Weekly News 7th – 11th November

Monday 7th

Turkey: Turkey on Monday slammed EU criticism of its crackdown following the July 15 coup bid and warned relations were increasingly fragile as the bloc crafts a report on its stalled membership bid. The European Union has strongly criticized Turkey over the arrests of nine MPs from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), including its two co-leaders, as well as staff at the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper. The strains come as the EU’s powerful executive Commission prepares to publish a new scorecard on Wednesday on Turkey’s readiness for accession — a report said to be the most negative yet. (The Daily Star)

Tuesday 8th

France: French investigators have identified the Isis member believed to have coordinated the Paris and Brussels attacks from Syria. Oussama Atar, a 32-year-old extremist, was already a suspect in the bombings that killed more than 30 people at Brussels Airport and a Metro station, but has now been linked to November’s atrocities in France. Belgian reports suggested he could be the mastermind of the Brussels attacks in August but he is now believed to have coordinated both operations from Syria. (The Independent)

Germany: Five people linked to the so-called Islamic State (IS) group have been arrested in co-ordinated raids in Germany, including a senior Islamist figure, reports say. Flats were raided in northern and western Germany and a mosque was searched near Hanover. Among those arrested was an Iraqi who goes by the alias Abu Walaa, or “the preacher without a face”. Germany’s NDR TV has identified him as Ahmad Abdelazziz A. (BBC)

War on terror: A senior Kurdish source who is informed about the international campaign to fight ISIS in Raqqa told Asharq Al-Awsat that American, French and German military advisers are stationed in the Syrian city of Ayn Al-Arab (Kobani), north east Aleppo, in order to “coordinate air strikes and support Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who launched their campaign to “isolate and then seize the city of Raqqa” on Sunday. The campaign is backed by the international coalition to fight terrorism’s planes. (Asharq Al Awsat)

Iraqi Kurdish forces have seized the town of Bashiqa near Mosul from ISIS, an official said Tuesday, as U.S.-backed militia forces advanced on the extremists’ Syrian stronghold Raqqa. Capturing Bashiqa would be one of the final steps in securing the eastern approaches to Mosul, three weeks into an offensive by Iraqi forces to retake the country’s second city.Iraqi troops have also seized the town of Hamam al-Alil south of Mosul, and on Tuesday investigators carried out an initial examination of a mass grave site discovered in the area. (The Daily Star)

Wednesday 9th

US Presidential Election: Donald John Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States on Tuesday in a stunning culmination of an explosive, populist and polarizing campaign that took relentless aim at the institutions and long-held ideals of American democracy. The surprise outcome, defying late polls that showed Hillary Clinton with a modest but persistent edge, threatened convulsions throughout the country and the world, where skeptics had watched with alarm as Mr. Trump’s unvarnished overtures to disillusioned voters took hold. (The New York Times)

Germany: Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere considers the arrest of five militants on charges of supporting a terrorist organisation in Germany as “an important success against extremist supporters of ISIS in Germany”. He also described the raids as good news and said that the arrests indicate that Germany’s security forces are “active, determined and vigilant”. The Minister’s comment came after police carried out raids in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the northern state of Lower Saxony. Police arrested Ahmad Abdulaziz Abdullah A (Abu Walaa) and four of his accomplices: a Turkish national called Hasan C, a German-Serb called Boban S, a German national Mahmoud O and a Cameroonian named Ahmed FY. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Israel: After sweeping the election on Tuesday, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the U.S. for a meeting. The two spoke on the phone on Wednesday hours after Netanyahu congratulated Trump on his surprising win, saying Trump was a “true friend of Israel.” According to a statement by Netanyahu, during their phone call, the two agreed to meet at the “first opportunity.” (Haaretz)

Italy: Italy on Wednesday tried to absorbe Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in the United States Presidential election. Premier Matteo Renzi on Wednesday congratulated Trump. “The world is saluting Trump’s election,” said Renzi, who had said he hoped Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton would win. “In Italy’s name I congratulate him and wish him well for his work, convinced that our friendship remains strong and solid. „This is a starting point for the whole international community… “It’s a new political development which, along with others, show that we are in a new season”. (Ansa)

Spain: Spanish police arrested three men and a woman on Wednesday (November 09) in Spain’s North African enclave Ceuta on suspicion of recruiting young people as Islamist militants, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. The four people looked to recruit youths through the Internet, primarily through social media, the Ministry said. Since Spain raised its national security threat alert in 2015 in response to gunmen attacks in Paris, police have arrested 161 people suspected of Islamist militant activity. (The Jerusalem Post)

Thursday 10th

EU: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Thursday clarity was needed from U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on issues such as trade, relations with NATO and climate change. “We would like to know how things will proceed with global trade policy,” Juncker said at a business event in Berlin. “We would like to know what intentions he has regarding the (NATO) alliance. We must know what climate policies he intends to pursue. This must be cleared up in the next few months,” he added. Juncker also said he did not expect the trade deal between the U.S. and the European Union, currently being negotiated, to be done within the next two years. (The Daily Star)

France: Thursday morning, after only three and a half months of work, French inaugurated the largest transit center for migrants in Europe, the Paris Nord humanitarian center, wanted by the mayor (PS) in Paris, Anne Hidalgo. The Center will host up to 600 people. (Le Figaro)

Italy: Two Italian fishing vessels were sequestrated by the Egyptian authorities on Wednesday night and made to dock in Alexandria. The Italian embassy in Cairo is following the case and has sent a representative to the northern port. (Ansa)

Syria: The reaction of the Syrian opposition and the regime forces wasn’t different from that of the rest of the world following the victory of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential elections especially that they both expected Hillary Clinton, whom they have met along with her working staff before, to win. Today they are facing this victory with concern, waiting for what the new U.S. president’s policy will show, noting that he was not clear in his stances regarding his foreign policy.Ambassador of the National Coalition in the United States, Najib Ghadban, said that he did not expect Trump to win, like everybody else the coalition. But as this has already happened, they are waiting to know how his foreign policy will be directed, especially in the Middle East. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Friday 11th

Italy: Italian Premier Matteo Renzi spoke to United States president-elect Donald Trump on the telephone late on Thursday and congratulated him on his election victory. “During the conversation, the premier reiterated the strategic importance of the alliance between Italy and the United States and the willingness to work to together in view of the 2017 G7,” Renzi’s office said in a statement. (Ansa)

NATO:  Sweden will seek assurances from U.S. president-elect Donald Trump that a recently signed defense cooperation agreement will be honored by the new administration and on his commitment to NATO, Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist said. After years of rising tensions with Russia in the Baltic region, Sweden and the United States signed a declaration of intent in June to increase defense cooperation. The deal includes joint exercises and adaptation of technologies and practices to a joint NATO-standard. (The Daily Star

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