This edition of the Blind Spot Wrap was compiled by Izabella Kaminska (IK) and Dario Garcia Giner (DGG).
Economics, markets and finance:
- China’s June forex reserves fall more than expected to $3.071 tn.
- The Daily Mail’s Ruth Sutherland notes many British employers are facing increasing difficulties in filling vacancies. Ruth points to increasing numbers of the ‘economically inactive’ based on long-term sickness benefits. The figures counting the ‘economically inactive’ have also increased by 20 per cent between spring 2019 and spring 2022 – around 2.5mn individuals.
Buried by Boris news:
- Confusion as Iranian reports say British Deputy Ambassador has been arrested for spying – but Foreign Office denies it.
- Heads of UK and US security services make unprecedented joint appearance to warn of threat from China.
- Alex Berenson, the former New York Times reporter who was permanently suspended from Twitter for sharing vaccine disinformation, has his account returned as part of a lawsuit settlement.
Whether you are a fan of Berenson’s or not, the important point here is that Twitter’s cancellation policy seems to have been successfully challenged via a legal pathway. – IK
Chaos in clog-and-canuck country:
- Protests among polders; tractor protests in the Netherlands intensify as dutch police opened fire on a tractor. Videos have been circulating the web highlighting empty store shelves, allegedly as a result of the farmers’ strike.
The unrest resulted from government plans to cut emissions, which proposed to slash emissions of nitrogen oxide and ammonia by 50 per cent by 2030, which would include reducing livestock and other government-directed measures. – DGG
- The Canadian freedom convoy is back on Canada day.
Considering the insanely anti-democratic measures imposed by Trudeau’s government as a result of these (albeit extremely intrusive and often misinformed) protests, which included the freezing of bank accounts from donors to the movement under Canada’s Patriot Act-equivalent laws, it’s surprising how little coverage they got among Western press. – DGG
- Over half of AztraZeneca doses in Canada set to expire.
Will we see a backlash against political figures for the purchase of excess Covid vaccination doses? – DGG
GOP attempts empathy:
- Mitch McConnell claims the labour shortage will be resolved when Americans run out of stimulus money since citizens are ‘flush for the moment’.
- The European Parliament has backed listing nuclear and gas energy as ‘green’.
Finally – IK
- Almost one billion individuals in China had their data leaked. Reportedly, this gigantic online database containing the personal information of Chinese citizens has remained unsecured and publicly accessible for over a year. The case came to light after an anonymous user in hacker forums claimed to be able to sell the data.
Middle East affairs:
- Israeli exercises in Romania simulate an invasion of Lebanon.
The Israeli air force conducted a drill simulating low-altitude flights over new territory, named the ‘Blue Sky 2022′ drill. This is reportedly similar to the Israeli militaries’ Chariots of Fire drill in Cyprus in June 2022, which simulated moving a large force into hostile territory by sea and air. It is not clear to the Blind Spot whether this mostly represents a strengthening of Israeli relationships with other coutnries’ militaries, or whether it primarily signifies the Israeli command’s realisation of necessary military preparations in the wake of the Russo-Ukrainian war. – DGG
- Syrian government soldiers arrive in SDF-controlled Ain Issa and Kobani, reported the UK-based Syrian war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
This announcement, also coming directly from the SDF media center, allegedly reflects a new understanding between the Syrian Government and the SDF – which the Blind Spot has been covering over the past week. The comments on this new ‘understanding’ were voiced by Badran Chiya, deputy Co-chair of the Autonomous Administraiton of North East Syria (AANES).
The specific language describing this ‘understanding’ occured between “the Syrian government and the AANES to protect the Syrian borders with Turkey and that there are wider discusisons to broaden the understanding to deter any possible Turkish attack.”
This language fascinating; the political focus emerging around the regional administration, the AANES, rather than the military fraction in charge, the SDF, suggests our previous position that any potential Assad-SDF understandings may be paving the way for a KRG-style autonomous region in Syria. If that were the case, we may expect to see more of these agreements being formally made on the regional administrative level, as part of a normalisation of the relationship between Assad and the SDF. – DGG
- HTS security services have launched an arrest campaign in Idlib.
Everyone’s favourite anti-jihadist jihadists have launched an arrest campaign that seems to be targeting both HTS commanders and judges, as well as members and leaders of independent organisations. As previously suggested by the Blind Spot, there seems to be a harmonisation effort by HTS forces in Idlib to remove opposing factions in the heavily wheat-producing region.This could represent a political cleanup prior to a potential change in conditions in the last enclave of the Syrian rebels owing to a potential Turkish re-invasion of parts of north Syria. – DGG
- The Vatican’s unofficial envoy to Hong Kong has claimed that religious rights of Hong Kong Catholics are over. These comments come in the wake of the passed expiration date of the Vatican’s deal with the CCP, last renewed in 2020, whose details are kept a secret.