Weekly News 28th November- 2nd December

Monday 28th November:

France: Fillon, a socially conservative and former prime minister, has won the primaries of the right party against Alain Juppé with 66.5% of the votes. He is known for his nationalist ideas: he wrote a book on the dangers of “Islamic totalitarianism” and defending a strict policy on French national identity. France will go to the elections in April and May and this is seen as the next possible shakeup of the international political system, after the election of Donald Trump. Polls have shown that Marine Le Pen, the far-right Front National leader, will make it to the final round runoff, but with little chances for her to win. Fillon is now the favourite. In his victory speech, he addressed the mandate of the Socialist François Hollande as “pathetic” and said that the country needs respect, pride and authority. (The Guardian)

Montenegro: the former head of the secret police was appointed the new cabinet by the parliament. Mr. Dusko Markovic, leader of the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) said he is committed to leading the country to join the EU and NATO. The DPS secured the support of parties representing national minorities in order to form the government after the elections on October 16. A large group of deputies boycotted the voting session in a protest over the arrest of a group suspected of having planned to kill Djukanovic, the DPS leader. According to the state prosecutor, Russian nationalists are behind the plot, however opposition parties have accused Mr. Djukanovic of using security services to help extend his twenty-five years long dominance over Montenegro. (Reuters)

Syria: the Syrian army advanced and took control of northeast Aleppo. The advance in the Sakhur, Haydariya and Sheikh Khodr districts is strategic to the regime, as it splits the Eastern side of the city in two parts – the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. Meanwhile, Kurdish forces gained control of the Sheikh Fares district; Kurds are not allied with the regime or with rebels, although opposition claims that they cooperate with the army. Many civilians have started leaving such areas from Saturday, when the Syrian army took control of the biggest neighbourhood of Eastern Aleppo, Massaken Hanano, which has marked the beginning of the siege on the Eastern side. (Le Monde)

Tuesday 29th November:

Palestine: Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas was re-elected as leader of Fatah in the first congress since 2009. However, there is mounting talk within the members of the party on who will succeed the 81-year old man. Abbas was re-elected by consensus in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The leader has shown his will to keep leading Palestine, however there is internal dissent in the party. Some observers have lamented reduced number of delegates to vote (from 2,000 in 2009 to 1,400 in 2016) and address the cause of such reduction as the way to exclude supporters of the rival Mohammed Dahlan, currently in exile in the United Arab Emirates. (Al-monitor)

Syria: Amid Syrian government’s advance, more than 16,000 civilians have been displaced, UN humanitarian chief O’Brien said. The situation may worsen if fighting continues to intensify. Many people were targeted overnight by government air strikes. An opposition activist network reported that air strikes also hit displaced civilians. (BBC)

After US-led coalition air strikes of the 17 September hit Syrian government troops, the results of a Pentagon’s investigation show that such action did not violate the international law, as such troops were mistaken for so-called Daesh militias. A US military spokesperson said that such attack was done under a good faith. According to Russia, 62 Syrian soldiers died and probably more than 100 was wounded. There is evidence that human mistake has contributed to such misidentification. (Al Jazeera)

War on terror: so-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility over rampage at a college in Ohio on Monday, whereby 11 people were injured. A Somali-born 18-year old student named Abdul Razak Ali Artan carried out the attack. The act was claimed by the IS-affiliated Amaq news agency, however there is no element to verify such declaration. (BBC)

Wednesday 30th November:

Germany: Germany’s domestic intelligence agency (BfV) confirmed on Wednesday that a 51-year-old man – arrested on suspicion of espionage and planning an Islamist terrorist attack – “radicalized himself undetected.” The Spanish-born German national was arrested in the western German city of Dusseldorf after allegedly disclosing sensitive information to another user on an extremist chat site. He also allegedly gathered information on the times and details of raids against extremists. German daily “Die Welt” also reported that he had also boasted about having a plan in place to carry out an attack on his place of work, though according to authorities he did not appear to have yet taken any concrete steps into carrying it out. (Deutsche Welle)

