April 18th – 22nd

Monday, 18th April 2016

EGYPT – German Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi in Cairo, offering Germany’s help in boosting Egypt’s border security. Egypt wants to improve its border defenses to prevent weapons smuggling. Gabriel referred to the controversial Egyptian leader as “an impressive president.” (Deutsche Welle)

Hundreds of people have taken to the streets of Egypt’s capital, Cairo, to protest after a tea vendor was allegedly shot dead by police. The unrest erupted after a policeman allegedly killed the man and wounded two others during an argument over the price of a cup of tea. (BCC)

ISRAEL – The Israeli military said on Monday that it had discovered and “neutralized” a tunnel running from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory for the first time since a cease-fire ended 50 days of fighting in the Palestinian coastal territory in the summer of 2014. (The New York Times)

MACEDONIA – Macedonia has entered into a second week of protests with thousands marching peacefully late Monday in the capital after the country’s president pardoned dozens of politicians who were facing criminal proceedings for alleged involvement in a wiretapping scandal. (The Washington Post)

SYRIA – A cross-border rocket attack from Syria has killed four Syrians in the southern Turkish town of Kilis, officials have said. Turkish armed forces hit back by firing mortar shells on Monday after four rockets landed in the centre of Kilis from the area controlled by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS). (Al Jazeera)

Tuesday, 19th April 2016

ISRAEL – Israel provides Jordan and Egypt with intelligence assistance in their fight against Islamic State, a senior Israeli military officer said on Wednesday, describing the U.S.-backed Arab neighbors as stable despite the insurgent threat. (The Jerusalem Post)

MIGRANT CRISIS – Turkey must meet all requirements for visa-free travel with the European Union and the criteria will not be watered down, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said. Junker’s comments came after Turkey’s prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu appeared to warn that a refugee swap deal between the EU and Ankara risked collapse unless visa restrictions were lifted on Turkish nationals by June as promised. (Al Jazeera)

Up to 500 migrants and refugees died when their boat capsized in the middle of the Mediterranean, survivors have claimed, amid confusion over what would rank as one of Europe’s worst migrant tragedies. (The Telegraph)

TURKEY – Turkish officials at Istanbul airport temporarily detained and denied entry on Tuesday to a German public television journalist who planned to interview refugees at the Turkey-Syria border. (Reuters)

Wednesday, 20th April 2016

GREECE – Eurozone finance ministers are ready to hold an extraordinary meeting next week if negotiations on the review of the Greek reform program are concluded, a senior EU official said on Wednesday, commenting that talks remained difficult. (Reuters)

ISRAEL – A top Israeli military leader has issued a stern warning to the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, saying that any future war between the two enemies will unleash “devastating” damage on Lebanon. (Al Jazeera)

MIGRANT CRISIS – Europe’s leading human rights body has issued a stinging indictment of the EU’s refugee deal with Turkey, which it said at worst exceeds the limits of what is permissible under international law. (The Guardian)

Hundreds of migrants were feared drowned after their overcrowded boat sank off Libya’s coast, aid agencies said Wednesday, in what would be the deadliest disaster involving people trying to reach Europe this year. (The Wall Street Journal)

Thursday, 21st April 2016

LIBYA – Military forces loyal to Libya’s eastern government said on Thursday they had carried out air strikes overnight against Islamist fighters in Derna after Islamic State militants retreated from positions close to the city. (Daily Mail)

MACEDONIA – EU officials are considering imposing sanctions on leading figures in Macedonia’s government and freezing the country’s membership ambitions in a significant escalation of pressure on Skopje’s ruling elite. (Financial Times)

SYRIAN KURDISTAN – Amid renewed fighting across Syria on Thursday, clashes broke out between Kurdish militias and Syrian government forces, potentially opening a new front in the already complex conflict. (The New York Times)

TURKEY – Turkey has met fewer than half the conditions for its citizens to be granted early visa-free travel to the European Union, just 10 days before a deadline for it to meet the requirements, an EU official told lawmakers on Thursday. (Reuters)

Despite increasing discord between the European Union and Turkey, German Chancellor Angela Merkel lauded Ankara’s commitment to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis and said her weekend trip to the Turkish-Syrian border will be used to raise all contentious issues between the two sides. (The New York Times)

Friday, 22nd April 2016

GREECE – Greece’s economy has performed “substantially better” than forecast in its massive bail-out deal, according to the EU, ahead of Friday’s meeting of Eurozone finance ministers to discuss the rescue. (The Telegraph)

Greece has come a step closer to unlocking more international support for its debt-ravaged economy after talks with its eurozone neighbours. A meeting of finance ministers from the single currency bloc ended with a proposal for Athens to agree to money-saving contingency measures. These could be enacted in the event that the reforms already agreed prove insufficient for Greece to meet agreed budget surplus targets. (The Guardian)

ISRAEL – The language of a UNESCO resolution on Jerusalem describing “so-called” Jewish sites and putting the Western Wall Plaza in quotation marks has sparked outrage in Israel. The resolution, adopted by the UN cultural agency’s 58-nation executive board last week, condemns the Israeli government’s stewardship of Jerusalem and decries the renovation of “so-called Jewish ritual baths” and the alleged creation of “Jewish fake graves.” (Al Jazeera)

PALESTINE – The militant group Hamas deployed forces Thursday along the Egypt-Gaza border to counter Cairo’s concerns that it is aiding Daesh (ISIS) extremists in Egypt’s lawless Sinai Peninsula. (The Daily Star)

WAR ON TERROR – Islamic State jihadists have renewed attacks with chemical weapons on Kurdish positions in northern Iraq, sending a warning in advance of allies’ plans to attack Mosul. (The Telegraph)

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