Weekly News 19 – 23  March 2018 | Mediterranean Affairs


Monday 19 March 2018

Brexit: The UK and EU have agreed on a “large part” of the agreement that will lead to the “orderly withdrawal” of the UK.
Negotiators Michel Barnier and David Davis said the deal on what the UK calls the implementation period was a “decisive step” in the Brexit process.
But issues still to be resolved include the Northern Ireland border. (BBC)

Cambridge Analytica: Legislators for the European Union have announced an investigation after allegations user data of 50 million Facebook accounts were misused. Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, said on Twitter the allegations, if true, constitute “an unacceptable violation of our citizens’ privacy rights”.
“The European Parliament will investigate fully, calling digital platforms to account,” he said. The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office, which concerns itself with privacy and data protection, reiterated on Monday it is also investigating the issue. (Al Jazeera)

Egypt: Four soldiers have been killed in the Sinai Peninsula as part of an ongoing military operation against ISIL fighters in the region, according to the Egyptian military on Monday. (Al Jazeera)

Russia: Vladimir Putin on won the presidential election for a new six-year term as Russian president. But European observers said that while the poll was conducted efficiently there was a lack of genuine choice.
Mr Putin got more than 76% of the vote, official results show. He said he was considering changes to his government, including the post of prime minister. (BBC)

Syria: Kurdish fighters in the northwestern Syrian region of Afrin have vowed to continue fighting Turkey’s forces and Turkey-backed rebel groups, by shifting from direct confrontation to guerrilla tactics.
Meanwhile, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels and Turkish forces, who gained complete control of the city of Afrin on Sunday, continued their activities to secure the city, with troops searching for landmines and other explosive devices in the area. (Al Jazeera)

Tunisia: Tunisian students developing app to protect women. The new app being developed by a group of university students will allow women to feel safer when moving around on their own. (Al Jazeera)

Tunisia: A jihadist suicide bomber detonated on Monday in Ben Guerdane, the last Tunisian city before the Libyan border, while another fled to Libya, said the Tunisian Interior Ministry in a statement.
The statement said the two terrorists were being chased by Tunisian armed forces and that there was an exchange of gunfire.
It said one of the two terrorists detonated, while the other allegedly opened fire on the soldiers before fleeing towards Magroun through Sidi Toui, towards the Libyan border. (ANSAmed)

Tuesday 20 March 2018

France: Emmanuel Macron will launch an international campaign to promote French speaking across the world in a speech at the Academie Française on Tuesday.
The president will announce what the Elysée says is a unique government-funded programme to boost “learning, communication and creation” in French.
Macron’s crusade is not confined to the club of French-speaking countries, known as la Francophonie – many of them in Africa – but across the globe. Elysée officials have insisted the presidential crusade is not intended as a challenge to the English language but a push for a more multilingual world. (The Guardian)

France: Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been taken into police custody for questioning over allegations that he received campaign funding from the late Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi.
Police are investigating alleged irregularities over the financing of his 2007 presidential campaign. Police have questioned him previously. A former aide, Alexandre Djouhri, was arrested in London recently. (BBC)

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Palestine: A Palestinian teenager arrested after slapping an Israeli soldier has accepted a plea deal that will see her serve eight months in prison. Ahed Tamimi had agreed to plead guilty to four of the 12 charges she faced, including assault, her lawyer said. She will also pay a fine of 5,000 shekels ($1,440) and accept a further eight-month jail term, suspended. The 17 year old was detained after being filmed confronting two armed soldiers outside her home in December. The court’s decision means she will be released this summer because the sentence includes time served

Syria: Israel has for the first time confirmed that it destroyed a suspected nuclear reactor being built in Syria in 2007.
The military said fighter jets bombed the al-Kibar facility in Deir al-Zour province, 450km (280 miles) north-east of Damascus, as it neared completion. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said a “vast intelligence effort” began in late 2004, when Israeli agents obtained information that foreign experts – believed to be North Korean – were helping Syria with a nuclear project.
After the Israeli intelligence community located the building site and predicted that the nuclear reactor would turn operational by the end of 2007, the IDF made plans for an air strike dubbed “Operation Outside the Box”. (BBC)

Vatican State: The head of the Vatican communications department has resigned after coming under fire for doctoring a letter sent by retired Pope Benedict XVI.
A brief Vatican statement said Pope Francis had “accepted” the resignation of Msgr. Dario Vigano.
It comes after the Vatican admitted blurring part of a letter about Pope Francis written by his predecessor, in a picture sent to the media. (BBC)

Thursday 22 March 2018 

France: Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president, has been formally charged with corruption and illegal campaign financing over allegations that Muammar Gaddafi, the slain Libyan leader, helped fund his 2007 campaign.
After five years of investigation and two days of questioning in police custody, judges looking into the scandal decided they had enough evidence to charge the 63-year-old, who served as president between 2007 and 2012. (Al Jazeera)

Syria: Syrian rebel fighters and their family members have begun leaving a town in the besieged Eastern Ghouta as part of an evacuation deal with the government.
State television said 27 rebels and 182 civilians had crossed into government-held Damascus from Harasta on Thursday.
Some 1,500 rebels and 6,000 civilians are to be transported to the northern rebel-held province of Idlib. (BBC)

Friday 23 March 2018

Poland: Thousands of people have taken to streets across Poland against plans to further tighten the abortion laws, already among Europe’s strictest.
A bill in parliament seeks to ban abortions in cases of foetal abnormality – one of the few exceptions allowed under the current law.
The “Black Friday” protests against the bill are being held in the capital Warsaw and other cities. (BBC)

Spain: Thousands of protesters have filled the streets of Barcelona after Spain’s High Court jailed five Catalan politicians who played a role in the region’s declaration of independence. Spanish Judge Pablo Llarena ordered detention without bail for Jordi Turull, the president of Catalonia’s regional government, former regional legislators Josep Rull, Raul Romeva and Dolors Bassa, as well as the ex-president of the parliament, Carme Forcadell. (Al Jazeera)

Syria: One of the remaining Syrian rebel groups in the besieged enclave of Eastern Ghouta, outside Damascus, has announced a ceasefire.
The Faylaq al-Rahman group said the UN-brokered truce was to begin in the south of the enclave at 22:00 GMT.
It said the move would allow talks with the Russian military, Syria’s ally, on guarantees for the safety of civilians. (BBC)

UK: The EU has recalled its ambassador to Moscow after leaders agreed it was “highly likely” Russia was responsible for a nerve agent attack in the UK.
The European Council of EU leaders said there was “no plausible alternative”.
Moscow denies responsibility for the attack on an ex-spy and his daughter and said the EU was following an “anti-Russian campaign launched by London”. (BBC)

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