countries could impose their will on China are long gone.

12
Six US servicemen arrive in Turkey for creation of ‘safe zone’ in Syria: Turkish DM

By News Desk -2019-08-12
source: https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/six-us-servicemen-arrive-in-turkey-for-creation-of-safe-zone-in-syria-turkish-dm/



The Turkish Defense Ministry has confirmed the arrival of six US military personnel who will be involved in the work of the coordination centre for joint operations and the planned security zone in northern Syria.

Washington and Ankara announced a deal last week on a buffer zone between Turkey and US-backed Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria. Turkish authorities consider them to be an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is banned in the country.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had previously threatened to invade the territory east of the Euphrates River to secure the border from Kurdish forces.

The Syrian government has objected to the US-Turkish deal as an attack on its sovereignty because both countries’ militaries are operating in Syria without permission from Damascus.

R ~ Is Bolton geared up and ready to roll?

13
Turkey Prepares 14,000 Terrorists for Imminent Military Operations Against Kurds in Eastern Syria

Fri Aug 09, 2019 6:54
source: https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980516000615


Turkey Prepares 14,000 Terrorists for Imminent Military Operations Against Kurds in Eastern Syria

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Turkish Army has prepared thousands of militants for an upcoming military operation against the Kurdish militia is Eastern Euphrates, the Arabic-language media outlets reported.

The pro-militant Arabic-language Qassiyoun news website quoted commander of the so-called National Army affiliated to the Turkish Army Yousef Hamoud as saying that a sum of 14,000 Ankara-backed terrorists are ready for imminent military operations in Eastern Syria.

Hamoud noted that the military offensive against the Kurdish militia will take place in line with political agreements reached between the US and Turkey.

The Arabic-language website of the Russian Sputnik news agency quoted a Turkish military source as saying that Ankara’s military operations against Kurds will probably be conducted in coming days.

Meantime, several militants were killed in a recent attack by the Turkish army and its affiliated militants on Kurdish militia positions in Northern Aleppo.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has recent announced the start of a new round of military operations against Kurds in Eastern Syria in the near future, which he described as an extension of the Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations.

In a relevant development on Saturday, fierce clashes between the Turkish Army and the Kurdish militias intensified in Northern Aleppo and Hasaka as Turkey sent its special troops to the borders with Syria.

The pro-militant Step News website reported that the Turkish Army pounded the military points of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) around the city of Qameshli in Northeastern Hasaka and near the border with Turkey.

It noted that the attacks took place after the Kurdish militias attacked Turkey’s border checkpoint in Nasibin region along borders with Syria.

The Kurdish-language Hawar news website, meantime, reported that the Turkish Army and its allied militants pounded Tal Rafa’at and the towns of Balounieh, Harbal and Sheikh Issa in al-Shahba region in Northern Aleppo with tens of mortar attacks.

Meantime, two military points of the Turkish Army were destroyed while three Turkish soldiers were killed and four others were injured during two separate military offensives by the Kurdish militias.

In a relevant development last Wednesday, the Turkish army and affiliated militants attacked Kurdish positions in Northern Aleppo amid sending new military convoys to the border with Syria.

The Kurdish-language Hawar news reported that the Turkish forces targeted the Kurdish positions in the towns of Soqankeh, Miaseh and Zarnaiteh near Afrin region in Western Aleppo with over 180 mortar attacks.

Also, the Turkish army and affiliated militants attacked the town of Harb and several nearby towns in al-Shahba region in Northern Aleppo with artillery fire.

Meantime, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that heavy clashes have erupted between the Ankara-backed terrorists and the Kurdish militia near the towns of Harbal and Sheikh Issa in Northern Aleppo.

Concurrent with the events, the Turkish army sent new military convoys, consisting of tens of vehicles carrying military equipment to the borders with Syria near the towns of Ra'as al-Ein and Tal Abyadh in Hasaka and Raqqa provinces.

Also, the Arabic-language Step news website affiliated to militants reported that several Turkish reconnaissance planes have flown over the town of Manbij.

A senior Kurdish official warned on Monday that the US had given a greenlight to Turkey to attack Eastern Euphrates, calling on the Kurds to reach an agreement with the Syrian government as soon as possible.

Head of the Syrian Kurds' National Initiative Omar Ousi told the Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper that the agreement between Washington and Ankara came amid Turkey's claim that negotiations to create a safe region on Syrian soil have failed, adding that the content of the negotiations between the two sides differs from what has been stated by the Americans and Turks.

