Weekly News 24th – 28th October

Monday 24th

Belgium: Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said he had told EC president Donald Tusk today that the country could not sign the CETA Agreement because he had failed to get agreement from regional authorities, notably Wallonia. The EU had given Belgium’s federal government until late on Monday to secure backing for a deal, or a summit to sign the CETA agreement planned for Thursday would be cancelled. (The Guardian)

France: The mass eviction of refugees from the Calais ‘Jungle’ migrant camp has begun on Sunday. French authorities are set to move around 6,500 migrants from the controversial site and hope to completely demolish it by the end of the week. Migrants will be divided into four different groups: ordinary migrants, unaccompanied minors, families and vulnerable people. At dawn on Monday, October 24, the first cars left the “jungle” of Calais. The transaction must take place over several days and the dismantling of the “jungle” will begin from Tuesday. (Le Monde)

War on terror: Iraqi forces advancing on Mosul faced stiff resistance from ISIS Monday despite the U.S.-led coalition unleashing an unprecedented wave of air strikes to support the week-old offensive. Federal forces and Kurdish peshmerga fighters were moving forward in several areas, but the extremists were hitting back with shelling, sniper fire, suicide car bombs and booby traps. ISIS has also attempted to draw attention away from losses around Mosul with attacks on Iraqi forces elsewhere in the country, the latest coming on Sunday near the Jordanian border. Following a weekend visit to Iraq by U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, American officials said the coalition was providing the most air support yet to the operation. (The Daily Star)

Tuesday 25th

France: ALSR a plane (light airplane surveillance and reconnaissance), leased by the General Directorate for External Security (DGSE) to the CAE aviation company, crashed on Monday morning October 24, Malta, just after takeoff. The five occupants, three personnel of the technical direction of the DGSE and CAE two pilots, died in the blaze of the device, after trying in vain to return to the airport. the French Ministry of Defence had to end by recognizing, laconic, that the plane “was conducting reconnaissance missions in the Mediterranean” and that three victims were members of its workforce. According to ACE, the pilots were “experienced” and “no technical incident had been reported.” (Le Monde)

Italy: Eleven female refugees on Tuesday were temporarily relocated to the northern city of Ferrara and the towns of Comacchio and Fiscaglia after protesters the previous night erected barricades around the nearby town of Gorino where a hostel was originally designated to host them. The decision to host the women in different locations was taken by local authorities after mediation talks between the Mayor of Ferrara Tiziano Tagliani, police and the demonstrators. Protesters last night erected barricades in three different points of entry to Gorino, a town on the Po Delta where the hostel Amore-Natura had been designated to host the asylum seekers. (Ansa)

Syria: Moscow said Tuesday that Russian and Syrian planes have not conducted any air strikes on Aleppo for the last seven days despite a three-day truce ending at the weekend. After the humanitarian pause ran out at 1600 GMT on Saturday, air strikes hit the opposition-controlled district of Sheikh Saeed, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported, however. Russia’s defense spokesman said that six passages for civilians to leave rebel-held east Aleppo are still functioning and that 48 women and children left late Monday. (The Daily Star)

Wednesday 26th

Italy: Italy will move from abstaining to voting against a UNESCO resolution on Jerusalem holy sites in April if they are still cited only by their Arab names, Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Wednesday. He said the resolution, which has been voted twice a year since 2010, since 2014 “has contained terms that deny the Jewish roots of the Temple Mount”. Gentiloni said UNESCO shouldn’t be “a sounding board for political tensions,” and should keep its focus on cultural heritage. Premier Matteo Renzi said last week the recent UNESCO resolution calling on Israel to stop excavating near holy sites in East Jerusalem was “unreal”. (Ansa)

Migrants: Aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Wednesday 25 migrant men and women were found dead at the bottom of a rubber boat in the Mediterranean, and 107 survivors were rescued from the same raft.The bodies were discovered late on Tuesday, an MSF spokeswoman said. (The Jerusalem Post)

War on terror: France succeeded in convincing the United States with taking a final and outspoken stance on fighting terror group ISIS after the two-week-old offensive in the Iraqi city of Mosul is over. The siege against Mosul will likely overlap with a campaign against Syria’s Raqqa, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Tuesday, signalling that a push to isolate the group’s Syrian bastion may not be very far off. Speaking at a joint press conference with French counterpart Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Carter said that preparations to isolate Syria’s Raqqa are in action.  (Asharq Al-Awsaat)

