March 7th – 11th

Monday, 7th March 2016

CYPRUS – Cyprus lauded on exit from €10bn bailout. Cyprus turned the page on one of the most painful episodes in its recent history on Monday as finance ministers affirmed the country’s successful exit from its three-year international bailout program. (Financial Times)

GREECE – Euro zone finance ministers should agree on Monday to send representatives of Greece’s lenders to Athens to finish a review of Greek reforms, paving the way for new loans and debt relief talks, Economic Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said on Monday. (Reuters)

MIGRANT CRISIS – Turkey surprised European Union leaders on Monday by hitting them with a new set of demands if it is to help stem the flow of refugees from Syria and Iraq and other migrants seeking to enter Europe. (The New York Times)

A proposal to exchange Syrian refugees has been debated at an emergency EU-Turkey summit in Brussels, as Ankara demanded an extra €3bn to help manage Europe’s migration crisis. (The Guardian)

SYRIA – The main Syrian opposition coalition will decide later this week on whether to take part in peace talks scheduled to resume Wednesday in Geneva, the head of the group said Monday, while violence across the north of the Syria claimed the lives of over a dozen people, despite a partial cease-fire. (The New York Times)

Tuesday, 8th March 2016

LEBANON – Lebanon’s Prime Minister Tammam Salam has urged the head of Shiite movement Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah to not attack Saudi and Gulf countries, in an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya News Channel late Monday. (Al-Arabiya)

MIGRANT CRISIS – The EU and Turkey say they have agreed the broad principles of a plan to ease the migration crisis. Under the plan discussed in Brussels, all migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey would be returned. For each Syrian sent back, a Syrian already in Turkey would be resettled in the EU. Turkey would also get extra funding and progress on EU integration. (BBC)

A senior UN official says he is very concerned that a hasty EU deal with Turkey could leave Syrian refugees unprotected and at risk of being sent back to a war zone. Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees, questioned the legality of an outline deal struck by the EU and Turkey. (The Guardian)

TURKEY – EU woos Turkey for refugee help, ignoring rights crackdown. The contrast was jarring: Just days after the police broke into the offices of an opposition newspaper using tear gas and water cannons, Turkey’s prime minister was greeted in Brussels with offers of billions in aid, visa-free travel for Turks in Europe and renewed prospects for joining the European Union. (The New York Times)

Wednesday, 9th March 2016

GREECE – Greece and its international lenders resumed talks in Athens on Wednesday on the country’s fiscal and reform progress, rekindling Athens’ hopes that its first bailout review may be concluded before the end of April. (Daily Mail)

ISRAELI–PALESTINIAN CONFLICT – France’s foreign minister sought support from Arab states in Cairo on Wednesday for an initiative to relaunch talks between Palestinians and Israelis by the summer and prevent what one diplomat called the risk of a “powder keg” exploding. (Reuters)

SYRIA – The UN special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, expects “substantive, deeper” talks between the government and opposition to begin on Monday. Mr. de Mistura said the agenda would include the formation of a transitional administration and elections. (BBC)

TURKEY – Turkey’s prime minister applied to parliament on Wednesday to lift the immunity of senior pro-Kurdish opposition deputies to prosecute them on charges of belonging to an armed terrorist group. Such a step could further inflame tensions in the mainly Kurdish southeast which has been hit by the worst violence in two decades since a two-year Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) ceasefire collapsed in July. (Al-Arabiya)

Thursday, 10th March 2016

EGYPT – Italian prosecutors investigating the torture and killing of an Italian student in Cairo will travel there to meet Egyptian magistrates, Rome’s chief prosecutor said on Thursday. The announcement came as the European Parliament backed a resolution saying disappearances and torture have become increasingly common in Egypt, calling on Cairo to cooperate fully with Italy. (Reuters)

LIBYA – Islamic State has greatly expanded its control over territory in Libya, and the militants are claiming to be the key defense for the North African state against foreign military intervention, according to United Nations sanctions monitors. The monitors also said Libya has become more attractive to foreign fighters who mainly arrive through Sudan, Tunisia and Turkey. (The Guardian)

MIGRANT CRISIS – Turkey will not take back migrants already on Greek islands under a deal proposed to European Union leaders at a crunch summit this week, Ankara’s EU affairs minister said Thursday. (Al-Arabiya)

Austria’s interior minister says the Balkan refugee route will remain closed permanently and that refugees should not be given false hope for passage. (Al Jazeera)

WAR ON TERROR – A massive leak of top-secret ISIL documents, containing information about 22,000 jihadis, has exposed details of the terrorist network’s global recruitment program. (The Telegraph)

Friday, 11th March 2016

ALGERIA – In the face of plunging oil and gas revenues and persistently strong imports, the Algerian government has taken steps to alleviate barriers to private investment in the country for the first time in years. (Al Jazeera)

LIBYA – France will on Monday propose imposing European Union sanctions on any Libyan official obstructing the formation of a UN-backed unity government, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Thursday. (Al-Arabiya)

SYRIA – Major powers close to UN-brokered peace talks on Syria are discussing the possibility of a federal division of the war-torn country that would maintain its unity as a single state while granting broad autonomy to regional authorities, diplomats said. (Reuters)

Syria’s main opposition body, the High Negotiations Committee, said Friday that it would attend indirect peace talks with the government in Geneva on March 14. In a statement distributed to reporters, the HNC said it would participate in the negotiations as part of its “commitment to international efforts to stop the bloodshed and find a political solution.” (Al Monitor)

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Friday urged the UN’s special envoy on Syria to include Kurds in upcoming talks that aim to resolve the five-year Syrian civil war. (The Daily Star)

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