Weekly News 23 – 29 July 2017 | Mediterranean Affairs

Weekly News 23 – 29 July 2017 | 

Monday, 23 July 2017

Afghanistan: A suicide car bomb has exploded in the Afghan capital, Kabul, killing at least 30 people. At least 42 people were injured in the blast and there are fears the number of casualties could rise.The blast in the west of the city, in a mainly Shia district, struck a bus carrying government employees from the ministry of mines. The Taliban said they had carried out the attack and were targeting intelligence service officials. (BBC)

Israel: An Israeli guard has shot dead a Jordanian who attacked him with a screwdriver next to the Israeli embassy in Jordan, Israeli officials say.A second Jordanian was inadvertently killed in the gunfire, Israel says. The guard was reportedly wounded. The incident came at a time of heightened tension in the region over a Jerusalem holy site. On Friday, thousands of Jordanians protested in Amman against Israel over the installation of metal detectors outside a site sacred to both Muslims and Jews in East Jerusalem. (BBC)

Poland: Polish President Andrzej Duda has announced he is vetoing a controversial law to replace Supreme Court judges with government nominees.Three key judicial reforms have been passed by Poland’s parliament, prompting days of demonstrations across the country.Before they became law, they required approval by the president.The changes have also set Poland’s right-wing government on a collision course with the European Union. (BBC)

Turkey: Seventeen journalists and managers at Turkish opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet were facing trial on Monday on charges of aiding a terrorist organisation.If found guilty this week, they could face sentences of up to 43 years in jail. Ten have already been in pre-trial detention for almost nine months. Turkey is currently listed as the country with the biggest number of imprisoned journalists. Journalism organisations say more than 150 journalists are behind bars, most of them accused of terror charges. The hearings are expected to last all week. (BBC)

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Israel: Israel has decided to remove metal detectors it had placed at the entrance to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem and replace them with more advanced surveillance cameras.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet voted to remove the metal detector gates after a meeting lasting several hours convening for a second time on Monday.
Sheikh Najeh Bakirat, the director of al-Aqsa Mosque, said overnight on Tuesday that the move does not fulfil the demands of the Muslim worshippers as the security cameras remain. (Al Jazeera)

Lebanon: The Lebanese group Hezbollah says it is close to driving out Jabhat Fateh al-Sham fighters from the Syria-Lebanon frontier.
Jabhat Fateh al-Sham is the former Syrian branch of al-Qaeda that was previously known as al-Nusra Front.
Since Friday, Hezbollah and the Syrian army have been fighting against the group in the Juroud Arsal mountainous border area.
If successful, the offensive would cement Hezbollah’s control over the final section of Syrian border that is still vulnerable to infiltration from rival armed groups. (Al Jazeera)

Poland: Poland’s president has signed into law one of three contested bills that organises the judiciary in a way that critics say limits their independence.
President Andrzej Duda announced on Monday after days of protests that he would veto two of the bills.
On Tuesday, his office said he had signed the third bill, despite demonstrations late on Monday in several cities urging him to also block that one.
The law allows the justice minister, who is also the prosecutor general, to name the heads of all lower courts. (The Guardian)

Syria: A group of international volunteers fighting with Kurdish forces against ISIS in northern Syria have declared the first LGBT military unit created to battle the jihadi group. Its name? The Queer Insurrection and Liberation Army, or TQILA. The International Revolutionary People’s Guerrilla Forces (IRPGF), an anarchist movement, announced the group’s creation Monday.
IRPGF is a unit in the International Freedom Battalion, a collection of foreign fighters who traveled to northern Syria to battle ISIS alongside the Kurdish militia known as the YPG, or People’s Protection Units. It was only set up in April, two months ahead of the final stage of a Kurdish-Arab offensive backed by the U.S.-led coalition to liberate the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa. (Newsweek)

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Migration crisis: Brussels has accused EU member states of offering a “measly” level of funding for efforts in north Africa to halt the migration crisis.

The European commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said the €200m produced so far was too little. “The member states need to get serious on this,” he said.
On Wednesday the European court of justice backed attempts by Austria and Slovenia to deport asylum seekers back to their point of entry in the EU. (The Guardian)

Poland: Poland’s ruling conservatives have hit back at EU threats to halt the country’s voting rights in the bloc if it pushes through controversial judicial reforms, saying they amount to “blackmail”.
The EU warned on Wednesday that it would immediately move to deploy its most serious sanction if Poland’s far-rightwing government gave itself the power to fire its supreme court judges.