He noted that Turkey's threats are very serious and dangerous this time, and said that Turkey's plan in Northern Syria will possibly start soon from Manbij region and then will spread to Ein al-Arab, Ra'as al-Ein and adjacent areas.

Ousi referred to the US attempts to pressure the SDF to accept Turkey's plan, and said the US has started settlement of differences with Turkey.

He warned the SDF and the Kurdish units that negotiations between the US and Turkey have not failed, and asked the Kurds to stop relying on Washington and restart agreement talks with the Damascus government given the fact that they agreed on 6 issues out of 10 in the two rounds of talks held in the past.

R ~ '14,000 Ankara-backed terrorists'. Is that not an admission that Erdogan, along with the Western 'coalition', Israel, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are training 'terrorists'? All these parties have been at it for close to a decade and yet our moronic media still plays up the notion that the USG is fighting terrorism. I suppose that their failure to destroy Syria has now morphed into a campaign to create the enemy they need to justify their war plans - only now the terrorists are us. Get ready to witness a flood of overt propaganda (CBS,NBC,ABC,FOX,CTV and all their foreign affiliates and co-conspirators) demonizing the people who are not fooled by the lying rhetoric and are starting to oil their guns.

14
US, Turkey agree to form joint operation center for Syria safe zone

Wed Aug 7, 2019 05:52PM [Updated: Wed Aug 7, 2019 05:57PM ]
source: https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/07/602945/Turkey-US-agree-to-form-joint-operation-center-for-Syria-safe-zone


Syrian Kurdish militants of the so-called People's Protection Units (YPG) attend the funeral of a slain Kurdish commander
in the northeastern city of Qamishli on December 6, 2018. (Photo by AFP)


Turkey and the United States have reached an agreement on the establishment of a joint operation center in the northern part of Syria, in the wake of Ankara’s threats to launch an operation against the US-sponsored Kurdish militants to push them away from the Turkish border.

 “Talks between Turkish and the US military delegations regarding establishment of a safe zone in the north of Syria were concluded,” the Turkish Defense Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The delegations agreed on the rapid implementation of initial measures to address Turkey’s security concerns, to set up as soon as possible a joint operations center in Turkey to coordinate and manage the establishment of the safe zone together and that the safe zone shall become a peace corridor, and that any additional measures shall be taken for our displaced Syrian brothers to return to their country,” the statement added.


PressTV-Erdogan: Turkey to launch new operation in Syria ‘soon’
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey will “soon” start a new military operation against US-backed Kurdish militants in northern Syria.


Earlier, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had said that talks with the United States aimed at averting a Turkish military intervention into northern Syria had been “positive.”

“We witnessed with satisfaction that our partners grew closer to our position. The meetings were positive and quite constructive,” Akar said on Tuesday.

On the same day, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated Turkey's determination to eliminate the presence of the YPG, which forms the backbone of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), from areas bordering Turkey in northern Syria.


PressTV-'Turkey will carry out operation east of Euphrates'
The Turkish president has warned about an offensive in an area controlled by US-backed Kurdish militants in Syria.


Turkey views the YPG as the Syria branch of the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group.

The PKK has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.

“We will move the process which we started with the Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations to a different phase very soon,” Erdogan said at the 11th annual Ambassadors' Conference in the capital Ankara.

He was referring to the two military offensives Ankara launched in 2016 and 2017 against the Kurdish militants.

“Turkey has the right to eliminate all threats against its national security,” the Turkish president noted.

Erdogan said his country would have to pay a heavy price if it fails to take what it describes as necessary measures in northern Syria, adding, “Drying up the terrorist swamp in northern Syria is our top priority.”

Turkey expects the creation of a 32-kilometer (20-mile) safe zone in northern Syria, and has stressed that it wants the YPG cleared from the region.

The United States has been arming and training Kurdish militants under the banner of helping them fight the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, but Syria and several other countries see ulterior motives behind the deployment.

Turkey, a key US ally in the region, has repeatedly questioned Washington’s deployment of heavy weapons in Syria despite the defeat of Daesh in much of the Arab country.

R ~ gee... no hard feeling over the S400 Russian deal or the cancellation of Turkey's participation in the F35 program? Best buds when it comes to Syria.  Erdogan is grapping land and the US is happy to let him... for now. Will the USG let Erdogan wipe out the YPG which it (Israel) supports or will they stand with the YPG agaist Erdogan? All these plans made by some very bad people with no talks with Syria. Armageddon gets closer at hand every new day.

