Tag Archives: Luca Maestri

A mined pathway

There is news out there. It is coming from several sides making it slightly more reliable, yet the path that some seem to shine on is actually a very dangerous one. Now, let’s be straight, I am no fan of Iran, they overstepped the mark again and again and as such they are a genuine danger. Yet, the steps that we see contemplated is one that is slightly too dodgy as I see it. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of sanctions in place, there is all kinds of pressures on Iran and the direct threat that they pose to both the state of Israel and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is more than enough to make us all act against Iran, yet when we look at i24 News (at https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/international/179007-180708-mossad-chief-secretly-visited-washington-to-coordinate-on-iran-report), it is not the travel plans of Yossi Cohen, the El Jefe of Mossad that is an issue, it is the quote “held meetings with senior White House officials to discuss Iran” that needs more light. You see, a man like Yossi Cohen does not leave his operational bunker unless there is something that needs to be communicated directly. There have been all kinds of water-cooler chats on active operations (as some put it) in Iran to create more destabilisation. The Middle East Eye gives us “Is it the government’s policy to pursue regime change in Iran? Do they think the MEK actually have popular legitimacy in Iran?“, “This prospect moves the US and Iran closer to a direct military confrontation” from Forbes and “some segments of the economically driven protests are likely driven by Iran’s factional infighting over the direction of Iran’s policy, particularly within the context of elite disagreement on how to manage and mitigate the impact of US sanctions” from Nazanin Soroush at IHS Jane’s Intelligence Weekly. Now, realise that these three quotes are not on the same topic, yet the word of the week regarding Iran is ‘destabilisation‘. This is actually a lot more dangerous, it has the distinct danger of setting the people optionally against its own structures and the military tends to act rather negatively on that setting. Iran lost a lot of face and options with the Nuclear deal when the US backed out of it and even as the EU seems to be driven to keep it alive at the expense of every risk, the dangers are putting pressure in the wrong places and the visit from Yossi Cohen towards the US leaves us with the thought that more is coming. In this, the news that was given yesterday with the French shipping company CMA CGM pulling out of Iran is only increasing pressures. So even as Iran says it needs more help from Europe to keep alive the 2015 deal it worked out with world powers to curb its nuclear program, we need to consider that the Nuclear deal is unlikely to be salvaged unless the EU makes very large concessions making things even harder on the US-EU front. In this the prospect of being banned in the United States appears to have been enough to persuade some European companies to keep out and several others are now reconsidering the options that they have.

In all this, the news of internal actions remains on the table, yet I feel that this is not the best move to make. Part of the drive here is likely the news that had been around, in this former CIA officer Phil Giraldi gives us “what happens when Washington tries to sanction the Central Bank of China over business dealings with Iran — utter chaos on top of the already existing trade war!” This is a dangerous development and it is the most likely of settings that the US will want to avoid it, and some of the players are eager for a swift victory (yea right!), so here we have the dangers that the US will be pushing, or asking Mossad to contemplate to act directly in Iran, optionally in conjunction with CIA teams. If destabilisation is the operative word, there will be the implied dangers to all kinds of infrastructures (highly speculated by me here), and that is not the best of ideas. You see, even as there is Iranian opposition to both the clergy and military. A direct intervention in Iran, if proven could unite the people with the military and that is a dangerous step for both Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia. As there are internal conflicts Iran cannot and will not completely commit to the open setting of actions against the three nations. If the people unite the picture changes drastically almost immediate and that will most likely impact Saudi Arabia and Israel in the first instance, in addition to that Saudi Arabia would become a more visible target for Hezbollah overnight (with all the direct actions that follow), all issues that need to be avoided.

So how wrong am I?

I could be wrong, I honestly gave to some of the parts the setting that it was speculative, yet the quotes are from a collection of newscasts and news publications, the fact that some of it is not supported on an international setting needs scrutiny, yet the direct facts of additional pressures on Iran are clearly published making it much reliable. The additional fact that Haaretz released information that the IDF made their donations to an Iranian Air Force Base Near Homs, giving it loads of rubble is also clear indications that Israel is more and more active against Iran, yet there we must still consider that their actions remain still focussed on the Iranian presence in Syria (for now). Yet in all this, the setting is still not complete, there is evidence (a slight exaggeration) is pointing that Qatar is increasing its ties with US and Iran. Even as Haaretz gives us: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sat next to the minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani. “You have been a great friend to the United States,” Mnuchin told Thani, praising Qatar for its cooperation on counter-terrorism financing efforts“, it must be looked into who instigated the Qatar-Iran ‘warming up’ party recently. If it is Iran then it is merely a tactic to increase policy gaps all over the Middle East, if it is Qatar, the issue becomes a larger problem. You see, just over a week ago, we saw the continuation (source: Arab News) through ‘Qatar will pay a price for its financial links with Iran‘, this is not news as it was going on for close to a year, yet if the previous setting was opened by Qatar, it implies that Saudi Arabia has a larger problem and even as the initial target might not be Saudi Arabia as the quote “Traditionally reliant on Dubai as a financial bridge to the outside world, Tehran is now looking to find new safe harbors to protect its financial interests, and Qatar is in its crosshairs. If Iran succeeds in building such a relationship with Qatar, it will be in a far stronger position to endure and evade US sanctions” implies, which makes operational and tactical sense, the secondary setting is that Iran could gain a more direct path of access to Saudi Arabia. This opens up Iranian settings towards Al Hofuf, Al Kharj and from there interference directly into Riyadh becomes (even though a far-fetched one) to Riyadh, all this at a time that Saudi Arabia should be focussing on Yemen and Hezbollah. It would force itself to instigate stronger internal security measures, all costing resources.

In the end

As some of this requires better access to data that goes beyond open source we need to learn (over time) if we are confronted with Iran playing a game of Fox and Rabbit, or is there more going on? Let’s not forget that Qatar has its own issues in the game, with Turkey in the mix on that level as well, the game is becoming much harder to read, especially when the intelligence setting of data is set to a much higher level than yours truly has access to. That part is not just seen in the January setting that Al Jazeera gave with ‘Qatar’s investment in Turkey exceeds $20bn, the second highest by any country‘ (at https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/10/turkey-qatar-strategic-alliance-171024133518768.html), the time lines and the weighting of the official and unofficial settings, these two matter as one does not merely invest $20 billion in a nation that has no real economic investment values, and when we consider that a large chunk of that party pie is about opening paths of facilitation the considerations we need to have tends to change by a fair bit. Even as the news was given in January, the setting of such an amount of money goes into a timeline of at least two years, so there is more to take notice of, especially now. So even as Al Jazeera makes a big thing on the import of milk and beef, the amount given could feed every Syrian refugee for close to three years, the math does not add up. there is however no telling what the actual settings are as the open books and the second balance need not be the same, and might not be set in covert needs, merely in non-taxable, or 100% deductibility reasoning, the mere legal application of tax avoidance could make all the difference.

Sometimes clarity of data tends to become murky, intentionally done for the mere reason as to avoid that supervillian (taxman) to gain access to the intended funds. If you doubt that reason, feel free to ask Ruth Porat (CFO Google) and Luca Maestri (CFO Apple) on the hardships that this supervillian (taxman) gives them.

 

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