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Zimbabwe’s crisis is internal – but Zimbabweans must now make sure to keep it that way

, the events in Harare could be exploited by the neo-colonial west to the detriment of Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and partnerships with China.

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When the current political crisis, one that many have called a “coup” broke out in Zimbabwe, it was initially unclear who was behind the events and what their demands were. Since then, it has been made clear that most of those in the Army and their political supporters who “took power” were ZANU-PF loyalists and more importantly, they are almost all traditional loyalists to President Robert Mugabe.

It further became clear that far from being a western plot to undermine Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and its historic friendship with China, that instead General Constantino Chiwenga, the military leader of the events in Harare had met with Chinese military officials in Beijing days before launching the partial military takeover in Zimbabwe.

As I previously wrote in The Duran,

“…Chiwenga told his Chinese allies that it was his desire to “deepen exchanges and cooperation in all fields with China to promote the rapid development of bilateral state and military relations between the two countries”. According to Chinese officials, Chiwenga also expressed his gratitude to China for “long-time, selfless help” towards Zimbabwe.

China is the biggest sovereign investor in Zimbabwe by a long way. Chinese projects in Zimbabwe are essentially the only practical hope at this time, for Zimbabwe to transform its resources into national wealth during a period when due to hyper-inflation, Zimbabwe’s de-facto national currency is the US Dollar.

Most Zimbabweans remain positive about China’s economic role in the country and this attitude was expressed clearly by “coup leader” Chiwenga.

While some will now rush to say that China helped to “plot the coup”, this statement is as false as blaming the events in Zimbabwe on the western funded “opposition”. China has no need to interfere in a country which is having an internal dispute within the ruling, pro-China ZANU-PF party. The fact that the military which is staunchly loyal to the ruling party has been the vehicle which has moved events, only confirms this reality.

The official international newspaper of the Communist Party of China, the Global Times, said of the events in Zimbabwe,

‘The long-term friendship between China and Zimbabwe will transcend the internal disturbances in Zimbabwe’.

This statement is an accurate reflection of China’s position. By calling the events ‘disturbances’, Beijing is communicating that it would have ultimately been happier with a status quo that was stable in terms of bilateral relations. Incidentally, the position of neighbouring South Afirca is much the same. If anything senior ANC leaders in Pretoria are more loyal to Mugabe than the leadership in Beijing due to Zimbabwe’s support of the anti-Apartheid movement.  However, because China is confident in Zimbabwe’s friendly attitude towards China transcending internal disputes, China will accept the unfolding events in Harare without condemning them. Military interference in such an instance is totally out of character for contemporary China. The biggest danger for those who oppose the western backed opposition on Zimbabwe is that they will size this opportunity to create further instability. This remains a real possibility, but thus far, the military and members of the ZANU-PF elite appear to be in firm control of the situation.

While China was happy with the Mugabe status quo, in many ways China may take heart in the fact that a younger, seemingly pro-China leader plucked from ZANU-PF may replace the 93 year old Robert Mugabe–and as of now it is still a matter of if.

Zimbabwe depends on China to provide the necessary development mechanisms to lift the country out of stagnation. It must be said that due to the country’s Dollar dependence, there will also be a temptation among any Zimbabwean leaders to look west on occasion for matters of debt relief.

China is also prepared for this and has been long before the events of the last 48 hours. If anything, a renewed ZANU-PF government, may give China the impetus to attempt and structure debt relief programmes for Zimbabwe based on the Yuan.

Under Persident Xi Jinping, China’s motto in intentional relations is “win-win”. While no coup can be described as a winning situation, China and Zimbabwe’s likely future leaders are clearly committed to a situation which minimises any potential loses”.

The events in Zimbabwe are NOT an anti-Chinese plot backed by the west

All of this remains true. The danger now is that unless Robert Mugabe who yesterday appeared in public for the first time since the so-called coup, the Army and other ZANU-PF supporters of ousted Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa reach an agreement in rapid fashion, those who do not have Zimbabwe’s interests at heart, those in the west and particularly in ex-colonial power Britain, could either supinely or directly intervene and in doing so, threaten the sovereignty and political dignity of Zimbabwe.