15
US Dispatches Massive Military Equipment, Logistical Aid to SDF Bases in Eastern Syria

Tue Aug 06, 2019 8:36
source: https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980515000580



TEHRAN (FNA)- Hundreds of trucks carrying US military equipment and logistical aids have been sent to the bases of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Hasaka province, pro-militant media outlets reported on Tuesday.

Pro-militant Smart News website reported that over 300 trucks carrying US military and logistical equipment from Iraq arrived in areas controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Tal  al-Bidar in Eastern Syria via Simalka border crossing.

It noted that the US trucks carried military equipment, logistical supplies, prefabricated cement walls, adding that dozens of trucks were carrying unidentified cargos as they were covered.

Smart website said that the military equipment and supplies will be distributed among SDF in Hasaka, Raqqa and Deir Ezzur.

In a relevant development in late July, the US Army forwarded tens of trucks containing logistical aid and military equipment to the Syrian province of Hasaka as Turkey was preparing for massive military operation against Washington-backed Kurdish militias in Northeastern Syria.

The Smart news website reported that a new US military convoy has crossed into Syria's Hasaka province from Iraq via Simalka crossing.

It noted that the US convoy, comprising 100 trucks carrying military vehicles and fuel as well as a number of covered trucks, has arrived at the US military base in Tal Bidar region in Hasaka province.

Battlefield sources, meantime, reported that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has sent massive military equipment, including heavy weaponry to areas under their control from Ain al-Arab (Kobani) to Ain Issa and the border city of Tal Abyaz in Raqqa province.

In a relevant development late last month, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that hundreds of trucks loaded with logistics and military support had arrived in areas under control of the SDF in Hasaka province in Northeastern Syria from the US bases in Northern Iraq.

The SOHR noted that the US army had sent over 1,380 trucks packed with military equipment to Northeastern Syria for its military bases and military airports in Eastern Euphrates and Hasaka province in Northeastern Syria via Simalka crossing in Northern Iraq.

R ~ The USG is getting their SDF terrprist brigade ready to secure the oilfields. Idlib is the distraction. Eastern Syria is the goal.

16
The World Below / UK Agrees to Join US-Led Anti-Iran Mission in Gulf
« on: August 05, 2019, 08:47:50 AM »
UK Agrees to Join US-Led Anti-Iran Mission in Gulf as Germany Wants European Coalition

14:20 05.08.2019(updated 17:51 05.08.2019)
source: https://sputniknews.com/world/201908051076469175-germany-us-maritime-coalition-gulf/


© AP Photo / Amber Smally

The statement comes shortly after Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told reporters on Monday that the US, which is “alone in the world” had failed to create an allied naval coalition in the Persian Gulf.

UK Defence Minister Ben Wallace has announced that London would join a US-led maritime mission in the Persian Gulf to add to maintaining security in the area.

“We look forward to working alongside the US and others to find an international solution to the problems in the Strait of Hormuz”, he told reporters in London on Monday.

Reuters has, meanwhile, quoted an unnamed British security source as saying that the US-led mission would concentrate on ensuring security in the Gulf and that the UK doesn’t plan to join US sanctions against Iran.

Wallace's statement comes shortly after German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas reaffirmed his country's unwillingness to join a US-led maritime mission in the Strait of Hormuz.

“At the moment the Britons would rather join an American mission. We won't do that. We want a European mission,” Maas told a Berlin news conference earlier in the day.

At the same time, he added that the matter remains on the table but that convincing the EU to conduct such a mission will take time.

‘US is Alone in the World’ With Plans to Create Gulf Coalition

Maas spoke after Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif stated earlier on Monday that the US had failed to create an allied naval coalition in the Persian Gulf.

"Today, the United States is alone in the world and cannot create a coalition [in the Gulf]. Countries that are its friends are too ashamed of being in a coalition with them", he pointed out.

The statement followed last week’s remarks by Brigadier General Yadollah Javani, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) deputy commander, that a US military maritime coalition in the Persian Gulf will “definitely go to ruin and fail to materialise”, just like the previous ones did.

Vice Admiral Michael Gilday, Director of the Joint Staff, and nominee to become the Navy’s top admiral, for his part, insisted that says the US should let its allies do most of the work of the “international maritime security framework” that Washington is trying to set up in the Gulf.

“The coalition that we’re building in the Arabian Gulf and specifically in the Strait of Hormuz is going to be 80 or 90 percent a coalition effort and a much smaller US effort,” Gilday told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee last week.

