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6 July 2017

American Air CEO ‘Frightened’ by Qatar Stake Plan, Al Baker Says

Qatar Airways ratcheted up a war of words with American Airlines Group Inc. over its plans to take a stake in the U.S. carrier, with Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker saying his counterpart Doug Parker is “frightened” by the proposed investment.

6 July 2017

American Air CEO ‘Frightened’ by Qatar Stake Plan, Al Baker Says

Qatar Airways ratcheted up a war of words with American Airlines Group Inc. over its plans to take a stake in the U.S. carrier, with Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker saying his counterpart Doug Parker is “frightened” by the proposed investment.

The Persian Gulf company intends to buy up American Air stock assuming it remains attractively priced regardless of opposition from Parker, who has dismissed the plan as “puzzling at best and concerning at worst,” Al Baker said Thursday in Dublin.

“We will not impose ourselves on anybody,” the executive told reporters in the Irish capital. “However our filing is very well advanced and we hope to start buying shares on the open market soon. We want to be a strategic shareholder. We’re not telling them what to do.”

The value that Qatari investment could bring to American will become apparent once the Mideast operator purchases the 4.75 percent stake it’s able to buy without seeking approval from the Fort Worth, Texas-based company’s board, Al Baker said. There are no plans to go beyond a 10 percent holding and certainly not to the maximum 20 percent available to a foreign carrier, he said. Neither will there be an attempt to secure a seat on the board.

IAG Link

While Qatar Air and American are partners in the Oneworld global alliance and each counts British Airways as their closest global partner, with Qatar owning a 20 percent stake in BA parent IAG SA, the planned investment still came as a surprise given recent tensions between the two.

American Air and Parker have led calls from U.S. carriers to stem the expansion of the three biggest Gulf operators, also including Dubai-based Emirates and Etihad Airways of Abu Dhabi, arguing that they have unfairly benefited from illegal state aid.

The Mideast majors say they’ve benefited from no more than seed capital many years ago and have become world players thanks to a strategy of exploiting the Gulf’s position at a natural global crossroads to carve off a significant share of the most lucrative long-haul transfer traffic.

The purchase of American Airlines stock would mark a fourth foray into foreign investment by Qatar Air following its IAG deal, the acquisition of a 10 percent holding in Latam Airlines Group SA, the biggest South American carrier, and a planned 49 percent stake in minor Italian carrier Meridiana SpA.

Parker is really concerned about “placating his unions,” Al Baker said, and that it has become difficult for U.S. carriers to backtrack on their subsidy claims. He added: “You have already see the statement from my dear friend Doug Parker, who is part of our alliance, who is now frightened of a Oneworld carrier wanting to take a stake.”

The investment move comes with Qatar Air’s state owner embroiled in a political dispute with Arab neighbors over the support for Iran and alleged funding of Islamic terrorism.

6 July 2017

Trump to Question West’s ’Will to Survive’ in Speech

President Donald Trump told a Warsaw crowd today that Western nations must stand up to the twin evils of terrorism and stifling government bureaucracies that squelch individual liberty — or risk perishing from the Earth.

6 July 2017

Trump to Question West’s ’Will to Survive’ in Speech

Trump to Question West’s ’Will to Survive’ in Speech

President Donald Trump told a Warsaw crowd today that Western nations must stand up to the twin evils of terrorism and stifling government bureaucracies that squelch individual liberty — or risk perishing from the Earth.

In a speech that sometimes echoed the dark tones of his inaugural address, Trump laid out a stark vision of a clash of civilizations and said it’s not clear that the West can survive. He argued that the West can prevail, but only if nations cling tight to the bedrock values of faith, family and freedom.

“As the Polish experience reminds us, the defense of the West ultimately rests not only on the means but also on the will of its people to prevail,” Trump told a cheering crowd that at times chanted his name. “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.”

“Our own fight for the West does not begin on the battlefield — it begins with our minds, our wills, and our souls,” Trump said.

His attack on the bureaucracy equated it to the threat of terrorism in a way that Trump has never done so explicitly before, and in a way that might strike some listeners as an unusual juxtaposition. He did not use the term “deep state,” the notion of an entrenched “permanent government” bureaucracy that many surrounding Trump believe is attempting to thwart Trump’s bolder moves in the U.S.

But the speech amounts to an attack on that notion, linking the government overreach of communism suffered by the Polish people to the same oppression felt in Western societies today due to over-regulation, in Trump’s vision. It’s a view held by one of Trump’s top advisers, Steve Bannon.

Trump attacked “the steady creep of government bureaucracy that drains the vitality and wealth of the people,” arguing that these bureaucrats stand in the way of the democratic expression of the voters.

“The West became great not because of paperwork and regulations but because people were allowed to chase their dreams and pursue their destinies,” Trump said.

The speech was meant to challenge Western nations, to ask whether civilizations are confident enough to protect and preserve what Western nations cherish most, said one aide who discussed the speech on condition of anonymity.

Trump stopped in Warsaw on the way to a Group of 20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, that promises to be contentious, as Trump is at odds with the leaders of the world’s largest economies on issues from climate change to trade.

The stop in Poland promises to be friendlier, as Polish President Andrzej Duda and Trump discussed the prospects for permanent U.S. troop presence in the country. Poland also has refused to accept European Union quotas for admitting Syrian refugees, putting its leaders in sync with Trump’s approach to stiffening U.S. immigration policy.

In his speech, Trump held up Poland as an model for other nations to follow, rising above its past struggles with communism to become an exemplar of Western values.

“I am here today not just to visit an old ally, but to hold it up as an example for others who seek freedom and who wish to summon the courage and the will to defend our civilization,” Trump said.

Trump linked the Polish struggles with the current fight against Islamic State.

“We must stand united against these shared enemies” to strip them of their funding, he said. “While we will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people, our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism of any kind.”

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