Scattered reports, including from the rabidly anti-Mugabe BBC (banned in Zimbabwe) have obtained photographs reportedly showing anti-Mugabe demonstrators on the streets of Harare. Photos from other outlets show protests in support of Mugabe.

It would appear that for now, the Army is living up to its statement that the events which have transpired are about removing “criminal” individuals surrounding Mugabe rather than Mugabe himself. This likely means that the Army is keen to reach an accord with Mugabe insuring that his wife Grace will not automatically assume power upon the President’s death or retirement. The Army also likely seeks the reinstatement of Mnangagwa as Vice President in order to insure his own orderly assumption of power when Mugabe eventually leaves office.

These agreements may prove embarrassing for Mugabe in the very short term, but if they are executed with precision and with a public showing of dignity, it could prevent a the crisis from growing.

The biggest worry is that a protracted negotiation period could ensue, one which could then be exploited by Zimbabwe’s historic enemies. Former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai who many in Africa see as a tool of the west has reportedly returned to Zimbabwe among the recent chaotic events. While these reports are unconfirmed, it may mean that the western powers are quietly trying to arrange for anti-Mugabe figures to effectively swarm Harare and turn the internal power struggle among ZANU-PF supporters and the military elite, into a wider crisis that could be ripe for exploitation by those who for years have sought to stage a ‘colour revolution’ in Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai would appear to be the ready-made figurehead of such an operation although there are certainly others who fit this bill.

If an agreement can be reached between the Army leaders and Mugabe, this could calm things down and police and other security officials could then go about maintaining public order until the would-be coup fades into memory and life returns to a sense of normalcy.

If not, it would largely fall on South Africa to provide stability in Zimbabwe should a broader crisis emerge.

South Africa’s ruling ANC, many of whose supporters are staunchly pro-Mugabe as a matter of historic principle, would not be keen on any western backed colour revolutions transpiring in Zimbabwe. As South Africa’s Apartheid regime ended in the lifetime of most prominent ANC members, having a western backed government in Harare would be unacceptable, even though modern South Africa, a BRICS member has healthy relations with all major players across the multi-polar world.

While South Africa has not been keen to dirty its hands in the current crisis in Zimbabwe, if things de-stabilise, there may be a race to see who can get to Harare quicker: South African peace keepers and diplomats who would  conduct negotiations to preserve the constitutional order in Zimbabwe or western NGOs along with American and British politicians whose only interests in Zimbabwe are to ruin China’s good relations with a potentially rich nation, with the added insult of reminding Zimbabwe of the much hated period of UDI Rhodesia where Ian Smith ran a government that virtually all Africans consider racist.

None of this is to say that patriotic Zimbabweans should not have a debate on the future of their country. They should have such debates and they indeed must. But using a political crisis to foment such debates under the long arm of western meddling, will not produce any results. If this is the case, the choice between Zimbabwe won’t be about Mugabe versus Mnangagwa, but about independence versus the re-imposition of neo-colonial rule at the hands of those who look far more like Ian Smith than Robert Mugabe.

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FBI recommended Michael Flynn not have lawyer present during interview, did not warn of false statement consequences

Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 18.

Washington Examiner

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Via The Washington Examiner…


Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who arranged the bureau’s interview with then-national security adviser Michael Flynn at the White House on Jan. 24, 2017 — the interview that ultimately led to Flynn’s guilty plea on one count of making false statements — suggested Flynn not have a lawyer present at the session, according to newly-filed court documents. In addition, FBI officials, along with the two agents who interviewed Flynn, decided specifically not to warn him that there would be penalties for making false statements because the agents wanted to ensure that Flynn was “relaxed” during the session.

The new information, drawn from McCabe’s account of events plus the FBI agents’ writeup of the interview — the so-called 302 report — is contained in a sentencing memo filed Tuesday by Flynn’s defense team.