US Partners' Doubts Regarding Its Gulf Mission

Earlier, Washington’s European partners Germany, the UK and France expressed hesitation in supporting a US-led maritime security operation "to ensure the freedom of navigation" in the Gulf, referring to their commitments under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and their opposition to the US policy of “maximum pressure” against Iran.

Germany, in particular, said that while it was not ruling out a ‘protective naval mission’ in the region, it prefers the idea of a European-led coalition to the US plans.

With Belgium and Norway still on the fence, the UK earlier said that it intended to launch its own European protection coalition while Japan denied that it would take part in the US-led mission.

In July, the UK-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero was seized by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in the Gulf, in a move that was preceded by the UK Royal Marines capturing the Iranian tanker Grace 1 earlier that month after the vessel allegedly violated EU sanctions. Tehran denies the accusations, describing the seizure as an act of piracy.

R ~ I'm sure Iran is shaking with fear knowing as most of the world knows - Britain has no military to speak of, no carriers, no frigates, no sailors, no planes...

17
Iran seizes tanker smuggling fuel to Arab states in Persian Gulf

Sun Aug 4, 2019 09:03AM [Updated: Sun Aug 4, 2019 12:03PM ]
source: https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/04/602643/Iran-tanker-Persian-Gulf


An image grab taken from a video released on July 18, 2019 shows the Panamanian-flagged tanker Riah, which was
detained by Iran four days earlier. (Via AFP)


Iran has confiscated a foreign oil tanker in the Persian Gulf that was smuggling fuel to some Arab countries.

A commander with Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Ramezan Zirahi, told Fars news agency on Sunday that patrols from the IRGC’s Naval District 2 had seized the ship near the Persian Gulf island of Farsi on Wednesday night after intelligence gathering.

“The foreign vessel was receiving fuel from other ships and was transferring it to the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf,” he said, without naming countries. “700,000 liters of fuel have been seized and seven sailors, from different nationalities, have been detained.”

Zirahi said coordination for the detainment had been made with judicial sources.

On July 14, the IRGC seized the Panamanian-flagged Riah tanker for smuggling one million liters of Iranian fuel south of Larak Island in the Persian Gulf.

On June 19, the IRGC impounded the 30,000-tonne UK-flagged Stena Impero tanker as it was passing through the Strait of Hormuz en route to Saudi Arabia “for failing to respect international maritime rules.”

The vessel had been involved in an accident with an Iranian fishing boat and had ignored its distress call, changing its route.

18
Homs: US Starving Civilians in Al-Rukban Camp to Make Them Obedient

Fri Aug 02, 2019 5:49
source: https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980511000545



TEHRAN (FNA)- Hundreds of civilians escaped from the US-controlled al-Rukban Refugee Camp in al-Tanf region of Homs province as the US-backed militants controlling the camp starve the refugees and displaced community to force them into obidience.

About 300 civilians stationed in al-Rukban Refugee Camp in al-Tanf region of Homs province fled incarceration to safe areas under the control of the Syrian Army in Eastern Homs via Jaliqam crossing, the Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper quoted special sources as saying.

The civilians leaving the camp pointed to the very difficult conditions at al-Rukban Camp and acute shortage of foodstuff, potable water and hygienic products, and said that the US humiliates civilians, starves them and deprives them of humanitarian aids dispatched to the camp in a move to make them obedient.

Meantime, the Syrian Army troops engaged in fierce clashes with a group of the ISIL terrorists who had attacked the government forces’ military convoy in Badiyeh al-Sukhneh region in Eastern Homs, killing and injuring all terrorists after warding off their attack.

Meantime, the Syrian Air Force in consecutive attacks pounded the ISIL’s movements near T3 Station, around Baiyeh al-Sukhneh and in desert regions stretching to the administrative border with Deir Ezzur, inflicting heavy losses on the militants.

In a relevant development late April, Al-Watan newspaper reported that "there are around 40,000 to 60,000 people residing in al-Rukban Camp and about 2,500 of them have managed to leave the camp".

Based on media reports, the US troops that occupy a 55-km zone in Southern Syria block Russian and Syrian diplomatic and military officials from entering al-Rukban Camp to provide people with humanitarian aid.

The US command in Al-Tanf had previously delayed the delivery of aid to al-Rukban from Damascus, after refusing to guarantee its safety. It has also prevented buses sent by Damascus and guarded by the Russian military police from taking Syrians from the camp to other parts of Syria.