Italy: Italy on Wednesday expelled a 24-year-old Kosovar, Gaffur Dibrani, who had been arrested for alleged apology for terrorism but then released by a court for lack of evidence. The man, who had lived in Fiesse, near Brescia, for 10 years, was put aboard a flight to Kosovo after an interior ministry petition was approved by a court. A “radicalised” 42-year-old Pakistani was also expelled Wednesday, bringing to 127 the number of terror suspects deported from Italy since January 2015. (Ansa)

Spain: Spanish police have arrested two Moroccans for suspected links to Daesh, including one who was allegedly studying intensely on the internet to carry out attacks against civilians. The ministry of Interior later said police had arrested another Moroccan who had travelled to Turkey recently to join Daesh in Syria but was sent back by Turkish authorities. The man, arrested in the northern town of Irun, had been under investigation for spreading propaganda for the Daesh group by praising its attacks and those who travelled to fight for it. The ministry says Spanish police have arrested 170 suspected pro-extremist activists since 2015. (The Daily Star)

Thursday 1st December

France: François Hollande announced that he will not be a candidate for the second term of the presidential elections in April 2017. He is the first one in the history of the V Republic to renounce to a second mandate. (Le Monde)

Italy: The ‘Med Dialogues’ conference, began Thursday in Rome and runs through Saturday, December 3, will tackle some of the biggest crises in the Mediterranean – migration, Syria, the fight against Daesh – as well as some of the greatest opportunities for economic growth in the area. A key moment for the conference was a meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, especially given the increasingly critical situation in Syria in recent days. The conference, organised by the Italian Foreign Ministry and the Institute for International Public Studies (ISPI), will host representatives from 55 countries including heads of state, ministers, and leaders in the worlds of finance, international relations and civil society. (Ansa)

Opec: After two years, on 30th November OPEC agreed to its first production cuts in eight years. The deal, designed to drain record global oil inventories, overcame disagreements between the group’s three largest producers — Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq — and ended a flirtation with free markets that started in 2014. It was also broader than many had expected, extending beyond OPEC. Most strikingly, Russia agreed to unprecedented cuts to its own output.OPEC will reduce output by about 1.2 million barrels a day by January, fulfilling a plan sketched out in Algiers in September to cut its production to 32.5 million barrels. The agreement exempted Nigeria and Libya, but gave Iraq its first quotas since the 1990s. (Bloomberg)

Syria: secret talks between Russia and Syrian rebels have been disrupted by Turkish president’s declaration on Turkish military presence in Syria, according to which Turkish military has the only duty of overthrowing country’s president Bashar al-Assad. Talks resumed after a phone conversation between Erdogan and Putin, combined with Erdogan’s new declaration on Syria stating that Turkish Syrian policy is to fight against terrorist organizations. (Al Monitor)

Friday 2nd December

Turkey: after six years of disrupted diplomatic relations, Israel’s new ambassador to Turkey has arrived in Ankara. Eitan Naeh is the first official Israeli envoy to Turkey since 2010, when an Israeli commando raided Mavi Marmara, a Gaza-bound flotilla of activists working to break the siege on the Gaza Strip. In such raid, 10 Turkish activists died after that the Israeli commando opened fire on them. The rift ended in June of this year after the Israeli offer of $20m in compensation as apology and the permission for Turkish aid to reach Gaza. Turkey appointed Kemal Okem as its ambassador to Israel. Such reconciliation between the two countries was strongly supported by the US. (Al Jazeera)

Libya: last night Libyan capital Tripoli experienced the worst outbreak of fighting for more than a year. A major road has been blocked and explosions were heard in the Abu Salim and Hadba districts; the violence appears to be caused by rivalries between armed groups. The U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) is still struggling to assert its authority over many armed groups that have been controlling the city since the fall of Gaddafi. One resident lamented the absence of any sign from the GNA and that there is no explanation of the political maneuvering behind such clashes. The situation in Tripoli is delicate since many groups are hoping to gain control of the capital in order to rule the country. (Reuters)

Lebanon: locals in the Lebanese capital are protesting against the closure of the last part of city’s free public beach Ramlet al-Baida. This is due to the construction of luxury resorts on Beirut’s seaside, mostly visited by wealthy residents. Last week protests were met by heavy police presence, protesters fight for the freedom of public spaces belonging to the people. (Reuters)


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