Citing McCabe’s account, the sentencing memo says that shortly after noon on Jan. 24 — the fourth day of the new Trump administration — McCabe called Flynn on a secure phone in Flynn’s West Wing office. The two men discussed business briefly and then McCabe said that he “felt that we needed to have two of our agents sit down” with Flynn to discuss Flynn’s talks with Russian officials during the presidential transition.

McCabe, by his own account, urged Flynn to talk to the agents alone, without a lawyer present. “I explained that I thought the quickest way to get this done was to have a conversation between [Flynn] and the agents only,” McCabe wrote. “I further stated that if LTG Flynn wished to include anyone else in the meeting, like the White House counsel for instance, that I would need to involve the Department of Justice. [Flynn] stated that this would not be necessary and agreed to meet with the agents without any additional participants.”

Within two hours, the agents were in Flynn’s office. According to the 302 report quoted in the Flynn sentencing document, the agents said Flynn was “relaxed and jocular” and offered the agents “a little tour” of his part of the White House.

“The agents did not provide Gen. Flynn with a warning of the penalties for making a false statement under 18 U.S.C. 1001 before, during, or after the interview,” the Flynn memo says. According to the 302, before the interview, McCabe and other FBI officials “decided the agents would not warn Flynn that it was a crime to lie during an FBI interview because they wanted Flynn to be relaxed, and they were concerned that giving the warnings might adversely affect the rapport.”

The agents had, of course, seen transcripts of Flynn’s wiretapped conversations with Russian then-ambassador Sergey Kislyak. “Before the interview, FBI officials had also decided that if ‘Flynn said he did not remember something they knew he said, they would use the exact words Flynn used … to try to refresh his recollection. If Flynn still would not confirm what he said … they would not confront him or talk him through it,'” the Flynn memo says, citing the FBI 302.

“One of the agents reported that Gen. Flynn was ‘unguarded’ during the interview and ‘clearly saw the FBI agents as allies,'” the Flynn memo says, again citing the 302.

Later in the memo, Flynn’s lawyers argue that the FBI treated Flynn differently from two other Trump-Russia figures who have pleaded guilty to and been sentenced for making false statements. One of them, Alexander Van der Zwaan, “was represented by counsel during the interview; he was interviewed at a time when there was a publicly disclosed, full-bore investigation regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election; and he was given a warning that it is a federal crime to lie during the interview,” according to the memo. The other, George Papadopoulos, “was specifically notified of the seriousness of the investigation…was warned that lying to investigators was a ‘federal offense’…had time to reflect on his answers…and met with the FBI the following month for a further set of interviews, accompanied by his counsel, and did not correct his false statements.”

The message of the sentencing memo is clear: Flynn, his lawyers suggest, was surprised, rushed, not warned of the context or seriousness of the questioning, and discouraged from having a lawyer present.

That is all the sentencing document contains about the interview itself. In a footnote, Flynn’s lawyers noted that the government did not object to the quotations from the FBI 302 report.

In one striking detail, footnotes in the Flynn memo say the 302 report cited was dated Aug. 22, 2017 — nearly seven months after the Flynn interview. It is not clear why the report would be written so long after the interview itself.

The brief excerpts from the 302 used in the Flynn defense memo will likely spur more requests from Congress to see the original FBI documents. Both House and Senate investigating committees have demanded that the Justice Department allow them to see the Flynn 302, but have so far been refused.

In the memo, Flynn’s lawyers say that he made a “serious error in judgment” in the interview. Citing Flynn’s distinguished 30-plus year record of service in the U.S. Army, they ask the judge to go along with special counsel Robert Mueller’s recommendation that Flynn be spared any time in prison.

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Macron offers crumbs to protestors in bid to save his globalist agenda (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 36.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at French President Macron’s pathetic display of leadership as he offers protestors little in the way of concessions while at the same time promising to crack down hard on any and all citizens who resort to violence.

Meanwhile France’s economy is set for a deep recession as French output and production grinds to a halt.

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Via Zerohedge


As if Brussels didn’t have its hands full already with Italy and the UK, the European Union will soon be forced to rationalize why one of its favorite core members is allowed to pursue populist measures to blow out its budget deficit to ease domestic unrest while another is threatened with fines potentially amounting to billions of euros.

