Weekly News 19 – 23 February 2018 | Mediterranean Affairs
Monday, 19 February 2018
Italy: Italy’s far-right Northern League has promised to introduce mass deportations of asylum seekers to Africa as part of a radical reshaping of migration policies if it wins next month’s elections.
The party, led by Matteo Salvini, would also seek to force asylum courts to disregard the circumstances of a migrant’s journey in any deliberation about whether they should be granted asylum. The Northern League, or Lega, has promised to go further, saying that, if elected, it would begin a programme to force an estimated 400,000 migrants back to their countries of origin, including Nigeria, Tunisia and Morocco. (The Guardian)
Tuesday, 20 February 2018
Israel: Police in charge of the so-called ‘Dossier 4000’ probe are investigating whether Bezeq obtained significant benefits from the ministry of communication (when the interim minister was Netanyahu) in exchange for Walla’s support. (ANSAmed)
Italy: Interior Minister Marco Minniti on Tuesday said migration is ”now under control”, speaking to state broadcaster Rai1’s ‘Uno Mattina’ program. (ANSAmed)
Syria: Syrian pro-government forces have entered the Kurdish-held border enclave of Afrin, reports say, raising the risk of clashes with Turkey.
It comes a day after Syria’s state news agency said “Popular Forces” would be sent there to counter “the Turkish regime’s attack”.
Turkish troops and pro-Turkish Syrian rebels have been fighting Kurdish militia in Afrin for the past month. It is not yet clear how many fighters have moved in or where they will be deployed. (BBC)
Syria: Russia’s foreign ministry has confirmed that “several dozen” Russian citizens – not regular soldiers – were killed or wounded in a recent battle in Syria.
The statement did not give the date. Previously the Russian government said “probably five” Russians had died in a clash in Deir al-Zour province. Some reports have said more than 100 Russian mercenaries were killed in US air strikes on 7 February.
The latest Russian statement said no Russian regular forces were involved. (BBC)
Wednesday, 21 February 2018
Nigeria: More than 100 Nigerian schoolgirls are missing after an attack on a boarding school by Boko Haram jihadists, Nigerian police say.
Militants raided their school on Monday evening, but many of the students and staff had fled before they arrived.
It was initially thought that the girls had escaped, but two days later, their whereabouts are still not known. (BBC)
Spain: Catalonia’s jailed former vice-president has called for an end to the deadlock in parliament over the region’s next president.
Oriol Junqueras said there is life in the pro-independence movement beyond ex-Catalan President Carles Puigdemont.
Mr Junqueras was arrested in November 2017 for his role in October’s declaration of independence from Spain.
He is the leader of the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), and was remanded in custody without bail on accusations of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds. (BBC)
Syria: The UN Secretary General has demanded an immediate end to fighting in the Eastern Ghouta in Syria, describing the rebel enclave as a “hell on earth”.
The Eastern Ghouta has been under fierce bombardment from government forces backed by Russian airpower in recent days.
The region is the last major rebel-held area near the capital Damascus.
The Syrian military says it is trying to liberate the area from what it terms terrorists – but it has also been accused of targeting civilians.
Russia, which supports the Syrian government, said peace talks with the rebels had failed on Wednesday.
Moscow earlier called for an urgent Security Council meeting to discuss the violence in the Eastern Ghouta.
Pro-government forces, backed by Russia, intensified their efforts to retake the last major rebel stronghold on Sunday night. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the total death toll since Sunday at 296. (BBC)
The UN has warned that the situation there is “spiralling out of control”. (video)
Turkey: After on Tuesday saying that he was considering a reinstatement of the crime of adultery, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has instructed the government to draw up legislation to do just that. The announcement was by his spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin. (ANSAmed)
Thursday, 22 February 2018
Montenegro: An attacker blew himself up after throwing an explosive device into the US embassy compound in Podgorica, the Montenegrin government said Thursday.
Authorities in Podgorica have not released any theories as to the motive for the attack. (Al Jazeera)
Nigeria: Dozens of schoolgirls are still unaccounted for days after suspected Boko Haram fighters attacked their school in northeast Nigeria.
The Yobe state government issued a statement on Thursday that retracted an earlier one that some of the missing girls had been rescued by the military. Police said on Wednesday that 111 girls from the state-run boarding school in Dapchi, in Yobe state, were unaccounted for following an attack by the armed group on Monday night.
But exact figures have been difficult to confirm.
On Thursday, parents said 101 children were still missing, The Associated Press reported, while unidentified sources told Reuters 91 were gone. (Al Jazeera)
Palestine: A Palestinian man has been killed by Israeli security forces following a confrontation in the occupied West Bank on Thursday.
A Palestinian official described the killing as an “execution”, while the Israeli military said it was in self-defence.
Yassin Omar al-Saradih, 33, died shortly after being taken into custody by Israeli security forces in Jericho early on Thursday, Palestine’s Maan news agency reported. (Al Jazeera)
Friday, 23 February
Lebanon: Lebanon has signed some of its first offshore oil and gas exploration agreements.
But tension is running high as one of the areas is being disputed by neighbouring Israel. (video) (Al Jazeera)
Syria: The UN Security Council is struggling to agree a resolution seeking a ceasefire in Syria and has put back a vote until Saturday.
The vote has already been delayed several times since Thursday.
Russia wanted changes to a draft that calls for a 30-day calm to allow for aid deliveries and medical evacuations.
Western diplomats have accused Russia, Syria’s key ally, of stalling for time. France said failure to act may spell the end of the UN itself.
Minds have been focused amid outrage at the plight of civilians in the Eastern Ghouta rebel enclave.
Activists say 462 people have now been killed there this week. (BBC)
Somalia: A double suicide car bomb blast followed by gunfire has left at least 18 people dead and wounded 20 others in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, medical workers said.
A loud explosion reportedly took place on Friday, followed by a second blast and sustained gunfire which broke out near the president’s residence.
The armed group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack. (Al Jazeera)