Weekly News 2 – 6 April 2018 | Mediterranean Affairs
Monday 2 April 2018
Russia: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused the UK and Western partners of playing “children’s games” in their response to the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. He accused countries of “disregarding all accepted behaviour” and resorting to “open lies and disinformation”. Twenty-nine nations have expelled diplomats over the poisoning, which the UK holds Russia responsible for. (BBC)
Tuesday 3 April 2018
Israel: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday he was cancelling an agreement with the U.N. refugee agency to relocate thousands of African migrants, bowing to right-wing pressure to scrap the deal. (Reuters)
Syria: Three foreign powers who have shaped Syria’s civil war – Iran, Russia and Turkey – will discuss ways to wind down the fighting on Wednesday despite their involvement in rival military campaigns on the ground. The leaders of the three countries will meet in Ankara for talks on a new constitution for Syria and increasing security in “de-escalation” zones across the country. Turkey says Wednesday’s meeting will discuss setting up the constitutional committee, humanitarian issues and developments in Syria’s northern Idlib region, which is under the control of rival rebel factions and jihadi groups, and where Turkey has set up seven military observation posts. (Reuters)
Wednesday 4 April 2018
Syria: US officials say President Trump has been persuaded not to pull the military out of Syria immediately, despite his declaration last week that the US would “be coming out of Syria very soon”.
Advisers reportedly convinced him that it could risk a resurgence by the Islamic State (IS) group.
The White House said on Wednesday the US military mission in Syria was coming to a “rapid end”.
But it has not announced a timetable for a full troop withdrawal.
A statement said IS was almost completely destroyed, and that the US would consult its allies regarding future plans. (BBC)
Thursday 5 April 2018
Palestine: An Israeli air raid killed another Palestinian protester near the Gaza Strip’s border on Thursday, Palestinian health officials said. Earlier, a Palestinian wounded during last Friday’s Land Day protests died of an injury sustained after being shot in the head by Israeli soldiers. The death brings the total number of Palestinians killed in the last week at 21.
The mass protests, called “the Great March of Return”, were organised by civil society groups and supported by all political factions to call for the right of return of Palestinian refugees. On Thursday, Israel’s minister of Defence Avigdor Lieberman said Israel will not change its open-fire policy as protests are expected to continue near the Gaza border in the coming days and weeks. (Al Jazeera)
Spain: The former chief of Catalonia’s police force, Josep Lluis Trapero, has been charged over events linked with last year’s independence referendum. He faces two count of sedition and one of criminal organisation.
Other former regional officials were also charged by investigating judge Carmen Lamela. She accuses them of co-operating with an organised plan to seek Catalonia’s secession. (BBC)
Syria: Syrian government forces are on the verge of recapturing the last remaining rebel stronghold in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta, according to state media reports. (Al Jazeera)
Turkey: A gunman has shot and killed four teaching staff at a university in Eskisehir in north-western Turkey. Turkish media say the attacker is a research fellow at the city’s Osmangazi University and has been detained. Those killed were a deputy dean, a faculty secretary and two lecturers, the state-run Anadolu news agency said. Three others were wounded in the attack, according to CNN Turk. The gunman’s motive is not clear but he reportedly surrendered willingly. Police are currently questioning the assailant. (BBC)
Friday 6 April 2018
Hungary: Most opinion polls indicate that Hungary’s right-wing nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban is likely to win a third consecutive term in Sunday’s election.
His campaign has focused on targeting his toughest critic, billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who supports open borders in Eastern Europe. (Al Jazeera)
Palestine: Israeli forces shoot dead three Palestinians and wound hundreds more as protests near Gaza border continue.
For a second week, thousands of Palestinians are protesting along the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip, as part of the Great March of Return movement. (Al Jazeera)
Russia: The US has imposed sanctions on seven Russian oligarchs and 17 senior government officials, accusing them of “malign activity around the globe”. Twelve companies owned by the oligarchs, the state arms exporter and a bank are also sanctioned.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the penalties targeted those profiting from Russia’s “corrupt system”. (BBC)
Spain: Catalan ex-leader Carles Puigdemont has called for immediate dialogue after being released on bail in Germany. On Thursday, the court in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein rejected “rebellion” as grounds for Mr Puigdemont’s extradition to Spain and set bail at 75,000 euros. (BBC)