When blaming Russia failed to quell the widespread anger elicited by his policies, French President Emmanuel Macron tried to appease the increasingly violent “yellow vests” protesters who have sacked his capital city by offering massive tax cuts that could blow the French budget out beyond the 3% budget threshold outlined in the bloc’s fiscal rules.

Given the concessions recently offered by Italy’s populists, Macron’s couldn’t have picked a worse time to challenge the bloc’s fiscal conventions. As Bloomberg pointed out, these rules will almost certainly set the Continent’s second largest economy on a collision course with Brussels. To be clear, Macron’s offered cuts come with a price tag of about €11 billion according to Les Echos, and will leave the country with a budget gap of 3.5% of GDP in 2019, with one government official said the deficit may be higher than 3.6%.

By comparison, Italy’s initial projections put its deficit target at 2.4%, a number which Europe has repeatedly refused to consider.

Macron’s promises of fiscal stimulus – which come on top of his government’s decision to delay the planned gas-tax hikes that helped inspire the protests – were part of a broader ‘mea culpa’ offered by Macron in a speech Monday night, where he also planned to hike France’s minimum wage.

Of course, when Brussels inevitably objects, perhaps Macron could just show them this video of French police tossing a wheelchair-bound protester to the ground.

Already, the Italians are complaining.  Speaking on Tuesday, Italian cabinet undersecretary Giancarlo Giorgetti said Italy hasn’t breached the EU deficit limit. “I repeat that from the Italian government there is a reasonable approach, if there is one also from the EU a solution will be found.”

“France has several times breached the 3% deficit. Italy hasn’t done it. They are different situations. There are many indicators to assess.”

Still, as one Guardian columnist pointed out in an op-ed published Tuesday morning, the fact that the gilets jaunes (yellow vest) organizers managed to pressure Macron to cave and grant concessions after just 4 weeks of protests will only embolden them to push for even more radical demands: The collapse of the government of the supremely unpopular Macron.

Then again, with Brussels now facing certain accusations of hypocrisy, the fact that Macron was pressured into the exact same populist measures for which Italy has been slammed, the French fiasco raises the odds that Rome can pass any deficit measure it wants with the EU now forced to quietly look away even as it jawbones all the way from the bank (i.e., the German taxpayers).

“Macron’s spending will encourage Salvini and Di Maio,” said Giovanni Orsina, head of the School of Government at Rome’s Luiss-Guido Carli University. “Macron was supposed to be the spearhead of pro-European forces, if he himself is forced to challenge EU rules, Salvini and Di Maio will jump on that to push their contention that those rules are wrong.”

While we look forward to how Brussels will square this circle, markets are less excited.

Exhausted from lurching from one extreme to another following conflicting headlines, traders are already asking if “France is the new Italy.” The reason: the French OAT curve has bear steepened this morning with 10Y yields rising as much as ~6bp, with the Bund/OAT spread reaching the widest since May 2017 and the French presidential election. Though well below the peaks of last year, further widening would push the gap into levels reserved for heightened political risk.

As Bloomberg macro analyst Michael Read notes this morning, it’s hard to see a specific near-term trigger blowing out the Bund/OAT spread but the trend looks likely to slowly drift higher.

While Macron has to fight on both domestic and European fronts, he’ll need to keep peace at home to stay on top. Remember that we saw the 10Y spread widen to ~80bps around the May ’17 elections as concerns of a move toward the political fringe played out in the markets, and the French President’s popularity ratings already look far from rosy.

And just like that France may have solved the Italian crisis.

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Watch: Democrat Chuck Schumer shows his East Coast elitism on live TV

Amazing moment in which the President exhibits “transparency in government” and shows the world who the Democrat leaders really are.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the reasons Donald Trump was elected to the Presidency was because of his pugnacious, “in your face” character he presented – and promised TO present – against Democrat policy decisions and “stupid government” in general.

One of the reasons President Donald Trump is reviled is because of his pugnacious, “in your face” character he presented – and promised TO present – in the American political scene.

