🌍 US points finger at pro-Ukraine group for Nord Stream Sabotage
Plus: Turkish opposition chooses Erdogan's challenger
Hi there Intriguer. Billions have celebrated Holi this week. Known as the festival of colours, it marks the victory of good over evil and the end of Winter. Plus, it involves eating Gujiya and having water fights! So together with leaders around the world (e.g., US, Israel and Australia), plus the odd cricket superstar, we wish everyone a Happy Holi.
Today’s edition is a 4.6 min read:
- 🧨 Pro-Ukraine groups could be behind Nord Stream explosions.
- 🇹🇷 Turkey’s opposition parties pick a leader.
- ➕ Plus: Latin America’s threat to growth, how the papers are covering protests in Georgia, and some intriguing insights from International Women's Day.
- Valentina, Ethan & Jeremy
🗺️ AROUND THE WORLD
- 🇨🇳 China: The Chinese embassy in Germany says it's “strongly dissatisfied” by a recent report suggesting Germany will ban equipment from two Chinese telcos. The US, UK, and Sweden have already curbed the use of Huawei and ZTE kit.
- 🇬🇧 United Kingdom: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced a new plan to prevent migrants that enter the UK on small boats from staying in Britain. More than 45,000 people crossed the English Channel last year; the number was only 300 in 2018.
- 🇫🇯 Fiji: Frank Bainimarama, who served as Fiji’s prime minister from 2006-2022, resigned from parliament on Wednesday. Parliament had already suspended him for three years last month after he called for military intervention against the new government.
- 🇨🇱 Chile: Legal experts have convened to draft a new Chilean constitution after voters rejected the first attempt to revise the document last year. The next referendum is set to take place in December.
- 🇲🇷 Mauritania: The government is in discussions with Israel on joining the Abraham Accords (a series of normalisation agreements with Muslim-majority countries). The two countries had diplomatic relations from 1999 until 2008, when Mauritania ended the arrangement.
🧨 EUROPE | NORD STREAM EXPLOSIONS
US blames pro-Ukraine group for Nord Stream explosions
Briefly: Senior intelligence officials in the US and EU suspect a group of pro-Ukraine partisans is behind the blasts that damaged the Nord Stream pipelines last year. US officials say they don’t believe the Ukrainian government was behind the attacks.
Some context: Late last September a series of blasts targeted the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, causing significant gas leaks in the Baltic sea. The pipelines were built to transport natural gas from Russia to Europe.
The blasts were clearly acts of sabotage, but mystery shrouded the 'who' and the 'why'. The main suspects and their motives were:
- Kyiv: to reduce Europe's reliance on Russian gas, enabling Europe to back Kyiv 100% against Moscow
- The US/UK: as above, plus leaving the EU gas market open for US exports
- Moscow: adept at underwater skulduggery, but it was never clear why Russia would destroy its own revenue and leverage over Europe
Intrigue’s take: This controlled leak from US intelligence suggests Russia didn't do it. So suspicion now shifts to the other suspects. And that's huge. The slightest whiff of Ukrainian involvement risks angering Europe, particularly Germany, where millions of industrial jobs were long reliant on cheap Russian energy.
So pinning the blame on a mystery 'pro-Ukrainian group' (but not Ukraine!) is a rather neat solution, reducing the risk of EU solidarity splintering. It's just hard to see how a 'group' (rather than government) would have the capability to pull off such a complex operation.
The Cluedo continues.
Also worth noting:
- Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh has accused the US of planning and executing the attack, though most experts have rejected his claims.
- Following the incident, the Norwegian armed forces raised their surveillance levels around Norway’s North Sea oil and gas infrastructure.
📰 GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES
How different newspapers covered: The ongoing protests in Georgia against the government’s new foreign agent bill.
Links: SCMP, Georgia Today, Politico
Topdown Charts is a chart-driven macro research house, providing global asset allocation insights to some of the world's largest investors.
- Each week they send (free) subscribers one of the most intriguing and important macro/market charts on their radar along with clear commentary + implications so you're never left guessing why the chart matters.
For example, last week they shared a chart showing how China Begins 2023 in a Recession.
🇹🇷TURKEY | POLITICS
Turkey’s opposition reluctantly rallies around a candidate
Briefly: A unity coalition of six opposition parties has nominated Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to take on 20-year incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey’s presidential election on 14 May. Kılıçdaroğlu, age 74, has led the centre-left Republican People’s Party for over a decade.
The process of nominating a party’s candidate is rarely pretty. So imagine when six parties all try to do it.
The leader of the right-leaning Good Party (full marks for the name) threatened to leave the coalition unless it nominated the mayor of Ankara or Istanbul. But it might've been worth checking with the mayors first; they both politely declined to run. The popular Istanbul mayor is busy fighting some pretty surprising charges.
Intrigue’s take: The unity coalition isn’t looking too... unified. Turkey’s opposition could take some lessons from Israel, whose opposition parties also formed a broad coalition to win an election. Sure, you may win the election, but if the only thing holding you together is being in opposition, it could well be a Pyrrhic victory.
Also worth noting:
- Recent polling shows the opposition coalition with a solid lead over Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party alliance.
- In a speech last year, Kılıçdaroğlu outlined a more aggressive foreign policy that would challenge Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Greece for alleged offences.
📚 REPORT OF THE DAY
Bad climate, bad business...
Unless governments take action, Latin America could lose as much as 16% of its GDP due to the effects of climate change this century, according to a new Moody's report.
👀 EXTRA INTRIGUE
Here’s what we’re reading about International Women’s Day, which was celebrated around the world yesterday.
🗳️ POLL TIME!
Do you think a non-state actor could have pulled off the Nord Stream attacks?
Yesterday's poll: Do you think US Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy should visit Taiwan?
🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ ✈️ Yes, he should show solidarity with Taiwan (25%)
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 🤔 No, Taiwan doesn't seem keen (75%)
Your two cents:
- 🤔 J.C: "Taiwan does not seem to relish the idea of escalation with China and I believe it would be prudent to follow Taiwan's lead on this matter. I think that is how an "ally" should act, deferring to their partners' wishes for not escalating the powder keg."