Pakistan: Khan get no satisfaction.
Also: Canada, India, Australia, the US, Haiti and the DRC.
PAKISTAN. Khan get no satisfaction.
A vote is called with the favourite bowled out.
Pakistan's election commission on Thursday said polls would take place in late January, with constituencies finalised by 30 November. Former prime minister Imran Khan has been charged with sedition, his lawyers said on Wednesday.
INTELLIGENCE. A vote was originally due in November and Khan looked certain to win before his party was dissolved and a string of charges were made. Sedition, which carries a possible death sentence, is the latest in at least 85 indictments, including for corruption, terrorism and “unIslamic marriage”. On Sunday, whistleblowing site The Intercept alleged the US helped Pakistan secure an IMF loan in exchange for Khan's ousting and weapons for Ukraine.
FOR BUSINESS. Khan claims the US wanted him out due to his closeness to Putin. But whether a conspiracy involved Washington, one certainly occurred, with Pakistan’s military commonly ousting governments that challenge it. Popular disgust with the generals remains an ongoing risk as Islamabad attempts to fix the economy.Having recently secured an investment pledge from Saudi Arabia and put state assets up for sale, Pakistan is now in talks with China.
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CANADA. INDIA. Five blind eyes.
Ottawa’s allies look the other way.
Delhi stopped issuing visas to Canadians on Thursday and asked Ottawa to reduce its diplomatic staff, in the latest response to Justin Trudeau's claim this week that India was linked to the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil.
INTELLIGENCE. Canada’s allegations are based on secret intelligence, yet it’s almost certain that its Five Eyes allies – Australia, Britain, New Zealand and the US – have seen the details. Had any other country murdered a Canadian there would be collective outrage, but Western powers hope to use India as an economic counterweight against China and drag it out of Russia’s military orbit. Western politicians must also consider the votes of large Indian diasporas.
FOR BUSINESS. India has gotten free passes on human rights and economic protectionism, but until the war in Ukraine is over, or relations are patched up between the West and China, the hypocrisy will continue. The UK wants a trade agreement. The US wants a string of aerospace deals. Australia wants naval cooperation. Nobody wants to be punished. On Thursday, Reuters said India’s JSW Steel was slowing its purchase of part of Canada's Teck Resources.
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AUSTRALIA. UNITED STATES. Two strikes out.
In a tight market, labour prospers.
Australian unions on Friday called off strikes at Chevron's natural gas facilities, following a new workplace agreement. Progress was reported on Thursday between Hollywood studios and screenwriters. Actors remain on the picket line.
INTELLIGENCE. The Chevron deal eases latent worries on gas supplies, coming as Russia announced the temporary ban of diesel and gasoline exports. While European reserves are high ahead of winter, other importers are scrambling for cargoes, with many needing to burn more coal on account of high LNG prices. Few are as worried about Hollywood writers or stars, but their relative soft power is influencing other workers to unionise, from Amazon to Starbucks.
FOR BUSINESS. With high inflation and low unemployment, unions are driving hard bargains. US autoworkers are the latest group to strike, and potentially could cause the most damage to Western economies, particularly if prolonged shutdowns cede further market share to fast-growing Chinese electric vehicle manufactures. But the workers’ paradise may not last. While US dole applications are at eight-month lows, European jobless rates are edging up.
HAITI. Out of the frying pan.
A gang boss calls for an overthrow.
Jimmy ‘Barbecue’ Chérizier, Haiti's most powerful gang leader, called for an uprising against Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who took over after Haiti’s president was murdered in 2021. The UN will vote next week on a security support mission..
INTELLIGENCE. Gangs already control 90% of Haiti's capital and it is hard to see how things can get worse, but they are. Earlier this week, the Dominican Republic shut Haiti's land borders, ostensibly over a canal. On Thursday, Kenya's president reiterated a pledge to send 1,000 police officers, but based on previous UN missions, Haiti's citizens (and gangs) will chafe at any intervention, potentially internationalising the crisis. Haiti is a major transit route for US drugs.
FOR BUSINESS. Haiti exports little except cash crops and textiles. Where there's an economic connection to the world, it's through people or narcotics smuggling. The crisis however could present an opportunity for China amid its strategy of peeling off Taiwan’s remaining allies (Haiti is one of 13) and displacing US dominance in the Caribbean. China is also strengthening ties with Kenya, with whom it recently agreed an intelligence-sharing partnership.
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DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO. Peace out.
Another UN mission is asked to go.
President Felix Tshisekedi on Wednesday said he wanted the UN peacekeepers to withdraw by the end of 2023. He separately said the DRC was “ready to face any threat” after Rwanda-backed rebels clashed with Congolese soldiers.
INTELLIGENCE. The UN’s MONUSCO mission started in 1999 to help end the Second Congo War, which led to over 5 million deaths and involved forces from Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Angola among others. While MONUSCO has had its controversies, large-scale fighting could return in its absence. In January, rumours began that Tshisekedi had engaged Russia’s Wagner Group. He did not attend Putin’s Africa summit in July, but relations are growing.
FOR BUSINESS. The current insurgency in the DRC is largely in the east, but problems could easily spread to the mineral-rich south. Western investors meanwhile face expropriation concerns. On 31 July, 29 firms had their mining rights cancelled. Minerals account for half of the DRC's GDP and almost all exports. It produces 70% of the world's cobalt. Saudi Arabia has reportedly used its DRC cobalt rights to incentivise Tesla to build a factory in the Kingdom.