In other words, there are two reactions to the same characteristic. On Tuesday, the President did something that probably cheered and delighted a great many Americans who witnessed this.

The Democrats have been unanimous in taking any chance to roast the President, or to call for his impeachment, or to incite violence against him. But Tuesday was President Trump’s turn. He invited the two Democrat leaders, presumptive incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and then, he turned the cameras on:

As Tucker Carlson notes, the body language from Schumer was fury. The old (something)-eating grin covered up humiliation, embarrassment and probably no small amount of fear, as this whole incident was filmed and broadcast openly and transparently to the American public. Nancy Pelosi was similarly agitated, and she expressed it later after this humiliation on camera, saying, “It’s like a manhood thing for him… As if manhood could ever be associated with him.”

She didn’t stop there. According to a report from the New York Daily News, the Queen Bee took the rhetoric a step below even her sense of dignity:

Pelosi stressed she made clear to Trump there isn’t enough support in Congress for a wall and speculated the President is refusing to back down because he’s scared to run away with his tail between his legs.

“I was trying to be the mom. I can’t explain it to you. It was so wild,” Pelosi said of the Oval Office meet, which was also attended by Vice President Pence and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). “It goes to show you: you get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you.”

This represented the first salvo in a major spin-job for the ultra-liberal San Francisco Democrat. The rhetoric spun by Mrs. Pelosi and Chuck Schumer was desperate as they tried to deflect their humiliation and place it back on the President:

With reporters still present, Trump boasted during the Oval meeting he would be “proud” to shutdown the government if Congress doesn’t earmark cash for his wall before a Dec. 21 spending deadline.

Pelosi told Democrats that Trump’s boisterousness will be beneficial for them.

“The fact is we did get him to say, to fully own that the shutdown was his,” Pelosi said. “That was an accomplishment.”

The press tried to characterize this as a “Trump Tantrum”, saying things like this lede:

While “discussing” a budgetary agreement for the government, President Donald Trump crossed his arms and declared: “we will shut down the government if there is no wall.”

While the Democrats and the mainstream media in the US are sure to largely buy these interpretations of the event, the fact that this matter was televised live shows that the matter was entirely different, and this will be discomfiting to all but those Democrats and Trump-dislikers that will not look at reality.

There appears to be a twofold accomplishment for the President in this confrontation:

  1. The President revealed to his support base the real nature of the conversation with the Democrat leadership, because anyone watching this broadcast (and later, video clip) saw it unedited with their own eyes. They witnessed the pettiness of both Democrats and they witnessed a President completely comfortable and confident about the situation.
  2. President Trump probably made many of his supporters cheer with the commitment to shut down the government if he doesn’t get his border wall funding. This cheering is for both the strength shown about getting the wall finished and the promise to shut the government down, and further, Mr. Trump’s assertion that he would be “proud” to shut the government down, taking complete ownership willingly, reflects a sentiment that many of his supporters share.

The usual pattern is for the media, Democrats and even some Republicans to create a “scare” narrative about government shutdowns, about how doing this is a sure-fire path to chaos and suffering for the United States.

But the educated understanding of how shutdowns work reveals something completely different. Vital services never close. However, National Parks can close partly or completely, and some non-essential government agencies are shuttered. While this is an inconvenience for the employees furloughed during the shutdown, they eventually are re-compensated for the time lost, and are likely to receive help during the shutdown period if they need it. The impact on the nation is minimal, aside from the fact that the government stops spending money at the same frenetic pace as usual.

President Trump’s expression of willingness to do this action and his singling out of the Dem leadership gives the Democrats a real problem. Now the entire country sees their nature. As President Trump is a populist, this visceral display of Democrat opposition and pettiness will make at least some impact on the population, even that group of people who are not Trump fans.

The media reaction and that of the Democrats here show, amazingly, that after three years-plus of Donald Trump being a thorn in their side, they still do not understand how he works, and they also cannot match it against their expected “norms” of establishment behavior.

This may be a brilliant masterstroke, and it also may be followed up by more. The President relishes head-to-head conflict. The reactions of these congress members showed who they really are.

Let the games begin.

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