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BLACKWATER USA | DAILY BRIEF


COVID-19

  • The World Bank estimated that the coronavirus pandemic will shrink the global economy by 5.2% this year, which would be the deepest recession since WWII. The Bank says countries that rely on global trade, tourism, commodity exports, and external financing like donations will likely be the hardest hit.

Guyana

  • Preliminary recount data suggest Pres. Granger’s opposition challenger, Irfaan Ali, actually won the March election Granger already claimed. The two sides have different ethnic backing and are highly suspicious of each other—all the more so now that Guyana has significant oil revenue on the horizon. A brief Reuters article about the recount is pasted below.

  • Granger’s ruling party rejected the reversal (which is not official yet anyway).

Venezuela

  • Iran sent an air cargo shipment of COVID-19 medical supplies to Venezuela, and said Pres. Maduro will visit Iran as soon as possible to say thank you. (Maduro had already planned to visit Iran to hash out various cooperation deals; a “thank you” visit suggests a more lopsided friendship between the two sanctioned countries.)

  • China also sent a medical aid shipment by plan to Caracas—its sixth.

Libya

  • Turkey and the U.S. appear to have cautiously made “some agreements” on Libya after a call between Presidents Erdogan and Trump. Neither side offered details.

  • Erdogan had previously said the GNA side he backs would continue fighting until it captured Sirte, which is critical to eastern oil exports and thus seen as a gateway into Khalifa Haftar’s eastern stronghold. Erdogan said the GNA would only consider a ceasefire once it had secured Sirte—which the GNA fears would otherwise fall into Russian hands (Haftar owes Russia a favor because Russia backs his LNA).

  • [For context, there are two major oil export networks in Libya: one controlled by Haftar that runs up the east side of the country to Sirte and Tobruk, and another controlled by the GNA that runs up the western border to Melitah.]

  • Forces loyal to Haftar ordered operations at Al Sharara oil field—Libya’s largest oil field (and part of the western network), which had just restarted operations yesterday—to close.

U.S.

  • George Floyd’s funeral is today in Houston.

  • Forest Fenn, a wealthy art collector who buried $2 million of gold nuggets and gems in the Rocky Mountains around 10 years ago, says the trove has been found. Fenn announced the hunt with a vague poem intended to offer treasure hunters some much-needed motivation after the 2007-2009 recession.

North Korea

  • Still irked that South Korea failed to stop activists from dropping anti-North Korean leaflets over the border, North Korea said it was cutting off communication channels with the south. South Korea turned the other cheek, repeating that it would continue to work for peace with the north.

Middle East

  • Palestinian officials warned that they would let the Palestinian Authority collapse if Israel annexes parts of the West Bank, which would force Israel to take responsibility for over two million Palestinians—including militants who have threatened to Israeli forces if the annexation plans go ahead.

Afghanistan

  • A U.S. Army investigative report found that the Afghan trainee who killed Utah mayor (and National Guard officer) Maj. Brent Taylor in Afghanistan in 2018 had planned the killing for weeks, and even showed signs of radicalization while Taylor was training him.

Guyana Presidential Election Data Shows Opposition Leader Ali Wins Recount (Reuters)

Preliminary data published by Guyana's elections commission shows that opposition candidate Irfaan Ali has won a recount of votes in March's presidential election following accusations the tally was manipulated.

President David Granger had claimed victory despite observer groups and diplomats from the United States and the European Union saying there were irregularities in the count.

While Guyana's election commission has yet to officially declare results, initial data shows Ali's opposition PPP party secured enough votes to win 33 seats in the 65-seat legislature.

Granger's APNU+AFC party secured enough votes to take 31 seats.

The 40-year-old Ali is expected to be sworn in as president.

The opposition had said the results from the largest voting district had been inflated to put Granger ahead of Ali. Guyana's top court found the district's electoral head had not counted votes in accordance with electoral laws, eventually leading to a country-wide recount.

The disputed vote may fuel long-simmering tensions between two groups, Afro-Guyanese and those of Indian descent, each of which has grown suspicious that the other is seeking control over revenues from oil production.

Guyana, which has a population of less than 800,000, is expected to become a major oil producer in the coming years as a consortium of companies taps into 8 billion barrels of oil and gas off its coast.

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