Middle East

  • Iran Carries Out New Missile Tests After Trump Imposes Sanctions

  • US Navy Patrolling off of Yemen: Please remember the US Cole
  • F-35 vs. deployment of F-18 – “You can’t replace the F-35 with an F-18 any more than you can replace an aircraft carrier with a cruise ship,” a headline at Popular Science said.Lt. Col. David Berke, a former commander of the US Marine Corps’ first operational F-35B squadron, told Business Insider the idea of upgrading a legacy fighter to do the F-35’s job was plainly “preposterous.”
  • Death of a pragmatist
    Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a moderate former president of Iran and a stalwart of the regime, died yesterday aged 82. Some hardliners are cheering that their most powerful opponent has gone. His death weakens the chances of re-election for Hassan Rouhani, the incumbent, as well as for Iran’s rapprochement with the West. Without Mr Rafsanjani, the country may become more polarized.  This could be a boost to the Oil Stocks since the hawks will be drawn into a power vacuum and enrich themselves.
  • The total value of international arms-transfer agreements during the 2012-2015 period was up significantly over the previous three years, going from $266.6 billion between 2008 and 2011 to $317 billion.The developing-developed-world breakdown held steady over those two three-year periods as well. Developing-world countries were involved in 80.92% of arms-transfer agreements made around the world between 2012 and 2015, up only slightly from the 80.39% share recorded between 2008 and 2011.The US was first in the value of all arms deliveries made around the world, at a value of $16.9 billion or 36.62% of the total. Russia was second last year, making $7.2 billion in such deliveries. France was third, at $7 billion in deliveries.
    Russian Hacking Code Found in Vermont Power Utility Computer
  • Shouting “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria!” a Turkish policeman in a suit and tie fatally shot Russia’s ambassador to Turkey in front of stunned onlookers at a photo exhibit. Police killed the assailant after a shootout.Ambassador Andrei Karlov, 62, was several minutes into a speech at the embassy-sponsored exhibition in the Turkish capital of Ankara when a man fired at least eight shots, according to an AP photographer in the audience.

    “Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!” the gunman shouted in Turkish, referring to the Syrian city where Russian bombardments have helped drive rebels from areas they had occupied for years during the war.

    He also shouted “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “God is great” and continued in Arabic: “We are the descendants of those who supported the Prophet Muhammad, for jihad.”

    Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu identified the gunman as Mevlut Mert Altintas. He said Altintas, who was born in 1994, had been an officer with Ankara’s riot police squad for more than two years. Soylu did not give a motive for the attack.

    The gunman approached Karlov as he lay on the ground and shot him at least one more time at close range, the AP photographer said. The attacker also smashed several of the framed photos hung for the exhibition, as panicked people ran for cover. Three other people were wounded in the attack, Turkey’s NTV television said.

    After shooting the ambassador, the gunman climbed to the second floor of the same building and was killed after a 15-minute shootout with police, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported.

    The attack comes a day before a meeting of Russian, Turkish and Iranian foreign and defense ministers in Moscow to discuss Syria. Russia and Iran have backed Syrian President Bashar Assad throughout the nearly six-year conflict, while Turkey has supported Assad’s foes.

    “It’s a tragic day in the history of our country and Russian diplomacy,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in televised comments.

    “Ambassador Karlov has made a lot of personal contributions to the development of ties with Turkey. He has done a lot to overcome a crisis in bilateral relations,” she said. “He was a man who put his heart and his soul into his job. It’s a terrible loss for us and also the world.”

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the country’s “long arm” has now become even “longer and mightier” after receiving two US-made F-35 stealth jets on Monday (12 December). The two fighter jets are part of 50 jets ordered by Israel to beef up its air security.  Coincidentally, Carly Fiorina appointed Director of National Intelligence.
  • Apple, GE, and others could soon sell their products in Iran –

    Iran is a country of more than 77 million people, and as the Journal points out, today’s nuclear deal would eventually unfreeze more than $100 billion in Iranian cash held in foreign banks, which would give more buying power to the country and certainly could entice companies hoping to bring their products to Iran.

  • US, Russia plane near miss closest call yet over Syria: Pentagon
  • Russia announced on Saturday that the Soviet-era Admiral Kuznetsov, its only aircraft carrier, was to reinforce Moscow’s military presence in the eastern Mediterranean, where its forces are conducting a bombing campaign in Syria.The Admiral Kuznetsov is travelling with the Pyotr Veliky battlecruiser, the Vice Admiral Kulakov destroyer and large anti-submarine ships, the defence ministry in Moscow said.On Tuesday, Moscow announced an immediate halt to raids by Russian and Syrian air forces on Aleppo as a gesture ofgoodwill“.
  • “frightening tectonic shifts in the Middle East”.
  • Shimon Peres‘ epitaph: “There are two things that cannot be made without closing your eyes,” he once said to the NY Times in 2013: “love and peace. If you try to make them with open eyes, you won’t get anywhere”
  • Saudi Arabia and Iran have dashed hopes that OPEC oil producers could clinch an output-limiting deal in Algeria this week as sources within the exporter group said differences between the kingdom and Tehran remained too wide. Ministers have also called the gathering a “consultative meeting,” saying “it wasn’t time for decision-making.” A formal OPEC meeting will take place in Vienna on Nov. 30, when a supply agreement may be reached.  Courtesy of Seeking Alpha.
  • Saudi Arabia will cut ministers’ salaries by 20% and scale back financial perks for public sector employees in one of the kingdom’s most drastic steps yet to save money at a time of low oil prices. The measures, disclosed in a cabinet statement and royal decree broadcast, constitute the first pay cuts for government employees, who make up about two-thirds of working Saudis.  Courtesy of Seeking Alpha.
  • Syrian Ceasefire in Jeopardy.
  • The war comes home. and NYC.
  • Breakthrough agreement on Syria Ceasefire pending sundown, Monday, September 12th
  • Possible Palestinian-Israeli summit in Russia
  • Guns vs. Butter – In memory of Slim Pickens and in honor of Yosarian and in honor of Baumol and Blinder
    • Wall Street is betting on Guns:  See the Open Interest on LMT 10/21 calls $235, $240, $245, and deep out of the money $265.  Also 12/16 $245 and $255, $260, $265 and deep out of the money $325s. Les Beurre took a huge position, 30X open interest, in the out of the money puts @ $170.  The $165 and $175 have substantial open interest, too.
      • Closer to The Election, the 11/18 NOC open interest in the out of the money $220s calls is substantial with minimal activity today.  On the other side, the $210 and $220 out of the money puts have substantial open interest with little activity today.
    • Alternatively, there is a large bet from the LMT beurre (Is Wall Street betting on the demise of the pork barrel F-35 project?on the $225 12/16 puts and substantial open interest and breakout activity in the in the money today in the $245 and $280 puts, respectively; perhaps because of this tactical information, a boon to Boeing’s (BA:NYSE) still active F-18 program.  This report probably was the causation of the wave of interest in the near strike price of out of the money activity in the 9/2 out of the money calls and in the money puts running scared out the doors.
  • USA deploying JSF into the Middle East
  • Plowing Swords into Plowshares

  • Unconventional Weapons
  • Collateral Damage
  • Retaliatory Measures from

    Dr. Strangelove

  • More specifics on Russian strikes on Syria
  • Russia Launches Syria Airstrikes from its new Fighter/Bombers