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Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), trained by the US-led coalition, participate in the graduation ceremony of their first regiment in al-Kasrah, in the suburb of eastern Syrian city of Deir Ezzor, on May 21, 2018.

DELIL SOULEIMAN | AFP | Getty Images

Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), trained by the US-led coalition, participate in the graduation ceremony of their first regiment in al-Kasrah, in the suburb of eastern Syrian city of Deir Ezzor, on May 21, 2018.

President Donald Trump announced last month the decision to withdraw 2,000 U.S. troops who have deployed to Syria in support of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia in the fight against Islamic State.

The coalition “has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria. Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troop movements,” Colonel Sean Ryan said.

Washington’s Kurdish allies in northern Syria fear the withdrawal will open the way for Turkey to mount a long-threatened offensive against their area. Turkey views the dominant Syrian Kurdish groups as a national security threat.

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton suggested on Tuesday that protecting the Kurds would be a pre-condition of the U.S. withdrawal, drawing a rebuke from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan who called his comments “a serious mistake”.

But U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday the withdrawal would not be scuppered despite the Turkish threats.

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Hedge fund manager Einhorn explains why he lost more than 30% last year: ‘Nothing went right’

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“Nothing went right for the entire year,” Einhorn said in the letter to investors. “In 2018, the losses were a mile wide and a yard deep. It’s much easier to explain results when they are driven by large moves in a few names. It’s much harder when the answer is a lot of everything. But today, it feels more like a combination of a few where we were wrong, a difficult environment for value investing, and a lot of adverse variance.”

Einhorn’s collapse came in a dismal year when stocks and other risk assets took a hit from the ongoing trade battles and slowing global growth. However, Einhorn’s hedge funds underperformed the market drastically — the S&P 500 ended 2018 down just 6 percent. His funds have been lackluster since 2015 when they lost more than 20 percent. They returned 7 percent in 2016 and 1.5 percent in 2017.

The underperformance in 2018 has inevitably led to “substantial redemptions,” which forced Einhorn to reopen the funds to gain additional capital. Einhorn had not allowed new investments in four years.

“At this point, we no longer believe there is risk of our assets growing too quickly (other than through improved performance), so for those interested in investing, the answer will now be yes,” Einhorn said.

The downturn sharply contrasted Einhorn’s early years, when he scored some of Wall Street’s best returns including 24 percent in 2006 and 32 percent in 2009. Einhorn also made the most prescient call of the entire financial crisis — the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

In the letter, Einhorn also reviewed his current positions that are 5 percent or larger, saying “they should all do better in 2019.”

Greenlight’s current long positions include General Motors, insurer Brighthouse Financial and homebuilder Green Brick Partners, which all struggled in 2018, bleeding as much as 47 percent. Einhorn is also shorting Tesla, saying the electric car maker is in “such a bizarre situation,” and its estimates are optimistic.

The hedge fund manager is also using gold as a hedge against “imprudent” global fiscal and monetary policies as the national debt ballooned to over $2 trillion under the current administration.

“When the economy eventually slows, the deficit is sure to expand rapidly, possibly catastrophically. The politicians say deficits don’t matter. History says otherwise,” Einhorn said.

His firm also has “a bit of a macro hedge in case the politicians and central bankers continue to act irresponsibly — which seems like a safe bet,” he added. He did not disclose what the hedge was.

— With reporting by CNBC’s
Scott Wapner

WATCH: Greelight’s David Einhorn compares Tesla to Lehman Brothers

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Stop portraying Arab women as victims

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Saudi Arabian independent filmmaker Haifaa Al Mansour delivers a speech during a ceremony at the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2019 meeting, on January 21, 2019 in Davos, eastern Switzerland.

FABRICE COFFRINI | AFP | Getty Images

Saudi Arabian independent filmmaker Haifaa Al Mansour delivers a speech during a ceremony at the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2019 meeting, on January 21, 2019 in Davos, eastern Switzerland.

“In all the scripts I get, Muslim and Arab women are all victims and sad, and things are happening to them — and it’s like no, we’re very sassy. We’re very strong. Don’t take us for granted.”

She opposed the stereotype that “Arab women are not in control of their destiny,” while adding that “sometimes they are not, because of family … but that does not take their soul, and that does not take who they are as people, as fighters, with a strong will to survive and to succeed. So that is a huge misconception, we are way more than who they think we are as women.”

Al-Mansour is Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker and the country’s most well-known. Coming from a country known for its highly conservative interpretation of Islam and austere rules surrounding women’s lives, her work, which shines a light on the lives of women in the Gulf, was hailed as groundbreaking. Her feature debut, Wadjda, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2012, was the first to be fully shot in Saudi Arabia as a feature-length film and the only one filmed in the country by a female Saudi national.

Al-Mansour this week was honored with the WEF’s Crystal Award, along with conductor Marin Alsop and naturalist Sir David Attenborough, as an “exceptional cultural leader” and a force for positive change.

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Egypt wants an Apple hub despite ongoing fight over iPhone prices

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“Egypt is enjoying the privilege of having a very good-skilled, educated youth people, they are very cheap in terms of labor forces comparing with any other destination … So this could present a very attractive market for any supplier to consider Egypt as a hub,” Madbouli said.

Egypt has seen significant macroeconomic improvement since the Arab Spring revolution and successive coups and terrorist attacks that rocked the country from 2011 onwards. Structural reforms guided by the International Monetary Fund have brought the Middle East’s most populous country its highest economic growth in a decade, and it’s now targeting 6.5 percent growth for the 2019/2020 fiscal year, up from 5.3 percent this year.

But the cost of these austerity measures has been steep. Basic costs for Egyptians have skyrocketed while wages have stagnated.

Poverty is on the rise, currently estimated to be near 28 percent, up from 25 percent in 2010, according to the World Bank, and wages have not kept up with the rise in living costs. Crime, corruption and pollution, as well as inadequate social services provision, continue to plague the country’s surging population. The World Bank cites high inflation and the erosion of real incomes as having “taken a toll on social and economic conditions.”

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