Weekly News 10th- 14th April 2017 | Mediterranean Affairs

Weekly News 10 – 14 April 2017


Egypt: Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has announced a three-month state of emergency after attacks on two Coptic churches that left at least 44 dead. The measure allows authorities to make arrests without warrants and search people’s homes. It needs to be approved by parliament before it is implemented. Daesh said it was behind the blasts in Tanta and Alexandria on Palm Sunday. (BBC)

France: The French Communist-backed presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon is closing in on the frontrunners Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, according to new polls. A rally held by Mélenchon drew tens of thousands of supporters on Sunday, underlining his surging popularity just two weeks from the election on 23 April and adding new drama to a rollercoaster campaign. After strong performances in two televised debates, several surveys at the weekend showed him climbing to third position, with 18% to 19% of voters saying they would vote for him. (The Guardian)

Lebanon: At least six people have been killed and 35 others wounded in clashes inside a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon since Friday, medics say.
The fighting erupted when a joint security force deployed by the main Palestinian factions in Ein el-Hilweh came under fire from radical Islamists. The factions had told the Islamists, led by Bilal Badr, to disarm. (BBC)

Somalia: Somalia’s new president has declared the country a war zone and instructed the army to prepare a new offensive against the al-Qaeda linked group al-Shabab.
The announcement by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on Thursday comes amid a worsening security situation as al-Shabab steps up deadly bombings in the capital since the country’s new leader took office in February.

Somalia’s new military boss has survived a suspected suicide car bomb attack that has killed at least 15 people, according to police.
General Mohamed Ahmed Jimale, who was recently named new chief of defence forces, was travelling with senior military officials on Sunday when the bomb exploded near Somalia’s defence ministry compound in the capital, Mogadishu.
The death toll could rise as a minibus carrying passengers was also destroyed in the blast. (Al Jazeera)

Weekly News 10 – 14 April 2017


Hungary: Tens of thousands rallied on Sunday in Hungary’s capital, Budapest, in protest of a law that could force a university founded by George Soros, a Hungarian-born American billionaire, to move out of the country.
A bill passed in parliament this week by the ruling right-wing Fidesz party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a critic of liberal civil organisations funded by Soros, sets new conditions for foreign universities operating in Hungary. (Al Jazeera)

Italy: G7 foreign ministers  sent a clear and coordinated message to Russia over its stance on Syria as the US ratcheted up the pressure following a suspected chemical attack in the war-torn country.
The UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson set the tone for the meeting, describing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as “toxic” and saying it was “time for [Russian President] Vladimir Putin to face the truth about the tyrant he is propping up”.
Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven main industrialised countries have met in the Italian town of Lucca for two days. (Al Jazeera)

Migration’ crisis: Hundreds of African refugees and migrants passing through Libya are being bought and sold in modern-day slave markets before being held for ransom or used as forced labour or for sexual exploitation, survivors have told the UN’s migration agency. People are bought for between $200 and $500 and are held on average for two to three months, Othman Belbeisi, head of the IOM’s Libya mission, said in Geneva. The refugees and migrants – many from Nigeria, Senegal and The Gambia – are captured as they head north towards Libya’s Mediterranean coast, where some try to catch boats for Italy. (Al Jazeera)

Palestine: Negative social and economic repercussions feared in Gaza after PA imposes workers’ salaries cuts. The decision came into effect last week, when the public sector workers for the PA received their March salaries with between 30-70 percent in deductions, leading to the eruption of large rallies in the impoverished coastal enclave.
The PA, a semi-governmental body that administers the Israeli-occupied West Bank , has been at loggerheads with the Hamas movement that governs the Gaza Strip since the latter seized control of the strip in 2007 following its victory in elections.Some 70,000 PA civil servants already struggle from meagre and irregular wages, in the midst of costly living standards. Now, they are at risk of poverty.  (Al Jazeera)


Iran: Mr Ahmadinejad, a hardliner who served two terms between 2005 and 2013, filed paperwork for the 19 May poll at the interior ministry in Tehran.
Last year, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned him that such a move was “not in his interest and that of the country”. (BBC)

NATO:  US President Donald Trump has said Nato is “no longer obsolete”, reversing a stance that had alarmed allies. (BBC)

German: Three explosions have hit a bus carrying the Borussia Dortmund football team to their home Champions League quarter-final match against Monaco.
In a news conference, the head of Dortmund police said it was a targeted attack on the team. (BBC)


Egypt: Church events are cancelled and only prayers will be held, it says. Egypt’s government imposed a three-month state of emergency following the bombings in Alexandria and the Nile Delta city of Tanta on Palm Sunday. Meanwhile, officials have named two of the suicide bombers who they say had links to militant cells. (BBC)

France: There are 10 days to go until France begins voting for a new president. But polls suggest voter turnout in the first round will be lower than ever before. Candidates with radical policies are hoping they will be able to shake voters out of their apathy. (Al Jazeera)

Lebanon: Lebanese President Michel Aoun has suspended a parliamentary session for a month, temporarily blocking proposed plans to extend parliament’s term for the third time in a row since 2013.
Parliament was expected to vote on Thursday to extend its own mandate until 2018 without an election, officials said. (Al Jazeera)

Syria: Western powers have lashed out at Russia after it vetoed a United Nations resolution that would have condemned the suspected use of chemical weapons in northern Syria and demanded a speedy investigation.
The vote on the Security Council resolution drafted by Britain, France and the United States was 10 in favour, Russia and Bolivia against, and China, Kazakhstan and Ethiopia abstaining.  (Al Jazeera)

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad says reports of a chemical attack by his forces were “100% fabrication”.
In an exclusive video interview with AFP news agency, he said “there was no order to make any attack”. More than 80 people were killed in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun on 4 April, and hundreds suffered symptoms consistent with a nerve agent. Witnesses said they saw warplanes attack the town but Russia says a rebel depot of chemical munitions was hit. (BBC)


Afganistan: A US military strike with a weapon known as the “mother of all bombs” (MOAB) killed 36 IS militants and destroyed their base, the Afghan defence ministry says.
The biggest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat was dropped on an IS tunnel complex in Nangarhar province.(BBC)

As many as 36 suspected Islamic State militants were killed in Afghanistan when the United States dropped “the mother of all bombs,” one of the largest non-nuclear devices ever unleashed in combat, the Afghan defense ministry said on Friday.
Thursday’s strike came as U.S. President Donald Trump dispatches his first high-level delegation to Kabul, amid uncertainty about his plans for the nearly 9,000 American troops stationed in Afghanistan. Chief Executive of Afghanistan Abdullah Abdullah confirmed that the attack had been carried out in co-ordination with the government and that “great care had been taken to avoid civilian harm”. (BBC)

Russia: The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Russia failed to protect the hostages of the Beslan school siege in which about 330 people died in 2004. (BBC)

Syria: The Syrian government and rebel groups have begun an operation to move people away from four besieged towns, activists say. People from the north-western towns of Foah and Kefraya are being taken to government-held areas near Aleppo. Evacuees from rebel-held Madaya, near Damascus, have been bussed to Idlib province. It is not clear if nearby Zabadani, included in the deal, is also being evacuated. More than 30,000 people will be moved. (BBC)

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