January 03, 2020

Iran Options Seem Narrow as It Seeks to Avenge Slain General
(Bloomberg) -- Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei threatened “severe retaliation” against the U.S. for the assassination of the country’s most prominent military commander, but he may be limited in what he can do.While Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told state TV that the Islamic Republic’s response can come “at any time and by any means,” U.S. sanctions have hobbled his nation’s economy. Any action that triggered a conventional war with the U.S. would put the Shiite Muslim power at a severe disadvantage.Anti-government protests have also challenged the regime’s dominance in Iraq, Lebanon and at home. Now, in Al Quds commander Qassem Soleimani, Iranians have lost the very man they would have relied upon to craft an effective response.Tehran’s strategy since President Donald Trump pulled out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal that had promised rapprochement between Iran and the West suggests any retaliation will likely be measured. It needs to be significant enough to reflect Soleimani’s stature, though not enough to invite an unbridled conflict with the world’s military superpower. Such controlled reprisals could include a strike at diplomatic staff or cyberattacks.“I don’t think either the U.S. or Iran want all-out war,” said Sir Tom Beckett, a former lieutenant general in the British Army and now executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies-Middle East. “The U.S. needed to assert its willingness to take military action alongside its campaign of exerting maximum economic pressure.” That has now been done. The bigger question is whether the removal of Soleimani, a national hero to many Iranians, proves to have been part of a wider strategy.The U.S. and Iran are effectively already at war. Since at least the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Soleimani’s approach to challenging American power was to assemble and strengthen proxy Shiite militias in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. He then used these to prosecute a hybrid war against the U.S. and its regional allies at arm’s length, without triggering a direct response from Washington.The Trump administration plans to send about 2,800 troops from the Army’s 82nd Airborne division to Kuwait to act as an additional deterrent against Iran. The new U.S. contingent will join about 700 troops dispatched to Kuwait earlier this week as part of the division’s rapid-reaction “ready battalion,” according to two U.S. officials who asked not to be identified discussing the deployment. The U.S. already had about 60,000 personnel.Game ChangerSuccessive administrations underGeorge W. Bush and Barack Obama chose not to risk an escalation despite Soleimani’s responsibility for U.S. fatalities. Now it’s Iran that will have to weigh the risks of a determined response. As U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper put it hour before the drone strike in Baghdad: “The game has changed.”Yet despite Khamenei’s stark threat, Iran is unlikely to reach for a maximal option, such as a missile strike on American bases in Bahrain or elsewhere in the Gulf. To do so would invite suicide, analysts say.“This is an intensely dangerous moment, but as always with Iran, we should be wary of hyperbolic predictions,” said Suzanne Maloney, deputy director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. “Tehran is well practiced at calibrating retaliation around its real interests, which ultimately concern regime survival and targeting its reprisals with deliberation and precision.”QuickTake: How Qassem Soleimani Helped Shape the Modern MideastIn the past, it was Soleimani who made those calibrations. A veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, Soleimani ran the elite unit of the Revolutionary Guard Corps that specialized in unconventional warfare and overseas operations.They included a series of pinpoint attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf last year that culminated with a daring attack on a Saudi oil facility. No fatalities were reported in any of the attacks and neither the U.S. nor Saudi Arabia had a response.Militia NetworkSoleimani’s network of militias appear to have triggered his death. They shelled a U.S. base in Iraq, killing a U.S. contractor, and then stormed the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, evoking memories of the 1979 U.S. hostage crisis in Tehran.On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. had struck out at Soleimani because it had information he was planning further attacks against U.S. personnel.Those militias remain the most effective and usable military tool at Iran’s disposal. Soleimani’s deputy, who was quickly named as the new Quds force chief, said the group’s strategy would not change.The question, according to British military strategist Beckett and others, is where Khamenei will opt to strike and at what level -- with a single dramatic action, or multiple much smaller attacks that would make it harder for the U.S. to escalate again.“Iranian leaders are unlikely to lash out blindly,” said Maloney. “Instead, they will indulge in the short-term opportunity to whip up nationalism and wait for the best opportunity to inflict damage on U.S. interests and allies.”Not SarajevoPolitical risk consultancy Eurasia Group predicted on Friday that Iran’s immediate response would likely involve low to moderate level clashes inside Iraq, with Iranian-backed militias attacking U.S. bases, renewed harassment of shipping in the Gulf and other strikes around the world that could be hard to anticipate. A cyberattack is one option Iranian officials are almost certainly considering, according to some experts.Zarif said Friday that the consequences of the U.S. killing Soleimani will be “broad” and will be out of Iran’s hands because of the general’s widespread popularity in the region.QuickTake: Iran Is Big on Cyberwarfare. How Does That Work?Unlike the political assassination in the Balkans that triggered World War I, the fallout out from Thursday’s attack is likely to be far less widespread, according to Emile Hokayem, senior fellow for Middle East Security at the London-based IISS.“This is not a Franz Ferdinand moment,” said Hokayem. “It’s at best an inflection point. Hundreds of thousands have been dying in the region over the last 10 years or so, including at the hands of Soleimani. The U.S. and Iran are already at war.”(Updates with Zarif’s comment, U.S. troops dispatched starting in second paragraph)\--With assistance from Lin Noueihed, Glen Carey and Polina Noskova.To contact the reporter on this story: Marc Champion in London at mchampion7@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson at fjackson@bloomberg.net, Rodney JeffersonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
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Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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