Since opening in 2014, Rukban is home to more than 40,000 Syrians, the majority of which have expressed a desire to return home. A survey released by the UN in February found that nine out of 10 living at the camp wanted to return. However, many expressed worry over gaining access to their property, possible retribution, as well as general safety and security concerns.

19
The World Below / Russia urges US, EU to withdraw from Syria
« on: August 02, 2019, 06:06:03 AM »
Russia urges US, EU to withdraw from Syria

By News Desk -2019-08-02
source: https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/russia-urges-us-eu-to-withdraw-from-syria/



Russia is urging the United States and European countries to withdraw forces from Syria, but can see the increase in their military presence there instead, Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev said Friday.

“We are always calling on the United States and other — European — countries, whose troops are also illegally in Syria, to leave this sovereign state. Nevertheless, they are still justifying it by the need to fight Daesh* and other terrorist groups”, Lavrentyev said at a press conference.

The Russian presidential envoy stressed that these countries were in reality pursuing their own agenda.

“So far we have not been able to convince them to withdraw forces. Despite the words of [US President Donald] Trump that US forces would be pulled out, we can see, on the contrary, the increase in these forces, partly because of the presence of private military companies”, the envoy said.

The number of US troops in Syria has been declining since US President Donald Trump claimed victory over the jihadists in December, promising to withdraw at least 2,000 troops from the country in the near future.

US forces have been operating in Syria as part of an international coalition to fight the Daesh terrorist organisation for about four years without the permission of either Damascus or the UN Security Council.

R ~ Like coke addicts the US will stay wherever there is oil they can help steal or just steal outright.

20
De-Dollarisation: Central Banks Led by Russia, China, Poland Buy Record-Breaking $15.7bn in Gold

08:59 02.08.2019
source: https://sputniknews.com/business/201908021076436727-central-banks-buy-record-gold/


© Sputnik / Pavel Lisitsyn

Amid the uncertainty, prompted by the simmering trade tensions between China and the US, Brexit chaos and the US-Iran standoff, public financial institutions, as well as investors all over the world, are opting for the safe haven that the precious metal provides.

Central banks bought 374 tonnes of gold in the first half of this year, which is the largest-ever acquisition by public institutions in the first 6 months of a calendar year, The Financial Times reports, citing the World Gold Council. They bought bullions worth a record $15.7 billion, accounting for one-sixth of total gold demand since the beginning of 2019.

The leaders of the new gold rush are the central banks of Poland, China and Russia, diversifying their reserves at the expense of the dollar. The Russian Central Bank has stocked up 96.4 tonnes of gold since January, confirming last week that the country’s total gold reserves had reached $100.3 billion by July 1. At the same time, China bought 74 tonnes of the precious metal in the six-month period through May.

These and other countries’ central banks have kept up with last year’s trend. In 2018, they acquired more precious metal than any year since 1971 when the gold standard, meaning the peg of the national currency to gold, ended.

Investors are also piling up gold holdings and opting for gold-backed exchange-traded funds (ETF). They are being driven by the softened stance of central banks, including a European Central Bank decision to cease limiting sales of the precious metal, amid geopolitical uncertainty and rising prices. While year-on-year demand rose by 8 percent and reached 1,123 tonnes, ETF gold holdings hit a six-year record of 2,548 tonnes in the second quarter. Overall, demand peaked to a three-year high in the first six months of this year. Gold prices, however, are continuing their confident climb, growing nearly 1.6 percent per year, and by a whopping 11 percent over the past two months, Market Watch reported recently.

UK-listed funds have bought three-quarters of traded gold products, as The Financial Times points out, linking the trend to the uncertainty over electing the next prime minister and looming scenario of a hard Brexit, which could send the pound down. German investors have also turned to gold-backed ETFs amid the tensions over the US-China trade row and Washington’s standoff with Tehran.

The gold shopping spree has been accompanied by several states promoting a shift from the dollar to national currencies in bilateral trade. The trend of abandoning the dollar has notably been seen in a recent report on the economies of the BRICS countries, which have reduced the use of the greenback in mutual trade by 20%.

Last month, Russia and China signed an agreement on increasing trade in national currencies to reduce dependence on the dollar, with total trade using this mechanism expected to rise to as much as 50 percent in the coming years. Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier accused the US of using the dollar as a tool of pressure against other countries, and suggested that the global role of this currency should be reconsidered.

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