Frans Timmermans, the first vice-president of the European commission, acknowledged that Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, had this week stepped in to block two contentious reforms of the judiciary proposed by the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS).

While recognising that progress had been made, however, the commissioner claimed on Wednesday that Warsaw had not dropped its reform agenda, and reiterated that it was ready to act. (The Guardian)

Yemen: Family members of people believed to be held in jails run by Shia Houthi fighters and a secret prison network operated by the United Arab Emirates and its local allies have staged two separate demonstrations in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, demanding the release of their loved ones.
Both groups of protesters on Wednesday called for the intervention of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), whose head is currently leading a delegation to Yemen to secure family access to the prisoners. Senior US defence officials acknowledged that American forces had been involved in interrogations of detainees in Yemen but denied any participation in or knowledge of human-rights abuses. (Al Jazeera)

Thursday, 27 July 2017 

Israel: Muslim leaders have lifted a boycott of a key holy site in East Jerusalem after Israel removed the last of security measures which had led to uproar.
They urged Palestinians to re-enter the compound on Thursday for the first time since the crisis erupted two weeks ago.
The last remnants of Israel’s recently installed security apparatus was taken away on Thursday morning. (BBC)

Syria: Fighting between Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement and a former al-Qaeda affiliate on the Syria-Lebanon border halted on Thursday after a ceasefire was reached, Lebanese media and Hezbollah outlets reported.
The truce in the mountainous Juroud Arsal area between the Iran-backed Shia group and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, previously known as al-Nusra Front, was struck after a week of fighting.
The ceasefire was confirmed by Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV website and Lebanese National News Agency (NNA).
Hezbollah said the ceasefire came into force at 6am (03:00 GMT) and halted fighting on all fronts. (Al Jazeera)

Tunisia: After a long debate and postponements in Parliament, 146 Tunisian MPS unanimously voted in favor of legislation on violence against women and gender equality.
The law’s 43 articles divided into five chapters are aimed at providing effective measures against any form of gender-based violence or abuse, to ensure that the dignity of women and gender equality, guaranteed by the constitution, are respected through a global approach based on prevention, ensuring that abusers face justice and the protection of victims. The law also vies to eliminate gender inequality in the workplace. (ANSAmed)

Ukraine: Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president, has been stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship, Ukraine’s migration service has said.
It said a decree was issued by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, without stating the reason. In a statement (in Ukrainian) on Wednesday evening it did not provide the exact reason, but stated that this could be done if a Ukrainian national acquired citizenship of another country or submitted false documents. Mr Saakashvili automatically lost his Georgian citizenship when he was given the Ukrainian one.  (BBC)

Friday, 28 July 2017

Germany: One person has been killed and four others injured in a knife attack in a Hamburg supermarket, German police say.
Hamburg police said on Twitter that one suspect had been arrested but that it was too soon to pinpoint a motive.
Police confirmed the attacker was acting alone and said he was overpowered by members of the public.
There are unconfirmed reports that he shouted “Allahu akhbar”, Arabic for “God is great” while attacking people. Armed police are at the scene.Speculation in German media said the attack may have been part of a robbery attempt but police said that that motive could not be confirmed.  (BBC)

Migration crisis: Premier Paolo Gentiloni’s government on Friday approved a resolution for an Italian mission of support to the Libyan coast guard. Gentiloni said the Italian mission should be considered “a step forward in Italy’s contribution to the Libyan authorities’ capacity to take the initiative against traffickers and reinforce their capacity to control their borders and national territory”. Gentiloni announced Wednesday that Italy was considering a request from Libya for the help in combatting human traffickers after meeting Libyan Premier Fayez al-Sarraj in Rome. (ANSA)

Palestine: Around 100 Israeli settlers forcibly took over a Palestinian home in the Old City of Hebron, raising tensions in the city amid widespread anger over Israeli-imposed restrictions on entry to al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
The settlers raided the Abu Rajabs’ family home, located in the southern occupied West Bank, on Wednesday.
Issa Amro, director of the Hebron-based Youth Against Settlements activist group, said the settlers began moving their furniture in on Thursday, “right in front of the [Israeli] police and the army”. (Al Jazeera)

A 25-year-old protester has succumbed to his wounds, becoming the fifth Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces and settlers in two weeks of violence as tension mounts over discriminatory restrictions at al-Aqsa Mosque.
Muhammad Kanan, who had been shot in the head three days earlier, died late on Thursday in a hospital in the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said. (Al Jazeera)

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