Thursday 27th

Belgium: Belgian negotiators reached Thursday a pact on free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union (CETA), announced Prime Minister Charles Michel. The head of the Belgian government has told the press that the leaders of the various regions and language communities had reached a consensus on agricultural imports and on the back of the court responsible for resolving trade disputes. The terms of this agreement must now be sent to the European Union before being presented to the Belgian Parliament, who will speak on it “before Friday midnight.” It is “good news for Belgium in Europe,” has he commended. “We finally found an agreement between Belgians”, for his part, said Minister-President of the French-speaking region of Wallonia, the Socialist Paul Magnette. (Le Figaro)

Italy: Thousands of people are unable to use their homes after two big earthquakes shook central Italy on Wednesday, two months after a devastating quake claimed almost 300 lives. There was significant damage in many towns but there are no reports so far of people being buried under rubble. The fact that many people left their homes after the first big quake, and so were outside when the second struck, may have saved lives. Many of the people made homeless by the quakes had to sleep in cars in cold conditions and torrential rain. There have been at least 200 aftershocks, the National Institute of Geophysics (INGV) said Thursday. (Ansa)

Italian police on Thursday arrested three terror suspects, an Algerian asylum seeker and two immigrant Egyptian brothers, who had allegedly sworn allegiance to ISIS. The Algerian was arrested in a migrant processing facility in Turin while the Egyptian brothers, were arrested at Finale Ligure near Savona in Liguria and at Cassano d’Adda near Milan. A fourth suspected jihadist eluded arrest because he is abroad. A network led by the jihadists had two main goals: to send fighters from Libya to ISIS in Iraq and Syria and to spread literature on jihad, police said. (La Repubblica)

NATO: On 26th and 27th October took place, in Brussels, the Meetings of NATO Ministers of Defence. NATO Defence Ministers wrapped up two days of talks in Brussels on Thursday, which marked progress in creating four NATO battalions in the Baltic States and Poland, closer cooperation with the European Union and training for Iraqi officers. “Over the past two days, we assessed the various challenges confronting NATO,” said Secretary General Stoltenberg. “We took stock of our progress since the Warsaw Summit – and we mapped out the road ahead. We are as united as ever in our determination to protect our citizens.” (NATO Press Office)

Turkey: Turkey is seeking an end to NATO’s counter-migration mission in the Aegean Sea and it is telling the U.S.-led alliance that the sharp drop in refugees trying to get to Greece means there is no longer a need for warships to patrol its coast. Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik told other NATO defense ministers on Wednesday that Ankara no longer saw a need for the mission to continue beyond the end of December, according to two people briefed on the exchanges, despite strong support across the alliance for the mission. (The Daily Star)

Friday 28th

France: A French judge will investigate the disappearance in Syria of a father and son of dual French and Syrian citizenship, a judicial source said, in the first French probe into crimes for which rights groups blame the government of President Bashar Assad. The investigation into alleged torture, forced disappearance and crime against humanity was opened following a complaint filed on Monday by two rights groups and Obeida Dabbagh, brother and uncle to the missing pair, Patrick and Mazzen Dabbagh.( The Jerusalem Post)

French authorities have bowed to international pressure over the treatment of more than 100 child refugees left stranded in the dismantled Calais camp, agreeing to lay on buses for those still in the area and transfer them to reception centres around the country. As groups of minors faced the threat of a third night sleeping rough in the largely destroyed camp, French officials arrived with three coaches on the same street in which the press and teenagers were kettled on Thursday. The children, aged between 11 and 18, and up to 30 adult migrants filed through the police line silently to take their places on the bus. (The Guardian)

Italy: Premier Matteo Renzi hit back Friday after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he was irritable because of Italy’s migrant and budget problems. “Orban has an imprecise vision of Italy,” Renzi told, reiterating that Italy was ready to veto the new EU budget if countries like Hungary keep refusing to do their bit to help with the asylum-seeker crisis. He then added that “Either Europe acknowledges the documents that Europe itself signed and takes charge of the migrants or there will be a wonderful new development – Italy will veto any budget that does not contemplate equal obligations and equal rights”. (Ansa)


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